I put on my fluffy socks again for the first time this week, which must mean that autumn has well and truly arrived. While I mourn the loss of summer, I’m not exactly grieving for the end of the summer anime season – though I maintain that there’s not really any such thing as a good or bad anime season, simply more or less titles that appeal to my personal taste.
This time around, I gave nine new shows a try. One has already been dropped after a single episode, though another five seem likely to follow. That leaves four more still in my good graces – at least one of which came as a major surprise. As usual, I’ll be going in order from worst to best, although with the exception of the sole sequel on this list, the following impressions are at this point obviously based only on the first episode.
High School Star Musical
Well, this is the closest thing to an actual anime musical that I’ve ever seen, I’ll say that much for it. Normally I’d give a series more than just the first episode to prove itself, but I’ve already seen enough to know that this isn’t going to appeal to me, or probably anyone else for that matter unless they’re looking for some easy laughs. The writing is so poor that it’s virtually non-existent, the music is hilariously bad, and most of the characters are flat-out terrible people with ridiculously huge superiority complexes. If bitchy singing/dancing pretty boys are your thing then by all means go ahead and watch this, and more power to you. I’m having difficulty imagining even the most dedicated bishounen fan getting through High School Star Musical without sniggering though.
Dance with Devils
I take what I said before back – this is the closest thing to an anime musical I’ve ever seen. And yes, the music and lyrics are every bit as entertainingly horrendous as they are in High School Star Musical, just in case you were wondering. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I did not absolutely hate this title. Don’t get me wrong, it’s by no means a good show, but it’s also nowhere near as awful as, say, Diabolik Lovers, which I was very much expecting based on the synopsis. For one thing, the main character actually appears to have a backbone. For another, it looks like there might be something resembling an honest-to-god plot. INORITE!? So despite the fact that I don’t know if I’ll be able to emotionally handle a whole 12 episodes of this, I feel almost compelled to watch next week’s, if only to convince myself I’m not imagining things. Almost.
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru
Damnit, I should have known this title was too long to be any good. I more or less forgot that it’s based on a light novel series as well, so in hindsight, I should really have known better – especially given that Troyca’s the studio behind it. Live and learn, I guess. My problems with the show have less to do with the plot and more to do with the execution; while I actually quite like the art direction, the soundtrack seems weirdly out of place, and more worryingly, the characters are already starting to annoy me. Sakurako’s obsession with bones notwithstanding, I suspect her personality is meant to come across as appealingly mysterious and eccentric when mostly it just feels condescending and abrasive. The considerably more level-headed Shoutarou, despite his constant complaints about her behaviour, still follows her around like a sheep. The slightly creepy sexual tension between the two isn’t helped by the fact that the camera keeps closing in on Sakurako’s chest, and mostly I finished the first episode feeling vaguely uneasy for all the wrong reasons. I’ll try a second episode, but I’m not exactly holding my breath.
Okay, did someone spike my cereal with LSD? The opening episode of this show is a total clusterfuck, and I have yet to even figure out if it’s going to be something I’d enjoy or not. It’s like the creators called a meeting, demanded that everyone put their craziest ideas into a hat, and then ended up deciding to use every single one of them. Masked superheroes, aliens, transforming magical-girls, mecha… um, knight things, all introduced in a constant swirl of colour, sound, and confusing time skips. On the one hand, nobody could possibly accuse Concrete Revolutio of lacking in energy or spending too much time on exposition. On the other hand, it was all way too erratic to make me think of it as a legitimately good first episode – and I’m not exactly enamored of the fanservice, either. At this point I’m at least curious enough to watch another episode, but it’ll have to work hard to convince me that it’s worth my time.
Young Black Jack
Okay, so first off, the title of this show should really read as Bishounen Black Jack. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but holy crap – Iwatobi called and they want their missing swimmer back. In all honesty though, I don’t think this show is going to be my kind of thing. It’s super dramatic and sparkly, and takes itself so seriously that it actually struck me as pretty funny – the problem here being that I don’t think Young Black Jack actually intends to present itself as a comedy. Production-wise, it’s an odd mixture of styles: Hazama, with his broad shoulders, waspishly skinny waist, and all that sparkling looks like he just stepped out of a 90s magical-girl series, or possibly a 90s yaoi one; the minor background characters, on the other hand, have that distinctive cartoonish 60s-Tezuka look; and to make things even weirder, some of the music sounds as though it was ripped from a retro shounen sports anime. I don’t think it’s going to be a bad anime per se, and it’s certainly going to be a fun one for many viewers, but it’s not really to my taste. I’ll give it another episode but may well end up dropping it.
Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider
The first episode of Perfect Insider doesn’t give me a whole lot to go on; it’s extremely dialogue-heavy, and seems far more preoccupied with setting up character dynamics than it does presenting the audience with an actual plot. Since this title also looks and feels a great deal less dramatic and theatrical than Sakurako-san, our other murder mystery of the season, I assume many viewers will favour that over Perfect Insider. In general though, I think I prefer the more understated and less fan-pandering atmosphere of this story, and am happy to exercise a little patience to see where it goes from here. A slow build-up may not make for a mind-blowing opening, but that’s of comparatively little importance to me if it leads to something I can really sink my teeth into. And hey, if nothing else, neat OP!
Good news first – if you’re fond of this franchise then you’ll probably like this newest addition well enough, and if you’re not familiar with the franchise at all, it should make for a fine introduction. After all, how much backstory do you need to be able to enjoy the comic adventures of a gang of loveable crooks? Neither the story nor its characters are particularly deep, but it’s entertaining enough to watch in its own right. What’s more, the show’s fairly light-hearted and likely episodic nature means that it’s going to be really easy to watch on a once-weekly basis. The slightly more disappointing news is that after that wondrous OP, I was expecting something… well, more. Seriously, that OP is absolutely everything Lupin should be – jazzy, retro, and hella stylish in a way that reminded me a bit of Cowboy Bebop’s. The episode that followed, while certainly retro in look, didn’t quite deliver that same sense of pizzazz, so I enjoyed it but also couldn’t help feeling oddly underwhelmed. I’ll most likely keep Lupin on anyway, because it looks to be pretty fun regardless, but it’s not the top-notch material I would have hoped.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
I doubt this is going to be my favourite title of the season, but it was far and away the best premiere. I know – I’m as shocked as you are. In fact, probably the only reason I’m not giving Iron-Blooded Orphans a higher score based on the opening episode is because I’m neither a Gundam nor a mecha fan, and generally prefer fantasy over sci-fi. Given that, I wasn’t going to watch this one at all until I saw everyone else’s extremely positive reactions and then remembered that Okada Mari was in charge of the writing. Which isn’t to say that I’m a die-hard Okada fan, but when one of the only most prominent woman in the industry who’s best known for her character-driven dramas gets behind a Gundam show, I’m inclined to sit up and pay attention. I honestly have no idea whether I’ll continue to be as impressed later on down the track, and I’ll likely drop the series should the mecha aspect become the primary focus. However, if the quality writing, excellent sense of timing, and surprising subtlety of this first episode is any indication, then Iron-Blooded Orphans is in very capable hands.
The premiere of the second season of Noragami reminded me just how much I enjoyed this the first time around. I dig the urban fantasy genre and I dig pretty much everything about Noragami’s general style, from the sharp artwork to the rocking soundtrack. Since it hasn’t been all that long since season one finished (especially if you count those admittedly less than stellar OVAs), I’m glad to see that the story is wasting little time in getting set up for its new Bishamon-centric arc. Really my only issue with the show at this point is with the juvenile fanservice – the panty shots are just plain dumb, and do an otherwise very solid and entertaining series absolutely no favours. Thankfully though, these moments aren’t too common, and I’m more than ready to see what my most anticipated fall title has in store for the rest of the season.
Question of the post: How’s the fall season looking for you? What had the best and worst opening episodes, and were there any big surprises?
42 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Fall 2015”
This season doesn’t seem all that promising. 😦 Last season I was catching up on at least 7 shows, but now I can’t be bothered to watch anything other than Noragami. So disappointed.
That’s a shame. I was probably watching more shows last season too, but that’s only because there were several sequels that I wanted to keep track of, as opposed to only one this time around. Really though, the sheer numbers are mattering less and less to me these days. I’ll take one or two titles I really like over ten I feel only okay about any day.
A lot of 5/10s. Here’s the question, is 5/10, as MAL shows, “Average”? Because I feel most of us, me included, use 6/10 at the lowest as “enjoyable average” and 5/10 as “under-average average” (and yes, I know it’s self-contradictory :P), but even if 5/10 were truly “perfectly average”, considering we all carry around backlogs that seem to only grow, do we really have time for shows that are average, at best? Of course, that’s the gamble of currently airing shows, that they will likely at best turn out average-ish (because that’s what most shows are, by definition), but we might see something great unfold as we watch it. It’s just unlikely.
Anyway, to the shows themselves.
I wonder how many people are going to pick this show up based on this recommendation alone. I’m also going to wink as I look at Kuroshitsuji. Though I’m going only by this line, and I didn’t care much for Kuroshitsuji either, so…
Not going to lie, hearing that half the episode is a musical is making me want to give this a try, against my better judgment. But I’ll probably wait another week and only do so if it keeps on having the musical. Then again, maybe it’s better for it to be kept to just the first episode, so I could try it out and then drop it without feeling bad about it.
Definitely. Genius tsundere archetype. All the “magical undead girlfriend” shows are like that, and the “Genius Scientist Girlfriend” shows are surprisingly similar. I think the reason Monogatari and Steins;Gate work better in comparison is because the male lead is just as eccentric as the girl. Turns out having one crazy, one “normal” character gets boring, unless it’s Chuunibyou’s first season, that really worked hard on that interaction, with empathy and understanding.
You mean the scenes with the magic familiar in Kikko’s cleavage? I actually found the other scenes, where she leaned over in the car and was sexual but not sexualized to be in surprisingly good taste. The boob-creature scenes being drawn unlike the other scenes in terms of art-style did draw too much attention to them and was a tad distracting though.
Amusingly, you and many others point out how this show is less glossy and shiny and loud than Sakurako-san as a positive, but all of you gush over the OP, whereas I much prefer the less glossy and shiny, but to my mind, much better sounding ED 😀 I do seem to be in the vast minority here, but the disconnect amuses me.
Here too, I think the OP was really good, but no mention of the ED, which not only sounded great, but had told an entire Lupin story in 71 seconds? It was wondruous.
Best premiere of the season, as a premiere? Probably. But I can’t get excited about it, because I’ve seen it all before. But yeah, a very good premiere. Most other shows this season could take several pages from it. Speaking of which, after watching The Perfect Insider, I couldn’t help but compare it and Sakurako-san to the truly spectacular premiere of Zankyou no Terror, which those two shows can’t hold a candle to, premiere-wise.
The season is looking about as I expected thus far. Not great, not terrible. All the shows I was hopeful and curious about, I’m still hopeful and curious about. I did find most of the premieres underwhelming as premieres, not giving me a thematic or character hook, nor in a lot of the shows even telling us what the show will really be about (Perfect Insider, Concrete Revolutio). So, I’m still more or less where I was before watching the first week’s worth of shows, which is a failure on the part of the shows. But hey, at least it beats everything being terrible – Heavy Object had a terrible premiere and a tired first episode, but I’ll give it a try too, to see what it’s like.
And here’s to hoping the show makers stop saving showing us what their show’s about to week 3. Don’t buy into the 3 episode rule, please
But hey, at least the shows I thought would be terrible sure sound so. It’s nice to avoid the pure crap.
I don’t really mind what other people intend their ratings to mean, but for me, 5/10 means average, in that the good and bad points more or less balance themselves evenly out.
To be honest, I don’t think anyone who’d genuinely want to watch High School Star Musical would need to read my description in the first place. The trailer, or the synopsis, or even just a single screenshot already says everything it needs to. 😉 In any case, Dance with Devils looks like it’s going to be the more entertaining of the two bishounen-fests on offer this season. I don’t know either if the whole musical thing is going to continue on or if it was just a first-episode thing, but I’m kinda hoping it’s the former.
You know, I never did get around to watching Chuunibyou. I know a lot of people rave about it, but every time I read the synopsis my eyes start glazing over.
Yes, I was referring primarily to those cleavage scenes in Concrete Revolutio. I’m heartily sick of fanservice like this, and even if I wasn’t, it’s just neither a clever nor funny gag. I wasn’t amused the first time around, and I became even less amused the second. And the third.
I need to listen to the ED in Perfect Insider again, but I have to say it didn’t really jump out at me. Lupin’s ED certainly did though, and you’re right – that absolutely does deserve its own mention. It’s completely different from the OP in tone, but no less classy.
At this point, I’m quite wary about Gundam but am still very much looking forward to seeing more. I get that people have good reasons to keep their excitement in check, and I suppose I should probably be doing the same. That said, yes, it was indeed an excellent premiere, and I’m extremely curious to see how well (or not) it’s followed up.
Incidentally, I don’t buy into the whole 3-episode ‘rule’ and never have. I fully expect an anime to engage me in some way from the very first episode – if it doesn’t, there’s something wrong with how it’s introduced. There’s also no way I’d continue to watch something simply for the sake of getting 3 episodes in if the first one made me feel offended, disgusted, or hella bored, even if it’s purported to get better later on. I don’t have the time or the patience to watch something in the hope that it redeems itself from a terrible premiere, so I just don’t bother.
I don’t buy into the third episode either, but way too many premieres lately just fail at premieres. I think it was only semi-facetious, but too many anime premieres are designed as if they’re two parters, except, well, they’re not. So the first episode leaves us cold.
Chuunibyou is like your average shoujo romance or shounen battler in this regard, the premise is bog standard, there are many shows with a similar premise. But it’s an example of KyoAni nailing what they’re best at. As for the second season, the less said the better.
Well, maybe someday I’ll get around to finally giving it a try. I don’t mind KyoAni, though they can be a bit hit-and-miss. One year we’re getting masterpieces like Hyouka, and the next we’re getting hot garbage like Kyoukai no Kanata.
Yup. That’s why you rely on friends to vet the shows for you. I still need to watch the last 4 episodes of Hyouka, cause I said I won’t watch Hibike! Euphonium until I finish that one, and it’s been months :< Soon though!
Kanata has a movie sequel out already, which gives a more definite epilogue to the TV series.
If you’re interested, there’s a Free! movie prequel coming out this December, which covers the boys in middle school.
I never even finished the TV series. I only got a handful of episodes in before dropping it, and consequently have zero interest in seeing the movie. Free! though, now that’s way more up my alley. 😉 I already knew about the movie prequel and await the release with baited breath.
Nothing Crunchyroll picked up appeals to me. I suppose I should watch before I judge, but just glancing at the covers and cover stories and then comparing those to the older shows I could watch…
Tis the season of the backlog for me.
Out of curiosity: how is streaming availability in Japan? It’s the only option available here in the U.S. that I’m aware of (Legally, at least).
Don’t know about Japan, but here in the US we now also have Daisuki for legal streaming (and their selection is of decent size now).
Streaming availability in Japan is crap. And if you want to watch something with English subtitles then you’re out of luck as far as legal options go, because Crunchyroll is completely inaccessible. The irony of being unable to legally access a lot of material while living in the birthplace of anime is not lost on me.
I’ll be picking up Noragami because why not but otherwise it looks slightly more emptier than Spring/Summer. I like the manga enough to hope that the anime is decent :v
I thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Noragami, and this season is a direct continuation with no production staff changes, I have no reason to believe I won’t also love the second. 🙂
This season is so disappointing. I didn’t have many expectations from the start, but some of the series turned out to be really shitty. I guess I’ll just go with One Punch Man, Noragami, The Perfect Insider and Young Jack Black for now.
I don’t know, that seems like a decent number of anime to me. But maybe that’s just because the idea of now attempting to keep up with 10 or more new shows per week as I once might have done is exhausting. These days, I don’t have the time for that and much prefer quality over quantity – I’ll take one or two shows I really love over 10 shows I’m only okay with any day.
I don’t like to watch series as they’re airing either. I’d rather just wait until they’re finished and then marathon them. But, idk. I feel as if other seasons delivered more interesting shows than this fall.
A couple of years ago I probably would have agreed. Nowadays though, I try not to compare whole seasons to each other – it tends to make me feel as though individual shows are somehow worth less than the overall seasons in which they’re released, which shouldn’t be the case. I’m a more satisfied anime fan when I separate the show from the season.
As I watched these two stylish mystery/detective shows, I was reminded of Mouryou no Hako and how much crazier its opening episode was in comparison. Still, I agree with you on Insider, it’s not a bad episode at all and overall just seemed like a better production than Sakurako. Really dig Inio Asano’s understated character design, their range of facial expression, and their fashion sense.
As for Sakurako, I’m mostly okay with the brief taste of the mystery we got this ep, but I’m expecting/demanding future episodes to be more nuanced than “Sakurako take a look, literally solved and explained everything in a second, act like a womanchild in-between”. The show’s tried so hard to look pretty too, but came off a bit garish instead to me.
Young Black Jack… yeah, I enjoyed Tezuka’s original manga and character concept, but this “super hot genius suffering martyr” thing rubbed me the wrong way (really guffawed at the crown of thorns bit…). I was expecting to stay with this until completion, but not so sure now.
I’m pretty confident that Iron Blooded Orphan’s gooing to be very character-driven! It would’ve been the strongest premiere (at least the last 10 minutes or so) if not for Osomatsu-san, which hands down, is my favorite so far. Show’s not even in my radar before the very enthusiastic words of mouth, and yeah, the first episode is a super pleasant surprise. Really charming sense of humor and self-awareness, and while they won’t have the element of surprise anymore, somehow I’m just so taken by the overall tone and direction that now I’m in for the whole ride.
In total, I’ve sampled six full shows and probably gonna give everyone another episode before I drop one or two (probably One Punch Man to be shelved for later watch, and Young BJ if they can’t tone the glorification down a bit).
That’s funny, I actually just started watching Mouryou no Hako for the first time this week! I quite like what I’ve seen so far, although since I’m only 3 episodes in, I can’t really tell how I’ll like the rest of it.
I see exactly what you mean about Sakurako trying hard to be pretty but coming off as slightly garish. I can understand what the show’s trying to accomplish there, but that first episode only sometimes managed to pull it off well. There were a couple of scenes that I thought were really well directed in terms of the visuals, but even they were a bit marred for me by the reliance on the sexual undertones.
As for Young Black Jack… well, I don’t mind the whole bishounen thing per se. I actually found it more amusing than irritating, but that may well get old pretty fast. And whether or not it sticks with that, the show’s going to need to prove to me that it has more substance if I’m going to stick by it.
Interesting, maybe if I have some spare time up my sleeve I’ll check out that first episode of Osomatsu-san then. For now though, yeah, practically blown away by how good the premiere of Iron-Blooded Orphans was. I don’t think I would have expected that even if I was actually any kind of Gundam fan, but it’s really nice to be so pleasantly surprised like that. Here’s hoping Nagai and Okada can follow up on it.
Oh, I’d love to see some sort of write-up of Mouryou if you ended up liking it enough. I don’t think I really love it by the end (the show’s really dense, and not always for good reason), but it’s one of the more interesting mystery shows out there.
And if you haven’t heard much about what Osomatsu-san did, I’d suggest to keep it that way/avoid looking it up until you eventually get to it :]
I may well review it sometime when I’m finished, even if I don’t end up liking it that much. I enjoy reviewing things that aren’t necessarily brand new or well-known.
Cheers, will do. 🙂
Noragami is definitely my favorite. I agree that the episode had more fan sarvice than I think any episode from the last season. However, the instant natural charisma and attachment to the characters make every other anime this season feel shallow. I love how thoughtful noragami is without being full of dry prose or shoving it’s ideas to the forefront.
Agreed. Noragami doesn’t need the fanservice and certainly doesn’t benefit as a show from it, but I’m able to overlook those moments in favour of an all-round solid piece of work.
Definitely committed to following Noragami : Aragoto this season. I started reading the manga just before Season 1 finished, and loved every bit of it. I think you will like Bishamon’s story very much, as it further fleshes out the God-Regalia relationship of Season 1.
Some manga readers think Aragoto could cover 2 manga arcs this season. The next arc references Shinto mythology quite a bit, so I’d suggest reading it up so you don’t get too confused on what’s happening.
I didn’t expect Dance with Devils to be an actual anime musical. Needs a bit more dancing though, and the songs are rather melodramatic-sounding for my tastes. It’s produced by the same games company that made the Diabolik Lovers game series, so just be careful.
Sakurako’s basically just the female anime version of Sherlock Holmes (the BBC version with Benedict Cumberbatch). His version could get quite mean and condescending too.
I haven’t read any of the Noragami manga – I don’t read manga at all as such – but I’ve heard from many people who have that this story arc is considered one of the stronger ones of the series. Either way, I’m very much looking forward to it, and am glad to see the second season of the anime has gotten off to such a strong start.
The thing with BBCs Sherlock Holmes is that Sherlock’s character, while being pretty inconsiderate and even mean-spirited at times, is fairly cleverly written. I have yet to see anything I’d consider especially clever about Sakurako as a series, although I’m open to the possibility that this could change – even if I don’t think it’s likely to.
True, time will tell if Sakurako will show any inspired cleverness.
Speaking of time, I’ve heard Iron-Blooded Orphans will be 25 episodes long. It’ll definitely be a commitment to follow.
Yes, I’ve heard that too. 25 episodes seems quite modest for a Gundam series though – all the other Gundam shows I’ve seen have been around 50. The shorter 25 would suit me just fine though, as I don’t tend to like anime that get overly long. It’s easy to tell when creators spin the drama out for an extra buck, and even easier to tell when the production values start dropping as a result of the length.
The biggest surprise this season would be the ending song choice for school battle harem series The Asterisk War. The song’s surprisingly pretty and elegant, not something you’d normally expect
for your regular harem series with their stereotypical D-list J-pop acts.
In fact, I’ve also heard it got a big budget with very good production values. A-1 Pictures is really putting their all into this series!
Wow, that is quite a surprise given the type of show. It’s quite a nice song.
The surprises just keep coming, especially after discovering that baroque/goth rock group Ali Project’s newest single is the ending theme for another similar high school battle romance anime, The Chivalry of a Failed Knight. Again, not something you’d expect for that type of show.
I’d be a horrible judge with the ones you rated 5/10 because I can’t even bring myself to watch them yet. Based on their respective synopses, it’s probably better to spend time on other series that work.
If you want a silly laugh, watch “Shingeki! Kyojin Chuugakkou”. It was stupid but fun. Haikyuu!! 2 was pretty good too.
I honestly wasn’t much of a fan of Shingeki no Kyojin to start with, but since Shingeki! Kyojin Chuugakkou is a parody then maybe that doesn’t matter so much? I never got around to watching the first season of Haikyuu at all, haha. Maybe someday.
It pokes fun of the original SnK series. The exaggerated voice acting just makes it more hilarious.
I’m… not watching a single show you mentioned, lol. Except for Noragami which I plan to get to once more episodes are aired.
Haha, that’s pretty funny actually. XD Since writing this post I’ve also picked up Osomatsu-san, if that helps…
Oh nice. Someone recommended that to me, lol. Seeing as how it’s from the same director who did Gintama as well, I do plan to pick it up soon :p
I wouldn’t have given it a try at all if it wasn’t for someone else mentioning it in the comments, so I have them to thank. It’s now one of my top anime of the season alongside Noragami. 🙂
A few weeks in, Noragami is totally going where I hoped it would last time xD They’ve handled the character conflict amazingly well without making it feel ‘biased’ which is always a great feature.
I thought Valkyrie Mermaid had promise….stop judging me…
I suppose One Punch Man is…okay. I wish it was more into the ‘comedy’ section than ‘satire’ though.
Yeah other than that I feel…empty this season.
This is definitely a really strong beginning for Noragami – I enjoyed the first season a lot, but this one may well turn out to be even better.
Actually, I surprised myself by watching the first episode of Valkyrie Mermaid – admittedly mostly for the team over on Glorio, but I had some legitimately praise-worthy things to point out: http://theglorioblog.com/2015/10/16/first-look-valkyrie-drive-mermaid/
I did take a look at One Punch Man, but it’s just not my thing. I don’t think it’s bad or anything, just not to my taste, which is fine.
I thought I’d feel somewhat empty this season, and then after writing this post I discovered Osomatsu-san. If you haven’t tried that out yet then I highly recommend watching just the first episode, if possible without reading about it at all first. It’ll definitely make you laugh, and may well be another highlight of the season as it’s easily become for me.