Checking in on the Winter 2015 anime season 'midway' through
Once again it's time for the traditional part way through update on my initial impressions, which I can't really call 'midway' any more. On the whole I have somewhat mixed feelings about this season; on the one hand there's a bunch of watchable shows but on the other hand there's relatively little that I feel really enthused about, especially among the new shows (as opposed to the ones continued from last season).
- The Rolling Girls: This has turned out to be more episodic stories
about people the protagonists run into in their travels and less overall
story and spectacular Best fights. The result is still enjoyable
but it's far less impressive than the first two episodes, and the
protagonists are not really good enough characters to carry the show.
Still, the spectacular bits are pretty spectacular when they happen.
(There's an overall story developing, but the whole thing has moved pretty slowly.)
Things I'm still watching:
- Durarara!! X2: In theory this ought to be exciting. In practice it
doesn't feel particularly necessary and the actual goings on have not
been all that engrossing much of the time. It's difficult to get really
enthused about yet more peculiar, crazy, or violent people showing
up in Ikebukuro, since the first season had plenty of those. Some
episodes still wind up interesting and engrossing; others wind up flat
(and some of the animation has been dire).
(Things would be different if we were getting interesting answers about the new mysterious people, but we aren't. And some of them are over the top even for Durarara.)
- Yurikuma Arashi: In the other Ikuhara shows I've seen, it's been
possible to feel that the characters were real people first and
metaphors second. This is not the feeling that YKA gives me and
the result robs the show of both investment and impact. If all of the
characters are ultimately puppets dancing to the tune of symbolism,
it's hard to really care about any of them even if they are interesting
when taken in isolation. The show remains interesting for me to watch,
but almost entirely at an intellectual level instead of an emotional
one. It has managed some pretty nice episodes, though.
(With that said, sometimes the characters click for me for a while. And I think that I would like them if things were less compressed and they had time to feel like people.)
- Aldnoah.Zero: The show knows how to throw a fun time even if
what's going on is stupid, bad writing, or doesn't make any sense.
I wholeheartedly applaud the show's decision to focus on Slaine
and the action in space, because he's far more interesting than
Inaho or anything going on on the Deucalion.
- Dog Days'' aka S3: This season has been delivering actual action and a running plotline, making it much more like the first season than the second one. That's enough to keep me watching and enjoying it. At this point I've watched enough that I'll probably finish it no matter what.
On the edge:
- Maria the Virgin Witch: Some jarring bits excepted, there's
nothing that's really wrong about the show; I generally quite
episodes when I watch them. But my gut spends a lot of time telling
me that I'm not enthused about it and that I don't actively like it,
I'm just passively watching it when I can get myself to do so.
(Perhaps part of the problem is that I don't think I trust the show to give good answers to the serious questions and conflicts it's raising. It partly feels like it's trying to be serious and significant without the chops to carry it off.)
- Yatterman Night: The show oscillates back and forth between painful jokes, go-nowhere episodes, blatantly obvious foreshadowing, amusing developments and humour, and sharp-edged bleakness wrapped in a cute exterior. The good bits hurt in a good way, but there's a lot of bland ordinary things that I really wish weren't even there. The result is mixed and kind of weak overall.
- Soukyuu no Fafner Dead Aggressor - Exodus: In the end this simply had too little excitement mixed with far too many things I didn't care about. Part of the problem was that the show made basically no effort to catch people up on the background and the very large cast of characters, despite how long it's been since the last Fafner; this left me basically indifferent to the entire cast.
In shows that carried over from last season:
- Shirobako has remained excellent although not flawless; it's
continued to deliver excellent drama and hard
moments while being ultimately cheerful. One
of the things the show is doing amazingly is creating characters
that you love to hate while reluctantly coming to accept; it's
managed at least three.
- Garo has really picked itself up lately from a string of
genuinely painful episodes (some of which were just filler
and others were Garo's usual awkward execution). See also. Garo has
been in its 'on' phase a lot lately as it heads into the final plot arc.
- Log Horizon S2 has been variable; generally okay, sometimes a
bit painful, but sometimes really good. We've just finished what's
probably the last high point and so I expect we'll be winding down
for the rest of the season; I'm just hoping for no goofy episodes that
jump up and down on the show's weak point.
(Apparently there's not enough of the light novels out to make a third season yet. After this season I find that I'm actually fine with that.)
On the whole this is a good season, even if I'm feeling disappointed that none of the new shows I'm watching even come close to Shirobako or even Garo (on its good days). After all, I'm still watching ten shows, which is very high for me (especially at this point in the season).
Written on 11 March 2015.