If asked, that would be how I would characterize this season so far. Look at this line-up: Noragami Aragoto, Haikyuu Season 2, Owarimonogatari, and One Punch Man – aka sequel to my #11 anime of 2014, sequel to my #5 anime of 2014, sequel to my #2 anime of 2009 ~ #7 anime of 2012 ~ #7 anime of 2013, and an anime that seems destined to finish at least in my top 10, if not higher for 2015. Sequels can be a bit touchy but all of these three sequels have started very strongly and seem set to be worthy additions to their respected franchises. Or looked at from another direction we have series from Bones, Production IG, Shaft, and Madhouse; we’re short just Kyoto Animation from being able to say this season has basically all the established top quality animation studios. (Waiting for the Sunrise fans to say something 🙂 .)
Seven layer cookies, aka Magic Bars, are traditionally made up of seven ingredients that are laid down one at time into a cooking pan before being baked. The result is not a cookie with seven layers, but, if properly done, a cookie that has melded together into a very delicious treat. A good season of anime offers up many different types of shows that, when combined, sort of melt together and provide a satisfying experience to the viewer.
With the remaining series I’ve yet to cover, I thought I’d try to build a seven layer cookie of anime series and hope it would blend together into a first-rate treat. Of course, this wouldn’t be the best seven layer cookie that could be made with this season’s series because I’ve already covered many fine ingredients in earlier posts; but, I think there’s still plenty of noteworthy series left to choose from.
So let’s move to the first ingredient.
People seem to have a love/hate relationship with sequels. Chances are if the sequel is to a show they watched and liked then the sequel is looked at with either happiness or cautious hope. If the sequel is to a show they did not like they complain about how sequels are killing creativity and anime in general. I think anime, as a whole, is better off that sequels are made over not having sequels; I just wish we’d get more complete stories as a result.
Sequels don’t normally rate too much attention in these impression posts because people pretty much know if they’re in or out by the time the sequel comes out; however, this season features a pair of sequels that are clearly outperforming their predecessors and I wanted to make sure I mentioned them. This also gives me a chance to cover a significant chunk of the series I’m watching this season.
I’ve over extended myself this season; there’s too many watchable anime series to catch that promise, minimally, that they will be worth the time invested. Of the 23 new series that I’ve watched, there is only one – Gunslinger Stratos: The Animation – who has earned enough enmity from me through it’s own incompetence that I’ve dropped it (gladly so, btw). At the same time, there seems to be only a few series with the chops to even attempt attaining the level of being “great” or the slightly lower “very good”. Further, there are only two series that have even a remote chance of pushing themselves up to the “exceptional” category.
Another aspect of this season is how few the number of surprises (good or bad) there have been. The last time I tried to predict which series were going to be the top series of the season (Summer 2014) I was only about half right and made several glaring mistakes. For this season I attempted the same thing and the list I drew up before the season started looks, four weeks in, to be very spot on. Yeah for me, but, boo for this season being so predictable. The high number of sequels, 8 out of the 22 non-dropped series, does play into this lack of surprises. (If the Lupin series does actually air starting in May the sequel number will be bumped to 9/23 or ~39% of the series for the season.)
That’s not to say there hasn’t been any surprises; there has been a few moderate ones and that might be the best place to start.
The fourth and final anime series that I found myself picking up this season is the comedy series Sabagebu!. I was extremely leery of picking up another cute girls playing Airsoft anime after Gainax’s C3 Club crashed and burned. (Thus furthering the idea that Gainax is now a walking zombie, a cruel parody of what it used to be.) And I wouldn’t have except for this one weird fact I learned about Sabagebu!.
One of the reasons I keep chugging along with this blog is that it enriches my experience with anime. Yes, I sometimes feel forced to watch series I’d rather not – cough, cough SAO II – to stay aware; but, that’s more than balanced out by the positives. For example, a hesitant recommendation by a commenter on my summer season preview post convinced me to give the shoujo series Ao Haru Ride a shot.
Given the title of this post, I can’t pretend the result of this trial is a surprise but pretend anyways and read on to see if watching Ao Haru Ride ended in success or failure.