A lot of things happened this year but being the absolute pleb I am, I’m just going to talk about the anime that aired this year in the form of a Top 10 list. Simple rules apply to the list being that the anime must have finished in 2014 so shows like Nanatsu no Taizai or Log Horizon season 2 are not applicable but Samurai Flamenco and Log Horizon Season 1 are. That’s it really. Without further chit chat, here I go.
Nobunaga Concerto was a weird show in the sense that it was a promotion to a TV Drama that was set to air shortly after the finale of the anime. Thus, it didn’t actually sell any Blu-Rays or get any sort of marketing. It was a strange project but because it was strange, it allowed some sort of freedom that you don’t see much of nowadays. There was a distinct lack of fan-service as the animation was all done through artsy rotoscoping, good rotoscoping, unlike Aku no Hana. The show tells the story of a young teenager forced into the Warring States era of Japan, under the ruse of the legendary daimyo, Nobunaga Oda. This type of plot line is a personal haven for me as I generally like the idea of a foreign being shoved into another world, or better yet timeline, and watching them adjust to said change. Nobunaga Concerto got this down to a tee and it was fascinating. Also, it doubled as a history lesson as the events that took place within the show were the historical events from Nobunaga Oda’s history. Who says anime kills my brain?
No Game No Life
Being one of the most popular shows to air this year, it was quite hard to ignore.Generally within every anime season, there is one or two shows that get a decent amount of popularity and is talked about quite frequently. for better or for worse. No Game No Life was this show in the Spring Season of this year. No Game No Life flourished as it progressed through it course with multiple peaks of excitement. But the one thing that it excels at is producing excitement. Many people can cite flaws with the show, however I have yet to hear a person say they were bored during NGNL. If you look at No Game No Life as merely as a fun or exciting watch then it is amazing but it if you look for something more than that, then you are just fooling yourself and missing out on a great show.
Highschool DxD New
I’m serious here when I say this. Highschool DxD New is genuinely a good show. I’m going to take that one to the grave. A lot of people criticise DxD for just being borderline-Hentai and pandering but usually those people are more shallow than a piss puddle so lets ignore them. What DxD does amazingly is that it is a subtle parody of certain anime genres and tropes while still having substance to back it up. Parody in anime is so poorly done nowadays that it is mainly cringe-worthy to painful. From Gintama which bases its comedy around loud noises and blatant plagiarism to Watamote which made me feel guilty for enjoying anime, its not surprising that people will look at these are say that they are what parody is without giving much thought to other shows. So when a show with the main character nearly killing himself and his opponent with failure being the reduction of breast sizes by half or tit-cannons, it’s just “pandering”. Screw you guys, Highschool DxD New is amazing.
Selector Infected WIXOSS
Both seasons of WIXOSS ended in 2014 however I will just focus on the first season since that one is my favourite. WIXOSS had many themes thrown into it which all compliment each other; greed, purity being tainted and the longing for destruction, all within high school girls. Terrific. WIXOSS was surprisingly written by Mari Okada who has penned many…uhh..”great” shows like M3, Nagi no Asukara and uhh….point is, she amazed me on this show with its grim-dark themes without bordering on the edgy or melodramatic side of things. WIXOSS was clinical at using symbolism and fore-shadowing so that so many of the twists did have that needed shock value while being very valid. The finale was one of my favourites of this year though, mainly the aftermath of the battle between Ruuko and Iona. The desperation in Ruuko’s voice amass all the destruction and chaos around her after Tama seemingly betrayed her for her own wishes, disregarding the code of the LRIG’s. It all happened so quickly and was so fast-paced that it left me bewildered. While season 2 was not as spectacular, I at least appreciated the ride that was WIXOSS.
Tokyo Ghoul caused a decent amount of controversy this year for being unfaithful to its source material. Generally, this annoys a few people here and there but the vast majority of the audience enjoys the ride and watches what the anime can do. However, since the Tokyo Ghoul manga is an apparent God sent, simply cutting out a one word of it is blasphemy. As a result, Tokyo Ghoul was criticized for being edgy and having a lack of depth. Obviously, I disagree. Tokyo Ghoul had a very substantial theme with Kaneki, that being corruption. Not necessarily a corruption of greed or evil but rather having his innocence and good-nature tainted from within him. It also does something that I’m surprised that a lot of people didn’t actually compliment it on. If you take out Yamori and his crew, there really isn’t no “bad guy” in the show. Both the humans and the ghouls are portrayed having ugly and beautiful sides to each of them. They are both forced into a conflict that in turn forces out the ugly side in everyone, diminishing the good. Everyone has a valid reason to fight and the viewer is thrown into the middle of this war, conflicted over the true justice in the show. Even the only just character, Kaneki, is no longer fair by the end of the last episode, one of the greatest episodes of anime that I have ever seen. The show is told from Kaneki’s perspective, who is forsaking both of his sides for the vast majority of the show. Just like Kaneki, we are able to see the good in both sides. But by the end, when Kaneki devours Yamori, its quite sad and nearly disturbing that the only person in the show that we can relate to has become no better than a monster, or rather a ghoul in literal terms, because of this war and the disgusting side of humanity and Ghouls alike.
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
Kawaisou was a show that flew under many people’s radar. It was a great show in the sense of performing Slice of Life well. Usually SoL is either the standard cute girls doing cute things or some fantastical romance and it fails the core concept of what it is, being a slice of life. Kawaisou nails this though and never fails to be boring. Characters are extremely lovable and the situations range from humorous to rather stressful. These situations are present in every other SoL you see but Kawaisou shares a vein with another one of my favourite shows, Tari Tari. It keeps itself grounded in reality. Its quite stupid to say this when talking about a SoL but what I mean is that Kawaisou doesn’t seem to be this far away utopia where everyone is happy and there is no problems at all yadayadayada like you see in stuff like K-On or Haganai. For doing such a basic thing as creating reality within fiction, I have nothing but compliments for the show.
Silver Spoon Season 2
A subtle weakness is always nice to see. Something that only becomes relevant 7 or 8 episodes into a series yet it feels like its been there the entire time. Silver Spoon perfected this with Hachiken, being a “selfless freak”. The entire “A little bit too nice” character trope tends to be used quite poorly as they are pretty much saying “WHY CAN’T I HELP BEING SO NICE SOMEONE KILL ME I’M A SAINT!”. Stuff like Kokoro Connect or any harem you look at really tends to make this a positive thing but not Silver Spoon. From collapsing to various personal family strains, all of this could be solved if Hachiken was a little bit selfish. This was only a little bit of what made Silver Spoon so great. Again, it was like Kawaisou being that it was grounded in reality but the characters were so finely tuned that the drama side of things were almost tormenting at times, especially with Hachiken’s family. Its funny to think that a farming show has better character writing than the vast majority of shows out there.
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun
I’m just going to cut the bullshit and say that Nozaki-kun is fucking hilarious. Its sad that most comedies made nowadays have no….well, comedy. But not Nozaki-kun. This is the other type of parody that I love, making fun of tropes in a genre by completely going over the top with them. Ouran Koukou Host Club did this but it wasn’t all that funny and it ended up actually becoming a typical shoujo by the end. Nozaki-kun keeps its charm all the time but seemingly tops itself in craziness every other episode. If there is any show that ended in 2014 that needs a second season, its Nozaki-kun
Log Horizon Season 1
I like the type of person who says “Yeah I like Spice and Wolf…think it would be better if it was set in an MMO though”. Log Horizon incorporates some MMO economics (as shallow as they tend to be) with a touch of action and romance…like Spice and Wolf. I appreciate a show that tries to focus on politics over action to keep the interest in the show and the majority of season 1 did do that. There were various run-ins with some PKer’s and other villains but those were to add to the MMO feel of the show but at its root, Log Horizon was a very well thought out show in a compelling side that I didn’t think was possible. Since Log Horizon was so well thought out, all it needed was a lovable cast of characters and by god did it have it. Only Inari Konkon topped it by creating OTP’s.
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
In the end, it couldn’t be anything but this. The second season of Magi is an epic that should be experienced by everyone. Its not the epitome of character writing but it does something that most shounen miss out on, creating excitement, grief, worry or happiness for characters in the show. Magi triumphs in this respect, its characters are insanely lovable and entertaining that when they are putting their lives on the line or are going through any trauma, you can’t help but just want to be there with them. The directing as well is insanely well done where it makes use of various symbolism or even a look on a certain character’s face. It handles comedic timing with ease and the drama with care. It is a show that is near perfection in my eyes. I don’t want to go into details with the show as there could be certain people that have yet to watch it but if you haven’t, I highly recommend that you start now. Season 1 of Magi was pretty amazing but this season took everything it had and doubled it in greatness. Magi was a magical roller coaster ride that I will not forget anytime soon and it was what made 2014 a great year for anime for me.
- Barakamon: An easygoing show with a not so easygoing protagonist. Barakamon was many people’s highlight of the year with its great comedy and down to earth cast of characters with some nice drama to boot.
- Aldnoah.Zero: The Slaine pain train will maintain the same pain with nothing to gain, it is insane. A/Z was a spectacular with some flaws here and there but the characters give the entertainment that is desired.
- Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta: A little undiscovered gem that started off quite well. It had some amazing air fight scenes with some moments of nice character writing. Some melodrama was present but hey, I enjoyed what I got.
- Tokyo Ravens: A magic show that doesn’t fall into the many traps that magic shows tend to have. It added far too many characters than it should have but the main cast of characters were great and made the show fantastic.
- Samurai Flamenco: What a wild ride this was. With a out of control plot line seeming to take any route it pleased but still having some integrity to keep everything together, Samumenco was one of the positives of 2014 for me.
- Noragami: A show that I wasn’t even planning on watching in the first place. Ties in Japanese gods quite well to make an interesting story. Anime original ending has its pluses too but the main positive that I got from the show was the fantastic chemistry between the main characters
- Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha (A.K.A OTP Generator 2014) : While the actual story itself isn’t anything solid, the cast of characters certainly made up for that. The characters felt so…comfortable to watch, like if I kept watching them then I will just forget all my worries and get immersed in their world.
- Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin: This is kinda similar to Koi Iroha in the sense that it is very comfortable to watch. The traps in which the cast were thrown into were very entertaining and it helped that the actual characters were also great to watch. I like to point out Asumi Kana’s performance as she nailed her comedic scenes perfectly.
Well, that’s all it is for the positives. 2014 was a pretty decent year for anime but that doesn’t mean it was perfect. There were a solid number of bad to meh shows this year and here is 5 of the worst.
Akame ga Kill
This did wrong what Tokyo Ghoul did right, being not faithful to its original source. I am a manga reader of AgK and believe me, they literally cut out the best parts of Akame ga Kill in the anime. All of the exposition between the characters that developed them into actual human beings was just not there. They were just…things that killed each other because the plot demanded it. While episode 23 did do something nice in killing off Tatsumi (it is damn rare to see an shounen kill off its protagonist), that is the only thing I can compliment it on. The characters feel empty in Akame ga Kill and all the parts that were supposed to be emotionally gripping were just a melodramatic mess in the end. Being a manga reader, I wanted this show to be fantastic and show the world that shounen can have meaning and backbone but Akame ga Kill just faded into the background just becoming a melodramatic, edgy mess.
Nagi no Asukara
I bet this will piss a lot of people off but Nagi no Asukara was not good, in fact it was bad. Whenever Mari Okada has to write romance, she seems to skip the entire relationship and character building and skips right to the drama of it all. I am not going to give a shit about characters that you didn’t actually give character to. If you want to have a DEEP romance anime then you need to spend time actually creating character within the characters before actually going into the knitty gritty side of things, especially if you are a 2-cour anime. The only episodes of Nagiasu that I would consider enjoyable were the 2 episodes where Manaka was “dead” after the timeskip because it was around that time when the characters were actually acting like human beings and were starting to have depth. But then Manaka came back…You know, it takes some extreme writing to have one character utterly destroy an entire show, so I guess that’s a compliment to the show in itself when you think about it.
I have yet to see one positive thing written about Magical Warfare. But it seems to just be universally hated among…well, everyone. Its kinda the opposite of Tokyo Ravens in the sense that I wished for some new character to be introduced that would spice up the show rather than being stuck with the same old boring cast that we have. One thing can be of worth from this show and that is that it is probably Mamoru Miyano’s worst ever performance in any show ever, he just acted like he didn’t even give a shit about the show and I don’t blame him. The show ended on a mind numbingly stupid plot twist in the hopes of getting a season 2. A funny thing about the show is that even the author of the source material came out and said that the show was a “mistake” and that it was a waste of time. Even the damn author says the show is shit.
Since nothing happened in this show, I’m going to write nothing about this show.
Spoilers: Its shit.
Sword Art Online Season 2
Could it really be anything but this? In fairness, I thought season 2 would turn out to be much better than its predecessor since GGO was a promising arc, it wasn’t particularity good but from SAO standards, it was an enjoyable change of pace. It retconned itself and a lot of it was showing off Sinon and her butt but hey, it had SAO’s greatest villain and it did form some kind of tension. But then, the GGO arc ended and my hopes for the show died with it. What followed was just a Lets Play Alfheim Online with the cast of Sword Art Online as they went to go get a fantastic sword juuuuust for Kirito. My main thought on this entire arc was “Why?” like why did it need to exist? Nothing was gained from it other than a bitching sword for Kirito that may or may not come into play for his duel wielding later. It was absolutely pointless and just tainted what SAO could have become. But alas, that was just a filler arc or so I’ve been told. What followed was promised to me to be the greatest arc in Sword Art Online, Mother’s Rosario. I heard many good things about this arc and since it wasn’t going to be Kirito central all over again, it raised my expectations. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was thinking that it could get any better. Mother’s Rosario was just another filler arc which just circle jerked how great Asuna and Yuuki are. That was the entire purpose of the arc. It had no deeper substantial meaning and it certainly feels like Asuna is just going to forget about Yuuki in season 3. It just ended with a absurdly stupid plot twist that was totally unnecessary. I got personally annoyed by Sword Art Online season 2. SAO is the type of show that I would love to love since its premise is so promising and they put out ideas that they just can’t follow through with. In turn, this just makes SAO a show with failed potential, with a whole lot of bad that it must carry,
(Also, I heard that Psycho-Pass season 2 was horrible but I didn’t watch it so enjoy that misery on your own!)
You know, 2014 was an alright year for anime. When I look back on it, there were a lot of positives to take from it. One of my favourite ever shows aired this year, and while it is true that some bad shows did make its way through, it would just be awful of me to call 2014 a “bad year for Chinese cartoons” just because bad shows aired. 2015 looks pretty swell as well with some great season 2’s and the fabled return of Durarara.
You know, all I want out of 2015 is just more of the same good old anime we are used to…
…and some more Tomatsu Haruka main roles would be nice…
…….don’t think it would be too much to ask for Horizon season 3 as well….