Glancing Upstream: Fall 2015 Retrospective and Review

The autumn colors were certainly on display, I’ll give Fall that, at least.

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This was a slim season for me in terms of overall series completed, and would have been a pretty disappointing one if not for a couple happy surprises and a pair of standout shows from the ever-reliable Studio BONES. Still, there’s good variety here, with a strong focus on action/adventure titles, so there’s a pretty good chance something out there will speak to everyone’s tastes.

One thing Fall did have in droves was plenty of style. From the jaw-droppingly dynamic animation of One Punch Man, to the ’60s comic book-inspired design of Concrete Revolutio, to the painted landscapes of Seraph, the glowing monsters of Noragami, and even the washed-out color scheme and bursts of acid-trip weirdness in Perfect Insider, a lot of creative teams threw themselves into making the shows this season visually striking, and they by-and-large succeeded.

While ultimately I’m the kind of viewer who needs a developed set of characters and a meaningful (or at least entertaining) narrative to keep me invested in a story, that should by no means take away from the sheer amount of hard work and talent on display this Fall. Animation is art, and (narrative content notwithstanding), these creators have made that abundantly clear.

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Panning the Stream: Fall 2015 Midseason Review

The trees outside are looking almost as sparse as my watch list.

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It’s a fairly quiet season on my end, as I’m only keeping up with eight full-length shows and one short(ish), as compared to last season’s whopping thirteen. While that’s partly out of necessity (there’s nothing like a packed month of travel and writing projects to make you shed shows), it also speaks to the kinds of series airing this season. I wouldn’t even call it a bad season, just one with a lot of mid-range shows that don’t appeal to me personally. Sometimes that happens.

A packed month of travel and writing projects can also tell you a lot about your own preferences, turns out, and mine are pretty solidly turned towards character-driven writing and/or offbeat or ambitious narrative structures. The general craziness of my schedule as of late has also led me to seek out lighter, sillier shows, which is likely why this list is so heavy on the comedies and over-the-top “dramas.” Never let it be said that personal tastes and circumstances don’t affect judgment, because oh man, do they ever.

Hit the jump to see what’s stuck, what’s slipping, and what has the chance to be truly special.

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

♪ Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back~ ♪

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While the fall premieres haven’t been quite as dismal as I’d originally feared, this is one season where most of my excitement was reserved for sequels, and so far they’ve done a solid job of not disappointing. Two 2014 favorites are back and just as fun as ever, campy vampire fiction makes its triumphant return, and we head to a familiar setting after nearly a decade away.

This season’s a little odd in that we have some sequels in the traditional sense (i.e., stories that pick up right where the previous season left off) as well as some “sequels”: stories taking place in the same universe but with different characters, locations, and time lines, making them fairly accessible to newcomers. I’ve divided them up accordingly below, so hit the jump for familiar faces, or locations, or both.

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The Josei’s Top 10 Anime of 2014: Part 1 (#6-10)

Because no anime blog is complete without a proper Top 10 list.

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Glancing Upstream

I’ve seen some people calling this a weak year for anime, but I’m not sure it’s that so much as it’s just a very top-heavy year—the upper tier was a massive cut above the pack, making the rest of the shows seem a little lackluster in comparison. It also featured some disappointing adaptations and originals, and any time you get excited for a series and it doesn’t live up to those expectations, it can make the whole year feel weaker. Fortunately, off-the-radar “sleeper” series had a very good year, particularly when it came to comedies and sports shows, and a few strong sequels and long-running series helped give 2014 a much-needed boost in terms of quality.

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Glancing Upstream: Summer 2014 Retrospective and Review

This season defied all kinds of initial expectations, for better and for worse.

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Season Reviews, Sports Edition: Baby Steps, Haikyuu!!

These two shows may share a genre (and a final grade), but they couldn’t be more different.

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Okay, so technically this should be the “series” (not “season”) review of Haikyuu, but c’mon – we all know they’re going to make more. Of course the big surprise this morning wasn’t that Haikyuu DIDN’T get an official Season 2 announcement, but that Baby Steps DID. Yes, The Little Tennis Series That Could will be back in Spring 2015, with more of its unique MC and equally unique take on the sports genre itself.

I’ve quietly become a big fan of the sports anime/manga genre over the last couple years (thanks largely to Chihayafuru, the perfect “gateway” sports show for a shoujo fan if ever there was one), but one thing that continues to surprise me is just how different each show can be, delivering its own style and tone to a genre that is, at its core, about coming-of-age, hard work, and striving to achieve your goals.

Perhaps no two series are more indicative of the many ways a show can go about portraying these themes than Baby Steps and Haikyuu. To see just how different, hit the jump for some spoiler-free reviews on the first 25 episodes of these two sports stalwarts.

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Panning the Stream: Summer 2014 Midseason Review

If I had to pick a single word to describe this season, it would have to be “eclectic.”

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While this past Spring was dominated by very good sports series, and this past Winter was dominated by, uh… kami, I guess? (it was a pretty weak season), this Summer seems to have taken a cookie out of every genre jar. Action flicks, thrillers, rom-coms, satires, school dramas, period pieces, mysteries, Gothic horrors… you want it, this season has got it. And while none of them have been quite as jaw-droppingly perfect as Spring’s Ping Pong or Mushishi, on the whole I’d say there are a lot of solid, B-range shows on the schedule. It’s made it very hard to trim titles off my watchlist, that’s for sure.

And now that we’re six (or five, in Nobunaga Concerto’s case) episodes into the season, I figured I’d pop back in with some quickie reviews to talk about what’s still working, what reeeally isn’t, and everything in between.

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