The winter season is drawing to a close, which means it’s once more time to look forward and see what the future might bring. This current season was a bit of a wash, and I’m not gonna sugarcoat it – next season isn’t looking great either. Frankly, if you’re not anticipating at least one or two of this spring’s big sequels, it might be worth calling a mulligan on this one. Outside of Masaaki Yuasa’s new films, there are basically no noteworthy projects by any of the creators I generally keep tabs on – no Matsumoto, no Mizushima, no Nakamura, and nothing by Kyoto Animation period. Couple that with a slate of dire-looking premises and previews, and you’ve got the recipe for a fresh season of playing videogames and catching up on backlog. Personally, I recommend the first one – I normally only get excited about a couple games a year, but this year’s already brought us Resident Evil VII, Nier Automata, Nioh, and Breath of the Wild, with Persona 5 still on its way. Those are some pretty great videogames!
But of course, you’re here for anime. The good news is, if you are in the market for sequels, this season has some extremely promising ones. The Eccentric Family counts among my favorite shows of all time, and both My Hero Academia and Rage of Bahamut have strong predecessors to live up to. As usual, my list won’t cover every show – you can check basically any resource to find that, along with handy synopses. I’ll just be running down the shows I’m actually excited about, along with what specifically sticks out to me. So let’s start with my most anticipated shows and run this coming season down!
More streaming reviews! These reviews are actually a pretty great compromise between doing a Wrong Every Time piece and just, well, not writing about a show at all. Some shows don’t really reward the full theme-based pieces, but it’s still fun to talk about them. Although between Eccentric Family and all the Monogats, I do think I’m getting better at adapting what I liked about my old style into ANN pieces…
We got a few show endings this week, which were scattered between great and mediocre. Amagi’s real ending was last week, which allowed this episode to be… well, a kind of lukewarm one-off. But Bahamut ended well, and Fate Stay Night at least had good scenes within a weaker overall episode. So I guess what I’m saying is Shirobako saved Christmas, like we always knew it would. Let’s run ’em down!
I had to stretch to get a top 10 this year. I’m ready to admit that. Last year, it was easy – in fact, it was too easy, and I ended up expanding my list to twelve shows basically by necessity. But this year didn’t have quite the top shelf of 2013, and so concessions had to be made. There are certainly a couple notable absences here, with I’m guessing the biggest ones being Kill la Kill, Space Dandy, and maybe Nozaki-kun. The reason for those absences is simple – I didn’t like any of those shows very much. If you’re looking for a general “all the shows that enjoyed positive appraisal among the kinds of people who make a point of appraising shows,” I’m guessing all three of those would be included, but this is my list, and I’m gonna talk about what I wanna. (Incidentally, if you are looking for a list like that, my fellow critics at ANN all contributed their own top five lists to this recent retrospective – and that’s all shows that started in 2014, so even my list over there is pretty different). My list may be a little shorter this year, but it’s still got some real gems, and considering three of the year’s best shows aren’t included simply because they aren’t finished (Shirobako, KimiUso, and Parasyte), I’d say we made off okay. Let’s run it down!
We’re nearing the end of the year, and I’ve got presents to wrap, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I keep this brief. Not many surprises to speak of this week, outside of SAO somehow ending on… uh, maybe the highest note it’s ever reached? Normally when SAO is okay, it’s because it leans totally on its fight animation – but this week didn’t even have a fight. Instead, it just ended the arc in a way that satisfyingly ties up the thematic lines and character journeys of this story. Huh. Funny thing. Maybe try that more often next time, SAO!
Anyway, enough praise for my nemesis. Let’s run ‘em all down!
This was a somewhat hit or miss week in animeland, with the usual top tier turning in great episodes, but everyone else varying from solid to blargh. Amagi Brilliant Park, Chaika, and Bahamut are looking like they’ll fall somewhere under my initial expectations, the top four of Shirobako, KimiUso, Parasyte, and FSN are all keeping it together in solid form, and the MMO contingent are both doing their best to end the season on a high note. Let’s see what we got!
Pretty killer episodes this week, at least from the top shelf. KimiUso, Shirobako, and Parasyte all turned in stellar performances, Chaika kept up the dramatic intensity from last week, and Log Horizon suddenly decided to toss off one of the best speeches I’ve seen. The other episodes were middling, but the season’s looking strong as we move into the endgame. Look forward to a pretty stupid amount of content over these next couple weeks – I’m planning on participating in the 12 Days of Anime posts (one post a day for the twelve days leading up to the 25th) along with all my usual review shenanigans, my top shows of the year post will follow that, and even ANN might have some kind of bonus piece to contribute. I hope this is what you want, internet. This is all the blood I have!
Alright, enough of that. Let’s run down some cartoons.
This was kind of a slow week overall, outside of nuts-good episodes from usual highlights Shirobako and KimiUso. Although both Chaika and Fate Stay Night also pulled out very fun episodes, Rage of Bahamut and Amagi were kind of subdued, and the bottom tier of Log Horizon and SAO both fell below average. But I mean, I’ve had seasons where I was happy to see one show keeping it together… I should probably be able to take it in stride when only four of the six shows I really like put out top-notch episodes. And this was the first great Chaika in a while, a very important Chaika in fact, so let’s start right there. Running it down!
Anime got pretty heavy this week, you guys. Between Shirobako and KimiUso, things were altogether a little too real in the land of Japanese cartoons. That’s how I like it, though – the sharp stuff is what I watch media for, and you can’t depict earnest triumph if you’re not willing to accept the possibility of failure. Pretty much everything else is holding steady, but my favorites are actively climbing at the moment, and it feels pretty goddamn great. Here’s hoping they both turn out to be as good as this week would promise.
It’s that time again! Forget earnest textual critique, emotional reflection, or thematic exploration, it’s time to PUT SHIT IN A LIST WOOOO. This season has offered us a ridiculous bounty of shows, and I’ve responded in kind by ruthlessly punishing anything that fails to continuously dazzle my senses. I dropped Garo, I dropped Grisaia, I dropped Inou Battle… at this point, it’s pretty likely I’m even dropping Psycho-Pass (I’ve stalled on watching the latest episode, so I left it off the list). In spite of that, this season continues to offer a hefty pile of top-tier shows, all of them jockeying for that storied number one spot. Who gets the spot? Why, it’s motherfuckin