Here’s our final part of the summer anime 2015 review! We’ve saved the best for last (or did we?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Snow White with the Red Hair
Akagami no Shirayukihime
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Thanks for reading through all our reviews! Any shows we missed? Feel free to share in the comments below!