Summer Final Update
Mid-year Update

Time for Fall. See the links above for the rest of the 2015 series. Please note that I’m not a reviewer and these aren’t recommendations, so THIS IS NOT SPOILER FREE. I’m talking about my reactions to what I’ve watched and anything goes.

(Not that either show is really spoiler prone, but be warned anyway?)

This time it’s a little silly because I’m only finishing two Fall shows. I dropped the rest and Utawarerumono is two cour so it’ll carry into 2016. But I like the format I’ve settled on, so let’s do this. I just want to get this wrapped up so I can think through my full-year rankings.

Yuru Yuri San☆Hai! / Nachuyachumi / Nachuyachumi+ [IMPORTED]
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San Hai seems to mark the point where more Yuru Yuri stops being financially viable and we’re back to zero successful active yuri anime franchises. Sigh. But it was a truly wonderful parting gift, and getting to three seasons in the first place would have been unthinkable at the start. Because I was a big fan of the first two seasons I won’t say “third time’s the charm”, but it’s certainly the best Yuru Yuri has ever been!

It was evident in the Nachuyachumi OVAs that the tone was shifting a little. Less frantic, slightly more melancholy, a bit more subdued. And this ended up being a great change! It’s still hilarious, the characters are still unique and expressive, and the seiyuu performances are as good as ever. But I really appreciate when comedic slice of life shows slow down a bit. I’ve always felt that character-driven comedies get better when they dial back the punchlines and let scenes end with characters simply sharing a moment.

The relationships from the first two seasons naturally got a lot of play this season, and that means my favorite development this season was how often it paired up characters who rarely if ever interacted previously.

Sakurako and Kyouko is one great example. Because Kyouko is the irresponsible troublemaker of the group she doesn’t get to play a senpai role very often. Putting Kyouko alone with Sakurako (the only character derpier than herself) casts her in a different light. Sakurako idolizes Kyouko in all the ways that Kyouko jokingly self-aggrandizes herself. It’s hard to tell if this is more an ego trip or source of amusement for Kyouko – probably both. But it really does give her a chance to shine in episode eight, when she’s hanging out at the game center, setting Sakurako up for the slam dunk on the UFO catcher game.

It’s a small moment, but shows like this live and die on the small moments. For example, the totally unexpected and very welcome development of Chizuru. She was easily the flattest character of the first two seasons, but she gets two dedicated scenes in this season. The meeting with Kaede on a park bench did wonders for softening Chizuru’s presentation, and was followed up in the next episode by her opening up to two of her classmates, showing how she took Kaede’s advice to heart. It’s amazing what treating a character as more than a one-off gag can achieve, huh?

Then there’s Yui and Ayano. Damn there’s a lot going on beneath the surface there. Kyouko has always been there to mediate their interactions, and they’ve exchanged many a sympathetic glance of mutual understanding over Kyouko. But when they’re alone together they’re stripped of that Kyouko filter and what results is this delightful bumbling attempt to converse about… what? It’s the Yuru Yuri Bechdel Test, can two girls who love Kyouko hold a conversation that isn’t about Kyouko? They do manage though, awkwardly bonding over a shared appreciation of bad puns and an understanding that they actually have pretty similar personalities in some ways. There being this really vague tension over Kyouko just spices the interactions up a bit. It’s like a love triangle that’s actually interesting and not defined purely by romance.

I’ve only plucked a few examples from many. So many. San Hai was composed from start to finish of moments like these.

And it has Akari. Akari is one of my most beloved characters ever. She is a treasure to all of humanity. We even got less “Akari is so forgettable” jokes this time, which I was pretty happy about! They’d run their course, honestly.

 
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?? [IMPORTED]
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The addition of Kinema Citrus to the team didn’t seem to me like it added any real production magic (nothing matching episode four of season one, for sure), so it just continued to be a well drawn if minimally animated affair, relying heavily on very cute and striking close-ups and facial expressions. And it’s /excellent/ at those, mind you. But still, largely business as usual. Thankfully Gochiusa’s usual business is a ton of fun.

There were some notable additions and enhancements. Chino’s Chimame-tai partners (Megu and Maya) played a much bigger role this season. It felt as if they were in almost every episode, and they may have gotten about as much screen time as some of the four older girls. This was a nice development not only because they’re two very fun characters, but because one of the other developments this season was Chino opening up to everyone around her a lot more. She’s still shy and has grown up a little too fast, but she makes a concerted effort to be more honest about her feelings, to laugh more easily, to smile more broadly. It’s a heartwarming transformation to watch, and I think having girls her age around all the time gave her the comfort level she needed to take those steps. Thanks, Chimame-tai!

The only new character this season was Mocha, Cocoa’s sister. I thought she was fun, although as a catalyst for Cocoa she didn’t accomplish quite as much as Megu and Maya did for Chino. Still, nothing negative came from her introduction. I think it just reinforced one of Cocoa’s traits (her desire to grow up and be a good onee-chan to the girls) rather than presented anything new. Mocha was hilarious while “stealing away” Cocoa’s imouto harem though. But I think I like her subduing the older girls even more. Suddenly the onee-chans have become the imoutos, what a dramatic role reversal! Really though, it was adorable.

As in most iyashikei/slice of life shows, there’s plenty of teasing at relationships in Gochiusa. And in the case of Sharo and Rize, this is actually one of my complaints about the show. Not that Sharo is in love with Rize, but that the show pushes against that line where I get a little uncomfortable at how needlessly reluctant it’s being to validate any of the relationships. I don’t want to overstate my issues with this, but it’s precisely because the story takes Sharo’s feelings more or less seriously that the brick wall named Rize becomes so frustrating. They feel a lot like Ayaya and Youko in Kinmosa, though for some reason I can’t put my finger on, I’m a bit more bothered by it in Gochiusa. Certainly they’ve not moved one inch from season one, and never will. Sigh.

On the other hand, I was pleased to see Chiya and Cocoa getting so close. They have exceptional chemistry, but they also feel like an unlikely pairing. I get Sharo/Rize, it’s the flustered kouhai/cool-but-actually-girly senpai dynamic, and that’s fine (when it goes anywhere). Chiya and Cocoa aren’t an obvious pairing archetype but they really work. In season one it felt like a really incidental thing, but in season two Chiya in particular really ratchets up her Cocoa adoration. While Cocoa is less direct about it, she always looks ecstatic to be goofing around with Chiya, in a way that feels distinct from her interactions with Rize, Sharo, and the Chimame-tai.

Great season overall, with a strong final stretch that raised my opinion of the series.

 

Ongoing shows
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen (watched: 9)
• It’s been a bit slow the past few eps but I still like it. I am rather far behind, but I’ll have plenty of time to catch up next season… I’m hoping that some mid-series twist kicks off a more focused second half. The show’s strength is Kuon and Haku’s interactions so give me more emphasis on that.

 

Dropped shows

Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans (watched: 5)
• There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it, and I thought the Mika/Orga dynamic had a lot of potential. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood this season.

Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider (watched: 5)
• I was genuinely interested in finding out what the payoff would be, but maaaaan, I just could not sit through the journey to get there. The conversations were so unreal and stilted and impossible to take seriously. Well, Moe was cute.

Anitore! EX (watched: 4)
• Yes, I just watched it to see cute girls stretch for a few minutes a week. I dropped it after finding out that even in this stupid short exercise show, there’s a fucking 3DCG dance scene. What the hell is wrong with this industry?

 

Winter 2016 Viewing Plans

1. How about… hm.
2. Uhh….
3. please help me
4. ;_;
5. I’m gonna have

What can I say, next season’s lineup looks atrocious at first glance, easily the least appealing ever (or since I first started watching anime seasonally rather). There is nothing that appeals to me on any level besides *maybe* two shows that I’m assuming are short episodes (Oshiete Galko-chan and Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu kara., neither of which look unusually exciting to begin with). I was somewhat excited about Fairy Tail Zero because fuck yeah Mavis! but then Funi got the streaming rights, so to hell with that, unless CR gets it as a shared stream. Even then if I have to rely on a shounen battle manga adaptation as my only show, ouch.

I’ve gone over the list a dozen times now, thinking “Come on, surely I’m missing something obvious” but, erm, not that I can see. I’ll keep an eye out on my twitter timeline for the next Chaika- or NGNL-like surprise but I’m not particularly hopeful. It’s very possible that I will watch zero shows next season. That’ll be a first. At least Utawarerumono will be continuing. Maybe this will be the motivation I need to pick Durarara!! back up? There was nothing *wrong* with the new series, Shou was pretty great actually, but I just lost motivation after that first cour and haven’t gone back.

25 Responses to “Fall 2015 viewing update #1 (final), Winter viewing plans (…should I even call it that?)”

  1. Twenty-One says:

    http://puu.sh/md6HO/e5b0d8593c.png I don’t remember THAT ever happening, but in this case I’m sure it would have made the show 10x better

    • something something says:

      This is called “hitting publish by accident and scrambling to edit it live, lol. Will have it updated in a few mins.

  2. primadog says:

    Hello darkness, my friend.

  3. something something says:

    Okay, after accidentally posting it in the middle of proofreading, it’s up for real now.

    I’ll be doing another post that wraps up a full year ranking, without the extended commentary on each show like I’ve done in these posts.

  4. AnimePhoenix says:

    Does Spring look better for you?

    • something something says:

      It’s impossible for it to be worse, heh. But it has potential, especially since the lineup isn’t fully set yet. I’m guessing New Game! won’t make Spring considering Houbunsha probably doesn’t want to load three Manga Time Kirara series into one season lest they cannibalize their own sales.

      Definite:
      Sansha Sanyou
      Unhappy
      Jojo Part 4

      Maybe:
      Bakuon
      Kuma Miko

      As usual it depends which ones Funi gets and ruins but the first two are ones I’d probably even try raw if need be, and Jojo should be safe with CR. Well, hopefully.

      • AnimePhoenix says:

        About Funi, they seem to be getting quite a lot of shows nowadays. I’d prefer Crunchy since their subs are usually better than Funi’s. Well, I hope Spring is much better for you!

  5. scineram says:

    You know, I always wondered why you never watched Rolling Girls. It seemed to me to hit your checklist pretty well. Very cute and great looking too. And by that I mean fucking gorgeous.

    • something something says:

      Because Funi got the streaming license. When they touch a show, I typically write it off completely and go find something else to watch. I also tracked opinions of that one as the season went on and a lot of people (well, the people I follow) seemed to sour on it by the end, so it wasn’t high on my list of shows to make exceptions for.

      • Jim says:

        The first two episodes of Rolling Girls were pretty cool, but the series took a steep dive off a cliff after that. I dropped it before it was even half-over.

        And yeah, wise choice dropping Perfect Insider. That big payoff you were waiting for never happened. Oh, they solved the mystery, but not in any really satisfying way and the last two episodes were loaded with more of the same navel-gazing and characters spouting existentialist nonsense that the series started with. The best thing about that show ended up being its OP – I really liked the dancing sketches concept.

        Frankly, the best show I watched this season (after starting with about ten and only finishing four) was probably Hacka Doll. It had a couple of shaky early episodes, but after that it turned into quite a funny parody series, especially if you’ve seen enough anime to recognize what they were riffing on in each episode (which ran the whole gamut from classics like DBZ and Detective Conan to quite recent shows like Shirobako and Wake Up Girls).

  6. Kalanoch says:

    That CG dance in Anitore was pretty terrible but they must have gotten some backlash because they never did it again, even when they revisited the same dance in a later episode it wasn’t CG. Just pretend episode 5 never existed and you’ll be fine!

    • rederoin says:

      I heard it got a lot of backlash on various sites/twitter, so probably because of that.

      The ending song of the last ep was also rather surprising, dubstep animal idols!

  7. fiveun says:

    That Pandora one looks promising in the cuteness department.
    If it sells well it will also be the third time that a Gokumi flop featuring a couple was followed by a female cast success. (with 2013’s one being Kinmoza and 2014’s one being Yuki Yuna)

  8. makotachi says:

    Gochiusa really had a good season this year. The girls were even cuter than before and I liked that Chiya/Cocoa was pushed a little more than Chino/Cocoa. I would like a S3, but I’m scared that it would face the same fate as many 3rd seasons and perform poorly.

    About Gundam though, while I’m still watching it I can see why you didn’t carry on with it. It really is something you have to be in the mood for. I agree that the Orga/Mika dynamic is interesting and I wish that for once a show that isn’t BL would just feature a gay couple as normal and just there, but it probably won’t happen. I still watch in pathetic hope though.

  9. hpulley says:

    Not watching Phantom World? Crunchyroll got it.

    • something something says:

      It doesn’t look appealing to me at all, no.

      Glad CR got it though, if I hear unexpectedly positive things about it I could consider giving it a chance. I find that super unlikely though, harem fantasy action LNs with male protagonists are definitely not my sort of show.

      • hpulley says:

        Understood, just thought the studio might be cause for an exception.

        • something something says:

          I can see why you’d think that based on how many of their shows I’ve liked in the past! But I’m not all that positively disposed towards KyoAni anymore, to be honest. I love their older work as much as ever (almost done rewatching K-ON!!) but a series of problems in recent years has turned me off from them pretty strongly.

          Their shows don’t get any more benefit of the doubt from me than anyone else’s these days – and maybe more hesitation than most, actually. It’s possible that between the good but not great Amagi in 2014 and whatever the first show by them I watch in 2016 is – if any – I won’t be watching anything by them. Maybe Violet Evergarden will be the next one, whenever that happens?

          • hpulley says:

            I rewatched K-ON over the holidays too. A real classic that will be great forever.

            As for Phantom World… unless you want to see how KyoAni does oppai physics fanservice you can probably skip it. Episode 1 was very, very silly. Some Japanese twitterers remarked that it seems like KyoAni is heading in a different direction than before. With little else to watch on Wednesdays I may try it again next week out of boredom but if I don’t watch it again I won’t be wondering what happens to any of the characters. Just one episode in but there is very little to get me attached to either the story or the characters. You can probably give it a pass.

            • something something says:

              The reactions on my twitter timeline have been pretty dire, so lol pretty sure I won’t be watching it.

              • hpulley says:

                You can at least see the oppai physics fanservice in animated gifs on twitter… probably have already.

                • Jim says:

                  Amagi started off with a silly and fanservicey first episode too (remember Seiya walking in on Isuzu’s bare butt in the bathroom), but it settled down after that and got better. KyoAni’s built up enough goodwill with me that I’ll always give one of their shows the three-episode test, though PW will have to show at least a spark of potential (like Amagi did) for me to stick around beyond that.

                  Besides which, I’m now on a run of three straight seasons where the best first episode I watched belonged to shows I never finished because they went to garbage, so maybe a slow-starting show is exactly what the doctor ordered.

          • Hahalollawl says:

            Meh, to be honest, it might be better not to be too predisposed to liking a certain studio’s shows, or at least being aware if you are. As much as I might like to think I can approach each show without any preconceived notions based on the studio, I’m only human…Like I know I’m somewhat biased towards liking P.A. Works stuff. But (like KyoAni) they don’t make a whole lot of shows every year anyways (like 2 max maybe?) so I’m not likely to waste a whole lot of time watching a P.A. Works show I don’t like if there are only a few per year. If I were biased towards liking A-1 though, that could be like 3 shows a season lol.

            • something something says:

              My current issues with KyoAni are about more than “Oh I just didn’t enjoy show ‘x'” but this isn’t really the place to get into details, nor do I want to.

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