While the new year has already begun, let’s take some time to look back at this past season. Our review this season is shorter than usual, as many of us were quite busy towards the end of the year, but we hope you still enjoy what we have to offer.
Haikyuu!! Second Season
Annalyn – 8/10
Resident sports anime fangirl here, reporting on Haikyuu!!‘s long-awaited second season (okay, we only waited a year, but still). The adorable Hinata Shoyo, the
tyrant setter team-player-in-training Kageyama Tobio, and the rest of our friends from the first season return to make us giggle and cheer, while new friends and rivals join the cast.
This cour’s strength is its character development. Karasuno members grow on and off court, both as individuals and as a team. Even the proudest and “coolest” of them seek the advice of others—I love watching Kageyama’s growth, and the icy Tsukishima gets some solid development, too. Oh, and we can’t forget Yachi Hitoka, the new manager—her character is a surprisingly fantastic addition, and I really enjoy the focus on her in the season’s earlier episodes. My biggest complaint? Characters pause often to remember how much they’ve improved during training camp, as if it happened months ago instead of yesterday. Yes, I too am sentimental about how far they’ve come. But there are appropriate times to stroll down memory lane—the end of an arc, or the beginning of a new one, or perhaps a season finale. Not several times in the middle of an arc. Hopefully the next thirteen episodes will stay more focused on the present. Still, overall, this season is off to a good start, and my calculations put it at an 8/10 even without much patting from my personal excitement levels.
Yuru Yuri-San Hai!
Yuru Yuri San☆Hai!
stardf29 – 8/10 for the season, 7/10 for the overall series
Yuruyuri has always been a series I’ve liked, but this recent season is somehow even better than the past two seasons. Like the previous seasons, this show’s “yuri” is limited to some girls crushing on other girls (and one girl’s delusions of her friends kissing), and the show mainly using that to comedic effect. Where this season excels, though, is in the exploration of some of the other, not-explicitly-romantic relationships between the various girls, whether it’s in exploring the characters’ existing friendships with each other or experimenting with some less often seen pairings of girls. The comedy is still as strong as ever, too. Overall, while the presence of more definite yuri might make this show harder to get into for Christians than other slice-of-life shows, as long as you don’t mind that element too much, this whole series is definitely worth checking out for fans of the genre.
Utawarerumono: The False Faces
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen
Japesland – 6/10
If you listen to our podcast, you probably know that Utawarerumono has been a guilty pleasure of mine for the last year or two. For no real discernible reason, I have thoroughly enjoyed the original series and the PSP port of the visual novel upon which it is based. While the original had its share of legitimately surprising twists and turns, it was decidedly average in quality. So, consequently, for no discernible reason, I was quite excited to hear about the release of a sequel. Having not yet played the game upon which it was based, I had no expectations, and so my expectations were met. The series offers adequate animation that carries trope-laden and mediocre writing, yet I keep coming back every week. My personal score is probably much higher than the critical score of 6 I’ve given it, so I personally can’t wait for part two of the season’s run, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to our listeners.
AntiMagic Academy 35th Test Platoon
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai
Kaze – 5/10
One of shows I picked up this season just because. It was really, really average with nothing good going for it. But I guess it wasn’t terrible either. It had some action scenes but they were mostly forgettable or lacked any interesting choreography. The characters all followed their standard tropes and had their own minor developments with each of their respective arcs, but I never felt attached or invested in any of them. I realize this review isn’t very good, but it really was just so cliched in many ways that there’s nothing I can think of that makes it different from other series of its genre and target audience. It’s something I would watch when I’m bored (which is what I arguably did) so it wasn’t completely awful, but it was very mediocre.
Attack on Titan: Junior High
Shingeki! Kyojin Chuugakkou
Annalyn – 5/10
This spinoff on Attack on Titan is… decent, I guess. It’s Attack on Titan without the cool attacks or mysterious backstories. The good news: Eren’s mom is alive in this version. The bad news: a Titan from the other section of the junior high stole Eren’s lunch, a delicious cheese hamburger. He has vowed to take vengeance, put a stop to lunch-stealing, and destroy all Titans. As cool as it is to see some of these characters again, on a whole, I find this show a bit annoying. Infatuations and love triangles take center stage too often. The characters (especially Eren) make a big deal out of everything—cleaning walls, winning games on sports day, selling cheeseburgers—as if their lives are staked on each activity. I will say this, though: by the end of the eleventh episode, I cared about the show again. I won’t say anything else about it, just in case someone actually cares about spoilers, but the last episode and a half were rather fun.
stardf29 – 6/10
Welcome to Osomatsu-san, a colorful world whose characters get dragged through the dirt over and over again. This is very much a black comedy, full of biting satire and some incredibly mean-spirited comedy. Admittedly, this is not my preferred style of comedy, hence the relatively lower score for this show compared to most comedies I watch, but I do have to admit that the show does sometimes have some genius behind its satire. Sometimes. The show also tries to get creative with a variety of different skits, some of which are inspired, but it also lends to a very hit-or-miss style of comedy. It’s enjoyable enough overall, though, and great for fans of satirical, mean-spirited comedy.
Japesland – 7/10
The Monogatari series requires a certain… taste. I’ve written on previous entries in the series before, praising some of its unconventional directing and rather postmodern thinking, but all of this comes at the cost of making the series less accessible. I would also say that this type of originality eventually reaches a level of diminishing returns. And this is exactly where Owarimonogatari runs into problems. While not bad by any means, I would consider Owarimonogatari one of the weaker entries in the series, essentially relegating it to existing fans only. And those with weak stomachs for lewd buffoonery be warned!
A Corpse is Buried Under Sakurako’s Feet
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru
Kaze – 6/10
Sakurako had some good points but it was still not written very well and the flaws show. The main heroine is too all-knowing about too many things, and while she makes “mistakes,” they are really there just to invent plot twists because she’s the only one who ever realizes she is wrong. Interestingly, the male MC is more of an unimportant sidekick compared to her, which is nice in simply being different to the standard approach to anime nowadays. At the same time though, I wish he wasn’t such a boring character because time is spent on him as a build up to Sakurako solving all the cases. The anime takes some interesting approaches to the interpretation of deaths, which I could appreciate to a degree, but ultimately felt like contrived reasoning. Finally, the climax was something that I thought they could’ve set up much better because it was honestly a pretty good idea that was not nearly used to its best potential.
Look forward to tomorrow’s part of our fall anime 2015 review!
featured image by ハラダミユキ | reprinted w/permission (pixiv illust: 43326771)