Summer Anime 2015 Review (Part 2/3)

Here’s part 2 of 3 of our summer anime 2015 review!

BabySteps2_25f

Baby Steps 2
Baby Steps 2

Annalyn – 8/10

In the Spring anime review, I gave Baby Steps 2 a 7/10. Now that I’ve finished it, I decided to give it an 8/10. I admit, it’s a little difficult to defend the score change. The visuals didn’t get much better. Most of the characters squeak by with minimal, unremarkable development, and very little about the conflict matters to Ei-chan’s life off-court. So what’s changed? This season, Baby Steps convinced me that tennis-related conflict is plenty—partially because the character himself is so absorbed in the sport, his growth as a person is attached to his growth as an athlete. He is introspective, and while he does enjoy and learn from his friends and mentors, I can’t expect the same relationship-oriented themes that are so prevalent in team sports anime. Instead, themes arise in how he approaches his sport and, by extension, his life. This season, he learns a lot about balance. Off the court, that means balancing rest, romance, eating habits, and practice. On the court, he learns to balance instinct, reason, and emotion. As he sorts through these lessons, a bigger pressure hangs over his head: he has to make it to the All-Japan Junior and win in order for his parents to support his tennis career. Before, I thought that wasn’t sufficient. I’ve changed my mind. Tennis is Ei-chan’s life, and losing it would completely change his future. I’m invested in his goals now, and I’m fascinated by his internal conflict and how it plays out on the court. I hope a third season of Baby Steps comes along soon!

non non biyori

Non Non Biyori Repeat
Non Non Biyori Repeat

Kaze – 8/10 

The “sequel” to one of the best slice of life anime in recent times continued to be as calming and healing as always. While the timeline filled in some of the gaps between the first season’s episodes, it’s not like that really matters because NNB more or less doesn’t have a plot. There is no reason to need advancement of a story or have the anime cover every waking moment of our schoolgirls. Thus, while the show still covers the same time period as season 1 in its short but pleasant 12 episodes, there is no feeling of being needlessly repetitive. It’s merely a show depicting the quaint and simple lifestyle of rural Japan, and it does an exquisite job at pulling the viewers into a laid back perception that can appreciate the smallest things in life. Non Non Biyori is the perfect show for putting a smile on your face without using exaggerated comedy skits, and the criticism it received for covering the same time frame as season 1 is about as relevant as criticizing a show for its genre over its content.

Dragon Ball Super
Dragon Ball Chou

Samuru  – 7/10

Dragonball is finally back after 18 years! Myself being one of millions of fellow DB fans around the world who rode the hype train all the way to the station, I was expecting more. It starts off as a regular slice-of-life for several episodes before anyone even throws a punch. It’s great to catch up with old faces to see what they are doing now, but I was disappointed to see that the plot is basically a slowed down version of the movie, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. There’s no excuse for not having a fresh plot, instead going with reusing one from a movie from 2013. Aside from that gripe, the animation looks stellar and we get lots of small plot holes explained from the previous series, and we get to see some nice family time between characters which was never shown. Overall, I’m hoping the next season will bring more action, and that this was just a build up for what’s to come.

prisma illya herz

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei Herz!
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya Zwei Herz!

stardf29 – 7/10

This is the third summer in a row I’ve spent with the magical girl incarnation of Illyasviel von Einzbern from the Fate-verse and her friends, and while it’s never been a top-tier show for me, it’s always been something enjoyable to watch. Illya’s always been a character I liked from the original Fate/stay night story, and I definitely enjoy watching this spin-off where she’s spared from the more… tragic parts of her story. The spinoff is good in itself, being a fun pastiche on the magical girl genre while providing plenty of great comedy, flashy action scenes, and Fate references, and the 2wei storyline comprising the last two seasons have even pushed the plotting and character development for an overall better story. This season in particular starts out a bit weaker with the first half mainly devoted to comedy (though good comedy), but the plot in the second half is actually quite tense and involved, and allows the season to end on a high note. And it’s not over yet, with Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei coming later on (perhaps next summer)! I’m definitely looking forward to that.

(Note: Christian viewers should be warned that the Prisma Illya series has some potentially problematic fanservice moments, particularly those involving kisses between elementary-school girls.)

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Gatchaman Crowds Insight
Gatchaman Crowds Insight

Zeroe4 – 7/10

Gatchaman Crowds Insight is the sequel to 2013’s Gatchaman Crowds. The series focuses on a group of humans and aliens that protect earth from hostile alien lifeforms and humans with ill intent. The show is a bit strange, but I really enjoyed the first season. I prefer the first season over the second, but the second season is still pretty good. I highly recommend watching the first season if you are wanting to watch Insight. It would be very difficult to understand otherwise.

Himouto! Umaru-chan

My Two-Faced Little Sister
Himouto! Umaru-chan

Japesland- 6/10

I think my article here more or less sums up my thoughts on Himouto! Umaru-chan: A show that isn’t particularly notable for its quality, but is a heck of a lot of fun to watch with the right interests, experiences, and friends. Having been invested in the otaku world for a number of years now, plus having spent several months living in Japan, I think I recognize the plays on existing Japanese stores and brands more than your average Western fan. Plus, I had a good friend of mine to watch it with, which makes certain comedies all the more funny. Thus, in the right context, Himouto! Umaru-chan can just perfectly scratch that comedic itch. Beyond that, however, it is by no means a classic.

wakako1

Wakako Sake
Wakako-zake

Medieval Otaku – 6/10

There’s not too much to say about this short: the episodes were fun with their pairing of Japanese cuisine and beverages; the show made me want to explore Japanese cuisine more; and the main character was amusing.  I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who’d like to learn a little more about Japanese cuisine, especially as the show’s total run time is only twenty-four minutes.

classroom crisis

Classroom Crisis
Classroom Crisis

Kaze – 4/10

First of all, while arguably a spoiler, everything about this show’s promotion was a lie. As in, the director literally came out and said he lied on purpose. As such, all of my hopes for a reasonable (not even good) romcom flew out into space, along with whatever garbage this anime sends into space, being an interplanetary setting. Instead of anything close to resembling what was advertised, Classroom Crisis instead delivered a series of very poor plot twists in an attempt to be smart and surprising. Unfortunately, as is the case for basically every anime that tries to do this, it could be called nothing but pretty terrible and contrived. Many plot points are not even resolved using their favorite dues ex machina tricks and merely left hanging, probably because the writers don’t know what to do. Chiyo-chan was cute though.

charlotte 4

Charlotte
Charlotte

TWWK – 7/10

Welp…that was pretty good. Charlotte was a middling show – I enjoyed it well enough, but I’m not sure it’s going to remain in this otaku’s memory, which is already too filled with moving images of hundreds of Japanese cartoons. And that in itself is surprising, as Key usually makes an enduring impact with its shows. But even if it wasn’t anything particularly special, Charlotte avoided some of the pitfalls of Angel Beats – it made more sense, never really dragged, and didn’t give major roles to too many characters. And even in its shared flaw – that the real story seemed too rushed – I could forgive Charlotte more, as I thought every episode in the show was necessary and that there was very little wasted time. Unfortunately, conciseness does not a great anime make.

Makura_12c

Pillow Boys
Makura no Danshi

Annalyn – 3/10

Makura no Danshi is a series of very short episodes, each featuring a boy or man who talks directly to the silent main character (basically, the viewer). The best part about these short episodes? Other viewers’ comments on Crunchyroll. Week after week, the same people would comment, “I’m not sure why I’m watching this,” or “I feel like a perv.” People felt particularly uncomfortable during the episode that featured a little kid. Honestly, it’s hard to know how to respond. On the one hand, we’ve got obvious fanservice, with characters showing off their abs and trying their best to charm us (or assert dominance, in the creepy twins’ case). On the other, we’ve got little kids who innocently hang out with us. Also, every episode involves sleep and relaxation, and I thought that was the point. But if these episodes are meant to be relaxing, there are two big problems: the creepiness factor, and the peppy theme song. I’ll admit I liked how the last episode ended. Suddenly, I don’t mind that Merry (pictured above) lazes around all day, waiting for me to return, or that he looks too young for me. He is the most like a personified pillow, especially since I only see him on “my” bed, and I can imagine my own pillows or stuffed animals talking to me almost like he does.

Excalibur
Capricorn Shura’s attack! It’s over 9000!

Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold
Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold

R86 – 6/10

As the resident Saint Seiya fanboy at Beneath The Tangles, I was of course contractually obligated to watch this show. Nevertheless, it has perhaps grown old even for me. This might be partly because I have the odd belief that a show entitled Saint Seiya should, oh I don’t know, feature someone named “Seiya.” Most likely it’s also partly because I have never understood the allure of the twelve gold saints. Despite the active imaginations of the yaoi fangirls a certain segment of the Saint Seiya fandom, we know almost nothing about these characters based on the original 1986 TV series, for they get maybe 100 lines amongst all of them. Yet it was perhaps inevitable that the creators would buckle to the pressure, and now almost 30 years later, give us a series featuring these characters. Never mind that by my count they have all died at least once, and some of them two or three times. Watching these ridiculously overpowered warriors fight (again, a quarter century later) their ridiculously overpowered enemies in the frozen wasteland of Asgard, is little more than a series of irresistible forces meeting immovable objects. And although I am no feminist, watching it once again be all for the sake of saving one-dimensional female characters who seem either too helpless or too foolish to avoid the most obvious of traps, is difficult even for this diehard Saint Seiya fan to bear. On the bright side, at least we get a fresh remake of the good old opening theme song Soldier Dream for our troubles.

***********

Look forward to tomorrow’s finale of our summer 2015 review!

13 thoughts on “Summer Anime 2015 Review (Part 2/3)

  1. I strongly refute the thought that Charlotte made more sense than Angel Beats!. Perhaps the plot was clearer (i.e. much simpler), but the sheer lack of logic in some of Charlotte’s characters and lattermost events, combined with how much of a trainwreck the show’s themes are, makes it make much, much less sense than Angel Beats does (at least, once you eventually unravel the plot of that show, which is the point).

    Angel Beats! is the most wonderfully interconnected show I’ve watched; it’s supposed to begin as a mess but gradually solidify in retrospect the more you think about everything after the finale. Charlotte has no such dynamic. It’s all over the place to the extent that it even undoes it’s own work. It also, fittingly, has a much lower emotional payoff.

    There’s a reason why AB!’s popularity remains and Charlotte is experiencing poor sales for a Key project.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I totally agree with your thoughts on Charlotte! I’m not sure I would call Angel Beats a masterpiece (I think I gave it a 7), but I think it hit its important moments much better than Charlotte did. But my review would have just been a gripe fest 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Non Non Biyori Repeat and Gakkou Gurashi are definitely the top anime of the season for me :p And definitely agree with Kaze. Once again, the series worked it’s magic to season two with it’s relaxing atmosphere.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Time for some more second opinions and personal scores.

    Baby Steps Season 2: I still need to finish this one… I’ll just say that the matches have been great and the show stays committed to showing the gradual growth of its character. Oh, and also, that romance. Can’t forget that romance. What’s with all the romance this year? To think last year had so few definitive romances (at least among stuff I watched), and this year it feels like every other show has someone paired off… Review score: 8/10, Personal score: 9.1/10.0.

    Non Non Biyori Repeat: Hands down the best show of the season. Kaze pretty much says it all: this is a perfect example of the “iyashikei” type of show that is my favorite type of show. On top of that, episode 4 is easily the best single episode of the season. This is a show that really helps you appreciate the simpler things in life, and I can never get enough of Renge. Review score: 9/10, Personal score: 9.8/10.0.

    Prisma Illya: Might as well go over how my thoughts on this series has progressed over the last few seasons. Season 1 ended with a personal score of 7.8; Season 2, which had some great character development, brought that up to 8.3. As for the third season, which is actually the second half of the “second season” of the original manga, it’s probably closer to an 8.0 on its own, but it does maintain the series’ quality overall, so my personal score reflects that. Personal score: 8.3/10.0.

    Himouto! Umaru-chan: Yeah, this was a fun show right to the end. I mentioned in a comment on Japes’ article on this show how it moved past what could have been a tiresome gag of “annoying sister makes brother’s life a living hell repeatedly”, bringing in side characters for more interesting interactions and also providing some moments of genuine sibling affection. It does still get held back a bit in how it generally refuses to break the status quo on Umaru’s double-life—something most gag comedies struggle with, admittedly. So overall, it might not be a classic by any means, but it’s still good enough. Review score: 7/10, Personal score: 8.0/10.0.

    Wakako-zake: Another one I should probably finish up, especially since it’s a short. These food-based shows sure are coming out en masse, and I for one can’t be happier. This one’s obviously more on just enjoying the various tastes of food, and I can’t quite relate to the alcoholic side of the show as I’m not big on alcohol, but the food part is still great. Review score: 7/10, Personal score: 7.7/10.0.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I almost rated Wakako-zake a 7/10, but the show was a bit too simple and straightforward. Also, it wasn’t as funny as, for example, Danna ga Wakaranai or Tonari no Seki-kun. They should also have gone into more depth with the sake and beer by giving styles of beer and sake as well as notable brewers. (I’m somewhat of a connoisseur.) It was still fun learning about all those dishes and some general pairing guidelines.

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  4. Of all these I only watched Himouto! Umaru-chan I guess that I can only really comment on that one. I rather enjoyed it. As a brother with 7 younger siblings (many of whom are lazy, some of whom will sit & play video games all day if they could), I actually felt at times I could relate to Tahei – and found humor in my life, as well as his. The humor and randomness of Umaru was fun and silly, just like the manga. The surrounding cast made for a greater ensemble – with Ebina’s innocent, adorable crush on Tahei; Kirie’s anti-social behavior and growth as a character being fun to watch; and Sylphinford’s over the top competitive behavior & idea of what Japanese culture is supposed to be was funny. All in all, I enjoyed it. Would I recommend it to everyone? No, I get it’s not for everyone, but I found it funny. I also enjoyed seeing a brother-sister relationship that was…frankly, normal, in an anime. No weird incest connotations between Umaru and Tahei, which I appreciate. Scale from 1-10? I give it a solid 7.

    But that’s just my 2¢…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Fair enough. I’m not a super harsh grader…unless I really dislike something then I tend to be intensely negative. Something at a 7 or more, tho, I’d consider watching again and I feel that way about Himouto! Umaru-chan – I’d watch it again. If they made more, I’d watch them. Like I said – it’s silly, but fun.

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