The Best of Spring 2015
Okay then, Spring season is over and Summer season starts in earnest today – time to fire up my top 10 picks of the Spring then! I picked up 16 shows from the Spring season, which is actually quite a low number for me – but those I did stick out to the end I mostly enjoyed.
Onto the list!
10. Punch Line
I actually dropped Punch Line at episode 3 since it was doing nothing for me, but I picked it back up again a few weeks later once I heard some more positive buzz about it – and I’m glad I did. Punch Line was a pretty interesting body-swapping / time-travel / superhero show that probably deserves a bit more attention that it ended up with. I think the strange focus early in the series on panty-shots sort of soured a lot of peoples opinion of the show, and I personally can’t profess to being too fond of that aspect myself (although I was impressed by the amount of very pretty lingerie on show).
I also think the characters could have been fleshed out a bit more to make them more interesting & likeable, but they did the job over all. My main praise for Punch Line is more directed at the excellent action scenes and interesting set-up, which built to a very solid well thought out finale. Punch Line won’t be threatening my end of year best of list, but it was definitely worth the time to watch this season.
9. Knights of Sidonia S2: Battle for Planet 9
I have so many mixed opinions about Knights of Sidonia. On one hand I was unbelievably bored by the harem antics that made up the majority of this season (I got incredibly close to dropping the show mid-season), but on the other this show has jaw-dropping action scenes and some fantastically interesting thriller elements. The two sides just never quite gel and sometimes it almost feels like I’m watching two entirely different shows! Loved the setting, hated the characters – I doubt I’ll watch another season of Knights of Sidonia if it ever materialises, it’s far too frustrating to sit through the crappy harem shite to get to the good stuff.
8. Seraph of the End (Owari no Seraph)
Now this was a terrible show but I had a whole boatload of fun watching it – which is why I rate it higher than Sidonia & Punch Line. There is just something very endearing about how utterly dumb these characters are and the way they act like idiots 100% of the time……except for Shinoa, who was snarky & awesome. Our lead Yuu just wants to kill all the vampires and nothing will deter him from barrelling straight ahead towards that goal – sense and tactics be damned! It’s actually pretty refreshing to have such an uncomplicated protagonist, he has the required angsty background, but doesn’t really use it as a crutch – it’s more like a launchpad to KILL ALL TEH VAMPIRES! His childhood friend Mika on the other-hand is our new Slaine – a veritable bad luck magnet……yeah I enjoyed the hell out of Seraph.
The backgrounds and OST are also pretty glorious for this show, and I really liked the character designs – basically Seraph of the End is a whole lot of style and not much substance. I’m looking forward to the continuation in Autumn!
7. Show By Rock!
I enjoyed Show By Rock! so much more than I ever thought I would, and that is entirely down to the presence of ShinganCrimsonZ in the series. Those loveable dorks just stole every scene they were in – I would watch the hell out of a spin-off centred on them and Trichronika! By contrast the actual main characters, Plasmagica, where pretty boring, and I really started to lose interest towards the end when the “plot” centred on them kicked in.
The energy and comedy where the main attraction with Show By Rock, I also ended up really enjoying the random switch of CGI chibis during concert/battle scenes – it was pretty damn cute and allowed for some interesting action scenes. So yeah, this was a nice little surprise, never thought this series would end up being so fun pre-season!
6. Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
This was another surprise for me – if you told me pre-season that Yamada-kun would end up being one of my favourites of the Spring I’d have laughed at you. However there is something really satisfying about Yamada-kun – its a pretty straightforward show, but very well told. It would have been easy to stretch this concept out to 2 cours, but the shorter length ensured the pacing stayed brisk. Some of the characters could have stood to be fleshed out a bit more, but since the series is mainly interested in Yamada & the Supernatural Studies club, glossing over some of the peripheral characters is completely forgiveable.
The production was actually pretty decent for the most part too, and the voice acting was particularly good – hearing the seiyuu impersonate each other during the body swapping scenes really added to the fun of the show. So yeah, Yamada-kun was surprisingly fun – great for light viewing.
5. The Heroic Legend of Arslan (Arslan Senki)
I sort of expected to be more invested in Arslan than I actually ended up being. The poor production values, slow pacing and spotty character development kind of hurt the show and make it hard to really get properly into the bigger story. It is an epic tale and is being told in a grandiose manner, but the characters are a bit too cartoonish and exaggerated to really find believable – I like them, but the over all feeling ends up being stereotypically shounen adventure, rather than epic period drama.
Still there is plenty to like about Arslan, although I really do wish a more capable studio had of gotten it – Liden are doing their best, but the janky, off-model moments are just horribly glaring and end up making me laugh in the middle of serious battle scenes! Hopefully the pacing will pick up in the second half of the series – I really want to love this show.
4. Gintama (2015)
No surprise that I’m really enjoying these new Gintama episodes – I just love this series to bits. It’s basically more of the same – pretty hit and miss overall as usual. But when it is on form, Gintama is really in a league of its own. So far the genderbender arc and the weirdly detailed KuroBas parody are my favourites from this latest season – so much fun! Looking forward to the rest!
3. Oregairu S2 – Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru. Zoku (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too)
So I couldn’t really remember why I liked the first season of Oregairu pre-season, but I think I’ve got it now. Basically the characters in this show are fascinating to watch – they behave like actual, relatable people and the series respects the intelligence of the audience enough to avoid spelling out everything going on in a scene in capital letters. It is amazingly refreshing to be treated to a show that has so much going on in its conversations – a surprising amount of it told non-verbally. Body language plays a huge role in Oregairu, as does very nuanced vocal performances from the main cast. Our characters are layered individuals with a lot of issues they’re struggling to work through – mostly pretty normal troubles for teenagers, but presented in a way that doesn’t really make light of anything, but also avoids being way too dramatic.
The season ended on a bit of a strange note – a continuation is clearly required and I’d happily watch more Oregairu. This is a good example of a LN adaptation that isn’t shitty.
2. Sound! Euphonium (Hibike! Euphonium)
Pre-season I was terrified of this being K-ON! S3, but my fears where completely ungrounded – Sound! Euphonium is an extremely grounded series that really takes its subject matter seriously – it reminded me more of Hyouka than anything else from KyoAni’s back catalogue. I found myself transported back to that time when I also played brass in a orchestra/band setting – the level of detail that went into presenting this setting was breathtaking, I could almost smell the valve-oil and feel the ache of sore lips after a long practice session.
The attention given to setting really allowed the characters to shine – I got completely invested in Kumiko’s struggle to really embrace her instrument and her admiration of Reina’s steely determination to be the very best at her instrument. I loved how Natsuki-senpai went from apathetic bystander, to stalwart supporter and how Taki-sensei’s strict no-nonsense conducting style was tempered by his cute absent-mindedness. Sound! Euphonium was a show you could really get lost in each week – definitely going to miss it.
1. Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkai Sensen)
So the finale is now indefinitely delayed as the remaining story is too big to fit into the allotted timeslot – but I’m okay with waiting if it means we’re going to get the finale BBB deserves. I loved this series. The fun energy that is so typical of Rie Matsumoto’s directorial style, just made every episode of BBB a joy to watch. The setting is really interesting and just letting the wacky bunch of characters run riot through it meant each adventure was fun in a different way. I do sort of wish the Black & White story line was a bit more cohesively presented, it sort of felt a bit tacked on to a lot of episodes, but that is a small nit-pick really. I would love a sequel to this show – it was one of the series I looked forward to most each week.
So those are my picks for the Spring season. Honourable mention to Ore Monogatari! which I only watch for the epic bromance between Suna & Takeo. Dishonourable mention to Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works S2 for learning nothing from the previous season and spending way too much time on circular conversations and boring characters…..it really makes me sad to see such glorious action scenes wasted on a poorly told story.
The carry-overs from Winter have to be mentioned for making this Spring season even more entertaining – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Assassination Classroom and Kuroko’s Basketball S3 all had phenomenally good second halves, going to really miss them!
So the Summer season kicks into gear in the next few days – first impressions will happen when I get round to watching all the things.