If I’m perfectly honest about the last week of the season, most of the final episodes I saw this week ranged from poor to mediocre. There were maybe two that I enjoyed, but I think that seems to be a theme lately. Put the climax of the story in the penultimate episode then just throw something together showing the cast having fun in the last episode. I get that it’s really just to sell the discs to the hardcore fans. I only finished 10 shows this season which was a bit lower than normal. I now present what I made of those 10 series that made up my summer.
I’m going to kick this off by talking about Free! which I had rated lowest of the lot here. Upon that realization, I was wondering if I had completely missed the point of this series. There were great visual set pieces during the swimming set pieces which I thoroughly enjoyed, but they were few and far between. Then there’s the matter of the relay in the final episode which seems to completely gloss over the ramifications that they cheated after all. That wasn’t even my biggest issue with the series though, which was the fact that you could switch the genders of all the high school characters and have the exact same show. It really lost me once that thought took control as I was watching it.
Marginally better was the Type Moon vehicle Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya. I think this was a show that generally struggled to determine what sort of show it wanted to be. It worked best when the characters were having fun in the early episodes. Illyasviel and Miyu being in separate morality crises seemed like it was something mandatory that they had to do rather that had to be done. The banter between Rin and Luvia as the guardians of the two girls was really the best this series had to offer. There’s going to be another season of this, though I have my doubts that I’ll be sticking around.
The second season of Senyuu. went in a few interesting places. The balance of slapstick and seriousness was better balanced as the story continued. There was very little between Ross and Alba since the plot dictated that so it was picked up between groups of demons and heroes that were introduced this season. There’s enough of a sequel hook left by Yamakan that they could well make another season of this. I think targeting 2043 for the third season was a good joke, but Alba never spent more than 10 minutes in jail anyway.
There wasn’t much in the way of actual love going on in Love Lab since it seemed to be more of a series of dramas originating from a single lie. The interactions between the hopelessly romantic Maki and the tomboyish and popular (not in a romantic sense) Riko are what drive series. However, I couldn’t help but think that the real standout character is the treasurer Sayori. She’s the first to pick up on Riko’s situation and is utterly ruthless in taking advantage of the weaknesses of others to great comedic effect. In the end I think the dramatic turn in the final third of the series was ill-judged and didn’t fit in with the tone that was established early on. I’d hate to say it was contrived, but it was at least overly dramatic.
Watamote brought plenty of promise in its opening episode. However, I don’t really have much to say about it after that. It became pretty much a series of cramming in as many obscure references as possible to previous anime from a visual standpoint. From a plot perspective it became incredibly patronizing and I don’t think the introduction of Megumi made much sense beyond making it even more patronizing. Aww, isn’t she cute when she’s a failure at life, and so on. Just go read the manga if you don’t want that level of patronizing.
Kiniro Mosaic provided the cute girls doing cute things series of the season with two girls from England going to school in Japan. For the most part, it is pretty much your run-of-the-mill 4-koma adaptation with jokes flying fast and furious. The beginning and ending of the series though were by far the most impressive parts of the series. I’m still rather mixed on whether that first episode was made to expense a trip to England, but it would be funny if that was the case. There’s not a real standout character in this show and I think it does rely on the insecurities of some characters too much. Aya’s relationship with Youko is the most abused of those.
Speaking of abused, airsoft survival game series C³-bu went in the oddest directions of anything I’ve seen this year. The first episode features the protagonist Yura losing herself in her active imagination while watching First Blood. Near the end when she was completely socially isolated having been kicked off of the rival Meisei team, I had expected her to start asking why airsoft doesn’t love her as much as she loves it. The imagination set pieces that Yura creates are where this show is at its best. The most disappointing aspect of the series comes with the final fanservice episode and the fact that there was so much left on the table. The secondary characters aren’t really developed much to begin with Rento the most standout among them. It’s still a fun ride well worth seeing though.
Genshiken Nidaime was another series that was wildly inconsistent. The best this series had to offer very rarely had to do with the 2nd generation of characters this series introduces. It’s only when Madarame is involved that the series feels like it is trying to strive to anything. While he has graduated from the university, this is still a story of his trying to grow up as a person. Being rejected by the first girl he’s ever had feelings for was inevitable, but it was a long-standing issue that had to be resolved. Perhaps he’s overly-sympathetic from the point-of-view from the rest of the characters. Despite quitting his job near the end of the series in response to his rejection by Saki, he’s still heading down the harem route where he has to choose between the boy who uses his room to change into cross-dress, 2 blonde foreigners and the younger sister of one of his friends. There’s going to be more to come from this.
The third full season of The World God Only Knows was my choice for best of the season, though just 2nd in my most fun to watch. There was something about this series that struck me on an emotional level. While there will always be debate on which girl was best for Keima to end up with as he essentially got rewarded for the manner in which he got Ayumi to help him, I think it actually is playing out like a tragedy for his character. Chihiro was his lone chance to have a normal relationship on his own terms, but it was never meant to be. The concert scene in the last episode summed it up about as well as possible when Chihiro realized that she shared a stage with those she couldn’t compete with because she was “unlucky” enough to not end up with a goddess in her. Unfortunately, Keima has to continue to live on with all the consequences of being forced down a harem route and not considering his own feelings in the process.
Finally, the show I had the most fun watching was really the trashiest harem series that is not afraid of what it is. Yes, High School DxD continued where it left off in the last season. New girls were introduced as well as a male vampire who cross-dresses because it’s cuter. The protagonist Issei has girls falling all over him to be the mistress behind Rias, the third girl and so on. It helps that his power comes from how perverted he is, and part of the entertainment is how he says the most perverted things possible in the middle of a fight to great effect. It helps him and also contrasts from the big shounen-esque duals he has when he’s boosting up while talking about expressing his desire to take the club president’s virginity. It’s far more fun to watch than any show of its type has any right to be, but the fact that it never takes itself seriously makes it my favorite show to watch of the season.
There are a few other notes to make about the season regarding shows I dropped. There was that show about mythological creatures and political struggles between hierarchical families in a culturally unique city, but enough about The Wire. The praise for Eccentric Family baffles me as it turned into a completely different show from the first episode. I gave up last week on it. Servant x Service was probably a premature drop from my standpoint and I’ll probably end up revisiting that one soon. Gatchaman Crowds is probably a title I’m never going to get around to watching. Finally, there’s that other sports anime this season that I’ll probably end up marathoning when I’m in a bad state. It’s sad that I find that among the most if not the most realistic sports anime since Giant Killing.