Fall 2015 – First Half in Review

Holy crap we’re already at the halfway point. It doesn’t really feel like a halfway point – Owarimonogatari’s just finished its first larger arc-sequence, and Okada Gundam is still basically in its preamble, so it kinda feels like we’re just getting started. But apparently everything else is already half over, and the halfway point ranking thing has become one of this site’s many random traditions (look, routines help with my insecurities), so here we are again. As usual, this will be the one and only time I rank this season’s overall shows. Ranking shows when they’re only halfway done may seem like an inherently useless gesture, but I assure you, that is definitely the point. “But Bobduh,” you might respond, “you rank your favorite shows of the year anyway, so how can you say you’re making a point about the futility of rankings when you then proceed to buy into them in the same exact way everyone else does?” “Shut up,” I say to this. “Shut up, stop talking, your face is bad.”

With all that cleared up, let’s get right to the listing! What has risen, what has fallen, and what is just sort of staggering on? ALL WILL BE REVEALED.

#1: Owarimonogatari

Yeah, big goddamn surprise, the newest edition of one of my favorite shows of all time is right up there at the top. And I’m relieved to see it there, frankly – after Tsukimonogatari, I was a little worried the show had peaked in the second season. And it still may have peaked in the second season, because this season hasn’t been quite as good as Hitagi End or Suruga Devil – but “not quite as good as the show’s best arcs to date” isn’t the fairest of criticisms. Compared to Monogatari overall, this season has been a fine addition to the series, with Oikura making the most of all of her appearances and Ougi’s increased presence actually making Araragi far more compelling as a character. There have been a few nicely self-contained little dramas, some standout emotional peaks, and some great word-duels between all the characters. There’s even been tiger-striped Hanekawa kicking Ougi’s sinister spirit-being ass. The visuals haven’t been quite up to the standard set by Suruga Devil, but again, Suruga Devil is a ridiculously high bar. Overall, Owarimonogatari is proving to be a solid addition to the franchise.


#2: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Coming in right behind the heavy hitter, we have Okada’s remarkably consistent entry into the Gundam franchise. Iron-Blooded Orphans isn’t the shiny, wildly ambitious type – it’s just a very solidly composed drama, full of engaging moving pieces and steered with a strong sense of purpose and momentum. Orga and Mikazuki make for a compelling central pair, and Mikazuki’s growing relationship with Kudelia illustrates the classic disconnect of how war impacts society on different levels in a nicely personal way. I’m also just as interested in the Gjallarhorn characters as the orphans side, which makes basically every turn of this story fun to see. The show’s a bit visually conservative and sometimes steps a tad too far into exposition, but overall it’s demonstrating how much solidly composed storytelling can do all by itself.

Iron-Blooded Orphans

#3: Utawarerumono: The False Faces

This one’s a bit tentative for a couple reasons. First, the latest episode seemed to lean largely on the audience’s familiarity with characters from the last series, and I didn’t watch that one – so if the show moves even further into direct sequel territory, I’ll have to drop it regardless of how much I enjoy it. And secondly, there’s a marked tendency towards standard anime crappiness here – a harem vibe, a girl that exists basically just to be the fujoshi type, etcetera. But aside from that stuff, Utawarerumono is pretty great. Most importantly, the show absolutely nails the chemistry of its two leads, which is a rare and valuable thing. Haku and Kuon are great both independently and together – they have distinct personalities with multiple sides, are genuinely charming, and bounce off each other with great energy. Not everything the show has added on top of those characters has been great, but a strong central pair can go a very long way.


#4: Everything Becomes F: The Perfect Insider

Five episodes in, I still don’t really know what to think of Perfect Insider. There’s certainly plenty of stuff I like about it – I like the ways it’s building up and contrasting Moe and Magata, I like the fact that the mystery is based in people more than narrative twists, I like the subdued aesthetic, I like the slow-burning pace. And there’s also stuff I dislike, from the show’s inconsistent treatment of Souhei (sometimes it seems like the show is self-aware about his nonsense, sometimes it buys into it) to the various canned mystery tricks (a robot! multiple personalities!). I get the feeling that it may take right up until the final episode to decide if I even like the show, based on how its various mysterious threads play out. But it’s certainly interesting, and I’m enjoying the ride so far.

The Perfect Insider

#5: One-Punch Man

It feels a little weird to put what seems like the breakout star of the season down here at the bottom, but One-Punch Man is just not the strongest show. For roughly five to six minutes out of every twenty, One-Punch Man is phenomenal – one of the most beautifully realized action shows I’ve ever seen, brought to life through vivid animation and dynamic direction, fully demonstrating the power of anime as a medium to convey violence. But for the other fifteen, it can tend to drag. The show is mainly a comedy, and it feels like it’s run out of jokes; Saitama’s shtick can only last so long, and all the punchlines follow a similar deadpan formula. And attaching these gorgeous fight scenes to a comedy actually makes them far less compelling than they would be otherwise, since it means they’re “just” beautiful, and not elevated through any dramatic or emotional engagement with what’s going on. Ultimately, I kind of wish all this aesthetic goodness was attached to a show that actually wanted me to care about what’s happening – I’ll still watch it and enjoy the highlights, but it feels like One-Punch Man is kind of squandering one of the best talent lineups imaginable.

One Punch Man

#6: Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigations

Beautiful Bones isn’t even that bad, or at least, it hasn’t been recently. It’s not good, it just… is. It’s a mediocre crime procedural, and mediocre crime procedurals are likely the most overproduced television genre in existence. Maybe if you hadn’t grown up with the background radiation of American prime time television, this would be more engaging – but I’ve just seen way too many episodes of better-written but still not particularly good versions of this show to muster much enthusiasm.

Beautiful Bones

And that’s it for me! My season’s turning out so-so but not terribly disappointing, with a couple shows each that are impressing, entertaining, and disappointing. From the looks of my twitter feed, it seems the main show I may be sleeping on is Concrete Revolutio, but I find that show’s aesthetic way too abrasive to feel inclined to pick it back up. Other than that, this is looking to be another relatively quiet season, though I’d be happy to hear about whatever else you’re all enjoying!

12 thoughts on “Fall 2015 – First Half in Review

  1. Theres literally only one serious Saitama fight so far in all the manga chapters released and we should see it before the show end, should be great; the enemy has lots of animation potential.

    Utawarerumono is constantly on the edge of being dropped for me. A bit like Spice and Wolf S2 there’s just too little fun interactions for the amount of other stuff I don’t care about.

    And surprised how much I enjoy the current gundam its a really solid show so far has you say.

  2. Honestly, for me this is the best season for years. In the last 2 years, I only enjoy 3-4 shows per season.

    This season:


    1/Owarimonogatari: I was a bit worried when I heard the show will focus on Araragi, considering that most his recent arc has been pretty poor. Thankfully, the characters are all interesting, plus for the first time shaft managed to produce a TV series without animation problem.

    2/ Noragami:The anime just keeps getting better and better. The focus on a small cast pay off as everyone is well developed. The action is not the best from Bones, but strong emotional resonance made me like it a lot more than One Punch man.


    Concrete Revolutio: A series with style and more substance than I expect. A love letter to 70 years of Japanese superheroes legacy.

    Gundam IBO: poorer animation quality than I expect, and some clunky exposition. Still very solid and enjoyable.

    Utawarerumono: fun JRPG style anime. Nice characters interaction. Not sure where the plot is heading.

    Still watching:

    Garo s2: I like the art. Not as good as the first season, but I’m still curious where the story will go.

    Dropped: Heavy Object( trash), OPM (not my thing), Osomatsu-san( some fun jokes, but not funny enough), Lupin 3 ,Comic Lucifer ( I’d rather rewatch Eureka 7).

  3. I think this season isn’t at all disappointing, because I came to it with absolutely no expectations. It seems I’d have been served better had I been up to date with Noragami and Monogatari, but since they both finished good arcs, it just might be that their second halves will faceplant hard, it’s not unknown to happen.

    Orphans isn’t what I’d call “conservative” with its aesthetics as much as incompetent, with characters not even drawn half the time, and also next to no animation in most sequences. It might’ve worked for a drama like OreGairu, but for a show that also has a heavy emphasis on action, it doesn’t work as well. Even for quieter scenes, I expect a bit more. But maybe that’s why they rely so much on the drama, out of animation necessities! (I’m not serious, before anyone comments something to that effect.)

    I’m not disappointed by this season, and I don’t find it especially bad, it’s just lacking in shows that actually interest me. It has the least amount of such shows in a long, long while, even without factoring in sequels.

    About Utawarerumono, that’s worrying. I intended to pick it up, but learning it’s starting to rely more on the original season’s material? :-/

    • I also haven’t seen the first season of Utawarerumono, but the episode still totally worked for me since it centered on a new relationship between the old characters and the new ones, and it was in fact one of the best episodes yet. I’ve mostly heard it’s independent with a few references, so if you want to pick it up you should be fine

    • The most recent episode of Utaware reintroduced some of the old cast; apparently they’re still around. That’s about as far as Utaware has leaned on its predecessor so far, though; familiarity with these characters being reintroduced had a nice “Oh, her! Him! Cool!” feeling about it (as someone who recently watched the original for the first time), but no plot points from the first series seem important so far, and I don’t think they’re assuming viewers are familiar with the personalities of the original cast.

      It’s possible that eventually some of the larger pieces of the plot from the original will figure importantly in the current series, but they haven’t so far, and – judging by how the current series has conducted itself so far – I would expect the creators not to presuppose audience knowledge of those plot points.

  4. Don’t forget Haikyuu!! It’s still as competent as ever.
    I have the feeling you would actually enjoying it.

    And Osomatsu-san is the best comedy anime of this season, and probably the year.
    It’s bizarre, surreal, and contantly surprising (Episode 5 was an emotional roller coatser, and episode 6 is definitely the weirdest so far.)
    Probably not your kind of show, but I don’t regret watching it.

    Yeah, I have a similar feeling to One-Punch-Man.
    It alwys come down to the same problem : Why shoud we care ?
    No one else care, especially Saitama, and he’s gonna win at the end.
    It’s main strength is also its main drawback.
    I continue to watch it, but I care about it around as much as I do about Comet Lucifer.
    It’s not helping I’m also watching Gintama, who also combine Action and Comedy (with a bigger draw on comedy), but have better, more varied comdy, and more engaging/unique characters.
    It’s not bad, it’s even pretty damn good, but nothing much.

    • Haikyuu is genuinely great. I’m always surprised when a sports anime can draw me in and make me care about its cast and their lives, particularly when I couldn’t care less about the sport the show takes as its focal point. Reminds me of Hajime no Ippo in that regard.

  5. So far for me, Lupin III Part IV is great, One-Punch Man and Perfect Insider are good, and I really need to catch up on Osomatsu-San.
    When it gets licensed or available on Crunchyroll or Hulu, I really do recommend checking Lupin out. It’s not not quite on par with say, Space Dandy (at least so far,) but it is extremely fun, with great characters, music, and art direction, and it’s had the most consistent quality out of anything I’m watching this season.

  6. My rankings


    I don’t expect Owari to be as good as the Second Season, because despite the fancy name it’s really just filling in the gaps that Second Season left (Owari volumes 1 and 2). While I haven’t read the novels, I assume that Owari3 and ZokuOwari are Isin’s masterpieces, and that whichever show adapts those will be the high point of the series.

    That said, I am loving Owari1. The visuals are on point and the characters are being dealt at their better. It’s not as perfectly presented as Hana, but I’m seeing a focused story wrapped in the kinds of things that made me love Bake and Nise, with pretty much none of the weaknesses.

    Good/One Punch Man

    Pretty much everything said above. This show is really enjoyable.

    Good/Concrete Revolutio

    With this and Blood Blockade Battlefront, Bones these days looks to be working on shows that need a viewer’s attention in order to work, but don’t easily take it. CR veers into a lot of places, but a lot of the time I do enjoy what I’m watching. Also hoping it stays at 6.5 on MAL; it’s for a challenge.


    Perfect Insider: I like the ominousness of it and the sound of its OP. Not sure what to make of the actual content.

    Sakurako: It’s like Hyouka but doesn’t really showcase any of the strengths. So ultimately not really working. About to watch the 2 part arc; maybe I’ll let that decide it for me.

  7. Fall 2015 proves to be the strongest season this year albeit one of the weakest in the last five years. Although there are no shows which are at par with Kill La Kill and Kyouso Giga (2013) or Mushi-shi: The Next Chapter (2014), I can safely say that many of the offerings are really enjoyable. My only concern is the monotony of the themes that this season has (cough otaku bait shows). That aside, let’s start the ranking.

    Note: I am currently following fourteen shows and I intend to marathon others once they finished airing (Haikyuu!, The Perfect Insider, Uwateremono). If you can recommend a show that is not on my watchlist so far, kindly do so in the comment section.

    Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans (8/10) – Whether we like it or not, Okada’s style really helped this series in terms of character development. There are no forced relationships, side characters stand out and we are given protagonists that swing between cold and caring. The pacing is great too. It is not too slow to bore the viewers but not too fast to spoonfeed important things which flew all over the viewer’s head. At the same time, I also like to commend this show for having well choreographed fights and well drawn non CGI Gundams. I have no reservation to say that this one is the best show in this season so far.
    Noragami Aragoto (8/10) – While the last few episodes of the first season left me in the cold, this sequel blew all my expectations for episodes three to five. The artwork and the animation remain gorgeous, thanks to Bones and Bishamon’s arc was really explored which give depth to her character. And oh, prepare for a mood whipdash for episodes four and five, because these are really devastating which contrast with Noragami’s usual lighthearted approach. This is a rare case when a sequel is much better than the first season.
    Owarimonogatari (8/10) – If you think this series has ran out of things to say, then you’re wrong. Araragi’s the center of this latest Monogatari series and it’s quite fascinating to see why he became the Araragi we knew later on. Although Ougi is the least interesting character in this arc (which is an irony given that this should be her moment), Araragi and Sodachi carried this series like a boss. The visuals remained great (Shaft’s doing their darndest to entertain its viewers) and their banters (especially Araragi’s and Ougi’s) are really satisfying which is a tall task when all these characters are just talking and striking weird poses. The absence of the supernatural also made Owarimonogatari refreshing. All in all, this is a well executed series which is a reminiscent of what Monogatari can offer in its prime.
    Lupin III (2015) (8/10) – What’s not to love in this series? It may lack the grit of its 2012 predecessor but it’s twice the fun since we are now in Italy. We also get a capable antagonist and a femme fatale aside from Fujiko and the lack of Zenigata (so far) elevated Lupin III (2015) from meh to something fun. Lupin remains a smart goofball here. Is this 2015’s best? No, but it is pure bliss to see this series return.
    One Punch Man (7/10) – I feel that I have a lot to explain why this one is ranked in the fifth place. If we’re talking about the visuals and animation, it is no competition since this is the runaway winner for the best animated series in 2015. I think whoever funds Madhouse are really praying right now that this series would sell loads of BDs (which I think will really happen given the love it receives right now) because all episodes are full of sakuga scenes.

    Now, why is it not ranked higher? I thought the comedy cannot keep up with the fantastic animation. Look, I like Saitama and his brand of satire but I cannot see these would work in the long run. I began to feel the repetitiveness of some themes used in episode 3 and it is not a good sign when you are showing all your animation muscles and a certain viewer is now bored. Yet who cares? The fight scenes are really good. IMO, this one is the equivalent of Kyoto Animation’s Nichijou where the animators are given liberty to do art but the jokes are hit or miss.

    Concrete Revolutio (6/10) – This show did not make sense in the first episode but it warmed to me after some time. I quite like Concrete Revolutio’s presentation of random events which eventually make a greater whole approach of this show and the melancholic vibe it gives every after the end of an episode. This is not perfect though, the time skips are jarring, it looks like it has limited budget (the animation remains cool) and the events may look like a string of nonsense to an unsuspecting viewer. For me, it looks like Charlotte being really hyperactive and a strong lead.

    These series above are what I consider good. The next two shows are passable in my opinion and can be enjoyed to some extent.

    High School Star Musical (6/10) – Out of the three bishounen bait series which are airing this season, I picked this one and I did not regret it. The characters are humanized, there are no overly BL scenes and the plot is decent (with loads of cheese). There is also no fanservice which at times makes a story murky. What made me like it (and the reason it is ranked high) is the effort put by the staff in the character’s music videos which appear randomly in StarMyu. The visuals are really good given the budget it has. And who does not like flying dolphins?
    Sakurako-san (6/10) – I am torn with this series. The mysteries are never intriguing ala Un-Go but Sakurako-san still manages to give a bit of itself for every episode. The titular character is an interesting being in itself. The visuals are pretty but the overuse of filters made this one too bright at times and the characters do not mesh with the background at times. Also, why the policemen are also portrayed as dumb in this series?

    I cannot say that these shows below are decent but they are entertaining on their own. So… let’s start.

    Kagewani (5/10) – This is an example of how terrible animation can ruin the decent atmosphere of a show. The horror stories are compelling but I can’t stand seeing moving cardboards which look like cutouts from a manga drawing.
    Comet Lucifer (5/10) – This one shows premise in the first episode but quickly devolved into meh once Felia woke up (the dancing vegetables killed me in the fourth episode). Also, it uses too much anime physics. Nonetheless, it features good fight scenes and lovely CGI robots which blend in the background naturally. I also like its raw attitude.
    Young Black Jack (5/10) – The anti-left wing in this show left a bitter taste in my mouth. Hazama’s characterization is quite inconsistent too. I would’ve ranked this higher if not for these two.
    Attack on Titan Junior High (5/10) – This spinoff is actually funny if it deviates from the Attack on Titan series since it tickles my funny fanfiction bones but is actually dry when it tries to insert references from the original anime. I want to take home Eren’s and Annie’s version of this anime and make them my keychain. They’re just that cute.
    Osomatsu-san (4/10) – I did not find it funny or entertaining but I am going to watch it until the end since I don’t drop animes as my usual policy. The first episode was a riot but the second one’s a chore to watch.

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