2015 In Review: Shiroyuni’s Award Picks (Genres & Production)

2015in reviewShiroyuni's Award Picks

Welcome to a multi-part series of all the anime in the 2015 lineup that I have watched! In this series, I pen my thoughts of a range of 2015 anime on a comparative basis, and give them certain ‘titles’ and/or ‘awards’ that I feel that they deserve.

To be honest, I never thought I would be able to finish watching all the notable series in year 2015 in just a little more than a month, but I did it! *whew* Do bear in mind that this is my first time consolidating and writing something like this, so I would appreciate any the support that’s given! šŸ˜€

Before we start, just a few pieces of background information and disclaimers:

  1. This series will be contain minor spoilers. Definitely not enough to affect your enjoyment of the show if you haven’t seen it šŸ˜‰
  2. This list takes into accountĀ all series that END in 2015. Thus, thisĀ includes certain Fall 2014 anime that have aired for more than one cour, andĀ excludes Fall 2015 which have not finished airing as of 31 December 2015.
  3. Out of the 196 known anime series (including shorts) that have aired in 2015, I have only completedĀ 37 of them . AllĀ of them areĀ titles that should be familiar if you have been following somewhat about what has been airing throughout the year.
  4. Unfortunately, there are series I wanted to include in this list but wasn’t able to complete in time, including, amongst others, titles likeĀ The Perfect Insider, Gakkou Gurashi, K: Return of Kings, The Seven Deadly Sins, Log Horizon (Season 2), Nisekoi (Season 2), My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (Season 2)
  5. There are also DNF titles which may or may not be mentioned somewhere throughout this series.
  6. Please note thatĀ this series contains some of my personal opinions.Ā Certain awards/titles are evaluated more objectively (Best AnimationĀ for example) while some are definitelyĀ looked at in a more subjective manner (Most Personally RelatableĀ for example). I do try to substantiateĀ ALL my opinions however. šŸ™‚
  7. I PUT A LOT OF WORK IN THIS SO PLEASE ENJOY *wide grin* no seriously, I did. Throughout the process I also did realise that deliberately confining yourself to certain choices of anime just because you need to finish them within a certain timeĀ canĀ make anime-watching a chore at times. Nevertheless, Ā it was fun writing all these šŸ˜€

Without further ado, let’s proceed! Today’s segment mainly deals with the orthodox titles relating toĀ genres orĀ production. Enjoy! šŸ™‚

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Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!: where LOVE is everything!

Sick of the mahou shoujo genre? Itching to see a new twist? Secretly wondering why there isn’t an *ahem* bishounen version? Presenting to you … the first ever mahou shounen to grace the screen! Expect bishounen prancing around in ridiculous colourful costumes, the entire magical boy transformations, plentiful ‘cute’ moments, over-the-top exclamations of love, as well as the special bonus …. the strong yaoi vibes that will leave fujoshi and fudanshi fans squealing in delight!

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei Bu LOVE tells of a story where five pretty boys in a conveniently single-ed high school are suddenly given magical powers by a pink fluffy wombat who – apparently – is very powerful. Reason? The Earth is about to be devoured by hatred, and only love can save the world. Our protagonists are given this very special task from the start, and together they take on the daunting and noble task of fighting monsters which manifest through negative emotions, clearing the school from them.

Parody of the finest quality

The strongest point of Binan Koukou is that, being a parody of the mahou shoujo genre, it clearly presents itself as a series that is not to be taken seriously, and then pokes fun of itself in the most unexpected ways. By following a formulaic monster-of-the-week approach that slowly reveals the underlying evil plot of the antagonists, the overlying plot structure is all too familiar and predictable. Yet, one should not be too quick to criticise the lack of a good story, for Binan Koukou deliberately adopts the strategy of magnifying a weakness common to most another anime series, and manages to maintain its freshness by adding in plenty of comedic moments. The ingenuity of this series lies in the type of comedy it chooses to indulge in. Rather than anything slapstick, the emphasis here is based on overused tropes of many other mahou shoujo and giving a sarcastic twist to it. What is particularly endearing and memorable about this is that it mirrors the audience’s thought processes based on their experiences of the mahou shoujo genre and then adds a smart-ass comment that leaves the viewers grinning in agreement and marveling in wonder.

The Daily lives of the Overly Bored High School Boys

Aside from the premise of reflecting the ludicrity of mahou shoujo plot developments, slice-of-life and fanservice also go hand in hand in contributing to the overall enjoyment of this series. We have inordinate amounts of the main characters soaking in public baths, spending time basically doing nothing in the clubroom, having training camps, and engaging in activities that make you wonder if Japanese high school kids actually spend close to none of their school hours on studying. Not to mention the whole lot of yaoi and shounen-ai vibes, which clearly pander to fans of these genres, but serve as a source of a good laugh for the rest of us just wanting to see something new and ridiculous in this line of anime. However, those expecting content along the lines of Daily Lives of High School Boys would be sorely disappointed, mainly because there is very minimal emphasis on any topic that real life teenage boys actually dwell upon (e.g. devising ways to attract girls, trying to look cool in general etc.). Instead, the frivolity of these boys’ daily conversations present a more interesting perspective to how random they can get as they bicker over topics like whose preferences in food are the best. As such, one can enjoy the conversation as it is without needing to put themselves in a real life high school boy’s shoes.

Conclusion

The brevity of this review belies the amount of enjoyment I had from watching this series over twelve weeks. In fact, it was the most suitable series out of the entire Winter line-up for me, given that I was in no condition to marathon any series at that point and my concern with watching ongoing series lay with the fact that I had to remember a continuing plot over twelve or thirteen weeks. With this series, no such concern existed, and I was happy to settle in every week and enjoy the series over my lunch being dragging myself to school.

Binan Koukou is a most optimal example of a series that relies on characteristics other than a strong plot and/or character development to break through longtime formulas and shine in its own right. It serves as a reminder to even the most jaded and obtuse of anime viewers (i.e. me) that the anime industry’s capacity for creativity and entertainment has not run dry. A rare gem that is not immediately obvious, Binan Koukou is the series to go to for those craving something a little different, or for thoseĀ wanting a hilarious, fun ride after a terribly long day.

Jan 15 and Feb 15 Updates!

As I have mentioned in my previous post, I am going to list out what anime I have been watching so far and have yet to have completed; and also a mid-way opinion on it and whether I recommend that particular series or not šŸ˜€ Gonna split this up into two sections here šŸ™‚

*what I mean by episode count is the current episode I am on, not the number that has been released so far!

Currently Airing (Winter 15)

Aldnoah Zero 2nd Season

Genres: AAldnoah.Zero 2nd Seasonction, Mecha

Episode count: 3/12

Plot summary:Ā Seeking for revenge, Count Saazbaum, a Martian, attacked the Earth. Later on, the war between the Terrans and Martians ended with Earth’s Terrans gaining the victory. However, nineteen months later, the battle between them continues. Martians still continues to invade the Earth and the Terrans to protect it.

How’s it so far:Ā Not bad for a second season. Slaine is shaping up to be a more interesting character than the first season. And who doesn’t like watching Inaho being so calmly badass and smoothly dissecting his enemy’s weaknesses and winning? Its pure entertainment for sure. Watching the harems develop is really hilarious as well.

Recommended if:Ā You have watched the first season. And you like mecha fights. And badassery,

Not recommended if: You don’t like slightly one-dimensional characters or bland dialogue.

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu TV

Genres:Ā Action, Comedy, School, Supernatural

Episode Count: 6/22Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (TV)

Plot Summary:Ā A humorous and action-packed story about a class of misfits who are trying to kill their new teacherā€”an alien octopus with bizarre powers and super strength! The teacher has just destroyed the moon and is threatening to destroy the earthā€”unless his students can destroy him first. What makes things more complicated is that he’s the best teacher they’ve ever had!

How’s it so far: Interesting premise, hilarious comedy. Some interesting themes about teaching and education. But I personally don’t see what is the rage about this.

Recommended if: you have read the manga, and you would like to see it animated.

Not recommended if: you have too little time to try something new, and teacher-student dynamics are not your thing.

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! (i.e.Ā Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!)

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE!Genres: Comedy, Magic, Slice of Life

Episode Count: 6/12

Plot Summary:Ā This is the tale of five unlikely heroes who unite under the name of the “Earth Defense Club” alongside a pink wombat-like alien to defend their world and restore love to all; however, does a sinister organization lurk behind the scenes of Binan High school?

How’s it so far: FINALLY A MAHOU SHOUNEN SERIES.Ā The transformation scenes are totally hilarious; and its a very good parody of the usual mahou shoujo type of anime.

Recommended if: You want to see something that defies typical mahou shoujo gender stereotypes. (Yes, calling all Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki Kun fans here). Or if you would want a good laugh at the end of a long, stress-filled day. Or if … you just like watching bishies prancing around in ridiculous costumes. Oh, and also if you don’t mind the rather strong bromance vibes (Calling FREE! fans)

Not Recommended if: You prefer your mahou shoujo as they are, untouched.

Death Parade

Death ParadeGenres: Game, Psychological

Episode count: 7/12

Plot Summary:Ā After death, humans go to either heaven or hell. But for some, at the instant of their death, they arrive at Quindecim, a bar attended by the mysterious white-haired Decim. He challenges them to the Death Game, wherein they wager their lives and reveal their true natures. Decim himself is the ultimate arbitrator of who wins and who loses, who will go to heaven, and who will go to hell.

How’s it so far: Absolutely brilliant. There hasn’t been a single anime I have encountered that broke me down into a puddle of tears one episode and had me laughing so hard the next. The dark side of human nature is forced to light here so it sometimes comes as a shock that some of those negative sentiments resound within me. For an episodic series, side characters’ backstories are explained so well that enable one to empathise with them and their actions. I personally like the themes explored here, and I have fun thinking about whether Decim’s judgment is morally wrong or correct.

Recommended if: You like your entertainment to be thought-provoking, and you are looking for some depth. You like delving intoĀ moral gray areas. I personally recommend this anime to all šŸ™‚

Not recommended if: You are just looking for light, fun anime.

Durarara!!x2 Shou

Genres: Action, Mystery, Supernatural, Urban

Durarara!!x2 ShouEpisode Count: 5/12

Plot Summary:Ā Half a year after the turmoil that rocked the entire city of Ikebukuro – Peace has once again returned to the city and people are living each day normally. The high school students enjoy their days of youth as the strongest and most dangerous man of Ikebukuro works diligently. The informant plots (or plans) a new scheme and the headless rider is pursued by the cops as she rides through the night… But soon this normal will be cut short by the abnormal. Slowly but surely, the unknown will seize the city and face an all new storm.

How’s it so far: Absolutely captivating. This is one series set out to entertain. There may be some confusion sometimes due to its disjunct narrative structure, but it all pays off when the pieces all fall together, like a finished jigsaw puzzle. This series really pulls off quirky, entertaining characters that are unique in themselves. If there’s any cast of characters that I would like to be friends with, its this set.

Recommended if: You have watched the first season. Even if you haven’t, please do give it a try, its awesome šŸ˜€ If you are looking for a very unique way of telling a story and you are in love with the idea of one person’s actions affecting another, and then setting off a chain of unexpected events, with an unexpected conclusion.

Not recommended if: You really don’t have brain juice to spare, and you just want a linear plot of sorts. But really, this is NEVER not recommended. šŸ˜€

Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor – Exodus

Genres: Drama, Mecha, Sci-fi

Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor - ExodusEpisode Count: 7/26

Plot Summary: MAL doesn’t provide one, lol.

How’s it so far: About as confusing the first season. There is vast improvement in the action scenes though. Some of them look like they belong to Shingeki no Kyojin except that they are fighting in giant robots. Great exploration of the theme of making children fight to protect humanity.

Recommended if: You have watched the first season, and you like the overall feel of the show. Also, awesome action mecha scenes.

Not recommended if: You hate being confused. I personally still have troubles understanding this show, and there isn’t much help online either ><

Tokyo GhoulĀ āˆšA

Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Horror, Supernatural, Psychological, Seinen

Tokyo Ghoul āˆšAEpisode count: 7/12

Plot Summary:Ā In modern day Tokyo, society lives in fear of Ghouls: mysterious creatures who look exactly like humans — yet hunger insatiably for their flesh. None of this matters to Ken Kaneki, a bookish and ordinary young man, until a dark and violent encounter turns him into the first ever Ghoul-human half breed. Trapped between two worlds, Ken must survive the violent conflicts of warring Ghoul factions, while attempting to learn more about Ghoul society, his newfound powers, and the fine line between man and monster.

How’s it so far: More interesting than I would have thought. Though Kaneki doesn’t feature much at the start, we see his involvement behind the scenes. Kaneki gets more development and so do the other characters.

Recommended if: You watched the first season, and you personally like how Kaneki develops and deals with all that crap thrown his way. Or you like tortured, brooding protagonists with a kind heart.

Not recommended if: You are looking for a faithful manga adaptation. Or you just don’t like horror and gore in genre. Other than that, it is a pretty good show ^^

Non-airing anime but planning to finishĀ 

Ashita no Nadja (not sure whether I want to continue this, though.)

Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou

Mushishi

Samurai Flamenco (just started this)

White Album 2 (just started this)

Yep that’s all from me! šŸ™‚ Feel free to comment about anything or agree/disagree with me on what I have said so far šŸ˜€ I may not be doing reviews for all of these anime even if I have completed them though, it’ll have to depend on whether I have anything much to write about the anime šŸ™‚

*All images and plot summaries were obtained from http://www.myanimelist.net and do not belong to me.*