Panning the Stream: Sequels and Carryovers Edition (Spring 2015)

Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

It’s been a long premiere week and I’m quite sleepy, so I won’t spend too much time on these, but, as usual, I wanted to pop in and let you know where I stand on sequels this season. Most of the deluge this spring are for shows where I never saw the early seasons, so no “panning” posts there, but there are a trio that I am watching, at least. Hit the jump to get reacquainted!

Baby Steps – Season 2

Studio: Pierrot
Based On:
The manga by Katsuki Hikaru
Sequel To:
Baby Steps (25 episodes)
Streaming On:
Crunchyroll (click here for the list of regions)

In a Sentence: After a chance meeting with classmate Takasaki “Natchan” Natsu, top student and skilled note-taker Maruo “Ei-chan” Eichirou finds himself drawn into the world of competitive tennis.

How was it? I didn’t realize I’d missed it until I was so very happy to have it back.

Overall

I spent the first half of the first season of Baby Steps knowing it was a well-written (if not always well-animated) series with a lot of developed, realistic characters, measured pacing, and tight narrative control, but never quite sure it was the show for me. Then something clicked during the tournament that began the second cour, and I was all in, to the point where it even made “honorable mention” on my 2014 Top 10 list. Like the title suggests, Baby Steps is a methodical series that takes its time showing Ei-chan’s journey through the world of competitive tennis, but it rewards viewer’s patience. I’m excited to see where he goes, who he meets, and how he improves this season, too.

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO! (Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru 2)

Studio: feel.
Based On:
The light novels by Watari Wataru
Sequel To:
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (12 episodes)
Streaming On:
Crunchyroll (U.S./Canada)

In a Sentence: Cynical loner Hikigaya Hachiman gets roped into joining the Service Club, where he and two classmates try to help and advise any students who arrive at their door.

How was it? “Good” feels like an oversimplification, but there’s no other word for it. SNAFU 2 was good, you guys.

Overall

I caught the first season of this a couple years back and nearly dropped it multiple times during the early episodes. I’m glad I stuck with it, though, because once the novelist gets all the stereotypes out of the way he’s able to both play with them and subvert them a little, developing his characters and building SNAFU into a solid YA school series that deals with issues of social isolation and loneliness (often self-inflicted), the inevitability of change (and the attempts to keep it from happening), and the connections both tenuous and strong between different individuals. I don’t remember much in terms of specific plot points from the first season, but the characters came back to me quickly enough, and it turns out I still enjoy hanging out with them. Despite an occasional over-reliance on tropes, this series captures high school life better than most, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these kids grow over the next 13 episodes.

Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]

Studio: ufotable
Based On:
The visual novel game by Type-Moon
Previous Episode Count: 12
Streaming On:
Crunchyroll (North America, Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland)

In a Sentence: When a stranger attacks his home, high school student and amateur mage Emiya Shirou accidentally summons a Heroic Spirit to defend him and winds up dragged into the ongoing Holy Grail War.

How was it? Still Fate/stay night, with all the pluses and minuses that entails.

Overall

In retrospect, F/sn probably shouldn’t have taken a season off (the first half aired Fall 2014), because so much of the appeal of this world lies in being able to immerse yourself in the mythology and glossy animation and snazzy fight sequences, and now I have to dip myself back into this particular stream all over again. The break also gave me time to miss the series—or rather, to notmiss it, because now that we’re back I’ve come to realize that I’m not all that attached to our teen main characters. I don’t hate them by any means, but they’re nowhere near the most interesting part of the series, and now that I’m being asked to invest myself in not only their stories but also their relationship, I find it more tedious than anything. Mostly I just keep waiting for Gil to show up again.

I suspect I’ll keep watching for the mythos and the handful of interesting Heroic Spirits (Archer! Kojiro! Saber when she’s being a BAMF and not getting damselfied in the most icky fanservicey way possible!). And hey, it’s always possible the MCs will grow on me as the story continues. But at this point I can’t shake the feeling that I’m mostly just watching F/sn for the moments when it ties into the Fate/Zero prequel, and that doesn’t bode well for the anime as a standalone work.

Sequels I’m Not Watching

Uh… actually, the size of the list this season is kind of ridiculous, so I won’t post the whole thing here like I did last time. Suffice to say that if I didn’t mention it above, and it’s a sequel, then I’m not watching it. There are some that I’d like to if I get extra watchin’ time (such as Knights of Sidonia, assuming I can get past the wonky CG), but for now, assume I’m too busy with new shows to catch up on any old ones.

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