The Best of 2014’s Anime (AOTY not Included)

bestof2014This year was pretty terrible for anime, and it was also a clear indicator that a certain type of theory behind making shows has taken a very strong grasp of the industry – it’ll go away eventually but it was pretty bad this time around. And no, I don’t mean “moeshit” as that doesn’t even fucking exist and plenty of the shows that retards label as such are incredibly good. Anyway, somehow that being the case there were still plenty of really great shows that came out, and I do believe most would have still stood out even if they had aired against shows that weren’t so bad.

This does NOT include my anime of the year or biggest disappointments of it, both of those because the year simply isn’t over yet. Usually it wouldn’t matter, but with several shows ending this week I figure it’s worth just waiting. I already jumped the gun on my GOTY thing as it is (which, by the way, Project Diva F 2nd should totally be on as a runner-up now that I’m finally playing it). So for now, this is an assorted list of smaller ‘awards’. I’d have liked to make another post like last year about the worst 3 trends in anime, but I’ve purposefully gone out of my way not to know what goes on with fans of the medium these days. Instead of writing “Best” for everything until it looks like a strange word, I’ll just write the category for most of these. This is the ‘best’ list so it’s not necessary anyway.

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Opening (Song and Video)

Mikakunin de Shinkoukei

This op is a perfect mix of fun, cute, and weird – perfectly suited to the show and just so enjoyable to watch every single time. Even before it aired, this song had already grown extremely addictive from the music video they put out for it with the characters as a way to promote the show, and yet it never got old. Even now I’ll go back and listen to it fairly regularly and I never once skipped the opening while watching the show. It acts as both a great intro to each episode to get you excited and in the mood for it – but also, on it’s own whenever, as a good pick-me-up.

Runners-up

Akatsuki no Yona and Barakamon

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Soundtrack

sora no method ostSora no Method

The show might be pretty shitty, but the soundtrack is impressive. A lot of different types of songs with different feelings – but that’s just it, feelings. The music in this show has a lot of emotion to it that really reaches the listener or simply sounds very nice. My personal favorite is what I call the “car commercial” song, which is upbeat and sounds like, well, something you’d hear in a car commercial. They aren’t all upbeat though, the majority are more dramatic or touching and they are really well made pieces of music. This is a serious case of something wonderful being wasted on an otherwise mostly bad show. This is actually true for the runners-up as well. At least OSTs don’t need the show playing to be listened to.

Runners-up

Your Lie in April and Aldnoah.Zero

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Short-Episode Series

tonarisekishortTonari no Seki-kun

This series showcases how much creativity is still left in anime and manga, and how much a simple idea can be turned into an incredibly fun and intriguing result if you put enough thought into it. Every episode takes something basic and turns it into something far more fun or complex, and with our perspective being Rumi’s, we get really well handled manzai style comedy on top of it. Incredibly enjoyable, amazingly creative, and even nostalgic for anyone who would fuck around in class or simply make something out of nothing as kids. This is something I’d recommend to anyone and everyone, regardless of personal tastes or even age. It’s the type of thing anyone can, and likely will, enjoy very much.

Runners-up

Yama no Susume season 2 and Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san

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Comedy Series

nozakkyMonthly Shoujo Nozaki-kun

Nozaki-kun was easily the show that had me laughing the most this year, with a lot of very original joke set-ups as well as character personalities I felt were fairly unique creations. Everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone in this show, is very likable and great for gags of all types. I found myself recommending this everywhere I could once I saw the first episode. There’s also a sweetness to all the canonical romantic pairings in the show because none of them are one-sided yet both sides are too stupid to realize their feelings or speak up about them properly – it manages to make this cute and funny rather than frustrating, abusing those situations as often as possible for jokes rather than treating the romance as anything serious at all. The main point of the show, the comedy, is where it really shines though – it’s fucking hilarious and feels like a show I won’t be forgetting because I’ll be too busy hoping for a sequel and remembering all the silly shit from it.

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Dark-Psychological Series

yuckyyoneysYuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de aru

Yuki Yuna is a show that managed to do something really great, and that is create a dark and fucked up story without feeling edgy, manipulative, or pandery whatsoever like one of the more well known series that is nothing BUT those three things in the darker-styled mahou shoujo genre. With a character that has some of the most believable development for a person to have in the given situation yet in any other show or even game wouldn’t have played out that way, several big twists that actually have build up to them, and a lot of mysteries that unravel to be worse than you ever expected – Yuki Yuna manages to deliver everything from laughs and moe to massive amounts of suffering while still feeling natural throughout and not remotely forced. This is one of the few must-sees of 2014, no matter your usual tastes in anime.

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Psychological-Drama Series

wixossSelector Infected & Spread Wixoss

I included both seasons simply because it makes sense to just treat it as one show and both aired this year. The finale of the whole series was a little disappointing, but I do mean ‘a little’. Not enough to make the show bad for it and it was still one of the more interesting shows to watch this year. This is a series that a lot of people missed out on due to believing it’s a card game show – well it’s not, it’s a pretty messed up series that just happens to have cards as a plot device but even the game itself is rarely shown and barely explained. It’s about the cast. The cast that also happens to include the most believable and best crafted genuine sociopath in anime that I know of, along side one of the most naturally created yandere characters in the medium. It even handles things I’d usually shit on a show for and drop it entirely so well that I actually viewed those elements (I won’t say what to avoid spoilers) as POSITIVES in this series because they added so much to the story and characterization of some of the cast. I’d argue with myself that this and Yuki Yuna are the same genre, but the shows are so incredibly different and feel nothing alike that I really can’t agree with me there at all.

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Action/Adventure

yoneysAkatsuki no Yona

This show is one of the first in a long time to really feel like an actual adventure series and I’m really happy with it so far. It’s essentially a JRPG in anime form and it works out extremely well. The cast consists of a lot of likable characters and the show even makes sure to develop the villains. While I love this show, there’s just not too much to say at this point that isn’t a spoiler or an assumption, but this is definitely a really great series so far and one in a genre that hasn’t had much love lately. It’s also got a different perspective than you’d expect from this type of series thanks to being a shoujo and focusing on the tomboy princess and the way everything going on is effecting her. That kind of character focus is really lost in most shows like this. And as far as “action” goes, it’s not constant battles or anything close to it, but those times fights do happen they don’t hold back on killing people, which was surprising given this seems the type of show that would just “knock out” their opponents, but Hak doesn’t hesitate to tear people apart – and they all happen to be his own countrymen at that.

Sports Series

babytstepsBaby Steps

Wasn’t sure what to expect with this series, as it’s a tennis show and, well, tennis is pretty fucking boring. Then again, anime makes baseball – possibly the most boring sport imaginable – extremely entertaining, so I gave it a shot. Well that’s only half true, I also saw promo art with Natsu (who is extremely attractive, not to mention voiced by Mugi) and heard this has a legitimate romance. I wasn’t disappointed in any regard. It’s got a good romance that’s actually developing pretty quickly, it’s got intense tennis matches (somehow) without spending too long on them, it’s got a lot of great characters, and so on. It is a very good show and I really recommend it to anyone willing to try it out even though it’s tennis. This is not some battle shounen on a tennis court or DBZ with rackets- it’s about the characters first and foremost with tennis, while definitely being relevant, taking second place to that and never feeling overbearing or draggy even to someone like me who couldn’t give a shit less about the sport. It actually manages to make it interesting and exciting to watch, and balances it well with the character and romantic developments. Also, Natsu would be my “best new female lead of the year” or at least in the top 3 if that was one of the categories I was doing.

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Romance Series

wolfygurlyWolf Girl and Black Prince

I wasn’t expecting this to be the one, but while it had a couple of bumps (literally two) along the way it turned out to be a pretty good show and had a lot of surprises along the way for something that seemed to be a by the book series. Without spoiling much, shit actually goes places, and I don’t just mean in the last couple of episodes. That being the case, as a romance it’s far better than, say, Ao Haru Ride, in which you’re constantly teased before retarded bullshit happens to mess things up and then ending up with a non-conclusive ending. Wolf Girl and Black Prince follows in the vein of shows like Kaichou wa Maid-Sama and while it doesn’t quite reach that same quality and while the overall writing and character personalities are different, it was still really nice to finally see another shoujo of that style in what seems to be a drought of them lately. To be honest, there weren’t exactly all that many romance shows this year to pick from in the first place – but that’s not to say this was bad by any means, I enjoyed watching it quite a bit.

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Slice of Life Series

mikakuningsMikakunin de Shinkoukei

I already wrote a review of this series, but in short, Mikakunin is a series primarily about a loli sister-in-law getting along with her new family, with some romance about her brother and new step-sister mixed in and some really well developed yet surprising quirks to a couple of characters. I won’t say what the big reveal is, but if you actually pay attention from the get go you’ll realize it was always in your face from the start – and in such cute and charming ways. That’s actually the perfect way to describe this entire show: charming. It’s an extremely fun show with a cast of all lovable and actually very unique characters who all have great chemistry between them and believability to each of them. Oh, and it features some outstanding animation and overall art quality, along with a cast of 3 fresh seiyuu who at the time had basically no other roles – yet all managed to do outstandingly well.

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Best Title Card

Akatsuki no Yona Title Card

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Best Anime I Watched This Year NOT Released in 2014

patemaPatema Inverted

Two things: (1.) If you haven’t seen this, DO NOT LOOK IT UP, not even pictures or a MAL page. Nothing. Just watch it. It’s an amazing movie but you’ll hinder some of your experience if you even see the promo art for it or read a summary at all. Not that it becomes not-worth-watching if you know some things about it, but it’s far better if you go in blind. If you know anything about it I’d still highly recommend watching it. (2.) Watch this movie. If you’ve already seen it, watch it again. If this was released in 2014 it would be my anime of the year without question and is actually very close to taking my number one top anime film of all time spot from Tokikake. This is a must-see and an example of some of the best anime as a medium has to offer. My only real issue with this otherwise pretty much perfect film is, and I do mean this, that it’s impossible to really talk to anyone about unless they’ve seen it – there’s just so much to spoil that’s way more fun, interesting, and exciting to see without knowing ahead of time. I can’t review it, I can’t tell a friend why they should watch it, and I can’t just generally recommend it – and that kind of blows when this is something nobody should miss out on. This is seriously a masterpiece, check it out.

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Ending (Song and Video)

Mikakunin de Shinkoukei

Yup, for the third time Mikakunin easily takes a top spot. Hell, it probably could have taken more if I didn’t reason out why it doesn’t “count enough” for certain categories. This ED is equal to the incredibly good opening, and I feel both the ED and OP are going to be something that stick around for a long time as some of the best and most memorable out there. Mashiro’s World is perfect. For the content of the series, for Mashiro, and for just being a great and truly cute song and a really entertaining video to watch.

Runners-up

Encouragement of Climb 2 Ending 2 and Tonari no Seki-kun

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I’ll have my Anime Of The Year and Worst Of The Year posts up before January 1st, so keep an eye out.

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3 responses to “The Best of 2014’s Anime (AOTY not Included)

  1. >but Hak doesn’t hesitate to tear people apart

    You could say he… HAKS them up? EHEHEHEHEHEHEH

    Also, looking forward to your AOTY and WORST LIST posts. That’d gon b gud.

    Like

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