Glancing Upstream: Spring 2016 Retrospective and Review

Gold and silver and bronze and on.

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Spring might have been lacking the standout masterpiece and shoujo gem that Winter had (Shouwa Genroku and Snow White, respectively), but it more than made up for it in sheer quantity, offering up a variety of lively, stylish, and just downright fun series. In that respect, this season feels a little like last summer: I’m not sure how many of these shows are gonna make my 2016 Top 10 list, but I enjoyed watching just about all of them.

In other news, I think this is the last time you’ll see my Totally Arbitrary Rankings used in a season retrospective. More and more I’m realizing I don’t love the ranking system–it forces me to list shows one after the other even if I think multiple shows may have all been equally worthwhile for very different reasons. It’s reductive and misleading but, more to the point, not that fun. So enjoy the numbers for today, bid them a fond (or not) farewell, and look forward to a new format from here on out.

For now, though…

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Moon Crisis Make Up! How Chiaki Kon Saved Sailor Moon Crystal

A miracle romance for the ages.

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Sailor Moon Crystal premiered to a lot of excitement, but the hype train soon ground to an unceremonious halt thanks to the show’s poor production values, breakneck pacing, terrible questionable changes to the source material, and general lack of energy. Some fans hung on. Many jumped off. With no real nostalgic attachment to the franchise and a ’90s anime I was enjoying much more, I wound up in the second group.

Then the Season 3 (“Death Busters Arc”) announcements rolled out: the show was moving from a bimonthly online (ONA) schedule to a weekly TV one, getting both a new series director (Chiaki Kon) and character designer (Akira Takahashi), and giving itself a Moon Prism Makeover. The hype train let out a low, tentative whistle. Curious but not all that optimistic, I gave the season premiere a try, and was shocked to discover it was actually…fun? Against all odds, Kon and her staff have breathed life into an adaptation that was dead in the water, thanks to a few simple changes that made a huge difference.

Click here for the full post at The Mary Sue!

Panning the Stream: Spring 2016 Midseason Review

Pick a show, any show.

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We’ve reached the midway point and Spring shows no sign of slowing down or dropping off. From calming comedies to urban fantasies to action-packed (melo)dramas to whatever-the-hell The Lost Village is supposed to be, there’s a lot of variety and remarkable quality, with most shows building on themselves nicely or, at the very least, maintaining a steady course.

While I wouldn’t say there’s a ton in the way of jaw-dropping creative ambition at this point (aside from Concrete Revolutio anyway), if you’re in the mood for entertainment, Spring 2016 has got you thoroughly covered. Hit the jump to check in with our motley crew of anime titles.

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Panning the Stream: Winter 2015 Midseason Review

And here I thought winter was supposed to be the quiet anime season.

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A solid mix of carryovers, sequels, and newcomers has (so far) made this the best winter anime season in recent memory, filled to the brim with engaging shows of varying styles and genres. The fall trend of arealism continues as almost every series on this list has at least some fantastical element to it, but perhaps most happily, there’s a sense of people taking risks – or, at the very least, having fun – this season, both in the art/animation and in the storytelling.

There are a surprising number of original series on the list (a relative rarity these days), and while it’s often messy and unpolished, it’s not the same ol’ blend of tropes and story lines churned out without imagination or even enjoyment. Energy and enthusiasm can make up for a lot of imperfections, and this season has me thoroughly engaged because of the amount of sheer excitement splashed across these frames. Here’s hoping that continues through the second half of winter, too.

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Rule of Three Review, Adaptation Digest: Nobunaga Concerto, Sailor Moon Crystal – Episodes 2-3

Never judge a book by its cover – or a series by its animation.

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I’ve been playing catch-up all week (IRL and online) thanks to last week’s LeakyCon whirlwind, so this is coming out rather later than intended. Thankfully this pair works well together, as both are adaptations of well-regarded manga and both suffer from a serious case of the Not Very Good Animation Blues. Can story overcome animation? Hit the jump to find out.

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