Spring 2015 Anime Season: Final Impressions

Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru noha Machigatteiru darouka 01Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 02Hibike Euphonium 01Owari no Seraph 03Punchline 01Sidonia no Kishi Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki 01Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru Zoku 01

The spring anime season has come and gone…. And, while I found many shows entertaining enough while they were airing, but now that it’s all over and done with, there aren’t really any series that stick out in my mind as particularly memorable. Disappointing to be sure… Well, here’s hoping for better pickings in the summer season.

Today I’m looking at 7 shows that concluded in the spring season, which I think is a little less than usual, but I’m still watching 3 series as carry-overs into the summer season (Arslan Senki, Ore Monogatari, Shokugeki no Souma).

Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru noha Machigatteiru darouka

Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru noha Machigatteiru darouka 03Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru noha Machigatteiru darouka 02

Sure, it’s a wish fulfillment wet dream that feels like a cheerier, less consequential version of Sword Art Online, complete with over powered nonsense and an expansive harem of girls, but I admit that I found this newest light novel adaptation mostly watchable, especially when compared to other similar titles (Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, I’m looking at you). But, let’s be honest: just because I didn’t mind watching it, doesn’t mean it was particularly good.

Characters were flat and mostly just a bunch of walking tropes, and while I found Bell serviceable enough (he’s just so… unoffensive), his counterpart, Hestia, was really grating about 90% of the time. The story also leaves much to be desired, since it’s basically just centered around Bell’s trials and tribulations as he works towards becoming a better adventurer – whatever that means. There’s hints at a greater story, but it’s barely touched upon, which is too bad since all we got was a bunch of obnoxious fan service instead.

Animation looked pretty good, though the settings and monsters could have used a bit more imagination in their design. Overall, this anime is really just a hodgepodge of timeworn plot devices and characters that seem to be in every light novel adaptation as of late. It’s not the worst anime ever, but DanMachi ultimately feels unoriginal and dull.

Final impressions: Comfortably mediocre with zero surprises (except for maybe the questionable boob ribbon physics).
Verdict: Forget it — You can do better.

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 01Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 03

Running off the hype and selling power of the Fate/ series, UFOTable returns with the second season of Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, concluding Shiro’s adventure in the battle royale death game for the wish-granting holy grail. While I can’t deny the production values (everything just looked so pretty), I can’t speak as much praise for the way the story was presented. The series felt incredibly drawn out, with lots of dialogue that was repetitive, went in circles, and came off as generally tedious.

I wish I liked this more, but Unlimited Blade Works definitely suffered from poor pacing and writing, and underdeveloped characters, resulting in sadly little emotional payoff. Besides Shirou, I also didn’t feel like the series really concentrated on any other characters very much at all (and regrettably, he’s about as dull a main character as I remember him to be from the original Fate/Stay Night).

Of course, there were the obligatory flashbacks that were designed to drum up sympathy for any given character before quickly killing them off, but that hardly counts as development and certainly didn’t make me feel any sort of strong feelings towards anyone. I also found the antagonists incredibly weak, if only because they were so underdeveloped, introduced late in the series, and their goals seemed generally lackluster. I’ll admit freely that by the second season, I was really only watching this for the action scenes, and even there I wasn’t terribly impressed. Overall, the series started strong, with some fun battles and some curious mystery in the story, but ultimately fades towards an anti-climatic conclusion.

Final impressions: Starts strong, but poor pacing and character development makes for an anti-climatic finish.
Verdict: Worth a look — Just not everything that it’s been hyped up to be…

Hibike! Euphonium

Hibike Euphonium 03Hibike Euphonium 02

At first glance, Hibike! Euphonium should have been a total hit with me. I found the idea of exploring the dynamics of a concert band really intriguing, and it had all the components that I love in an anime (cute girls, friendship, music, competition, great animation, etc.), but unfortunately none of the pieces clicked and I was left wondering what the point of it all was. I had a lot of difficulty connecting with the story and characters, if only because the music, direction, atmosphere, and dialogue of a scene would tell me I should be feeling one way, but my complete lack of understanding or empathy for the characters would make me wonder why such a scene was even happening in the first place.

I mean, Reina and Kumiko barely interact with each other, and then suddenly in episode 8 they’re practically soul mates. On one level I can use my imagination to see how this came about, but on another level, it’s hard for me to feel much of an emotional connection to the result since it just never felt like I experienced any of the buildup. And, it wasn’t just Reina and Kumiko… I felt this way about nearly all the characters in the anime, which lead to very little emotional payoff in what should have been an emotion-heavy show.

Final impressions: Has all the components of a great anime, but fails to drum up any emotional connection to the underdeveloped characters.
Verdict: Forget it — At least it, uh… looks really, really nice?

Owari no Seraph

Owari no Seraph 01Owari no Seraph 02

Endlessly predictable and completely forgettable, Owari no Seraph was just barely entertaining enough to watch despite the flat characters with angst-ridden back stories and the fact you could see the next “twist” in the story coming miles away. The show might have stood a chance if it had stayed on the serious side of things, but the changes in tone between angsty vampire melodrama and silly school life (complete with bullies and making new friends) ended up being far too distracting and exaggerated.

On the plus side, I really liked the backgrounds, which evoked a great feeling of post-apocalyptic destruction, and had a hand drawn, sketch-like appearance that contrasted nicely with the foreground animation. Animation was nothing great and full of inconsistencies, though I did like how the outlines were drawn a little unevenly and thickly in places.

The story had some potential, but concludes in a rather anticlimactic way, with little resolved or explained. This entire season really felt like just an introduction/setup to the series as a whole, but since so little really happened, I was left wondering why I should even care. Would I watch another season of this show? Sure, why not. Will I remember it in any concrete way in 6 months? Somehow I doubt it.

Final impressions: Endlessly predictable and completely forgettable.
Verdict: Forget it — I already have.

Punch Line

Punchline 03Punchline 02

I think this could have been good, but… it just wasn’t. Sorry, Mappa, but Punch Line was such a hot mess of ideas, with everything from illogical time travel and horny ghosts, to random body swappings and inexplicable character motives. It takes about half the series to get past the basic setup, and when you finally get there, all you wonder is why you should even care about the fates of any of the characters, who seem more like caricatures than anything else.

While I did like the colorful and fun animation, I found the story and cast often tedious to watch. Sure, there was always something silly going on or someone’s panties being flashed, but at the end of every episode, it just felt like a whole lot of nothing.

Final impressions: A hot mess of chaos that could have used a little more organization.
Verdict: Forget it — What was the point of this show, anyways?

Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki

Sidonia no Kishi Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki 03Sidonia no Kishi Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki 02

So, Sidonia no Kishi is back, this time to do battle with the Gauna for Planet Nine… which I thought would be more of a focal point of the series, except that the entire battle is over and done with rather anticlimactically in the last 2 episodes, and instead most of the series is spent on Nagate and his ever expanding harem. And, while I actually like getting to know the characters a little better, seeing Sidonia from the inside, and having some lighter moments to balance out the casualty-heavy battles, the balance was unfortunately off as there was far too much fluff in this season and not nearly enough plot. (But, there was plenty of plot.)

Perhaps the most frustrating thing was that the viewer is given glimpses of the underlying plots and intrigue happening on Sidonia, especially with regards to Kobayashi and Ochiai’s various motives, but little really comes of it or is explained, if only because so much time is dedicated to the romantic comedy side of things.

Final impressions: Nagate’s romantic comedy, slice of life harem pushes action-packed, casualty-heavy space battles to the sidelines.
Verdict: Worth a look — The plot got even bigger this season.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru Zoku 03Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru Zoku 02

I have mixed feelings about this second season of Oregairu: on one hand, it contained some really wonderful moments/scenes that just drove the messages of the anime home, and I loved the nice boost it got in terms of animation and character designs, but on the other hand, there were whole swathes of the series that I found rather plodding and, dare I say it, boring.

The dialogue I so enjoyed in season 1 suddenly came off as repetitive and dry, and I was a bit disappointed by the character development, which seemed like it stalled (or even regressed) significantly when compared to the progress seen in season 1. Despite all that, in the end, this series still remains a fair continuation of the great first season. While Oregairu ends on a bit abruptly on a cliffhanger that makes the series feel a bit unfinished, the final episode was definitely one of the highlights… I just can’t help but feel like this series could have been more concise and gotten just as far in fewer episodes.

Final impressions: Starts strong and is punctuated by some great moments, but feels plodding in between.
Verdict: Worth a look — A must watch if you enjoyed the first season.

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7 thoughts on “Spring 2015 Anime Season: Final Impressions

  1. Can’t agree that Hibike! had underdeveloped characters; the subtleties in that anime were the most succulent in any KyoAni series I’ve seen, even trumping Hyouka for me. Episode 8’s change isn’t jarring if you’ve been appreciating the nuances of Kumiko’s character up to that point. Overall, the whole show really connected to my own experience of music and adolescence.

    Definitely not one to forget, considering how much demand (and scope) there is for a second season. It was one of the most popular series in Spring.

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    • It’s great that you enjoyed and connected with this anime! I definitely think that Hibike! Euphonium is an anime that one either loves or is ambivalent towards. I sadly fall into the latter category… 😦

      I just felt very unconvinced by the majority of the character interactions, which I found fairly awkward and stilted much of the time, leading me to have difficulty connecting with any of the characters. In the end, all the little details of the show felt rather clinical to me as a whole, and looking back on the cast, I find I don’t have a particularly deep understanding of their personalities, despite the nuances and subtleties of the show.

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      • It may be worth a rewatch someday then. People all over the internet have certainly been connecting to the cast through how they’ve picked them apart, and its liminal portrayal of sexuality was a breath of fresh air for many.
        It may just come down to personal taste though, as being unable to connect with the characters early on can leave a lot of those later moments and nuances feeling empty.

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  2. Do my eyes deceive me, or did I just find another blogger who also didn’t manage to connect with Hibike! Euphonium? I tried, I really did, and I get that for many people this was the anime of the season, but like you, I felt that the drama was forced and awkward, and that the admittedly lovely animation was covering (or at least, attempting to cover) for the lack of emotional impact.

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    • I’m not alone in my impressions of Hibike! Euphonium… thank you!! Almost everything I read/everyone I talk to says that this is the anime of the season/year, so sometimes I wonder if I even watched the same show… But, then I re-watch a couple scenes and I remember how nothing in this anime really clicked with me and, like you, not for lack of trying.

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