Summer 2015 Anime – Final Review

Summer is over, marked by a rather appropriately timed lunar eclipse to beckon the coming of another season. The tides swell yet again bringing another selection of anime from overseas to a halt. This summer was a bit of a different writing schedule for me, or more like, basically there was a lot less of it, but a lot more behind the scenes. Keeping up a weekly blog makes some more ambitious projects fall by the wayside so for the foreseeable future I will only be dropping seasonal updates every month or so. The idea of a premiere, midseason, and finale blog seems to be the slowest I’ll get these things up.

This season proved that a summer drought is just a figure of speech, because there was plenty to entertain everyone including anime I’ve heard good things about but didn’t think to try. That might be the word of the season: Entertaining. Nothing really struck on a profound art-form level, but there was all sorts of completely enjoyable treats to choose from.

So with the last breaths of summer air in my lungs, here are my final thoughts on the anime I watched this season. A lot of good stuff, with something cracking my top 50 which always means the season wasn’t a waste. Let’s start from worst to best, yes?

Dragon Ball Super

The return of Dragon Ball didn’t seem to have as big of an impact as I initially hoped. However, Dragon Ball is a very different breed compared to it’s contemporary counterparts. The legendary series has indeed finally resurrected, but so too has it’s agonizingly long pace and unbearable scenes of character’s saying ~~~

Normally I wouldn’t have had the patience to sit through a dozen or so episode of almost nothing happening, but that’s exactly what happened in Dragon Ball Super. The villain has arrived, and the world has almost been blown up multiple times, yet Goku nor the villain have taken the fight seriously. The pace is atrocious, but something keeps me chugging along without much contempt.

Yes, he’s literally juggling an energy ball that can destroy the world to provoke Goku.

That reason I continue this series is definitely because of it’s charm and easy-going nature. Dragon Ball is a very low-stress affair right now. Akira Toriyama’s character designs really are cheerful and pleasant. The world he created is very peaceful, despite having all these superpowered dudes trying to lay waste to it. It’s a world worth saving, and I think that’s what keeps a large majority of the Dragon Ball fans coming back for more. If it’s not the charm, it surely can’t be much else. Also, a alot of people are refusing to watch Dragon Ball at this moment, for one particular reason…

Enter: The Japanese voice acting. It doesn’t quite feel like Dragon Ball is back because I grew up watching it with English dubs. The purist I am now will always prefer the original Japanese audio for any new anime, but Dragon Ball is the one anime that turns me into a hypocrite. While I initially thought, and I’m sure others have too, that Goku’s voice was utterly unbearable, over time I have gotten used to it. I have accepted it. I can now understand how folks in Japan have dealt with these voices for so long. They just got conformed to it. It’s still a small detriment to it being the Dragon Ball I grew up with, but it doesn’t bother me as much.

I do really miss Bruce Faulconer’s music, though. That does bother me.

What is new and fresh is the animation and art quality. It’s much more crisp and colorful than before. It won’t hold a candle to the Fate’s and Monogatari’s of the animation industry, but it definitely has it’s own appeal. In fact, there’s a scene that involves one of the most over-the-top transformations with clouds dancing majestically and the sky spinning uncontrollably. Unfortunately that scenes was used to reveal the most underwhelming part of the whole series, the form of the Super Saiyan God. It’s pink hair. It’s just pink hair. I don’t even care if it’s a spoiler because it is such a tiny visual change. it’s like Goku’s aura just knocked my TV’s tinting off balance.

All of this…

…and that…

…for THIS?!

So in the end, Dragon Ball came in with the force of a light breeze. The dramatics haven’t even kicked in, and more times than ten has the plot twist of revealing that they weren’t even fighting at full force reeled it’s ugly head. If you like Dragon Ball, this has done nothing to change it. If you don’t like Dragon Ball, again, this has done nothing to change it.

7/10


Gate

When Gate first premiered, it was one of the worst of the season for me. We were dropped into an uninspired city with an even more uninspired main character. He was supposed to be relatable because he was an otaku, and was “one of us,” but I didn’t relate to him at all. I feel like an otaku is much more than an expression of what you like. You can’t just take a normal dude, have him say he likes anime and video games, and then say he’s like us. We have social behavior differences, alternate values in life, and a heightened state of boredom with the non-nerdy world.

The whole occurrence of the gate appearing was hardly a “cool” moment. Even if the premise eventually became quite unique, it started off feeling like a one-off idea with no foundation built into it. It was only because of the flashes of fancy elves and mages in the opening theme video that I pressed on because I felt like there was a big part that wasn’t represented in the first episode. Fortunately Gate had a lot more to show than what it did in it’s first episode, but it wasn’t enough to win me over completely by the end of this season.

Gate is a collision between our realistic, military-driven world and a vibrant fantasy world. For the most part, this is where the anime shines, because honestly, I doubt either of these worlds would really immerse anyone on their own. The best parts are the Harry Potter like gags where the fantasy characters are fascinated by what we normal people would normally find mundane. I got a kick out of seeing the names they come up with for our technology and weapons, and never tired of watching the Mage fumble around with the military’s equipment. The military aspect is done with enough detail to satisfy the die-hard gun geeks and the fantasy side is colorful enough to capture the attention of any fantasy nerd.

Individualizing both of these worlds is a sort of miniature political drama that have the positions of power under the spotlight by numerous shadowy villains or organizations. It’s all a rather sordid affair that sits way too far in the background compared to the daily plot-irrelevant activities of the main characters, like shopping. The head honcho himself is, in my opinion, the weakest character in the series, and perhaps of the season. He’s almost expressionless, only geeking out on random occasions instead of being truly astounded at the fact that he’s living in a gamer’s paradise. He has no ambition for me to clench to, nor any type of sympathy-drawing back story. He’s a blank slate, and I don’t get why all the girl characters flock to him.

The side characters are the greatest asset to Gate, and keep the anime feeling ripe with life. While the fantasy characters are largely the stars, my favorite character overall is actually the main character’s right hand woman. She’s a stoic, brunette that always seemed a bit more noble than the other military officers, and when you finally see her in a fight, it’s like she invented martial arts with guns. The elf, mage, death god, and noblewoman make up the rest of the cast, and they all have their little bits of distinction. I like how the elf is subtly tragic while the mage is consistently wise and ponderous.

The animation definitely helps give this another edge because the character design and rich color palette make Gate feel like a stunning anime. It just lacks a powerful sense of direction and writing. The anime easter eggs are nice, but the attention to detail is only there in the world building, but not really in the character interactions or the plot as a whole. The direction feels like another bad offender here. The director seems to have fallen in love with this technique of splitting the screen into sections, each playing a different angle of the current scene. It looks incredibly bad, and makes me feel like I’m watching a fan-edited video review instead of the anime itself.

Overall Gate was just fun and colorful, occasionally poignant, but not much else A forgettable main character, with a thin-weight plot hardly make this a gripping anime. For those who are pleased enough with a fantasy aesthetic and fun characters would be able to find enjoyment in this, but I’m constantly on the look out for anime that do a bit more with their premise, therefore, this anime will need to bring a bit more narrative weight when it returns.

7.5/10


Overlord

Madhouse has finally hit a pop-fly. To expand this baseball analogy further, Madhouse has been hitting home run after home run, outpacing every other studio in the industry if we’re talking popularity and critical acclaim combined. So when I say they hit a pop-fly, I mean to say that they finally produced an anime that, after a dozen episodes, is still difficult to make heads or tails of what it’ll ultimately become. If this was ALL of Overlord, then yes, it was bad, largely because they didn’t explore the world nearly enough, nor did we reach any conclusion of the main character’s arc. Therefore, I was glad to see a lot of teasers and set up for a second season after the finale ended. There’s more Overlord to come, making me see this first season as the foundation for what i hope is a truly great story.

Overlord is another one of the them stuck-in-a-game stories, but the creator was smart enough to immediately show what made it unique. This isn’t about a hero’s journey from pauper to prince. This is a story about a hero who already has his victory, and is now trying to find a purpose. As noble as that sounds, the anime didn’t convey it too well. There are only a few moments when the main character really gets reflective and the emotional evocations kick in.

So what did Overlord do most of the time if it wasn’t copying Sword Art and Log Horizon? Well…it was showing every single way that our main character is a natural born leader. See, what I think is the big difference here is that Overlord’s main character is in charge of all of his NPC’s who came to life, and our now acting of their own accord. They went from being programmed to obey him, to actually being able to form their own opinions of him. I saw this as our hero demonstrating to his followers what it’s like to be the boss, and I really liked it. What was hard for me is that we never, ever see the character’s face. We don’t know what he looks like as a human, and his game avatar/character is either a skeleton or a knight with a full-face helmet. It did create enough of a disconnect, combined with the lack of emotional expression, to make me feel like I wasn’t experiencing what the main character was feeling. That wasn’t for the best.

What was the best was how strong this guy was. He’s not overpowered in the sense that it bores the conflicts down to being meaningless. The fights were never about who was stronger, and instead, they were tools for our hero to learn more about the world, and in turn, teach the audience what this world is like. Well, that fight in the finale was pretty much a delicious magic onslaught. What permeates every vein of Overlord as an anime at this point are the simple words of “not enough.”  I still haven’t learned enough about the world to feel like he reached the next step. I still haven’t felt enough of how our hero is handling this drastic change of existence. I still haven’t seen enough of the abilities and prowess of his eclectic group of servants. And the biggest thing is, we still don’t know just how strong our overpowered anit-hero is.

Overlord is kind of stuck in the middle of the video game set anime. It has better action than Log Horizon, but not as good as Sword Art. It has better world building than Sword Art but not as deep as Log Horizon. It has it’s distinction of having it’s main character focusing on using his powers to explore the world in a way that most characters in these types of stories can’t, as well as having the character be much more inclined to evil. (However, he’s still pretty much a good guy.) It just took it’s time to set up some lore and give us a couple fights in the process. It’s too early to judge if this is a good pace or not, but I’ll still give it a score, which more represents my overall level of enjoyment thus far.

7.5/10


Heroic Legend of Arslan

Thank God for that finale. Arslan was wandering more aimlessly than I expeected last month, and I was worried that all of it’s carefully placed plot points were going to implode into mediocrity, but the final episode was truly borderline masterful. The flow of the characters and the dialogue was sheer poetry. Arslan gained a lot of my respect for being so true to it’s roots as a war drama and not giving in to the tropes of the anime industry that probably could have given it more identity, but less maturity as a result. The elephant in the room for anyone talking about Arslan, however, is that eye-twitching animation. Man, does this anime need to go to another studio.

No! I’d rather have hand-drawn stick figures than these creepy CG puppets!

Arslan started strong with a premiere that sold me on both the setting and the conflict of ideals, then continued slowly but surely towards a climax that we finally had delivered in the finale, and not in the ways I was expecting. The finale was soothingly poigant, becoming my favorite episode of the series, and if this represents a new benchmark in how this anime feels every episode…sign me in for more, please.

So Arslan has many aspects to discuss. Let’s talk characters. Arslan’s company is a Katamari of highly talented and wise friends. He just rolls around the countryside seeking aid, advice, experience, and fortune, and ends up getting a genius tactician here, and a martial arts prodigy there. Arslan’s characters stand strong, but are sometimes used underwhelmingly. They all have the ability to wow on first impression, but the direction just doesn’t give them quite enough oomph to make them unforgettable. They did offer enough balance to keep the comedy, lecturing, and action in constant rotation. I especially loved, and am probably declaring as my favorite character, Etoile, who had a brilliant role in the final moments of the anime.

The story of Arslan is rooted in tradition. It’s an old story, and a celebrated one in Japan. It feels like watching a valiant history textbook come to life. This means some of the political talks can be snore-fests, but seeing it through Arslan’s eyes gives it a more fresh spin. Unfortunately this story won’t really win anywhere in terms of innovation. This is a great war story, but it’s one that feels like it’s been told since man first learned to utter fictional thoughts. Luckily the finale felt like it brought in a great conclusion to the predictable parts, leaving the more interesting aspects for it’s return. What with the supernatural elements possibly coming into play, the next season could feel very different. One thing has to change before it does come back though. Yes, even more so than Dragon Ball with Goku’s distracting voice actor:That art.

This anime’s biggest, most noticeable, and cruel downfall is that the animation is done with a noticeable lack of quality. I’m not saying the artists are without talent. Nobody is without talent. I’m just implying that this anime is only visually interesting perhaps a single-digit number of times, primarily with it’s scenery, or things that don’t move. There were bad lighting choices such as some of the most dramatic scenes happening in darkness so thick that you might as well just turn the TV off and listen to the audio by itself. The fight scenes were directed very poorly using the most basic of anime standards to get by. Finally, we had CG (computer rendered) soldiers ruining every single scene they animatronically walked into. If the art was just dated, that’d be another story. Older anime have an obvious look to them, but still have their own charms, but Arslan doesn’t have that either. It tries to be modern without the budget for it, leading to having few strengths in anything. It’s saddening to see this, and I’m already willing to sign a petition to get this damn thing reanimated. Let’s hope second season gets some sort of visual boost, because, Arslan’s story is good, and deserves better.

8/10


Snow White with the Red Hair

What will likely be the most unfortunately overlooked anime of the season, Snow White with the Red Hair is NOT the classical Disney Snow White story with dyed hair. That title feels inspirational to the tone of the anime, or thematically related at most, and not a representation of what story transpires within. What this anime is actually about, is true romanticism in an age of ideals and adventure. Basically, it’s the romance I can get into because it’s both the affirmation of who you love, and what you love at the same time.

The main character of this anime is a woman, and a very likeable one at that. She’s motivated, caring, and yeah, she has red hair. Her hair is rare, and adorned which kind of just serves as the plot point to get the story started. I love her dabbles in alchemy, and I feel like it’s the perfect back drop for her to get intertwined with the society of the kingdom she ends up at. The other main character, Zen, is also a terrific character, although I thought he was going to be yucky-prince-charming at first. Zen is aloof, playful, and childishly stubborn when it comes to his dreams and views on life. The two of them together are honestly a couple so compatible that you don’t even have to ‘ship them. Since the romance didn’t really have any major struggle or unique ways of strengthening, it was a rather straightforward process. That does keep me from singing my praises as much as I could.

Warning, this anime has little action and conflict. Zen has a couple swordplay scenes that just add to his cool factor, but this anime is actually a very slow burn. Each episode feels very inconsequential and almost aimless. With nothing really antagonizing them past the point of having “social issues” because she’s not royalty, and Zen is, this anime feels like nothing bad will ever happen, even for the sake of storytelling. This is a minor detriment, but it hardly kept me from enjoying it. It just kept it from being something profound or memorable in terms of a story. What I absolutely loved were the Fire Emblem-esque character designs. Everyone looked so regal and colorful. This is a truly cosplay-worthy cast of characters.

What really mattered is that each episode felt good. It’s atmosphere was so uplifting and warm, and the characters that end up as her friends are all wonderful characters as well. The small bubbles of story that came up each episode were enough to do it’s job of advancing character development, and an anime with developed characters sometimes doesn’t need an addictive telling of events. I’m excited for the second season, which is already confirmed after a one-season break.

8/10


Durarara

I’m running out of unique things to say about Durarara, but luckily, the things I am about to repeat are all largely positive. Durarara is a delightful dark comedy with a terrific focus on character development. There are several subplots that take turns advancing, treating you to a plethora of vantage points and tones. Durarara rarely gets boring, but it can sometimes be too confusing for it’s own good.

Durarara is not prime for a weekly format. That’s for sure. The amount of extraneous detail that actually ends up foreshadowing something would only work efficiently in a marathon format. Because of this, a lot of character revelations and “surprises” went over my head. Perhaps I’m just a bad watcher. I can definitely note that the careful, yet chaotic construction of this story is commendable. The author really is amazing at this, but there’s always been one thing that always bogged Durarara down for me.

I’m talking about the gangs. The Dollars. The Yellow Scarves. Whoever, whatever. The main plot of Durarara always focused on these all-encompassing gangs that are in a very loosely-defined gang war. For me, it’s the subject matter that always leaves me rather nonplussed because I simply don’t care which gang wins. I like that they exist because it helps make the city feel real, but I don’t like how they keep coming up to the forefront. Every singular character outshines the gang as a whole, so I’m always just anticipating the next development on any of them over the gang material.

But all of that can apply to any chapter of Durarara. so how were the events that particularly unfolded this season? Well, I’d say the ratio is decent. A couple character’s subplots are really doing it for me while the rest keep connecting in interesting ways that keep me baited. Ryuugamine’s arc is at my favorite spot right now. I love his subtle shifts in psychology and how demented his ideals are becoming. Shizuo and the Russian girl are probably my new favorite couple, yes, even over Shinra and Celty, although they are as adorable as ever.

Durarara is a damn gorgeous anime, by the way. Mainly from the style and character design. The way they are drawn is very noticeable with colorful eyes and thickly drawn hair. My visual interest in this anime never wanes so I must give more credit to the original light novel creator for being such a natural for drawing these people. The music is still a rather eclectic mix of jazz and odd soft electronica. It’s hit or miss. It always has been. We still have one more season of Durarara to go, and this anime doesn’t bother with midseason spectacle. The plot has been left hanging as is until we get more episodes.

8.0/10


Gangsta

RIP to the studio behind this anime, Manglobe. Shortly after the finale aired, they filed for bankruptcy and were shut down. So Gangsta is their last TV anime to go out with, (but they still have one more movie to release.) How was it? Well it started off strong, and then got even better, only to reach the end with a bit of deflation. Gangsta seemed close to being one of my favorites, but ultimately fell a bit short.

Gangsta’s initial tone is pretty easy to nail. It’s gritty, gray, and gruesome, and the music ranges from calm urban beats to powerful electronica. The anime was naturally moody, and was very good at keeping it that way. Unfortunately this moodiness led to a lot of ho-hum moments where the story kind of unfolded without much fanfare. By the time it reached the end, it felt like it was telling a story that I didn’t really care about anymore. That was probably because the best bit had already concluded.

That best bit? Why, that’s the back story of our two gangstas, or more like hired hands. The two main characters are what really make Gangsta an “anime” and not just a gang flick. Wallace is a white haired pretty boy who has superhuman memory and a slick style of intimidation. He’s a true bad-ass. Nicholas, on the other hand is a physical monstrosity who is labelled as a “creature” by the society and wields a sword. Not to mention the most distinguishing factor in that he’s deaf. He’s also a true bad-ass. I thought that this bad-assery was all I would get, which I’m fine with, but it would have meant no character development. Luckily when the anime focused on these two as kids, it really becomes a powerful anime about kids being forced to grow up and losing their innocence in unfortunate circumstances. I love how, amidst all the dirty scoundrels they were surrounded by, those two boys found solace in each other. It was beautiful.

Once the flashbacks stopped, the anime had only it’s main plotline to guide us through, and it never reached the heights of those flashbacks. I did like the psychological exploration of the girl, Alex, in dealing with the haunting past of her prostitute lifestyle. It made her more than a mere assistant character. I also loved the fight scenes. I mean, these are the animators of the likes of Samurai Champloo, and it really echos that anime in it’s veteran fluidity and the combat choreography. Gangsta eventually puttered and burned out, but I’d still say Manglobe went out on a high note. More power to the animators and I hope their talent finds a new home. LIKE ANIMATING ARSLAN!

8.5/10


Rokka no Yuusha

There’s style, there’s substance, and there’s a shocking middle finger of an ending. At least there’s more to come. Rokka no Yuusha is impossible to assess completely without the full story in my hands. It left on a big cliffhanger, and seemingly restarted the whole mystery aspect from square one. Yet I know this wasn’t just for the sake of rewinding and forsaking everything we learned. What the introduction of that last character WAS for, well, I’ll have to find out when this anime hopefully returns.

For the life of me, I can not understand why you are here, cow girl!

Rokka started perfectly. Honestly, it boasts one of the best first episodes I’ve seen this year. It was confident with it’s premise, it’s character’s and it’s drool-worthy fight scenes. It looked like we had a surefire hit for the action-adventure fans that had an ancient Central American setting putting a fresh spin on things. What little fools we were as this anime delivered a full on mystery scenario instead. That’s right, all this talk about ganging up with other superpowered martial artists to take down a reincarnated demon lord turned into getting locked in a temple because one amongst them is a fake. Who is it? Fans were getting irritated that it was taking so long to solve this seemingly pointless story arc, because it did literally take the whole season to solve it.

However, when you look at this mystery without context, it was actually handled very well. It was like a classic who-dunnit but with crazy magical combatants instead of butlers and businessmen. I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery, because every character had warrant to be the fake, and I could make a reason in my head for anyone. Each episode would make a character feel completely innocent, only to have a future revelation make me change my entire perspective. It was fun, because every week I would discuss with my friends who we thought was the fake.

At least we got a couple fight scenes during the season. If this was solely deduction and reasoning, the anime wouldn’t have done well at all, but stressful mental scenarios lead to the inevitable: people duking it out. Pretty much every character has a highly specialized way of fighting, and Adlet, the main character is a bag of tricks and trinkets. Hans, the cat man is an agility master that I never tire of seeing. Chamot was probably the most disappointing because she had more of a sit-there-and-let-the-power-do-the-work type of ability. There was a lot of build up about her being sweet and cute, but extremely dangerous. Ehh, not really.

Through this mystery, we got a very intimate look at our characters. I would say only Durarara outpaces the juggling of character stories this season. Flamie, the tragic white haired gunslinger became my favorite, and a favorite for many fans. Everything from her design to her mentality is cute and sorrowful. Adlet kind of has a DC Comics Joker thing going on where his incessant happiness is a forced habit who’s source lies in incredible pain. The character designs were beautiful, although most characters had a bit too much of something. Goldov had a little too much helmet, and the girls’ outfits were a bit too skimpy. It wasn’t distracting, however, and there was no fan service. This made the eventual romance all the more meaningful because it wasn’t undermined or depraved in any way.

Rokka has all the potential to be a terrific action-adventure anime, but we just took an initial detour in the beginning. That detour shifted gears, and even genres, but still didn’t disappoint. It’s ending left everyone feeling sour, but it’s only because we lack explanation that is sure to come later. It’s fight scenes were a highlight of the entire selection of anime this season and it’s art style has everything going for it. But as it stands, Rokka is only a mystery anime, but it was a very good one at that.

8.5/10


Food Wars

Food Wars finally ended it’s first run, and with all the delightful food it cooked up, the most important dish it served were my own words. I was adamant that this anime was going to be an awful excuse for erotic content with no thought put into it at all, and I was very glad I was wrong. There’s still no way I’ll defend the first episode, or even a couple others early on, but Food Wars quickly revealed it’s hand, and fired on all cylinders the whole way.

So Food Wars is VERY shounen. it’s a young boy who’s an underestimated prodigy in the world of cooking. He has a lot to learn, but he also has a lot to teach the folks around him. It’s the classic set up that I still fall for because it is unavoidingly addicting watching him put people in their places while growing as a character himself. The story is a coming-of-age tale about his college life. I like the college feeling over the standard high-school level a lot more. The fact that they sleep in dormitories and have so many hand-on lab classes makes for a much more inviting atmosphere then a cluttered classroom.

For anyone that doesn’t know, Food Wars is dubbed “food porn” by the fans for a reason. The way they choose to illustrate just how good the food tastes is done by comedic explosions of sexual content and orgasmic breakdowns. While this almost turned me away in the beginning, it does actually get tamer as the series progresses. it’s still weird. It’ll never not be weird to see someone clothes explode as they revel in the taste of a spice or a sauce, but the focus on the food, and the actual complexity of it has increased tenfold.

Honestly, this is grade A cooking we’re seeing. This isn’t just food that we are supposed to imagine as tasting good without knowing the actual foundation. They delve into the gastronomical qualities with a fine-tooth comb. Some of these dishes look borderline genius. Since I’m not an Iron Chef of any sorts, I don’t know just how practical this all is, but if it’s fake, they do an incredible job of explaining it as if it was real. I think it’s the necessity of a good food anime to make me actually want to eat what’s on the screen. Especially if it’s animated food, and not even a real video.

The ultimate conflict here are the numerous competitions and battles that have our main characters cooking innovative and tasty dishes under crazier and crazier restrictions. Just the idea of what they’ll have to cook next, and how they have to do it has been enough to carry two seasons worth of episodes. Soma isn’t undefeatable, giving an actual bit of tension to the moments where the judges are deciding who’s dish tasted the best. This constant barrage of food, strange erotic content, and pumped up characters make every episode exciting, and the best part is that this anime isn’t immature or dumb at all. It’s not sophisticated or graceful, of course, but it’s damn good at being both an extremely fun portrayal of competitive cooking, and a worthy portrayal of how passionate cooking can be.

8.5/10


Charlotte

Charlotte has things I absolutely love, respect, and wish for more of, but it also has a few things that got in the way of having this remarkable story land as masterfully as it could have. This incredibly ambitious and creative story made a lot of headlines, but when you look at the series as whole, there’s a bit of a mess that needed some cleaning up. Not enough to make this unenjoyable, but when there were times where I felt like this could be a game-changing anime, it was with great disappointment that other things weighed those moments down.

Charlotte followed the main character though a fast-paced story of learning about these hidden superpowers that people have. At first, it was all about him learning to be humble. He was cocky, and abused his powers for selfish reasons. He wasn’t villainous, he was simply a teenager. It was lighthearted and funny as opposed to having him come off as despicable. However, he does get there. In a downward spiral of excruciatingly detailed direction, we watch this fun-loving character devolve into a primal shell of his former self. It was easily the most well-handled part of the anime.

From that moment, the story ramped up to 11, as well as the pace. Unfortunately the pace should have sat exactly where it was during that downfall arc of his, because literally too much happened in too little time. The story was grand and determined, but it was shoved onto the screens leaving no time for reflection. What happened was undeniably cool. It’s one of those anime where describing the events would assuredly sound exciting. However, when we make things sound exciting, we paraphrase, and just jump between the highlights. That’s what I felt like was happening in the actual anime. As ifsomeone was narrating only the events of spectacle leaving little room for emotional feedback. When it was sad, I didn’t even have time to be sad before it went gung-ho with the plot twisting again.

The side characters were perfect, and in fact, I think Tomori is my favorite female character this season, or at least tied with someone who hasn’t been mentioned yet on this countdown. The characters were all very well done with their first impressions. They all had hilarious quirks, and made me laugh on more than one occasion. The comedy doesn’t need to change at all. There was a romance that was taking root, but it didn’t really blossom now did it? Yes, because of the chaotic pace, the romance kind of just erupted into fruition during the finale making it feel a bit discordant and unrealistic.

I feel I can’t let this anime by without mention of it’s musical focus either. The creator of Charlotte is known for being a masterful writer of sad stories. He’s also known to dabble in music and has a huge appreciation for it, so in most of his anime, music has a very large presence. It’s enough to make people wonder why there’s so much focus on it when the anime itself isn’t about music, but it’s through the lens of melodies that this anime, and his previous works can squeeze so much emotion out of a particular scene. It does make me feel weird whenever the characters mention specific bands and songs because it’s kind of too specific compared to other things that exist in the world of the anime, but it’s worth it because he tells fantastic stories about this subject.

Charlotte hit with the force of a truck, and delivered an unpredictable story with extremely fun characters and drastic mood swings. It was too fast-paced to have every aspect land with it’s full effect, particularly with character deaths and time progression. I felt like it was an anime in fast-forward sometimes and that definitely hurt it in the end. That doesn’t stop me from having the utmost respect for the creator and how he tried to think outside of the box and tried to encompass so many things into his anime. I love his vision, and still like his execution, just not on the same level. He’s welcome to come back anytime though and craft another emotionally charged series.

8.5/10


My Love Story

This is the type of anime where I just sit back and nod to myself. Man that was, really good. My Love Story is the best romance anime to come out in years, hands down. It’s got the fuzzy wuzzy feel goods of romance anime mainstays like Kimi ni Todoke, yet it’s got the fresh spins and energy like romance masterpiece Toradora. I do still prefer Toradora over this, but let’s not compare them. Let’s just talk about why this anime is so damn good.

Takeo’s a big guy. He’s what society would label as “not attractive.” He’s full of energy and spunk, and has a lot of guy friends, but in the world of romance, he’s overshadowed constantly by his best friend who , upon seeing, society would generally respond with “rip his clothes off, now.” The anime constantly defies tradition beginning by having Takeo being the one chosen by a girl and not his good-looking best friend. It’s a startling realization for him, which in Takeo’s hyperactive mind probably hit with the force of a meteor, and begins the incredibly well told story of him falling in love with this girl.

The anime doesn’t let up at all with it’s cutesiness, nor it’s story progression. What I initially thought would be the end of the anime ended up happening in episode 3. And what I thought was the cutest moment in one episode, was completely outdone by a later episode. Honestly the interactions between these two are so effortlessly adorable, and handled so well, that I actually laughed out loud in earnest at just how giddy it made me.

My Love Story also has some serious meat on it’s bones. There’s one arc that takes the spotlight onto his best friend, and paints a gripping drama that resonates stronger than anything else in the anime, at least in my personal opinion. I think My Love Story could have done with just one more of these story arcs. One more dramatic insight to contrast the sparkly romance would have balanced it perfectly. Since the second half didn’t really have anything like this, it felt a bit less powerful in the end.

Luckily, the characters never, ever broke form. Takeo is easy to tease. The anime itself makes fun of him, but never puts him in an inferior light. Takeo is an honest-to-goodness gentle soul. It portrays that extremely well. He’s also super strong, super fast, and incredibly short-sighted. The constant reactions of his to the world around him is enough to make the viewers laugh, and same too with his best friend Suna, who also must be talked about.

Suna, like everything else in this anime, is deceptively plain in the beginning. It’s only through the progression of the story that you see just how noble and kind-hearted he is. He’s not just a pretty boy who turns every girl down. He’s a guy who appreciates the finest things in life like companionship and sees it as common sense that it should be that way. Finally we have Rinko, the love interest. The most adorable girl of the season. At first it seemed like she just picked Takeo randomly and simply rewarded him with her company, but I was so glad to see that this wasn’t the case. She also had to deal with fear, insecurity, and build up to finally have Takeo in her life. Both the girl and the guy had equal apprehension and reward in this relationship, and that in itself is just beautiful.

My Love Story is a brilliant, inventive, and astoundingly adorable anime that expresses love in equal parts hard-hitting comedy, and gorgeous, poetic dialogue. Every character is a spin on a traditional, tiring anime trope that makes this story feel different form anything before it, yet comfortably familiar at the same time. Every character is good-natured, and Takeo’s massive heart pumps the blood of this entire series. His altruistic nature is infectious and turns everybody into better people which is a delight to witness. The fact that the manga this is based off is still in progress makes me shake in anticipation for what I hope is a guaranteed sequel. If not, My Love Story still has enough to stand the test of time and remain one of the greatest romances in anime.

9/10


And without a second to spare, I must now go and start typing up my impressions for the new season. I apologize for the lack of weekly updates this time, but i have been working on an old project of mine that I’m close to finishing, and I’m in the process of updating my top 50 anime since it’s been about a year since I wrote it! As always, I appreciate your time for reading my thoughts on anime. I’m always up for discussion, so if you have something you’d like to express, then comments are more than welcome.

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2 thoughts on “Summer 2015 Anime – Final Review

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