Glancing Upstream: Winter 2016 Retrospective and Review

Something something “the winter of our discontent.”

oso23-1

This is my shortest retrospective to date, thanks to a pretty dismal season in terms of incoming series. Some of that had to do with my own time constraints and self-imposed ranking rules (there are four shows in the “unranked” category this season, three of which I’d happily recommend to others), but some of it had to do with there just not being a lot that caught my eye this time around. Still, the top two were pretty special, and if an anime season can give you even one incredible series, then it’s hard to call it a true disappointment, I s’pose.

If there’s one positive trend to take from this season, it’s that we’ve got some good artists and directors in the business: people able to take into account all elements of a production and elevate the source material, whether that’s from “meh” to “good” or “good” to “great.” So take heart! The blueprints may be rough at times, but at least they’re in the hands of skilled builders.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Panning the Stream: Winter 2016 Midseason Review

The party is shrinking faster than expected.

grim6-2

While it’s not unheard-of for me to drop shows between the third and sixth episode, my retention rate is something like 80 percent. Basically, if you can hook me after three, I’m usually invested enough to stick around through the whole cour even if I wind up with a negative opinion of the show.

This season, though? This season there was enough mildly entertaining mid-range stuff that I threw it all at the wall and waited to see what would stick. Not much of it did, and some of the results surprised even me. Hit the jump to see where we stand halfway through this chilly season.

Continue reading

Glancing Upstream: Fall 2015 Retrospective and Review

The autumn colors were certainly on display, I’ll give Fall that, at least.

hiq3-1

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.

Continue reading

Panning the Stream: Fall 2015 Midseason Review

The trees outside are looking almost as sparse as my watch list.

concrevo4-2

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.

Continue reading

Rule of Three Review, Dark Horse Digest: Mr. Osomatsu, Dance with Devils

Give me something to sing about~ ♪

dwd3-2

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.

Continue reading

Panning the Stream: Attack on Titan Junior High, Mr. Osomatsu, Peeping Life TV, Starmyu

They sure are throwing a lot of, uh… different stuff at us this season, I’ll give ’em that at least.

aotjh1-2

Got an odd batch for you here. Only one of them is technically a new series, but the others aren’t really sequels in the proper sense, either—more like spinoffs or reboots. We’re also heavy on the comedy this time, with mixed results, but there were some moments that tickled my funny bone. Hit the jump for laughter and crickets alike.

Continue reading