The Stream
Last Call

by Bamboo Dong, Oct 8th 2013

Another season, another round of finales. Last time, five of the remaining titles reached their series or season conclusions, and now this time, all the other series join them. We round out this season with a final look at the remaining shows, with text links to any series that ended early, just in case you missed them.

What do you think of the final rankings? What shows did you drop, and which ones did you stick with? Which finales were your favorite? Head over to the Talkback forums to voice your opinions.

Okay, let's finish this up.

#1 - The Eccentric Family [ep. 13]

There's one scene near the end of The Eccentric Family that encapsulates so much of what I loved about this series. While the tanuki are deep in conversation about who should be the new leader and arguing about the corruption in their own community, the Friday Fellows enter the room next door. Mayhem ensues, and when the partition between the two rooms is knocked down, all of the tanuki pop back into their original forms, terrified.

It's this perfect balance of whimsy and reality that has made The Eccentric Family so great throughout this entire series. Even as the characters talk about light-hearted things like being carefree and easily distracted, they've faced very serious events and very grave decisions. It's a dichotomy that's worked well to deliver a poignant and timeless story, buffered by fantasy. If you're looking for a quiet, thoughtful story with beautiful visuals to match, give this one a try.

#2 - Gatchaman Crowds [ep. 12]

All season long, Gatchaman Crowds has been a thrilling ride, and a wonderfully philosophical journey that asked over and over again, “what is a hero?” And now at the very end, we see the optimistic, heartwarming truth—heroes are what we allow ourselves to be. In a finale that is completely perfect, this last episode of Gatchaman Crowds not only delivers the action goods, but it also delivers a healthy serving of the Feel Goods.

The Gatchaman have decided to put a stop to Berg-Katze once and for all, reveling in the decision to make their own choices. Again, we see the resurgence of another theme that's been tossed around the entire series— the freedom to make choices. When humanity is trusted to make their own choices, with perhaps some nudges in the right direction, everyone tends towards heroism. People may need incentives like missions, and points, and goals, but with the proper guidance, good triumphs over evil. It's an uplifting, un-cynical look at the inherent good of humanity, and there could not have possibly been a better way to end the series.

Gatchaman Crowds has been a fascinating look at herd mentality, the power of anonymity, and other issues that plague our modern world. Within it, it's managed to carve out its own hero tale. It's been a refreshing spin on an old franchise, and I urge everyone to check it out.

#3 - Silver Spoon [ep. 10-11]

Read my final thoughts on Silver Spoon here.  

 

 

 

 

#4 - Watamote [ep. 12]

Tomoko's maybe not learned anything in the twelve episodes that we've been her friend, but she let us into her life, and let us love her (even if she didn't know it, and would never admit to it). In the last episode, even though she spends the entire time awkwardly skulking around campus trying to strike up a conversation with her new not-yet-friend from the festival planning committee, it has a positive ending. When the girl's friends ask who Tomoko is, she responds, "Isn't she cute?"

And that's pretty much how all the viewers feel about her too. She's awkward as heck, and her actions make us cringe, but she's so darned cute. She tries so hard and she cares so much, and it's easy to see past her inflammatory comments and stand-offishness and look to the lonely girl inside.

WATAMOTE has been a polarizing show for many fans, but I encourage everyone to check it out. Love it or hate it, it's worth watching at least one episode... and I genuinely hope you end up loving Tomoko as much as I do.

#5 - Attack on Titan [ep. 25]

Ever since we discovered Eren's ability, one question has been prevalent—is he still human? And between the discrimination that he's faced by the various soldiers, to fears of him going berserk, we're left to wonder what humanity really is. All of that wraps up nicely in the season finale, where we're treated to one final fight between Titan Eren and Titan… well, everyone should be caught up by now, but if you're not, I won't spoil it. I'll just call her Lady Titan.

I wouldn't say that Attack on Titan is the most philosophical of shows, but I had to appreciate the juxtaposition in this episode of Titan Eren, overheating and steaming, body ripped to shreds, mentally lost to the desire of defeating Lady Titan. And then, as he leans in to devour her… he stops. He catches a glimpse of the human inside, and stops in his tracks. It's a perfect comparison of monster vs. human, all without having to rub it in anyone's face too hard.

This season of Attack on Titan has not been without its problems—the story feels choppy at times, lurching ahead in moments, stagnating in others— but it's been immensely exciting. It's not hard to see why this series is so popular around the world. It's forever being driven forward by a need to see what's around the corner (or, perhaps, what's in the damned basement already), and so far, it's delivered.

As the show rapidly catches up to the manga, it will be interesting to see what direction the production team takes this train. Let's just hope we don't somehow get ourselves stuck with a whole filler season of Levi cleaning his house or something.

#6 - Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club [ep. 12]

The last episode of Free! is, in one word, incredible. It is everything that you would expect the season finale of Free! to be. It's cheesy, it's idealistic, it's over-the-top, and for those wondering, yeah, it's pretty slash-able.

It rubs the magic of Teamwork in your face, culminating in a relay that's spliced with scenes of dolphins and out-of-body experiences. The pure ecstasy of swimming on a team with your friends is so pure, so wonderful, that the boys transcend the very water that they're in.

Is it goofy? Of course. But what else could anyone have expected from this show by now? Free! has been one of the best surprises of this season.

#7 - Genshiken 2 [ep. 13]

Again, closure is important, and Genshiken takes its opportunity to find closure for its characters as well.

Who knew, when the series first started, that Madarame would be such a source of infinite wisdom? His open-mindedness and introspection has been an absolute gift this series, and it's appreciated all the way up to the end. His life advice to Hato is so simple, so straight-forward, that I think that if everyone in the world were as accepting as him, we'd all live in a Utopia.

Genshiken is perhaps not the fan phenomenon now that it was several years ago, but this new series has been wonderful. The characters are fantastic and colorful, the writing has been heart-warmingly progressive and inclusive, and in short, I think this sequel is everything that it needed to be.

#8 - Sunday without God [ep. 12]

Given the way that Sundays without God has been structured, as a series of multi-episode arcs, the finale feels less like an ending than it does just the closing of a chapter. And actually, that's just fine. The world that Sundays without God has built up over the past quarter has been complex and beautiful, and full of mystery, and I'm happy to have been able to glimpse part of it.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again. I would not let the aftertaste from the first episode color your decision to not finish this series. The first episode-- and maybe even the first arc in general-- is a little too much on the weird side. It doesn't do the rest of the series justice at all, which is a lot more just vignettes of a bizarre, fantastical world.

At times melancholy, and times eerie, Sundays without God has captivated me far more than I ever thought would be possible. If you're stuck on the first episode, keep going.

#9 - Stella Women's Academy C3-bu [ep. 12-13]

After the emotional and soul-searching lead-up to the last couple of episodes, the ending... well, it's kind of fluffy. And actually, it's nice, because for the better part of the series, that's what the show has been. It's always been a show about girls who just want to have fun, and who can't seem to get enough of survival games. It's cute, it's easy to watch, and you can't help but have a good time when you're watching it.

This isn't to say that the show hasn't had its serious moments. The first few episodes show appreciable contrast between the kinds of things that girls are expected to like and want, with the simple reality that not all girls are interested in white horses and pink palaces. And, near the end, we did get to see Yura's confrontation with her own insecurities, which manifested themselves in selfishness and codependency.

Stella Girls Academy C3-bu hasn't been the most mind-blowing of series, but it's been a solidly fun viewing experience every week. If you want a light-hearted show about girls playing Airsoft, that's exactly what you'll get.

#10 - Majestic Prince [ep. 23-24]

Final thoughts on Majestic Prince are here.  

 

 

 

 

#11 - Day Break Illusion [ep. 13]

The last few episodes of Day Break Illusion were certainly my favorite out of the entire series. While I found myself rolling my eyes at the first half of the series, which felt like a neverending parade of Daemonia and forced tragedy, the last few episodes actually had meaning.

Throughout the series, Akari has been in a unique position to talk to the Daemonia, offering them the closure they would otherwise never have had. Everyone except her cousin, who died in the first episode. The last few episodes actually give Akari the chance to go back, over and over again, trying to make peace with her actions. The conclusion she reaches is still sad, but it's liberating.

Early on, I felt like Day Break Illusion was trying too transparently to be yet another dark magical girl show. By the end, though, it had established itself as its own entity. It's felt a little nihilistic at times, but I appreciated that the show embraced it and ran with it. I'm still not sure that I like Akari one bit, but I definitely warmed up to the series.

#12 - Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya [ep. 9-10]

Final thoughts here.  

 

 

 

 

#13 - Rozen Maiden Zuruckspulen [ep. 13]

You know, I actually think Rozen Maiden could've ended on the previous episode. I don't know that dragging out the ending really does anything except cheapen the drama of the final showdown. I mean, the concept of old-Jun and young-Jun talking and meeting up in the nebulous "N-Field" is so paper thin, the less time they talk about it, the better.

The finale is largely used to try and deliver closure for Jun and some of the dolls, but I don't know that it really works. I guess Jun is more appreciated at work, or something. I guess we would care, if he was actually more confident, or if we even cared about his employment situation at all. And I guess it's sort of interesting to hear about whether or not he's going to continue with college. Actually, no, that's a lie. We don't care about that either.

Older Jun was never really established as an interesting character (in fact, a lot of time of spent showing how uninteresting and closeted he was), so this last episode feels a little bloated. I guess it's nice having closure, and it's nice seeing the dolls again. I still think they could've ended it an episode early, and people would've been just fine.

#14 - Danganronpa the Animation [ep. 13]

Years from now, when I think about Danganronpa again, I probably won't remember who the evil mastermind was. I probably won't remember the hare-brained story of how she slipped through the cracks, or how she tried to outwit the remaining students. What I probably will remember are the gory (and strangely ugly-beautiful?) death scenes, and the cheesy moment that all the students were metaphorically shot with a "Hope" bullet.

Danganronpa was exciting for me to watch, week after week, not because I necessarily had any burning desire to figure out what was going on at the school, but because there was something so relentless about how the cases unfolded. Bodies dropped left and right, and because the series doesn't actually encourage participation, it never slowed down enough to see if viewers wanted to help solve each case or not. In fact, even if viewers did want to, it was impossible, because clues were only revealed as characters used them in their cases.

And yet, it was hard to stop watching. It was like watching a grotesque circus, punctuated by the TV-friendly, censored deaths of purple blood and stylized executions. It's not so much that I wanted to know what happened next, as I just couldn't close my eyes. Perhaps if you have a weekend's worth of time to kill, this might be worth checking out.

#15 - Blood Lad [ep. 10]

Final thoughts here.  

 

 

 

 

#16 - Kinmoza [ep. 10-12]

Final thoughts here.  

 

 

 

 

#17 - Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist [ep. 12]

If Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist had perhaps half the cast, maybe it would be better. Maybe by the time the finale rolled around, we would be able to remember who all of the dozens of demons are, and wouldn't have spent several episodes in the middle of the series focusing on demons that ultimately, didn't really matter. The entire backstory between William (Solomon) and Dantalion is infinitely more interesting than all of the smaller side stories combined, and yet, because the series runs out of time, we don't really get as well-written of a flashback as we could have. Instead, the flashback comes and goes, hardly a tear is shed, and in the end, Lucifer comes home and that's that. Story over.

Makai Ouji's problem all along has been that it tried too hard to be funny, and sacrificed story in favor of mediocre jokes. That William was a realist-- it's funny, to be sure, but it's a joke that could've been used more sparingly in favor of better character development for Solomon and Dantalion.

It hasn't been a terrible show, but it hasn't been great either. It's been, at best, incredibly mediocre. There were funny parts, there were boring parts, and there were parts that seemed to only exist to fuel the imaginations of doujinshi artists. But at the end of the day, Makai Ouji fizzled out into a big, soggy heap of Meh.


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