Looking back – Spring 2015 (Featuring Sound! Euphonium.)

Once again it’s time to look back four years to see what I was watching back then and talk about what I thought of it then and think of it now.  Since its Spring 2019, that means it’s time to look at Spring 2015.

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Sound Euphonium

Hit the jump and let’s travel back in time to Spring 2015!

Quick notes:

The shows that I watched are in bold, shows my wife and I watched together are in bold italics.

A reminder on my rankings… they’re on a five point scale to coincide with my rankings on Anime Planet. But one 2.5 can often be different from another 2.5, so where needed I supplement them here with verbal comments to clarify.  These rankings reflect what I thought at the time, and may or may not reflect how I’d rank them today.

I did some research, but this is written mostly from memory…

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With this season’s Looking Back, we have a change in format…  In January of 2015, I started the “weekly wall o’ text” on Mage in Barrel.  So, for the first time, I have a written record of what I thought then that I can compare to what I think now!

For reference: Spring 2016 Season Finales and Top Spring 2015 Anime: Final Ratings @ Mage in A Barrel

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I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying: 2nd Thread (Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken 2-sure-me)

Overall an outstanding show, and certainly equal to the quiet brilliance of the first season, pulled down because of the long wandering diversion into secondary characters during the middle third of the show.

The quote from my review back in 2015 pretty much sums it up…  When the show was good, it was very good.  When it got off track, not so much.  Supposedly, this season is meant to be watched interleaved with the first…  which is an odd creative decision.  (And something I’ve never actually done.)

I rewatched the first season when I reviewed it for the Fall 2014 Looking Back, I didn’t for the second.  I’m not sure what that says when compared to my favorable ranking back then…

Final rating: 3.5

My Love Story!! (Ore Monogatari!!)

My Love Story - Takeo and Rinko.png
Do you know how hard it was to find/take a decent screenshot?  Takeo is a (very gentle) giant, and Rinko is a tiny slip of a girl…  And it turns out that the anime was very sparing in scenes that showed the contrast in their sizes.  On the other hand, it could be argued that doing so preserved the impact when it was shown.  That that they were something of a mismatched couple (in many ways) is a large part of what drove the show and made it so charming.

Dropping to a 3/5 from the 3.5/5 I gave it at midseason. It’s fallen into a bit of rut in becoming something of an episodic rom-com. I’m enjoying the show, but Takeo and Yamato are becoming somewhat cardboard, and that’s grating on me. On the other hand, in this weeks ep (13) it seems the drama may be coming back.


Oremono
is a surprisingly hard show to pin down…  I liked it early on because they didn’t play the “will they or won’t they” game.  They got the confession out of the way early and solidly established Takeo and Rinko as a canon couple.  From there, it started to wander a bit.  Without departing from it’s central conceit, it bounced back and forth between romance, comedy, and drama.  Stepping back a distance, it worked, but at the time it could be a bit annoying.

As far as re-watching goes, I’ve rewatched favorite episodes and scenes any number of time.  Though oddly, most of those are fairly early in the series.  (Episode 3 is a particular favorite, as it shows the lengths Takeo and Rinko will go to for each other.  Episode 10 is just hilarious.)  I did sit down about a year ago to rewatch it in it’s entirety, but my attention wavered and I stopped about episode 10 or so.  Why?  I can’t put my finger on it.  Was I distracted by some other shiny?  (As often happens.)  Is Oremono not a bingeable show?  Is it one of those shows that’s a “once only”?   I don’t know.

Final rating: 3.0  Not great, but well worth watching

Plastic Memories

“I’ve already forgotten Plastic Memories”.

The lead in to the review I wrote on Anime-Planet…  A bit snarky, yeah, but it does capture how I felt after the finale.  The basic problem with the show is that it tossed out too many ideas without following up on them.  They failed to make us really care about Tsukasa and Isla – and the final arc absolutely depended on having the viewers care.  What could have been an incredible ending was thus turned into something of a damp firecracker.

I’ve never rewatched so much as a moment.

Final rating: 2.0  It probably doesn’t actually deserve even that much…

Sound! Euphonium (Hibike! Euphonium)

Sound Euphonium.png
And now…  One of my favorite shows of all time.  I started the Looking Back feature just over a year ago, and this is a moment I’ve been waiting for.  It’s time to talk about Sound! Euphonium.

Midseason rating; A solid 3.5/5, well above average but likely not a classic (though that it not beyond the bounds of possibility.) As with last season’s Saekano (which I still maintain you should watch) this has turned into this season’s unexpected delight (edging out Ore Mono).

Final rating; A solid 4/5… just on the bottom edge of the best of the best. (On your system, right where you put it, at the top of Tier II.) A great deal of the difference between mid season and end of season comes from the trumpet solo arc and the depiction of Kumiko’s final steps into self awareness and maturity in eps 8-12. What pulls it down out of the best of the best is the mishandling of Kumiko x Reina.

And there’s also the review of Sound! Euphonium that I wrote over at Anime-Planet.

Re-reading what I wrote back then, and also comparing it to what I’ve said since then is frankly a bit embarrassing.

In the review and in the years since, I’ve insisted that I fell in love “right off the bat with the first episode”.  But, looking back at the week by week coverage at MIaB…  That turns out not to be true.  Certainly I was at least somewhat hooked after the first episode, otherwise it would have been dropped.  But it looks like it actually took a few episodes for my inner fanboy to fall head over heels in love.

Despite the problems with the second season, I’ve never fallen out of love.  When I saw the headline that Chikai no Finale was coming to the US I didn’t even read the article, I just checked the websites for most likely suspects and bought tickets.  When I told my wife, all she asked was which theater we were going to…  There wasn’t a question as to whether or not I had bought tickets already.

Kumiko finally gives herself over to her heart's desire.
As I was pondering this write up…  Somehow my mind kept circling back to this scene in episode 12.  Sometimes I think this is the true climax to Kumiko’s emotional story arc.  The moment when she finally breaks out of her shell of indifference and lethargy and admits to herself that she wants, wants to be, something more.  Something new.  She alludes to this desire at least twice previously – but here she finally gives it a voice and makes it explicit.  In the final episode, they tie the whole matter up with a bow when Kumiko says to herself during the concert performance – “Wishes don’t come true unless you wish out loud”.

Reina's white dress as she confesses to Kumiko on the mountain top
Reina confesses to Kumiko…
Kumiko's reaction to Reina's confession
and Kumiko surrenders to her feelings…

I’m still a bit on the fence about KumiRei…  (The meaning of Episode 8 generated a firestorm of discussion.)  Are they in love (romantically and/or sexually)?  Are the soulmates?  Are they the deepest and tightest of friends?  Even after all these years, I simply don’t know.  The anime has steadfastly refused to answer those questions.  That’s both very annoying and very enticing.  Conversation on the matter is…  difficult at best, because the ‘net tends towards polarized viewpoints.  (And because yuri fans and shippers are a bit touchy on the topic.)

If I did lean towards any position, I think it wouldn’t be far from what I said back then.  They do share something incredible, deep, and lasting…  But what that something is, is very hard to describe on the binary scale commonly used to used to define relationships in Western culture.

Sound Euphonium stands as the show I've rewatched the most ever.

Something else that testifies to my feelings about Euph…  It stands as my most rewatched series ever.  Even taking 2199‘s length (and thus level of commitment) into account, I was surprised to see that a show I love so much was in second place.

Final rating: 4.0  This is my “trembling on the edge of greatness” tier.  With additional years of experience under my belt, I’m often tempted to go back and revise my rating to 4.5 – among the true greats.  It is by no means a perfect show, very few even come close, but it is a show that I increasingly regard as important.  In terms of the school club genre and the depictions of personal relationships, it sets a bar that any serious anime fan should consider having experienced (watched).

Eden and Labyrinth are both part of the Grisia franchise, I reviewed the original series last year.

The Eden of Grisaia (Grisaia no Rakuen)

Final rating – a disappointing 2.5, tending towards the low end of average. The show never really lived up to it’s promise, and the final half was laced with deus ex machina (literally given the nature of the Thanatos System). Particularly galling was the poor handling of the sequela to Angelic Howl and the way Amane and Kazuki’s reunion was all but blown off.

I think my review from back in 2015 says it all…  There were certainly bits I enjoyed, but overall it was not a worthy sequel to the original Fruits of Grisia.

Final rating: 2.5

The Labyrinth of Grisaia (Grisaia no Meikyuu)

Labyrinth and Eden were short series that ran back-to-back in the same time slot…  And so I can’t find an actual contemporary review.  (Eden was second, and so fit in the end-of-season review.)  Labyrinth was a side story/prequel that told the protagonist’s backstory…  and that’s literally about all I can recall.  But I gave it an above average ranking, so I must have liked it at the time.

I don’t feel bad about forgetting it.  Not all shows are for the ages.

Final rating: 3.0

Dropped:

  • Food Wars! Shokugeki no Souma (1 ep.  Like a lot of folks, I just couldn’t get past the dammed “foodgasms”.)
  • Show By Rock!! (1 ep)
  • Ultimate Otaku Teacher (I dropped at 6 eps, my wife watched the whole series.)
  • Urawa no Usagi-chan (2 eps)
  • Wish Upon the Pleiades (1 ep)

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Spring 2015 – full season chart

So, click on that season chart, then drop a comment and share what shows you watched during the Spring 2015 season – what do you remember?  How have they held up?

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9 thoughts on “Looking back – Spring 2015 (Featuring Sound! Euphonium.)”

  1. Well we started off with a fair bit of overlap. The only place where I think we really disagree is on I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying, which I wasn’t as big a fan of. Otherwise, we are pretty inline. I still need to watch Eupho and the rest wasn’t on my radar. As for everything else on the chart let’s see:

    Blood Blockade Battlefront – Pretty decent show, I gave it a 3.5 but I did not care as much for the second season when that released.

    Re-Kan! – This was surprisingly good, especially for how awful the backgrounds were. Sometimes other elements can carry you through dreadful art.

    Seraph of the End – Kind of a letdown to be honest. I gave it a good rating, because the good parts were pretty good, but it just doesn’t go far enough. Needed more than it got to really be worth it.

    The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan – Despite what many Haruhi fans say, I actually think this is a fairly excellent show that explores a “what if” scenario that felt natural as a spin-off. Wasn’t too much or too little, with enough of the original in here to keep things comfortable.

    Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches – I /almost/ dropped this one if you recall my review (which would have been a first), but I was ultimately glad I didn’t. If you can get past some of the uncomfortable bits, the show is really quite good.

    That’s all I watched from the Spring 2015 season, even if most of it was far after the fact. I have a few titles yet to watch, like Fate, but I think I hit most of the ones that interest me here. Fun reading these as usual :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I still need to watch Eupho

      o.0 To misquote Phineas & Ferb, Yes, yes you do!

      The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

      From what I’ve seen over the years, this is a very polarizing show… The hate/praise dichotomy isn’t loud as it’s a pretty obscure show, but it’s there. I’ve never seen the original, so I skipped it. Haruhi is buried somewhere in my ever growing “to be watched” queue though.

      Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches – I /almost/ dropped this one if you recall my review (which would have been a first)

      Back then I was pretty much just reading MiAB… Which, in retrospect, was a mistake. I missed out on a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s higher up on my list, I’m just watching too many longer shows right now. Phineas and Ferb was great btw, fun show. Yuki I know was pretty obscure, but I thought it was strange so many disliked it. To the final bit, ah, well the are so many shows that you probably would have missed some anyway regardless.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I could probably just tell people, “Follow the same link back to that Mage in a Barrel thread if you want my own thoughts on this season,” but since that wouldn’t be much fun, here’s my own breakdown. This is still the most anime I’ve ever watched in a single season, starting 12 shows and ultimately finishing 9 of them.

    Bought It (2)

    Wish Upon the Pleaides was for a long time the only show I owned from this season. It was never my favorite, but I always liked it and it had some beautiful visuals, especially the outer space scenes. I couldn’t resist being able to watch certain episodes again in full Blu-Ray HD. Now it’s grown on me after a couple of rewatches, to where I think it’s one of the more underrated magical girl shows out there. It also had both my favorite soundtrack and favorite ED of the season (I imported the ED song on CD).

    Much more recently I took advantage of a RightStuf sale to buy the first season of Food Wars. I haven’t rewatched it in full yet, but I’ve already rewatched many of my favorite individual episodes over the past few years anyway. I didn’t care as much for season 2 and never finished season 3, but this first season still hits all the right notes for me.

    (On an amusing side-note, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I simply can’t hear Tohru calling Yuki “Soma-kun” in this season’s Fruits Basket remake without getting Food Wars flashbacks. It doesn’t help either that Manaka Iwami’s voice for Tohru sounds a LOT like Minami Takahashi’s voice for Megumi Tadokoro.)

    Watched It (7)

    Sound! Euphonium was easily both my best and favorite anime of the season, one that’s right up there among the top tier of KyoAni productions as far as I’m concerned, and one of the 11 shows in my “Tier I” all-time favorites. The only reason I never bought it is thanks to Pony Canyon’s obscene prices – it’s actually my only Tier I show that I don’t own. It also had my favorite OP of the season, and thanks to iTunes I do own that at least.

    I’ve never written down a list of “The Best Anime I’ve Never Rewatched” anywhere but Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? would definitely be somewhere on that list. I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time, and I’m looking forward to season 2.

    I talked about the Joker franchise and how badly overlooked it was in my comments when you ran down the Fall 2014 season; season 2 hit the air in this season and ended up being my favorite of Joker’s four seasons, as it finished off season 1’s main storyline in a very satisfying way.

    Lyrical Nanoha Vivid is the weakest installment of Nanoha, but I still enjoyed it a lot. That said, this series must’ve been a disaster behind the scenes. It was and remains unlicensed for streaming (I had to resort to fansubs), and even the Blu-Rays didn’t come out in Japan until over a year after the series ended, which is unheard of for modern anime. Also, there’s no ending at all, it just cuts off after 12 episodes right in the middle of an arc, like it was supposed to be a split cour series that never got a second half. That drags down its rating too. But I’m still waiting and hoping for that second season someday.

    Season 2 of I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying felt like a big step down from season 1, with far too much focus on the side characters instead of Kaoru and Hajime and fewer jokes that hit with me. In short, I agree with you about it.

    The lowest ranking I’ve ever given on MAL to a full-length TV series I’ve watched to completion still belongs to The Disappearance of Yuki Nagato (yes, I rated it lower than Comet Lucifer), which says something both about how desperately I wanted to like it and how bitterly disappointed I was with how it actually turned out. There was one good arc that I wouldn’t mind watching again; everything else including the visuals was a huge downgrade from the original Haruhi for me.

    Season 2 of Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works was also a big disappointment. I was just really unhappy with the way they adapted this season, especially after I enjoyed the first season so much.

    Ought to Finish Someday (1)

    I tongue-in-cheek blame Bless for me never finishing My Love Story, because when he stopped doing his weekly writeups after the first cour ended is when I got out of the habit of watching it. It wasn’t my favorite, and probably not something I would’ve rewatched beyond a few episodes here and there (I especially enjoyed episodes 3 and 4), but I liked it enough that I could have kept going, especially since my streaming list for Summer 2015 ended up being pretty light.

    Dropped With Prejudice (2)

    Gunslinger Stratos was a victim of time pressures. I had to drop something, and at that point it was the weakest thing left on my list, plus it had already killed off my favorite character anyway. In hindsight I probably should have kept this and dropped Yuki Nagato – it was a decent enough actioner that I probably would’ve stuck with it in a weaker season.

    I can’t think of any series that’s ever fallen from my good graces faster and harder than Plastic Memories, which delivered my favorite first episode of this season only to hit the chopping block just three episodes later. I was probably guilty of expecting too much from it, especially after that first episode, but it didn’t do itself any favors getting bogged down in trite, played out romcom cliches by episode 3.

    I still need to watch the second season of Oregairu someday, but that’s the only other show on this season’s list I haven’t seen that I really want to.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t think of any series that’s ever fallen from my good graces faster and harder than Plastic Memories, which delivered my favorite first episode of this season only to hit the chopping block just three episodes later.

    I forgot to mention it in my review… But PlasMem is definitely the show from this season that I’d tell my past self to just go ahead and drop already. It’s marginal-to-bad shows like this that I end up watching out of habit that eventually lead to the theory of the Midseason Gut Check.

    This is still the most anime I’ve ever watched in a single season, starting 12 shows and ultimately finishing 9 of them.

    With 6 finished, it’s actually on the low side for me.

    I’ve never written down a list of “The Best Anime I’ve Never Rewatched” anywhere but Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? would definitely be somewhere on that list.

    That and your tier lists would be fun lists to see… :) I’ve sometimes thought of doing a massive tier list like the one Bless has… But that’s a (censored)ton of work. And would it be any better than my current ranking system? I’m not sure of that. There’s a handful of Tier I oddballs (like Euph) that rank lower than they’d tier, but I don’t think there’s enough to justify the work.

    Like

    1. I’ve been maintaining a massive tier list like Bless’ for the past four years – frankly, he’s the one who inspired me to do it. I don’t feel like sharing the whole thing, though – it’s something I’d like to save for the 0.0001% chance I ever start a blog of my own. Also I don’t list anything that I haven’t watched since 2014 because my tastes have changed significantly over the years, so there are a lot of shows that I’d want to re-watch and add in before I’d feel comfortable making it public (Eva’s a good example; I know what I thought of it back in 1999 but who knows if I’d like it more or less now compared to back then).

      That said, just sharing only my Tier I shows is something I wouldn’t mind doing. You know me well enough that you could probably guess over half of them anyway; I’ve already mentioned three of them just in my comment responses over the last few days.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That said, just sharing only my Tier I shows is something I wouldn’t mind doing. You know me well enough that you could probably guess over half of them anyway

        chuckle We’ve been hanging about online long enough that we’ve both got a good idea of each other’s tastes.

        Like

  4. I remember liking season 1 of Husband more than season 2, but not significantly so, and I don’t remember them seperately now anyway. I like the show quite a bit. (In retrospect, this series’ first season was my first encounter with the mangaka of Dragon Maid.)

    Ore Monogatari was cute, but little else. The longer it went on the more it felt like a flat ideal rather than a fun show to watch.

    While I’m certainly not blind to its flaws, I quite like Plastic Memories. I thought I’d like it more, but I don’t quite share the extensive disappointment everyone seems to have.

    Euphonium was great. Back then, significantly, it was the show that re-assured me that KyoAni could still make shows I liked. I hadn’t really liked anything they did since Hyouka, so in addition to being a great a show, it also came with a sense of relief.

    I’d dropped the first season of Grisaia fairly early on, so I never picked up any of the sequels.

    My favourite show this season was probably Oregairu 2, which I definitely didn’t expect, since I only moderately enjoyed season 1 (occasional great scenes notwithstanding).

    There was good over-the-top stylish action with Blood Blockade Battlefront. And this season had two good mid-tier shows that held up well: Re-Kan! and Mikagura Gakuen.

    And then there’s Punchline, most definitely the season’s most unique show. I’m still not sure how much I like it, but it’s definitely memorable.

    Other shows I like get talked about enough anyway. Danmachi has a second season coming right up – what timing is this? Pleiades ended up much better than I thought it would. Yamada-kun was a cute harem. And so on.

    T’was a fun season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ore Monogatari was cute, but little else. The longer it went on the more it felt like a flat ideal rather than a fun show to watch.

      Though it was good, I’ve often thought that Oremono would have been even better trimmed down to a single cour. There was an awful lot of time spent on side characters…

      I’d dropped the first season of Grisaia fairly early on, so I never picked up any of the sequels.

      I can’t blame anyone for dropping Grisia – it was not an easy show to watch in many spots.

      Danmachi has a second season coming right up – what timing is this?

      Danmachi has a second season coming, Oregairu a third, and then there’s the Euph movie and the announcement of a project covering Kumiko’s third year. Spring 2015, the season that just keeps on giving.

      Like

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