Glancing Upstream: Fall 2014 Retrospective and Review

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

image

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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Panning the Stream: Fall 2014 Midseason Review

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

image

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.

Continue reading

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

Good things come in small (and unexpected) packages.

image

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.

Continue reading