Glancing Upstream: Summer 2015 Retrospective and Review

Having some good old-fashioned fun in the sun.


Summer might not have had the most groundbreaking or ambitious of series, but what it lacked in artistry it made up for in pure enjoyment. This season was just plain entertaining, chock full a variety of genres from high fantasy to crime drama to horror to comedy. Well-executed (or awesomely bad) pop fiction was the name of the game, and I was genuinely excited for the next episode of even the lowest-rated series on this list.

That isn’t to say there weren’t some excellent ideas and characters to be found among the batch, mind you. While “entertainment” was the primary focus, many of the top series featured strong character writing, showrunners who knew how to develop unique atmospheres through art and music, and an understated but insightful exploration of social issues such as power imbalances and bigotry.

School-Live and Gangsta dealt with trauma in nuanced ways, and Snow White and My Love Story depicted some of the healthiest relationships in shoujo memory, promoting communication and quietly but consistently challenging traditional gender roles and genre stereotypes. Part of the reason I had so much fun this season was because I wasn’t having to constantly roll my eyes at some trite or harmful characterization, but could just get swept along in a bunch of great (or hilaribad) stories. And that makes this a pretty strong season in my book.

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Panning the Stream: Summer 2015 Midseason Review

Things’re really heating up, and I ain’t just talking about these August temperatures.


The summer season is halfway(-ish) over but it feels like many of its shows are just getting started. Some shaky premieres nevertheless rife with potential have taken off in recent weeks, building momentum through character and plot development alike. My watch list isn’t quite as deep as it was in, say, the winter season, nor are the shows quite as across-the-board ambitious, but there’s a lot of variety, and the pure entertainment level is maybe higher than it’s been all year. I’m genuinely excited for the next episode of just about everything, and that’s a very good sign.

As for what I’m most excited about, you’ll just have to hit the jump to find out.

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Glancing Upstream: Spring 2015 Retrospective and Review

Well, that was certainly a season of anime.


Okay, maybe I’m being too hard here. Winter 2015 was a nigh impossible act to follow in terms of sheer depth and breadth, and it’s not like Spring didn’t have its fair share of light, fun series. Plus there were a few clear standouts along the way as well, particularly if you enjoy more realistic YA-style fiction. Still, I’m finding that, while last season I was recommending just about everything to just about everyone, this season is a lot more about “Well, if you like {Genre}, you’ll probably enjoy {Title}.”

Weaker seasons tend to tell you more about your own tastes than the stronger ones, and now that I’ve officially blogged a full year’s worth of anime seasons, I think it’s safe to say that I have a wide range of genre and story interests and will watch just about anything so long as I can get halfway invested in the characters, whether that’s through humor or emotional drama. There are some definite clumsy and/or questionable shows on this list, but I stuck around largely because I liked hanging out with at least a portion of the cast and wanted to see what became of them. So, really, this season’s list is as much about who I liked as it is about what I liked.

Hit the jump for the best characters of the season (and their corresponding series).

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Panning the Stream: Spring 2015 Midseason Review

Time to peek in on the Spring line-up and see how our new team’s holding up.


The word for this season so far is “light,” and I don’t necessarily mean that in terms of the number of shows I’m watching (although there is that, too). Unlike this past winter, which was jam-packed with ambitious stories, social commentaries, and questions with no easy answers, Spring is more about kicking back and having fun, whether you’re engaging in rom-com shenanigans, trying to make it big in an anthropomorphic CG band, or swearing vengeance against those damn dirty vampires. And while I’ve grumbled about the weakness of this season, there’s something to be said for good old-fashioned escapism sometimes, too.

Lightness notwithstanding, there’s still one major standout, a couple solid sequels, and a few new series which are growing well and showing signs of real potential—including some that should have never worked for me and yet draw me in a little deeper each week. This is either proof that execution trumps premise, or that my taste is getting worse by the minute and it’s all cat girls and panty jokes from here on out. Remember me as I was, not as I am. Then hit the jump to get a rundown of our current roster.

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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!

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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.


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.


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.”


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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Glancing Upstream: Spring 2014 Retrospective

Summer Premiere Week is upon us, meaning I’ll soon be hard at work panning the simulcasting stream for gold nuggets. But before we turn our eyes ahead, let’s take a quick look back at the Spring season and see how it held up.


Oh, and this is a spoiler-free zone, so please read through and keep your eyes peeled for a series that catches your eye.

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