Glancing Upstream: Fall 2014 Retrospective and Review

Fall is at an end, but that doesn’t mean its best shows have to be.

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We saw two forms of storytelling make a welcome comeback this season: The high fantasy and (perhaps even more importantly) the long-form anime series. As anyone who’s been watching simulcast anime over the past few years will know, one-cour shows have become the norm, and anything longer a happy exception. This season, though, a whopping nine of the 13 shows on my watchlist ran longer than that, and seven of them will be continuing into the coming seasons. So there are a ton of “midseries” reviews in this bunch – and hey, what better time to catch up on some great shows than over the holiday break?

Overall it wasn’t the best of anime seasons, full of shows that fluctuated dramatically in tone and quality (Fate/stay night, Gugure! Kokkuri-san, Your Lie in April), one that shot itself in the foot (Yuki Yuna is a Hero), and a few that suffered to varying degrees from not getting more episodes to tell their extensive stories (Rage of Bahamut, Laughing Under the Clouds). But hey, no season with Mushishi will ever be a total failure, and there were two incredibly consistent, solid, just good old-fashioned well-told stories to round out the Top Three. So let’s focus on those first, starting with one of the great masterpieces of anime, back for its (sniffle) final round of episodes.

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Rule of Three Review, Bubble Digest: Laughing Under the Clouds, In Search of the Lost Future – Episodes 2-3

The moment of truth.

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These two shows have a surprising amount in common for me, despite their wildly different settings, casts, and overall tones. Both struggled to get me invested in the characters and the story during the first episode, both had what I saw as some pacing issues where I kept waiting for them to get to the point, and both kept me watching thanks to some late-episode reveals and ongoing mysteries that held enough promise for a three-episode rule. So did they live up to that potential, or did they lose their futures on my watchlist? Hit the jump to see how they look a couple episodes later.

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Panning the Stream: Gugure! Kokkuri-san, Laughing Under the Clouds, JOKER

Good things come in small (and unexpected) packages.

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After writing yesterday’s somewhat discouraging premiere digest, I sat down to watch my final Sunday series, feeling like Fall was doing exactly what its name implied. Which, of course, was the moment when I turned on Gugure! Kokkuri-san (“Google it, Kokkuri-san!”) and found my first potential gold nugget of the season. There’s nothing like that giddy feeling of discovery to rejuvenate you for the long premiere week ahead.

Outside of that pleasant surprise, we have a series with a lot of (currently unrealized) potential and a standard but enjoyable kids’ show. Can Fall rise? Maybe so. Two Meet ‘n’ Greets and a quickie review below the jump.

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