Summer 2015 Episode Rankings – Week 1

Welcome to the start of twelve more weeks of personal anime rankings! I cannot believe how strong this Summer’s lineup has been, I’ve ended up dropping genuinely good series to narrow the list down to 18. And having to put them in order means that something has to come last… there’s not a lot in it, so hopefully it’ll be a dynamic season!

As usual, I start things off by focusing on the all-new, non-sequel series. There are a few things I should mention before anything else, though: Firstly, the latest airing episode in this season’s lineup (Gakkou Gurashi!) comes out on a Thursday afternoon. Hence why I’m posting this on a Friday, instead of the more convenient Sunday I’ve kept to for most of the year, because I’m keen to make a start on the second episodes! But Thursday and Friday aren’t always ideal days for me, so don’t be surprised if I fail miserably to keep to a regular schedule. I’ll try my best.

Derpy Arslan... isn't #1 this week, but with my intro being longer than usual, I needed something relevant to break it up!

Derpy Arslan… isn’t #1 this week, but with my intro being longer than usual, I needed something relevant to break it up!

Secondly, this week’s Arslan Senki was a recap episode, and I don’t normally include those in my lists. However, I like to start each season with a full lineup, and in the case of Arslan Senki I feel it’s even more important that it be present – that way, you can get a sense of how the new offerings fared in comparison to one of my most highly ranked Spring series. And so I decided to throw in episode 13, which aired in the gap between seasons. Next week I’ll rank episode 14, and it’ll be like the recap episode never happened.

Thirdly, today marks the 10th anniversary of my becoming a fan of anime and manga, and since that milestone coincided nicely with the start of the new season, I decided to throw in a series that would have been newly airing in Summer 2005 as an experiment. That series is Tide-Line Blue. I’ll be watching one episode a week, and ranking it alongside the others as though it were just another newly airing series. Will it be able to hold its own against newer, shinier anime? Or is there a good reason why I’d never even heard of it until I looked up that specific season? Only time will tell…

I don't know whether Symphogear's #1 ranking was surprising, or inevitable. :razz:

I don’t know whether Symphogear’s #1 ranking was surprising, or inevitable. 😛

1 – Senki Zesshou Symphogear GX ep 1

2 – Rokka no Yuusha ep 1

3 – Durarara!!x2 Ten ep 1

4 – Gangsta ep 1

5 – Arslan Senki ep 13

6 – Tide-Line Blue ep 1

7 – Chaos Dragon: Sekiryu Seneki ep 1

8 – Aoharu x Kikanjuu ep 1

9 – Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace ep 1

10 – Overlord ep 1

11 – Shokugeki no Souma ep 14

12 – Tribe Cool Crew ep 38

13 – Non Non Biyori Repeat ep 1

14 – Gatchaman Crowds Insight ep 1

15 – Ushio to Tora ep 1

16 – Classroom Crisis ep 1

17 – Gakkou Gurashi! ep 1

18 – Ore Monogatari!! ep 14

Modest, too.

Modest, too.

Just failing to take the top spot is Rokka no Yuusha, though with this episode serving mostly for character and world building purposes, I’m hopeful it can only get better! I love the interesting, Mayan-esque fantasy setting, the two characters introduced so far and their character designs, as well as their dialogue which was well-written… these are largely the same reasons Arslan Senki impressed me so much last season, but unlike Arslan Senki, Rokka no Yuusha’s first episode had fantastic animation from start to finish. So yeah, clearly the only thing Rokka no Yuusha was missing was the rocket surfing and mountain slicing which saw Symphogear beat it. 😛

Gangsta was the first new show to air, and the first one I watched – what a great start to the season! I’m amazed at just how much explicit violence, sex and drug use they managed to fit in without having to resort to JoJo’s/Terra Formars levels of censorship. Some parts made for uncomfortable viewing, but for the right reasons. Having a deaf protagonist made it stand out too, though Nick proved early on that his keen eyesight and awesome fighting skills mean it’s hardly a disadvantage, even to a hired killer. Nice to have a series with more mature themes (as well as a more mature cast) in the lineup.

Almost as good a kick as Shizuo's in the previous series of Durarara!!

Almost as good a kick as Shizuo’s in the previous series of Durarara!!

I was prepared to go easy on the animation of our guest series, Tide-Line Blue, but it actually looks as good if not better than some of the other anime in my lineup, barring some clunky CGI submarines. And thanks to a HDTV release, I can watch it in glorious 810p… whatever that is! It introduced us to a flooded post-apocalyptic world, where the remaining inhabited islands were on the verge of forming a new United Nations, only to be interrupted by a submarine firing torpedoes at everyone. A peaceful city turned into a war zone within minutes, and the shock was enough to send one of the main characters into labour, making a bad situation even more serious. As a fan of action and drama, I approve!

Everywhere I look, Chaos Dragon: Sekiryu Seneki is getting poor reviews. I actually had to rewatch parts of it to make sure I wasn’t being overly generous in my own ranking, propping it up in denial because I wanted it to be good. I’ll admit it wasn’t perfect, the plot exposition felt very forced compared with Rokka no Yuusha, the outfits were ridiculous, and the CGI dragon made Tide-Line Blue’s submarines look beautiful in comparison. But despite the flaws, I honestly liked it. The fantasy setting is an automatic plus, the animation is fairly decent, it’s already shown potential to be very dark, and I remain positive that once the whole cast form a party, the poor exposition will be replaced with enjoyable TTRPG-inspired dialogue. 🙂

The cast of Tide-Line Blue also features a grumpy ostrich. What's not to like about that? :razz:

The cast of Tide-Line Blue also features a grumpy ostrich. What’s not to like about that? 😛

First there was Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu, then came Sabagebu, and now a third airsoft survival series makes it into my lineup. Aoharu x Kikanjuu seems no less weird than the other two, featuring a cross-dressing female high-school student protagonist who refers to herself in the third person (why the official subs chose to ignore this quirk, I do not know) and her new neighbour battling it out in a host club, with all the other staff and customers watching this chaos unfold with great interest. Pretty character designs, nice animation and my kind of comedy made this another great introductory episode. 😀

Next up is Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace, a murder mystery series with so much style! This time the protagonist is middle school boy Kobayashi, who suddenly finds himself set up as the prime suspect in the gruesome murder of his teacher. But rather than freak out, he seems excited by the situation, seeing it as a fun puzzle to be solved. Other people are shown as fuzzy and grey to him (presumably portraying his boredom with the world?), until they say or do something that makes them relevant. This, and a lot of other visually interesting techniques make what would have otherwise been a slow introductory episode stand out more.

A 32 year old teacher and her male pupil. Honest.

A 32 year old teacher and her male pupil. Honest.

The whole ‘trapped inside a game’ theme has been popular in anime following the success of Sword Art Online, so Overlord was going to have to do something different in order to avoid coming across as a generic cash-in. Having the main character (known to us only by his username Momonga) be the only human trapped in a world otherwise populated only by sentient and sapient NPCs might just be enough to ensure that. I do wonder why our protagonist accepted his situation so quickly, though maybe it’s the exact same situation as Ranpo Kitan – it’s so much more interesting than the real world, he doesn’t care that he’s trapped! Exactly what threats Momonga will face (if any), or what else he’ll get up to remains to be seen.

Ushio to Tora feels very much like a generic shounen series. A slightly more interesting one in that it’s based on a manga series from the 90s, and has the awesome character designs to match, with animation that had an aged feel while still being very high quality (and HD, of course)! I liked the comedy, the way Tora just openly admitted his desire to eat Ushio the moment the latter set him free, as if that’s any way to ask for a favour. 😛 But aside from that, it felt like virtually every other shounen first episode I’ve ever watched, which is the only reason I’ve rated it so low. Hopefully it’ll introduce some powerful villains sooner rather than later, as that can often make all the difference.

I loved the contrast between Momonga's scary in-game character and his friendly nature~

I loved the contrast between Momonga’s scary in-game character and his friendly nature!

I initially dropped Classroom Crisis, but something about it made me decide to give it another shot. Based on the synopsis, I was expecting a slow-paced sci-fi slice of life series that happened to be set on Mars. Instead, I got a hostage situation, and a dangerous (and expensive) space flight, ending in a crash-landing… all to save a transfer student who’d already managed to negotiate his way to freedom. He’s also the director of the program that’s funding their top tier class, and is determined to cut their funding. Not the best first episode ever, but a refreshingly different setting that has piqued my curiosity. Looks good too, considering it’s the studio’s first full length TV anime!

To the viewer, the first episode of Gakkou Gurashi! played out as though it were any other moe high school club anime for the most part… and a particularly boring one at that. And presumably that’s how things still look to our main character, Yuki, in her happy delusional dream world. But there were hints throughout the episode that something was amiss, chances are I’d have figured it out even if I hadn’t already had the twist spoiled for me by the synopsis. I’m willing to gamble on Gakkou Gurashi!, despite there being more enjoyable (if generic) first episodes that I didn’t pick up – hopefully the fairly unique and horrifyingly dark premise will deliver for this one too.

I didn't spot this first time around, blink and you'd miss it. Creepy stuff.

I didn’t spot this first time around, blink and you’d miss it. Creepy stuff.

Feel free to comment letting me know what you’re watching, what you think of my choices (good or bad), how I’ve ranked them, or anything else relating to this Summer’s new anime! No spoilers for Tide-Line Blue, though. 😛

<< Spring 2015 Episode Rankings – Week 12

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5 Responses to Summer 2015 Episode Rankings – Week 1

  1. LppL says:

    Overlord is already different from SAO, because it’s not a “trapped in a game” anime. It’s not even a “game world turned real” story. The NPC underlings are not NPCs anymore either. Together with the whole guild building they were transported to an unknown, real fantasy world.

  2. JR Saycon says:

    WTF! Gakkou Gurashi at the bottom part of the top 20 and Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace only at #9 and what is Chaos Dragon even doing in the #7 slot when it doesn’t even deserve it for it’s first ep. SMH
    Tide-line Blue is up the #6 slot are you kidding me?

    • I found most of the first episode of Gakkou Gurashi to be painful to watch, particularly slow and boring slice of life antics, which I felt Non Non Biyori did better. Then obviously there was the big reveal at the end, which is the only reason I kept the series on – if it hadn’t already been spoiled for me, I may have rated the episode higher, who knows, but it didn’t make the rest of the episode any less boring.

      Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace had style as I say, and a lot of potential to get better depending on how good the mysteries are… I can’t say I warmed to the characters in this first episode, though, as their reactions to events (especially to the violent death of their teacher) didn’t seem that realistic.

      Chaos Dragon’s first episode was far from perfect, but it appealed to my interests with its dark fantasy setting – these are personal rankings, after all, and I’m not above rating a guilty pleasure over something that was technically better but not as fun to watch.

      Tide-Line Blue’s hit a decent balance of character and world introduction, alongside plenty of well-animated action. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, but presumably they’ll get addressed as the series goes on – if not, they’ll affect its final rating. Other than that, I can’t really fault it, it only loses out to Rokka no Yuusha (again, I like fantasy), Gangsta (a similar first episode, but a bit more original and stylish) and a bunch of sequels/continuing series which were always going to have a head start.

  3. […] << Summer 2015 Episode Rankings – Week 1 […]

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