Finally what the whole none of you have been waiting for, my top picks of the year! Aside the third place spot I had a hard time deciding on second runner up and the actual AOTY – most of this year wasn’t that great, but the stuff that was good was all about equally good.
Mikakunin de Shinkoukei
This is a show that seemed in all the pre-airing stuff and at the start of the first episode to be your typical romcom with a slightly unique male love interest – I like those, so that’s not a problem. Instead though, Mikakunin manages to make something very unique and fresh by taking the focus of the story from the romance and replacing it with a focus on the feelings of the new loli sister-in-law and building the relationship between her and her new family members. While Hakuya, the main guy, gets plenty of development and his entire personality has an extremely cute explanation – and the romance between him and Kobeni is also very well handled and sweet, the focus is just so very clearly on Mashiro. This gives the whole series a very sweet and adorable feeling overall, and not in some vapid way. Mashiro is also unique on her own, as she actually acts her age which is quite rare in anime/games for that age range. Aside that the show just has so many great things to list off, and many of them are things you won’t find nearly as well done as they are here. Mikakunin is one of the must-see shows of 2014. Cute, interesting, silly, sweet, and a unique direction for a romance comedy.
Nanana’s Buried Treasure
Nanana is a show that if it just had a season 2 or even a full 26 episode season, would have probably been my anime of the year. This show was great fun, very exciting, and had a lot of twists and turns. It also managed to handle it’s short time period very well – knowing it’d end soon so introducing as many of the LN concepts and characters as possible to draw viewers into reading them. Worked on me, that’s for sure, too bad I can’t fucking read them though because they aren’t translated. Anyway, this series had some fun puzzles to watch the characters figure out, exciting fights, and felt like a mix of Durarara and everything Index has always wanted to be yet never achieves thanks to Kamachi being a terrible writer and Touma being an awful protagonist. Lots of REALLY great cast members, very interesting yet mysterious situations and groups and even Ocelot level of convoluted double-triple-quadruple ‘agents’, and HanaKana as a delicious brown trap. Great show and I very highly recommend checking it out. And you know what, this at least gets some made-up-just-now award for best sound effect: Nanana’s pudding eating sound. It’s really something special.
Third Best Anime of the Year
This was actually going to be my AOTY, and at the very least my second place, but the ending – while not ruining the show by any means, did enough damage to the overall show that it dropped to third. Still one of the top 3 best shows of the year, but sadly it’s conclusion took it from a 10 to an 8 and was one of my biggest disappointments this year. And yet it’s a series you should watch without question. Putting the finale completely aside there’s not really anything that’s less than fantastic.
The characters are incredibly well developed and one of them is easily one of the most realist and believable I’ve seen an anime pull off in the type of situation they are in. She knows the truth, she knows the options, she knows she’s the strongest in the show, and she knows that her decision carries the weight of literally all of humanity with it. Instead of pulling anime logic or something, she decides to do what any real life person with any sort of compassion or care would do, yet in fiction what is the least likely thing to happen. Before that even she does what a real person would do, in a much worse way. This is a show hard to talk about without spoilers if that’s not obvious. Anyway, this character is fucking incredibly well made and she alone would make this show deserving of this spot on the list.
However, she’s not alone! The rest of the cast, while falling into more archetypical types of characters, are all very well made and totally likable. Even within the short period of the show you come to care about all of them a great deal and they form their own unique personalities as well.
This show has amazing character development, pretty cool battles, a very interesting story and universe, great music, and almost everything is top notch. That is until it all gets wasted in the final episode due to, as I said in the disappointment post, stuff I’ll get to in my full review soon. But still, this is a show definitely worth watching regardless of that ending and something I make no hesitation in saying was one of the best shows of the year, yet very sad to say it didn’t make it to being the top anime of the year.
Second Best anime of the Year
As far as entertainment goes, Nozaki-kun is a perfect example of what anything comedic should strive to be. The comedy is very fresh and plays well with the themes of the show and the character’s personalities. Every single person in this show helps add a lot to every scene they are in. This is one of those rare comedies that keeps you at least having a ‘sensible chuckle’ throughout and just feels good to watch.
My personal favorite thing about it though is that every single character has someone they like – and the person they like also likes them. However, both sides are either too shy to ever admit it or too stupid to realize it’s mutual. It makes for a lot of fun scenarios. Usually when an anime tries to use never-happening romance it turns out frustrating as shit, but here it’s used in a perfect way to be funny, feel somewhat fulfilled, and get a good laugh.
I don’t honestly have much to say about this aside that it’s very much worth watching for anyone into anything (though don’t come into it expecting real romance, none of that goes anywhere). It’s a great show and one of the best comedies out there in general.
Anime of the Year
Of all the shows this year, this was the one that I was always most looking forward to seeing the next episode of (well, maybe YuYuYu was close to that) – even when the next ep was clearly gonna be fairly laid back. It’s a situation of really great characters and a very cute romance making a show extremely enjoyable, not to mention those times there was something exciting to look forward to thanks to the tennis matches. Along with that, I remember this very well, and I can’t say that about much else this year – it’s the only show that I’ve actually been into enough to remember it in detail months later. It’s not just that though, Baby Steps was the most fun I had watching anything in 2014, and “fun” is definitely important for an anime to be. I enjoyed every single second of this show without a single complaint or episode I felt was less good.
You’ve got tennis somehow made exciting and interesting to watch being played out naturally, sometimes stuff skips ahead but rarely if ever (I think never!) does it have situations you’d find in most sports series with time being stretched and a 5 second in real-time event being pulled out in order to have monologue and such over it. It’s real-time or sped up and it’s always somehow very engrossing, probably thanks to the incredibly good character development. You’ve got a very sweet and believably developed romance that I am about 90% certain is going to turn into a canonical couple far before the series ends. You’ve got everything. Good comedy, exciting matches, nice romance, and so on. The only thing this show really lacked was a large budget, which meant cutting some corners in the art area – but that’s hardly a big deal here. They, for the most part, made sure the actual characters look good, it’s mostly background crowds that paid the price. But hey, must have done well given it’s getting a second season, maybe that aspect will be fixed in it.
Ei-chan is a very likable lead and Mugi-as-a-tomboy-with-huge-tits is an incredibly wonderful love interest and main character. Mix in the 1:1 Taiga Kagami clone and you’ve got a good cast already, but it doesn’t stop there and has an actually pretty large cast with all likable characters that you grow to care about on some level. This show is definitely a sports series, but the main focus is by far on the characters. This is another show I’d say that everyone should throw on their PTW list and give a try some day – maybe even before the new season starts in April.
I honestly wasn’t expecting to say this was my AOTY – but in the end it’s the show I rated highest of almost everything I watched this year, the one I remember the most, the one I enjoyed the most, and well it’s a great show so I have no issue putting it here and do believe it earned it. I’m not entirely happy with the rest of this list, and it still does feel weird as this feels to me more like a ‘top 3’ winner rather than the best thing of the year, but I’m not entirely happy with what aired this year either. Baby Steps was the only one aside Nanana and Seki-kun that I felt gave me nothing BUT a fully enjoyable experience with no bumps along the way at all and the only issues in those other two being length.
I published this at exactly 11:59pm on December 31st. Told you I’d do it before 2015. As for my picks, well honestly this year was mostly full of terrible shit, average shit, and a few good ones. “Great” titles were very limited and not far off from the ‘pretty good ones’. Aside Baby Steps there’s really nothing that stood out to me this year that didn’t fuck itself up somehow, with the exception of Nanana which simply didn’t have nearly as much time as it needed.
Are my picks shit? Blame anime for being pretty damn bad this year, not my tastes.
I also only realized I never made a AOTY 2013 list, so here’s the AOTY of 2013: Railgun S. Yeah, who would have guessed.
And, as one last thing to say about 2014 – I finished Eyeshield 21 (awesome show) with 15 minutes before the new year (then finished writing this and posted it). YA-HA!