Another season has passed. Despite being a rather slow season and mostly lacking in shows I would consider worthy of serious superlatives, I was generally amused, entertained, and engaged by the stuff I ended up watching all the way to the end. As always, there were some up weeks and some down weeks, but on the whole I’m pretty happy with the way this season ended up. It certainly won’t go down as one of the best in anime history—but when you come away from a season with an episode of a bubble dropping on Lelei’s head, how can you really complain?
9. Charlotte (3/10)
This is not a good show. I’m not surprised that this was what the writer of Angel Beats! came up with, but Charlotte shares basically all of the same characteristics of composition that Angel Beats! does while managing to be much, much worse. I don’t really mind Jun Maeda’s tendency to parcel out individual scenes (and scenes within scenes!) without any kind of coherent connection between them, but when he tries to apply that to a plot that ends up crossing the entire world in a single episode…well, it just doesn’t work. Happily, Charlotte really only got vomit-inducing bad in episode 11, but the majority of the material after episode six’s revelations was pointless and detached from the first half’s few charms that the show ceased to be amusing in any kind of way. Had I not been watching with a friend, I almost certainly would not have finished this. So, as it stands, Charlotte is the first anime I’ve rated this low for simple execution reasons since Wizard Barristers. So, yeah. There’s that. At least there was Nao (until the show ruined her, too).
Awards: (Honorable Mention: Best OP—”Bravely You” by Lia)
8. GATE (5/10)
If GATE were a worse show, it would truly be doomed. That may sound obvious, but the real point here is that GATE is filled with attitudes I find irritating, irking, and downright troublesome (more on that coming, I swear!). However, GATE is not a terrible show, unlike its political cousin, Mahouka. Whatever your feelings about GATE‘s politics, there’s no denying this is a show with spunk—an energy carried through its distinctive and fun-to-watch characters. You can probably guess from the opening gif who my favorite of the bunch is, but GATE is one of those not-great shows redeemed by a comfortably inspired set of archetypal character you just can’t help but like and want to watch. And, you know what? I’ll forgive GATE a lot for that. I don’t demand greatness out of every show I watch—things that were fun to watch are just as important to me. So while GATE sits here at the bottom of the seasonal list, I assure it deserve as least one self-serious JSDF salute for the important duty it dispatched in my seasonal anime diet. Here’s to you, GATE.
- Aniwords – I Went Through the Gate…
- Likable Characters Save Bad Anime
- Planned Essay: “I Will Not Bow Down Before the JSDF: Resisting Imperialism in GATE“
Awards: Best Fantasy, Best Action, Best Harem (Honorable Mention: Best Male Character—Itami)
7. Miss Mononchrome S2 (5/10)
Miss Monochrome isn’t a show packed full of gags. No, it’s a show built on the inherent absurdity of an android that wishes to be a top idol—and it just kind of runs with things from there. I won’t say it’s the perfect show for the short anime format as others have certainly been more evocative in this particular form of the medium, but Miss Monochrome really is a show after the spirit of Miss Monochrome herself: quirky, offbeat, a little behind the times, and intensely entertaining because of all that. “Good chrome-ing,” indeed.
Awards: Pet Show of the Season, Best Short Series (Honorable Mention: Best ED—”Step by Step!” by Miss Monochrome)
6. Durarara!!! x2-2 (6/10)
Although better than its immediate predecessor, this iteration of Durarara!! never quite hit the high points it needed in order to surpass x2-1 in score. Rather, most of the gains came in places where the first cour ought to have succeeded and instead cruised by on sheer character power. x2-2, on the other hand, avoided production collapses and kept the primary actors moving around more, but failed to really close the deal. The season felt more like an elaborate, if generally engaging, set-up for the coming season—but you can only finish an episode so many times thinking, “Oh, man, next episode is gonna be crazy,” only to find that next episode just teasing that feeling out longer before you start to get a tad cynical. All I’ll say at this point is that x2-3 better have some pretty fantastic payoffs to all the positioning work x2-2 did. Durarara!! is about the chaos of its characters clashing with each other—it’s about time to let them do just that.
5. Gakkou Gurashi (6/10)
Without question, Gakkou Gurashi was the surprise of the season. Having gone into the show without any knowledge of the big twist (and what a twist it was!) and expecting my normal ration of moegirls, Yuki and co’s adventures in life, living, and staying alive turned out to be far more than I had ever anticipated. Although the show peaked with the Megu-nee highlight in episode three, Gakkou Gurashi continued to punch far above its emotional weight class. Although horror is most certainly not a genre I have much appreciation for—and there were definitely times during Gakkou Gurashi when I was Ready To Be Done—the combination of moe and fear somehow ended up being a…deadly…combination. In the end, I wanted a bit more in a few departments than Gakkou Gurashi was willing to give me (more Megu-nee could have really enhanced the show) and a bit less in others (fanservice, my old enemy…), but on the whole it was a surprisingly solid ride.
Awards: Best Drama (Honorable Mentions: Best Story, Best OST, Best Female Character—Megu-nee)
4. Working!!! (7/10)
Third seasons are dangerous for most anime. Not for Working!!!, which somehow managed to not only preserve everything about the first two seasons that made them charming and delightful, but also turned long-standing jokes into valid plot events and emotional pivot points. The dirty little secret about Working!!! is that it’s quietly a comedy with a seriously dark edge when you stop to think about some of the things it’s riffing on. Some might see that as a crass appeal to comedy, but I see it more as one approach to dealing with the painful parts of our past lives. That’s not to say I think Working!!! is some grand thesis on overcoming our childhood trauma; it’s merely to say that I don’t think Working!!! is unaware of the territory on which it treads. Rather, it simply continues to be its lighthearted, kindhearted, joyful self. It’s a dish best served up warm.
Awards: Best ED—”Matsuge ni Lock” by Jun Fukuyama, Daisuke Ono, and Hiroshi Kamiya; Best Comedy; Best Slice of Life
3. Classroom☆Crisis (7/10)
Had Classroom☆Crisis (Seekirasee) been the show I thought it was and wanted it to be after the first episode, I have no doubt it would be topping this list. But, we don’t always get what we want, and so it was with Seekirasee. Post-premiere, I was expecting a concrete discussion via story of the themes and attitudes exemplified by director Kenji Nagasaki’s earlier efforts with Gundam Build Fighters—I suppose you could say I wanted a show that was pure frontier spirit. Instead, we ended up with a likable show with a likable cast that was even charming at points. It was a more traditional story, I suppose you could say. However, despite never quite putting it all together in the way I’d hoped, there were many individual parts of Seekirasee that resonated with me—Mizuki, Mizuki and Nagisa, Nagisa and Kaitou, the struggle between corporation and creativity, conceptions of loyalty, and the joy of camaraderie. It never quite all came together in a cohesive package, but Classroom☆Crisis will remain a fondly-remembered show nonetheless.
- Potential Essay: “Standing by: What it Means to Be Loyal in Classroom Crisis“
Awards: Best OP—”Cobalt” by Trysail, Best Adventure, Best Sci-fi, Best Male Character: Fake Nagisa (Honorable Mentions: Best Story, Best OST)
2. Akagami no Shirayuki-hime (8/10)
Masahiro Ando returns to making anime. To be specific, he returns (along with Michiru Oshima) to making really, really, really good anime. There’s a ton to be said about Shirayuki-hime‘s story content, and I will say it, but for me the characters and narrative of this show are inextricably tied to the way their tale was told by Ando, Oshima, and Hitomi Mieno (series composition). This includes Ando’s measured directorial touch, Mieno’s frequently bell-like composition, and Oshima’s divine score. Shirayuki-hime truly was a triumph of some extremely talented people taking excellent base material and elevating it. Nowhere was this more evident than in the number of times Oshima’s music (guided by Ando’s hand) swept into a good scene and made it a transcendent one. It was frequently magical, and always inspiring.
Of course, all this would have gone to waste without something worthwhile for the staff to expend their talents on, and Shirayuki-hime had that, too. It’s not so much a story as it is a simple celebration of the beautiful intimacy born of a true and honest friendship. Amidst all the squealing at how darn cute Zen and Shirayuki are together lies the quiet calm of the storm that says, “This is how you can truly be present to another person. This is how to be a good human being in relationship with other human beings.” And that’s pretty cool.
Awards: Best Visual Aesthetic, Best OST, Best Romance (Honorable Mention: Best Female Character—Shirayuki, Best Male Character—Zen)
1. Gatchaman Crowds insight (9/10)
Much like the season itself, Crowds‘ second season was a bit of an up and down ride, but the highs the show reached—episode 3 and episode 12, in particular—were more than enough to make this my favorite show of the season, as well as the show I think is of most import. Crowds is, and always has been, a show about ideas enacted via a story. I don’t thank that makes Crowds inhuman, even if its characters sometimes feel more like incarnations of the philosophies they espouse than they feel like people. After all, these philosophies and ideologies and ways of seeing the world are all born of us humans.
But that doesn’t quite do Crowds justice, as its also a show willing to let its characters grow and change, even as they continue to embody the ideas that make the show what it is. Tsubasa, Gelsadra, Rizumu, and the rest of the Gatchaman—they’re all still people. And then, there’s Hajime, a character who has become one of my all-time favorites. I liked Hajime a lot in the Gatchaman Crowds, but in a post-insight world…I love Hajime. I love who she is. I love what she represents. She’s the mirror that reflects humanity—a little bit cold, but still incredibly warm. Just like, I think, Gatchaman Crowds insight itself.
- Planned Essay: “Hajime Ichinose, The Cracked Mirror”
Awards: Best Story, Best Female Character—Hajime Ichinose (Honorable Mentions: Best Visual Aesthetic, Best OP—”insight” by White Ash, Best ED—”60 Oku no Tsubasa” by ANGRY FROG REBIRTH)
- Aquarion Logos (0 eps, 0 min)
- Aoharu x Machinegun (1 ep)
- Chaos Dragon (1 ep)
- Gangsta (1 ep)
- Prison School (1 ep)
- Ranpo Kittan (2 eps)
- Danchigai (3 eps)
- Castle Town Dandelion (5 eps)
- Overlord (5 eps)
- Rokka no Yuusha (8 eps)
- Ushio to Tora (13 eps)
Non Non Biyori Repeat (4/12, still delightful).
- Honorable Mention: Best Visual Aesthetic
- Best Sports
And that’s all Summer 2015 wrote. On to the fall season! As always, thank you all so much for reading, commenting, and otherwise being a great audience. In the middle of the season, I really started dragging and even wondered if it was time to give up the whole aniblogging thing—but it was just a temporary phase and now I’m back and excited to continue on writing with all the great people around me. Here’s to hoping for a fantastic fall season of anime~