Final Thoughts – Summer 2015

Yo guys, it’s Haru here.

Better late than never, I return to share my final thoughts on the shows of the summer so that I may finally lay this overall disappointment of a season to rest. L-K is still crafting his evil plans for world domination, and Yata is still puzzled attempting to figure out ways to prevent his college classmates from discovering his fancy for Prison School, so 2/3 of the For Great Justice team is still M.I.A. for the time being. Hopefully this means I’ve snagged the unanimous consensus vote for FGJ MVP, if such an award were to exist, right?

….right? ._.

vlcsnap-2015-09-30-02h54m11s225

Onto my ramblings about cartoons we go:

CHARLOTTE

this desert was once filled with the fucks I gave about this show

long ago, this desert was filled with the all the fucks I once gave about this show

Well, this show turned into a wreck.

I mean, I guess I had this outcome as a possibility in the back of my mind going into these final weeks, but man, Charlotte totally flamed out with its final act!

This downfall seemed more like an inevitability after the show attempted to shove about a 1 and 1/3 cours of plot into these final four episodes, so the plot just completely lost the tempo it had carried so well the first 8 episodes. I feel that Charlotte could’ve easily focused on Yuu and friends saving Ayumi from the big bad thing instead of that horribly rushed final arc. Instead, we had a conveniently easy two-episode arc that convilutedly introduced the time-leap ability of Yuu’s older brother with some dramatic escape from a confinement facility in what was apparently the original timeline in this show. Things happen, things happen again, and eventually Yuu finds out his ability to possess other peoples’ bodies plunders any special ability the person has. Yuu acquires the time-leap ability and saves his sister from the big bad thing.

I feel the way that arc concluded fell flat on almost all aspects. There wasn’t enough struggle, there wasn’t enough buildup, no drama to it at all. Even the explanation for the celestial theme came off as underwhelming. It’s only briefly mentioned that the dust trail from a comet (you guessed it, Comet Charlotte) was the cause of these strange abilities. They could’ve easily spent the two extra episodes of material actually making this arc a much more fulfilling watch, but alas, this is Jun Maeda we’re talking about here.

Nah, he decided we needed more tragedy. So some random villains from overseas that somehow are aware of Yuu’s plundering ability kidnap Tomori and the long-haired dude and attempt to coerce Yuu into surrendering himself to them. When a half-assed rescue plan falls short, he attempts to time-leap again, but the new big bads planned for this, and have one of their minions slash him across one of his eyes, rendering him unable to use his time leap. Yuu thus ends up destroying the place with the collapse ability he plundered from his sister, mortally wounding long-hair guy in the process. The big bads back off, more drama happens, everybody is sad. Life goes on.

Yuu then resolves to plunder all the abilities, and embarks on a worldwide journey. Predictably, he begins to lose his mind due to the mental stress of thousands of special powers, and eventually loses all his memories concerning himself, his friends, and his reason for undertaking his journey. Yet he trudges on, just as we all did with this final episode. Yuu narrowly accomplishes his mission, but returns home an amnesiac. But hey, as he comes to, his old friends are there for him, and everything ends happily ever after!

Man, that final episode was a total clusterfuck!

As I mentioned before, I feel the “save Ayumi” arc could’ve easily been the focus of these final episodes, with the big bad showdown and Yuu’s world destruction tour being the subject of a second cour had there been enough interest to warrant said sequel. Instead, Maeda felt the need to do too much at the end with this show and squandered the compelling momentum he had built up with the first 8 episodes. It’s rather infuriating to see an enjoyable show piss all the fun factor away once again this year. File this one under the “Ambitious but Unsuccessful” category.
Final score: 5.5/10

CLASSROOM CRISIS

“Sorry, what? I was busy driving a spaceship.” – L-K

Well, at least I don’t have to look at this mess of a show any longer.

That’s not to say this final arc didn’t have some fun moments, but all in all, it made for a largely forgettable conclusion that thus renders the entirety of the show a rather hollow farce. Kind of a shame, too, as this show also started off pretty strong. I came in expecting a show about a band of misfit students coming together to beat the odds and figure out a way to engineer some great innovative new thing despite massive budget constraints and other challenges. That dogged start lead me to believe Classroom Crisis was going to be Moneyball with rockets and spaceships instead of baseball teams.

I had every reason to be excited about this show at first, right?

I was sorely disappointed that Classroom Crisis instead turned into Corporate Conspiracy, a.k.a. Nagisa Kiryu’s vendetta against an apparently rotten from the top Kirishina Corporation. It was almost angering watching the fun rocket build stuff get shunted off to the side while the show dove more and more into uninteresting corporate politicking. I was fine with the whole “Kaito Sera seeks the help of the union” thing early in the series, but in retrospect, I think I’d have quit right there if I had known the rabbit hole the show was jumping down after that episode.

This show was outright uninteresting after the ninth episode, that episode being the point of no return for Corporate Conspiracy. Were the show’s writers even aware that this show’s strongest moments occurred when Nagisa was forced to interact with the A-TEC kids he was tasked with driving out of the company? For example, that bit where Nagisa had to study alongside his supposed “underlings” for his makeup tests, because y’know, he’s somehow a Chief/Director/Whatever and a failing student, though I can personally attest that Aerodynamics is a difficult ass subject to take on.

Instead, this show squandered any potential it had on some silly corporate nonsense. The most enjoyable bit of the corporate politicking was when A-TEC collectively resigned to start their own venture, because I knew it had to be all over after that. To add injury to insult, CC wrapped with Iris, Mizuki, and Nagisa entangled in some sort of awkward love polygon. I don’t even care. This finale even alluded to a possible sequel one day, and I just don’t care about this series any more. I don’t acknowledge your way of doing things, CC.

Way to blow your big debut, Lay-duce. I am disappoint.
Final score: 5/10

DURARARARARARARARARARARARA!!!!1!!x2 Ten

“listen here, shitbags. you’re not in a gang just because you shitposted in an innocuous BBS”

Here it is!

With this final episode, I’ve finally arrived at the point where Durarara’s events start becoming unfamiliar to me. At the time I read the translations of the novels, everything from here on was sparsely translated. Good stuff, because I had absolutely no clue there was a third Saika working in the shadows the whole time.

So what has begun unfolding in Ikebukuro?

Mikado’s Great Dollars Purge is still going, Izaya assembles a crew of neer-do-wells to unleash chaos upon Ikebukuro, Namie Yagiri faces off with Yodogiri Jinnai and ends up kidnapped, Shizuo Heiwajima got arrested, Masaomi revives the Yellow Scarves hellbent on destroying the Dollars with the intent of rescuing his best friend, but Mikado wages war with the Scarves in kind. The Awakusu Group also has their attention on the Dollars, sending Akabayashi to meet face-to-face with Mikado and Aoba’s vigilante gang. All the while, the Dollars other bossman Kadota is injured and falls into a coma after a deliberate hit-and-run, sending his buddies Saburo and Walker into a frenzied hunt for the perpetrator. Oh, and Izaya had a run-in with the aforementioned third Saika. Goodness, that is a lot going on.

Finally, the final episode of one of the three chapters of Durarara’s second season ends rather awkwardly, with a party gathered at Shinra’s place, including the Yagiris, even Namie, who was thought to be kidnapped. I hope we get a good explanation of just what happened to get to that point when Ketsu airs next year.

It’s been pretty fun watching everything unravel in Ikebukuro. The chronographically non-linear way Narita builds on his narratives from multiple unique perpectives is such a joy to behold, and it continues to be adapted well into anime form. He continues to show off how well he can build and dissipate suspense with every moment. Case in point, Walker’s showdown with Ran Izumii in the final episode. I thought it was funny how a benign phone call completely ruined Ran’s attempt at being a badass.

In any case, I’m looking forward to the final chapter of Durarara due in January. It should be great fun for me to finally be out of the loop on most of the events of the show once again.
Final score: 8/10

FOOD WARS! SHOKUGEKI NO SOUMA

vlcsnap-2015-09-29-02h33m30s848

for those out of the loop: this is more than he’s worn for most of this series’ run.

Man, I’m gonna miss this show!

So the Autumn Elections arc ended up being a fun little ride, with each contestant tasked to create curry dishes to be judged by some imposing-yet-knowledgable-looking judges. Some previously overshadowed characters got their big moments to shine as they introduced dishes that played to their various strengths, with my favorite being Tadokoro’s monkfish curry dish inspired by the cooking of her hometown. I enjoyed that whole scene where she had to meticulously carve up the fish in front of a crowd  (and a doubting competitor) that totally expected a flop. Tadokoro’s come a long way from being so helpless earlier in the series.

Soma made for a strong showing in his group, making a curry risotto dish that incorporated elements from a couple of dishes that had panned out as failures, namely the egg dish from the Totsuki Resort camp and the risotto he made for his contest against his father, and vastly improving upon them. He almost ekes out a win against Hayama, a spice specialist what had challenged Soma a few episodes earlier. Unfortuately, Hayama’s fragrance bomb dish edged out Soma’s when the judges issued their scores.

Of course, this being Food Wars, it’s explained that the scoring format for the Fall Elections worked differently than a Shokugeki, had Soma and Hayama faced off, Soma would have been a victor, as three of the five judges rated Soma’s dish higher than Hayama’s. What a conveniently tough break for our favorite young cook!

As has always been the case with this show, the sheer creativity of some of these dishes leaves me wondering just what some of them actually taste like. Points to the food show for actually featuring appetizing looking dishes. Hell, I’m still craving one of those Sumire Karaage Rolls from a few episodes back.

So before the series wraps up, we’re treated to a party at the Polar Star Dorm celebrating the victorious group of kids from the dorm who managed to advance past this first round. Soma is still rather sore about his narrow 2nd place finish to Hayama, and after a talk with Tadokoro, he vows to become even better at cooking. He then has Tadokoro try another one of his patented “why-would-yo-mix-that-with-calamari” dishes. Leave it to Shokugeki to finish how it started.

It’s been a fun ride, and you can tell how much these kids have improved since the show began. This show was wild from beginning to end, with personalities as absurd and wacky as the dishes they were creating at that absurd culinary school. All that’s left now is to eagerly wait for a hopefully inevitable second season.
Final score: 7.5/10

GATCHAMAN CROWDS INSIGHT

at least the Kuu-samas appreciate Joe’s fireworks

So, in the previous writeup, I voted to “Leave it to Yatabro!”

Big mistake.

My goodness, what a phenomenal showing that was by Gatchaman Insight! As much as I dug the overall upbeat tone, the positivity and faith in the majority’s ability to proactively choose to do the right thing that Crowds entailed, I’m head over heels with Insight’s simultaneously pragmatic-yet-upbeat direct counterargument. Insight is a damning indictment of the apathetic nature of humanity’s collective consciousness, referred in this show as the “atmosphere,” and eventually personified and given form with the Kuu-samas. As it did in Crowds, the show also addresses the extensive role mass media plays in society.

I fucking love this show.

Insight went great strides to show how dangerous it can be to go with the flow, even if it seems like the easiest, or most convenient way. The object of that point was shown in that inglorious third option in the smartphone votes, the “Let *whoever* Handle It!” option. It plays to our desire to not have make hard decisions, to absolve ourselves of responsibility of the consequences. Let someone else take the heat. We get to take comfort in our safe little bubble of collective ignorance.

That collective atmosphere stifled most that opposed it, through ostracizing those who spoke up against it. That perfect 100% majority was within grasp. The ostracizing of the outspoken minority turned into outright suppression via the Kuu-samas consuming the offending non-compliers. The majority is stunned when they’re suddenly faced with a glimpse of the ugly truth as the minority begins to feign compliance with the “atmosphere” before the Gatchaman take a stand against Sadra and the Kuu-samas.

“How dare they go against the flow?”

Suddenly the heroes had been made the enemy. The atmosphere had turned against them. Prospects looked pretty bleak for the Gatchaman. It was incredibly fortuitous that Tsubasa finally came to her senses via another talk with her great-grandfather, a Second World War veteran who understands all too well the consequences of complying with what Yata called the “chaotic uniformity.” By this time, the atmosphere has shifted once again.

The populace had become appalled at the forceful methods the Kuu-samas, and by virtue, Sadra had used to achieve the elusive goal of perfect collective happiness and agreement. The masses called for him to vacate his position as Prime Minister, eventually calling for his head. The Kuu-samas respond in kind, attempting to hunt Sadra down.

The Gatchaman hatch a plan to kill the stifling atmosphere once and for all. They make use of the mass media this series has so deftly revolved around and hijack those manipulative bastards at the Millione Show to propose a smartphone vote. Typically, the apathetic masses chose the “Let Whoever (in this case the Gatchaman) Handle It!” option, so they proceed to stage what effectively appeared to be Sadra’s public execution. It wasn’t a quick and painless execution, either.

A very brutal and excessively lengthy curb-stomping takes place, with Sadra having been lopped to pieces as the horrified masses witness the whole scene broadcasted live in its entirety. The stunned masses now had to look head on at the consequences of the slaughter they signed off on. The populace began to wake up. A few days later, the Gatchaman eventually reveal that Hajime used Katze’s disguise ability to stand in for Sadra for the execution so that she could die for his and the populace’s sins. It’s also revealed she narrowly survived and was in a coma. No, she didn’t rise three days later.

The populace is left to reckon how their going with the flow got them into this debacle. A vote on whether Sadra would be allowed to stay on Earth is proposed, and gloriously, public opinion begins to diverge en masse. After a month, a narrow majority eventually votes in favor of him staying, and Hajime emerges from her coma a-okay. All seems right with the world again.

When taking the previous series into context, I have to say, Gatchaman Crowds Insight cuts particularly deep in its assessment of human nature, but never comes down as condescending upon the viewers that it addresses, unlike a certain Millione Show. Gatchaman’s upbeat take on the necessity of dissenting opinions and conflict for society to function healthily is such an incredible draw. I was astonished at how strong this show finished out. For how superbly it nailed all of its talking points, all I can say is that this show is damn near perfect. I’m also gonna miss this series’ ostentatious soundtrack.

side note: Drunk Sugane is a gift to the world.
Final score: 10/10 (about goddamned time that 2015 got its own 10)

HIMOUTO! UMARU-CHAN

vlcsnap-2015-09-30-03h05m36s914

Enoshima makes everything better. Fact.

Who’d have ever thought I’d be saying that Himouto was one of the top five shows of the season come the end of summer? I sure as hell didn’t, but I’m stating it now.

What could possibly be my justification for this, you ask?

Well, Himouto stuck to its guns and played to its strengths in the final few episodes, and it made these last episodes a good ol’ laughable watch. This series was at its strongest whenever the various endearing side characters tagged along, and in particular whenever the bashful country-girl Ebina or the incredibly shy and socially awkward Kirie make appearances. Their presences throughout the series make for a great change of pace from the main “Umaru badgering Onii-chan” schtick of the show. I also enjoyed Sylphy more as a character once she got to hang out regularly with Umaru and expand beyond the “gaudy one-sided wannabe rival” trope she adhered to so hard at first.

Fun fact: A good way for a show to score brownie points with Yata or me is for it to reference Enoshima in any sort of way, which you can chalk up to our profound love for Tsuritama. Guess where Umaru and crew took their gratuitous beach trip to? It actually wasn’t all that gratuitous, as it featured basically every character of note in the show grouped up together, which made for some fun interactions between everyone. I may or may not have said before that this show didn’t have strong rewatch value, but Himouto’s last few episodes might just buck that particular statement.

I’ve mentioned before that Doga Kobo makes their best shows out of adapting 4-komas, and I believe this show is no exception to that rule. 4-komas lend themselves well to comedy, as they tend to feature simple plots and simple styles, with exaggerated logic leading to hyperbolic reactions by characters making tons of silly faces all throughout. If there’s one aspect of comedy shows I think Doga Kobo has the market cornered on, it’s them reaction faces. When they’re on, they’re on, and they showed up at long last.

Another thing about Himouto that I feel is deserving of praise is that this show made very extensive use of rookie voice actors. I didn’t even know how green some of these actors were because frankly, I couldn’t even tell they were rookies! The voice acting was a strong element all throughout this show’s run. Whether it’s Ebina’s moments of heavy Kansai dialect, Kirie’s guttural grunts as she keeps getting startled, Sylphy’s moments of grandiose, or Umaru’s flips between good-girl and cheeky brat, the rookies turned out a fantastic performance.

My final verdict: Doga Kobo has turned out their first real winner since Nozaki-kun!
Final score: 6/10

( P.S. I’m gonna miss its wild ass OP. )

ROKKA: BRAVES OF THE SIX FLOWERS

vlcsnap-2015-09-30-02h43m00s371

this literally would’ve been less underwhelming had they blamed the non-existent butler.

I mentioned beforehand that I found the Mesoamerican Clue thing fun, right?

What the fuck was I smoking?

Watching this last act of Rokka was like watching a penalty kill squad come in against a power play in a hockey game. There’s a few fleeting morsels of action, but most of the time is eaten up watching the puck get shot back across open ice to harmlessly skid along the wall. It’s watching a whole lot of nothing while the puck (Rokka’s plot) gets punted around. Except instead of around two minutes of nothing, it’s 20 minutes of nothing, once a week.

Adlet absolves himself of any wrongdoing despite fuckwit Maura’s repeated attempts to turn everyone against him through outright lying. Neat. Adlet eventually gets a chance to explain how the Braves were fooled into activating the barrier. Awesome. Adlet details who assisted the impostor Brave in the scheme and lucks his way into snagging proof. Cool. Maura almost gets her shit jumped by the others. Sweet.

Then Rokka shot an own goal.

Spolier alert: it was Nachetanya.

Well, fuck, of course it was. I hate it when mysteries get conveniently solved like this.

The evidence was in plain sight the entire time, apparently. Worry not, because Chamot and Hans conveniently figured out how to actually activate that infernal barrier. Turns out she feigned the innocent act the entire time as she tried her damndest to get everyone to kill each other. Why? She wanted a world where the Demon King, the fiends, and humans could co-exist, except her brilliant plan entailed the sacrifice of over 500,000 people. Coooooooooooooool.

So, she makes her supervillian-esque exit and Flamie and Adlet have their cute little moments together before the Braves prepare to take on the Demon King, but not before another seventh Brave is conveniently introduced, leading them all to now suspect one another all over again before they set off as the show heavily alludes to a follow up. I am done with this shit, fuck the Braves. What a supremely underwhelming conclusion. This made Classroom Crisis look like it had its shit together.

Sequel never, please.
Score: 3/10

SNOW WHITE WITH THE RED HAIR (AKAGAMI NO SHIRAYUKI-HIME) 

is it bad that my immediate though on this scene was where all those lanterns were going to land

is it bad that my immediate thought on this pretty scene was where all those lanterns would land?

…and now, I can finally take a breath and relax.

In a season that has tried my patience as much as this summer season has, I’m thankful for the comfortable refuge I could take in watching Snow White with the Red Hair. It’s had a couple of hiccups here and there, but all in all, this show’s grasp of my attention held firm all the way to the end. I’ve been going through a bit of a rough stretch the last month, but this show made for a nice heartwarming watch as Shirayuki and Zen’s romance blossomed towards the end. I couldn’t help but feel at least a little bit better watching this at the end of a rough day, and that’s really all I ask for out of my gratuitous shoujo watches.

I mentioned in the previous summer writeup that the show’s cast of characters were all very likable, and that still rings true after all is said and done. The dialogue between Zen and his attendants almost always commanded attention and flowed very well as the series progressed. This show also had a fun share of mischievous moments, such as Zen making a “guest appearance” in a play at the castle, or Obi’s making off with the winnings of what I believe was a sanctioned sparring tournament at the Open Castle Day. Speaking of which, I particularly enjoyed Obi as a character, as he and Mitsuhide tended to have some good-natured ribbing with Zen. This cast has some great chemistry to it, even if they do have to follow some obligatory tropes along the line.

This show was a such a sweetheart, and I’m thankful for Bones being the ones to crank it out. Those fleeting moments of romantic fluff with Shirayuki and Zen were so damned adorable that they couldn’t help but to brighten my Mondays (or whatever days I watched this). That said, it does seem as though there is somewhat of a lack of direction when it comes to the plot since Izana has sort of stepped away from the limelight. Like, aside from the romance, what does the second season coming in January have in store? Will there be some sort of over-arching arc or plot for the sequel? That’d be reaaaal nice.

Guess I’ll have to eagerly wait until then to find out.
Final score: 7.5/10

WORKING!!!

vlcsnap-2015-09-26-14h09m41s042

for one fleeting moment, Souma was not the biggest creep at Wagnaria

Welp, after the almost frantic pace of plot development that took place at Wagnaria in the first couple of acts, the show decided to take a rather easy-going pace over a few episodes to sort out the final romantic puzzle that is Takanashi and Inami’s mutual crush for one another. Understandably, they both have their reasons for perhaps being in a bit of denial over it, between Inami’s still-present androphobia and Takanashi’s…fear of Inami’s fear of men coupled with that creepy fetish he has for small things.

Takanashi desperately seeks an answer to his perceived conundrum of having a crush on Inami. To sort his feelings on the matter out, he rationally decides to cross-dress again, leading his coworkers to react and worry for him in very much the way that the majority of us viewers probably did. I just love this show’s constant reminders that there is something very wrong with most of these folks at Wagnaria, and they’re all lovable for their various quirks. Even Souma…. sometimes. What is it about being voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya that makes characters turn into creeps? *cough*Izaya*cough*Araragi*cough*

Takanashi seems to eventually get his mental shit straightened out, but not after a fun little meeting with Kirio where the latter gives some useful advice concerning the former’s issue, but also explaining that he knew that Kotori was Takanashi the whole time. Takanashi reacts as you’ve come to expect with a Yamada, with some roughhousing, of course. All hail the dysfunctional glory of the Yamadas, they never fail to get a laugh out of me.

Some things happen, and Takanashi and Inami go on a date that gets interrupted by Inami’s father, who, aware of Takanashi’s cross-dressing habit, questions whether or not he is suitable to date his daughter. Things heat up, eventually leading to Inami hitting the crap out of her father, claiming that she is over her fear of men in the process. Back at Wagnaria, Yachiyo announces her resignation, giving Poplar the nod to be the new chief. Poplar seems unsure that she is up to the task, but is encouraged by her kouhai that she can handle the task.

Then, from out of nowhere, Takanashi gets abducted by his mother. I think. He was definitely abducted, that much I can attest. With that scene, Working 3 closes with an announcement of an hour-long special that looks to have a fantasy-adventure theme where I guess they set out to rescue Takanashi.

Naturally, I’m absolutely giddy that there’s more Working to come in the near future. You can’t stop the Wagnaria Love Train, guys.
Final score: 8/10

With that, I can finally bid this underwhelming summer adieu! No time to rest, either, because Fall shows are already starting to drop like foliage from the trees. Keep an eye out for my upcoming Fall First Impressions writeup, coming soon! Have a good week, everyone.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s