With the 2014 Summer Season over with and the Fall Season already underway, we here at UTF took the time out of busy fanboy ranting schedule to once again chronicle and list the top 5 anime of the hectic but still manageable summer season.
Now to clarify this list is only for shows that started in the summer season, not ones that went through both the summer and previous winter season. This unfortunately eliminates shows like Space Dandy, Captain Earth, and Haikyuu. That being said, here we go:
Honorable Mention: Sword Art Online II
Arguably the most anticipated anime of the season, SAO II continues the story of Kirito and his friends on their journeys through VRMMOs. The second season dropped our main man Kirito in the world of GGO (Gun Gale Online, basically a VR version of Call of Duty) where he is tasked with tracking down and stopping Death Gun, a mysterious player whose gun (also called Death Gun) is able to kill people in real life.
While GGO was not nearly as bad as the ALFheim arc in the latter half of season one, it still wasn’t as strong as the Aincrad arc and had its share of groan worthy moments. Most of them centered in the climax of the arc with Death Gun’s reveal and the continued ineffectiveness of the supporting cast. Still, there are some bright spots, chief among them being Sinon. Who turns out to be more than a Kirito fangirl (but just barely).
Just like the first season, SAO II is 2 cour (running for 25 episodes) so there is always a chance it can reclaim that former flame it has with it’s remaining arc.
Honorable Mention: Aldnoah.Zero
This was another hotly anticipated series, mostly because it was being advertised as being written by otaku darling Gen Urobuchi (writer of the well-received Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero, and Psycho-Pass), telling a tale of an alternate history in which man colonized on Mars in 1972, creating a civilization who went to war with Earth after an uneasy truce some 40+ years later.
Despite the first three episodes being very strong, the show started to slowly decline in both story and character quality (this is most likely linked to Urobuchi only writing the first three episodes). While not a terrible show, Aldnoah.Zero started to falter and ultimately fell under the weight of the events set up for it. Giving the more interesting characters (Chief among them being Rayet) not much to do, and the handling the mains either decently (Slaine), haphazardly (Asseylum), or not at all (Inaho).
With a second season coming in January, maybe it can build itself back up.
Now on to the Top 5!
5. Akame Ga Kill
Adapted from the manga series of the same name, Akame Ga Kill is a show that has plenty of blood and action, but not much else. It tells the story of Tatsumi, a somewhat well-adjusted young man who dreams of earning enough money to save his poor village from poverty. After being denied entry into kingdom’s military, he ends up in Night Raid: a group of assassins whose goal is to expose the corrupt government of the kingdom and start a revolution.
Generic plot (and characters) aside, Akame Ga Kill is a good watch if you want to satisfy that inner blood lust welling up inside you. To be fair there are a few ideas sprinkled in the series that have merit, and the animation fluidity will keep your eyes from getting bored; but it seems more focused on it’s bloody uber violence than actual character or world development at this point.
4. Tokyo Ghoul
Ken Kaneki was an average, if a bit timid, college student. Until he met a girl named Rize. This chance encounter gave him a brush with death that resulted in him becoming a ghoul, a creature with a taste for human flesh. His former life now in shambles, Kaneki now must cope with his new reality. All the while dodging those who would harm him and his friends.
Tokyo Ghoul was a series that had quite a split opinion about it during its airing. While most casual viewers found it engaging and interesting (despite some censorship issues), most fans of the manga series hated it with a passion. Citing butchered character development and horrid pacing as justification for not watching it.
While I myself fall in the former category, I can certainly see why the fans of the series disliked it (I myself wasn’t a fan of the censorship or some of the pacing). Although despite it’s problems, its excellent direction, relatable characters, and fleshed out world made it more than worthy of a watch.
Passion usually causes us to do things we’d rather not. Just ask Seishu Handa, a calligrapher who slugs an old man for criticizing his work. As a result of this outburst his father exiles him to the secluded Goto Island. Initially lamenting his “punishment”, Handa soon meets a spirited little girl named Naru and his whole life is turned upside down.
Barakamon is a very chilled out and mellow slice of life series that manages to be both entertaining and heart warming at the same time. Each character introduced fits well into the overall feel of the show. While there are no giant monsters to be fought or epic battles to be had, Barakamon is a show that allows you to sit back, relax and enjoy the simpler things in life.
2. Terror in Resonance
In this post-911 society, terrorism is always a subject that takes some maneuvering to avoid when it’s brought up. Enter Terror in Resonance (“Terror in Tokyo” in Japan) the newest offering by legendary director Shinichiro Watanabe, with music by Yoko Kanno!
Terror in Resonance tells the story of two boys named Nine and Twelve. Calling themselves Sphinx, the two boys commence a string of bombings across Tokyo in a plan to what they call “wake up the world”.
While the series itself is engaging, Terror in Resonance did have its moments of confusion as the plot moved forward. That being said, Watanabe’s excellent direction coupled with Kanno’s atmospheric score (seriously the soundtrack for this show is amazing) made up it for its leaps in logic at times. The ending was a bit of a bittersweet one, but it still had that air of hope after all the dust settled.
1. Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun
Chiyo Sakura is a girl with a dream. That dream, to date her crush Umetaro Nozaki. Through what can only be described as dumb luck and coincidence, Chiyo finds out that Nozaki is actually Sakiko Yumeno, the creator of the Shojo (for girls) manga series “Let’s Fall in Love”. Seeing this an opportunity to get closer to him, Chiyo agrees to become Nozaki’s assistant. Chiyo’s life is about to get all the more interesting.
A surprise hit of the season, Nozaki-kun is one of those shows that catches you off guard right from the beginning. As it plays with your perceptions of just how the series will go. It gives you a look into the world of manga creation, as well how hectic and chaotic everyone in Chiyo and Nozaki’s life are (including they themselves).
From the closet otaku/female heroine inspiration/timid playboy Mikoshiba, Chiyo’s socially oblivious/angelic singer best friend Yuzuki, Mikoshiba’s “rival” and “prince of the school” (despite being a girl) Kashima, the hot tempered/passionate head of the drama club Hori, and finally the nervous yet eager first-year Wakamatsu. Every character in the series is far from one note, having something likeable that makes them stand out from the pack. No two characters act alike, and each of the casts interactions with one another is different from one character to the next.
Along with it’s clever play on Shojo tropes and excellent comedic timing, Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun still has it’s moments of both clarity and romance (even if they are sometimes lost among the show’s crazy cast). Each episode will having you roarring with laughter, as well as smiling with joy.
There you go folks, out top 5 anime of the summer season. What do you think? Did we chose the right shows? Or did we royally screw up? Tell us in the comments below, also let us know what your favorite shows of this past season were!