Top Winter 2015 Anime: Final Ratings

It was a good season of anime. I realize I’m closing the season on a pretty small selection of shows and that a number of those shows are leftovers from the Fall 2014 season, but even so…this was a good season of anime. I don’t actually know what more to say beyond that. It was good, I really enjoyed it and felt blessed to be watching what I was watching quite a lot, and I’m sad many of these shows are over. And that’s that. Here are the best anime of Winter 2015. Are you ready, Koharu-chan?

[Management: I’ve decided to rename the “Best Animation” category the “Best Visual Aesthetic” category. The idea here is to condense character designs, background art, and general visual appearance into a single category. I’m not really qualified at this point to discuss the actual technical merits of animation, but I can at least tell you what I thought looked good. Additionally, the caption awards have morphed into something a bit different than “the was the best action” show; rather, they’re now more along the lines of “this show had the best romance/action/etc.”]

Your Lie in April

1. Shirobako (10/10)

Shirobako is proof that you don’t have to sweep the awards board to be the best show of the season. This little show-that-could is really something special—endearing, relatable, superficially unexceptional in many measurable categories, yet somehow a magnificent tour-de-force of intensely personal writing and presentation. I find it an incredibly difficult show to write about because I feel it defies conventional standards of fictional dramatization through the matter-of-fact way it handles its drama. Of course, all of this is funneled through the main viewpoint character, Aoi Miyamori, who is unquestionably the best character of the season and who has become one of my all-time favorite characters. In many ways, I feel Aoi is the sort of person I’d like to become and it’s pretty darn hard to let her go. One last time: Save me, Aoi Miyamori!

Awards: Best Drama, Best Comedy, Best Female Character—Aoi Miyamori (Honorable Mention: Best Story)

Shirobako Shirobako

2. Akatsuki no Yona (8/10)

At this point, I feel I’ve said about everything I could possibly say about Akatsuki no Yona. It’s an impressively well-crafted production and balances a huge range of ideological oppositions with the moving story of a princess who sets out to understand the world she’s never seen before. Yona’s character arc was among the best of the last two seasons and the complexity of her struggle for strength gave her character an incredible amount of depth. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Yona’s joined by a stellar supporting cast of bishounen. Despite the apparent evidence of Yona being a reverse harem, it never dives into the tropes of the genre and keeps the focus on the characters as people, lending a great richness to the colorful tapestry of faces, personalities, and worldviews that make up Akatsuki no Yona.

Awards: Best Fantasy, Best Harem (Honorable Mentions: Best Story, Best Male Character—Hak,Best Female Character—Yona)

Akatsuki no Yona

3. Death Parade (8/10)

I know I’m not the only one who feared Death Parade would turn out to be a mean-spirited romp through the darkness of humanity, but happily the show turned out to far more thoughtful, sensitive, and sympathetic with its characters than that. Death Parade, simply, is a story about humanity and how to be human. At times, it can lack subtlety, but I found the directness to be arresting as a challenge to the audience. It doesn’t hurt that Death Parade also boasts some of the best production values of the season, looking consistently good every episode and making use of a jazzy soundtrack and a cool color scheme to inject a sense of melancholic reflection into the show. Death Parade was often a challenging show to watch, but it was a good challenge and the score at the end certainly falls more in favor of hope than despair.

Awards: Best OST (Honorable Mentions: Best Visual Aesthetic, Best Male Character—Decim)

Death Parade

4. Garo the Animation (7/10)

In all honesty, Garo being as successful with me as it was came as a bit of a surprise. Initially, I thought it would be a bit too dark and gritty with not enough weight to its action, but instead MAPPA turned out a fundamentally well-told story that hit hard at all the right times and made the most of its strengths—which turned out to be its characters. Ultimately, Garo is León’s story, the story of how an angry boy learned how to grow into his destiny, accept his past, and care for the world around him. The other characters who surround him on his journey—German, Alfonso, Ema, Lara, and even his mother—not only facilitate a marvelous character arc, but have compelling stories of their own. It’s just icing on the cake that MAPPA strikes gold with the presentation more often than not, displaying in many episodes the fantastic cinematography that may very well be turning out to be the studio’s signature touch. Watch Garo; it’s good.

Awards: Best Story, Best Action, Best Male Character—León Luis (Honorable Mentions: Best OST, Best OP—”B.B.” by JAM Project)

Garo

5. Your Lie in April (7/10)

Beautifully presented visually and aurally, but serious structural problems held Your Lie in April back from becoming a truly great show. While it certainly has more moments of sheer greatness than most shows of its caliber, its frustrating use of comedy and the way it forced narrative threads to compete against each other are unfortunately major parts of its legacy beyond the performance stage. But when Your Lie in April takes the stage, few shows can match its power. It’s a shame the story couldn’t quite hold up those performances, but they were triumphs all on their own. In the end, I think Your Lie in April will fade pretty quickly from my memory, but it was a fascinating show to write about on a weekly basis thanks to its invariable tendency to muck up something new.

Awards: Best Visual Aesthetic (Honorable Mention: Best OST)

Your Lie in April

6. Durarara!! x2 Shou (6/10)

Well, one thing is for sure—this isn’t the same Durarara!! of five years ago, sadly. The frenzied action, stellar production values, and general level of quality that made the original series one of my all-time favorite returns only in flashes in x2. Make no mistake, the style is genuine Durarara!!, but the flashes of genius are more scattered and more restrained here. Considering x2 on its own merits without regard to the original series (a near impossible task, incidentally), it’s still a solid show, but the obvious production struggles really do take their toll on the series’ overall impression. If there’s one thing (and it’s a big thing) that still redeems Durarara!! x2, it’s that the characters we came to love (or, in Izaya’s case, despise) return in mint condition, bouncing off each other with the same chemistry as before, a chemistry that makes ever encounter a fascinating one even when separated from the show’s plotting. For all the sequel’s inferiorities, it’s still Durarara!! and it’s good to have Durarara!! back.

Awards: (Honorable Mention: Best OP—”Headhunt” by Okamoto’s)

Durarara!! x2

7. Log Horizon 2 (6/10)

While there’s a part of me that’s a bit bitter Log Horizon is ending where it is (and it had to, as there’s basically no source material left to adapt), that unhappiness is tempered by the realization that getting 50 episodes of a show like this in the current anime market is…well, it’s unusual. Heck, anything getting 50 episodes is pretty out of the ordinary, let alone a wholesome, consistently interesting show like Log Horizon. This is a show that’ll never be the best thing airing in a season, but it’ll certainly never be the worst thing either. For my part, I preferred this season to the first, enjoying the variety of adventures and the varied plotlines we got. Kanami’s appearances were huge highlights of the show, finally giving a face and a personality to a character who’s been mostly mystery. And, of course, Rudy returns and makes his mark as the best character Log Horizon has to offer. If the adventurers aren’t going home, I’m most happy because it means Rudy gets to stay with them that much longer.

Awards: Best Adventure

Log Horizon 2

8. KanColle (5/10)

It wouldn’t be a season of watching anime if I didn’t pick up at least one light-hearted show before the end of the season, and this winter that show was KanColle. My first impressions of the show match up almost exactly with my final impressions of the show and they’re more eloquently written, so allow me to share those here:

KanColle

Awards: Best Slice-of-Life (Honorable Mention: Best ED—”Fubuki” by Shiena Nishizawa)

KanColle

9. Rolling☆Girls (5/10)

Ah, Rolling☆Girls, you were the chosen one! The one destined to become my pet show for the season! Sadly, moegirls, motorcycles, pretty colors, and great music don’t always turn out to be a great anime. Rolling☆Girls was the sort of anime I thought would be My Type of Anime and while it certainly displays a lot of the characteristics that could make it a favorite of mine, it never really all came together. The beautiful backgrounds and sweet effects animation of the first two episodes collapsed into a production mess that seemed to not only include the show’s visuals, but also its storytelling. Rolling☆Girls just tried to do too many things without enough basic technique and so things just didn’t quite click. There were a few standout episodes here and there, but an inconsistent show that can’t even capitalize on its greatest strengths reliably can’t be a great show. In the end, Rolling☆Girls turns out to be a good show, but a disappointing one for not doing everything it could have done.

Awards: Best OP—”Hito ni Yasashiku” by the Rolling Girls (Honorable Mention: Best Visual Aesthetic)

Rolling Girls

10. Absolute Duo (4/10)

For a light novel adaptation with harem inclinations, Absolute Duo turned out to be far more entertaining and far less offensive than I expected. It says a lot on its own that I stuck with the show all the way to the end, with most of the credit going to the tropey, but likable characters. One of Absolute Duo‘s greatest strengths was the ability to let its characters be silly sometimes, and to do so as their awkward, high school selves, rather than shuttling them into stock anime jokes. Of course, Absolute Duo definitely does have some heavily generic moments poorly executed, but for the most part it lets its characters do their thing without overbearing with the plot. It’s not a series I’d recommend, but I don’t dis-recommend it, either.

Awards: Pet Show of the Season, Best ED—”Believe x Believe” by Nozomi Yamamoto

Absolute Duo

11. Junketsu no Maria (3/10)

By this point in the list, I always feel obligated to leave a reminder that the numbered rating I assign a show is my assessment of the show’s overall value. The biggest problem I have with Junketsu no Maria, the reason I’m giving it a 3/10 and will never recommend it to anyone, is the way it mishandles Christianity almost from the beginning of the show. The piece I wrote on Maria after the second episode complained of misrepresentation and that concern was sadly validated by the rest of the show. I had hoped for a more nuanced, thoughtful presentation from this show, but it just didn’t pan out. As a Catholic and a Christian, I just cannot justify assessing Maria‘s value at any higher rating—it is far too misinformed and too convoluted thematically to really be taken seriously as a criticism or reflection on religion and its musings on other themes are unfortunately tied up in this central conflict to the degree that they suffer. Honestly, what Junketsu no Maria needed, more than anything, was more of Ezekiel. Not necessarily of her character, but more of her liminal worldview that balanced heaven and earth and everything in between in an empathetic, kindhearted way.

Awards: Best Romance (Honorable Mention: Best Female Character—Ezekiel)

Junketsu no Maria

Dropped

  • Isuca (10 seconds)
  • Koufuku Graffiti (1 ep)
  • World Break (1 ep)
  • Fafner: Exodus (1 ep)
  • Aldnoah.Zero 2 (1 eps)
  • Saekano (2 eps)
  • Military (2 eps)
  • Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (5 eps)

Ongoing

  • Assassination Classroom (Solid 5/10)
    • Award: (Honorable Mention: Best ED)

Unawarded

  • Best Short
  • Best Sci-Fi
  • Best Sports

And that’s all for this season! I still have to watch Gundam Build Fighters Try and Yurikuma Arashi and am considering giving Tokyo Ghoul √A  a shot, but other than that I’m happy to close the books on Winter 2015 and look forward to an exciting spring season!

51 thoughts on “Top Winter 2015 Anime: Final Ratings

  1. I look forward to seeing you marathon GBFT, especially after your reaction to the first season, and Maria is going to be one of my hardest reviews to write this season for sure. I did really really like parts and some parts were really not that good, also frustrated at how everyone else seems to go “oh it’s the middle ages the church really was that shitty” when no, you can only argue historical accuracy so much in a series where the witches are all wearing modern day vinyl fetish wear (plus, their background reasonings are totally not fleshed out enough which ALSO makes it more of a moot point about “accuracy”).

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    • I am tempering my expectations for Try, having heard that it really is’t quite as good as the first season. Hopefully it’s enough to keep me watching it, though!

      Yeah, I’m actually going to be writing about that point when ZeroReq011 and I do our collaboration. Maria‘s essentially in a position where I feel it’s either willfully or unconsciously inaccurate (not to mention the mythological complications) to the point that it can’t be taken seriously on the topic of religion, although it seems to think it can be. But, anyways, I’ll stop there and save most of my thoughts for the other piece.

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    • Actually, from the point of the weapons, armor, and battles, Maria the Virgin Witch is surprisingly accurate. (They just did not include chainmail because it’s likely very hard to animate.) I also felt like Galfa’s character was a perfect representative of a mercenary of those times.

      On the other hand, the author did not exactly have a strong handle on Catholic theology. Brother Bernard, for example, seems to swing from Calvinism to Pelagianism to a sort of “Kingdom of God on Earth” theology as the series progresses. This is a big problem when the medieval Church and theology feature in the major theme of the story.

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      • @medievalotaku:

        I don’t think that was merely the result of the “series progressing” but something that reflected a change within Bernard after his final talk with Maria. Strictly speaking, that all happened within a single episode.

        Which in turn isn’t very realistic, I will admit, but the point was to illustrate that experience gave him a spark to shift his worldview. Thus Bernard came up with some ideas that were ahead of his time. It’s a silly situation, I suppose, but I would say the scene makes more scene in its thematic context rather than in strictly narrative terms or from the perspective of historicity (though I think the fact his writings about “new teachings” were all burned is entirely plausible).

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        • I think his writings being burned was the most accurate thing that happened in that series of events. The funny thing about heresies is that none of them are ever really new. Comparing the modern to the Classical world makes one realize that we’re suffering from the same errors. Bernard even says, “Pelagius was right!” Pelagius was condemned by Catholic clergy 1000 years before Bernard was born. Around the beginning of the 13th century, the Albigensian Crusade crushed the Cathars, whose philosophy was essentially the same as the Manicheans–another heresy which St. Augustine fought in addition to Pelagianism.

          All the same, Brother Bernard made for a great villain in this series.

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    • Rather than a moot point, it is a double-edged sword that can be used to both praise and criticize the anime in a variety of ways, positive or negative. Where the emphasis lies will also depend on the interests and preferences of the reviewer.

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  2. I hope that Spring 2015 will be as strong as this season.

    My personal favorite in order would be:

    Shirobako

    and the rest. (I really, really loved Akatsuki no Yona though.)

    Shirobako is literally life. It is also love. It brings hope and inspiration. It also brings both easing-to-career-anxiety and career anxiety.

    Sad to see it go, but just as Musani completed one anime and moved on to the next, we do the same, too, and move on to the next anime season.

    Welcome to Spring 2015!!! Enjoyed the ride with everyone here at aniblog and anitwitter!

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    • Shirobako is certainly quite a ways ahead of any other show this season (or last). We can always hold out hope for a season 2! I know I will be!

      Woo, it was great to have you around in the comments section this past season! Looking forward to talking with you more during the spring season!

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      • I take the position many are taking in the fora – Shirobako would be better served by a series of OVAs or short movies focusing on the some of the individual and side characters than by a second season. Without dramatically altering the focus of the series or flirting dangerously with just repeating the first series, the girls have all reached the natural end of their arcs.

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  3. I am kind of surprised you didn’t like Saekano, given I thought it was better than Absolute Duo which, as you mentioned, only really lived through its tropey characters. Though I guess Saekano does the same… I just liked Kato from Saekano more than Julie or Miyami from Absolute Duo I guess.

    Obviously our scores on Maria and Absolute Duo are vastly different, but that is because if I actually watched something to the end I considered it at least a 6 to 10.

    Also surprised you made it through 10 seconds of Isuca. You have one hell of an iron will to accomplish that feat.

    Other than all of that I suppose we are mostly the same viewpoint wise. Given on my own without others thoughts deluding me I haven’t watched more than like half this list.

    Shirobako I am only running on what all the bloggers are saying.
    Log Horizon, DRRR, and Garo are talked about on the CR forums enough to give me an idea of them I suppose.
    Shigatsu seems to have a line dividing what is said between people who hated it for its drama and those who said it was like the best thing ever.
    Don’t think I saw many talk about Rolling Girls other than saying they dropped it around like episode 5.

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    • Saekano just really got on my nerves with episode 0 and episode 1 couldn’t do much to ease that negative impression I had of the show at that point. I think, had episode 0 not been aired, I would have kept the show through the end.

      As far as scores go, I’ll watch things 4/10 and up to the end, with 3/10 and below shows rarely getting through cuts.

      Isuca was awful, which made me sad. I thought the premise sounded quite intriguing.

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      • I see. Well is the prelude episode got on your nerves I am not sure the rest of the season would have diluted any of it to make it better

        Yeah sometimes low rank shows make it through to the end for me, like Celestial Method, but rarely does anything below what I consider a 5 gets through to the end, it usually is dropped somewhere along the way.

        Isuca was one of those god awful adaptations. The manga is so vastly different and better. In my opinion at least.

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        • I think a lot of people stuck with Celestial Method because it always seemed right on the verge of getting Really Good. But they kept pulling back from that brink and just serving up more of the same. Glasslip had the same flaw.

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        • You know, I went back and watched Saekano’s prelude episode again after the series ended. I wasn’t a huge fan of that prelude the first time either (it was Kato who kept me watching through the first few episodes until the series got really, really good), but watching the prelude the second time after I had actually gotten to know the characters and their personalities (and also understanding the show’s visual language by then, especially how and WHY it chose its specific fanservice moments), it was like watching a totally different episode, and a much more enjoyable one. It was also kind of fun to see how the initial presentations of the characters held up consistency-wise against what we knew about them by the end of the series (answer: quite well).

          I’m also going to post a quote here from the guy who reviewed this series on Rabujoi, because it pretty much speaks for me as well: “The quality of Saekano’s characters and the intricacy of their motivations and actions makes me a bit weary of the rom-com harems coming up this Spring, from the sequels to Oregairu and Nisekoi to newcomers like Denpa Kyoushi. After watching Saekano parody, subvert, or break so many conventions of the genre, while simultaneously executing those very same conventions at a very high level, I forsee my patience for ‘returning to the rut’, for lack of a better term, will be duly tested next month.”

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  4. Aaand… here we go; (Usually these are in alphabetical order, but I’ve swapped to final ratings order for this week’s wall o’ text.)

    First, a note about ratings – I use a five point scale to match my ratings on Anime Planet. (http://www.anime-planet.com/users/DerekL) I’m not all that consistent about my scale though, but I am slowly getting more consistent and editing my ratings. A numerical scale doesn’t really convey all the nuances though… a 2.5 can mean very different things between different shows. One

    2.5 might suck balls, another might be worth watching if you have the time to spare.

    Saekano; A very, very sweet finale… I have to admit though, I was running cold during the second half of the season because of some bad thinking on my part. I’d presumed they had had to finish the game and reach Winter Comiket for a satisfying ending. It wasn’t until the final ep that I realized they actually only had to reach the conditions set up in the prequel, which
    they did with panache.

    Midseason rating – 3-3.5
    Final rating 4.0. A solid story, well done characters and development, and a nice mix of drama
    and comedy. In almost any other season Kato-chan would be best girl and in this season only
    falls into second place behind Miyamori Aoi of Shirobako by a slim margin. I renew my
    suggestion to you Bless that this needs to be in your queue.

    Shirobako; An outstanding final ep… The production meeting that Aoi lead and the calm way
    she outlined the work to be done really made her growth over the course of the series shine. The tape delivery/car chase scene was a masterpiece. (“I haven’t seen you in eight years Lady
    of the Speed of Sound”! – brilliant, and an excellent final bow for the under used Okitsu-San.)
    Unlike many others, I wasn’t too impressed with Aoi’s speech, very tropey (see your screenshot)
    and it just repeated what had been said in the episode and the show several times before. I
    thought her final dash to Hiroshima Bunta was a much better summing up of her character and
    growth. The final scene with all the girls was very sweet. My lady had to stop by the grocery
    store on her way home that night, and I almost had her pick up some doughnuts so we would join in their final toast… (I knew it was coming, we all knew it was coming) but I chickened out.

    Midseason rating – A solid above average 3.5
    Final rating 4.0. I really struggled with the rating here. In some ways, it really wanted to be a 3.5, pulled down by trope-ism and the constant reach for the monster-of-the-weak. But after thinking about it, it’s a clear case of the sum is greater than the parts. The good parts, particularly The Director as well as Aoi, outshine the bad sufficiently to pull it up.

    KimiUso; (Posted in your season review, copied here for completeness sake.)

    Midseason rating – It’s looking like it will settle out about a 3, solidly above average… but it’s pulled way down from where it could be by the inconsistent pacing and inability to get out
    of it’s own way.

    Final rating 3.5, pulled up by the final ep, held down by the many weaknesses you note above.

    Koufuku Graffiti; The finale packed in a bit more plot than was typical, but overall it was well done. A very nicely done balance between summing up the themes of the show and looking forward to the future – just what I like in a slice-of-life.

    Midseason ratings – 2.5-3, right in the middle of the pack. Not great, but not bad either.
    Final rating 3.0. Despite some consistency problems and weak episodes, particularly in the second half, the show never strayed far from a nice balance of comedy and mild drama.

    Aldnoah Zero; Not the best final ep ever… a rushed race to a pre-ordained conclusion further marred by the obsessive need for almost every significant character to take a final bow.

    Midseason rating – cruising in to a solid 2-2.5, just a little below average.
    Final rating 2.0. Which is actually a real shame… there were many good ideas in the show, and so much potential, but it just couldn’t keep the focus or avoid ass pulls and come together.

    Kan Colle; A rather disappointing mess of a final arc and episode. All the foreshadowing in the earlier episodes paid off in the finale – as expected they pulled practically every Magical Girl, Magical Battle High School, and Final Battle tropes out of their nethers and stuffed them into the final episode. It seemed to be driven more by the need to pacify the fanbase by giving every shipgirl her Hero Moment than by any attention to the plot.

    Midseason rating – on pace for a solid 2-2.5, around average.
    Final rating 2.0. It could have been so much better had they stayed with the light drama/slice-of-life format established in the first half of the season… instead they had to go and try to establish “deeper meaning”, but the character and plot development to date provided a poor foundation and the whole structure collapsed.

    The IDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls; (first half a continuing series)

    Midseason rating – a solid 2.5, just a touch below average. Too many characters, too many tropes, too little focus.
    Current rating, 2.5 for the reasons outlined above.

    Dropped;

    Absolute Duo (7 eps)
    The Testament of Sister New Devil (7 eps)
    The Rolling Girls (6 eps) It almost got dropped at 4, but my lady and I kinda egged each other on into another couple of episodes.
    Military! (6 eps)
    Wake Up, Girls ZOO (2 eps) Which is sad because I love WUG chan and wanted to like this show
    Bonjour♪ Sweet Love Patisserie (2 eps)
    Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (2 eps)
    Yuri Kuma Arashi (2 eps)

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    • Arrggh… forgot a line in my Shirobako review; “P.A. Works, thou hast redeemed thyself for Glasslip. Go forth and sin no more.”

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    • As far as ratings go, I think the most important thing is to decide which what you want your ratings to represent. For me, they’re an assessment on a show’s overall value, which is of course predicted on my own particular biases towards what makes a show “valuable.” I also consider them important in recommending shows—a 10/10 is more important for someone to watching than a 5/10 show, etc.

      I do agree that Aoi’s speech was a bit cliched and I wasn’t getting into it much beyond the “this is the end” feeling, but then she launched into her candle metaphor and I really started breaking down. Her delivery, too, was a big part in selling the speech to me.

      Also agreed that KanColle’s ending was pretty eh and the whole “fight against destiny” bit was laughable, but maybe I found the show trying so hard kind of cute, like Fubuki.

      Good to hear feedback on WUG Zoo. I had that in my queue for a while and couldn’t get to it, but if you dropped it then I’ll not bother. As for Saekano, I just don’t know if I’ll get back to it. I like my harems to be less serious (like Nisekoi) and for relationship-centric shows I’d rather go for something shoujo, like the upcoming Ore Monogatari!!

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  5. ‘Isuca (10 seconds)’ – I laughed. Also HELL YEAH MAH BOY LÈON TAKING BEST MALE. I had been a little wary of Garo over the final few episodes (and I know you were, too) but the more I think about it, the more I’m really happy with that ending.

    Also, no love for Yona’s ED? That was my favourite by a wide margin.. Though I am currently listening these Absolute Duo EDs and they’re pretty great! Definitely in line with your usual tastes.

    I’ll be pretty curious to see your take on YuriKuma Arashi. I feel I can safely say it’s first episode was one of its weakest, but it’s also pretty indicative of the style the series follows (but much less lewd overall). If you do check it out, it might be best to try to enjoying it initially as something over the top, bordering on farcical. It still had some pretty inspired moments throughout, and the ending was in my opinion perfect. Also once again, you need to watch Penguindrum sometime soon. To-Watch lists are a terribly daunting thing, aren’t they?

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    • The Isuca number is literally true. I watched for ten seconds, a censored naked lady turned into a monster and started to eat a boy and I was OUT.

      I remember you saying Leon might be one of (if not your all-time) favorite characters of all-time, so I thought you might like that. He really did have a fantastic arc and the way his character was affected by the people around him was exceptionally well done.

      I did like Yona’s ED, but it just wasn’t quite ethereally pretty in the way of something that I’d listen to a lot. As you say, the Absolute Duo EDs are right in line with the stuff I normally like, so yeah… ^_^” And then the KanColle and AssClass EDs are just good (if you haven’t listened to the AssClass ED, I’d highly recommend it).

      I’m sort of feeling that YKA will be something I won’t get to for months. It’s completely arbitrary, but I do want to watch Penguindrum first.

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  6. Final ratings from me for completed series.

    Saekano: 8/10. Despite getting off to a rocky start in my book with that prelude episode, it easily ended up being my favorite show of the season, and Kato was just all kinds of awesome from start to finish. She is now a deserving member of my “favorite anime characters of all time” list, and if I had a blog I’d absolutely have a post up by now about just how sneakily well-written she is.

    Your Lie in April: 7/10. Shared my thoughts on the KimiUso posts.

    Koufuku Graffiti: 6/10. Nothing special, just a very pleasant, relaxing slice-of-life; great “just before bedtime” fare to unwind with on Saturdays. Aside from that one over-the-top fanservice episode, this was a show that basically knew exactly what it was and what it wanted to be, and consistently delivered the goods every week (along with the pizza, the rice, the saury, etc.). Bonus points for its cute and clever episode previews – I was very happy when I bought the single for the ending song to find out that the CD also contains that little doo-wop track that plays with the previews.

    KanColle: 5/10. Reasonably entertaining, and I didn’t mind seeing it once. It was obviously meant for the gamers, but it kept my attention – I never once felt bored watching it. Not really much else to talk about, though, and I doubt I’ll come back for season 2 unless I hear that they’ve fixed most of this season’s problems.

    Still watching: Assassination Classroom (still hovering around 6.5)

    Dropped: Rolling Girls, Military

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    • Urgh you guys and your Kato praise—c’mon, you know how busy I am, stop tempting me!

      As for the Koufuku Graffiti PV bit, thanks a lot again. Currently listening to the 1 hour loop of the thing… >_> This is actually one show I was bummed I couldn’t keep up with this season, but it just didn’t work out in my schedule. AssClass just filled my comfy slice-of-life show needs a little bit better.

      Like

  7. Not the first time I’ve seen Garo mentioned… Since the season ended at least. I have no idea how this show managed to slip past me when I see so many positive reactions about it now. Since you gave it a best story even, I feel like I should check it out, considering I watched and liked the rest of your top 5 too.

    Thanks for the post. By the way, I come here from my e-mail and that Koharu gif never fails to get me here.

    Like

    • KOHARU POWER! I wonder what I’ll have available to grab you next season…Kinmoza gifs, perhaps? 😉

      And yeah, I’d definitely recommend Garo is you like a solid fantasy series with some true moments of brilliance. It does take a while to really get on its feet, but aside from a few one-off episodes, it’s pretty great stuff from final few episodes of the first cour until the end of the show. As for the story, I think it’s important to know that the story of the show is fundamentally the story of the main character, Leon, and that’s what won it best story from me.

      Like

  8. I picked up Shirobako again. I finished the first cour episodes recently.

    Kaconlle, dropped after the second episode, because, this looked like a show where is better to read reviews before watching each episode… and, I was right. It added some shoujo-ai elements later on.

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    • Hope you’re liking Shirobako! I think it’s a pretty fantastic show and I think you should enjoy pretty much all of it. And yeah, KanColle has some pretty strong yuri undertones to it.

      Like

      • Yes, surprisingly it has very few “fanservice”, I think they exploited that part in the promotional images and the special showing the anime the characters made.

        The show, displays some interesting things about animation, etc. I specially liked the part where the elderly animator contributes with his knowledge.

        With KC, is sad that instead of exploring friendships between girls, they opt for yuri undertones. Same thing that is affecting many slice of life shows.

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  9. I so desperately want to watch Shirobako now!!!! Yona of the Dawn, too–I saw the first two episodes and they were gorgeous! 🙂

    I can SO relate to your feelings for Rolling Girls. It was so beautiful but it sure did unravel after the first few episodes. 😦

    ~Jamie

    Like

  10. FROM CR WINTER FAVORITES or NOT ! I am lazy and just showing my Ranks! Number 1 is the Same!

    Some really Hard Choices / Last Episodes helped / a few were good all season / Explanation added !

    1 SHIROBAKO After last EP just the best / all anime fans should watch this!

    2 Sanzoku no Musume Ronja Just so good all season

    3 Akatsuki no Yona Was good but ended too soon IMO At least a 3rd cour
    4 Kamisama Hajimemashita / (Kamisama Kiss Season 2) Big Jump I should have had it higher earlier My Bad

    5 Ansatsu Kyoushitsu / (Assassination Classroom)Just getting Started Actually has life lessons

    6 The Rolling Girls This should be My Number One / but the last EP was Sloppy / It should be 2 cour / but still my most rewatched!

    7 Nanatsu no Taizai / Seven Deadly Sins Was up there for the longest time but was rushed toward the end! Still a very top favorite
    8 Death Parade Very unique/ one problem ended too quick / maybe 13 Episodes could have helped this and others

    9 World Trigger I see this as top 5 or 6 for Spring / It’s just getting going after the 2nd cour

    10 Durarara!!x2 Shou I had very high expectations for this but fell short/ dragged some times / animation dropped off / but will watch the next 2 cours

    Where Your Other 5 TOP 1o Shows Finished ! Just for Rank / Again Everybody is different!

    4 / 18 Garo the Animation Kinda dragged toward the end And they killed off Lara

    5 / 23 Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso / Your Lie In April Could have been a great one / but too up and down for me

    7 / Log Horizon 2 / Did NOT WATCH

    8 / 20 Kantai Collection: Kan Colle Had very high hopes / last EP was a wash Still will watch S2

    10 / 25 Absolute Duo Julie is Cool The Best of the Harems Slim Pickings at best!

    Like

    • I actually agree with a lot of your comments, even if we’re not quite on the same page as far as ranks go (although you watched a whole bunch more shows than I did!).

      RIP Lara ;_; Believe me, I’m still not over my annoyance with the show over that!

      Also, yes! Absolute Duo was the best harem of the season; I agree!

      Like

  11. I forgot Maria / and while I am doing that I will give you my final 6 which was part of MY TOP 16 shows in Tier One for me!

    11 Junketsu no Maria / My Rank 15 Junketsu no Maria I feel bad not ranking higher as I liked Maria and her hate of violence. The earlier episodes were maybe too harsh for my taste but vastly improved

    MY 11- 16 SHOWS

    11 Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road Had High Hopes for this too ! / But dragged sometimes same flashbacks
    12 Gundam Build Fighters Try Was a Steady show Another Cour maybe for World Finals ?
    13 Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo This was cool / some pitfalls / but some very good EPS too
    14 Aldnoah.Zero 2 Actually got better as season went along but had some downsides too!
    15 Junketsu no Maria I feel bad not ranking higher as I liked Maria and her hate of violence. The earlier episodes were maybe too harsh for my taste but vastly improved
    16 Koufuku Graffiti / (Happy Cooking Graffiti) After watching all season I got to like this a lot!

    Like

  12. I’m late, I guess that’s what happens when I’m still catching up with some of the shows. At least I’m finished with everything (bar Yona) that I want to, though. I’ve put a rating system as well, though it’s really meaningless considering how subjective I am about it – some shows should be rated 0.5-1 higher but I personally didn’t enjoy it that much, and vice versa.

    Shirobako: 10/10
    Everyone has sung its praises and I have nothing more to add. I just want to praise it again for its characters, which is how it remain so strong and consistent throughout all 24 episodes. It could take the easy route and settle with being another ‘cute highschool girls doing cute anime-making things’ (aka the first five minutes of the show – I think I was already hooked the moment they show the adult Aoi car racing) or rely solely on inside industry in-jokes, but it’s the characters that keeps it from falling apart.

    The overwhelmingly huge cast of characters in the first episode becomes much more familiar over the course of the season, and by the last episode in the party, we’ve come to really know their traits and like them, even those like Tarou and Hiraoka. I don’t know, it might not be as perfect or legendary as the 10/10 might suggest, as I know that the real anime workplace isn’t as idealistic or even competent (kinda like West Wing, there’s way more Tarou/Hiraoka than Aoi in the real world) but it’s just a very good anime that I’d recommend to 10 out of 10 people – it’s really a must watch if you’re an anime fan.

    Death Parade: 8/10
    I admit I was also afraid at the beginning that it will focus too miuch in showing how every human has darkness within them, and really question the final judgment of the arbiters. But like you said in your piece, it really wasn’t about that at all, and the characters even tore apart how awfully unreliable the whole system was in the show. From then on, I think I’m beginning to grab what the show is all about and appreciate it much more, though it’s still not an easy show to watch. Though not visually, as the show looks and sounds spectacular.

    Durarara: 6/10
    Finally, Durarara is back. Many says that it’s not as good as it used to be and I have to agree, although in rewatching the first season in preparation I notice that the first season isn’t that perfect now that I look back to it. And really, it still carries many hallmarks that makes Durarara great, it’s just riddled with problems that drags its score down.

    Pacing may be a vague, easy catch-all term to complain about, but I really feels that it’s where they have the most problem. Simply put, the first arc (Hollywood) is too rushed and the second one a bit too slow in parts, while still being unclear with so many factions getting involved. I think this will all be better when the next cour rolls along and explains many things that are still unclear this season, but for the time being yeah it’s a bit disappointing, especially when you consider the production issues.

    Another thing that I feel a bit lacking for a Narita work is the romance part – particularly of the messed-up variety. Well, it doesn’t have to be romance, but just some relationship development stuff that’s not just a bunch of things happening together. I think Ruri and Kasuka delivers in this part (though again, it’s too fast), but the closest thing to it in the second arc is between Shizuo and Akane, which can be done better I think.

    Log Horizon: 6/10
    You nkow, one or two times is fine, but at this part all my grades are the same as iblessall – further proving I’m just a tasteless sheep. Well not completely, I rate LH the same reason I rate Durarara for instance – above average but with flaws that keeps it from becoming truly great.
    A big deal was made in the beginning when the studio is changed to DEEN, but I feel that some of its problems are really unrelated to them (though they’re hardly blameless too). I mean, it’s easy to say that some things can be cut and making it concise is better, but they literally have ran out of materials to cover – I think the last episode even requires them asking the author about some stuff he hasn’t written yet. I suppose delaying the adaptation for a few seasons would be better, but that’s hindsight.

    Because really, it’s not that the arcs are that bad. Akatsuki’s arc might drag in the beginning, but it shows many important developments for later on. Shiroe’s arc doesn’t become better than the sum of its parts, but it’s still not bad at all. I think the biggest blunder is in Kanami’s story – it can easily carry more episodes than the rushed one-episode that it got, and the kids arc can definitely do with being one or two episodes less. What really saves it for me though is the last arc – especially the finale – which reminds me again of the LH I first fell in love with, and gives great hope for the future.

    Junketsu no Maria: 5/10
    Yeah, this is where subjectivity comes into play in force. Writing wise it’s all really good, I probably should rate it 7-8/10, but like iblessall I too can’t really enjoy it personally as I share the same issues he’s having it with it, being a Christian and all. It’s not as simple as how they portray the Church and Heavens as evil, but I don’t know, it’s different than the usual JRPG evil church villain trope. I guess the biggest problem I’m having with it is the whole Church of Heavens part (probably because it’s easier to dismiss the humans as misguided, and it’s also historically not far off at all) which is why I’m wondering if it’s better to just remove them entirely. Of course, Maria’s power level would have to be reduced, and some of other things changed too – but that would mean no Ezekiel, which is a no go.

    I would probably rate this a bit higher too, but the ending isn’t that satisfying for me as well – I do appreciate them actually ending things properly though. I guess if you don’t see any problem with it then it’s highly recommended. I’m definitely looking forward to more of the staff’s future works too, especially when you consider many things are anime original (Galfa and Bernard aren’t even in the original manga).

    Saekano: 5/10
    To all who wants to watch this, I highly recommend you to skip the first ‘zero’ episodes – it’s basically much better as fanservice OVA and doesn’t serve as that good an intro for the series, especially when you won’t meet one of the characters for so long.

    Overall, I think its probably the best harem show airing. It at least tries to do some things differently, and when they delve into some actual drama with the girls it actually works quite well and sets it apart from other harem shows, and in a much better way than breaking fourth wall and lampshading tropes. I’m glad that the meta jokes is much lower in future episodes which is why I’m able to finish it, but they never really rise above the things they joke about, I feel. They did it when they want, but afterward they don’t really show the difference that much which feels like trying to eat a cake and still have it too.

    Probably the biggest problem (which isn’t really that much better until the last episode, which is why I don’t rate it higher) is the protagonist itself, a common complaint about the harem genre. For all the things they try to do differently with the girls, the protag isn’t all that much different or more interesting than most harem leads. I appreciate them giving him an ambition and I suppose he learnt to be more serious about his dreams by the end, but I still never cared about him and as a result his VN-making dream as well, which is actually the main thrust of the plot. The only time I fee l like he’s an actual character and not just an otaku or standard protagonist is in the blowout with Eriri, and I wish they have more stuff like that too.

    So yeah, the only reason I still follow this show is Kato, which is a breath of fresh air and the one thing that really sets it apart from other harem anime. She’s really great and easily the best girl, and even underwent some character development too. By the last few episodes, it’s clear that she’s more subtle rather than invisible, and is clearly much more manipulative rather than naïve and innocent. She even starts to do stuff that actually helps the VN project that goes beyond the silly stuff of ‘being an ideal heroine’.

    Rolling Girls: 4/10
    Between this and Bahamut, I think I’ll set up a rule for the next cour: if it’s a one cour series with the best first episode, I’ll prepare myself for disappointment by the end(so Oregairu, feel free to underwhelm me tomorrow; but just tomorrow!). Seriously though, I have really high hopes for this, but they never really deliver at all. There’s too many stuff happening and not enough reasons why we should care about it, and even by the end the main story isn’t shown clearly enough. As I said before the reason I stuck with it was because it’s really more flash than substance, but the flash is really great in visuals and soundtrack.

    So yeah, that’s the wrap for Winter 2015. It’s been relatively fantastic, and while some shows disappoints some rise very well beyond my expectations, so I really enjoy this season and hope the next one will be at least just as great. I’m also grateful I discover this blog to read your writing (I really wish I can shape my opinions as well as you do) and place some of the reaction vomit I’ve had with the shows here, so keep doing the good job, iblessall.

    –1700+ words, with all these walls of text posted so late, I’ll probably skip it myself–

    Like

    • And, for my part, I’m really grateful that you keep coming back to read and comment! Getting to hear other people’s thoughts on the same shows I’m writing about is such a cool experience and it helps keep me motivated!

      As for your ratings, I wouldn’t call you a “tasteless sheep;” rather, you seem to be possessed of that infinitely impossible to capture thing called “good taste.” 😉 Still, it was pretty funny to read through your comment and see all the similarities haha.

      A couple extra thoughts:
      * Log Horizon: Honestly, I thought DEEN did a very good job on the adaptation. I will never get them crap again.
      * Saekano: The protag of Saekano is probably the biggest reason I haven’t picked up the show & hearing that he’s mostly just another boilerplate harem protag (the impression I got from him in the first episodes I watched) pretty much solidifies that I’ll not watch it.
      * Rolling Girls: Ignore the best premiere of the season…? Hmm…I don’t know if I can quite buy that as Shirobako had the best premiere of the Fall 2014 season, so…

      Like

      • Yeah, tasteless is deliberately exaggerated but I dot think my opinion is a bit too easily influenced by others. Well, sometimes it can be a good thing though, and I’ll try to make sure it won’t change too much from what I personally enjoy or not.

        Looking back, the rushed Kanami episode aside I don’t think DEEN is doing that bad of a job either, at least nothing that they can help with – that is, budget aside the available materials kinda force them to do things that they did. Of course, a truly amazing adaptation can put in their own stuff that adds to the universe and is as good as the original, but that’s really asking for too much.

        Well, it makes sense though, they do keep the same staff anyway (which is why I’m really worried about Oregairu, I’ve read the source material and I really wish they can do it justice and not mess up. At least they keep the series composition guy, which did an impossibly fantastic job in the first season).

        I think I might be a bit too harsh towards Saekano’s protagonist, since he really isn’t too bad for harem protagonist standards. He even has a dream and drive to realize it, too. I suppose what makes me go against him is that compared to Shirobako or Beck it seems he gets his dream a bit too easy. Well, to be fair it’s not that easy, but how he can get top talented people working for him by virtue of them being in his harem – especially since I still am not convinced why those girls would fall for him anyway (which again, isn’t that much of a deal in a regular harem anime). Also, and I realize I’m being really unfair here, but between the VN obsession and the normal girl love interest I can’t help but to compare him to Keima Katsuragi, and of course most people will be lacking compared to him.

        If you look more closely – and I don’t blame you for missing it, it’s 1500 words in already – I realized that and put the 1-cour caveat for that reason. Also, as good as Shirobako first episode is (I know some people say that the start is a bit rough, but it’s always been great for me) I personally would say that Bahamut edges it slightly at least for that first episode only.

        Like

        • It’s true I didn’t like Aki much at first and it took me a long time to even start warming up to him, but I never thought of him as generic or boilerplate at all.When I think of a generic/boilerplate harem protagonist, I think of those bland audience stand-ins like Keitaro from Love Hina, or that dude from Daitoshokan whose name I’ve already forgotten even though I just watched that show last season. Those guys tend to be more reactive than proactive, they don’t really have any clear goals for themselves beyond helping their harem girls with their various problems of the week, and their harems more-or-less fall in their laps by luck or chance, not because they really did anything to make it happen.

          Aki’s kind of the opposite of that. Unlike your typical harem protags, he has very specific goals for himself and almost too much personality. He reminded me in some ways of Andou Jurai from Inou Battle, with his nerd pride and tendency to make overly loud/dramatic pronouncements, except that Andou (unlike Aki) also had excellent social skills and that went a long way towards balancing him out as a character. That aside, it’s Aki’s initiative that’s driving the whole plot, he’s the one who has to go out and actively recruit these girls – when none of them are initially receptive to his project and two of them are on the outs with him – and then he still has more work and compromising to do to retain them even after they’re in the fold, because his creative staff all have their own professional ambitions that they aren’t giving up just to come and work for him.

          And despite not being a big fan of him myself I actually CAN see why these girls would like him, although it’d take another essay-length post to really fully explain it.

          Like

          • Indeed, of all the harem protags I’ve seen, Andou is the one I’d compare Aki to as well. (I think I even did so a couple of times over the weeks.)

            I took your suggestions and rewatched episode 0, and the second time around (I.E. after watching the series) it’s subtle brilliance really shines through. Though admittedly I can also see where, between Ep 0 and the first couple of real episodes, someone could easily form the wrong impression. It really does take several episodes to get really good. I think it was ep 4 or 5 before I decided it wasn’t just another fan service harem comedy and got my lady to watch it.

            Like

  13. Your watchlist for this spring!? :DD

    Mine’s probably:
    – Gintama <– Abso-fucking-lutely
    – Digimon Tri <– 80% Absolutely
    – Nisekoi:
    – Owari no Seraph <– The manga isn’t anything special, but the uniforms are cool
    – Shokugeki no Soma <– IYKWIM

    It may decrease though, cos you know, reality checks 😛 Just so you know whatever happens, at least one anime will be watched, and that’s Gintama for me 😀

    Waiting for your “delicious” reviews again! (Of course, if some of your watchlist are the same to mine)

    Like

    • We’ve got a few shared shows, although I’m definitely going to be cutting from the number of show I start out with. The Current Watchlist page has the full list of everything I want to try out!

      I certainly hope we have at least a few shows overlapping! It’s been great having you in the comments this past season!

      Like

      • Actually, scratch all that. I felt an immense disturbance in the force as I look the PV and storyline of “Ore Monogatari!”. That show may as well be my first actual experience to shoujo anime, and it feels like it’ll be a must-watch “freshly new” series of the season. Last fall was Shigatsu, and this winter was Death Parade. Chances are, since usually my watchlist will go down to either one or two series, I’ll be watching Gintama and Ore Monogatari this season.

        Like

  14. LoL this guy drop Saekano, Aldnoah & Fafner & he gave shity ratings to some of the best anime of the season so it’s impossible to take him seriously…

    Like

  15. After that original post and the debate it sparked, I suppose it was entirely predictable that there was no way Junketsu no Maria would ever be judged too kindly in your eyes. Which is a shame, since I respect you as a writer and anime blogger, but I cannot share your conclusions. Put simply, I do not believe this was a story born out of any personal resentment towards Christianity (which both the manga author himself and the anime staff have separately denied in Japanese media sources), nor with any other agenda meant to misrepresent the religion in order to lecture its real believers about what is wrong with their belief system. Considering the main target audience was always Japanese and the religion’s influence in that part of the world is not too significant right now, such goals are not very likely in the first place. From my point of view, the rest of the story after episode two also largely suggests this wasn’t the case.

    It is rather ironic that Junketsu no Maria is both far too Christian to appeal to its intended Japanese audience, since for many viewers the series will always remain bizarrely out of touch with their own cultural background and not in line with their expectations of otaku pandering , and yet not remotely Christian enough for those who expected a completely orthodox and by-the-book take on the subject matter. Personally, I see this as a virtue rather than a sign of vice.

    I’ve understood some of your issues with the production in terms of not presenting the Church in the best light nor with absolute accuracy to Catholic theological complexities. I think that’s a fair complaint. But I’ve never fully agreed with the additional concerns you’ve extrapolated from it. My own interpretation of what the show did -and what it needed to do- is probably incredibly distant from the contents of your upcoming post. If anything, I actually regard the presence of Ezekiel as a net positive and think the show’s underlying themes are, comparatively speaking, more balanced than usual towards accepting the role of religion in a fictional medieval society, despite questioning its own versions of earthly and heavenly institutions (which weren’t simply catalogued as evil or malicious as a whole either).

    If the show’s portrayal of Christianity was certainly not nearly as nuanced as the real thing , I felt it was at least a full shade more thoughtful than how anime typically handles the subject. I have to imagine there will be split opinions between Catholics and other Christians in this respect, with not all devout believers standing on your side of the argument. Either way, for me Junketsu no Maria was far more interesting in terms of its ideas, storytelling and characterizations than a fair number of the series you have chosen to rank above it.

    I imagine I’ll end up elaborating on a lot of this too, when your post is finally public.

    Like

    • First off, I do think it’s important I note that I did not pick up Maria again after dropping it with the intention of disliking it. Having heard the generally positive reception the show had gathered after I dropped at following episode 2 (and having already been quite positively attracted to the cast), I genuinely wanted to like the show, even if I didn’t agree with its final message.

      I do still think you’re misunderstanding my issues with Maria, though, so I’ll try and clarify (obviously, these’ll be expanded on more in the upcoming collaboration post). First, I never argued (nor do I believe now) that Maria was “born out of any personal resentment towards Christianity” or that it was created with the agenda of being some kind of anti-Christian/anti-Catholic piece. I fully agree with you that any misrepresentations or misunderstanding are probably due to ignorance/thematic intentions, not out of a deliberate desire to attack Christianity/Catholicism.

      Where I think we differ is on the point of whether it’s good enough for Maria to just “be better/more nuanced” in its presentation of Christianity/Catholicism than your average anime. For me, it is a case of 3 being more than 0, but not adequate when considered against 5. The point, really, is that if Maria wanted to tackle such issues, I think it had a duty to make sure it was doing so accurately; not only for the sake of appeasing my Christian/Catholic understanding, but also for the sake of validating its points. I see Maria as a show trying to draw potentially valid conclusions from patently false premises (more on this in the upcoming post). Its points cannot be taken seriously because the foundation of the argument is faulty. Whether or not those premises are wrongheaded intentionally or not, it does not change the fact that they are wrong.

      As much as I did love Ezekiel (and I did love her—she was my third favorite character of the entire season!), I didn’t feel she was used liberally enough to create the sort of accurate representation I was hoping for. Ezekiel is actually the closest thing Maria has to an accurate representation of the Christian/Catholic view of the Church of Heaven, which made me want more of her in terms of correcting Maria‘s representational issues, besides the fact that she was just a great character.

      I’ll leave off here and keep a greater expansion of the details for the upcoming post, but I hope this clarifies things for you. I really do bear Maria as a whole no ill will. You may not believe it, but I hugely appreciate it for what it was trying to do, love the character work it did (until the ending flopped >_>), and had a good time watching it for the most part. Once again, I’ll point you to the blurb I wrote on it and the meaning of the 3/10 and the ranking: this is more overall assessment of the show’s value and, as much as I’d like Ezekiel to be enough to override the other problems I had with *Maria*, she’s just not. 😦 So, it’s a show that, generally, I liked—but I think its problems are too much of an issue to merit a higher score. I would not want people to watch *Maria* because of its wrongheaded ideas. Those predisposed to agree with it would be easily lead astray by its false representations and those who know enough not to be would find it altogether pointless beyond the character arcs. Those same arcs, though, are bound up in the thematic concerns to the point that they somewhat become inseparable.

      Sorry, I know that was long. Hopefully I’ve cleared some things up!

      Like

      • You have, but we happen to disagree there as well. I think neither Junketsu no Maria nor any other work of fiction should have to fulfill such a restrictive duty in order to achieve merit. Art and literature are, in a manner of speaking, precisely the realms of human expression where it is entirely possible to draw many truths even from within the depths of falsehood. Even highly fictionalized accounts of real events can have value as modern cultural products regardless of their limited historical accuracy.

        I do not interpret the philosophical or thematic points made by the show in terms of requiring any sort of external theological validation nor any formal consistency with my own personal views on religious faith, which have infinitely more to do with my life experiences and real world education, but merely in terms of what they mean for the central conflicts and by extension their underlying themes. My reasoning is that the purpose of this fictional story is not about making any grand statement on Catholicism or Christianity, which are only partially depicted yet neither explained nor judged as a whole. If anything, I think Junketsu no Maria provides positive messages of tolerance, remaining true to your ideals, helping those in need and even a little (other critics would say a lot of) feminism that are not inherently anti- or pro- religion (I would argue they are fairly compatible even with the religiosity of characters portrayed in a positive light, such as Martha and her family). I would sincerely recommend the series to other people on those grounds.

        That is why I think internal coherence is the only true requirement for a work of fiction (but, of course, some artists and writers would challenge even that notion). In that respect, I do take the themes of this story as seriously as I can take those of any other series with a certain level of genuine craftsmanship. Which, in this case, also involves my appreciation for the characters up to -and including- the final episode (I do not believe it flopped, although I would have honestly preferred extra elaboration about certain aspects).

        For me, an anime like Maria is a pretty good show that stimulates a degree of analytical thinking about its in-universe themes on various levels, including but far from limited to the area where your specific concerns are found.

        Like

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