Summer 2015 Check-in

Gangsta - 01 -31[2] Ushio and Tora - 01 -45[2] Akagami - 01 -22[2]
Working!!! - 01 -21[2] Overlord - 02 -14[2] Jitsu wa - 02 -19[2]

So how does Summer 1995 2015 stack up so far?

Summer doesn’t tend to be the best anime season by any means, but that’s been changing somewhat over the past few years.  Summer 2013 being the best season of the year was certainly an aberration, but 2014 had its share of decent series.  What it lacks in quantity summer can sometimes make up for in quality – and so far, I’d place Summer 2015 somewhere in-between these last two years.

As is so often the case, the success of the season hinges on the shows that looked like the load-bearing walls going in.  Generally, they’ve lived up to the promise – Gangsta, Ushio & Tora and Shirayukihime were all series that ranked at the top of expectations when the season began.  A couple of my sleeper picks seem to be panning out as well, and while there haven’t been any life-changing surprises, a couple of shows that were off my radar are proving to be at least interesting.  It’s definitely a season that’s stronger on quality than quantity, but that’s pretty much the norm for summer.

I have a penchant for looking for themes in any given season, sometimes to the point where I have to squint pretty hard to see any.  But for the series I follow at least, the trend for Summer 2015 is unmistakeable – there are a lot of throwbacks (or timeless shows, at the very least).  Ushio to Tora, Gangsta, Jitsu wa Watashi wa – these are all series that would have looked at home on a 1995 anime schedule, and Akagami no Shirayukihime could have aired at any time.  There seems to be a growing divide in anime, where we have a large pool of shows that unabashedly trade on the flavor of the week, and a smaller group that consciously try and recapture the feel of the past, when anime looked a lot different than it does now.

What this schedule is definitely missing, especially as compared to those of the past, is good science-fiction.  There are bits and pieces of it in some shows, but no standout old-school mecha or hard sci-fi series.  That’s a shame, because we have really good representatives in so many demographics and genres – shounen, seinen, comedy, romcom, shoujo fantasy.  An elite mecha series would go a long way towards turning what looks like a decent season into a really good one.

On, then, to Summer 2015:

The Elite

Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: A
Comments: This seinen manga adaptation from Manglobe takes the nod as the best new series of the season for a couple of reasons.  It’s been the most consistent – every episode has been excellent.  And in terms of narrative sophistication it’s the clear standout for me, with a real grasp of subtlety and a restrained, elegant style of exposition.  This is a smart show that behaves as if it’s writing for a smart audience, an intoxicating cocktail that comes off as a mix of film noir, The Wire and old-school Watanabe Shinichirou.


Ushio and Tora
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: A-
Comments: If I were judging based just on the past two weeks, Ushio and Tora would be right there with Gangsta – Episodes 3 and 4 have been perfect in terms of execution.  They just don’t get any more old-school than this series – it embraces a long-gone style of shounen with complete abandon, and MAPPA’s stalwart cast of shounen veterans is doing a magnificent job of bringing a classic manga to the screen.

Akagami no Shirayukihime
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: A-
Comments: I fully expected Akagami no Shirayukihime to be excellent, and it hasn’t disappointed.  With BONES, Ando Masahiro and this staff working on an excellent shoujo fantasy, there was almost no way this series could miss.  It’s a pretty laid-back story, especially as compared to Akatsuki no Yona, but does a wonderful job of world-building.  Both the leads are likeable and more complex than meets the eye, and even if the romance is easy to see coming, that doesn’t make me any less keen to watch it develop.

Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B+
Comments: This is my third go-around with Working in anime form, and it’s going to be the last one.  We are seeing a somewhat different Working than we did in the first two seasons – characters have changed and grown, and more of the focus this time around is clearly on seeing plotlines to their conclusion.  As such, this season may end up being less abjectly hilarious than the first two, but it is still damn funny – and much more character-driven.  I like this new Working just as much as the old one – it just happens to be a little different.

Very Good


Dandelion - 04 -16[2] Durarara Ten - 02 -12[3] Shimoneta - 02 -25[2]
TLR 2 Ranpo Kitan - 01 -9[2] Charlotte - 03 -1[2]


Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: B
Comments: I was pretty skeptical that there was anything new to be gleaned from this well-worn premise, but Overlord seems to be a fresh enough perspective that it feels relevant.  I liked the bittersweet first 10 minutes as the protagonist said goodbye to his virtual creation (of course, SAO started off great too), and the series has managed to remain interesting and unpredictable as it’s progressed.  I’m genuinely curious to see where it’s going, and that’s a strong bargaining position for any show to have

Jitsu wa Watashi wa

Episodes Watched:3
Grade: B
Comments: A sleeper pick going into the season, Jitsu wa hasn’t disappointed.  I wasn’t as keen on the third episode thanks to the relatively unlikeable osananajimi Akemi Mikan, but the first two were hilarious.  At its best this series is classic screwball comedy, gleefully reminiscent of the great anime comedies of ten or twenty years past.  Really, all it needs is a catgirl to make me think I’ve traveled back in time.

Joukamachi no Dandelion
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B-
Comments: This was my top sleeper pick going into the season, and while I was worried after the so-so premiere, Joukamachi no Dandelion is starting to look like it was worth the investment of expectations.  I like some of the Sakurada siblings better than others, but I like the family relationship very much as a whole, and there’s a sweet quirkiness to the humor I find really refreshing.  Consistency has been a problem, but there’s an awful lot here that I like, and I think this show is going to end up improving as it progresses.

Still Watching

Durarara!!x2 Ten
Episodes Watched – 4
Grade: C+
Comments: I just haven’t found the magic with Durarara this time around.  I still find it modestly entertaining bur rarely does it really captivate me these days, which makes me quite sad.  This revival seems like a classic case of “you can’t go home again”.

Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: C+
Comments: Considering my expectations for this series were basically non-existent it’s certainly exceeded them.  But the introduction of the unwatchable Arai Satome character in the third episode was a big body-blow, and I’m not sure this comedy has enough legs to carry it for an entire cour.  There have certainly been hilarious moments, and I like the satirical angle Shimoneta is taking in mocking the hell out of Bill 156 – but I’m currently on the fence.

To LOVE-ru Darkness 2nd
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: C
Comments: You know what you’re getting with To LOVE-ru, and it rarely disappoints or surprises.  Since the first season there’s been almost no story here – this is soft hentai, plain and simple, but it’s honest about what it is and not infrequently fairly funny to boot.

Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: C
Comments: Without a doubt, Ranpo Kitan is the biggest disappointment of the season for me.  It’s almost impossible not to compare this series with UN-GO, and while there were inconsistencies with the mysteries in that series, from the start the writing was much sharper than it is here.  The mysteries in Ranpo Kitan are so far just plain dumb, the characterizations shallow and the “updates” it’s made to the source material it’s very loosely based on seem calculated and crass.

Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: C
Comments: Maeda Jun I sometimes like, P.A. Works I usually do – but together, it’s trouble.  There were some strong moments in the first couple of episodes, but generally speaking the comedy isn’t working and what started out as an intriguingly nasty main character has largely been neutered into a stock VN-style male lead.  I’m not sure what Charlotte wants to be, and I’m not sure it is either – but whatever it is right now is a bit of a mess.

Sore ga Seiyuu, Himouto! Umaru-chan, Gakko Gurashi, Chaos Dragon, Aoharu x Kikanjuu, Gate, Kangoku Gakuen, Classroom Crisis, Gatchaman Crowds Insight, Rokka no Yuusha.

As you can see, this season definitely fares better with quality than quality.  As such, there’s almost nothing truly on the bubble at the moment:

Definitely Blogging: Ace of Diamond Season 2, Akagami no Shirayukihime
Probably Blogging: Jitsu wa Watashi wa

Definitely Blogging: None
On the Bubble: Overlord

Definitely Blogging: Ore Monogatari!, Gangsta

Probabl Blogging: Joukamachi no Dandelion
On the Respirator: Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace

Definitely Blogging: Shokugeki no Souma, Ushio to Tora

Definitely Blogging: Working!!!
Probably Blogging: Kyoukai no Rinne
On the Respirator: Shimoneta, Charlotte

Definitely Blogging: Baby Steps Season 2, Arslan Senki

Manga: Otoyomegatari, Mix, Chihayafuru

Watching For Now: To LOVE-ru Darkness 2nd, Tribe Cool Crew, Durarara!!x2 Ten



  1. N

    You dropped Rokka no Yuusha? You don't know what you are missing.

  2. K

    I totally agree. I find it so strange that Enzo's tastes and my own sync so perfectly on some shows and completely diverge on others and there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to which shows we both enjoy or disagree on. Its not like we simply have different tastes on certain themes or genres. How can he enjoy Coffin Princess but give up on Rokka? How can stand watching Overlord if Gate was too much of an otaku pander-fest?

  3. K

    Lol….there are lots of discussions going on about this

  4. Z

    From your list, I'm still watching Overlord, Jitsu Wa and Dandelion. Holding Gangsta so I can watch a bunch of eps at once and I also need to watch Working!! first before going to 3rd. As much as I like KEY (especially years ago when I'm still new to anime), Charlotte is also in the respirator for me. I have no idea what it's trying to achieve, and it seems following the recently infamous "PA 13 eps series curse" for me. I think I will wait until people see the finale and see the reaction, whether it will be worth it or not.

    However, I'm still liking Rokka and especially Gakkou Gurashi a lot: it seems like a show with perfect taste of melancholy for me without dragging it as forced drama. I'm dropping most of the other shows in your dropped list, ranging from "It's ok but I just didn't really like it" in GATE to "It's just a big pile of fail" like in Chaos Dragon.

    Along with Souma, Arslan and Ore Monogatari, I think this season is pretty good, although lacking any exceptional shows. I hope Gangsta could change that for me.

  5. G

    Overlord has been killing it lately. They have introduced new characters and I can't wait to see what happens each week.

  6. S

    Gangsta and Akagami are definitely the shows I expected to be good and it makes me happy that they are. What I didn't expect is how much I would like Gakkou Gurashi. There's just something compelling about it and I'm not usually a fan of moe but it actually works so well here in contrast with the anime's setting. Charlotte is a whole lot of meh and LaPlace is just painful to watch. I'm also this close to dropping Dandelion. I just don't think it's for me. I almost died trying to finish the latest episode.

    I'm also keeping up with Umaru-chan (the OP always gets me), Aoharu (against my better judgment) Jitsu wa, Ushio and Rokka plus Arslan, Souma and Ore from last season. I seriously thought you'd like Rokka, Enzo. I'm so devasted to know that you're not blogging it. Oh well.

    This is completely unrelated but I'm so happy to see you contributing on MAL, Enzo! More write-ups from you = win.

  7. When I have time, I do plan to give Rokka one more chance. Several people have commented that it improved.

  8. Z

    The premise of the show (the fake hero thing) just only started at ep 4, so indeed it's a show that need time before proper evaluation.

    About MAL, I have only checked on mobile, but we can't comment on the article itself? I find the lack of that feature irritating since I would like to see responses to your latest article :/

  9. Z

    What improvements that have been mentioned aren't particularly mindblowing or significant, but I like it's style of fantasy; like you mentioned with Jitsu wa, the story is very reminiscent of older anime fantasy series from the last decade, before LN stories took hold as the dominant genre. (even though this technically is a LN story as well)

    And along with the main "hook" of the story that Zeroyuki mentioned, I feel like the sum of it's parts is making up for the more average aspects of the show.

  10. Well, I gave Rokka another shot but I have to say, I was pretty much bored more than anything. Guess it's just not for me.

  11. v

    Thanks for the check in Enzo! I've been waiting for this list. Been too busy with work lately to pick up shows for summer. I'm going to go on autopilot based on your list.

  12. U

    Thanks for the check-in. Now I can finally start the season :p

  13. J

    Whoa whoa whoa you dropped Gakkou Gurashi! I was hearing that show was going to be good and a real tear jerker. What was your reason for dropping it?

  14. It just didn't float my boat. I think it relies on a gimmick to be distinct – some others clearly feel the execution is good enough for that not to be the case.

  15. I'd rather not post that kind of info in consideration of the people who haven't watched the premiere yet and still might.

  16. K

    I'm not really into heavily moe type shows since super cute/innocent girls doing super cute/innocent things while experiencing super harsh realities of life usually feels too calculated and forced for me to take seriously. However, the plot synopsis for Gakkou Gurashi was enough to get me to read the manga and I found it to be really good.

    Yes, I think the big twist was kind of a cheap way to hook the reader/viewer but the fact that it was revealed so early demonstrates that this story knows that it's not a one-trick pony and it doesn't need to rely on that gimmick's shock value. The story has something meaningful to say and I thought it effectively used the setting and character perceptions to express it without using the gimmick as a crutch. Not sure if the anime adaptation will follow the same path but the manga spent very few pages and very little detail depicting the *ahem* "setting/threat" which is already a big difference from other media which incorporate that same element since their focus frequently devolves into simply depicting it as graphically as possible.

    Kinda hard to discuss this without spoilers so I hope that makes sense (at least somewhat lol).

  17. E

    Agreed with Kevin. While I enjoyed Madoka, I can't say I appreciete the wave of 'cute moe story with Dark Twist and Suffering' that followed in its wake.

  18. J

    I went ahead and watched the premiere. So I now understand a little of where Enzo and you guys are coming from. I'm not usually one to watch the whole cute girls do cute things genre either but I thought I would give one a chance. I think I will stick with it, just to see what kind of story it tells.

  19. Z

    Oops sorry, I forgot Enzo. I thought the twist of Gakkou Gurashi is more like "Madoka is actually not a cute mahou shoujo" level, so I went assuming people already familiar with it.

    What I would like to write has been conveyed by other commenters though, IMHO the first episode is the weakest episode so far, which for me showing that they rely on actual content and execution rather than the twist which ended at eps 1. I would advise people to at least check few first episodes to see if they are hooked by it since at the very least it's a rather unique execution of said genre (focusing on preserving the daily life and keeping optimism under the crisis rather than on the action/mystery side).

    Ugh, talking about this series without mentioning the twist is hard.

  20. s

    I'm actually somewhat pleased with the season so far. Beforehand nothing really stood out too much for me, though by now I can say that Ushio to Tora and Shirayuki-hime are undeniably top picks for the season (though Ushio to Tora has the advantage so far if comparing the two of them). I haven't really warmed up to Gangsta yet for some reason, but Working!!! and Non Non Biyori Repeat serve as fun distractions during the weekend.

  21. E

    Nice check in, but after seeing all the different series listed down, it feels a little worse than I initially thought.(That dropped list is huge!)

    I'm actually getting more impressed by Shimoneta, the recent episode had quite a bit of social commentary and I quite liked the developments with Anna and Goriki. Seems like the green haired fly girl is going to take a bigger role soon, so I'm looking forward to that at least.

    The Wire reference to Gangsta is interesting, the shows are worlds apart in terms of quality imo but theres a certain mundane-ness to the art style which makes them similar. Gangsta's source is a little raw I feel but the execution is skilled enough to keep me hooked. Other than that I'm mostly following the top tier apart from Working!!!, a lot of those Still Watching shows are generally not very good.

    BTW are you following Wakako-zake?

  22. As time allows. It's amusing, though I would have liked to have seen what it could do as maybe a half-length show.

    Shimoneta is making its satirical point well, no doubt. I just don't think the execution is there. Found it less funny with each passing episode, and Saotome is just a nightmare.

  23. K

    I never realized what a huge impact a voice actor can have on an anime until Saotome. I've really enjoyed a lot of Shimoneta's jokes and I've actually laughed out loud a few times (which is rare for an anime) but Saotome's voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me. And even if I was to ignore my bleeding ears, how did she get cast to voice a young girl?! That voice sounds so elderly that hearing it come out of Saotome's mouth ruins any immersion every time she opens her trap!

  24. It's neither the first time Arai was cast as a young girl, or that she almost single-handedly ruined a series (Railgun).

  25. K

    I'm not very knowledgeable about anime voice actors so I am wondering if it's just us or if many western viewers hate her voice too? If so, is it just a western thing? I assume the Japanese views don't mind her as a whole since she keeps getting work…

  26. F

    As far as I know many of the Western viewers I have heard speak of it are always in between really disliking her voice or just being okay with it.

    It does not bother me, but it can feel odd in some places, especially when the character being voiced is younger.

  27. G

    I am watching 47 shows in 4 TIERS Top Favorites / Very Good / Good / Just Watching . I get almost the same feel for Summer 2015 as 2013 ! I knew Love Lab and Symphogear were in there ( 2013 ) but also Silver Spoon / Servant x Service / KINMOZA / Railgun and WATAMOTE !

    That being said I think 2015 is interesting also ! BTW I agree and bemoan the lack of Sci-Fi however I saw a low quality sub of The Psycho Pass Movie that left me in awe ! Really Cant wait for FUNI to do a good clean sub / dub! You will understand when you see it!

    I will just give you my TOP 16 instead of going show for show!

    BTW I really like Gate and School Live IDK because I read the manga and get the show better ! You asked I spoke XD

    TIER 1 Top Favorites

    Weeks 3 / 4


    1 Non Non Biyori Repeat
    1 Senki Zesshou Symphogear GX / S3

    3 The Heroic Legend of Arslan ONGOING
    4 Working!!! 3 / Wagnaria!! 3
    5 Gakkou Gurashi! READING MANGA
    6 Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri READING MANGA
    7 Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma ONGOING READING MANGA
    8 Gangsta. /
    10 Durarara!!×2 Ten CR /
    11 World Trigger
    12 Akagami no Shirayuki Hime / Snow White with the Red Hair
    13 Gatchaman Crowds Insight
    14 Jokamachi no Dandelion / Castle Town Dandelion
    15 Rokka no Yuusha / (Heroes of the Six Flowers)
    16 Sore ga Seiyuu! / Seiyu’s Life

  28. l

    Only a few shows of Summer 2015 interest me enough to follow. Ranking according them as follows:

    1. Ushio to Tora: This is a fun watch. Good balance of comedy, horror, action and character development with great execution. Monster of the week for now but I do see what they are doing in developing the plot and storyline.

    2. Gangsta: Interested in the world they are building up to show us. The characters are interesting and there's good plot and storyline development that unfolds nicely to peel off layer by layer.

    3. Gate: I like to see variations of the plot concept of being and straddling other worlds. This gives it another angle that is still interesting enough so far to watch.

    4. Akagami no Shirayukihime: Decent show. It's placid and idealistic.

    5. Classroom Crisis: Barely holding my interest. The most recent episode on the class joining the union to help them but getting used by the union tipped the balance over to continue watching. Otherwise, would have fallen by the wayside.

    Guilty pleasure (?): Shimoneta..: Don't ask me exactly why I'm still watching it but I guess within the "comedy", I'm interested in seeing some aspects of why taking moral enforcement to the extreme that results in certain peculiarities, e.g. in the most recent episode, the main character getting raped by his platonic love interest who is so protected and innocent that she no idea of what is sex and raging hormones that she mistakes it all for love and rationalising her "rape" as indication of the extent of her love.

    Was not expecting much from this season and it does show in what I am continuing to watch. May go back and re-check out some shows later if there is anything interesting developing in those shows.

    Carryover from prior seasons are (in alphabetical order):

    – Ace no Diamond Season 2
    – Arslan no Senki
    – Baby Steps 2
    – Gintama (my closet guilty pleasure)
    – Ore Monogatari!! (on the borderline of dropping it as it is often nauseatingly sweet but the mystery that is Suna is what makes me continue)
    – Shokugeki no Soma

  29. l

    Forgot to add manga. I do follow a lot of manga titles. Not going to list all those I follow but will list some in alphabetical order to give you an idea:

    Ace of Diamond (awaiting continuation)
    Ahiru no Sora
    Area no Kishi
    Break Blade
    Gin no Saji
    Hajime no Ippo
    Maoyu Maou Yusha
    Nanatsu no Taizai
    Nobunaga Concerto
    Ookiku Furikabutte
    Shuujin Riku
    Sidonia no Kishi
    Ubel Blatt
    Uchuu Kyoudai
    Yowamushi Pedal
    Young Black Jack

    Mostly up-to-date on raws if you are wondering. Exceptions in the above list that I am not up-to-date are Kurosagi and Nobunaga Concerto. Some of the really popular titles have fairly up-to-date with scanlations.

    Will probably follow some manga that have anime adaptation which are either showing now, awaiting continuation to completion or just recently completed:
    – Akagami no Shiraykuihime
    – Akatsuki no Yona
    – Shingeki no Kyojin
    – Shokugeki no Soma

  30. 7


  31. R

    Aside from the more obvious ones this season, I picked up a few shows out of morbid curiosity.Still watching Aquarion Logos and I don 't know why. Monster Musume turned out to be a pretty interesting and amusing take on the harem genre, but it isn't for everybody.

  32. G

    From Anime News Network:

    The Summer 2015 Anime Series Viewers Are Still Looking Forward to Each Week

    School-Live! 1222 votes
    Prison School 1216 votes
    Durarara!!×2 Ten 1133 votes
    Charlotte 1102 votes
    WORKING!!! 932 votes
    Snow White with the Red Hair 912 votes
    Non Non Biyori Repeat 826 votes
    The IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls 816 votes
    Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace 699 votes
    Himōto! Umaru-chan 676 votes
    GATE 628 votes
    SHIMONETA: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist 622 votes
    Aoharu x Machinegun 617 votes
    Junjō Romantica 3 550 votes
    GANGSTA. 536 votes
    Castle Town Dandelion 508 votes
    To Love Ru: Darkness 409 votes
    Ushio & Tora 374 votes
    Overlord 367 votes
    Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers 354 votes

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