Autumn 2015 anime review

Autumn 2015 anime review

Autumn2015

With the Autumn 2015 line-up now at a close, I thought I would take a quick look back over the anime I have reviewed this season and do a swift summary and conclusion on them all. Many of my reviews were written only a few episodes in, and some of my opinions may have changed since all those months ago. Besides, one of the things that I think makes a good anime (or book, film or game, for that matter) is how good the ending is. Here I will take a look at those very important endings and rate them, in reverse order. Since these are ending reviews, there will be spoilers!

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11. 
HackaDoll
I just had to refer to my original blog post and consult the synopsis of the last episode to actually remind myself what actually happened. Now, I’ve always said that anime shorts are often at a disadvantage at these reviews but some of them just lose sight of what they are doing and just become plain silly. Things went a bit off-track for the HackaDolls, but they did try to pull things back together by returning to Ayame, their subject they had to ‘advance’ back at the very beginning to see how she’s getting on, but by that time I no longer cared. I didn’t realise how uninterested I truly was until I came to write this ending review. It was a half-hearted attempt at giving this franchise its own anime.

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10. Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan
Compared to HackaDoll, at least Hakone made a real attempt at a story (and actually succeeded). We see relationships develop and antagonists (however bizarre) are defeated and peace is restored to the hot-spring. There is even quite a bit of drama within the last couple of episodes where we are left wondering if anyone will actually see Hakone-chan again after she threw herself into the protection of the hot-spring. The episodes were short, sharp and amusing and, all-in-all, this was a pretty solid anime-short – very enjoyable, a little bit of fun and didn’t overcomplicate things.

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9. Brave Beats
I wanted Brave Beats to fill the gigantic void in my anime fix that Tribe Cool Crew left behind. Sadly, this didn’t end up being the case. The special effects and graphics have definitely been stepped up, but I feel that I was let down with the lack of realism. I think what I liked most about Tribe Cool Crew was that you saw the practise that the group put in to win an audience with Jey El. Here, normal school kids who don’t know much at all about dance combine with beings from another planet to become instant dance stars with super powers. I don’t think this angle really works. Having said that, I can’t fault the character designs for their colourful approach or the music, which is still ridiculously catchy (Brave Beats is the only anime this season where I continued to watch the opening and ending sequences throughout because I loved the music). The ending to this one was a bit strange, involving a random dance competition and Santa Claus and a whole episode focused around a bag of stolen onions, so I’m not sure if a second season is something to particularly look forward to, even if it set this bizarre dance anime back on-track plot-wise.

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8. World Trigger
Not the strongest series of World Trigger to date. This is their first anime-only arc and it hasn’t gone particularly well for them. There are a lot of tangents that are too much to resist pursuing and it has a totally different feel to the seasons that follow the manga. There has been a lot of debate about World Trigger recently and where it sees itself heading, especially as this season ended rather shortly and we got a random story about Yotaro and Raijinmaru (undeniably cute though they are). After four consecutive seasons and no sign as if yet if there will be a continuous follow-on by a fifth, it seems this one is finally losing momentum. For me, it felt like this season had a kind of Bleach feel to it (you guys know the one) that makes me wonder if World Trigger has now reached its peak. Would I continue watching if there was a fifth series in the future? Maybe – as long as it wasn’t an ‘anime-only’ arc…

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7. Owarimonogatari
I’m probably going to upset a lot of the -gatari fandom by saying this, but I really didn’t get the hype surrounding this one. It might have been from the fact that I didn’t really have any prior experience of this franchise, its concept or its recurring characters, but I think that there’s something more here. It was just a word-heavy series that, when you have to read subtitles, it takes out some of intensity you realise that certain scenes are trying to create. I consider myself a fast reader and at times even I found myself skipping backwards just to make sure that I had read things right. There was also some attempts at subliminal messaging that didn’t quite work. There were some real illustrated Japanese words that go ignored when you’re struggling to read the hastily-written subtitles that spoil the effect somewhat. I admit, coming into this story blind probably didn’t help matters but, to me, I still would have been put off this one even if I completely understood everything that was going on (which I didn’t).

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6. Asterisk War
Another one of my favourite anime from this season but… the ending… it was just… nothing like what I’d expected. In that last episode was a fight, which was great one – the best so far – but there was so much left unanswered and no idea of whether any of this will be explained in a second season, or when this will be. Instead of focusing more on developing the main characters I felt that there was a lot of focus on supporting characters that were supposed to be ‘antagonists’ and yet didn’t really have an impact on the current situations. This could have been time better spent explaining a bit more about luxes, character secrets, prana, the student council and, well, a plethora of other things. I liked the majority of characters here, so I hope there is a second season that gives them the extra character development they deserved in the first season!

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5. Diabolik Lovers II: More Blood
Heh – I ended up liking this one more than I actually thought I would. After I let go of my annoyance that the main ‘heroine’ was a pretty drip with not an ounce of sense rattling around in that brain of hers (I put it down to the drastic blood-loss that she must suffer on a daily basis from being the communal juice-box of about ten guys) I began to pay attention to the plot, the design of the characters and their various backstories, which were sufficiently gothic and pain-stricken. I was looking forward to the clash between the two bishounen vampire clans or the the two mysterious strangers interfere. I happily got both, and suddenly things took a turn for the interesting when they suddenly weren’t focused on Yui-the-human-bloodbank. The problem with anime based off of games of the dating persuasion is they are always anchored down with a personality-less main character, so I’m glad Diabolik Lovers II managed to shake this off in order to pursue more interesting avenues.

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4. Miss Monochrome – The Animation 3
Miss Monochrome has quickly become a staple of my anime diet and I’ve enjoyed watching her progress to becoming a world-class idol from an android working in a convenience shop. Amidst all the fun and silliness, she’s somehow really started to progress to stardom and is becoming recognised in a selection of Japanese prefectures. I think this third season is the one where we have seen her make the most progress thanks to her growing entourage of backup dancers, mascots, merchandise and producers. She gives a small and amusing insight into Japanese idol culture whilst making pop-culture references to other anime and well-known idols. The final episode was a fitting ending for the season and, after what I presume to be a short break, the journey will continue with a fourth season in the new year.

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3. The Perfect Insider
With only 11 episodes, this one flew by fast and I was intrigued from a very early stage as to what the mechanisms were behind this mystery. At one point, it almost had a very classic ‘country house’ feeling to the mystery where the only people that could have been involved were inside the institution – and this was exactly what happened. There was a twist that I never expected (always a plus) and it sent my detective mode, which was already drawing its own conclusions, back to square one and was quickly trying to formulate a new hypothesis before all was revealed. The Perfect Insider really had me thinking and, especially towards the end, I couldn’t wait for the next episode to be broadcast so I could reformulate my theories.

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2. Is the Order a Rabbit?
If I’m looking for an easy-going anime full of cuteness and fun, I would always look to Is the Order a Rabbit? Some would argue that there’s plenty of anime that deliver this particular combination, but there’s just something about this anime that makes it stand out from its inoffensive and moe brethren. Perhaps its just its unique combination of adorable characters and quaint surroundings, or maybe its just the coffee and bunnies. Maybe it’s the fact that I sometimes wonder if villages like this actually exist and whether I could visit one at some point. It doesn’t seem to be something that I can put my finger on by using deduction and logic and I think that’s what makes Is the Order a Rabbit? special. If it doesn’t grab my attention with something new or trigger my brain into thinking, it’s got to appeal to my personal sense of creativity and aesthetics – and this is exactly what Cocoa and chums do. Perhaps there could be a third season?

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1. Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation
This was a beautifully interesting anime that had me hooked from the first episode. It was dark, intriguing and mysterious and held an element that I hadn’t yet seen in an anime – a character with a fascination with bones and being able to identify people by their bones, what their final moments were like and how they died. Sakurako herself was a great character that reminded me a little of Sherlock Holmes, someone with a flair of genius that had no time for mundane things such as social norms or peoples feelings. Alongside her was Shoutarou, her Dr. Watson, effectively, who helped bridge the gap between Sakurako’s idiosyncrasies and those who have lost loved ones and the police. The whole series was made up of a selection of short and clever mysteries where we saw some great characters, scenes and deductions. Every story gave us more of an insight to Sakurako and her own secrets that kept me eagerly awaiting the next one. I love having these feeings whilst watching a brilliant anime and I would love for this to have a second series.

Ongoing series’
Utawarerumono: The False Faces