Seasonal Anime Reviews: Winter 2015

Even if Miyazaki didn't actually say this, considering the existence of a certain few anime, I'm willing to believe that.

Even if Miyazaki didn’t actually say this, considering the existence of a certain few anime, I’m willing to believe that.

Seasonal Thoughts: Yeah, I don’t think I gave this season enough credit at first. It was a good season, which is surprising since Winter seasons are usually a drag. I blame the weather. It felt like most of the momentum from last Fall carried over here. The fact that we had two consistently good seasons in a row should be criminal. But even so, one half of the season was pretty strong, while the other half was weak. The good side had several very good shows that could end up on my Top 10 of the year and even the shows that kinda sucked were a bit enjoyable, and two shows that pissed me off so bad that it made me wish everyone in those shows dropped dead.  Also, I’ve learned that Winter season is the season for a few terrible endings. Aldnoah.Zero and Rolling Girls are prime examples of that. There’s always that one show that somehow pulls off the worst possible ending.

Screenshot - 3_25_2015 , 12_56_43 AMMan, can you believe this shit? I was expecting something similar to 5th form Cooler, not some special edition gold-colored amiibo! What were you thinking, Toriyama?! I’m still gonna see this movie, but I’m not too crazy about Frieza’s new form as of right now.

I'm sorry, but with my current hyperactively dirty mind, I couldn't not interpret that in a homoerotic way.

I’m sorry, but with my current hyperactively dirty mind, I couldn’t not interpret that in a homoerotic way.

Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-Bu LOVE!)
You know, I mostly jumped into Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! not only because it’s magical boys, but literally making fun of every single magical girl anime rule in the book. Even if every episode turned out to be repetitive, as long as it had that, I could still enjoy it. Sometime midway through the show, it decided that it’s gonna get rid of the thing that made it actually worthwhile and pretty much become a passable anime. I would’ve given it a point higher but still be somewhat decent if it remained as it was all the way through, and not be as repetitive. It was just a silly as hell gag anime, nothing more and nothing less. I’m pretty bummed that a hilariously ridiculous idea like magical boys could’ve been done better. But I will give it a few sympathy points for its saving grace of its Samurai Flamenco-tier finale. Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! is good for what it is, but I’m just saying, guys: Is This a Zombie? did the magical boy thing better than this. [Score: 7.5]


 

OK, show of hands: Is this sounding very similar to Attack on Titan to anyone? I know I'm not the only one that's thinking this.

OK, show of hands: Is this sounding very similar to Attack on Titan to anyone? I know I’m not the only one that’s thinking this.

Yurikuma Arashi
Besides a select few keeping the season from being a total disaster in my opinion, there was also Yurikuma. And Yurikuma, at first glance, was just there to me. I can only barely see what others that are familiar with Ikuhara’s works can, which is why there’s only very little for me to write here. I guess you could say that I came for Ikuhara (despite knowing jack about any of his other works other than Sailor Moon), and stayed for the completely surreal drama, suspense and just straight up weirdness. However, all of the yuri aspects can get, well… unbearable to some. I’m sorry, I just had to do at least one bear pun. But I noticed that there are a lot of meaningful themes of forgotten friendship and love beneath all the yuri and weird symbolic stuff and what have you, and once you can realize all of it, Yurikuma Arashi becomes much more complex than you would think. It is the show this season that certainly has rewatch value; that much I can say. It’s pretty freaking weird to the point that I don’t understand what’s going on sometimes, but I think I’ve gotten the gist of it. Mostly. [Score: 8.5]


 

OK, so we know that Ryuk once said that anyone who uses the Death Note can neither go to Heaven nor Hell. So I guess it safe to say that Light ended up in Quindecim at the end of Death Note and got reincarnated. Which means that those theories about Light being reincarnated as a Shinigami probably aren't that far off after all...

OK, so we know that Ryuk once said that anyone who uses the Death Note can neither go to Heaven nor Hell. So I guess it safe to say that Light ended up in Quindecim at the end of Death Note and got reincarnated. Which means that those theories about Light being reincarnated as a Shinigami probably aren’t that far off after all…

Death Parade
This and Parasyte will pretty much make up for the trifecta of Madhouse garbage of 2014 (yeah, let’s start calling them that now). I remember praising Space Dandy for doing the same thing Death Parade does, where it reminded me of the old days of entertainment, where each episode in a series has its own self-contained plot but still tied together as an overarching story. And that was why I actually did enjoy the episodic nature of the series, since I thought the kind of thing would fit with the premise of Death Parade. I suppose that is Death Parade‘s biggest weakness is that the episodic plots only loosely tie together, if at all, like every episode could be its own separate series. It probably worked in Death Billiards since it’s just one episode, but not so much in a single-cour series. And let me tell you, psychological anime tend to make me think about human nature a lot, which is why it’s one of my favorite anime genres, but this one knows how to pull the heartstrings a lot, and it hurts a lot. Contrary to what you may think of me, I’m not made of stone. It takes a lot to create genuine emotional drama between characters, especially with one-shot characters of the week, but Death Parade excels at it big time. Guess I should probably get around to watching Death Billairds then. [Score: 8.5]


 

"I found you, faker!" "Faker? I think you're the fake princess around here."

“I found you, faker!”
“Faker? I think you’re the fake princess around here.”

Aldnoah.Zero
Clearly the second half of the “Gundam-killer” Aldnoah.Zero is run on even more utter stupidity than the first half. And not the good kind of stupid like Code Geass was. I mean the stupid kind of stupid. What’d you expect from the head writer of Boku no Pico leading a bunch of brain-dead idiots who write as if they failed high school physics? “Wind in space”… Seriously?! Inaho is neither a smart nor badass protagonist. He is a lazily written, no-emotion, autistic Gary Tzu robot, and his bionic eye that does whatever the plot needs it to makes him even more of such. As for Slaine, I’ve put up with him more than any other character, but I could only put up with everybody’s actions to the point that they become utterly stupid and nonsensical, much like the show they’re in. Speaking of which, the show is so hellbent on making me think Slaine is such an evil asshole even though he hasn’t done much of anything to make me think so. And that’s not even getting into Princess Faker, whose name I do know but, as far as I’m concerned, don’t care to remember because she was just shoehorned into the plot from nowhere so there’s no point. In fact, Everyone except Inaho’s sole purpose is to be useless as all get out so that he can look awesome, rinse and repeat. Aldnoah.Zero is not “a dark twist on Gundam;” that’s called Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, by the way. It’s what happens when you take away all the good parts of mecha anime and you end up with an awful, incomprehensible mess that does plot twists only for the sake of shock value, terribly rips off other mecha anime and even X-Men, and becomes nothing more than Inaho and Slaine’s dick-measuring contest. This is probably why Urobuchi should never leave a project, because you wind up with things like Psycho-Pass 2 and this; the laughingstock of the entire mecha genre. [Score: 2]


 

Good to know, Walker, you crazy pyromaniac. Also, your van sucks, by the way.

Good to know, Walker, you crazy pyromaniac. Also, your van sucks, by the way.

Durarara!!x2
Well, my worst fears heave been realized. Either time has not been kind to me and Durarara!!, or maybe I’m just losing interest in it. Yeah, I found Part 1 to be pretty boring, other than scenes involving Shizuo and/or Izaya. And to be quite honest: Those two were the best parts of Durarara!!, especially the first season. This second season (so far) lacks the same good direction as the first, which makes everything looks like events are only happening because they are. If this is what’s to be expected from the next two-thirds of the season, then I’m gonna be very disappointed. [Score: 5.5]


 

Geez, Priapus, No need to be such a dick about not having a dick.

Geez, Priapus, No need to be such a dick about not having a dick.

Maria the Virgin Witch (Junketsu no Maria)
I cannot blame anyone for think that this was gonna be some kind of run-of-the-mill sexual fanservice comedy show. I mean, with a show titled “Maria the Virgin Witch“, it’s hard not to think so. But the more I watched it every week, the more I learned that it was much, much more than that. This show has some of the strongest character development and fantastic direction I’ve seen out of this season. The titular character goes from trying to put an end to wars because war is Hell to stopping wars so that everybody, herself included, can live happy. And the comedy aspects, which was alot less than what I originally expected, was actually pretty charming, cute and felt natural to the tone of the series. And I wasn’t too worried about it being an incomplete, rushed, or anime-original adaptation. From what I’ve read, the anime actually expands upon the plot of the manga, which is actually a great touch. Also, I guess I should talk about… that. Yeah… “That.” Certain anime nowadays (you know the ones I’m talking about) can’t ever seem to tackle the ever-so-extremely heavy subject known as attempted rape without making it feel gratuitous, tasteless, sexist, and/or just downright offensive, so you can expect a breath of fresh air whenever there’s one that actually can handle such a subject in a way that gives off the reaction anyone should and avoid pissing anyone off. Although Maria didn’t go that far with it, the attempt of such was still terrifying… Hold on one moment. *screams into pillow for a moment* OK, I’m done. See that? That’s the kind of reaction I wanna see whenever that subject comes up. In all seriousness, Maria the Virgin Witch is gonna be one of those gems that’s gonna end up overlooked, even though the person who co-wrote and directed Code Geass is attached to the thing. This show surpassed all my expectations to be the unexpected surprise this season. I know this sounds like a huge stretch since the year is only a quarter done, but I’m honestly willing to say that Maria the Virgin Witch could end up being one my top favorite anime of this year. Good for you, Goro Taniguchi! Bravo, sir. [Score: 9]


 

Finishing your ramen bowl is serious business 'round these parts.

Finishing your ramen bowl is serious business ’round these parts.

The Rolling Girls
Rolling Girls is probably one of the most colorful, upbeat, fun shows Wit Studio has produced thus far. It is one of those shows that by listening to the opening theme alone, you feel like you’re gonna be in for a good time. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Too bad that’s just the first third of the episodes. Everything else afterwards just doesn’t have the same energy to the point that the whole show just feels like 12 episodes of wasted potential. And one thing I really hate is shows with good potential gone to waste. Like seriously, anime writers? If you show that your show has a lot of promise, do something to live up to it! Show me that this story and its plot and characters can be exciting to watch. Don’t just drop the ball right when you reach the court and say “screw it.” Rolling Girls is like a road trip with a car on its last legs: It holds up enough to go places for a few hours, but stalls afterwards and then breaks down. And then you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere and then you gotta hitch a ride from complete strangers. Terrible euphemism, but you get the idea. [Score: 5]


 

We interrupt this Yatterman spinoff to bring you E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

We interrupt this Yatterman spinoff to bring you E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Yatterman Night (Yoru no Yatterman)
I’ll give Yatterman Night points for actually being able to make a setting dark and depressing, and making me care about the characters and the story, which is a thing most anime nowadays can’t seem to do. And unfortunately just like Maria the Virgin Witch and Yurikuma Arashi, it’s gonna be one of those shows that are actually pretty decent, but those that didn’t watch it won’t think so at first glance; because the protagonist is a young girl and then they’ll just brush it off as some lolicon crap. Otakus nowadays are fucking hypocrites… But still, even though Leopard’s descendant is a pretty fanservice-heavy character (From what little knowledge of Yatterman I have, Doronjo gets her clothes blown off virtually every episode), she’s not sexualized in any way. Heck, the male characters bare more skin than Leopard. Although, I was kinda expecting Yatterman Night to be a standalone spinoff kinda like Gatchaman Crowds and not connected to its parent series as a whole. Plus, the story can be a hit-or-miss. Which I think is Yatterman Night‘s biggest weakness, besides the production getting rather messy in its last episodes, especially the final episode. Come on, anime, you can’t start being like video games and release things unfinished. Now I think I’ll have to watch one of the previous Yatterman series to have an idea of a certain endgame plot twist. [Score: 7.5]


 

I bet the writers were thinking "Females with self-esteem? Nah, that's for pussies!"

I bet the writers were thinking “Females with self-esteem? Nah, that’s for pussies!”

Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons (Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo)
Even if I can get past all of the offensive and sexist crap that only the worst of it really happens in less than a third of the episodes and the rest of it is just downright stupid, Cross Ange still is a pretty terrible show with completely unsympathetic, unlikable characters. I don’t care about any of these characters, especially not the displaced harem protagonist Tusk, or these absolutlely worthless females with no self-esteem. Seriously, I’d much rather see all these characters  kill themselves in a fire rather than like them. Also, I usually would just shrug off any fanservice moments, but when you pull one during what is supposed to be a moment I’m supposed to be taking seriously, then you lose the serious part. I can’t even begin to understand why anyone would defend this garbage unless they’re a misogynist pig. Cross Ange is one dumb as fuck, sexist beyond belief, piece of trash anime schlock (Yeah, I’m willing to say this show is more sexist than Sword Art Online, and that’s saying something, by the way), and I’m pretty much ready to forget its existence as soon as humanly possible. Considering Mitsuo Fukuda also did Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Destiny (the two Gundam series that are so despised amongst the fanbase that I refuse to watch them), I think it’s safe that I blacklist the man. Seriously, if I see this guy’s name attached to anything involving giant robots, I’m avoiding it at all costs. Goddamn it, Sunrise, you are better than this… [Score: 2]


 

It's just one of those nights where your Talking Right Hand Weird Snake is on the internet all night.

It’s just one of those nights where your Talking Right Hand Weird Snake is on the internet all night.

Parasyte ~the maxim~ (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu)
So after a completely terrible performance last year (and I cannot stress that enough), Madhouse returns to being good ol’ Madhouse with what is apparently supposed to be Invasion of the Body-Snatchers, now with a really quirky talking right hand weird snake, questioning the loss of humanity every passing day, and dubstep. Ok, yeah, I didn’t really care about that the soundtrack being mostly dubstep. Odd choice, though. I will say this though: Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas songs are straight up ear-rape. I would be fine with all the nonsensical English gibberish if it weren’t for all the bad autotune. Anyhoo, the story and character development starts off strong, even though it feels dated at times, but it hits a pretty massive snag midway through, but fortunately recovers just in time to finishes off with a good conclusion that keeps it from being a total disappointment. There are alot of things that can easily be blamed on it being a manga made in the late-1980’s to mid-1990’s, mainly the fact that Parasyte could be construed as misogynist to some. Like the female characters are only used to develop Shinichi’s character I guess that rubbed some people the wrong way, but I wasn’t really bothered by it. I can understand why, though. To each his own, I guess. [Score: 8]


 

Okay, screw you, Build Fighters Try! Why you gotta go around singing "Anime ja nai" of all Gundam opening themes?!

Okay, screw you, Build Fighters Try! Why you gotta go around singing “Anime ja nai” of all Gundam opening themes?!

Gundam Build Fighters Try
I was hoping that all the same excitement and energy from the previous Build Fighters series would be passed onto Try. But only some, not all of it, did, and that leads to Build Fighters Try being only just a noticeable margin letdown compared to the first series. The main issue was that the quality of the Gunpla battles aren’t as consistent as the first series. Some of the fights were exciting, but others weren’t. I guess the 3-on-3 team battles didn’t exactly work the same way as the 1-on-1 fights, even though they brought some awesome things such as Tryon-3! I need that Gunpla model of Tryon-3, Bandai. It is quite possibly the greatest thing to ever come out of the Build Fighters series. Still, Gundam Build Fighters Try was pretty fun to watch, but I would much rather prefer the first season over it any day of the week. [Score: 7.5]


 

You know your series has gotten insane when even one of the characters say exactly what's going through its viewers' heads.

You know your series has gotten insane when even one of the characters say exactly what’s going through its viewers’ heads.

Gundam Reconguista in G
For Yoshiyuki “Kill ’em All” Tomino’s return to writing Gundam (Does he still go by “Kill ’em All” Tomino nowadays? I should ask that the next time I go to a Gundam panel at my local con), Reconguista in G seems to only show the most glaring weaknesses of his writing: The inability to create a coherent story. To be fair, I was pretty patient with this show, even with its shoestring budget. The problem is that patience isn’t exactly an anime fan’s strongest suit. And the fact that it took like when there was only 10 episodes left to actually have something resembling a plot makes me feel like my patience with Reconguista in G was only because Bellri’s a protagonist with actual personality. I mean, what other kind of protagonist would you like, a freaking boring autistic robot like Inaho Kaizuka from Aldnoah.Zero? Once again, except for Knights of Sidonia, 2014 was a terrible year for mecha anime (and I don’t really count both Build Fighters series as mecha anime), and as a longtime fan of all things mecha, including Gundam, I am terribly disappointed in Reconguista in G. What’s worse is that from what I’ve read online, Tomino and his crew were working on this for years, so the fact that this mess of a Gundam show is the end result only makes the disappointment hurt even more. [Score: 5.5]


 

Man, is that what those non-gamer-type people thought of us?

Man, is that what those non-gamer-type people thought of us?

Log Horizon 2
Although the first season of Log Horizon was good, there were some minor but noticeable gripes that I had with it. The main issue was that it spent more time focusing on establishing the game world rather than the depth of all of is characters. Fortunately, that gripe was rectified in Season 2. And I can tell it had stronger character development this time around. For example, a minor character who I left unnoticed quickly became one of my most loved characters from the show. All because of a really inspirational speech that might’ve been about as long as the whole entire episode, but it hammered the point across in and made me actually feel good about myself as a gamer instead of making me feel like a loser. And it continues to hold its strength of world-building and the sense of adventure inside the world of Elder Tale, which is always good. Unlike Psycho-Pass, the transition between animation studios didn’t hinder it at all. And like I said last year, Log Horizon is not the perfect MMO anime, but it succeeds where a certain few fails at and it doesn’t have to rely on being mere eye candy; and yeah, Log Horizon isn’t exactly the prettiest show around, but it doesn’t have to be. [Score: 7.5]


 

Right, I completely agree with Miyamori. I know the work com show always needs that one screw-up guy, but seriously, how the hell has Tarou not been fired?

Right, I completely agree with Miyamori. I know the work com show always needs that one screw-up guy, but seriously, how the hell has Tarou not been fired?

Shirobako
So after *grumble*...Glasslip, I wasn’t exactly ready to forgive P.A. Works immediately, which is why I passed on watching Shirobako and only started it after it finished airing. Well, I can say I was so wrong to hold Glasslip against them, especially since Shirobako is a thing that exists. This show is legit, people. A legit anime about making anime. And I gotta admit, this show is fun to watch. I never knew the process and hardships of making anime would actually be such an enjoyable thing to watch. Musashino Animation makes better anime than the crap we get, which is a damn shame. Get your shit together, anime industry! And I love most of the characters and their enthusiasm too. Except for Tarou. But then again, nobody likes Tarou. But no, seriously: how the hell does Tarou not get fired? But I digress. Let Shirobako be a wake-up call for anyone who ever wished to have or is seeking a career in the animation industry. Now when’s Season 2 coming, P.A. Works?  [Score: 8.5]


Winter 2015 Season APR
1: Maria the Virgin Witch
2: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (ongoing)
3: Death Parade
4: Shirobako
5: Yurikuma Arashi
6: Parasyte ~the maxim~
7: Log Horizon 2
8: Gundam Build Fighters Try
9: Yatterman Night
10: Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!
11: Durarara!!x2 (2nd Part in Summer 2015)
12: Assassination Classroom (ongoing) 
13: Gundam Reconguista in G
14: Sailor Moon Crystal (ongoing)
15: The Rolling Girls
16: Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon
17: Aldnoah.Zero


Favorite Theme Songs

    • “Flyers” by BRADIO (Death Parade Opening Theme)
    • “Last Theatre” by NoisyCell (Death Parade Ending Theme)
    • “TERRITORY” by Miho Arakawa, Yoshiko Ikuta, and Nozomi Yamane (Yurikuma Arashi Ending Theme)
    • “Ailes” by True (Maria the Virgin Witch Ending Theme)
    • “Last Train Home” by Pat Metheny Group (JJBA: Stardust Crusaders Ending Theme 2)
    • “Jounetsu CONTINUE” by Sphere (Yatterman Night Ending Theme)
    • “Who What Who What” by Ling Tosite Sigure (Psycho-Pass the Movie Opening Theme)

Next Season Preview: Sailor Moon Crystal, Assassination Classroom, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders will continue next season, while I plan on watching The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, Digimon Adventure Tri, Blood Blockade BattlefrontRin-Ne, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU SequelNinja Slayer, Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine, Gunslinger Stratos as well as televised versions of Houkago no Pleiades and Ghost in the Shell: Arise (subtitled Alternative Architecture), and the 15th Dragon Ball Z movie Resurrection ‘F’. As per usual, expectations are at minimum. I don’t expect this season to be anything more than decent. Actually, most of my attention is now towards the Summer season since sequels to Gatchaman Crowds and Symphogear are confirmed to air then. Seriously, can’t we just skip over Spring and go straight to Summer?

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