Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Best Fall Anime of 2015

It may have wrapped up early, but the end of the year certainly was filled with highs and lows.

Typically speaking, I'm not someone who subscribes to the notion that some season are inherently better than others. I don't think that Spring and Fall anime seasons are inherently better than Summer or Winter ones. That being said, this Fall had a lot of very high profile anime release and several of them actually turned out to be good, some even great. Others, not so much.

While I may have only watched four shows this season, the reason for such a lighter load is mostly because, as sad as it is, not many titles really grabbed my attention this time. While I did give series like The Perfect Insider, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, Owarimonogatori, and Owari no Seraph a chance by watching the first episode, they either bored me, confused me, or a combination of the two. In an age of streaming where nearly every title that releases in Japan is available in the States either legally or illegally, it's too hard to sift through for the diamonds in the rough. If I was to watch eight or ten shows a season, I would put myself into an early grave. So I have to go with shows that interest me and impress me with a great first episode, then I just kind of go from there. If there's a show that is making waves in the community and only has a few episodes released, I'll try and watch it before I get too far behind. There comes a point where I just have to sleep in the bed I made and just move on.

The shows that I chose for this season were shows that had a good first episode, and that's really it. Some of them continued to impress me as they went on, while others quickly spiraled into oblivion. These are just my own opinions and you're free to disagree with them, but here are the shows I've seen this season and my general thoughts on them.

Comet Lucifer
I'm not gonna mince words here; Comet Lucifer is God awful. It had such an interesting premise and the promise of something big, but it instead turned into a sludge of an anime with no real meat, muscle, energy, or life to it. It just because a waste of time every week.

On the surface, Comet Lucifer is about a boy named Sogo who lives on the planet Gift, which is a planet that uses stones for energy. He lives a normal everyday life with his friends and guardian Do Mon, but one day, he finds a red crystal that it turns out to be a girl named Felia, who is an angel, and the evil government wants to us here for... reasons. There's action, adventure, romance, and you've heard all of this before haven't you?

The reason why this show fails so hard is because it has no idea what it wants to do with its generic premise. Does it want to be Xenoblade and have a huge adventure for the benefit of the planet and the world? Does it want to be a smaller and more intimate story that's mostly about our protagonists getting along and learning from each other? Hell no! Let's throw giant mechs in, a wedding, a war story, space bugs, pollinating planets, and bread machine guns! Oh, plus pedophilia. Because we have to.

I tried so hard to enjoy an episode. I tried immensely hard to enjoy this show, but there is nothing unique about this story. All of the characters are as bland as rocks, plot twists are revealed without any context, so instead of them being twists, they're just general background information, Plus the final bad guy is revealed in the second to last episode for a minute, only for them to spend the entire finale revealing their backstory and that the moon of Gift is, shocker, the planet Earth! And this was never told to us before and I never even knew that Gift had a moon, so this just came as late game exposition. Plus the ending just wraps itself up with a slideshow because they spent the last episode explaining the villain's motivations before ending the series five minutes later.

There is nothing redeeming about this show except for the admittingly pretty design of some of the locations. At least, when the characters aren't in caves or the desert. It's just so disappointing that a show with some genuine interest turns out to be a steaming piece of crap. It's bad in all of the frustrating ways too, have some interesting designs on concepts, but they're wasted on a show like this. But then again, the final villain is giant mech Yu Yevon, so I have to give up or I'll be ranting for days.

Mecha Yu Yevon.

Concrete Revolutio
Yes, I am aware that Concrete Revolutio has one episode left this season, but I'm pretty certain in my opinion of the show. Plus, with a second season just recently announced for next spring, that means the story will not completely resolve itself, so I'm not at any huge risk of jumping the gun here. Besides, I'm probably not going to cover it next spring, because while Concrete Revolutio tries so hard to be good, it just become absolutely insane. No joke, this is the one show that is so weird, so crazy, so bizarre, that I could not follow it after multiple viewings.

Concrete Revolutio is a show that is in love with pop culture and everything that makes nerds nerds. Every episode has the Superhuman Bureau, a group of superhumans that try to protect other superhumans, dealing with a new threat, ally, or incident that needs their particular set of skills. Each episode covers a different pop culture topic like Kaiju, magical girls, Starship Troopers, cyborgs, aliens, and super sentai, all with a veneer that the world isn't completely black and white. What might be perceived as a good and righteous action can be looked back upon with hindsight as being shortsighted and advancing an idea or agenda that's narrow and doesn't account for the bigger picture. Hell, in every episode, the story is actually told as a flashback from several years in the future where a member of the Bureau, Jiro Hitoyoshi, breaks off and starts a superhuman revolution against the Bureau.

And all of it is as confusing as it sounds.

The flashbacks happen multiple times in an episode, and unless you're paying attention to what year it is and little bits and pieces of exposition told in the future, you're gonna be lost. A man will suddenly turn into a giant alien monster with a little girl turning into a magical girl with a multidimensional wand to stop it, only for a giant Kamen Rider fill in to come and kill the alien. All of this has a purpose, to critique and set up narratives that dissect Japanese pop culture, but it's all done so haphazardly. Shows like Blood Blockade Battlefront may run at a mile a minute, but the plot is still easily understood and has great character moments that help inform the audience of the plot, even if they get lost. Here, the show just runs and expects you to run with it or else get left behind. You need to be all aboard its rapid pace societal deconstructions, or else this show will fall flat on its face.

Make no mistake, Concrete Revolutio is not a bad show, but a show that has too many ideas for it to be comprehensible. The few moments that I was able to grasp were fun, but that's about it.

One Punch Man

I cannot stress this enough; One Punch Man is one fo the best action shows that I've seen in years. Kill la Kill may have been a great ride, but it didn't deliver as much as OPM does.

Saitama is known as the One Punch Man. He's literally the strongest hero in existence, able to kill nearly every foe in one punch. But because he's too overpowered, he's having a bit of an existential crisis of never facing a good enough challenge again. He eventually joins the Hero Association in the attempt to become a "hero for fun" and finally have a challenge, and this series chronicles his search for an actual opponent.

One Punch Man has some of the best action scenes in anime PERIOD. The animation is beyond beautiful, and the scale and scope of the fight scenes is really something to behold. You know what a hyperactive child is trying to describe this really awesome action scene that he just saw, or is acting out a fight scene with his toys? This is the adult version of that. Literally every time Saitama starts to fight, something incredible happens to top every other moment up until then. Whether it's fighting an army of mole people, the King of the Sea, alien invaders, giants, or even super fast ninjas, every fight is equally satisfying and gratifying.

However, Saitama alone doesn't make this series great. He has a fantastic supporting cast to help make the show enjoyable! There's his cyborg apprentice Genos, who has several equally awesome fight scenes, Mumen Rider, a low ranking hero who wants to genuinely help people, Speed O' Sound Sonic, the aforementioned super fast ninja, and every S-Ranked Hero who has an interesting design, power, and personality. There are new villains every week, intense fight scenes, and insightful scenes about what it truly means to be a hero and defending the world. Is a hero in name only? Is it all about reputation and looks? Do people just want to become heroes to help others, even if they are disliked by the public? What is heroism anyway? One Punch Man tackles all of these issues and gives an interesting perspective on the nature of heroism.

I am praying to whatever deity exists that this show gets a second season. This anime blew up the internet. So many people are calling it the best series of 2015, and they can make a legitimate case for it. One Punch Man is a tour de force of action, comedy, and overall ass kicking. ONE PAWWWWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNCH!!!!!!!!

The Asterisk Wars
The Asterisk Wars, on the surface, is nothing particularly special. It's a high school sci-fi action anime where a main character goes to a new school, is OP as hell, gets a harem of women to fall for him unintentionally, and then there's a big tournament where every fights and has interesting powers. It's a plot and set up that has been seen millions of times before and people are sick of it.

The Asterisk Wars knows that and doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. It executes its premise as well as it possible can, and it's all the more enjoyable for it. There's nothing particularly shocking about this show yet (that's going to come in the second cour), but for a first act, the groundwork has been sufficiently laid for a solid action adventure show.

I really don't know what else there is to say about this show. You've seen it a million times, and while it's done well here, it's as memorable as the twenty others that released this year. It has points for some solid animation and creative imagery, but that's about all I can give it.

Here's a pretty ED though!


One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man, One Punch Man. 

Now that we got that out of the way, it has hard deciding whether or not Concrete Revolutio was better than The Asterisk Wars. One was an incredibly unique premise with an equally unique execution, but failed at making it seem natural and, well, decent. The other is a show that has been done a million times before, but at least was executed competently with some decent signs of world building. It's a tough call, but it'll go for the show that I could at least understand half of the time.

Comet Lucifer was such a disappointment though. I had the makings of an interesting sci-fi fantasy, but instead it just wasted every opportunity it was given and took the safe, bland, and boring way out. It was too stupid to be dumb action, too vague to be a good sci-fi story, and too bland to be anything other than bad. Easily one of the worst, if not the worst, anime I've seen all year (Yatterman Night is this close to taking the title.)



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