Moments of 2015: Prelude—the other stuff I saw this year

In preparation for my yearly rundown, here are most of the shows that I decided not to write about over the course of the year. They’re listed in viewing order…even if that’s not when I wrote those little blurbs!

Parasyte
Parasyte

I actually got to this show a bit later than most—someone recommended it to me because of the way it asked viewers to consider what it means to be ‘human’. To be honest, to me, Parasyte felt a bit dated. The most frustrating thing about this series was the big ‘telling’ spiel in the final episode. It had raised some interesting debates until that point, but went a bit too far overboard in trying to emphasise the point it wanted to make. Another way to put it is that I simply prefer something that’s a lot more subtle about its message. And I’ll admit that I wasn’t particularly impressed with the animation.

Oregairu
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

It seems like I’m one of the viewers that ended up not praising this series to the skies. I can understand why quite a few fans love its treatment of the issues of trust, identity and expectations—whether imposed by yourself or by others—that seem to plague high-schoolers in particular. However, I’m not the biggest fan of the execution, which is filled with tropes, caricatures and clichés. The other thing that frustrated me is that the show’s treatment of these issues remains incredibly insular, which is the very reason I find it difficult to partake in teenage dramas in any medium. It’s difficult for me to put into words, but the issues these characters face are just a slice of problems that arise from the norms that make up our various societies, and spending two whole cours on it when there are so many other angles from which it can be tackled is incredibly frustrating to me. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to say anything about the people who love Oregairu—it’s just not the show for me, that’s all.

Rozen
Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen

I finally got around to this sequel of a show I once loved…and it’s difficult to identify precisely why it didn’t capture me once again. I actually like the new character designs better, and the story has taken a very interesting turn, one that I would very much like to see animated to the end. But on the other hand, I’ve found that I’m not as interested in Rozen Maiden as I used to be…I liked the overall theme—you can change your world with each little thing you do. However, I feel that that is the message for individuals, and to be honest, I’m more interested in bigger debates at much broader levels. I do also want to comment on the background art: just like Seraph of the End from this year, the backgrounds are all beautifully painted. Unlike Seraph, however, the characters don’t look out of place in those paintings. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly tempted to get the Seraph materials art book just for those backgrounds by Studio Pablo; I just think that Studio Deen and director Hatakeyama Mamoru (now knows as Omata Shinichi) did a much better job with the overall aesthetic of Zurückspulen than Studio Wit is currently doing with Seraph.

Arslan2
The Heroic Legend of Arslan

I really wanted to love this show. The story is epic, the characters are balanced and well-developed (in the novel and manga, so I hear anyway), and the politics is very realistic. But there were a few things that frustrated me. The first is that the animation just did not do the fight and battle scenes justice (with the occasional exception). And the second is that, whilst Arslan’s interactions with Daryun and Narsus in particular clearly show his growth as a leader, one of the relationships that was foreshadowed as an important part of his development got shafted. I’m talking about how Daryun hoped he and Elam would become good friends (ep.5), even as Narsus grooms the latter to eventually take his place (ep.15). There’s one scene in episode 12…but most of Elam’s interactions after that are with Alfreed…I honestly wish they’d included the scene that Arikawa wrote in chapter 22.

Shokugeki_08_eyecatch
Food Wars

The post I really want to write about for this show needs the second season, so I’m pretty excited that it’s been confirmed. And given what I thought when I first saw the promotional art and saw the first couple of episodes, that’s a pretty surprising turnaround. But whilst the fan service really turned me off at first, little things here and there just started endearing this show to me. Soma’s never-say-die attitude; Megumi’s incredible growth; the way Isami makes fun of Takumi’s one-sided rivalry with Soma; You-kyan’s Shinomiya’s attitude and Hinako’s cheekiness: there were so many little clips that I could only watch over and over again. But there’s something that lies even above all that: the drool-worthy food…I’ve tried one of the recipes, and am really keen to get that recipe book—if only it hadn’t been sold out for the last 6 months! Bring on S2!

Rokka1
Braves of the Six Flowers

Despite the way it ends, this show really works as a self-contained mystery. The key question we were presented with is explored in a logical manner, and basically resolved. Several of the characters were also very well developed, such that I really want to root for them. Unfortunately, all of this good work was let down by the animation: the CGI used for the fiends and for Mora’s abilities really looked fake, and there a number of occasions when character faces looked rather wonky. Nevertheless, if the aim of the creators’ was to get more people to check out a decent mystery novel series, I think they probably succeeded more often than not.

Sidonia3
Knights of Sidonia S1 and S2

Sidonia is here mostly because the anime’s not quite finished yet, and I don’t really want to write an extended piece on it until I know what it’s trying to say about the themes it’s touched on so far. The most important thing seems to be associated with Hoshijiro’s musing, early on, that “maybe they want to be friends, and perhaps the problem is that we’re just too different to communicate on any level?” If so, then the most likely resolution is that Tsumugi is going to facilitate that, eventually…although what happened with Benisuzume does make me question whether it is indeed where the series is heading. This kind of theme isn’t new: Macross has been dealing with it for years, and even Gundam 00 went there with the film. Sidonia one-ups both of those series in certain areas—namely the realistic physics and tactical developments—but to me, it doesn’t beat Macross in others. Hopefully I’ll be able to write about this in more detail when we get a third (and presumably final) season! Although I also pray that the darned love…quadrangle? or quintangle? takes a backseat.

Croisee
Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth

This story was somewhat uneven for me, in the sense that there were a few episodes with messages that I really liked, but others that left me somewhat bored. For example, I appreciated Yuna pointing out the importance of the feelings behind a sincere apology, the way that keeping promises and trusting in those pledges was highlighted, and the moments where the characters discover some of the differences between Japan and the West that they had not been aware of. Even Alice left me with mixed feelings—she’s the epitome of the ‘annoying, little rich girl’ that I can’t stand, but even she showed some growth, learning not only about what Yune valued, but also coming to treat Claude just that little bit better. If anything sparked my interest, it would be how Camille and Claude’s relationship develops from here on, mostly because it doesn’t look like it’ll be a fairytale ‘romantic’ ending…

So…these are the 8 shows that I’ve completed up to this point, bar one. The ‘average Joes’ that I’ve been following in the fall will probably get a joint post, because they have a couple of things in common. I’ll try to get it out on Christmas Eve, to finish the introduction to my 2015 rundown. It’s been fun reading one or two of the offerings on show this year, particularly Frog-kun’s 12 days of shipping. I know that I’m going against the tide by doing them per tradition instead of in the lead-up to Christmas, but I have one very good reason for doing so, as this year’s reflections will once again prove…

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

One Response to Moments of 2015: Prelude—the other stuff I saw this year

  1. Pingback: Reflections on Winter and Spring, and Pick that Voice!! Part 1 | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

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