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Thursday, 7 January 2016

Fission Mailure Awards 2015: Anime.

Fission Mailure Awards 2015:

Hello! Welcome to the Fission Mailure Awards 2015's anime category! This is probably the last one we'll be doing this week, with the final category and the 'Five Most Popular Posts on this blog' post going up next week.

As ever, this is based on what I've reviewed this year, with anime counting even if they came out years and years before I reviewed them. Unlike in previous categories, this is actually relevant this time, so that's always nice. Also, as ever, there will be three best and three worst, alternating back and forth.

So, let's crack on with the three best and three worst anime of 2015.

The Bronze Medal for Third BEST Anime: Kyoukai no Kanata - I'll Be Here - Mirai-hen.

Probably the most unexpected item on this list, Mirai-hen is the sequel to a series that was full of wasted potential, and manages to address almost all of the key problems in the series. 

Where the series was unsure of itself, Mirai-hen is confident; where the series couldn't balance all of its disparate tones and elements, Mirai-hen knows exactly what ratio of romance, comedy, and action it wants, and when and how to switch between them; where the series often fell back on bad, repetitive jokes, Mirai-hen knows the difference between a running gag and a dry repetition.

It was a joy to watch, and I only wished that the television show could have been as well put together. Add to that some excellent animation, great voice acting, and a lovely soundtrack, and this was actually a fairly easy choice for this list, especially in a year that was somewhat lacking for good anime.

The Slightly Starched Chocolate Coin for Third WORST Anime: Expelled From Paradise.

You're going to catch your death of sunburn.

A tremendous disappointment, Expelled From Paradise sees Gen Urobuchi penning a sci-fi story that manages to just fall totally flat at every turn. With animation that tries to be retro but instead comes off as liquid and boneless, constant nonsensical fanservice shots, terrible pacing, and constant mishandling of themes that Urobuchi has handled much better before, Expelled From Paradise manages to fail at everything it attempts.

It also exemplifies every criticism people have of Urobuchi's work, as character lapse into philosophical pontifications at the drop of a hat, bizarre out-of-the-blue set piece battles, and characters acting as voice pieces rather than actual people. 

I like Urobuchi as a writer, and he's penned some of my absolute favourite things, but Expelled From Paradise is without a doubt one of his poorest pieces of work, a Trigun-esque sci-fi western that barely manages to get off the ground, and only really succeeds in being obnoxious.

The Silver Medal for Second BEST Anime: Kekkai Sensen and One Punch Man.

I couldn't decide between these two, and if I'm being honest, they're very similar shows. Both are episodic adventure-comedies, beautifully animated and incredibly fun to watch, but while One Punch Man puts its emphasis on comedy and satire, Kekkai Sensen puts its emphasis on adventure. 

If you like one, it's fair to say you'll probably like the other, as they have pretty similar writing styles and senses of humour, both drawing comedy out of contrasting the mundane with the bizarre and dramatic. While One Punch Man does its satire a shade better than Kekkai Sensen, Kekkai Sensen certainly does better at building dramatic tension for when it does want to be more serious.

Which is why these two are sharing a silver medal, because I'm not sure I'd ever be able to choose between the two of them. 

The Inappropriate Floral Hat for Second WORST Anime: Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold.

I don't know why Aiolia is the big looming ghost dude here, he's the main character.

One of several anniversary series that Toei is doing this year, the best thing that can be said about Soul of Gold is that it proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Toei's mistreatment of the Sailor Moon anniversary is definitely not due to misogyny - because Soul of Gold, aimed primarily at boys, is worse

Apart from that, I'm not sure that Soul of Gold actually has any redeeming features. Badly animated, badly written, and featuring a handful of generic characters whose only claim to fame is that they are fondly remembered by fans of the original Saint Seiya, Soul of Gold is as phoned in a production as you will ever find.

Oh, but the god cloths are nicely designed, I guess. We barely got to see them, but I mean, they looked okay.

The Gold Medal for the BEST Anime of 2015: Digimon Adventure Tri: Reunion.

They're on a bridge.

The only good anniversary anime that Toei has managed to do this year, Digimon Adventure Tri's first film of six was everything I could have hoped for and more.

Like all the other anime on the 'best of 2015' part of this list, Tri is technically very strong, but what really puts it at the top of this list is that it shows how you can age up and mature a children's show in a way that doesn't rely on cheap grimdark or creepy fanservice. Tri is totally suitable for all ages, while also dealing with mature themes - genuinely mature themes, like the stresses of education, feelings of being estranged from your friends, and concerns about collateral damage - in a way that's quite sensitive and nuanced. There is nothing 'dark' about Tri, nothing violent or gory or unpleasant, but it deals with mature themes nonetheless.

It also builds on the themes of earlier Digimon series in interesting ways, while always remaining true to its roots, and the challenges the characters face fit with what they're like as people, and ring true as challenges they would have to deal with as they grew older.

More than maybe other anime this year, it feels like a labour of love, something that the creative staff were all extremely passionate about, and that wins it a lot of points. So, perhaps slightly influenced by nostalgia, Reunion is my pick for the Best Anime of 2015, and I'm looking forward to seeing the second film, Determination, come March.

The Tangled-up Snake King for the WORST Anime of 2015: World War Blue.

I mean, why would you have a character based on Tetris, anyway?

Still the undisputed winner of the 'worst thing Murphy's watched all year' category, World War Blue takes a novel and interesting premise and kills it stone dead in about thirty seconds. 

It's just a mess. Three twenty minute episodes of bad shounen anime cliches, poor animation, bad voice acting and, perhaps worst of all, constant, unremitting, creepy oversexualisation of everything a female character does - including, for good measure, loads of sexual assault scenes, all of which are played for humour and titillation.

It's three episodes long. There are anime that last years and years and don't include even a fraction of the creepy sexual assault scenes that World War Blue does. Game of Thrones doesn't have as many scenes of sexual assault as World War Blue. Infamously dark and gritty manga Berserk, in its entire, many years long run, has not included as many creepy sexual assault scenes as World War Blue.

A special flavour of terrible unmatched by any anime, or any anything, that I've reviewed this year, World War Blue is an easy winner of the Worst Anime of 2015.

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