Personally I don’t think 2014 was so much a bad year for anime as it was a bad year for my place in anime fandom. To put it simply, anime fandom is that girl you thought was cute upon first glance: you asked her out, you got to know her, your love for her increased to the point that you got married, you had a good honeymoon, years passed, your individual interests started to diverge over time, it gets to the point where you have little in common anymore, you eventually divorce, and now you’re just friends with the degree of closeness being highly debatable. That’s pretty much my relationship with the fandom as of now, especially when 2014 gave us so much stuff that I couldn’t stop disagreeing with people on (I’m sure I don’t need to name examples) along with me getting tired of traditional anime activities altogether.
The latter reason is why I couldn’t be assed to do a top 2014 list. Because in all honesty, I don’t care about ranking stuff these days, especially cartoons I watch for free. Well, I sort of lie. It’s not the ranking I have as much of a problem with so much as the descriptions. Because the worst thing that can happen to someone is to be generic, and even if I tend not to choose what the mainstream likes, there’s only so many times you can praise something before you start sounding like everyone else. So now you have another reason to add regarding why this blog (and myself in general) tends to take a negative tone regarding your favorite anime.
But I participate in the “anime power rankings” just like everyone else and I have to remind people that I do like anime, so I’ll compromise and reveal the choices I sent in the email that will be used, along with many others, for said project’s upcoming year-end post.
Before we get to that though, let’s reveal some stuff that I liked, but didn’t put on due to rules and such.
-Ai Mai Mi Catastrophe – Dug it a little less than I did the first one. Don’t quite remember what happened in it. Just remembered that it’s worth watching for the visual style and insanity alone.
-Rage of Bahamut: Genesis – Decent fantasy show. Fell apart in the end, but the positives more than make up for it. Not really what I’d consider the pinnacle of what card-game adaptations should be, but it’s definitely a good start.
-Tonari no Seki-kun – Kinda liked it when it was first airing, but I fell out massively with its brand of humor since and no longer think it’s funny.
-Pupipo – Neat short with some good visuals and set pieces. Maudlin story brings it down a bit.
-Parasyte – Decent mix of body horror combined with coming-of-age themes. Needs more to it before I can consider it a favorite though.
-Knights of Sidonia – Cool world, promising story, and neat CG direction brought down by boring characters and some improper usage of said CG. Good enough to make me look forward to the second season but not much more than that.
-World Conquest Zvezda Plot – That OVA was all the proof I needed to retroactively turn against this show and its ugly commercialistic ways after my initial excitement with it.
-Garo: The Animation – Would be really high on the top list if it wasn’t continuing. Like #2 or #3. Yet another overlooked anime that I really love.
-I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying – Otaku are people who have relationship problems too you know! Looking forward to the new season airing alongside Teekyu.
-Tiger and Bunny: The Rising, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Lupin III: Jigen’s Gravestone – Only shows are allowed, and there was a movie APR sometime ago (although Lupin wasn’t subbed at the time), so obviously I couldn’t put them on despite the fact that they’d rank pretty high on here if I did. Well, maybe not Arise.
Alright, now let’s get into the actual top ten I submitted.
10. Amagi Brilliant Park
You guys probably wondered why I put KyoAni’s new show over Bahamut when I ranked the Fall season considering it didn’t start off as well and it sort of fell apart in the end with its plot just like the latter did, right? Well one of the things I take into account when ranking an anime is whether or not I’d like to see it again, and considering that all my Bahamut files are deleted whilst all my Amagi files are still on my Mac, I think it should be obvious which one I’d rather buy when it comes out on Blu-ray. Hilarious satire of what theme park employees do outside of the public eye. Never really sacrificed what made it entertaining even during its more sentimental moments. And it has one of the best “large casts of characters” I’ve seen in a while. So how much more mediocre output is the studio going to make me suffer through before I get a sequel to this?
9. Witchcraft Works
JC Staff’s surprisingly good magical girlfriend show is like Amagi if it sacrificed some of the real-world grounding in order to execute its entertainment value better. I’m forgiving of that sort of sacrifice if the result produces laughs, and Witchcraft Works definitely does that with a better utilized – though not as entertaining IMO – large cast of nutballs, good utilization of its role-reversed shoujo premise, and its turning of everything into a joke from the background to the actual plot. And of course, the ending is awesome. The fact that it never got as popular as Tsutomu Mizushima’s other works and has less of a chance of getting a sequel than Amagi is a shame, because I had a lot more fun with this than Girls Und Panzer or Shirobako.
8. Ping Pong: The Animation
Not quite as big into Yuasa’s new show as most people, but it’s still the only sports anime I’ve seen that’s actually clicked with me, as well as set the bar for what I want to see from the genre from now on, short of a Shaolin Soccer anime. Why? Because in addition to the expressive style utilized to tell the story and not wasting time on bullshit “I’ve got to try harder” sports talk, it uses the art of ping pong in order to say unique things regarding teamwork, foreign relations, and the future in general. It’s basically what made Hikaru no Go so great condensed into a more tolerable length, and that’s the highest praise I can think of for this show.
As I said regarding Seki-kun, I don’t really laugh at anime humor much these days. I prefer my humor to be ironic with a preference towards toeing the line between outright offensive without going full-blown with it like f*cking Daimidaler. And that’s why I love Sabagebu. It’s everything Girls Und Panzer/C3-bu/Upotte wanted to be except actually funny. The characters are evil, the humor is evil, the narrator is evil, the violence is evil, and I’m an evil bastard for laughing at at least 80% of its content.
6. Kill la Kill
Enough has been written about this show by me and everyone else. Let’s move on.
5. Samurai Flamenco
Same as Kill la Kill. Actually, I didn’t care which one I ranked above the other since they get 3 points either way. Think Flamenco had the better ending though, even if it also should have ended a few episodes earlier than it actually did.
4. Mushishi Zoku
Wasn’t quite as big on the second coming of Mushishi as other fans I know, but that doesn’t change the fact that I loved this show back when I first saw it and I continue to love it now. It’s haunting. It’s atmospheric. It’s peaceful. It’s frightening. It’s really hard for me to describe. And it’s one of my favorite anime of all-time.
3. Terror in Resonance
Actually, I meant to make this #2, but I didn’t notice my mistake until it was too late and…well…that’s that. Either way, I loved Terror in Resonance. Yeah the characters were cold and the logic was loopy, but I loved its intensity and what it had to say about Japan’s current status within the world, along with how it still hasn’t changed after all these years. I don’t care about the plotholes and such because the plot is actually about something strong and relevant, it always introduced a new aspect to explore each week, and said plot makes the characters interesting in the process. We need more anime with the kind of focus this one has, although it’d be nice if some of the stylistic choices were cleaned up next time.
2. Psycho-Pass 2
I’m just going to repeat what I said on my Fall round-up post for this. I know it butchers everything the first season stood for. I don’t care because it did it in such a creatively dumb way that I couldn’t help but admire/laugh at the result. It’s pretty much the X/1999 movie turned into a series. But it has two things that keep it from surpassing that film as my favorite trainwreck anime of all-time: good animation and a lack of head-cradling. Beautiful hilarious head-cradling. But yeah, I shouldn’t have put it over Resonance.
1. Space Dandy
Basically an animation fan’s wet dream. Twenty-four beautiful episodes showcasing a wide variety of talent, all contained within the premise of a space-traveling bounty hunter, his robot partner, and some alien cat he met at his favorite hang-out. It started off a little rough (then again, so did almost everything else on here), but when it got into the swing of things, it delivered A-grade material every step of the way and never let up afterwards. Easily the most fun anime show of the year.
Edit: Yes, I realize the irony of this post. Guess I don’t dislike doing these lists as much as I thought after all.