Well it’s the end of the year folks, and once again it’s time to chronicle the obligatory “Best of Lists”. When it comes to anime my boss wanted to do something a little different this year. Seeing as how he recently pointed out to me that I’m the only one in the office who actually WATCHES anime (seriously there was a whole intervention and everything), he thought it best if I just did my own top anime list. Which I admit is a lot easier then walking up and down the halls polling people on what they thought was the best (Seriously you wouldn’t believe who many guys picked Dragonball Z and Naruto as best of 2014).
There were quite a few shows I enjoyed this year in one way or another. Some I expected to be good, some disappointed, and others pleasantly surprised. Altogether 2014 was a pretty wild year for me as far as anime is concerned. This list was a bit hard to make since there were quite a few shows that I wanted to add, but we would be here all day if I did that. So I painfully narrowed it down to five (with a couple honorable mentions).
Sidenote: As how it goes, long running shows like Naruto, One Piece, Fairy Tail, etc. won’t be on here. This only pertains to shows that started and ended this year, with a few exceptions here and there.
Chaika – The Coffin Princess
Admittedly Chaika was a show I was only mildly interested in at first. Aside from one of the selling points being its animation being handled by Studio BONES (the same studio that brought us Soul Eater and both Fullmetal Alchemist series), the show’s concept seemed somewhat interesting to me: A small girl dressed like a gothic lolita, schleps around a casket twice her size and is assisted by what are basically two assassins and a shapeshifting dragon on a quest to reclaim her father’s scattered remains in order to give him a funeral. Not many shows with that kind of unique story. I’m glad to say that Chaika plesantly surprised me in the regard that I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was (Most shows based off of Light Novels are pretty hit and miss). Taking a somewhat basic magic and fantasy setting and expanding on it with some varied and likeable main characters and pretty memorable scenes throughout it’s two season run. Even with some it’s pacing problems and questionable plot elements at times it still managed to be a pretty enjoyable show.
Your Lie in April
I’m a sucker for good romance stories. I’m also a sucker for good music. So finding this show was pretty much happy day for me. Although it hasn’t ended yet (it’s only showed about half of its 22 episode run)Your Lie in April has still managed to hook me in with its beautiful animation, wonderful characters, atmospheric score, and uses of it’s themes of depression, abuse, love, and how music can connect with all of them. While so far it hasn’t handled the former two of these elements with the greatest of care, it still manages to get it’s point across enough to make it a very enjoyable viewing experience and I am pretty excited (and hesitant) of the emotional rollercoaster it will take us on in the Winter Season.
Now the Top 5:
Since I covered the show in my “Top 5 Anime of Summer 2014” article a couple of months ago, I won’t go into too much detail here. All I will say is that this show was definitely one that both had me rolling on the floor with laughter, as well as smiling from ear to ear with it’s warmth and laid back approach. It’s a show that I could watch again and again and find new ways to appreciate with each viewing.
4. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Although I was a complete novice to Type Moon’s “Fate” series (I’ve only seen both seasons of Prisma Illya as well as the Fate/Zero anime), I was at least interested enough in the series itself to give this adaptation of what is arguably considered the original visual novel’s best route (it’s rival being the “Heaven’s Feel” route, which is getting a movie adaptation in the near future) a try. Suffice to say, I’m really glad I did. Fate/Stay Night UBW is a marvel to behold as far as visuals go, I’d even venture to say it’s the most well animated show of the year. ufotable did a really good job with the product, giving something that both fans of the VN’s and even newbies can enjoy. Likeable characters, a fairly engaging narrative (which is sometimes outshined by the visuals), and fast paced action scenes help make up for the more slower bits of the show. With a pretty harrowing cliffhanger on its last episode, it will be interesting to see just what awaits us when the show continues next April.
3. Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun
Another show that I previously covered in the summer anime list, and just like Barakamon it grabbed my attention and never let go of it. From beginning to end I didn’t know what to expect, and I enjoyed every bit of that ride. Even the weakest episode served to entertain me on a certain level. With its great charcaters and play on typical romance anime tropes, Nozaki-kun is definitely a show that should be watched.
2. Parasyte – The Maxim
Unlike the other shows on this list, Parasyte was one that took me a little bit to get into. I hopped on the show around episode three, with my only exposure to it being various words of mouth and tumblr gifs. That being said once I started I didn’t stop. I’ve never read the manga series (which finished in 1995, so it seems really weird that they chose to adapt it into an anime series and live-action movies after almost 20 years since it concluded.). Backed by one of the most popular studios, Madhouse, Parasyte fills that bloody, gorey quota that Attack on Titan filled last year. Interestingly enough Parasyte reminds a bit of the Spider-Man mythos, at least as far as it’s main character. Basically the plot is a hapless geek named Shinichi (Peter Parker) is infected by a parasite (radioactive spider) which may or may not have been created by science, and gains super powers including: strength, speed, and abs,,,that’s a super power right? Although that’s where the similarities end. Parasyte is bloody, gorey, depressing, but also somewhat thought provoking. Every character is interesting in one form or another with moments that allow them to shine. From Shinichi coming to terms with his fading humanity, to Migi’s cold logic, to Murano’s hesitant dedication to Shinichi, and even the Parasyte’s somewhat lofty and elaborate goals. Parasyte excels in showcasing that not all is what it seems and that anyone you know could be a monster underneath the surface. With episode 12 being a pretty big turning point, the show can only amp up as it continues into the Winter 2015 season.
1. Space Dandy
When I started this list, I already knew that this show was going to be number one, pretty sure almost everyone knew. What show made a bigger impact than Space Dandy this year? That’s right none. Not only is it another show brought to us by Shinichiro Watanabe, it was the first show to get a simuldub (meaning it was being dubbed as it was airing in Japan). This also meant that it’s newest episodes premiered in America BEFORE Japan. Space Dandy is another show in Watanabe’s wheel house that doesn’t really follow a strict narrative structure. None of the episodes connect, which means you can jump in about anywhere and not be lost when it comes to characters seeing as none of the main cast goes under any lasting development. That being said, Space Dandy is a marvel both visually and auditory with it’s unique animation from episode to episode and its amazing soundtrack, which is another staple for Watanabe directed series (just listen to Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo and tell me I’m wrong). Even if every episode doesn’t wow you, I guarantee it will at least serve to entertain you, and at the end of the day that’s what matters most.
So there’s my favorite anime of the year. What do you guys think? Did I make good choices? Or do I wouldn’t know a good anime if it smacked me in the face?
Let me know in the comments below and have a Happy New Year!