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.

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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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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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Panning the Stream: Fall 2014 Midseason Review

Good sequels and good fantasies keep the stream from drying up this season.

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My fall watchlist is considerably smaller than my summer one, partly because of time constraints on my part, but mostly because there just isn’t as much that interests me this season. Not counting sequels (and yes, I count Fate/stay night as a sequel even though it technically isn’t), I’ve only kept up with seven new shows this season. Compare that to summer’s whopping 13 at the midway mark, and it sounds pretty dismal by all accounts.

That said, there is a pleasant ray of hope this fall: Fantasies have made a sudden and welcome comeback, as nearly every new series on this list features some element of magic or “arealism.” Better still, a fair number of them are two-cour, continuing this year’s trend of studios producing longer series (a very nice trend indeed). And hey, I’m also trying to watch half a dozen U.S. shows and a trio of sports, so maybe the shortened list isn’t such a bad thing.

Most everything falls (pun always intended) in “solidly watchable” B-range territory, with a couple standouts and a couple series hovering near the chopping block. What’s shining and what’s dimming? Hit the jump for a midseason check-in.

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Panning the Stream: Lord Marksman and Vanadis, In Search of the Lost Future, Fate/stay night

Well, so much for “keeping these posts shorter”…

It’s possible I was just in the right anime-watchin’ mood yesterday, but all three of these shows are getting full Meet ‘n’ Greets, because while only one of them is pretty much a sure thing (Spoiler: It’s Fate/stay night), all three of them had at least enough of a spark to keep me on the fence. I wouldn’t give a full thumbs-up to either of the other two just yet, but, well… hit the jump and read on for details.

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