The start of this season found me scrambling around in the middle of my final semester of college, and the close of the season finds me a couple months into my first full-time job. The beginning of this season feels like it was forever ago, but not simply because of the huge life changes I’ve gone through in the interim. This season also saw me drop what was probably a record number of shows, including a bunch of shows that fell out of favor midway through their runs. But, for all that, the top tier of this season was exceptionally good—which really makes up for a weak middle tier and a pretty distinct lack of super-engaging trashy entertainment.
1. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO! (9/10)
Still a bit in the post-watch daze, which is a tribute to how completely Oregairu sucked me into this story of friendship, loneliness, and the immense struggle for connection that characterizes the lives of we humans, despite all out attempts to pretend we can be self-sufficient all on our own. If there’s one lesson to take away from this incredible continuation to what was already a strong series, it’s that we need other people. It’s a hard lesson to watch three lovable kids learn, and it’s even harder to learn ourselves. But Oregairu demands nothing less of its audience. It insists that you listen, that you apply what you see to your own life. It’s a challenging show. A hard show to watch. But, at the end of the day, I’m thankful that it exists and that it refuses to leave us alone. For those who are completely fulfilled with their interpersonal relationships, Oregairu may not be all that relevant a piece. But for those of us still struggling to make the connections that will enrich our lives and allow us to do the same for others, it’s a magnificent and empathetic work.
Awards: Best Story, Best Male Character—Hachiman Hikigaya, Best Female Character—Yui Yuigahama, Best Drama (Honorable Mention: Best Visual Aesthetic)
2. Blood Blockade Battlefront (8-9/10)
Well, with the finale nowhere in sight (we literally have no idea when it’ll air), I figure I might as well let you guys know what I think of Blood Blockade Battlefront, behind all the delays in episodic posts and rants about cinematography. I like it. I like it a whole lot, but I’m honestly not quite sure how much until I see how Rie Matsumoto and her crew at BONES wrap everything up. There’ll probably be a mini-marathon in my future with BBB before the finale airs—it’s been weeks since I’ve watched an episode, but I still can’t forget the delicious vocal riffs of “Catch Me if You Can” from episode 2 or the cataclysmic fun that was Aligura’s feature episode. In the very simplest terms I can manage, this is a show I’m going to buy—no question about it. Between Matusmoto’s creative visual direction, fantastic storyboarding, the intensely likable cast assembled by Yasuhiro Nightow, and the riotously energetic way it all comes together, you’ve got a mess of energy and entertainment that few shows can match. BBB‘s certainly a bit inconsistent, but for its highs—I can forgive that.
- Episodic Posts (I swear I will finish them all eventually)
Awards: Best Visual Aesthetic, Best OST, Best OP—”Hello, World!” by Bump of Chicken, Best Comedy, Best Fantasy, Best Action (Honorable Mention: Best ED—”Sugar Song to Bitter Step” by Unison Square Garden)
3. Sound! Euphonium (8/10)
So, this is the Kyoto Animation of lore—and what they can really do. Or so I’d like to be saying, but when all’s said and done, I don’t think it’s really possible for me to entirely divorce my experience with Sound! Euphonium from my experience with the corresponding fandom. And sadly, the fandom noise that surrounded Eupho for a great part of its run was just loud enough that it seeped into the concert hall and made the grand symphony of sight and sound that was Eupho a little bit less pleasant to hear. And that’s honestly kind of a shame, because I think Eupho has it all—fantastic visuals, ponytails, beautiful music, stellar voice acting, and a powerfully relatable story about music, passion, talent, effort, and teams. This may be a show I watch in the future and can enjoy fully on its own terms, but (at least for now) the fandom’s terms at least partially rule my investment in this show. Couple that with Eupho‘s quiet dignity—a rare trait that requires even more isolation with the show to really appreciate—and you’ve got an unfortunate mixture of loud fanbase and quiet show that just doesn’t quite harmonize right.
Awards: Best Slice-of-Life (Honorable Mention: Best Story, Best Visual Aesthetic, Best OST, Best Female Character—Natsuki Nakagawa)
4. Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (7/10)
Dumb light novel adaptations have no business being this good, but Danmachi was this good and I am so ridiculously happy it was. At its very core, this is a story about finding a family—and hidden behind fanservice and superficial sexism, Danmachi turned out to be a hugely generous, loving, and lovable show. And this is a show redeemed by the light of its great strengths, rather than being conquered by its faults. And it does have faults, you can be sure of that—lazy writing, bad tropes, superficial sexualization of its female characters—but the light of this show’s love for its characters couldn’t be overcome. Danmachi is a show that, to a degree, demands you ignore the exterior warts and understand the things its really trying to say behind the guise of its commercially demanded facade.
Awards: Pet Show of the Season, Best Adventure, Best Harem (Honorable Mention: Best Story, Best OP—”Hey World” by Yuka Iguchi, Best Male Character—Bell Kranel)
5. Assassination Classroom (6/10)
There’s a part of me that wishes it could claim Shounen Jump titles don’t usually work that well for me, but I don’t think it’s really true (Kuroko, Haikyuu!!, Hunter x Hunter, Nisekoi). Either that, or I’ve just made really great choices with the Jump adaptations I choose to watch. Whatever the case may be, Assassination Classroom joins the club with its mix of life lessons, charismatic teachers, and a group of losers you just can’t help but root for. Like many titles of its ilk, Assassination Classroom turned out to be a much better watch in chunks than weekly, as the longer stretches of time with the characters allowed the surprisingly good pacing of the show to pull you through each big moment to the next. Assassination Classroom is one of those addictive shows that always has you excited about the moment you’re watching in the present, while always making you anticipate the Next Thing. It makes for a show that’s a ton of fun to watch, and I’m super excited it’ll be coming back for another season.
Awards: (Honorable Mention: Best Male Character—Koro-sensei)
6. Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (5/10)
I don’t know how, but Yamada-kun did it. It made it to the end and didn’t fall apart—production-wise or story-wise. And, of course, the glue holding it all together is the amazing pairing of Yamada Ryu and Urara Shiraishi. In a season of great ships and well-written character relationships, Yamada and Urara stood out with their unique mixture of trust, forgiveness, acted love, and realistic teen awkwardness. Were they in a different kind of show, Yamada and Urara could have been an all-time great couple; as it were, though, they’re simply a standout couple in a season with a lot of them—no small feat. The rest of the show most gets by on the charm of getting to see already beloved characters from the manga in motion and on the strength of the voice acting by the entire cast, which absolutely rocked the challenge of switching personalities, but not bodies. This is a huge factor in being able to sell the body-switching device, and the cast of Yamada-kun pulled it off incredibly well.
7. Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic (5/10)
Moegirls, ahoy! Kinmoza, as with the first season, had its deadly funny episodes and its merely amusing episodes, but the ratio of absolute hilarity to comfortable enjoyment was actually weighted more towards the humorous side of things, something I appreciated greatly. Kinmoza‘s probably the kind of show I won’t watch again, but it’s also one that’ll sit in my fond memories—and that’s a nice place for a show like this to be. As the franchise that truly inducted me into the cute-girls-doing-cute-things-and-being-funny-sometimes genre, Kinmoza will always be that One Really, Really Fun Moegirl show. Even if better and funnier moegirls shows come along (as I expect they inevitably will), it’ll always be Kinmoza that opened me to enjoying them. And, of course, there’s the indomitable Karen—a true force of comedic nature and easily the greatest highlight Kinmoza has ever had to offer. I’ll miss these dorks.
8. Nisekoi: (4/10)
Turns out Nisekoi‘s formula is heavily reliant on two things. 1) SHAFT actually keeping the production together, and 2) Chitoge. Of course, the second of these is something I’ve been aware for a long time, but my suspicion that SHAFT’s flashy stylings played a huge role in making the first season as entertaining as it was truly was no more than a suspicion until the production wheels came off of this season and the love-em-or-hate-em cinematographic tricks that SHAFT’s become known for disappeared into boilerplate visuals. The Chitoge episodes are pretty much the only thing that keep Nisekoi: out of irredeemable category and the promise of them were the only thing that kept me watching through the dull Onodera sister episodes. Sorry, Nisekoi. It was fun while it lasted.
- Denpa Kyoushi (0.5 ep)
- The Heroic Legend of Arslan (1 ep)
- Gunslinger Stratos (1 ep)
- Kyoukai no Rinne (1 ep)
- Re-Kan! (1 ep)
- Seraph of the End (1 ep)
- Urawa no Usagi-chan (1 ep)
- Food Wars! (2 eps)
- Wish Upon the Pleiades (2 eps)
- Plastic Memories (4 eps)
- Mikagura School Suite (5 eps)
- Punchline (7 eps)
- Award: Best ED—”Mitsu Mitsu Mitsu” by Ayumikurikamaki
- The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan (8 eps)
- Show by Rock! (8 eps)
- Ore Monogatari!! (Current: 5/10)
- Best Short
- Best Sci-Fi
- Best Sports
And that wraps up the Spring 2015 season (aside from the tardy Blood Blockade Battlefront)! I’m looking forward to both summer’s shows and to continuing to figure out how I want to do this blogging thing alongside my full-time job.
This seems as good a time as any to remind you all that, if you’d like to support me financially, I do have a Patreon page. As before, I’m not in desperate straits, but pledging on Patreon 1) reduces my stress of money—which frees up more brain space for me to blog, and 2) makes it so I have to spend less time at work—which means I’ll have more time for bringing you guys more great content.
And, finally (and most importantly) thank to everyone who reads, comments, subscribes, or otherwise supports me in this project. I’m incredibly grateful to be able to write for such a great group of people. Looking forward to many more good times with all of you~