In Medias Res: Spring 2015 (Part 2)

I’m back with Part 2 of my mid-season check-ins, featuring the anime that most made me want to vomit all over myself! Let’s dive right in, shall we?

oremonogatari

Ore Monogatari: I don’t particularly dislike shoujo, but I rarely gravitate toward it when it comes time to chose anime. Luckily, this show started off pretty strong. Yamato is adorable, of course, and it’s awesome that she actually struggles with being seen as a “pure” girl and is attracted to Takeo, instead of falling face-first into the stereotype (even if she still does seem a little too perfect for reality). Takeo is decent as far as protagonists go: he’s an upstanding guy, so it’s easy to see why someone would like him. His bromance dynamic with Sunakawa is probably the best part of the show so far; they complement each other perfectly despite having amusingly disparate personalities. The sense of humor behind the series is also a high point. I’m embarrassed to admit that I laughed out loud at the butt-tree joke…but it was too funny not to. Takeo’s constant hero behavior can also be funny, though it gets to be too much at times. His winning Yamato’s friends’ favor by rescuing them from a burning building was eye-roll worthy, and I hope that the show backs off on that type of thing as a plot device in the future. It’s also difficult to see where the anime is going for lack of any decent conflict, but perhaps it can stay cute and funny despite that.

seraph1

Owari no Seraph: Before the season started, a lot of people were saying that this show would probably try to be the new Attack on Titan. Well, it seems like at least one anime per season now has to at least aspire to that spot, so we can hardly fault the studio for trying. Seraph certainly has the same penchant for melodrama as Attack on Titan, but it’s not willing to approach the same level of brutality. In pop culture media, a vampire’s means of killing is typically depicted as beautiful, if frightening, and Seraph doesn’t deviate from that portrayal. Even the scene with all of Yu’s fellow orphans being slain wasn’t nearly as horrific as any given death in Attack on Titan. Actually, Seraph reminds me much more strongly of Code Geass: conflicting ideals, two friends facing off, lots of dramatic tension. It’s not as clever as Code Geass; there’s less nuance to characters’ motives, and the dialogue is completely unsubtle—I really thought Yu might have some character development when he made the contract with the demon, but in the next episode he was right back to “Revenge kill vampires revenge yay.” Still, despite not having the brutality or subtlety of other series, it remains a fun watch. There’s a lot of interest in its world: vampires, a plague, the Horsemen, and demon-infused weapons are all fun in themselves, and the interactions between various forces have potential. That world is gorgeous as well—whoever came up with the color palette for the series did an excellent job, and the green-and-black of the Demon Company’s uniforms and weapons is particularly eye-catching. Though it may not be deep, Seraph is worth its 20 minutes a week.

plamemo

Plastic Memories: This anime’s concept is excellent; there are so many intriguing possibilities for interaction between humans and A.I.s who are essentially human but with much shorter lifespans. Unfortunately, Plastic Memories seems rather committed to not properly exploring any of them. Most of the series’ time so far has been spent on the non-starter romance between Isla and the boring lolicon main character. There are some actual sources of conflict introduced—the fake Giftia retrievers, the pressure from the top of the organization, the idea that expired Giftias become…zombies? or something—but they’re all basically mentioned and forgotten about rather than being incorporated into the plot in any meaningful way. It seems like the central drama is intended to be Isla’s impending expiration (despite the fact that the show hasn’t really started addressing that until episode 8), but the characters just aren’t developed enough for that to feel as ominous as it should. There’s no pathos here. I honestly was more moved by Leo’s burger-based friendship with that little mushroom dude in a single episode of Kekkai Sensen than by all of the episodes of Plastic Memories put together.

punchline

Punch Line: I set out to watch the first episode of this, but it took me two tries. Two incredibly agonizing tries. I think I was kind of hoping this would be a fun action series that took on the panty-shot thing in a tongue-in-cheek way, but as far as I can tell it’s about as un-self-aware an anime as I’ve ever seen. Who is the target audience of this show? Do men actually like being portrayed as incapable of keeping it together when they happen to see underwear? If the entire point here is to show panty-shots, why so much boring talking? It’s not worth my time to find out.

rekan

Re-Kan!: I made it through the first episode of this in one shot, so it could be worse. The characters are so boring I want to murder them, though. I…actually have nothing else to say, so it’s pretty clear this anime failed to do anything interesting whatsoever.

shokusouma

Shokugeki no Souma: Much like Punch Line, this anime leaves me wondering what I’m supposed to be enjoying about it. I was hoping it might have some Top Chef-style appeal, with intense cooking and creative recipes. Perhaps it does have moments like that, but clearly I will never get to them. I began with episode one—naturally—but was so incredibly disgusted by the soft-core tentacle porn scene that I had to stop. Tentacle porn happened for a reason, and we all know it was part of anime history, but it never needs to be in anything again. Ever. Even Sword Art Online fans disliked the part in the second half of SAO season 1 where that happened; if SAO fans admit something is cliche and in bad taste, I think it’s safe to say that it should burn in a fire. Anyway, in the name of due diligence I decided to skip ahead to episode 2 to try and get an idea of what the show would be about while still sparing my eyes. Things did not improve. This sexy eating thing that has been cropping up in anime lately is definitely not for me. And if I did happen to have an anime-girls-eating-food fetish, I would still question a lot about episode 2. Why, oh why, does it take so long for anything to happen? Why must the girl stare at the food for what feels like 81375810365 minutes before actually eating it? This anime is terrible.

eupho1

Sound! Euphonium: As with Rinne, I would have a hard time coming down too negatively on this show regardless, because Kyoto Animation can make anything aesthetically pleasing enough to keep staring at, if nothing else. Happily, Euphonium plays to KyoAni’s storytelling strengths as well; it’s a story that’s so ordinary that it can really come to life for the viewer. Everyone has their own idea of how good they should be at their hobbies, and self-imposed feelings of inadequacy can be really tough, especially for young people. So I’m sure everyone can relate to some of the characters in Euphonium, who are thrown together despite all having different ideas of how good they can be and how good they need to be, and suddenly find themselves aiming for Nationals. The characters are endearing individually, as well as on the level of what they represent; I already have a particular soft spot for Taki-sensei, despite his limited screen-time thus far. This is definitely an easy one to make time for whenever a new episode is up.

nagatonoshoushitsu

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: I really love The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I adored The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan still does nothing for me. It does have some funny moments, but that’s about it. I think the bulk of the problem is that the main character is Nagato, but not the real Nagato, or even The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya‘s alternate-universe Nagato. The original alternate-universe Nagato was painfully shy, but this one seems practically daft and incapable of functioning like a human. She’s a character born of the twisted ultra-moe idea that if a character needing protection is moe, than a character that’s incapable of doing anything for herself is ultra-moe. Except that’s not true, because that kind of character isn’t actually a character any more than a cardboard standee is a person. Bleh.

If you missed Part 1, click here. Part 1 includes the following series:

  • Arslan Senki
  • Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works
  • Gunslinger Stratos
  • Houkago no Pleiades
  • Dungeon de Deai […]
  • Kekkai Sensen
  • Kyoukai no Rinne

And if I missed checking out an anime this season that you think is fantastic, please do let me know!

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