In my post kicking off Funimation’s 2015 Fall Schedule, I identified 5 shows that seemed to appeal to me. At the time, I bemoaned a lack of my favorite shows liked Gate and Overlord, which were from the previous season. Turns out that was prophetic: I found Funimation’s Fall 2015 schedule to be very hit and miss. Here’s how things shook out:
Easily among my favorite shows of the Fall 2015 season, Concrete Revolutio had a little bit of everything: great characters, vivid animation, ambiguous lines between villains and heroes, and heavy, thought-provoking themes. The show focused on Jirou Hitoyoshi as he grew from an idealistic child to a conflicted young adult to a determined, clear-eyed hero — on the wrong side of the law. The show used three timelines to show his progression, and though at first it as hard to follow, in the end I respected what it accomplished. My favorite character was Emi Kino, was a youkai with amazing and sometimes terrifying power. Even after 13 episodes, I still don’t know exactly what her goals are, but she seems genuinely dedicated to Hitoyoshi. And she’s both composed and beautiful.
Concrete Revolutio will stay with me because of its adept handling of themes relevant to today: What is justice? Who decides? What can a population do when its government engages in heinous experiments? These seem especially relevant in today’s world.
Of course, everyone has their own tastes and inclinations. It turns out that a harem centered on a female character with multiple male suitors didn’t match my tastes, so I didn’t last more than three episodes of Dance with Devils. I’m happy to say that I don’t have anything against this show. The animation seemed solid, and I liked Ritsuka Tachibana, the main character. I’ll give a special shout out to the costume design. But the story didn’t grab me — but only because it wasn’t my “thing.”
This was another casualty of my tastes: Garo Crimson Moon presented some interesting ideas in its first episode, but by the end of the third, my interest evaporated. I think this show suffered because it reminded me of Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, a show depicting a similar culture and timeframe that unexpectedly blew me away. I enjoyed Garo’s character design and voice acting, but the world, especially the politics, just didn’t engage me. Like Dance with Devils, I don’t blame Garo Crimson Moon; I blame my tastes.
I have no objections to fan service, under the right conditions* (see Honey’s Anime site for a great editorial about the various kinds of fan service and its implications). I actually endorse fan service if it advances the plot and if the character is not harmed. Valkyrie Drive Mermaid nailed the first condition: in this world, a virus infected some women who were then confined to a guarded island. Half of them turn into weapons; the other half wield the weapons. A weapon can only deploy if she’s sexually stimulated.
However, Valkyrie Drive Mermaid kinda stumbles on the second condition. In the first couple of episodes, Mamori Tokonome, one of the main characters, gets deployed once against her will (though arguably, it was by Mirei Shikishima’s hand, and she was trying to help Tokonome) and survives an attempted rape. Between that and the anatomically impossible breasts on many of the characters (I can only imagine their chiropractic bills), I only lasted three episodes into this series.
* I mean, come on: Monster Musume is one of my favorite recent shows!
After the first episode, I didn’t think I’d finish this series. The idea of an elite girl’s school coercing a “commoner” boy to become their sample of all things commoner really bugged me. Talk about condescending! But then Shomin Sample proved it had a light touch with its humor. The characters were also likable. The hapless main character, Kimito Kagurazaka, liked to gently tease Aika Tenkuubashi because her desire to be popular through all things common made her an easy target. Karen Jinryou had some crazy sword skills (especially in the last episode!). Fulfilling the obligatory loli role, Hakua Shiodome was a genuine genus who had a whole staff of maids to look after her as she conducted her research. The character that stood out for me because of the story arc that concluded the series was Reiko Arisugawa. She found herself caught between her family obligations and her friendships with the other characters. There were a lot of wacky subplots like the one involving the school’s mistaken belief that Kagurazaka was into muscle men. In a way, this show was a perfect counterpart to Concrete Revolutio: sometimes I want to watch an anime that’s just funny and light. That describes Shomin Sample.