Winter 2015 Final Impressions (+Shirobako)

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I had to wait on Cinderella Girls for this one since it got delayed by a week part of the way through the season.

I also wanted to take a second to address the fact that I didn’t wrap up impressions on the first half of Fate/UBW by ufotable last season. I’m not sure why. I had already made a resolution to stop waiting a half year on split season shows. I even did it for Aldnoah back in the Summer. I’ll go ahead and address the second half of Aldnoah here, which is why I bring it up, but I’ll just hold off for now on Fate/UBW and make sure to be consistent about it in the future. Shows like Shirobako, which I’m also covering this time, will be delayed as long as they are running in back-to-back seasons.

So we’ll start with the only carryover from last season.

Shirobako: Boy, did I underestimate this show. I watched it because “Hey, PA Works slice of life blah blah blah and I like those!” But man, this ended up being amazing. A strong cast of characters, lots of twists, strong conflict, and just the right amounts of drama and feels. There were some slow parts and some really annoying parts (like anything to do with the dolls that show up), but it was a great show and I’m hoping it gets a second season since it seems to have done so well. Bottom line: If you’re not the kind of fan that only watches the latest popular shounen action stuff, then you owe it to yourself to watch this. Definitely one of the better shows of the last few years. It’s kind of like the anime version of what Bakuman’s manga was. Just a little more realistic.

And now we have all the shows for the actual season.

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Saekano): This show came out of absolutely nowhere and hooked me. I loved it. I admit to it being kind of status quo moé pandering, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t find myself completely drawn in every week. The characters were of typical builds but played into on purpose. Even so, they often subverted their expected traits and weren’t as one-dimensional as they came off at first. The show also played to fans with a broad spectrum of interests. Light novels, visual novels, anime, manga, and even music were all given plenty of time to say “Hey, remember this thing?” It was fun to see VNs like OreTsuba, LNs like Date A Live and Amagi Brilliant Park, and all sorts of other things (even a full Gurren Lagann OP!) show up. I found the plot progression smooth and the conflicts interesting. And by the end of the season, I had a new waifu in Eriri. All I can say is that I really loved it and there damn well better be a second season. Bottom line: It’s all up to the kind of show you like to watch, but if you like other shows like Saekano, I’d definitely give it a try. I’m addicted to the series now. It’s the same kind of hardcore addiction that hit me with Date A Live, and one that I’m likewise probably not about to get over any time soon.

THE iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls: Honestly, kind of disappointed in this one. They did a lot of cool stuff, I have to admit. They picked a solid cast of popular characters for the mains (except Minami, because why?) and gave each of them some time to shine. They even gave screen time, and voices!, to a lot of the other characters. Adding voices to a lot of the characters in the anime apparently meant adding them to the game as well, as characters like Chie and Yui are now voiced in the mobile game. Unfortunately, the series seems to be following the example of the latter part of the recent iM@S anime, which means bogging everything down with drama and general nonsense. This was a good opportunity to show how fun the series could be, as the mobile game itself is always so lighthearted, but they opted to try and create tension where there didn’t need to be any, and it really drug it down in places. Bottom line: Watch if you’re an iM@S fan or a fan of Cinderella Girls, but if you’re looking to get into iM@S for the first time through anime, definitely start with the other series and make your decision from there. It’s a lot more approachable.

Rolling Girls: This was a weird one all the way through. I liked it, though. It featured a wide variety of popular seiyuu with excellent performances and really cool animation (when it wanted to animate anything beyond dialogue and walking). It also had a really crazy plot. The plot’s kind of a double-edged sword for me, though. On the one hand, it was fun and different. On the other, it was really nonsensical and kind of hard to stick with. Not a bad series, just one that probably could have used a little more work. Bottom line: Give it a shot if you’re the kind of fan that likes, say, Studio Trigger’s brand of insane animated fighting. That’s the big draw here.

Durarara!!x2 Shou: Durarara’s back in a big way. This season was the same kind of crazy interwoven storytelling we’ve come to expect from the first season, with everything going significantly more insane as it drives toward the season finale. If you felt like the second half of the original series was dragging the rest of it down, rest assured that this feels a lot more like the first half, though it does draw on a lot from the second half, so you’ll have to sit through it if you haven’t already. There was one episode in particular that had a really, really big problem with animation. I have no idea what happened to it, but it was a complete mess. Hopefully they’ll iron it out for the BDs, because that episode is one that would have benefited from more animation, not significantly less and some bad drawing on the side. Bottom line: If you enjoyed the first season, definitely stick with it. This season was great. If you haven’t started the series yet, step back to the first season or you’ll be completely lost.

Aldnoah.Zero S2: The exciting conclusion, so to speak. I felt like every episode in the first half of the series served to improve upon the previous, causing the series to become stronger and stronger as time went on, up until the crazy climax. This season more or less continued that trend, especially with the immediate shift in roles that most of the main cast underwent as a result of the first half of the series. And the shift worked for the best. Everything became much more exciting and stakes were significantly higher. Kudos to all of the writers, because they took Urobuchi’s scenario and made a hell of a show out of it. Bottom line: Definitely follow up on the second half if you watched the first. If you liked it, you’ll enjoy this half, too. If not, this may change your mind on the series.

Dog Days”: Honestly, I found myself kind of disappointed here. After the second season seemed to have realized everything that was wrong with the first and made vast improvements on the series, the third season slipped back into a lot of bad habits. They still seemed to realize what it was that was good to have around, but they forgot the core of the series: The war games. There wasn’t a single one in the entire season. Not one. This is a series about heroes being summoned to battle in war games and there are no war games. Why? Also, they managed to throw some demon drama back in, which was definitely the worst part of the first season. Now they didn’t let it tank the mood here, but it still ruined it. The final arc was way too dramatic, considering that this show is best when it’s lighthearted fun, fighting, and making everyone very naked. I’d say it’s an improvement over the first season, but definitely a step back from the second. If we get another season, it needs to be all about the war games again, like S2 was. The flashback episode about Adel’s hero party and the last queen of Pastillage was definitely a high point of the entire series, though. It would have been great if they had given that two or three episodes instead of just one. There were a lot of stories to tell there. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll use it to create a spin-off. Bottom line: Watch it if you’ve been following the series up to now, but opinions seem divided on whether or not it’s better than previous seasons.

Kantai Collection (KanColle): Trash. TRAAAAAAASH. Garbage. So upset that I watched this. They picked the most boring characters to focus on and ignored the fan favorites. It’s so weird. Shimakaze is far and away the most popular KanColle characters. She’s practically the series mascot at this point. But in the anime, she almost never took part in any missions and you’d be lucky to see her for more than 2-4 seconds per episode. And no, that’s not an exaggeration. That was often quite literally all of the screen time she got. It’s like they wanted to push their own boring waifus so hard that they forgot about the ones that people are actually watching for. Most of the top 20 or so were completely missing from the anime. It’s been greenlit for a second season, but I won’t be watching. (Also, they had the gall to actually kill someone off. In a waifu series. Why?) Bottom line: Even if you’re a hardcore KanColle fan, I can’t imagine there’s much here for you. Fans and non-fans alike all seemed to be disappointed by this series. I’d say just don’t bother. Stick with games and doujins or something. It will be time better spent.

Tantei Kageki Milky Holmes TD: Aidoru. Aidoru everywhere. Honestly, not the strongest showing of Milky Holmes. They managed to pick themselves back up a bit after Futari, though they couldn’t keep themselves from throwing Feathers at us almost every episode. And while the Milkies were generally dumber and sillier than they’ve been since the second season many years ago, they still played everything a little too seriously to bring the series back to its former glory. They also completely ditched the old Phantom Thief cast until the very last episode, which was disappointing. Bottom line: If you’ve been waiting for the series’ return to greatness, this… isn’t quite it. But it’s a start. If you haven’t watched before, don’t start here.

Koufuku Graffiti: Food porn. Food porn all day. More food porn than the Food Network. Damn, this show made me hungry. Also, it was very much a Shaft show, in every sense. I definitely loved it, though. Kirin became one of my favorite characters of the season. It was cute and funny with some nice feel-good moments. And if you haven’t seen the adorable previews by now, they’re a treat. Bottom line: Check it out. It’s very different and a neat little experience. And who doesn’t love to see Shaft at work anyway?

I’m having to put off Anime de Wakaru Shinryounaika because it’s not over. It got off to a very late start. Crunchy’s still putting it out every Thursday. It’s just a short series anyway, so I probably won’t even have anything to say about it by the time it’s done.

This season’s Show of the Season is…

Saekano!

And for the same reason that the first season of Date A Live stole Show of the Season when it aired. It just hooked me so hard. It’s one of the shows that comes up every few years that becomes a new favorite. I really do hope it gets a second season, because people who have read the novels say that things get even better beyond where we are, especially for Eriri fans like myself. I’m super excited for the future of the series. I hope Aniplex doesn’t completely ruin the western release. But I’m sure they will. Setting that pessimism aside, I’d also like to see someone like Yen Press pick up the novels. They’re definitely still picking those up and I’d love to see it in their lineup. Anyone would do, really, but being new and popular, I see them taking a stab at it before anyone else would. (I’d also still like to see Toradora and Date A Live, guys. Please?)

That’s it for now. Initial impressions will come next week after the first episode of the new Grisaia season. I watched the TV movie (Labyrinth), so I’m just waiting on Eden to start on Sunday.

As far as other post content goes, I don’t know yet.

I’ve got something on the way that I’ll share here when I get it, but I don’t know how long it’ll be before I get it. It’s being sent via SAL and I don’t know if they ever got the issues at the docks sorted out enough that everything’s back on a regular schedule yet. If so, I may have it in the next week or two. Maybe sooner. If not, it’ll definitely be more.

The only game I’ve been playing since I got it in late February is Hyperdevotion Noire and I’m still not done with it, so no review on that until I finish it up. Hopefully I’ll have that done soon, since Omega Quintet hits PS4 at the end of the month. I’ve basically got just under two weeks to knock Noire out before I run into a conflict. If it happened, though, I’d do the same thing I did with Re;Birth2, and just power through until I finished. I’d like to get a review up for it like the other Nep games, and I’d also like to do Omega Quintet. I’d also like to do one for Fairy Fencer F, but I’ve so far only finished one of the endings. I have split saves for the other two, but I had to put it aside for other games after I beat it, so I haven’t yet had the chance to go back to it. Hopefully I can finish Noire with a couple of days to spare to grab the other endings in FFF before Omega Quintet makes its way to my hands, and I’ll just grind out the platinum later. But expect reviews for all three of those games, eventually.

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