Great Moments in Winter 2015 Anime

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The Winter 2015 anime season is wrapping up, and once again, I am taking the time to share some of my favorite moments from this season. The theme this time is Colorful, thanks to this season’s Saekano.

You can find all of the titles shown here on Crunchyroll’s website. These are some of my favorite moments, but not necessarily the greatest moments of the season! Also check out some of the Funny Moments in Winter 2015 Anime.

As always, there will be SPOILERS!

12. She’s Not Coming Back (Kantai Collection, ep. 4)

kantai-04I wasn’t really sure what to make of Kantai Collection in general, but lots of fans reacted quite strongly to the sudden death of Kisaragi in episode 3. Now I’ll be the most blasphemous person to say that I don’t play the game or follow this show faithfully to fully comprehend why that was such a big deal… at least, that’s what I thought until the following episode.

Kisaragi’s sister Mutsuki had patiently waited everyday by the dock, in hopes that the missing fleet girl would eventually return. As evening had set, a girl came to the dock after her mission was over. But it wasn’t Kisaragi. It was Fubuki. And so, the truth had settled in.

Now I know what the fans are thinking: what about that one shot in episode 12 with the– I’m sorry, folks. As curiously open-ended as that was, this moment hit me with a deep impact. A shell bored deep into my heart, sort of speak. Kisaragi was not coming back! And while I didn’t shed a tear when Kisaragi had sunk, I was bawling when Mutsuki came to this realization!

11. Purpose in Life (Parasyte: the Maxim, ep. 18)

parasyte-18Reiko Tamura (introduced to us as Ryouko Tamiya) was one of the most unique parasites, in that she had a human child. Humans and parasites alike never really knew how she would behave as a parasite, nurturing something of a different species. Even she had questions as to why she and her kind existed; but at the peak of her existence, she found the answers she was looking for.

It took about two animated episodes (and only a few hours in her time), but Reiko reacted in two very distinctly “human” ways. The first was when she killed the detective who threatened to kill her baby. The second was when she used her own body as a shield to protect her baby. Reiko may not be human, but something about her will to keep her child alive, her own kind, is worth recognizing as a trait of something greater than human: a purpose in life. It’s often suggested that the most valuable thing to a species is its will to survive. And when Reiko hands her offspring to the familiar parasitic-human hybrid Shinichi, she has performed this task well enough.

10. The Heroine’s Choice (Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend, ep. 12)

saekano-12Tomoya Aki wants to create the ultimate heroine in a visual novel of his own; and for an entire season, we wonder if he’s ever going to make it! But when you have someone like Megumi Kato on your side, the results can be quite surprising.

In the final scene of their game, the protagonist Seiji finds his long-lost girlfriend/sister from another time period, Meguri, out of the wreckage from a great battle. When Meguri sees him, she remembers exactly who he is, and asks him: should she call him “Seiji-kun,” or “Onii-chan?” Seiji smiles and tells her, “Whatever you like best…”

In a visual novel, the protagonist drives the story, so the player often decides on the choices in the game. But this time, the choice isn’t on the player, but the heroine. I personally don’t like calling visual novels “dating sims,” because I know that romances are not one-sided at all, and the idealized character on the other end has a mind of her own in real life. But if you can demonstrate a moment when this fictional character can make a choice of her own, I don’t even think it matters so much as to what her response will be.

Maybe “Meguri” is the ultimate heroine. After all, giving her the final choice may as well bring that character to life!

9. In Memory of the Children (Fafner: Exodus, ep. 4)

fafner-exodus-04One of the things that impressed me about the Fafner series is its attention to detail in terms of art. In this scene, the townspeople of Tatsumiya Island have mixed feelings about sending away their newest recruits: Sui, Leo, and Mimika. It’s a very melancholy episode, as the people remember that their children (and I do mean minors) are sent off to a war that never ends, many of whom die before reaching adulthood. In this scene in particular, the town priest prays in a shrine of photos of fallen fafner pilots over the years.

Usually in a scene like this, the faces in the background are generic, and it’s hard to make out one face over another. But in this scene, every face has unique facial features, differentiating one from another. Even if it’s a slight change, no child adorned in this shrine is the same as the next. For the Fafner series, every pilot counts. Every human counts. And even though these children died in battle, each one has a unique story to tell.

8. Dancing Shadows (Tribe Cool Crew, ep. 15)

tcc-15

In this flashback scene, Kumo is practicing his break dance technique with his mentor Akira. Having just been an average middle school punk before, Kumo decides to take this dance routine seriously in the way we know Kumo in the present day does! But more importantly, I found this moment to be inspiring because of how they portray the dance.

As shown above, a bright light shines in the background because they were practicing late at night. That light is so bright, we can’t distinguish who the dancers are in the foreground (but if you’re that curious, Kumo’s the one on the left). One can easily put themselves into the dancers’ position, and what we get is not only all the mistakes that Kumo makes, but the process of building his strength to become a break dancer.

I don’t about anyone else, but this scene really made me want to dance, if I wasn’t always in crowded spaces where I can’t do it! But maybe one of these days I will… maybe.

7. The Sanada Brothers’ Battle (Samurai Warriors, ep. 12)

samurai-warriors-12This is one of my favorite visual displays from any scene in any anime this season. This series brought both the history and the video game it’s based on to life in one go! While this fight actually NEVER took place in real life, Yukimura’s last stand is often considered legendary by classic literature, as the Sengoku period comes to a close shortly thereafter.

A single screenshot can’t do this fight scene any justice. An individual bout that’s reminiscent of the video game portrays all the feelings that the rival brothers Nobuyuki and Yukimura Sanada had during this entire war. On the one hand, aggression, pride, and the will to fight back. On the other hand, regret, honor, and the will to move forward. I can’t say who possessed which traits, because I’m sure both of them felt the same thing in this final fight. And while history tells us exactly how this hypothetical fight and this time period came to an end, they represented the very feelings taken from Japan’s greatest civil war period!

6. Grandma’s Secret Ingredient (Gourmet Girl Graffiti, ep. 12)

koufuku-12After graduating from middle school, Ryou celebrated by making yellowtail with daikon radish: the best dish grandma made for her. When she tastes the dish after it’s done, she wonders why it doesn’t taste the same. She put in all the necessary ingredients. She cooked them all together meticulously. What could be missing?

When Kirin comes over to have dinner with her, they eat the meal together like they always do, enjoying each other’s company. But when Ryou eats this same dish the second time, she realizes that it does taste the way grandma made it after all.

Grandma’s secret ingredient is that feeling when you share that meal with someone you love, like a grandma who takes care of you or a second cousin with infectious joy. And as grandma’s picture on her altar changes and gives a well-spirited thumbs up, Ryou finally understands what made Grandma’s cooking so special.

5. The 43rd Song (Log Horizon: Season 2, ep. 20)

log-horizon-20In Elder Tale, music is called “forty-two,” because that’s how many songs the People of the Land know. There are only 42 songs on Elder Tale’s soundtrack, so creating any more music in that world seems to be impossible. But for Isuzu, knowing only 42 songs is a travesty. Even though she’s never been praised in the real world for her music, since she was overshadowed by her musician father, the world she and her friends lived in Elder Tale felt even more confining. And when a town she stays in is under attack, the melancholy atmosphere compels her to write Elder Tale’s 43rd song.

Even though this world is a fiction, even though adventurers can die and come back without fearing a permanent death, the world of Elder Tale is alive for Isuzu and her friends. The People of the Land may not be real, but their interactions with the adventurers felt more real than whatever the Odysseus Knights were trying to prove by sacrificing themselves over and over again. Isuzu never wanted to forget the feelings she had that night: feelings of sorrow, but also of hope. And in the following episode when the People of the Land continue to play that 43rd song, it became clear. Isuzu had done something no one else thought was possible in Elder Tale. She brought hope to Adventurers and People of the Land alike!

4. A Decisive Blow (Aldnoah.Zero, ep. 24)

aldnoah-24I suppose I am more partial to Slaine than I am to Inaho, and since this is perhaps the one anime that divided more fans than any other this season, I suppose I should contribute to the fire with my opinion on how it ends.

Up to this point, Slaine Troyard’s reign as the leader of the Orbital Knights was coming to an end, as he and Inaho crash land on a shore on Earth. Slaine admits his own defeat and even points to where Inaho should aim his gun to finish the job. But in the aftermath, we find out that Slaine was not killed, but detained in a maximum security cell in the end. Slaine wonders why his greatest rival kept him alive, to which Inaho essentially says that he didn’t. Rather, this is what Asseylum wanted.

Maybe this is my religious background talking, but if you truly want to break your enemies apart, you forgive them. Asseylum doesn’t like what Slaine has become, and Inaho sure as hell doesn’t like Slaine to begin with; but by saving him rather than killing him can be interpreted in several ways. I suppose one might say this will give him time to contemplate his next revenge, which we know he is very capable of doing. However, this may also give him time to heal, something that I believe Asseylum believes Slaine is also capable of doing. Being a Slaine fan, people would expect me to be really sad that Slaine is being locked away at the very end of the series, but to be honest, I’m actually very satisfied with this ending. The beauty of a story’s ending is when we don’t know how it’s going to turn out: something that feels open-ended for us to argue over until the end of time, never to fully be resolved! And while my hope is that Slaine finally learns his lesson from Empress Asseylum, I suppose we can just leave knowing that we don’t know how this will end.

3. Bringing Color to Her World (Your Lie in April, ep. 18)

shigatsu-18Kousei always thinks Kaori was the one who brought color to his world, but for Kaori, Kousei is the one who brought color to hers! Kaori was diagnosed with an illness that gradually takes her life, often finding herself paralyzed from the waist down. So when she hears Kousei and Nagi play at Nagi’s culture festival over the phone, a miracle happens.

While she had been recovering from her latest incident, Kousei’s and Nagi’s music compels her to get out of bed, stand on her own two feet, and imagine herself playing the violin with them! Kousei’s music is often that of sorrow, but hearing it for herself drives Kaori to play with utmost joy for the person she wants to play alongside on a grand stage.

I realize a lot of people reacted to Kaori’s eventual death with utmost sorrowful feelings of their own; but for me, it’s not important to know how Kaori died, but rather, how she lived. And in moments like these, she felt truly alive.

2. The Girl Standing in the Blush of Dawn (Yona of the Dawn, ep. 22)

yona-22After fleeing from her palace, witnessing the very struggles of her people, and trying to figure out how to fight her own way, Yona is compelled to save the people of Awa from the plight of their current Lord Yan Kumji. Having boarded one of his ships as possible “goods” for a human trafficking trade, Yona led the way for her greatest feat yet. With Yan Kumji’s cartel under attack, Yona’s friends and the rebellious Pirates of Awa came to her aid to make sure Yan Kumji would not get his way this time! After seeing Yona’s bravery, the girls who were stowed away were empowered to fight their own way too. And when Yan Kumji tries to make his clean getaway from all the chaos, Yona’s already got her Red Dragon eyes on him!

Yona pierces Yan Kumji’s lungs with an arrow, and the tyrannical Lord of Awa falls into the ocean to his death. The battle was over. And when dawn breaks, the girl’s face shines as clear as day. Thank you, Yona! No one stands in the way of the girl standing in the blush of dawn!

1. “From the Bottom of My Heart” (Shirobako, ep. 24)

shirobako-24Aoi Miyamori loves working on anime, but she doesn’t quite know why she does, or what compels her to continue. So when she arrives for the Third Aerial Girls Squad final wrap-up party, she is asked to give a speech before the entire company’s celebration. As you might have guessed, Aoi has no idea what to say. But what she does say comes from the bottom of her heart. For your benefit, I have parts of her speech from the Crunchyroll translation of this show quoted below.

“I’m a little surprised to see that so many people were involved in Aerial Girls… there are people who think up the story, draw the characters, and then make them move, then the actors, the music; it truly took so many people, with so many different strengths, and various talents working together to make Aerial Girls happen.”

As the Production Desk of Third Aerial Girls Squad, Aoi got a chance to meet and interact with a lot of different personalities who made the anime happen. And while we ourselves didn’t get a chance to meet all of them, we dealt with many personalities, some of which did amazing things, others who slowed the process down and possibly even stopped production altogether! But even then, that’s not all of the people who contributed to this anime!

“I realized that anime is made by hundreds of thousands of people, decades’ worth of time, and the thoughts and feelings of all the people who watch it.”

The series itself might be brief, but all the elements that contribute to it reflect the very experience every person who worked on it has ever poured into its creation. That includes the feelings viewers get from these stories. The makers are also anime fans one way or another, or they would not have lasted in seeing each project to the very end. And while each person has different tastes in what they value when making this project, they still came together to make it happen. And finally, when Aoi compares these creators and managers to things that illuminate, things that bring color to our world, she concludes with her ultimate goal:

“I’d like to continue to brightly illuminate everyone’s hearts!”

Well said, Aoi Miyamori! Thank you for leading the way to make this anime project happen. And as my list of Great Moments in Winter 2015 Anime comes to a close, may the makers of anime continue to illuminate our hearts in the anime productions to come!

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