The year 2015 is almost over! But before we start thinking about next year, I would like to share my favorite moments from this past season of anime.
The theme I have chosen for these highlights is Dear Answer, thanks to this season’s Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation. Click the following link for my favorite Funny Moments in Fall 2015 Anime.
These are 14 of my favorite “great” moments, but not necessarily the greatest moments, of Fall 2015 anime. You can find all of these titles and more on Crunchyroll. And as always, there will be SPOILERS!
14) Komori-san Can Do Anything (Komori-san Can’t Decline, ep. 4)
Shuri Komori isn’t one to decline a favor for someone else. She’s always ready to help out! She’s asked so many times to do stuff that she seems like she’s really good at it all! But of course, when she’s asked to sub for her school volleyball team, they lose anyway. But that’s not the point of this show! As she goes out for her jog at school, she thinks to herself:
“I can’t do everything, but I want to try my best at everything.”
Shuri isn’t supposed to be some kind-hearted middle school girl with a huge chest to be taken advantage of. She’s a model for how we’re supposed to be, given in a comedic fashion! And she’s here to remind us to continue to do our best.
Humans have limitations, as I do on these highlights because I only watched 20 shows this anime season. But when there are limits, that doesn’t mean you accept that that’s all there is to it! Kind of like my philosophy in sharing great moments, not the greatest moments, in these highlights. But most of you will probably look past that and think this is my list to end all “best” moments of the Fall 2015 anime season. But I digress…
13) A Bittersweet Goodbye (Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note, ep. 8)
Aya Tachibana goes to a different middle school than her friends from Team KZ at the cram school. She isn’t one to make a lot of friends, but she does find comfort in her classmate, Kakeru Sunahara. Aya has never seen anything wrong with Sunahara, but the rest of Team KZ see a different side of him that is delinquent. And when his family’s business is involved in their most recent case, there’s all the more reason to be suspicious of him!
But as it turns out, Sunahara was innocent, and in fact, his father’s business has been falling on hard times recently. Sunahara even reaches out to Aya, calling himself her fifth friend (the first four being the boys of Team KZ).
The case is solved, but Sunahara’s father’s business goes bankrupt anyway, and for whatever reason, Sunahara never came back to school. He may be a good person, but for now, he’s gone. Aya didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to him.
12) First Live Tour Complete! (Miss Monochrome 3, ep. 13)
Another successful season, another great bundle of funnies from Miss Monochrome. And she finally had her first live tour across Japan! But you can’t end a season of Miss Monochrome without seeing her No. 1 fan, the nameless girl who appears at the end of every season. She asks Monochrome if she plans to have another tour. And because Miss Monochrome aims to be top idol, of course she’s going to have another one!
I know a lot of Miss Monochrome fans still gripe about Mana, who deceived Monochrome from the very beginning and took her entire fortune just to become Kikuko’s manager instead. But I think we’re wasting too much of our efforts in hating a character in a gag series that was never meant to be taken seriously. On the other hand, it’s always nice to wrap up the series with something joyful and cute, and what better way to achieve that than a dialogue with Miss Monochrome’s No. 1 fan?
I’m sure Miss Monochrome has all sorts of odd plans to make her next live tour a success. But I can assure you, when it happens, this girl will be there to see her stand out much, much more!
11) Not Following Orders (World Trigger, ep. 55)
When Osamu, Yuma, and their friend Xeno are out to stop a trion bomb from obliterating the harbor, Chika and Lilith are asked to stay behind. Lilith is the Ergatis agent Giev’s main target, and Chika can’t use her trigger so long as Xeno keeps a trap on the nape of her neck. Osamu had instructed both of them that they were to remain with Shiori unless the bomb which is aboard a large ferry comes to a breaching point in the harbor. If that happens, both Chika and Lilith were told to run as far away from the harbor as they can.
Well, the ferry does breach the critical point of impact, and Osamu and the other Border agents still haven’t stopped the bomb. As instructed, Shiori tells them that it was okay for Chika and Lilith to leave her behind and run away. As I have stated in a funny moment highlight from a past season about World Trigger, Chika is very good at following orders. But this time, she is not.
Both Chika and Lilith deliberately disobey Osamu’s orders and stay right where they are. If they run, they go with Osamu’s hastily made plan. But if they stay, they remain faithful that Osamu and Xeno will find a way to diffuse the bomb. In a later episode, Chika plays a significant part in keeping the harbor safe by blasting away the trion soldier/bomb with her signature Ibis cannon. But in this moment, she has shown she still has a mind of her own by not following orders.
10) True Friend’s Confession (Comet Lucifer, ep. 10)
Sogo and his friends help bring Felia to the Altar of the Abyss to restore her gifdium. But upon arrival, Felia is taken away by an angel that looks similar to Moura, but black. Sogo tries to get Felia back, but fails to do so, when Felia decides to adhere to the angel’s wishes, on the condition that Sogo will be safe. To make matters worse, Sogo receives a phone call from Vee, to find out that his caretaker and father figure Do Mon is dead.
Sogo becomes depressed, realizing that everything he has ever hoped to achieve has been for nothing. In that moment, he was going to give up on Felia. But before he could become more destructive, Kaon slaps him across the face! Kaon then shouts the words she’s been wanting to say to Sogo all along:
“My childhood friend is justice personified, and was doing everything he could to save those dear to him. And I love my friend because of that! That’s why I don’t want to see you depressed and crying like that!”
Kaon isn’t going to let Sogo become a sniveling mess, just because of one instance of failure. The Sogo she knows would never give in to something like that, and she’s not going to let him start now! After this, Kaon declares that she’s going to save Felia on her own because she’s also an important friend to her. And after knocking some sense into Sogo? You bet he’s coming too!
9) The Architect of Hell’s Puppeteer (The Files of Young Kindaichi Returns, ep. 36)
Yoichi Takato is Hajime Kindaichi’s perennial arch nemesis who is often called Hell’s Puppeteer. Kindaichi has repeatedly solved Takato’s elaborate murder plans, but this time, the two of them come together to solve the mystery of the Rozenkreutz murders, and to find out who is Takato’s long lost sister. It turns out that the murderer and Takato’s sister are one in the same person, a vengeful young poet named Gisele Tsukuyomi. But after she had been found out, she planned to bomb the entire Rozenkreutz mansion, along with everyone on the property!
Takato stops his own sister by hypnotizing her and stabbing the detonation device she was about to use. As Gisele lies on the ground asleep, Takato pulls out a blue rose for her and the mugen rose for him, with these words:
“I can see from these bold tricks that she really is my sister. But the way she tried to kill everyone, including myself, once the truth was discovered, I’d never do something so childish. A criminal artist must ensure the epilogue to the story is more brilliant, and more beautiful.”
Takato is still the most dangerous character on this show, and his crimes continue to make him notorious with the police. But to confuse his murders with rash ones is something he would never stand for. He may be a murderer, but he still has a human side to him, even if it’s indistinguishable from monsters.
8) Returning Kuroda (Kagewani, ep. 2)
Kuroda is an old friend of Dr. Banba’s, and he’s been traveling the world in his retirement. But when he’s gone missing from his trip to Mt. Everest, Kuroda’s daughter takes it upon herself to bring him back. Ms. Kuroda organizes a search party to find her father as she climbs Mt. Everest herself. But while they were sleeping, something attacks and kills everyone but her in the search party! Ms. Kuroda wanders into a cave, where she hears a familiar music box that belonged to her father. With what little light she had, she had found her father’s remains, as well as the presence of a yeti!
Ms. Kuroda is rescued, but hospitalized after suffering from hypothermia as well as possible yeti attacks. When Dr. Banba comes to visit her, she gives him a small token she had taken from Mt. Everest: her father’s patch.
Dr. Banba continues to investigate more of these UMA sightings around the world, as more of them come closer to people. But at least for this moment, it’s nice to know that the spirit of Kuroda’s father has returned to where he belongs.
7) At the River’s Crossing (Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation, ep. 6)
There is an Obon festival going on which celebrates the dead in Japanese Buddhist tradition, and Yuriko Kogami is going by herself. But when she witnesses a woman disappear after leaving behind a ring and letter, she grows concerned that something terrible has happened to her! Considering the mysterious woman a missing person, Yuriko finds her homeroom teacher Isozaki-sensei and Officer Utsumi to organize a search party for the woman’s whereabouts. But when Sakurako Kujo arrives on the scene, this mystery is all but something to worry about.
Upon inspection, Sakurako determines that the ring contains a synthetic diamond, that just so happens to be made from compressing the bones of a loved one. The woman in question is allegedly a widow, and had kept this ring as a sign of her utmost devotion to her deceased husband. But based on what the farewell letter said, Sakurako concludes that the woman was not talking about herself, but to her deceased husband. Perhaps the woman has found a new lover in this world, and thus, can no longer keep her promise to her husband in the afterlife. This message may be to make peace with his spirit in the world beyond, but more importantly, it was meant for the woman to be at peace with herself and her own decision.
As a bone collector, Sakurako normally would have kept the ring herself, now that it’s considered trash to the owner. But instead, Sakurako decides to finish what that mysterious woman had started and casts the ring into the river. Perhaps the river’s crossing is symbolic of the channel between the living and the dead for this Obon. And if that were the case, then may that letter be received in the world beyond.
6) A Satisfying Death (Ushio and Tora, ep. 24)
For centuries, the yokais Nadoka and Tayura have been torturing and killing humans, all to answer their burning question: what makes a satisfying death? They took humans young and old, male and female, of all different classes and killed each one indiscriminately. Many of these humans died in horror, but a few others had died with smiles upon their face. Still, they could not come to any conclusions. But when these two capture Ushio’s friend Mayuko Inoue, perhaps there is an answer after all.
Having chased Mayuko and Tora around this shopping mall, Tayura and Nadoka split up and cause more destruction than they had planned. But even though innocent bystanders fear for their life, Mayuko still makes an effort to save them. Tora had just killed Tayura and is about to do the same to Nadoka, but Nadoka grabs a hold of Mayuko with his long tongue, taking her as a hostage. But she isn’t going to let him take any more lives. You want to know what is a satisfying death? Mayuko will tell you, straight from something she had learned from Ushio:
“Who cares about a little bit of mud?”
For Mayuko, there are so many other things in life to worry about. And when considering all the other problems directly in our control, death is hardly an issue for some! If a fear of death prevents you from taking care of something else, you may as well be dead.
Rest assured, Nadoka falls to his death and Mayuko is rescued by Tora. But in this moment, Mayuko was prepared to die, probably worried about something other than herself. A life without regret. Maybe that’s what precedes a satisfying death.
5) A Convincing Ultimatum (Fafner: Exodus, ep. 23)
Maya Tomi has blood on her hands, having killed other humans who had crossed her and her friends. Sure, the Human Army had turned on her and the other D-Island Fafner pilots who were protecting the refugees during the exodus, after the Neo UN Chairman Hester Gallop declared Operation ROE Alpha, but it doesn’t help that Maya is no better than her enemies. Maya is eventually captured, only to be taken in by Gallop herself to become an instrument to a much bigger plan: a plan that involves wiping out all of the Festum, even at the cost of wiping out most of civilization, all thanks to research that was conducted by Maya’s father. But Maya won’t stand for that.
Having escaped from her holding cell, Maya finds her way back to her Fafner and fights back the Human Army by herself. In the middle of this battle, Maya then gets in close proximity with Gallop and activates Fenrir: a program designed to make her Fafner self-destruct, blowing up everything in a large radius with it!
“You threw away peace. So did my dad. And so did I. To survive, to save someone, we could sacrifice everyone else.”
Maya can’t return to a world where she had thought she was defending peace. She was no different from Gallop or her father: a murderer of humankind. If she were to survive, that would mean killing more people. But she can change all of that.
So Maya is giving Gallop a choice: call off Operation ROE Alpha, or die with her. As the seconds reach closer to zero, Hester Gallop makes her decision. And Fenrir’s counter comes to a halt.
4) True Pain (Young Black Jack, ep. 7)
Johnny Bassett may be someone else in real life, but the “Immortal Johnny” in this narrative is an activist at the height of the Civil Rights movement in 1968. It is said that Johnny could be beaten by the police with each protest, but he would always get right back up as he had felt no pain. Having followed the example of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Johnny continued to act in nonviolent civil disobedience to enact a peaceful revolution. But with Dr. King’s recent death, there is more pressure on him and other activists that a peaceful revolution is becoming less possible.
Having been attacked by other black people in his community, Johnny had broken yet another bone in his arm, but felt no pain as it happened. Having witnessed this, Kuro Hazama and Maiko Okamoto help in his treatment, but still ask questions of him about his physical condition. It seems true that Johnny feels no pain whenever he is beaten or wounded. But for him, his real pain comes from the injustice on all black persons like him, an historic pain that has yet been healed to this day.
But even with the pressure from others in his community, Johnny continues to champion civil rights in a nonviolent fashion, even after he is treated. Johnny may not have felt as much pain physically, but his pain of injustice is no lie.
3) Cool Yamaguchi (Haikyu!! 2nd Season, ep. 8)
Everyone on Karasuno boys’ volleyball team seems to be making much more improvements during their extensive Tokyo training camp, except for the self-proclaimed cool kid, Kei Tsukishima. With everyone else’s improvements, including rival middle blocker Shoyo Hinata’s reliability, Tsukishima sees himself disliking volleyball more. This has been a trend in his life, having witnessed what happened to his big brother when he was playing for the team years ago.
Concerned for getting Tsukishima out of his funk, his best friend Tadashi Yamaguchi confronts him one night, after seeing Tsukishima skip out on practice again! Having grown up a coward, Yamaguchi would normally have been one to run away from his problems, but even he wouldn’t expect Tsukishima to do such a thing! Now that the pressure is on him, Tsukishima softly asks in a disheartened tone, what was the point of even trying so hard? Even with more practice, eventually Karasuno will lose. They are not the best team in the nation, and there are so many others who practice harder and play better than they ever will. So why make the effort? Yamaguchi grabs Tsukishima with all his frustration and replies with the answer shown above.
Tsukishima may have remembered Yamaguchi for being such a coward in elementary school. But recently, Yamaguchi has been practicing more volleyball, even though he’s often on the bench during matches. He has even taken private coaching from a member of the community volleyball club to perfect the no-spin serve.
Tsukishima may often be considered the cool one, but even he can’t deny it now. Yamaguchi is really cool.
2) “Muscle! Muscle! Hustle! Hustle!” (Mr. Osomatsu, ep. 9)
Jyushimatsu is the most energetic of the Matsuno sextuplets, and unlike the others, he found himself a girlfriend. The girl always laughs at his physical comedies and stupid quips, and it seemed like a match made in heaven. But one day, Jyushimatsu comes home heartbroken, for the girl he loves decided to move back home.
Jyushimatsu met this girl when he saw her peering over a cliff while he was doing his daily workout routine. At that moment, she was ready to commit suicide, until she had found Jyushimatsu get washed out by the violent waves coming in. Having saved Jyushimatsu, she began to laugh at his facial expressions as water came gushing out of his head. Their happiness would continue, but now it was time for her to go home. And when Jyushimatsu rushes to the train station where she is departing, he does one last thing for her.
He could have plead for her to step off that train. He could have jumped on and joined her. He could have made a convincing argument to say that she would miss so much without him. But instead, Jyushimatsu chased down that train, making every weird face he could, just for a chance to see her smile. For him, this wasn’t a goodbye, but a message so that one day they will meet again, and to remember that happiness.
Was that girl smiling back at him? We will never know because her back is facing us in this entire scene. And since this is a sitcom series, we probably shouldn’t get too ahead of ourselves in the story. But what Jyushimatsu does for her makes me smile. And maybe that’s the point of it all.
1) Human Kindness (The Perfect Insider, ep. 11)
If you forgot that I use a lot of spoilers for these highlight reviews, I’m saving the biggest one for last, as I had found this moment speaks volumes for the series, despite the fact that it did confuse some people.
Dr. Shiki Magata wasn’t killed in her confined space on a private island, but she did kill her teenage daughter. Having Dr. Magata escape from the island and having a brief conversation with Sohei Saikawa, the series ends with a dialogue between Dr. Magata and her daughter. Whether you think this scene takes place sometime in the past or inside Dr. Magata’s complex mind, the moment isn’t a matter of where it is, but what it is. And what she says to her daughter is an explanation for what makes people kind. I may not have the best explanation for this scene without giving away the entire dialogue, but I hope this helps get the gist of it.
According to Dr. Magata, the basic human function is to seek answers. Humans are constantly trying to figure out how the world works so that they may be in control of themselves through it. But whenever they are in control, they influence everything else around them. To be in control often entails that other things are being controlled, and thus humans can be very obstructive to others.
Still, the one answer that every human asks themselves is of their raison d’être: their purpose in life. Humans are programmed to want an answer, thus why they are always seeking them. They desire answers so much, having no answer makes them very uncomfortable. And that’s why some who can’t find answers become destructive.
But the answer to one’s existence is not that there is no answer, nor is it a straightforward answer that could be arrived at so plainly and simply. If we convince ourselves of a complete answer or give up on finding an answer, then we have failed our basic human function. Accepting one’s situation as is the same as ending one’s life. Dr. Magata observed at a very young age that humans stop seeking these answers about themselves and accept their situations at the age of fifteen. Thus, fifteen is the age when humans end their life and become something else.
Humans are meant to find answers, for seeking those answers leads to progress. But the only one who can find those answers is our selves. No one else can instantiate those answers to us, but what we can do is consider their solutions as a guide, a kind of answer, but an incomplete one. And when you can recognize that others are seeking answers just as you are, there can be an exchange in understanding truth. That is what brings forth kindness.
With that, Dr. Magata concludes with these final words for her daughter, and this series:
“Always continue seeking, even when I am gone. Continue seeking, even when no one answers. Seek the answers within yourself. You must not forget that. And that will become your kindness.”
The answers to the truth of this world are out there, but we have yet to figure out all of them. But so long as we continue to seek them, that is what keeps us alive. We recognize that our answers are also incomplete and not without doubt. But imposing answers as complete truths can be obstructive to ourselves as well as others, deterring from progress. That’s why we must always yearn for the truth, and not to accept our situations as they are.
But in the end, only one’s own self can find those answers most dear to us. That’s what makes us kind. That’s what makes us our own perfect insider.