Winter 2015 Anime – Midseason Impressions

We’re halfway there. 6 episodes, on average, into the winter season and I’ve pretty much come to this solid list that I will for sure be continuing until the end of the season. There were overall improvement across most of the anime I follow which makes me a very happy camper this week. The worst episode among them all was only a minor disappointment, and the rest of them were perfectly enjoyable. Death Parade continues to expand it’s range of tones giving us the funniest episode yet. Your Lie in April is back into it’s prime.

Log Horizon Season 2 (Episode 19)

I wanted to like this episode. It was clearly a barrage of big moments from every character, and with Log Horizon’s writing, that usually means something quite enlightening. So why is it that this episode’s biggest moments seemed to fall flat? That’s even worse considering I’ve been waiting weeks for something to finally happen.

This episode kicked off immediately with the massive swarm of wyverns attacking the city where our young adventurers were. This has been the only epic thing to happen since the raid several episodes ago, so this should be a pretty pivotal moment. Several characters had monologues delivered with gusto. Realizations of conviction in the head of the battlefield. However, it didn’t go over quite as poignant as that.

Isuzu had some epiphany in which she decided she’s going to show music to the world…or something like that. Minori had some weird revelation in which she realized that she was doubting herself….or something like that. Tohya is highly disconcerted by watching the soldiers just running amok, dying because they have a spawn point nearby which causes him to relate his own near death experience from the real world with those in this world…or something like that. See none of them really clicked…nor did any of these characters have any kind of lead into these moments. They all just kind of delivered these heroic speeches out of nowhere. The only part I did like was the brief clips of Tohya’s real life and the reason behind the Odyssey Knights’ madness. But even then…it wasn’t nearly as profound as the bombshells from the first season.

Assassination Classroom (Episode 5)

I guess it should have been obvious, but I didn’t quite know what route this anime would take until this episode. That route being, a student of the week format. It seems that each week, we’ll probably focus on a new student or two, and then we’ll see their failed assassination attempts relate to some unrefined quality of theirs. Afterwards, Koro Sensei will shed some enlightenment and good-natured teaching to make this student a better person, only to leave the next week open for a new student to take the spotlight.

So this week we got to see Okuda, a mild-mannered socially clumsy girl who made an assassination attempt by directly asking the teacher to drink poison. The reason being, she’s not good at deception. She is brilliant at chemistry so she’s perfect at making poisons, but her delivery is just completely horrid. Cue the tentacle teacher who willingly drinks the poison, knowing it won’t affect him, and this turns into him trying to teach her to rid herself of her speaking deficiencies. This was about half of the episode, and it was kind of touching, kind of unrealistic. After Karma stealing the show in episode 3, Okuda simply pales in comparison.

The other half focused on what is probably my least favorite aspect of this whole universe. The social standing of the E-Class and the horribly written and cliche discrimination thereof. It was thrown even more into the limelight because this Class-E had to leave their isolate campus for an assembly that requires there presence. This is only for the student body, and even the school officials to throw one insult after another towards the misfits. I did like how the other students were enviously watching how the students in Class E were having fun thanks to their loony teachers and inside jokes, but it was ultimately wasted effort, I feel like, to have any sympathy for those in Class E.

Nanatsu no Taizai (Episode 16)

What was with that sniffing scene? Well, whatever, Nanatsu no Taizai’s sense of humor has never appealed to me too much, but man was this episode a spectacle at the end. We finally got a good peek at the villain’s plot as well as one of the coolest, albeit short, fights of the season.

Gowther is the newest Sin in the ranks, and he is a bit of a hit or miss for me. I thought the armor would present a more interesting dynamic, but that’s completely out of the equation now. Gowther on his own is just the typical genius robot personality. I did like the look of Merlin, another sin we have yet to fully unveil. Apparently she may have the most drastic difference in ideals to the others we’ve met so far.

In other parts of the world, we learn of the central villain’s plot, and this too turned out to be rather typical. A warmonger, sick of peace, wants to regenerate an old demon clan to reignite the excitement in the world. It’s not too horribly cliche, but it also did nothing to make me fear, respect, or sympathize with the villain, which is usually essential for me. The end of this episode was the biggest treat, where Meliodas exploded with rage and literally dived into the kingdom and unleashed everything he had. The full counter clip was one of my favorite shots this week. The episode is ramping up towards bigger things with a surprise reveal of King Arthur, who I didn’t even know existed in this world.

Durarara X2 Shou (Episode 6)

This week was another repositioning of all the pawns on the board, and all of Durarara’s strengths came into play yet again. We have roughly 10 storylines we’re juggling here? Possibly more as they split and connect intermittently, and I’m pretty intrigued by all of them, but at this point, I have noticed that there doesn’t seem to be quite as central of an arc as the original season. This time, it truly is equally important plots all getting equal attention. Although, I do think Celty as the main character naturally makes her plot the constant.

We were introduced to a couple new characters, one of which has a personality I won’t forget anytime soon. I’m talking about the guy who get’s uncomfortably curious about all of the world’s most mundane mysteries like why men have nipples or why 13 is an unlucky number. He is partnered with an assassin who manages to behead Celty (completely ineffective unbeknownst to her) and her whole schtick is that she finds the city boring, and her opposition too weak. We also got to see more of the adorable young girl attempting to kill Shizuo, as well as her connections.

Finally, and what I find the most intriguing plot, is Mikado and his situation with the Dollars and his best friend. The foreboding warning has yet to reveal it’s fangs, but I feel like Aoba is going to drag Mikado into exactly what Kida was warning about. I’m also very excited to see what will happen when Celty’s job intersects with Shinra and their target. Nothing paramount happened, but a lot of characters have come closer to some kind of story pay-off so Durarara is in a good place right now.

Tokyo Ghoul Root A (Episode 6)

I think it’s safe to say at this point that I’ve only enjoyed Root A when it shifts away from the staling action, and focuses on our many characters and the way their lives are in this current situation. Basically I’m liking the dramatic slice of life stuff in a horror action anime more than the horror and the action. Well, that’s weird.

We finally got a peek inside the mind of the scythe-wielding lunatic child and we come to find out that he has a rather touching story. I figured he would. The more insane the characters are in this anime, the more sympathy it seems to squeeze out of them. It still has the incessant morbidness to it where dialogue or character thoughts will be gory as if it’s just to remind you that this anime is violent. Come to think of it, the violence hasn’t really been as bad, but maybe it’s because I finished re-watching Tokyo Ghoul’s first season uncensored on Blu-ray before starting this season.

And then we have my favorite part of the episode. Drunken characters unleashing their inner-most thoughts. At first I didn’t expect her to ever partake in alcohol, which is why I laughed out loud when she had the drunk blushes on her cheeks. It introduced a romance I was kind of yearning for between her and Amon, and it was handled pretty delicately…until Amon started doing push ups. I don’t know if that was supposed to be his “cute” side, but it pretty much startled me. All in all, this week was much more fun, and actually had me caring for more characters than the typical episode. And since Tokyo Ghoul is kind of shoving in new characters left and right, it’s really nice to get some attention on some of them.

Yona of the Dawn (Episode 18)

Yona continues it’s multi-week streak of delivering episodes that are much better than what any would expect from the beginning of the series. This episode in particular was a great balance of funny gags with the new dragon as well as the beginning of what might be Yona’s development into the bad-ass heroine we’ve all been waiting for.

So this week is the second episode focusing on the Green Dragon and it looks like he’s a bit of a challenge too. The way I see it, each dragon kind of equally represents the different initial disposition towards Yona. The white dragon is completely eager. The blue dragon felt undeserving. The Green Dragon simply doesn’t want to. Based on the clips from the opening, I’m going to guess the last dragon doesn’t even care, and just goes along for the ride. Anyways, the green dragon is warming up to me already. He didn’t have a bad first impression, but I didn’t like him as much as the tragic Blue Dragon.

Aside from that, we got more insight into Yona’s current feelings of powerlessness. She has the ambition and drive, but she’s more aware than ever that she can’t physically do anything yet. The episode set up a lot of frame work to explore this, and I’m so glad that Yona can be such a strong character despite being so physically weak. Yona’s already progressed passed the naive crybaby she was in the earliest episodes, and that already vastly improved all later episode by ridding us of the most annoying persona in the series. Now we get to see her take on something life-threatening all on her own. I’m really hopeful that Yona will become an even better character in the next couple episodes.

Your Lie in April (Episode 17)

His best friend says that NOW?! Now, when Kaori is on the verge of death, his best friend tells him you are the one for her? So yes, Your Lie in April laid on the feels this time, and they did it right. No melodrama, which is admittedly frequent in this anime. Just great characters being put through their paces.

Obviously the biggest moment for me was that Kousei’s friend finally admitted that he’s not the right one for Kaori. I’ll ASSUME he’s doing this as a good friend, and wise human being rather than ducking out because shit’s getting real with Kaori’s health. It’s extremely rare for me to ever dread a character’s death, but I must say, if and when Kaori does…I think I will actually be pretty devastated. To have that type of connection to a character exemplifies just how evocative and well-written this anime is. I wouldn’t say the writing is sharp as much as fluid. The scenes just flow together so well thanks to the music, art and dialogue.

It’s crazy that despite the huge impression Kaori and Kousei left on me this episode, that only covers half of it. The second half of the episode shifted gears and focused on Kousei’s new apprentice. A character whom I thought wouldn’t get too much attention. Turns out, she’s like a little Kousei herself, and now we finally have two characters who can understand each other completely. Though it wasn’t a cliffhanger, the hanging question right in front of me is what Takeshi Aiza, the big brother, will do when he sees his little sister and Kousei take the stage. I also have to say that, whether intentional or not, the fact that the Aiza siblings had matching colors on was quite adorable.

Parasyte (Episode 18)

This week, the cops are finally making moves with as much foresight and tactical value as the parasites which finally made me care about the third party a bit. Or at least, make me take them seriously. Before this, it was always Shinichi versus the parasites, with the cops just being meddling fools who simply can’t keep up. But now, or at least what the cliffhanger is making me think, they finally got the better of our valiant hero.

This episode revolved primarily around two big scenes, both of which were very insightful. Parasyte takes it’s time more than it has to, but it at least uses that time to relentlessly adhere to the themes it wants to explore. The scene in the park meant the end for one of the most interesting characters, but her death was useful, and the after-effects of it kind of keep her persona alive. She surprised Migi, more than anything else has, and I think if anything were the catalyst to changing Migi’s train of thought, this would be it. Shinichi crying over the baby he was given, combined with Migi’s astonishment seems to have humanized them both considerably.

Then we were treated to the cops angle, where they have an arrested witness who claims he has the ability to tell the difference between humans and parasites. It was an interesting method, and one that I’m sure is used in actual interrogation, where they brought in Shinichi, the only “true” suspect, amongst a bunch of red herrings, and made them out to be the ones imposing judgment. The witness character was also a breath of fresh air. He wasn’t likeable, but he was animated, colorful, and exciting. Parasyte has had a rather solemn tone, even with it’s humor, because it’s more like serious wit. I liked it, a lot, and it left Shinichi in a position that definitely made me excited for next week.

Aldnoah Zero (Episode 18)

Slaine may just be the most capable character of the season. His continued strategic enactment of his will to attain power has been handled perfectly, thus far. I rarely see an ascension of ranks done with such solid development and character interplay. This season has already bettered itself from last season, which is saying a lot because the first episode was a large misstep. Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve the problem of the fact that only one of the few ongoing narratives bear any weight.

This week, like the last few weeks, showed us Slaine’s next step in him scheme to take over his regiment from within, and it was just as spectacular as all his other moves. The duel between him and the arrogant knight was a terrific multi-layered fight. I say multi-layered because the fight contained more factors than power, and more symbolism than might. The dual meaning of the blue rose was rather poetic, I thought. Slaine, declaring his disbelief in miracles, gave us the image of what he was trying to be. A leader who doesn’t win through miracles, but through sheer intellect and willpower. His victory didn’t feel like a hero’s victory, but more like an imposition of his ideals.

This was also another robot of the week episode. These other mechs that are attacking earth are losing more and more narrative brevity. I honestly could care less whether they live or die, and they have become nothing more than cannon fodder at this point. And with our main character, Inaho, interacting exclusively with these plot-less enemies, it also makes Inaho’s whole point in the story suspended in aimlessness. It’s a shame that Slaine’s gripping plot line is being dampened by Inaho’s underdeveloped one. All I know is that I’m very excited to see what Slaine, and only Slaine, does next.

Death Parade (Episode 6)

Death Parade is much more than it seems, and that’s even after saying that the first episode seemed like this anime played it’s entire hand. Deep beneath it’s dark, thought-provoking premise, and it’s brilliant, slick execution, lies an unexpected bundle of heart and comedy as well as a great dosage of tonal variety. Death Parade starts off as gloomy and violent, but it’s no longer the case that this anime is entirely like that.

This episode was the funniest of them all. Everything that was handled without a shred of humor in the earlier episodes was used as comic relief this time around. This self-awareness is extremely beneficial to those who feel as if the anime took itself too seriously. I mean, the flashback where the woman remembered her clumsy, abysmally dull death was actually one of the funniest moments in the series, yet remembering one’s cause of death was supposed to be tragic, reflective, and sad. The fact that this anime can deliver both the profound and the lighthearted has really made this anime even more unpredictable.

This episode also expanded the scope by showing a bar other than Decim’s. This time it was Ginti’s tricked out pad full of zen and feng shui. The stark differences between Decim’s procedures and Ginti’s shows that this is just a job to them. Some take it seriously, and others just want to get it over with. Ginti’s complete disinterest in the events before him was another type of self-awareness in which, this anime isn’t all about these intense life or death games. It’s just a system. A method that exists in this world. And while it is interesting, there’s a lot more to see and learn about the world than the games themselves. Death Parade, you keep outdoing yourself. If you can keep this up for another half a season…you’ll be rather unforgettable in my book.

Kuroko’s Basketball Season 3 (Episode 6)

I didn’t expect the second game of the season to be over by the sixth episode considering some games went as long as five episodes last season. I am happy, however, because the game in itself was absolutely enthralling, and this only leaves more time for the “bigger” games to breathe. I hope this means the conclusion isn’t rushed far down the line. Anyways, this week concluded the game between Midorima and Akashi, and man were both of them studs!

I have to say, Akashi’s unique abilities would probably sound the most boring on paper, but seeing them in action is a completely different. I always felt like he’d be some mentally superior athlete, but the portrayal of his sheer dominance is just as perfectly exaggerated as everything else in the series. The music hasn’t missed a step either, and Kuroko is known for it’s impeccable musical score, with Akashi’s epic choir music pumping my excitement to it’s maximum. He almost has this grace of nobility that I love seeing as he effortlessly walks down the court, befalling all those who come up to him. Chilling stuff. Well done, Kuroko.

And then we have Midorima…WHO DIDN’T GO INTO THE ZONE. That surprised me. I thought every member would go into the zone to kind of balance them out. However, I think doing that is a plot-trap if I ever saw one. I wouldn’t like every game to just be about waiting until someone enters the zone. It also increases the dramatic expectancy of the upcoming Kuroko and Akashi. Maybe one, or even both of them are incapable of going into the zone. By having Midorima not reach it, it leaves that small chance of unease that our hero won’t either, leaving him to attain his victory by other means. Even without the zone, Midorima stepped up his game yet again. He really needed to since his second game in the earlier seasons didn’t have a change in his play style since he simply focused on endurance in order to outlast his opponents. So what Midorima did have up his sleeve, the blind shot, very reminiscent of Haikyuu’s combo spikes, was a very sweet trick. Now we’re onto Kuroko versus Kise, and man am I excited for that!


4 thoughts on “Winter 2015 Anime – Midseason Impressions

    • It’s such a rush. It’s like the only guilty pleasure anime I watch that I’m not guilty about. XD And Thank you! Every little comment and “like” gives me quite a bit of fuel and motivation to continue! I’ve been meaning to inquire further about that blog trade post you made, but I honestly haven’t had time to do anything but my weekly updates this month. D:

  1. The most recent episode of Parasyte was the best I’ve seen in a while – the show has always featured pretty decent writing, but the drama/romance-driven story arcs didn’t do much for me, so I had been getting a bit tired of the series lately. Episode 18 really hit it out of the ballpark though; it felt like a near-perfect narrative climax, and the new (and possibly final) major plot point has me genuinely excited for this show again.

    • It really was!! I also felt like it was dragging it’s feet which always had me wary of a slow climax. This episode also didn’t just focus on the bigger, badder parasite which was always a bit more true to shounen archetypes, and I prefer when this anime breathes as a seinen.

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