The Top 10 Best Anime of Spring 2015

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Spring of 2015 is coming to a close, and so are many of this season’s best anime. Some will continue into the Summer 2015 season, but most are ending their runs. And though Summer 2015 looks to be a great season for anime fans, now’s the time to double back and count down the best animes of the season. Included in the list are some veterans whose runs are carried over from the Winter 2015 season, or are following up with their second season from another year. That said, the following list isn’t my personal top 10 list, but rather an averaging of some of the most highly esteemed lists from around the web. Many of my favorites made it onto the list though, which I’m happy to share with you. Enjoy.

10. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (Season 2)
Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru.
Genre: Slice of Life | Comedy

“So exactly what’s going to happen when Hachiman Hikigaya, an isolated high school student with no friends, no interest in making any and a belief that everyone else’s supposedly great high school experiences are either delusions or outright lies, is coerced by a well meaning faculty member into joining the one member “Services Club” run by Yukino Yukinoshita, who’s smart, attractive and generally considers everyone in her school to be her complete inferior?”

Watch it on:
Crunchyroll


9. Sound! Euphonium
Hibike! Yūfoniamu: Kitauji Kōkō Suisōgaku-bu e Yōkoso
Genre: Slice of Life

“Spring in the first year of high school. Kumiko, a member of the brass band in junior high school, visits the high school brass band club with classmates Hazuki and Sapphire. There, she comes across Reina, her former classmate from junior high. Hazuki and Sapphire decide to join the club, but Kumiko can’t make up her mind. She recollects her experience with Reina at a competition in junior high school.”

Watch it on:
Crunchyroll


8. Plastic Memories
Purasutikku Memorīzu
Genre: Drama | Sci-fi

“After failing his college entrance exams, 18 year-old Tsukasa Mizugaki is offered a position at the renowned SAI Corporation due to his father’s connections. SAI Corporation is known for its production and management of androids that possessed human emotions called Giftia. Tsukasa’s position is in the terminal service department where the main job is to recover Giftias that are close to their expiration, a graveyard department in every sense. To make matters worse, Tsukasa is ordered to work with Isla, a female Giftia who is never given any responsibility other than serving tea to co-workers.”

Watch it on:
Crunchyroll | Hulu


7. The Heroic Legend of Arslan
Arusurān Senki
Genre: Action | Fantasy

“In the prosperous kingdom of Pars lies the Royal Capital of Ecbatana, a city of splendor and wonder, ruled by the undefeated and fearsome King Andragoras. Arslan is the young and curious prince of Pars who, despite his best efforts doesn’t seem to have what it takes to be a proper king like his father. At the age of 14, Arslan goes to his first battle and loses everything as the blood-soaked mist of war gives way to scorching flames, bringing him to face the demise of his once glorious kingdom. However, it is Arslan’s destiny to be a ruler, and despite the trials that face him, he must now embark on a journey to reclaim his fallen kingdom.”

Watch it on:
Funimation


6. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (Season 2)
Feito/Sutei Naito
Genre: Fantasy | Drama

A personal favorite of mine. The animation is gorgeous. “Fuyuki City—a city surrounded by the ocean and the mountains becomes the setting for an age-old ritual. To realize the mythical Holy Grail, which is said to grant any wish from its possessor, seven masters are given seven heroic spirits chosen by the Grail… Each master will enter into a contract with their assigned servants and battle the other masters and servants to the death until only one pair remains… This is the Holy Grail.”

Watch it on:
Crunchyroll | Hulu


5. Food Wars!
Shokugeki no Soma
Genre: Comedy | Drama | Ecchi

This one’s also quite a bit of fun. Probably my second favorite of the season. “Shokugeki no Soma centers on Yukihira Soma, a middle school student who is determined to surpass his father’s culinary skills. One day, his father decides to close down their family restaurant and hone his skills in Europe. Before leaving he enrolls Soma in an elite culinary school that is extremely difficult to enter with a graduation rate of only 10 percent. Will Souma be able to improve his skills, or will the kitchen prove to be too hot?”

Watch this on:
Crunchyroll | Hulu


4. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
Danjon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darō ka
Genre: Adventure | Fantasy | Comedy

This title is my hands down faborite of the season. Will be sad to see it go. “Based off of a light novel of the same name written by Fujino Omori and illustrated by Suzuhito Yasuda, Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is set in the world of Orario, where adventurers band together and look for treasures in an underground labyrinth known as Dungeon. However, for Bell Cranel, fame and riches are secondary to what he wants to find the most: girls. He soon finds out though, that anything can happen in Dungeon, and winds up being the damsel in distress instead!”

Watch it on:
Crunchyroll | Hulu


3. Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign
Owari no Serafu
Genre: Action | Fantasy

“From Wit Studio, the creative force behind Attack on Titan, comes a brand-new action series—Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign! After a mysterious virus wipes out ninety percent of humanity, vampires emerge from the recesses of the earth to enslave mankind, treating them like livestock. After growing tired of donating blood in exchange for protection, 12-year-old Yuichiro Hyakuya and his best friend Mikaela Hyakuya plot an escape along with the other orphans. After being the only successful runaway, Yuichiro joins the Moon Demon Company, an extermination unit of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army dedicated to killing off vampires. A true shonen fan should not miss out on Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign!”

Watch it on:
Funimation | Hulu


2. My Love Story!!
Ore Monogatari
Genre: Romantic Comedy | Shoujo

“Takeo Goda is a giant guy with a giant heart. Too bad the girls don’t want him! (They always go for his good-looking best friend, Sunakawa.) Used to being on the sidelines, Takeo simply stands tall and accepts his fate. But one day when he saves a girl named Yamato from a harasser on the train, his (love!) life suddenly takes an incredible turn! Takeo can hardly believe it when he crosses paths with Yamato again, and he finds himself falling in love with her… But with handsome Sunakawa around, does Takeo even stand a chance?”

Watch it on:
Crunchyroll | Hulu


1. Blood Blockade Battlefront
Kekkai Sensen
Genre: Action | Sci-fi

This reached the average #1 spot by a landslide margin! “A breach between Earth and the netherworlds has opened up over the city of New York, trapping New Yorkers and creatures from other dimensions in an impenetrable bubble. They’ve lived together for years, in a world of crazy crime sci-fi sensibilities. Now someone is threatening to sever the bubble, and a group of stylish superhumans is working to keep it from happening.”

Watch it on:
Funimation | Hulu


Sources:
IGN | Kotaku | The Koalition | TopAnimeWeekly | Topless Robot | Manga-Addict | Haruhichan

X-O Manowar, Vol. 2: Enter: Ninjak (COMIC BOOK REVIEW)

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Robert Venditti continues his winning streak with X-O Manowar, his first monthly comic, by introducing yet another of Valiant’s excellent legacy characters. Ninjak, the tech-savvy, and exceptionally level-headed ninja, was such a fun addition to the already ridiculous adventure introduced in the series’ first volume: By the Sword. One might begin to wonder, though, why a character as strong as Ninjak didn’t just get his own series from the get go. ‘Enter: Ninjak’ covers issues 5-8 of the X-O Manowar run. Some spoilers follow.

X-O Manowar is the story of an ancient Visigoth warrior kidnapped from his time by an alien race known as the Vine who worship an incredbly powerful suit of seemingly sentient armor known as Shanhara. No Vine has ever been worthy of wearing the armor, but their prisoner Aric of Dacia was chosen to be worthy. He escaped and with his newly augmented abilities, thanks to the X-O armor, he goes back to earth… 1600 years later. As the bumbling barbarian he is, he ends up freaking out, and unthinkingly begins causing havoc in a modern day Rome.

Volume 2 goes into the fact that the Vine have been seeding humanity with their own kind for years, replacing human children with copies that are human in every way except thought. I liked the idea that they were instantly capable of transmitting thought via a mental projection towards each other around the world. In the search for the X-O armor (or Shanhara), a militant group of the Vine are heading to earth to destroy Aric of Dacia and to reclaim the armor. Some of the Vine seeds littered around earth have infiltrated high positions in the government. MI-6 is almost entirely overrun by Vine infiltrators, and it’s they who send Ninjak out to bring Aric in.

Although the comic does get a lot right in this short arc, it feels like X-O Manowar was quickly placed as a secondary character. The story does revolve around him and his beef with the Vine, but too much of it is told through the perspective of either Ninjak, or a Vine turncoat named Alexander. It doesn’t do the character, who is still in his infancy here in it’s rebooted second volume, much justice to relegate him as a secondary character. Also, how on earth does he communicate with the people in modern day earth? No matter where he seems to go on the planet he seems capable of understanding the common tongues of the time, with or without his armor.

Another thing the volume did little to address is how he’ll ever be seen as anything but a terrorist in the eyes of the people. Although he’s capable of winning over Ninjak, he’s taken more lives than he’s actually spoken with since he’s been back. Not a great rep.

I really liked some of the more subtle details in the art by Lee Garbett. The cover art was unfortunately either very generic action poses, or deliberately misleading shots that don’t actually deliver. Other than those small complaints, ‘Enter: Ninjak’ is another excellent story arc in the X-O Manowar reboot. In turn, the character is shaping up to be one of the best characters Valiant has to offer. I look forward to reading more of the run in future trades.

Grab this in:
Trade Paperback


#ValiantSummit: Celebrating 25 Years As the Largest Independent Comic Book Universe

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Valiant Entertainment chose to celebrate their 25th anniversary today in the form of a panel at the Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco, streamed live through Periscope. A cool idea, to be sure. Using the tag #ValiantSummit on the popular social website, they garnered some interest. Unfortunately some of the footage took some time to load, even under the pressure of less than 150 streamers. The company did drop a few tantalizing hints towards their future as a company and as a comic book universe, but it was clear the true purpose of the summit wasn’t a look towards their future, but a discussion of their past and present. With a universe spanning over 2,000 characters and a new cinematic universe on the way, they are indeed the largest independent comic book universe on the market.

In the scheme of things, Valiant is a VERY young comic book universe. Although their first published titles were released in 1990, the company recently rebooted from the ground up with some of the same characters in a modern setting. And it’s all brilliant. This reboot, in 2012, has since produced some of the best company-wide storytelling I’ve ever experienced in comics. That said, if this Valiant Summit has taught me one thing, they’re only now catching any real steam, and are desperately pushing their books towards a wider audience. Being in the shadow of the Big 2, it can’t be easy.

The five panelists included Dinesh Shamdasani, Robert Venditti, Jen Van Meter, Warren Simons, and Hunter Gorinson. Venditti began detailing his long running series, X-O Manowar, of which he just finished working on issue 40. It was his first run on a monthly comic, and he seems extremely proud of it. Warren Simons then dove into Harbinger the extremely popular series that will also soon be seeing the movie treatment at the hands of Sony. Interestingly he introduced the main character as Toyo Harada, who is for the most part a secondary antagonist of the series. He also spoke on the sequel series Imperium, which is actually Harada-centric. Jen Van Meter spoke in length about her Doctor Mirage book that received heavy acclaim of late. It bridges the more supernatural elements of the Valiant Universe with the romantic. Shamdasani introduced Quantum and Woody, a comic about two idiots who get superpowers and a goat. As far as the goat’s abilities, he won’t say. Simons again takes the stage to chat up The Valiant, which is a story about the Eternal Warrior, who protects the forces of the Geomancers, who in turn shepherd humanity. This is an impactful ‘status quo’ for the Valiant Universe, leading into Bloodshot: Reborn and is described as a great jumping on point, if you’re uninterested in reading the books that lead into it.

These are all legacy characters from the original Valiant universe in the 90s, but this year they wanted to push some new characters into the universe. With Matt Kindt’s Divinity, that’s exactly what they’ve done. And it looks so unbelievably beautiful. Basically, in the 60’s the Russians were farther along in their space race than people around the world realized. A black cosmonaut, who happens to lean on the communist side of the spectrum, is sent into space on a 30 year mission. He comes back with the ability to control energy, but still thinks and feels as humans do. Brilliant concept. Can’t wait to get my hands on the TPB. Valiant’s announced that Divinity is going into it’s 6th printing already.

At this point in the panel they announced that in an effort to get these titles into the hands of comic readers, they’ll be reprinting each debut issue and repricing them at the extremely affordable rate of $1.00 a pop! That’s like 5 comics for the price of 1 issue of Secret Wars!

We also got some spoilery news on Book of Death, including some pretty stellar artwork. Tama, a young Geomancer, has a book that records history long into the future. In the wake a huge catastrophic events, the Valiant Universe believes Tama is behind it, and Gilad the Eternal Warrior must fight them to protect her.

A new Eternal Warrior book is also coming called Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, which sounds quite promising. Raul Allen is the artist signed exclusively to the project and to Valiant. This should arrive around November. A new Doctor Mirage book entitled Death Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives also arrives this December.

X-O Manowar will be Valiant’s first run in their modern era to reach 50 issues, by 2016, and Rob Venditti is now officially the longest running writer for the character. He might also hold the record for longest run ever in a Valiant title, but that wasn’t confirmed.

Question and answers started up, and only two questions garnered any real potential news. Valiant is open to doing a crossover special with other companies. Also, Shamdasani inadvertently let slip that they may actually have animated films in the works! Very cool, if you ask me.

All in all, I was expecting more news on their movie front, which they announced earlier this year. But alas, nothing. Not even a passing mention. And that makes sense, it’s still very early in the pre-production phases. But you’d think that a company trying as hard as they are to get their books out to new audiences would want to push their cinematic front more openly. Oh well. That was a bit disappointing. But it left a lot still to digest. Hopefully this will help them push toward wider popularity. It’s smart they did this before San Diego Comic Con next week, as other news would have definitely overshadowed theirs. Periscope was a very neat streaming service, and worked quite well considering.

For more on Valiant Comics, check out some of my debut trade reviews:
Harbinger, Vol. 1: Omega Rising
Harbinger Wars
Quantum and Woody, Vol. 1: The World’s Worst Superhero Team
X-O Manowar, Vol. 1: By the Sword