Previous update!

Everything is over except Deremas, which still has an episode next week – but I want to do this now, and it’s not like it’ll change from #2.

[Standard disclaimer: There may be spoilers here, if you’re more behind on a show than I am, maybe avoid the comments for that one.]

Full Series
1. Koufuku Graffiti [▲0▼] – 12 eps / complete, 9/10 – [100% import] Koufuku Graffiti is the story of two girls: one learning to love, the other re-learning to be loved. Kirin arrives as a near-stranger freeloading on the weekends, but quickly becomes an indispensable presence in Ryou’s life. Kirin at first seems confident (when adults aren’t around) but immature, and her time with Ryou really does change her. Maybe not that much outwardly, but I feel like she settles down, learns to explore and understand deeper, more meaningful feelings, and realizes how much Ryou means to her.

Ryou was living with grief and loss for her late grandmother when Kirin burst into her life, injecting excitement and a thrill for living that Ryou had forgotten. It’s not the ingredients that made everything delicious again, it’s being with Kirin. The apron present brilliantly wraps up Ryou’s character arc. Akira handing Ryou’s grandmother’s apron over to her on her birthday formalizes Ryou’s re-entry into the world, with the really moving idea Kirin offered about “living memories forward”. Ryou was stuck on her grandmother’s passing, and it’s not until Kirin’s comment that she realizes the dead can be with you as you move forward. Taking an apron made from her grandmother’s and using it to make new memories with Kirin isn’t abandoning her grandmother, it’s putting into practice everything her grandmother taught her about cooking, family, and love. I get choked up just typing this out, the whole sequence is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Food is the consistent metaphor for everything the characters are feeling. Cooking and eating are family, friendship, love, life. Grilling fish is Kirin growing up and assuming adult responsibilities. Enjoying the same meal that tasted bland in ep1 is Ryou understanding that context determines so much of your outlook. Pizza shared at an unplanned dinner gathering is Yuki breaking out of her depression and re-entering the world. And I’m not even touching much on Shiina (Komatsu Mikako!) or Akira or Yuki, all of whom are great characters. But the heart of the story is Kirin and Ryou. And it’s beautiful and heartwarming and moving and life-affirming. Koufuku Graffiti truly is happiness.

If this had been blessed with even one more season (which Shinbou openly said he wanted, and then some), I feel confident it would have become a 10/10 franchise. As it is, it’s a guaranteed top 5 of the year, at least. The whole final episode was one tease after another for things I’m desperate to see (Kirin moving in, all three going to the same school, Yuki becoming a teacher), but know we never will. It’s going to be a while before I’m over this feeling of knowing that we’ve lost something beautiful to cruel commercial realities. It’s always rough when that happens, but this has been one of the harder ones. Sigh…

2. The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls [▲0▼] – 11 eps, 9/10 – [100% import] – It’s never a good sign when you have to delay the second half of your show by three months because you’ve fucked up the schedule so badly! Deremas has had some great visuals at times, but it’s also been inferior to original Animas in that department on the whole. It’ll suck to wait three months where the writers never initially intended there to be a break, but if it results in a more consistent-looking second cour, it’s definitely worth it. Even if I really could have used a show of this quality during the somewhat barren-looking Spring…

That’s just the technical side of things, though. The actual content is spectacular, and just keeps getting better! The episode 6-7 arc with was handled wonderfully. I really appreciated the set-up for the drama, and how it illustrated the areas where P-chan desperately needs to improve. The character-focus/unit-introduction episodes we’ve had since then have systematically taken every remaining Cinderella Project idol and made them more relatable, unique, and likable. Ranko’s episode illustrated a more complex person beneath the chuunibyou act, and provided a great opportunity for P-chan to step up and make some amends for his slow reaction to Mio. The Anzu/Chieri/Kanako episode was pretty positive for all three, and just very funny to boot. More Sachiko when? Miria, Rika, and Kirari’s episode was super cute and illustrated just how good this show is at selling the units it forms, even when they seem to have no pre-existing basis. Kirari as a big sister to the younger idols totally works, and we didn’t really need her to be around Anzu only 24/7. Mixing up the work relationships and personal friendships keeps things varied and lets us see a more diverse range of interactions.

But best of all was Miku and Riina’s episode. Easily the best episode since 7. I went into it loving Miku and disinterested in Riina. I came out of it loving Miku even more, and quite positive about Riina. There’s something to be said for throwing two very different people together and letting them feed off each other’s strengths to overcome their individual weaknesses. I don’t think either of them would have reached their potential going solo, unlike Ranko, whose force of personality really carries it. Riina would have stumbled under the pressure of keeping up her “rock” act, and Miku’s cute cat persona is adorable but lacks something as the basis for an idol career. Now they’ve carved out a unique combination and identity and as soon as I saw this scene I knew it was for the best.

I’d probably rank the ep 8-11 one-offs as Miku/Riina → Ranko → Anzu/Chieri/Kanko → Miria/Rika/Kirari. I’m looking forward to seeing them all join back up now – they’ve all been individually strengthened by the writing, and now they need to bring that together and get their DANKETSU on. We’ll also see if the things P-chan has learned put him up to the task of guiding them there. Exciting!

3. Yurikuma Arashi [▲1]- 12 eps / complete, 8/10 – [100% import] – In the end, I was satisfied, thanks to the ending being really spectacular and the best episode of the series. But it’s not a perfect show. I was discussing it on twitter yesterday, and a couple of us agreed that the main shortcoming Yurikuma has is a lack of time (or interest?) to develop its characters. You can develop characters just fine in a cour, but not in a show that relies as heavily on abstraction and symbolism and destiny and promises as Yurikuma. With the exception of a few scenes, the only major character who actually felt fleshed out as a person was Lulu, who is far and away my favorite character in the story. While I was happy to see the conclusion to Kureha and Ginko’s relationship, neither is an exceptionally strong character in her own right.

In the end, Lulu came out best because she felt like the one character who had true free will, rather than being an actor in a pre-scripted play. She elevated everyone around her with her mere presence. She injected life into the repetition and abstraction. It’s actually odd, then, that I thought one of the weakest parts was the first half of Lulu’s backstory episode, but hey. Lulu is just the best. I didn’t dislike the other characters – I actually rather like Kureha, though it’s hard to explain why. But can we get a spinoff with twintail girl and zombie bear? In like 30 seconds together they fascinated me in a way that took Ginko and Kureha much longer.

But overall, I’m happy with the show, even if it needed another 4-6 episodes or so. The ending was beautifully done, and this sequence gave me chills. The finale raised my opinion of the entire show, and that’s what a good ending is supposed to do. While I’ll always think about how much better it could have been, but I’m grateful for what we got.

Never back down on yuri, gao gao.

T4. Dog Days” [▼1] – 12 ep / completes, 8/10 – [100% import] – I commented on this elsewhere already: “I think this season was a little weaker than the others, besides episodes 1-3 and 8. Still very fun, still great action animation, still an import for me. But not as consistently solid as the others. It may be time to stop expanding the cast. I like Sharl a lot, but I didn’t care nearly so much about the characters in the last arc, nor about the villain’s backstory, and while he delivered an awesomely animated fight, shota bunny really needs to go away. The fanservice also got a bit more in your face and lazier, as if they had some “tentacle and/or slime” quota to fill in a few episodes. I’m okay with fanservice in a silly show like this (or I never would have gotten through the first two seasons!) but it’s getting stale now. I’m also slightly irked at how Gaul has started pushing Nanami and Rebecca out of their spots as Cinque’s equals, but the series has done a lot of other things right both in terms of female agency (fanservice aside) and making a Cinque genuinely likable MC that I can’t complain too much. Though it could easily be taken too far if the girls are sidelined any further.

I’d love to see at least one more season, though! Hell just give me a massive 12 episode war game tournament with nothing going on except cool animation and the characters being adorable and I’d be more than happy. That’s Dog Days at its best”

Seriously, episode 8 was really good, probably the best of the whole franchise. That Adele backstory ♥

T4. Durarara!! x2 Shou [▲0▼] – 12 eps / complete, 8/10 – That was really solid! The final arc suffered from a lack of Mairu and Kururi but I feel like they’re doing something interesting with Mikado’s character now. I mean, this is what would eventually happen to him, right? It’s probably the only interesting direction you can take his rather bland character, but I’m genuinely looking forward to how it goes. And damn, that final Izaya scene, eh? This show is still good at expanding and expanding the cast without feeling like it’s losing control. It gets crazy and complicated, but that’s exactly the charm. I’m looking forward to the next two cour, but I’m not shelling out for ~18 discs, Aniplex, so it doesn’t get the import.

6. Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken Stardust Crusaders Egypt-hen [▲0▼] – 10 eps, 6/10 – I hear this show remembers Dio exists, maybe I’ll catch up this weekend.

 

Short Series
None this season!

 

Pre-Winter Series
Log Horizon21 eps – Arc with the kids was very strong. I’ll probably comment on this again in my next update after marathoning the last few eps.

Fairy Tail32 eps – I think I’m 20 behind now? I think I might be dropping this. Damnit I should have kept up week to week, but the Zodiac arc was just killing my enthusiasm.

 

Dropped Series
n/a, expecting none

 

I’m happy with this season in the end. Koufuku is a true treasure, and Deremas is keeping close to Animas in writing quality if not in production quality. Yurikuma was a genuine yuri series (with Genuine Yuri Disc Sales™, unfortunately), and Drrr/Dog Days provide a couple solid sequels. That’s a good season.

Spring 2015 Viewing Plans

Definite watches
Hello!! Kin-iro Mosaic – My most anticipated show, unsurprisingly. Kinmosa is probably in the third tier of Houbunsha Manga Time adaptations (K-ON!, Hidamari, Sakura Trick, Yuyushiki in tier 1, Hanayamata and Koufuku in tier 2, Kinmosa, Gochiusa, A Channel in tier 3), but third tier of that category is VERY GOOD. I’m especially hoping for a bigger role for Honoka this season, since that’s the natural pairing for Karen with Shino/Alice and Ayaya/Youko being so set in stone.
Hibike! Euphonium – If there were no major male characters (or if this were ~2012 or so) this would undoubtedly be my most anticipated show. KyoAni isn’t an instant seasonal #1 anymore, but nonetheless I’m still excited for this. It could be fantastic, and if it’s KyoAni at their peak than it’ll easily crush Kinmosa for best of the season. But my enjoyment of this will probably be inversely proportional to the percentage of the plot that focuses on het romance.

Want to try
Hokago no Pleiades – In theory this should be on CR due to the licensing arrangements, but who knows what CR is going to get or not anymore. If it goes up, I’ll try it, otherwise pass. The OVA was cute, but I’m not expecting much.
Urawa no Usagi-chan – If it’s on CR it’s a try since I think it’s an all-female cast, otherwise nevermind.

Long-shots
• Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu – Fuck Funi. Not sure what I’m doing about this one now. I’m interested enough that I’ll at least see if any non-terrible fansubbers pick it up but I’m not going too far out of my way for it.
• Mahou Shoujo Nanoha Vivid – So far doesn’t look like CR is getting it so I don’t know if I’m going to bother. Just give me the third movie, please. That’s the Nanoha I want.
• Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku – This was off my list entirely, but with barely anything left to watch and this being on CR and me really liking the first season… sigh, maybe? If Vivid and Yuki-chan don’t pan out I may add this on because just watching 2-3 shows (with only Jojo continuing from earlier) is too sad even for me.
• Robot Girls Z+ – I really feel like this series is only funny in small doses, so I’m not sure how much more of it I need. Only going for it if it’s on CR.

Plans canceled
• Re-Kan – Thanks to those so-bad-this-can’t-possibly-be-real-holy-shit-someone-greenlit-this backgrounds. 2015 anime industry, are you just fucking with me now?
• Uta no Prince-sama s3 – Apparently they added CG dancing, because I really needed one more reason to not like the idol anime trend, I guess. Anime is becoming some sort of sad parody of itself.
• Koukaku Kidoutai Arise – I don’t think I’ve heard a single positive comment about the content, but I have heard a lot of comments that it’s extremely CG-heavy. I think I’ll just keep my happy memories of SAC and consider this franchise as having died peacefully after 2nd Gig ended.

 

So… I might only be watching two shows? If that’s the case I’m going to need to dig up some older shows to watch here and there.

16 Responses to “Winter 2015 viewing update #3 (final-ish), Spring viewing plans”

  1. Avatar Aerilate says:

    What are your criteria when you watch anime?

    • something something says:

      Immediate watch:
      • All-female cast [or] production by KyoAni
      • CR stream with acceptable subtitles and minimal delay
      • Minimal environmental CG, no character CG

      It’d be almost unthinkable for me to skip anything that meets all three criteria. Genre doesn’t necessarily matter if it ticks all those boxes.

      Everything else is taken on a case by case basis, measured against a variety of factors with different weighting. Reactions of my twitter timeline (this got Chaika and Nogenora a chance), who is on the staff (partly why I watched Barakamon), degree and type of yuri content (Yozakura Quartet Hana no Uta made inroads through this), whether it’s a sequel to something I’ve watched before, and so on. So I have clear core preferences, but there are many other factors at play.

      • Avatar Anonymous says:

        Ya’know, they ended up using nearly all hand-drawn animation for the explosion, right? The CG guy and the animator bonded at an exhibit for Space Runaway Ideon. The CG girl had by far the lowest amount of screen time and the amount of time spent discussing CG implementation into anime as a whole was probably less than 10 minutes of the entire show. From what I read of your comments, your inkling that the show was intending to entice otaku to be more accepting of utilizing CG was flat out wrong. It’s alright if you want to pass on Shirobako, but I certainly hope it isn’t due to a notion that was concocted in your own head and wasn’t at all the intention of the show or its creators.

      • Avatar Chipp12 says:

        Have you seen Ongaku SHoujo OVA already? This might be right on your valley, also shares some staff from Sakura Trick.

  2. Avatar mangamuscle says:

    If you are out of good series to watch then I recommend Shirobako, it starts a bit slow and is a bit overwhelming at first with such a big cast but I assure you it will get better and better, with the added plus you do not need to wait a whole week, you can watch at your own pace since it has already ended.

  3. Avatar Hahalollawl says:

    You and I have almost entirely different preferences in anime lol. So why do I keep coming back? Oh yeah, because this site is one of the best sources of information I’ve seen about anime sales. Thank you for the useful and easy to comprehend information. Even if we have little or no similarities in taste lol.

  4. Avatar rederoin says:

    > It’s never a good sign when you have to delay the second half of your show by three months because you’ve fucked up the schedule so badly!
    Still better than it having fucked animation for the 2nd cour, though.

    About fairy tail, you could just skip the zodiac arc since its filler. It also explains the drop of quality.

  5. Avatar steenspring says:

    Don’t know if any of you look at end credits, but generally if you see any of the companies on this http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E5%9B%BD%E5%A4%96%E3%81%AE%E3%82%A2%E3%83%8B%E3%83%A1%E5%88%B6%E4%BD%9C%E4%BC%9A%E7%A4%BE
    in the key animation section of the credits, the animation is generally…uh…not too good.

  6. Avatar Mr. Peter says:

    You REALLY missed out on watching the Maria the Virgin Witch especially if you have a affinity towards strong female leads.

    And not watching Mikagura?

    • something something says:

      If I watch Mikagura it’ll be after it’s over, once I know how it’s playing the main character. If the show goes the “she’s only gay for *2D* girls, so we’ll still have her fall for one of the guys” route then I obviously won’t want to touch it.

      Since there’s so little anime I’m going to be able to watch going forward (shitty CG and backgrounds has ruined half a dozen potential watches this season alone), I’ll probably do more of revisiting previous season shows after seasons end.

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