Glancing Upstream: Summer 2015 Retrospective and Review

Having some good old-fashioned fun in the sun.

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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.

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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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Rule of Three Review, High School Digest: Classroom☆Crisis, Charlotte

Class is in session. Er, sort of.

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To say these are two series that take place at high schools is technically true but also incredibly misleading. These are no realistic YA tales à la last season’s Sound! Euphonium or SNAFU. No, one is soft sci-fi series at a corporate engineering academy; the other, a supernatural School for (Slightly) Gifted Youngsters. Both have steady hands at the helm, and both have surprised me with their charms. Hit the jump to take a walk around the campuses and see if either is a good fit for you.

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Panning the Stream: Rokka, Charlotte, Aoharu x Machinegun

‘Tis the season of well-executed fluff?

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While I haven’t had a true “wow” moment yet this season, I confess that I’m enjoying way more of these premieres than expected. There’s a lot of energy so far this Summer, and while that may not translate into good series, it’s led to solidly entertaining pilots that have at least sparked my interest and made me want to see more.

This time around we’ve got a snazzily directed fantasy epic, a supernatural school tale, and an Ouran High ripoff that I liked in spite of myself. Hit the jump for the messy but enjoyable details.

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