Looking back at the Winter 2015 anime season
Once again it's time for me to look back at the recently finished season to see how the shows I watched wound up, following on my early impressions and my midway views. The short version is that not much changed from my midway views, and especially nothing that was new this season pulled itself up.
- Shirobako: What a show and what a finish. The second last episode
was amazing all the way through (especially at the end) and then the
last episode brought us home with everything I could have asked for. I laughed
helplessly one last time; I got sentimental with everyone. It was great.
The whole show is many things, including a love letter to anime itself
and an honest but ultimately cheerful
look at work and adult life. How much do I love the show? Let me put
it this way: it's guaranteed a spot on my 'best N in 2015' list and
it may well take #1 (and if it doesn't, this will have been another
very good year).
(At this point I'm going to plug the Shirobako glossary at A&V if you're interested in the mechanics of animation production.)
- Yurikuma Arashi: This was interesting to watch right through
the end but I never fully connected with it and with the
characters. I feel as if I'm not qualified to really render a verdict
on the show, but to the extent that I am I'd say that the symbolism
and message overwhelmed the human story theoretically being told.
Scamp's description of watching it in pleasant bemusement
is basically my experience. It was pretty Ikuhara.
(Part of it is that the entire setting never felt real; instead it felt overwhelmed by the needs of the symbolism involved.)
Good but falls a bit short:
- Garo - The Animation: Sometimes the show was amazing but all too
often it wasn't (sadly including the final episode). I'm
not sure how I feel about the whole mixture in the end; part of me
wants to call it ordinary but then I remember how excellently it did
some bits and I think it deserves bonus credit for that.
- Log Horizon S2 finished off relatively well, with a good final episode that set us up for more if the novels get far enough along and there's still funding for more. The ride this season was ultimately fun but somewhat bumpy, and for me wasn't quite up to the standard set by the first season (partly because the first season packed in so much big stuff about the setting and so on).
- Aldnoah.Zero: I expected laughable craziness and spectacle and
that's exactly what I got. The show knew how to throw a fun time
all the way through right to the end, despite all of the stupidity
involved in what was actually happening. AZ is a show where you'll
get enraged if you actually think about what's going on, so it's best
not to. On the whole this makes it not a particular good show, but
it was entertaining for me to watch.
- Durarara!! X2: There was some nice stuff every so often but once the
dust settled not very much in it felt terribly necessary and too many
of the interesting new characters got sidelined almost immediately.
If the whole thing really is going somewhere, it's moving too slowly
and feels padded.
(To be blunt, it feels like the show is spinning out a smash hit in order to milk it for all its worth.)
- Dog Days'' aka S3: I got what I expected and wanted from this,
which was actual action and a reasonable running plotline. There
was nothing particularly deep, but I wasn't expecting that; this
was comfortable, reasonably charming watching.
- The Rolling Girls: This kind of collapsed at the end, promising
more than it could deliver. It was enjoyable but far more for the
periodic spectacle than the main cast (and some bits were kind of
painful in retrospect). At its peak it was very anime in a good way
and that gets me to feel reasonably fondly about the whole thing.
- Maria the Virgin Witch: Sometimes the show was sharp and great,
but in the end it was just as I was afraid of in my midway
views; the show couldn't come through with good answers for
its big issues. Maria really dropped the ball in its ending and so
undid basically all of its work in raising interesting questions and
challenging things and so on.
- Yatterman Night: In the end the show took the easy way out and never recovered the sharp-edged bleakness that made it unusually interesting early on. It didn't help that it suffered a drastic production failure on the last episode, although even without that I'm not sure the ending really makes sense.
As you can see, I didn't wind up thinking all that highly of the shows that started in this season. Aldnoah.Zero was entertaining but not good, and most everything else wound up being relatively ordinary (at best). Yurikuma Arashi is just, well, Ikuhara.
PS: While Death Parade did not quite turn out to be what I was afraid of in my early impressions, it's still not something that I would have enjoyed watching (based on other people's summaries et al). Still, quite a number of people loved it quite a lot and I've seen some amazing clips from it. Call it probably the best show from the winter season that I didn't watch.