2015 In Review: Shiroyuni’s Award Picks (Part 4)

2015in reviewShiroyuni's Award Picks

(This is Part 4 of my 2015 Anime Review series. See Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 on more awards on as well as for certain background information and disclaimers with regards to this series of posts.)

Most Personally Relatable

 

There’s probably no sense of objectivity in this one, hence there should not be any ‘judgment’ involved. It all depends on what personal experiences one has, though the chances are that school-themes and emotional driven stories would emerge as clear winners for most. 2015 produced two series on classical music that hit home for me. Having been an ensemble player for 5 years and a solo player for more, I have suffered through the trials and tribulations of trying to improve myself as a performer, the despair when hard work faced with raw talent is never nearly enough, and yet not unfamiliar with the stress bogging down when expectations of you are nearly too high. Your Lie in April managed to portray the multifarious perspectives of the talented and the untalented, the traumatised and the fearful, the courageous and the self-deceiving, through its ensemble of characters that were not limited to Arima Kousei or Kaori Miyazono. The ensemble politicking shenanigans, the joys, anger and tears and meanwhile personified in Hibike! Euphonium bring back bittersweet memories of being in an ensemble full of angsty, prideful, spiteful and emotionally vulnerable teenagers who only realised years thereafter that what was most important in making music together are the memories that were created, and not leadership positions or being better at one’s instrument than another.

Even while music-focused anime stand in a slightly stronger position here, however, anime’s ability to create that ‘I’ve been here before’ feeling has never been limited to what we have personally experienced. Death Parade brought to the screen episodic meetings with strangers from all walks of life, only to find similarity in human emotion and nature as underpinnings of these characters’ actions only show how much we human beings, in all our selfishness and self-preservation, are often softened by solidarity, love for fellow human beings, and our inherently social nature. Special mentions go to Diamond no Ace where Eijun Sawamura broke conventional feel-good moulds of raring-to-go shounen protagonists by repeatedly trying and failing (which I suspect Baby Steps 2 did as well) and Food Wars with its now infamous mini-arc of Tadokoro Megumi’s character development that prompted my indulgent sharing of a similar personal story.

Out of all, though, as much as I hate to repeatedly look like I really just favour one anime out of all, Hibike! Euphonium rises above the rest for not only depicting the darker competitive sides of high school music ensembles, but also managing to capture the transition of callousness and jadedness to genuinity in the form of Kumiko Oumae.

(No division of Winner and Honourable Mentions for this because it is more of a personal preference.)

Most Emotional

To be honest, either recent anime has lost the ability to get around the walls of my heart, or that my walls have thickened and solidified. If anything, I’d prefer the latter because it would only be my problem, whereas if the former is reality, the alarm bells on the future of anime should be clanging for all of us anime fans because it would mean that anime is losing one of its most important aspects of differentiation from other forms of media. It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that 2015 has reached a new low in this compartment. Are Clannad: After Story, Angel Beats! and Ano Hana: The Flower We Saw That Day merely the bygone products of yester-years, whose ability to turn on our tear ducts can no longer be surpassed?

Alas, we can only hope. Nonetheless, 2015 brought a fair share of its heart-wrenching moments. Charlotte comes to mind with Jun Maeda’s drawn-out process  of an entire episode focusing on Otosaka Yuu losing himself upon death of a loved one. While seemingly pointless, it managed to achieve its purpose through its build-up, seeing that only a slight trigger of memories at the end was enough to make the emotions rush through its viewers like the surge of a tsunami wave. Death Parade‘s various episodic scenarios contained different emotional triggers which culminated in the focus on the adjudicators’ past in a beautifully rounded end. Your Lie in April had heart-aching quotes and monologues that truly brought its characters right next to us, making them a part of us. Hibike! Euphonium managed to infuse colours into the little nuances of teenage emotions that would otherwise seem melodramatic, no doubt helped in part by its animation style. However, the emotions triggered by Diamond no Ace are the most long-lasting, as it truly exemplifies ‘passing the torch’. That, and I still bawl whenever I watch the OP or the ED. Perhaps its length of 5 cours gave it an undue advantage over all these other 1-cour shows in this respect, but its undeniable effects are present and that is all that’s really needed.

Winner: Diamond no Ace

Honourable Mentions: Your Lie in April, Death Parade, Hibike! Euphonium, Charlotte

Most Lovable Cast

Characters are perhaps the single make-it-or-break-it factor as to how much we love a series, though not necessarily how good a series is. Emotional connections to characters, especially when it involves both main and supporting characters are therefore always crucial. Often, this is done by holistic portrayals of good and bad traits in all characters, believable character development, and displays of solidarity and common goals.

Thankfully, the best contenders were evenly spread throughout the year. Shirobako which continued from Fall 2014 had such a large cast of characters that were so rapidly introduced together with their confusing titles that it grew hard to remember individuals’ names except for its five main female characters. However, their different working styles and personalities that produced fair amounts of friction throughout the series crumbled before their united passion for anime and their fervent common desire to make good anime. Even slightly annoying characters became likeable as foils to their otherwise too-idealistic counterparts. In Spring we saw the wacky, dorky, comedic cast of Kekkai Sensen in Jerusalem’s Lot, a not-so-optimistic environment to be in. Though 1 cour was not sufficient to develop all of them, the slapstick humour worked, making Kekkai Sensen a hell lot more fun. Then came the ‘bad guys with soft hearts’ in Gangsta, where a gritty, dangerous, mafia-owned city told showcased the effect of tragic pasts on shaping characters while retaining certain laudable humane values like helping those in need, repaying one’s debts, and the concept of protecting one’s own. Every character had softer sides and well-meaning intentions to their worn-out, hardened appearances.

Meanwhile, Noragami Aragoto built on the stories of its supporting characters in this second season, indirectly strengthening the bonds of the makeshift family that its protagonists, Yato, Hiyori, and Yukine had formed especially in the Bishamon arc. Diamond no Ace, which finished its run in Spring 2015, had built so many bonds between protagonist teammates that it was impossible not to like every single one of them. Though no doubt the Daiya boys hit home for me, the winner goes to Gangsta which managed to develop the heartbreaking pasts of Worick and Nicolas within one cour while fleshing out the at-times sympathetic motivations of their counterparts within its dangerous city-space.

Winner: Gangsta

Honourable Mentions: Diamond no Ace, Noragami Aragoto, Kekkai Sensen, Shirobako

 

 

That’s all for today, hope you enjoyed this post yet again! The next post will contain subjective rants, and the most controversial ‘titles’ of the lot. Thanks for reading, and feel free to like or comment! 🙂

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24 thoughts on “2015 In Review: Shiroyuni’s Award Picks (Part 4)

  1. I certainly enjoyed Shirobako. Whilst it did get a little silly with the director been obstructed in meeting the author of the manga. And having two of his fellow co-workers infiltrating the publishing house. Nothing beats the “fat alliance” between Honda and the director Seiichi xDD or the special moves he did to the beat the “bosses” on his way to meet the author xDD.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh it was all to good comedic effect I think. Though I didn’t think all that miscommunication between the director and the author took so long for them to realise the problem that it was a little on the unbelievable side :3 oh yeah that was certainly memorable!! Director Seiichi was very adorable xD Shirobako has this knack of making these deliberately not-beautifully-drawn characters very lovable xD

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, yours :p I can’t thank you enough for your recommendation, this was one of the few pleasant surprises for me in the entire 2015 lineup :p the rest of the shows are definitely worth checking out! Thanks, hope they gave you a much better insight into all these series 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, I saw your top ten post on it ^^ It was incredible how the various sides of the characters were shown within merely 12 eps! Even the lack-of-ending didn’t dampen my overall enjoyment of this show 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • WELL I AM STILL BROKEN. I am rewatching it now and about halfway through, but I am sort of on the fence about whether to continue because I am not sure whether I am ready to go through all that depression again ;( easily one of the most emotional. I am heavily biased towards DnA in any case lol. If you ask me I have half a mind to give half of these awards to Daiya xD Still GAHH ALL THE TEARS DAMMIT

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      • I rewatched the beginning and a couple episodes inbt but don’t think I’ll be ready to watch the inashiro vs seidou match until a while later OTL

        I’m ready to dive into s2 now with hopes that it’ll help xD though the third years are gone too ;_;

        Post part X: forget all the anime I just listed, all awards go to DNA (except the overrated bc there’s no wave for this show) lol

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      • Lol yeah, I am at the match before Inashiro but damnnn I think I may very well pause for a while right before Inashiro gahhh. The third years being gone affect me greater than I thought lol. Even there’s still Miyuki and Sawamura and Furuya and Haruichi (bascially my favs) BUT I loved the team in general dang. 😦 Plus s2 is still just abit more than halfway through and I know I can marathon 40 eps in a week.
        HAHA exactly, you’ve no idea how much I want to do that sometimes. Lol you just reminded me how unknown DnA is, I mean Haikyuu is good as well and KnB isn’t bad, but seriously why isn’t DnA more popular?! This question seriously drives me nuts everyday lol. At this rate, I’ll have to write a love letter to DnA as one of my next posts or something lol. Just in hope that it’ll quell all my emotions T.T

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      • LOL that would be awesome

        I think one of the reasons is that it’s so long, i was slightly tentative about starting it because there were 70 episodes in just the first season but once i watched it i was good :3 I usually avoid really long series unless i started up with them

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      • Yeah I admit the pacing got a little screwed up during that particular match. You’re the only one who has found it good from the first few eps though. The other people I have recommended didn’t really get into it from the start (and still haven’t lol), even if they are fans of KnB and Haikyuu. Same, I tend to avoid long series because I know I have invested time in a few only to lose interest halfway. But DnA was worth it lol I can’t tell you how glad I was xD

        Liked by 1 person

      • IKR?! i reallyyyyy don’t get it myself. And I thought they would cos they love Haikyuu and the manly emotions there ;_; ep 2 should have been enough just to show how unique DnA is! Sigh. Luckily its still quite popular amongst Japanese fans. (And I don’t want s2 to ever end lol.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • yeah like what they did with s1 and s2. end it, then immediately announce a sequel that continues right on the top of the next season. xD
        either way, i am pretty screwed. i can’t really look at any other anime properly now >.>

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      • which is impressive considering all the anime you watched for 2015 (that was A LOT) I probably only watched like…8 shows, maybe 😛

        I would LOVE to see an anime where it follows the character past high school and into university or even going pro, that would be awesome

        #obsessivetendancies

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      • haha yes, it only goes to show how awesome DnA is. and how hard it is for me to find something that’s on par with it -sigh- 8 shows isn’t that bad though. xD
        oooohhhhh wait, then isn’t Major right up your alley?! its often compared to DnA, and I am actually watching its first season now. MC’s also a pitcher, and its 6 seasons cover his baseball journey from age 5 to … going pro and beyond lol. its old art though, and i still like DnA more because it focuses on team dynamics, whereas Major focuses on only one MC lol.

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      • I think I saw that one in a couple sports lists and was curious about it, google images shows there’s no instant attraction though 😛 lol

        after daiya I’d like to check out baby steps, I watched the first episode and was like, hmmm, im intrigued. Like, just all the effort he puts into a match, that’s organization and uber planning xD

        I feel like daiya is really similar to other sports anime but at the same time it’s not so i enjoy it on a different level

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      • Haha desperate times call for desperate measures, i suppose xD oh yes baby steps is another choice for me. that, and waiting for haikyuu’s s2 to finish so i can marathon it :p baby steps is supposed to be on the more realistic right? i don’t think i can stand too much supernatural stuff flying around now lol.
        yeah, daiya has lots of shippable couples and team spirit like the rest, but its progression is definitely different. at least, i think its more realistic than haikyuu and definitely knb. lol now i think i should really write about it xD

        Liked by 1 person

      • i’ll definitely check those posts out! i have like 3 posts I need to start writing once im done with s1 😛

        I think the reason I decided to check out baby steps is because it looked nice and because i’ve actually watched a bit of tennis before, as for realistic, possibly, i only watched the first ep and it didn’t have any knb gimmicks or stuff like that

        and the only ‘unrealistic’ thing i saw was the MC carrying a bag of notebooks where he jots down all the information about his opponents during break xD I mean, maybe it’s possible, maybe it’s not

        KEKEKE sports anime is like fujoshi fodder >:D

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      • Lol I don’t even think I can be as organized as splitting stuff up into three posts … but we’ll see 🙂 I’m definitely looking forward to your posts as well, too little DnA around here :/
        Ah okay I see. I think Baby Steps being new is also one of its biggest attractions lol. Even that kind of action is relatively realistic. (Like say, compared to how fast they portray Furuya’s monster fastballs or Miyuki’s all-rounded goodness & uber reflexes *ahem*)
        KEKEKEKEKE I definitely agree with you there. Even if I don’t consider myself a fujoshi DnA constantly makes me rethink my position LOL

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      • ahem indeed 😉 and hes not the only flexible one >:3

        well, i say 3 posts but it could be 2, depends on how my ranting goes, sometimes stuff happens and i can’t split where to stop and begin again 😛

        Oh, is it new?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha yes :p
        I understand xD i kind of feel like going on those rants myself lol.
        Yep, its relatively new cos it aired sorta together with the whole KnB Haikyuu DnA bunch. So in terms of animation, it shouldn’t be that hard to get into imo xD

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