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12:00 PM on 03.28.2015

Final Impressions: Shirobako

Spoiler alert: Shirobako ends happily.  Of course, that's really only a spoiler to the most stubborn and obnoxious of curmudgeons. There was really no other way for this show to end. And to be frank, it ended as it should have: Full to bursting with sappy, sentimental, idealistic, feel-good cliche. I love it. 

Josh Tolentino

Final Impressions: Garo: Makai no Hana photo
Final Impressions: Garo: Makai no Hana
by Salvador GRodiles

When Keita Amemiya decided to return to the Garo franchise, this gave the show's fourth season the opportunity to go back to its roots, as the detailed costumes made a triumphant return. Despite the great callbacks to the franchise's early installments, Garo: Makai no Hana suffered from a few issues where the Horrors weren't as interesting as the ones from the previous seasons. However, these mishaps were minor, since a majority of the show’s episodes featured some great themes and monsters.

Seeing that Garo and Garo: Makai Senki both featured some amazing final battles, it’s going to take a lot of work for Garo: Makai no Hana to impress us in the long run. Of course, this will determine whether Raiga is capable of becoming a great Golden Knight that'll bring hope to mankind.

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Final Impressions: Kamen Rider Gaim photo
Final Impressions: Kamen Rider Gaim
by Salvador GRodiles

Back when it was announced that Urobuchi would become Kamen Rider Gaim’s Main Writer, it was certain that 2013’s Rider series was going to be an interesting tale. Despite Gaim being a children’s show, this restriction didn’t stop Gen the Butcher from using his knives to make the show's characters suffer. In fact, the aftermath resulted in a solid story that took us back to the early Heisei Rider shows where intense scenarios reigned supreme.

As Gaim’s final six episodes get ready to leave the stage, it time for us to bow down to the fruity performers before the curtains close for good.

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Final Impressions: Kanpai Senshi After V photo
Final Impressions: Kanpai Senshi After V
by Salvador GRodiles

Back when After V premiered during the Spring Season, I couldn't help but to be excited over the fact that we were getting a sitcom about a Sentai team that spends their time in bars after battle. While the show’s premise was amusing, the series had its faults when the New Yellow episodes started to kick in. However, things managed to improve when the show started to return to its roots.

Surprisingly, After V brought up a major point that changed the way how we see the never-ending battle between costumed heroes and the forces of evil, which acted as a great element to wrap up the series.

Since every finale deserves a proper sendoff, it’s time for us to fill our favorite mugs with booze, as we bid farewell to the After V.

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Final Impressions: Mekakucity Actors photo
Final Impressions: Mekakucity Actors
by Dae Lee

To take a collection of narratively contained songs, light novels and manga and spin it into a television series makes this show a anthology about a unique group of characters connected to each other in the same (and perhaps multiple) universe(s).


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Final Impressions: Is the Order a Rabbit? photo
Final Impressions: Is the Order a Rabbit?
by Dae Lee

Having completed this season, I have no reservations whatsoever when I say this is the best slice-of-life offering I've seen in years. Drama-free, happy-go-lucky, no-strings-attached episode after episode of fun characters and exceptionally great art.

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Final Impressions: One Week Friends photo
Final Impressions: One Week Friends
by Dae Lee

Our lovable cast was in some trouble the last time we checked, but luckily for everyone, Kiryu is around to knock some sense into our protagonists. One Week Friends proved to be one of the strongest shows of the season, even if it doesn't have the flash or draw as other offerings.

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Final Impressions: Selector Infected WIXOSS photo
Final Impressions: Selector Infected WIXOSS
by Dae Lee

So, Selector Infected WIXOSS: a anime about a commercial card game. Does it sound like a show you would watch? Me neither. Yet somehow, WIXOSS has become one of my biggest surprises, beating out many of what I considered to be the safe bets of this season.

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Final Impressions: Saki: The Nationals photo
Final Impressions: Saki: The Nationals
by Jeff Chuang

The final episode of Saki: The Nationals doesn't really feature much in terms of climatic wrap-up. The series end with a giant standing nod to the other half of the story: the Episode of Side A. And maybe that's for the best.

Saki is the sort of sports-like anime where intense moment-to-moment moves turn the tides of the story, from Richii, Ron and Tsumo. Mythical powers and solid statistical play are the rules of the day. But at the same time, a large contingent of us are watching Saki for the inter-character sub-plots. Who befriended who? What's this girl's story? And in that sense, Saki tells a story no different than what you might find on a sports program on TV. So in that sense, the last episode felt like a behind-the-scenes video of what happens in this world's premium sport, appropriately.

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Final Impressions: Nagi no Asukara photo
Final Impressions: Nagi no Asukara
by Karen Mead

Nagi no Asukara was a show featuring intriguing ideas and frequently beautiful imagery, but it never quite gelled into a cohesive experience for me. For the show's entire 26-episode run, I kept feeling like the story was just on the precipice of going somewhere very interesting, yet never quite went there. The final episode did offer a fair amount of emotional payoff regardless, yet by that point, I have to be honest and admit that the series had worn out its welcome.

I don't regret watching it, and some of the characters certainly grew on me -- particularly the secondary characters, who were much more interesting than our junior-high aged leads. But I am kind of saddened by it, because I'm not sure entirely what went wrong here.

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Final Impressions: Sakura Trick  photo
Final Impressions: Sakura Trick
by Brittany Vincent

Too often, romance anime is relegated to tsundere girls and beautiful bishounen. Where's the yuri representation? True, we've got plenty of harems and beautiful boys, but there's a huge dearth of relationships between women in anime. It's either always played for laughs or touched on in the briefest of manners. I found Sakura Trick refreshing in several ways for this reason. Even though it was quick to rely on humor to weave its narrative, it was also cute, refreshing, and real in several ways. Now that it's over, I'm sorely missing my Yuri Fridays.

The final episode of Sakura Trick was one that provoked a few different feelings. While it was interesting to see Mitsuki finally coming to terms with her obvious crush on Haruka, and to see Yuu and Haruka still moving forward in their relationship, it still felt extremely bittersweet. Week after week, this series felt like a small beacon of hope for the Winter 2014 anime season, as something I actually enjoyed watching for multiple reasons. With no more Sakura Trick, I'm not sure where I'm going to get my next fix.

Sakura Trick was always so sweet, and though you could take its many panty shots and gratuitous kissing/somewhat lewd scenes as fanservice, it was done in such an innocent manner that contributed to the growth of the characters themselves. It never felt sleazy or strange, and I never felt as though I was watching something that used the girls as plot devices or objectified them in ways that were out of place or uncalled for.

I particularly enjoyed the reluctance of both parties at first, where even Haruka was a little hesitant to do something that would forever bond the two together. Then there was gradual growth that allowed two likable characters to become a "true" couple, with strengths and weaknesses that aren't normally touched upon in anime or manga -- especially with yuri leads. Not only that, but the whole cast seemed to be in on it. [Editor's Note: The whole cast was shipping them SO hard, it was great.]

I'm hoping there will be some additional episodes in the form of OVAs, or at least another season to get to know the girls more, because watching Sakura Trick was a lot like slipping into a warm blanket and snuggling up with a great, fluffy read. In many ways,  I wish we had more series like this one to curl up with. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go check out the manga. 

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Final Impressions: Soni-Ani: SUPER SONICO the Animation photo
Final Impressions: Soni-Ani: SUPER SONICO the Animation
by Karen Mead

It was patently obvious we didn't expect much from Soni-Ani: no one on Japanator even bothered to write up a First Impressions for it at the start of the season. We figured it would be a vapid, 12-episode long commercial for super-curvy Nitroplus mascot Super Sonico, and all the merchandise that goes along with that.

While it did serve as a commercial for the pink-haired mascot, where we were wrong (DEAD wrong) was the "vapid" part. Instead of feeling like an empty shell of a show designed to sell PVC figures, Soni-Ani proved itself to be a consistently entertaining, and often even heartwarming, slice-of-life show. With Sonico herself, the show provided the kind of sweet-yet-not-saccharine young girl character that so many shows try to present and fail. Even more wisely, the writers knew when to take the focus off Sonico and let the quirky supporting cast shine instead.

Naturally, the show isn't going to be knocking Akira or Grave of the Fireflies off of anyone's "Best Anime Ever," list, but the fact remains: given the premise, it's shocking that it was this good. Shocking, and kind of inspiring, really.

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