Summer Anime 2015 Review (Part 3/3)

Here’s our final part of the summer anime 2015 review! We’ve saved the best for last (or did we?)

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Arslan Senki
Arslan Senki

Medieval Otaku – 9/10

Arslan Senki is one of those shows which just misses a certain something–je ne sais quoi–to render it a masterpiece.  I love the massed battles, compelling and unique characters, and the torrent of schemes and traps Arslan and his champions must dodge.  Though the setting is reminiscent of the Persian Empire, they bring in weapons and armor relating more to the Middle Ages–perhaps to give it more of a fantasy atmosphere.  (Persians did not have long swords or maces tailor made for Sauron.)  In particular, I loved the inclusion of chain mail through CG, though its proportions are cut to the size of the haubergeon–the smaller version of the coat of mail which became popular during the Age of Plate.  At any rate, the show delighted the medievalist and fantasy lover in me and fully deserves the above rating–as one might expect from one of Hiromu Arakawa’s works.

sore ga seiyuu

That is a Voice Actor!
Sore ga Seiyuu!

Kaze – 5/10 

I was most interested in this anime because I was curious as to how well of a job it would do portraying the voice acting industry. On one hand, I was pleased to see it do a fairly accurate job. It shows some of hardships seiyuu have to go through as newbies, before they have steady work. It also goes into how recording works and the problems that might come up during sessions. I was also amused to see the many cameos of actual famous seiyuu make their appearance and offer up their advice as professionals. On the other hand, the MC is a horribly annoying character, and the other 2 are only a little better. Surely it is possible to tell a similar story without having such an infuriating main character whose incompetence and stupidity made me want to drop the show multiple times. Still, if you want to gain a little insight into the industry, this is a worthwhile watch, as long as you can put up with bad characters.

Working!!!

Working!!!
Working!!!

Japesland – 8/10

Easily my top anime of the season! And, without question, the most satisfying season of the Working! series! If you’ve never seen Working! or its sequel seasons, it is a slice-of-life comedy based in a Japanese family restaurant called Wagnaria. It has a quirky but lovable cast of diverse characters, necessary for any comedy of this kind to be successful, who have their own playful relationships with each other, and it is from these characters that the series draws its greatest strengths. I first watched seasons one and two with a good friend of mine, and though I loved the characters (with the exception of Yamada!), I found myself getting a little bored and frustrated as their problems simply drug on and on with no solution in sight. Working!!! (that’s three ‘!’s) changes all of that by wrapping up many of the gag-arcs that had accumulated over the past two seasons, bringing closure to more issues than many anime even have a chance to present in the first place! I even like Yamada now! After all is said and done, if you haven’t seen any of the series, try season one first and go from there. If you’re already a fan, though, Working!!! is easily the best entry of the three.

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Wakaba Girl
Wakaba Girl

stardf29 – 7/10

While this show is technically a short, at ~8 minutes an episode, it has about twice the content as your average short, and it suits this show well. As the original manga was written by the same creator of Kin-iro Mosaic, this show also has that same brand of comedy coming from a culture clash, only instead of a girl crossing international borders, we simply have a rich girl crossing into the world of commoners. It’s funny, it’s cute, and it’s heartwarming to see this sheltered girl find friends for the first time, which means this show has everything I look for in a cute-girls-doing-cute-things show even with the shorter runtime. It’s definitely worth checking out if you want a cute comedy with a smaller time commitment.

 

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Hetalia: The World Twinkle
Hetalia: The World Twinkle

Annalyn – 6/10

Hetalia is one of those anime that I think about in daily life, especially when international affairs pop up in class. The way countries are personified and satirized never ceases to entertain me, even after over 100 mini-episodes. The latest round, The World Twinkle, isn’t quite as striking as past seasons, though. Maybe the magic is finally starting to wear off. Maybe I just miss the old EDs. I’m not sure. Still, I enjoy the screentime that Sealand is getting—well, mostly. Hetalia: Axis Powers introduced me to this micronation, and it’s a fun piece of trivia to whip out: “Hey, did you know someone founded a country on an abandoned naval base?” This season, I’ve enjoyed learning about other micronations, too, as Sealand marches around, determined to gather friends (he’s pictured above with three of them). But his cuteness is starting to lose its charm. He really doesn’t have the same rich history that adds to other countries’ arcs, and I think that’s one reason this season is falling a little flat for me.

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Aoharu x Machine Gun
Aoharu x Kikanjuu

Medieval Otaku – 7/10

A part of me wonders whether I ought to rate this 6/10.  Much of the plot was slow and over-dramatized.  At the same time, the survival games were a lot of fun and the characters very likable.   The dramatization worked to give them more depth than the average anime.  Also, the episodes’s quality only improved as the series progressed, and there was enough humor to offset the melancholy moments.  All in all, I’m very much looking forward to Aoharu and Toy Gun’s adventures in the next season.

akagami no shirayuki-hime

Snow White with the Red Hair
Akagami no Shirayukihime

Lynna- 5/10
When I saw the first episode of Akagami no Shirayukihime, I assumed it would eventually tie in an overarching plot, and was a little disappointed to find that was not the case. Most conflicts are resolved withing the episode, even if they do lead into another conflict, which makes the story less compelling. Despite this, I really enjoyed watching this, mostly because of the two main characters, Shirayuki and Zen. Although they were romantic interests, they both had goals and dreams outside of each other, which is an aspect I like. Shirayuki took a lot of incentive and was braver than the majority of shoujo heroines, which was nice. However, I didn’t feel like the show dug deep enough into any of the characters, and the final episode was rather anticlimactic. It was fun, but not remarkable.

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Durarara!!x2 Ten
Durarara!!x2 Ten

Zeroe4 – 6/10

Durarara!!x2 Ten is the third instalment of the Durarara!! series out of four. The main arch of the show follows the decline of the colorless gang Dollars, as members of Dollars begin attacking people and the the founder must decided what path he wants to go down to protect the organization. Durarara is an anime that I have been watching since it’s inception, and I enjoy it a lot. The show has been going down a darker and darker path that is making the show difficult to continue. The story telling is also becoming a bit tedious. The second season of the show, which includes parts two through four seems to be reaching a climax and I hope the direction of the show changes soon. I hope part four is better, because I really like this series.

 

UshioToTora
A spear that makes your hair grow? Where I can buy?

Ushio and Tora
Ushio to Tora

R86 – 7/10

When middle-schooler Aotsuki Ushio finds (in the sense of “falls headfirst into”) a hidden basement in his father’s storehouse, inside which lurks a youkai pinned to the wall by a magical spear for 500 years, there’s nothing for him to do but unpin the demon. Right? I mean, who wouldn’t? Immediately, lesser demons seem to follow Ushio everywhere — but by the power of the Beast Spear, he is able both to defeat them and to subdue the huge cat-like creature whom he unimaginatively names Tora. (Also wielding the spear makes Ushio’s hair suddenly grow long, only to melt back into its normal shape afterward, but this is probably a minor point.) And thus a rollicking adventure begins, in which this unlikely and unwilling duo set out to solve mysteries involving the youkai in the short term. However, in the longer term, they have also set out on a quest to find Ushio’s mother, who is apparently not as dead as he was led to believe for most of his life. Will Tora get to eat Ushio, as he’s always threatening to do? Will Ushio find his mother? Will he come to understand how his mother’s story ties in with the youkai? And will he spend his entire allowance on hair care products? I expect most if not all of these questions to be answered during the course of this entertaining remake of an early 1990s series of the same name, especially since it seems a second season is already planned starting April 2016.

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The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls 2nd Season
The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls 2nd Season

stardf29 – 8.5/10

This show still has a couple of important episodes left, so it’s hard to give a score to it right now (hence the .5 score), but one thing’s for sure: Cinderella Girls is definitely poised to become my favorite idol-singer anime of all time. It has one major advantage over the original iDOLM@STER anime in that Mishiro is a far better antagonist than Kuroi was, eschewing comic villainy for someone that actually has reasonable motivations of her own. The characters continue to be great as they grow even more over the series, even allowing some girls outside of the original fourteen to get some additional focus; it helps that the show somehow manages to do a good job of balancing multiple girls’ storylines in any one given episode. The show is headed toward a powerful and emotional finale with its last episodes and if it pulls it off, it will undoubtedly get a 9/10, but even if it does not, I will always remember Cinderella Girls fondly for its wonderful girls and how far they have come. (Oh, and also for its mobile rhythm game that recently came out.)

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Thanks for reading through all our reviews! Any shows we missed? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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

  1. I’ll do a full second opinions/personal scores post later (waiting for the new Cinderella Girls episode to air so I can factor that in), but for now, I’d like to defend a couple of shows that have been among my favorites this season that have gotten relatively low scores here…

    Sore ga Seiyuu: Regarding the MC’s stupidity and incompetence… well, if I were to try to become a seiyuu, I’d probably make all the same mistakes as her. 😛 She *is* supposed to be a rookie seiyuu, prone to many mistakes and general lack of skill due to inexperience. Considering that the author of the original manga is a seiyuu herself, she probably just drew on all the mistakes she herself made, or saw other rookie seiyuu make. (Maybe the reason Futaba seems particularly incompetent is because multiple seiyuu’s rookie mistakes are concentrated on her?)

    Personally, though, I feel that the show is better this way. Sure, theoretically it’d be possible to tell this sort of seiyuu documentary story with more competent characters, but then it’d lose another aspect of the show that I loved: the aspect of pushing past your mistakes and inexperience to achieve something. That aspect is what pushed this show from a simple slice-of-life documentary to something actually meaningful for me. Then again, maybe I just want to feel like, if even a screw-up like Futaba can at least keep her seiyuu dreams afloat, an equally-screwed-up guy like me has a chance too. 😛

    Snow White with the Red Hair: I guess I enjoyed this show much more from the start because, from what preview information I could gather, I never got the sense there’d be any real overarching plot (aside from the romance of the main leads), and that it’d end up being more of a slice-of-life series. And of course, I love slice-of-life series, especially those in fantasy settings. The setting was great, creating a beautiful and fascinating backdrop for the events of the show. The characters are all great, and I thought the show explored them a fair amount already. The whole show definitely had that “iyashikei” feel that I love–not quite as good as Non Non Biyori, but still great.

    As for the “final” episode being anticlimatic, that’s because it’s *not* the final episode; a second season is already planned to air at the start of next year. I’m definitely looking forward to that.

    Both shows I mentioned above, I would have easily given 8/10, and with a personal score of 9.6/10.0. I, for one, would highly recommend them to others.

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    1. I agree that a rookie seiyuu will make mistakes, but like you said, she is kind of the epitome of all mistakes one can make, which pushes her from a realistic newbie to the most incompetent one possible. Her thought process made me the most angry too, which, while I will also admit can be realistic at times, is a case in which just because it’s realistic doesn’t make it likable – just the opposite in fact as I really couldn’t stand her personality itself. I would’ve preferred if she toned down the exaggerated daydreaming and anxiety (and I’m not saying take it away completely, just less), the very thing which caused so many of her mistakes. A more level headed character would still make half the mistakes she did in a less annoying way and learn to push past them. This may just be personal character preference, but I don’t think it would take away from what you valued.

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      1. While I do agree that realistic is not always likable (or interesting), I think it works out for this show because of the whole documentary aspect, showing some of the real thoughts that seiyuu have before and during recording. Overall, I think her incompetence never really bothered me because her achievements within the show were overall realistic; she had a couple of lucky breaks regarding Earphones, but even there she realizes she’s behind her fellow unit members in popularity, and otherwise she’s still only getting the seiyuu workload of a novice. Her two-year evaluation result is probably the best she could have hoped for, and even that required her to recognize her own growth. Incompetent characters only really bother me when they achieve far more than their competence should realistically allow them to achieve.

        In the end, though, it probably does come down to character preference. I don’t really know if making Futaba more level-headed would have made for a better–or worse–show, because all we really have right now is what we got. At any rate, regardless of character preference, the show is worth watching as a look at what seiyuu go through, and for those willing to invest in the characters themselves, I think it has even more than that.

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  2. […] Summer Anime 2015 Review (Part 3/3) Last Night, Empire Pushed Ridiculous To New Levels Ratings: EMPIRE Finally Slips a Bit, CODE BLACK Off to Steady Start “Without A Country” – Recap of 'Empire' Season 2, Episode 2 The Post-Empire Literary Society, Season 2, Episode 2: Without A Country New Empire Season 2,Episode 3 Intense Spoiler Promo Clip Released Empire Season 2 Episode 2 Recap: I Don't Know and I Don't Care A new dynasty began in the latest episode of ‘Empire’ Empire Season 2 Episode 4 “Poor Yorick” + Watch Full Episode Online Monthly Update – September 2015 […]

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  3. I think you’re being incredibly harsh on the cast of Sore ga Seiyuu. I don’t know what your experience of being a young artist is like, but mine resonates strongly with how Futaba bumbles along her career path. What you found irritating I found endearing; it certainly isn’t possible to ‘tell the same story’ without this kind of characterisation, as the story is evidently about just how much bumbling you may have to do in the Seiyuu line of work – how much of an idiot most young artists are on the inside, and how they grow through and out of that.

    Looking down at her external and internal failure (which you have to do to grumble about it) is a very prideful position to take. With her childish mentality (emphasised always through the narration through her toy), the audience is far more drawn to appreciating her as a child being mothered and fathered by her industry, making mistakes, having difficult things demanded of her, learning lessons at her lowest points and gradually gaining a sense of independence of both action and mentality while also growing closer to the agency that supports her. Sore ga Seiyuu was one of my highlights this season because of the humility it encourages in its viewers, to support Futaba knowing that she’s under-qualified in many areas, and to do likewise for the other girls. Perhaps she’s an exaggeration of failure in some respects (though from the start she already displays some very mature qualities), but that just helps us appreciate and deal with the realism of failure that the hyperbole is dealing with. If we’re saying hyperbole can’t be realistic, we’ve forgotten that we’re watching anime.

    Character preference is one thing, but you could do better to see the potential for positive views of these girls, especially Futaba. The show has clear and strong impetus for the audience to be more humble towards her the whole way through, and remains to be highly recommendable as the ‘dark horse’ of this season.

    I think the show expresses a some fine Christian truths; Futaba may be hyperbolically faulty, but she reaps what she sows in the right measure, and the series thus presents well many things that growing Christians struggle with, the consequences of taking the wrong turns, and what we really need to do, understand and rely on to make our way through a chaotic, demanding life, be it a Seiyuu’s or a Christians – a voice for anime characters, or a voice for God’s will to be done. The faultiness of the show’s characters gave me a lot to meditate on, more than Shriobako (which I otherwise like more), and that’s something I value as immensely rewarding – something the show would have lacked had it been written according to the demands of quality you make in your review.

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    1. I actually agree with you on most points, and I think this is because you’re exaggerating how much change I desire (or maybe I did). For example, I’m well aware and in agreement that the show is about the bumbling of a newbie and how to grow through that. The show should absolutely be about making mistakes and learning from that. But I think such a thing can be told through a variety of different personalities. I don’t think a character must be the pinnacle of failures to successfully explore such themes, but obviously the character must have numerous flaws. If you found her endearing, then I have no choice but to admit that there is a clear difference in preference of characters. However, to say that any character with a different personality or less flaws would be unable to be about overcoming failures, etc. simply isn’t true, and such a statement would be looking down on the growth of all such characters.

      Watching Sore ga Seiyuu, I was reminded of Trysail, a newbie seiyuu unit of 3 people. It is similar to Earphones where there was a clear distinction in popularity and blunders between the members. Their mistakes can sometimes be obvious but both the mistakes and the reactions aren’t remotely as extreme as Futaba’s are. I think it is still possible to appreciate character growth through less extreme antics. That said, it’s not hyperbole itself that I complain about but the extent of the hyperbole. It took flaws so far that it resulted in a character that I just could not like, but again this is clearly a personal preference. I mean when it comes down to it, the reason I just can’t see you being right is because if it did lose the things you claim it would, it inherently wouldn’t be according to my demands of quality, and I think insisting my requests can’t coexist with such rewarding reactions is an underestimation of what truly good writing can achieve. And on that note, I’m absolutely incredibly harsh on anime/fiction, so please don’t take anything I said as a commentary on anything related to real life counterparts.

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      1. “And on that note, I’m absolutely incredibly harsh on anime/fiction, so please don’t take anything I said as a commentary on anything related to real life counterparts.”

        That’s an interesting comment to make, one that I think might explain why we see Futaba’s character differently. For me, while I do keep some distinction between fiction and real-life, I do still tend to get attached to fictional characters as though they were real people. Naturally, this means I’m a lot more forgiving of a character’s flaws, since I’m not apt to judge real people too quickly, either. Comparatively, it seems like you keep more of an emotional distance from fictional characters to evaluate them in terms of writing quality and overall storytelling.

        Obviously, neither way is better than the other; they’re just two different approaches to fiction.

        I’ll say this much, though: if nothing else, it’s clear that Futaba is an interesting character, capable of evoking both strong like and strong dislike in people for her qualities. And that, IMO, is far preferable to a main character that is so bland that you can neither like nor hate him/her (outside of being bland).

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  4. Well, now that I’ve seen the latest episode of Cinderella Girls, it’s time for a proper second opinions and personal scores post… if I can stay afloat in this sea of feels…

    Sore ga Seiyuu!: I’ve already said most of what I have to say in my earlier comments, so I’ll just say this: More than any other show this season, this show was the one that surprised me the most with how good it ended up being. Whereas other shows that became my favorites this season were ones I had some expectation of becoming so before the season started, for this show, I was originally just expecting it to be a simple, laid-back show that would explore things about the seiyuu industry. What I got was that *and* an inspiring story about working to achieve your dreams. I always love it when a show surprises me like this. Review score: 8/10, Personal score: 9.6/10.0.

    Working!!!: Definitely agree with Japes on how good this season was. It kept the great comedy of the show, built upon all of the character development that made the previous seasons more than just another gag comedy, and in this season brought it all together for some great moments of character growth. Can’t wait for that one-hour finale! On a side note, if I give this show a higher review score than some other favorite shows of mine from this season, it’s because Working!! as a series is probably one of the easiest anime comedies to recommend to any sort of anime fan, and even non-anime fans. Review score: 9/10, Personal score: 9.7/10.0.

    Wakaba Girl: Other than what I’ve already said, just this: easily one of my favorite OP songs of the season. Personal score: 8.5/10.0.

    Snow White with the Red Hair: See my previous comment. I just love the overall feel of this show. Review score: 8/10, Personal score: 9.6/10.0.

    The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls 2nd Season: Hoo boy, where do I start with this one… I’ll say that, while I had various issues here and there with the original iDOLM@STER anime, overall I enjoyed it a lot, and a lot of that had to do with one particular episode, episode 20, which had a strong character-driven storyline that culminated in a powerful, emotional performance scene, and to this day it remains one of my favorite anime episodes of all time. Episode 24 of Cinderella Girls was easily just as good. I have more to say on that episode (and the preceding buildup), but as the whole thing takes place in-story around Christmas… well, there might just be a full blog post on that later this year. Anyway, there’s still one more episode left, but I’m definitely comfortable giving this show the full 9/10 for the review score. Personal score: 9.8/10.0.

    Overall, though, man, what a season this has been. There have been so many incredible, thought-provoking, and just plain enjoyable shows that I don’t even care that I’ve fallen behind on stuff like Charlotte. I don’t know why, but lately, it seems that there’s something about the Summer anime season that always manages to make it end up as my favorite anime season. Here’s hoping that next summer can be great, too, and that Fall can at least be pretty good as well.

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  5. Actually, Ushio & Tora is still running and getting better with every episode. Ultimate Evil has been introduced as Hakumen no Mono and is up to our heroes to slay it.

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