Summer is over, and that means no more lazy days for some of us (yeah, I know). But before I start preparing for other things including the Fall anime season, let’s revisit some of the moments that came from a handful of anime from this past season.
This highlight review’s theme is Hero, thanks to this season’s Ushio and Tora.
Obligatory disclaimer: these are the great moments of the season, not necessarily the greatest moments of the season. These moments come from a limited list of things that I watched and does not include everything that aired in Summer 2015. You can find all of these anime and more on Crunchyroll.
And as always, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!
14) The Challenger (Baby Steps 2, ep. 18)
Yoshiaki Ide is already a tennis hero in some people’s minds. He almost had to forfeit his match for a spot in the All-Japan Junior because he stopped to help a kid undergo surgery after getting hit by a car that morning! Knowing that, plenty of spectators showed up to watch his match against our protagonist, Eichiro Maruo, and you bet most of them wanted Ide to win.
But the hero I’m focusing on here is our Ei-chan. Even though he started tennis 2 years ago, even though the crowd was rooting for someone else, he played his best thus far in this match to give Ide a run for his money.
Eichiro wins, but not without a victory stance with the crowd’s own hero. Thanks for making this the greatest match ever, Eichiro! That was amazing!
13) The Demon Shooter (Aoharu x Machinegun, ep. 4)
Hotaru Tachibana needs a gun to participate in survival games, so she tests out a model in a challenge against the survival game shop clerk. The clerk notices that Hotaru’s time is almost up, and is relieved that she’s not going to get a free gun out of this after all. Big mistake.
Up from behind the wall, Hotaru springs forth with her gun at the very last second, with every intent to kill! Now Hotaru is actually a terrible shot, but even the clerk realized, she is also a terrifying shot!
Hotaru is going to get her gun whether you like it or not, bud. The eyes say it all!
12) The Mastermind (World Trigger, ep. 41)
The second match of the B-rank wars is wrapping up, when Kotaro Suwa manages to corner Yuma Kuga, Tamakoma-2’s ace attacker. All eyes are on Suwa as Yuma helplessly defends himself with a shield. Frankly, Suwa should have been able to take a point off of Yuma, except he forgot one small detail.
Tamakoma-2’s caption Osamu Mikumo was still on the field, and he had his eyes on Suwa the entire time. And just before Suwa can finish the job, Osamu bores a bunch of holes in Suwa’s trion body, forcing him to bail out!
Sorry, Suwa Squad. The truth is, Yuma was actually the decoy. The real winner here is the mastermind, Osamu!
11) Those Who Saved the Kamaitachi (Ushio and Tora, ep. 9)
Juro has every reason to hate humans, even when one of them pelts rocks at him for being so ugly. But when an explosion causes debris to collapse on top of his siblings Raishin and Kagari, someone needed to come and rescue them! And who else would come to their rescue other than the first responders, the people of the construction project in the first place?
Before a gas explosion could take any lives, these humans of the present day, along with Ushio, Tora, and Juro, managed to save the kamaitachi from certain death. Juro was glad that his siblings could live, but in the end, he forces Ushio to kill him to atone for all the murders he had committed up until then. Juro wanted a reason to die, but not without getting an apology from the humans. Perhaps this act of kindness was that apology.
Rest in peace, Juro. You will be missed.
10) The Traveling Chef’s Past (Food Wars, ep. 15)
Soma Yukihira always wanted to become a master chef like his father. So it must’ve been crazy to think that Dad went to Totsuki Academy too, and even stayed at Polar Star where Soma currently resides. And when Dad comes by for a visit with his son, he tells Soma of a certain mark on the floor of his room.
Here, in the center of Soma’s room, is a dent from when his father had dropped a pot when he was going to the school. This is the room that made Soma’s father who he is today. This will be the same room that will help Soma become a master chef someday, too.
9) The Diplomats (Gate, ep. 10)
On their visit to Japan, Yoji Itami’s guests from the special region — Pina, Rory, Tuka, Lelei, and Bozes — realized that Japan was a country they couldn’t possibly win over in any way. And yet, as their trip came to an end, they paid their respects to the Ginza memorial, in memory of those who died when the Gate first opened.
The visit was meant to be somber, as a reminder that while they were currently acting as diplomats, Japan was still at war with the Empire. But when the girls had finished, a joyful noise could be heard around them. When they turned around, they were greeted with the cheers of thousands of Japanese citizens.
Japan is a powerful nation compared to the Empire, but the people have always believed in peace, and hope that these foreigners enjoyed their visit. That’s when Pina knew. If there was any hope left for the Empire, they would have to establish peace talks with Japan right away.
8) The Business Partners (Classroom Crisis, ep. 13)
In order to save A-TEC from getting dismantled, the head teacher Kaito Sera and his director (and student) Nagisa Kiryu (for the lack of a better name) came up with an elaborate plan to screw with the Kirishina Corp.’s CEO, Kazuhisa Kiryu. Having rescued Nagisa by A-TEC’s latest experiment to strap a newfangled X-3 engine on a legacy rocket ship, it seems that Kazuhisa is impressed, but still doesn’t budge. Well that’s okay, because Kaito, Nagisa, and all the students of A-TEC have submitted formal resignations, and plan to establish their company elsewhere!
You can keep your X-3 engine and your establishment as the biggest scumbags of the Fourth Tokyo on Mars, Kazuhisa. Kaito, Nagisa, and all of A-TEC are sticking it to the man!
7) The Student (School Live, ep. 11)
Yuki Takeya has lived through this zombie apocalypse as if it had never happened. She brought comfort to her friends in the School Living Club, especially when they needed it most. But when Yuki “awakens” and realizes what has become of her beloved school, her worldview suddenly changes.
In order to save her friends, Yuki follows the voice of Megu-nee, their faculty adviser who was killed at about the time Yuki started to pretend nothing happened. Yuki searches for Megu-nee, and even believes she’s talking to her through a door. But even after her teacher’s final words, Yuki opens the door, only to find there was no one to be found behind it. The truth hurts, but even so, Yuki remains strong for her friends, and accepts the truth.
“Bye bye, Megu-nee,” she says softly.
And with such a heavy burden lifted from her memories, Yuki knows what to do next.
6) The Strongest Man in the World (Braves of the Six Flowers, ep. 11)
Adlet has been suspected of being the Seventh Brave ever since the braves had met, but as the season ended, it rapidly becomes clear them that he is not. And he does so like any other mystery character would do: by using his reasoning.
Adlet isn’t a powerful saint or even someone who associates with powerful nobles. He’s an average man who just happened to learn a few tricks from science. But that same science helped him uncover the truth about the Seventh’s real plan and how that Seventh set up a trap for the rest of them. Not to give away spoilers, but everyone comes to realize that Adlet is one of the braves after all, and the first confirmed brave of the Six. But even so, he’s human, and faints from having been wounded.
The Strongest Man in the World smiles, even when he is suffering the most. And when his name is officially cleared, there could be no other just like him.
5) The Moves of Spirit (Tribe Cool Crew, ep. 48)
In the final stage of Dance Road, all the finalists are challenged by the trendsetters of Crowd High, who plan to take over Jey El’s influence on dance. Up until this point, only Tribe Cool Crew remained to challenge Gold and Silver, the most powerful of the Crowd High trendsetters.
At last, Tribe Cool Crew has become a unit, incorporating every step they’ve learned up to this point, showing their love for their hero Jey, and showing their moves of spirit. The votes were close, but Tribe Cool Crew managed to move the crowd and overcome the power of Crowd High.
With that, Jey’s personal assistant Mabel realized then that Jey’s estate didn’t lie in any of his possessions, but in dance itself. Perhaps the future of dance now lies in the spirit of dancers like Haneru, Kanon, Kumo, Mizuki, and Yuzuru.
4) The Leaky Basket and the Vampire (Actually, I am, ep. 9)
Asahi Kuromine was the first to know of Yoko Shiragami’s secret, and thus became her first friend at school. But in order to keep that friendship, he found it necessary to do his best to keep that secret, even though his thoughts and feelings have always been apparent to others. That all seemed to change when the two sneak on campus one night to continue practicing their swimming.
The truth is, Yoko is a vampire, and because she had to keep that secret from everyone, she didn’t make a lot of friends until now. But by going to the school her parents had met and in turn finding a friend in Asahi, Yoko’s lonely days have come to an end. And it was this swim practice that made that clear.
Say what you will about the “obligatory swimsuit episodes.” This was the first time Asahi has ever truly fallen in love without simple affection, and this was Yoko’s way of thanking him for all the happy memories she had made coming to this school. Perhaps Yoko found friends thanks to Asahi, but Asahi’s reputation as the leaky basket has been patched thanks to Yoko.
How will their human-and-vampire love story pan out? Only time can tell. But of all the couples that have developed this season, this is the one I’ve wanted to see happen the most.
3) “Rinko” (My Love Story, ep. 24)
Rinko Yamato is Takeo’s girlfriend. But in a recent event, Rinko’s coworker Koki Ichinose wins a baking contest for her, and confesses his love for her. Rinko is taken aback, but still finds the courage to tell him that her love is, and always has been, Takeo.
In the aftermath, Takeo is happy to hear these words from his Yamato, so with deep gratitude, he gives her a warm hug. And for the first time, Takeo calls her “Rinko.”
Rinko may have been Ichinose’s muse for the competition, but she isn’t someone to be tied down to another man’s ambition. She was happy to know she could empower someone like that, but not out of obligation. Rinko isn’t so interested in being a person put on a pedestal like some kind of trophy, and being called a “muse” has that effect. She wants to be herself, and to be herself for the ones she cares about most.
She may be Ichinose’s muse, but to Takeo, she is just Rinko.
2) The Crane Repays a Debt (Non Non Biyori Repeat, ep. 10)
Renge and Kaede “Candy Store” moments are some of the most adorable moments in Non Non Biyori as it is, but this one felt extra special. This moment helped me see the Japanese folktale “The Crane Repays a Debt” in a whole new light.
My first impression of the folktale was that it was depressing. Here, a man saves a crane, gets a wife, only to find out that the wife leaves him because he found out she was actually the crane he had saved years before (please forgive my rough explanation). But what of the feelings of the crane? Why did she even bother repaying his kindness? What did Renge learn from this story that Candy Store read to her?
Renge realizes just how tired Candy Store is, having put in a long day just to make sure she was okay. Renge had a lot of injuries from falling off of her new bike earlier that day. To repay her, Renge gives Candy Store a coat until she is well-rested enough to go back home. Upon realizing that Renge had given her that coat, Candy Store decides to do something special for her.
The next morning, Candy Store closes her shop for the entire day, just to teach Renge how to ride a bike. Renge pedals and falls, multiple times even, but Candy Store continues to watch her as she learns. And then, right when the sun sets, she watches as Renge takes off before the horizon.
Not to argue which of the two were supposed to represent the man or the crane, but I think this moment gets to the very heart of the meaning of that folktale. A person’s kindness to others will pay off in time, and true kindness goes both ways. But the one lesson that I had missed from my first interpretation of “The Crane Repays a Debt” comes with the result: being able to let go.
We can’t keep a crane, a wife, a coat, a child, or anything forever. We must learn to let them go for them to truly be free, when they can strike out on their own. It is in that freedom that they can truly pay back kindness, with the gratitude of getting a chance to do things they normally would not have if they stayed with you forever.
At the very end, the girls ask Renge where she wants to go on her first bicycle trip outing. Renge replies, “I can go… as far as I want.” That’s the ending I’ve been hoping for for The Crane. And that’s what I’ll be taking away from this moment.
1) The Reaper (Charlotte, ep. 13)
Yu Otosaka has learned quite a bit in a short time, and receives one last mission: to take every supernatural ability on Earth so that no one will ever have to suffer from them again. In the two years that he searches and takes them, he becomes a world class criminal, goes mad, and became responsible for the deaths of many children and massive property damage. He became known as the Reaper, until he found the last supernatural ability wielder.
Yu is about to be taken in by a bounty hunter in China, when this girl gets in their way. The bounty hunter shows no mercy and is about to shoot her anyway, when Yu stops the shot with his telekinesis. Yu realizes that the girl’s ability is “Courage,” and finds it fitting to be the last one to take away.
The girl seems fearful of the Reaper, now that something that had helped her become strong was taken away. But Yu sees it differently. He acknowledges the girl’s courage to come not from an ability, but from herself. The heroic drive in her has always been with her, supernatural ability or not.
Yu Otosaka is often seen as a coward, and to the world, he is a criminal. But as he grows up, he has helped eradicate all supernatural abilities in his way. And while these abilities were indeed powerful, they carried with them more misfortunes than strengths.
Growing up is a scary thing, and having something so precious to us be taken away hurts at first. But over time, letting go of such things can free us, and let us reach a potential that we may not have realized within ourselves, had we been stuck thinking we would just be defined by our abilities alone. So at last, Yu hadn’t become a reaper as he did become a liberator. That, I believe, is worthy of being a Hero.