Glancing Upstream: Spring 2015 Retrospective and Review

Well, that was certainly a season of anime.

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Okay, maybe I’m being too hard here. Winter 2015 was a nigh impossible act to follow in terms of sheer depth and breadth, and it’s not like Spring didn’t have its fair share of light, fun series. Plus there were a few clear standouts along the way as well, particularly if you enjoy more realistic YA-style fiction. Still, I’m finding that, while last season I was recommending just about everything to just about everyone, this season is a lot more about “Well, if you like {Genre}, you’ll probably enjoy {Title}.”

Weaker seasons tend to tell you more about your own tastes than the stronger ones, and now that I’ve officially blogged a full year’s worth of anime seasons, I think it’s safe to say that I have a wide range of genre and story interests and will watch just about anything so long as I can get halfway invested in the characters, whether that’s through humor or emotional drama. There are some definite clumsy and/or questionable shows on this list, but I stuck around largely because I liked hanging out with at least a portion of the cast and wanted to see what became of them. So, really, this season’s list is as much about who I liked as it is about what I liked.

Hit the jump for the best characters of the season (and their corresponding series).

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My Love Story!! – Episode 13: “Today Is On Me”

A new challenger appears!

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There are really 2-3 stories this episode, which would make it feel disjointed if they hadn’t smartly tied them all together with a through-line: Takeo enjoying his newfound financial freedom by treating his friend and girlfriend to fun times. The first story is my favorite in terms of sheer enjoyment, as Takeo and Yamato giddily take Suna to the movies and up to the mountains, a day trip which turns into a surprise birthday party and naturally ends in a Yamato-baked cake.

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My Love Story!! – Episode 12: “My Grades”

Takeo takes on his most formidable foe yet: Math I.

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As the title suggests, this is the week when Takeo’s poor grades threaten to catch up to him, but it’s less about Takeo’s school work and more about his future plans, and how those plans mesh (or clash) with those around him. As a result, it’s full of college talk, hilariously overbearing and eager-to-please parents practically proposing to Yamato, and a lingering question of where everyone sees themselves after high school. Oh, and it all basically turns out to be Suna trolling Takeo for a solid 20 minutes. Now that’s future planning for you!

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My Love Story!! – Episode 11: “My Ocean”

Beach Episode! Everyone mark your anime bingo cards!

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It’s a week full of equal-opportunity fanservice, as the gang heads to the beach and both Takeo and Yamato get to ogle one another SO HARD they’re lusty teenage hearts nearly explode from the experience. Fun (and funny) times are had by all, Takeo’s more popular than he’s ever been (even with some of the ladies!), and our young couple very nearly level up their relationship under another trademark Madhouse sunset.

Yet for all the silly rom-com shenanigans, this week is once again filled with crossed signals and miscommunication, and the series itself at last acknowledges (via our beautiful, ever-observant Suna-min Roll) that trouble may be brewing in paradise.

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My Love Story!! – Episode 9: “My Friend and I”

Caution, Web Surfers: Big Raves Ahead.

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We pick up right where we left off, as The Important Day arrives for all of our characters. The episode is neatly divided into two halves, as the mid-episode eyecatch tells us: The “life” half and the “death” half, with Yamato’s BirthDate dominating the first part and Suna’s father’s surgery taking center stage in the second. And, as wonderful and charming and hilarious as the first half is, it’s the second half where the episode makes good on all the connections its built between the characters (and the audience) over the past nine episodes and proves itself as skilled at emotionally affecting drama as it is at romantic comedy.

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My Love Story!! – Episode 8: “My Friend”

Are we sure this series isn’t listed as a bromantic comedy?

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This episode began with me squealing about Suna earning a spot on the cake, and it just went downhill (uphill?) from there. I can chat all calm and measured-like about what happened this week in terms of plot points and character growth and thematic development—and, I mean, I will—but at its heart, OreMono is a sitcom, which means it isn’t about movement as much as it is about getting you to like its characters and want to spend more time with them and root your heart out for their happiness. And if there was any doubt that OreMono had succeeded at that, boy howdy, this episode sealed it.

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