Ringing in the new year with a loving look back at the old.
This was my kinda year, both in terms of the types of shows and the way they were executed. Lots of bleeding cool action, entertaining fantasy, charming shoujo, and some ambitious projects from both up-and-coming and seasoned directors/writers made the year not just a fun one, but at times downright stunning.
While there were still plenty of bad or just forgettable titles floating around this year, the industry as a whole seems a lot more financially comfortable than it used to be (thanks in part to international simulcasts), which has led to studios not only releasing more titles, but taking greater risks with some of them, too. Not to say that niche passion projects like Maria the Virgin Witch or animation-fests like One Punch Man would never have seen the light of day in past seasons, but with greater economic stability, big-name studios like Production I.G. and Madhouse (and my darling BONES, who would have positively dominated this list if I’d allowed split-cours) can produce these titles with a little less reticence than they might have in the past. And that’s always a good thing.
Beyond that, two things really stand out after putting this list together: First, that the year was front-loaded like nobody’s business, as half these titles aired during the winter; and two, that it featured a lot of smart, character-driven series, and some particularly well-written female protagonists, which is a huge bonus for me. All-in-all I had me a very good 2015, and am excited to talk about some of its standouts.
This ain’t the same old bad boy love song.
Speaking in the broadest of terms, fiction can serve two primary functions: As a way to reflect reality, or as a way to escape it. Some people describe this as “art” versus “entertainment,” which never quite sat right with me because it suggests a certain lack of value to the latter, which is (to use a fancy lit-crit term) silly. Escapism absolutely has value. Have you lived in the world? Reality is stressful and messy. While it’s a bad idea to flee it altogether, it’s perfectly healthy, even necessary, to take a break from it sometimes.
The autumn colors were certainly on display, I’ll give Fall that, at least.
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.
The trees outside are looking almost as sparse as my watch list.
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.
Give me something to sing about~ ♪
I knew nothing about either of these series and was expecting even less than that, but both have managed to hook me with a hefty dose of the ridiculous. Although, arguably, that’s only intentional for one of them. Read on to learn about fall’s surprise guests, and to hear why both have managed to sink their silly hooks right into my heart.
There really is no accounting for taste, I s’pose.
The stream’s slowed a bit in recent days, but we’re still clipping along at a pace that lets me give you another trio of series, and two have even earned themselves full meet ‘n’ greets! One surprised me by how much I enjoyed it, while the other I was surprised I didn’t enjoy more. Hit the jump to read on and shake your head at my questionable judgment.