Hello and welcome to the first part of the Anime Corps Year in Review. In this series we’ll be looking back on the year that was and going through each season, talking about our top favorites along with some that failed to meet our expectations. In this series opener we’ll be taking a look at the 2014/2015 Winter anime season, which ran from late December 2014 to March 2015. So as this is a long post I won’t waste time with a lengthy introduction, let’s get right to it.
Nick’s highlights of the 2014/2015 Winter season
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata
So first up I have to take a moment to talk about just how amazing Saekano really was. I hate myself for not appreciating it enough while I was watching it, because it easily is my top favorite anime of that season. A word I used a lot when talking about this anime is ‘refreshing’ as that’s exactly what Saekano was. It took the usual harem plot that I’m not a huge fan of to begin with then totally reworked it into something so enjoyable and fun to watch. It wasn’t just about cute girls anymore, no it had excellent characters, the dialogue was great, the humor was on point, the music, animation, fan service, they hit all the right points yet knew when to stop and not overdo it. Take fan service, sure there is a lot but it’s integrated into the story so well that it’s not like they’re beating you over the head with it and forcing it on you. I can’t wait for S2 as it’s among my top highly anticipated sequels for the future. Saekano blew me out of the water and by far it’s the very, very best anime of the winter 2015 season.
Koufuku Graffiti came out of nowhere and also stole the spotlight for me. What I love the most about this anime is just how chill and relaxing it is to watch. Some people complain that it’s just girls having sex with food and nothing more, so they drop it. Big mistake. Koufuku Graffiti isn’t just about cute girls eating food in a cute way, it’s about relationships, family, friends, love, and the joy of eating. It’s all tied together with excellent animation by SHAFT (get the BD batch 100% worth it), a perfect OP/ED & OST, a calming atmosphere and characters you fall in love with instantly. Few anime can create such a calming and peaceful atmosphere, Non Non Biyori does it well, but huge props to Koufuku for nailing it as well. This one is truly a gem of the winter season so take some time to sit back, relax and properly watch it; once you do then you’ll see it’s much more than just cute girls eating food in a cute way. I can’t understand why it gets a bad rep because it’s honestly such a heartfelt and enjoyable anime to watch. Fully worth investing time into it as it will delight you so much.
Aldnoah.Zero S2 is a prime example of a sequel that never should’ve happened. I know it may sound harsh, but the ending of S1 was the best. Spoilers ahead!! Inaho should’ve died and stayed dead, same with the princess. When you step back and look at it objectively, it’s the best ending as they gave the worst explanations as to how they survived getting shot in the head. Slaine is worthy of hate too, but Inaho… I hate that son of a bitch even more. Another case of a Gary Stu, Inaho spent most of the time doing the impossible and it annoyed the hell outta me. His character type is literally the worst out there as they’re by far the most boring to watch. What’s the fun of having a character with the ability to do literally anything regardless of the logic saying it can’t be done? It’s the worst and he alone brought this would be great anime down. Had he been written differently then I think I’d have enjoyed it a lot more, but as it stands Inaho ruined what could’ve been something special. S2 never should’ve happened as they both clearly died. End of story.
In the way of honorable mentions, I’ll have to give a nod to Kantai Collection as cute ship girls were entertaining to watch and Death Parade for being an original anime that didn’t end up failing to being complete shit. I’d love to see more of that one as it had a very interesting concept but it felt too restricted to 12 eps. As much as I want more of that one in the future, I don’t think we’ll be seeing a follow-up to it anytime soon. Also a quick shout out to Cinderella Girls for being a solid idol anime, despite some bumps along the way too.
Andrew’s highlights from the 2014/2015 Winter season
Before I begin I should probably state that my complaints with the anime adaptation of Kancolle are more to do with my hopes that the actually series and in spite of what I have to say I would still recommend watching it. So what do I have to say? Well, in tl;dr terms it is sort of a “jack of all trades master of none“ and in general feels rather all over the place (I recall making reference to a tonal line graph back when I was writing about it) never having a consistent tone or theme. Furthermore the series’ world building is very weak but I suspect that this is also partly to do with the lack of substantial world cannon in the source game. Now the anime could have very well improved this much but in reality this anime is not but an advertisement for the game and having an advert that outdoes that which it is advertising is perhaps not the soundest idea. Watched as an advertisement it is fun enough though but for myself and a lot of people who expected the series to be making waves, it was frankly a little disappointing.
I don’t think that I need to spend too much of your time to explain why the winter season’s addition to the Monogatari series is featured on my list of shows I was very pleased with. Studio SHAFT once again has not failed to deliver a masterclass in pacing and art to the level that I find myself wanting to re-watch scenes because I missed out on something amusing happening in the background due to my being too engaged by the conversation or vice-versa. Tsukimonogatari specifically, in spite of its brevity, was always going to be a part of the series that I would enjoy due to it heavily featuring Ononoki who is my personal favourite of the series’ girls –something about the underling but hard to place “wrongness” of her character I find utterly enchanting- so as far as comments on the anime go I can think of nothing better than I feel it did her well. That or something along the lines of “If I could actually get myself an Ononoki from a crane-game the amount of money I would spend would be noticeable on the GBP to JPY currency conversion rate”
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata or Saekano is perhaps a typifying example of the school of thought that suggests; “something done well is good regardless of cliché.” The show is, in genre terms, the kind of school drama, harem, light novel affair that you always see at least one of per season but while most of them are, should we say a little forgettable, Saekano makes a good and long-lasting impression. Yes it adheres to the same tropes as its peers; with its cast adhering to various [Blank]dere personalities but they are well-developed and have good chemistry with each other, there is a degree of fanservice but this much is done so with proper amounts of juxtaposition so is impactful rather than forced and a quality over quantity approach has been taken with the humour with penalty of otaku culture references to spot. This, wrapped up in a delightfully soft art style, makes Saekano a very easy to watch anime.
Deven’s Highlights from Winter 204/2015 Season
One of the basic animes that come around are the ‘Cute Girls Doing Cute Things’ And that’s what Koufuku Graffiti. However it’s more than that. Koufuku Graffiti is the very much a very relaxing and cute anime. Yet it also does talk about loneliness and the importance of friends and eating with friends and family. I’d definitely recommend this anime to anyone that loves cute girls and very sensual eating.
Maria the Virgin Witch
You got to love this anime. It’s a historic anime set back in Hundred Years’ War. What I like the most about is the Maria herself. A witch around a decades old yet she looks like an adorable teenager. As battles rage all around her, she tries to stop them but over the course of the story things happen where she sees the results of breaking up battles. Despite that she sticks to what she believes in and I have a lot of respect for that.
There is an art to a harem. The girls must not be standard stereotypes. The male lead shouldn’t be a spineless tool for the plot. And the plot shouldn’t just be random and actually make some progress over the course of the anime.
By the end of the anime other than the main character and the main Shinchiro and Sakuya getting closer. Nothing changed. No major gains were had on either side. And that sucks. I didn’t even review the last episode because it was so bad.
More highlights from the rest of the team coming soon!