10 Anime I Watched in 2015 That Didn’t Actually Air in 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, I have come to a terrifying conclusion:

I’ve watched significantly less new anime this year.

Does this mean I’ve lost interest in anime? Quite the opposite since I think about it a lot more. It does mean that I’m starting to be choosy with what I watch. Mainstream’s just not cutting it for me anymore, especially this season. One Punchman was quite literally a one-hit wonder with its premiere. Rakudai no Cavalry lost me shortly after the infamous confession-kiss scene in episode 4. K: Return of Kings simultaneously wows and repulses me with its dizzying (again, both literally and figuratively) cinematography tricks and its twitching corpse of a plot.

What’s a fan to do when a season fails to deliver?

Obviously, the answer is to watch a ton of anime and finally chip away at that gargantuan backlog.

Some were favorites; others were new rewatches. Others still were completely new. Regardless all of these were more awesome than most of the stuff that actually aired in 2015, which just goes to show you that you don’t need to watch the new and flashy stuff when the old classics will do you just fine.

Ranging from incredibly trashy (because we all need a little bit of fanservice in our lives) to surprisingly nuanced (because good anime should be deep), here are ten anime that I watched in 2015 that didn’t actually air in 2015, sequenced in order of “quality” (based on the following metrics:

  • Is this objectively a “good” anime?
  • Would this stand up to a rewatch and retain favorable opinion?
  • If anything else, is this entertaining to watch?

10. Dance in the Vampire Bund (Shaft: 2010)

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You’ll see some of those characteristically Shaftian (Shaftish? Shafty?) animation quirks like minimalist, surreal backgrounds and those ridiculous head tilts but other than that, this anime resembles nothing like Shaft’s Monogatari iterations. It’s an intriguing tale of vampire and human politics, with disturbing character dynamics (an amnesiac teenage werewolf-boy falls for a prepubescent vampire queen decked up in blond pigtails…and this is the tamest of the pairings that abound in this gothic-urban fantasy thriller.) The story runs at a madcap pace and the finale is pretty much an imploding disaster of vaguely nonsensical imagery and random plot twists. A fun watch if you’re craving that Vampire Knight itch and want something a little more disturbing in the relationship department but an exasperating watch if you think too deeply about it.

9. Yu Yu Hakusho (Studio Pierrot: 1992-95)

yuyuhakusho

As a shonen connoisseur, I felt somewhat duty bound to give this shonen classic a shot earlier this year when I had a bit of downtime. I’m not gonna lie–the age of the animation really shows…in fact, I think Sailor Moon’s animation is actually a lot better and they aired roughly around the same time. Quality aside, I did like the old school feel of the plot. Koenma should be punched in the face unapologetically every episode as he contributes almost nothing to the plot and has one of the most annoying voices I have ever heard. I wished Kurama and Hiei had gotten more screen-time since I found them more compelling than Yusuke.

8. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX (Studio Gallop: 2004-08)

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Well, I had to watch it for my Top 10 GX Duels list, didn’t I? Having originally started off the series with the horrendous 4Kids dub, it was nice to actually give the series a second chance by starting things off right with the original Japanese dub. And it actually wasn’t so bad! The puns and comedic moments are actually, dare I say it, kind of funny in the original. And man oh man, did I miss all of that gratuitous Engrish dueling speak they’ve got going on. “DU-EL! Ore wa TURN! DUR-RAW! REVERSE CARD-O, OPEN! TURN END-DO! CYBER EN-DO DORAGON-EVOLUTION BURSSSTO!!!”

Ok, I’ll just stop.

7.  Inuyasha: The Final Act (Sunrise: 2009-10)

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Inuyasha was the first anime I ever watched in the original Japanese dub with subtitles, so I consider it more of my “gateway” into anime since it was the show that really made me aware that anime was Japanese animation rather than American. I was probably one of the few fans that was okay with the open-ended, half-assed ending of the main series because to be perfectly honest, I was getting a little tired of the filler arcs they kept padding out the series so the manga would have a chance to catch up. It’s great to see that our merry band of heroes with issues get their happy endings in the end, though.

Except for Kikyou, who kind of just died. Again. Wow, that’s a downer.

6. Code Geass: Akito the Exiled (Sunrise: 2012-16)

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Well, okay, the fourth episode technically aired in 2015 but the first three episodes certainly didn’t! While the character development could use a little more work (Leila’s cute, Akito has Suzaku and Lelouch’s levels of masochism but lacking any ambitious fire) we can see that they’ve squirreled away all dat budget for the fantastic mecha battle and fight choreography. And of course, Akito’s gypsy dance moves. You even get some Spinzaku and Lelouch/Kingsley douchbaggery thrown in there, free of charge. Eagerly awaiting the last episode next year for what will be most certainly a smashing finale.

5. Cardcaptor Sakura (Madhouse: 1998-2000)

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A really good CCS character study fic got me wandering into this fandom again. A reliable rewatch and unlike other shojo titles, one I actually find cute and just sweet enough not to be tooth-decay inducing. The highlight here is definitely the relationships between all of the characters. You get love in all shades–childhood crushes, kawaii brotherly-sister ties, good ol’ Mom and Dad vibes and of course, the sweet pangs of first love.

Oh yeah, there’s that “Gotta catch ’em all” Clow Card subplot that’s actually relevant.

4. Shiki (Daume: 2010)

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I watched this last year and raved about it on Twitter because it was just that good. Bobduh’s critique on the generational gap and the village community’s dysfunctional nature made it even better. But this year’s rewatch let me enjoy the story without being scared out of my wits. Sotoba’s tale is the kind that makes for a good story which means you would never ever want to live there. If you’re lucky, you get to escape from a raging forest fire on the back of a pick up truck, surrounded by refugees with their arms (yours too!) soaked to the elbows in the blood and guts of the undead friends and family you just slaughtered.

3. Future Diary (Asread: 2010)

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Since Guy‘s Anime Secret Santa bailed out and gave him a cold coal response, I thought I’d help him out and pick up Future Diary (Mirai Nikki), which he recommended. Incidentally, this has been something in my backlog for quite some time. Amazing I didn’t get to it sooner because it’s like a slower-paced Battle Royale on steroids. Fewer people die in Future Diary compared to Battle Royale but while the violence in Battle Royale is more sudden and absurd, we get up close and personal with our Diary Holders and actually find out what makes ’em tick. Of course, by the time you figure out their motivations, Yuno will probably have killed you a least a dozen times over.

2. Digimon Adventure (Toei: 1999-2000)

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Partly out of nostalgia but also as preparation for Digimon Adventure Tri this November, I ended up marathoning Digimon Adventure 01. I grew up, like most Western Digimon fans, on the Saban/Fox Kids dub so I was fairly unfamiliar with the original Japanese version. While I haven’t grown tired of the cheese and corn in the English dub, as an older and presumably more mature fan, I get a lot more out of the original Japanese, as the characters’ dialogues are a bit more complex. Take Jou’s character arc from episode 7 (“Roar! Ikkakumon!”) for example. In the English version, there’s a greater focus on him being too serious and not fun and “crazy” like the other Digidestined because he’s stuck on being practical. In the Japanese version, his seriousness is mentioned but his emotional strain of having to be the responsible one, because he’s the eldest child in the group, is the main issue he grapples with. Instead of the line “I’m not crazy” (English dub), Jou says “I’m not tired!” (Japanese dub), which points to the exhaustion he’s feeling in his efforts to protect everyone.

Tl;dr. You should (re)watch Digimon Adventure. Both versions are have their merits but the original should ease you right into tri.

1. Twelve Kingdoms (Studio Pierrot: 2002-03)

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Possibly one of the most underwatched titles on MAL, Twelve Kingdoms (Juuni Kokki) is one of those cases where the most difficult part of watching it is getting past the first five episodes until you hit gold. If it weren’t such a long running series, I would have given up as per the three-episode rule. We’re so used to having our hypercompetent protagonists overcome obstacles in a snap (or in a twenty-second training montage) that it’s infuriating when we start off with a protagonist who’s perfectly ordinary and as whiny as any reasonable teenager who’s been dumped in a strange and dangerous land where babies growing on trees, monsters eat you for breakfast, and giant talking rats are way more civilized and genteel than you. But Twelve Kingdoms, despite its underwhelming animation, takes its characterization very seriously. Prepare to be amazed as the story takes the most unfortunate and ordinary of characters, subjects them all to unreasonably high levels of suffering and misfortune, and polishes them into incredibly strong and resilient people.

Aaaand, there are unicorns. So you should watch it anyway.


What are some of your favorite non-2015 anime you’ve watched or rewatched this year?

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12 thoughts on “10 Anime I Watched in 2015 That Didn’t Actually Air in 2015

  1. I’m the same. I haven’t been watching much anime this year, not because I’ve stopped liking anime or anything, but because keeping up with the latest season is a bit of a pain.

    The two most recent “older” anime I watched (I say it with quotation marks because they’re less than five years old) are Gosick and Gundam Unicorn. They’re both really good! Gosick has two of them most adorable lead characters, and Gundam Unicorn is pretty much everything I want out of a Gundam series.

    As for your list, talk about nostalgia overload! Between Inuyasha, Yugi-oh, Card Captor Sakura, Digimon and Yu Yu Hakusho, it feels you’ve been watching some well-loved favourites! I feel like I should rewatch Digimon because it’s simply been ages (haven’t watched a single episode since I was a kid), and I get the feeling I’d probably appreciate it more these days.

    Oh, and Twelve Kingdoms has been on my To Watch list for ages.

    So much good anime, not enough time 😛

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    1. Yeah, I have no idea how people juggle more than 4-5 titles per season. I kept up with about 7-8 on average Winter-Summer but Fall just slammed me.

      I have mixed feelings about Gundam titles in general. 00 impressed me but SEED Destiny was, let’s just say I won’t be going near that title in the foreseeable future. Willing to give Unicorn a whirl since it looks promising.

      CCS, YGO, Inuyasha and Digimon are old favorites of mine. I find it healthy to return to them just so I remember what is it about anime that drew me to them in the first place. Yeah, definitely rewatch Digimon sometime–it’s different watching it as an adult. I’m finding it a lot more allegorical, with the crests of virtue plot line woven in organically and have been drawing comparisons with Digimon and C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia (whoa, future blog post there!).

      I highly recommend Twelve Kingdoms. The world building alone is fantastic.

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  2. Kimagure Orange Road. Finally watched it this year and was absolutely astonished by how something that is little more than a basic sitcom at root could be so incredibly insightful into how teenagers think, and how romance works. Flawed and silly, and looking kind of dated, it is without a doubt one of the finest anime ever made. And that’s without even taking into account the brilliant 1980s soundtrack.

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    1. It’s awesome to look back and find the hidden gems out there, right? Tbh, I’m glad I don’t feel that pressured to religiously follow all the current major titles because it gives me breathing room to slow down and try older titles I never got a chance to try before.

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  3. XYZZZ SHOUKAAAAAN!! ANAWARENO, KIBOOOUUUUU HOPE RAY VUI!!
    Never gets old. Never saw the last ten episodes of Zexal II, so I’m going back and rectifying that now.
    Also watching finished Code Geass and watching the second Akito the Exiled movie. Can’t wait to see Lancelot in CGI… and I seem to have heard something about a man named Julius Kingsley? XD

    Other shows include Gundam 00 (season 1 was better, but hey- I have 5 episodes to go), Fate/Zero (being Lancer is suffering, hell being ANYBODY means suffering in this show), and marathons of both Durarara and Gatchaman CROWDS in time for their new seasons.

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    1. PENDULUMMMM SHOUKAN!! ODD-AISU PENNNNDULUMMMM DORAAAAGON!!

      I’m at the opposite boat as you–I’ve only watched about 10 episodes of Zexal. Gotta get on that.

      As for Akito the Exiled, I won’t spoil anything for you. You’ll get to see a tiny bit of Lancelot in action (totally worth it tho).

      Gundam 00 is probably the only Gundam series I legitimately like, aside from Build Fighters and maybe Wing (which I still haven’t finished yet). Fate/Zero = suffering is the most accurate assessment. I’m struggling to find a character who doesn’t suffer…maybe Archer? His ego is simply too big.

      Never really got into Durarara or Gatchaman but they’re in my backlog, so I’ll try them at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I tend to watch quite a few titles every year that have already aired – mostly because even though I still keep up with the new ones every season, I almost always like to have at least one title at any given time that I can just make my way through completely at my own pace. I don’t keep a record of when I watch, so I don’t know off the top of my head all the older anime shows I’ve watched this year, but I do know that Nijuu Mensou no Musume/Daughter of Twenty Faces was among them. It’s easily one of my favourite titles, newer or older, that I saw in 2015 – I wrote a pretty non-spoilery review of it back in September: https://otakulounge.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/review-nijuu-mensou-no-musume/

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    1. Yeah, it’s nice to have a fallback show that you can watch whenever you want to. It’s hard keeping up with all the new anime, especially since discussion around the episodes moves very quickly…this is the reason why I don’t do episodic reviews…would never be able to keep up.

      That looks like an interesting show–I’ll have to check it out sometime.

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  5. Just rewatched Dance in the Vampire Bund! I liked the abstract visuals.

    I can tell you the anime barely touched the story. The manga story has a more complex narrative covering Mina’s double’s attempts to overthrow Mina (with side attempts from the rival vampire lords and human anti-vampire factions). There was also a sequel focusing on the origins of the vampires and a vampire artifact coveted by many, including the sinister male Vampire Progenitor. (Unfortunately the sequel ends on a semi-cliffhanger; no indication made if the mangaka intends to continue it.)
    Oh, and the mangaka, Nozomu Tamaki, mainly draws hentai manga.

    Are you still following Seraph of the End Season 2? The author’s just released another spinoff focusing on Mika and the vampires. Vol 1 promises to eventually cover the history of Ferid and Crowley, and the true meaning of “the cursed name Mikaela” that connects the 3 of them.
    Plus, the vampires appeared at the same time the angel Mikaela fell to earth.
    (I get the impression Seraph’s author is envisioning a grandiose narrative of a story which he can’t compress into a monthly 40 pg manga, so he has to put his vision into side materials instead.)

    What was it that turned you away from Rakudai Kishi after the confession scene? I know people liked it as a subversion of the usual cliché where the love interest is only confirmed at the end of the anime/manga, and that’s after going through an entire harem of other girls beforehand.
    PS. The anime’s introduced other girls, but are definitely NOT love interests.

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    1. Yeah, the art in Vampire Bund’s pretty neat…the anime wasn’t bad overall but the ending did leave me with a lot of questions. I picked up the manga shortly after and it does get pretty complicated.

      Owari no Seraph’s a tricky one. It’s a show that I want to like but watching it on a weekly basis is a chore. It’s frustrating when a show has so much potential but doesn’t ever quite live up to it. There is so much wasted dialogue and just bad storytelling. I’ll probably pick up Nagoya-hen once it finishes and marathon it through.

      Rakudai’s not really my kind of show. I’ve made several attempts to watch romance (Akagami, Ore Monogatari and Rakudai) to try to broaden my horizons but have yet to finish them. While Rakudai was better than I thought (props for the writer going straight for the romantic monogamous couple rather than another tedious harem adventure), the show still has a lot of harem-ish elements and I frankly don’t find the school-tournament storyline to be at all compelling.

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      1. If you don’t like school-tournament series, your decision to drop Rakudai’s for the best. The next story arc’s one big inter-school tournament, and even the source author said he wanted to make Rakudai a tournament type series.

        There’s another tournament series this season too, Asterisk War, although that one’s more of a typical pseudo-harem with a passive nice-guy protag. But, the animation and music are good, and the ending song is excellently classy. Here’s a sample.
        https://vimeo.com/143539372

        I hope you’re following Noragami though. It’s really good this time, isn’t it?

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      2. Yeah, I don’t mind tournament arcs if they’re in card-game/game based shows (think Yu-Gi-Oh!, Chihayafuru or Hikaru no Go) but it takes some excellent pacing and truly compelling characters to make long ones worth watching. I might return to Rakudai once it finishes and just polish off the rest in one go but for now, I’ve put it on hold indefinitely (along with the 10+ other fall shows that I’m not watching.)

        Ehh…Asterisk looks even more generic than Rakudai, even if it looks okay visually. After following K this season, I’ve learned to be more suspicious of shows that just look good but don’t have much else going for them.

        Yes, definitely am following Noragami this season–it’s brilliant and much better than season 1.

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