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, Fantasy Digest: Rage of Bahamut Genesis, Yona of the Dawn – Episodes 2-3

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad fantasy world.

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If anyone ever grumbles to you that all fantasy is the same, just shove these two shows into their faces, because while they may share a genre label, that’s about all they share right now. Bahamut is a western medieval barnburner full of heavenly forces, historical figures, and larger-than-life personalities, while Yona is an eastern political drama that spends as much time in the past developing its characters’ histories as it does on the dramatic events of the current timeline. Yes, these two are complete opposites – except, of course, for the fact that I’m enjoying the hell out of both. Hit the jump to see just how much.

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Panning the Stream: Yona of the Dawn, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, InoBato

Fall (much like Tahiti) is swiftly becoming a magical place.

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I’m ready to call this the season of swords and sorcery, as there seems to be a ridiculous number of high fantasy series on the schedule (to say nothing of the low fantasy series like Fate/stay night). While the new shows haven’t had much in the way of “wow” moments so far, I gotta admit that if I had to choose between middle-of-the-road high school drama and middle-of-the-road dragon slaying, I’d choose the latter any day of the week. Anime fantasy is near and dear to my heart, and I’m happy to see it making a comeback on the schedule.

True to the season’s trends, this batch features a trio of stories with fantastical elements, from a pair of very promising (and very different) high fantasies to a bland supernatural school tale. Hit the jump and get excited for these two Meet ‘n’ Greets, as they’ve got the potential to be memorable additions to that lovely catalog of anime fantasy tales.

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