2014 is nearly over, but wow, what a good year for anime! The year may have lacked a real stand-out, obvious #1 for me, but the overall standard was very high, which made cutting the list down to twelve harder than it was last year.
People who’ve been following my weekly rankings may find some of the positions/omissions a bit odd, so I’ll explain: I’m currently rewatching a lot of my all-time favourite anime series, some of which I hadn’t watched in almost a decade. That’s really served as a reminder of what a truly great anime feels like… and it’s made the flaws in some of my more recent favourites all the more apparent. So, some re-arrangement was in order, but now I’m very happy with how this list has turned out. 🙂
12: Yowamushi Pedal
I have very little interest in any real life sports, watching or participating in them. In addition to that, most sport-themed anime follow similar patterns and tropes, so I’m always wary that they’ll have nothing new to offer. Despite all that working against it, Yowapeda has really won me over with its great characters – starting with Onoda’s love for anime and cycling, then with the introduction of the rest of the Sohoku team, their rivals Hakone… and let’s not forget the year’s greatest villain in the form of Midosuji Akira! 😀
The first David Production JoJo’s series only got an honourable mention from me last year, but despite the tougher competition this time around, Stardust Crusaders had to be in my list. Again, this is largely down to the characters; while Jotaro himself is quiet and sensible (relatively speaking), the rest of his party provide plenty of laughs, and the villains and their powers have all been varied and interesting. More to come next season, and I’ll be watching it!
10: Break Blade TV
Seeing as this series was just several movies edited together into a TV series, it’s no surprise that it looked good. But not only were the mech fights well-animated, all the weapons were made of glorious, magically-manipulated, shattering quartz, which really stood out for me (to the point where regular readers are probably sick of hearing about it). The lack of an ending and no sign of a sequel hold it back, but still worth a watch IMO!
My standards when it comes to comedy anime are pretty high, and they tend to drop like stones in my weekly rankings after the first few episodes… not so for Barakamon! Watching Handa Seishu come to terms with life on a remote, rural island never got old, neither did all the interference and teasing from Naru and her friends. But seeing him develop into a more friendly, gracious and (slightly) less impulsive person by the end of the series was also nice. 🙂
Okay, I cheated. This is technically now a Top 13 list. 😛 But I couldn’t decide which series to include, and didn’t want the franchise taking up two places! This season’s Avenging Battle may have ranked higher, with its faster pacing and higher number of plot twists & fantastically animated battles… but I’m not sure I’d have been able to appreciate it as much if it hadn’t been for the slower first half, which allowed more time to introduce the plot and characters.
A fairly decent thriller, with plenty of suspense, and some clever riddles (which I’d never be able to solve in a million years, even with the power of Wikipedia, though I got enough entertainment from watching Detective Shibazaki work it all out). Plus it managed to have its main characters pull off acts of terror, while still making me sympathise with them! All this, and one of the best ED themes of the year, mean that I won’t forget Zankyou no Terror in a hurry.
This one was the hardest to rank, seeing as it’s just so much longer than everything else. The arcs that stick in my mind are the more recent and extraordinarily good Chimera Ant and 13th Hunter Chairman Election arcs, and if I was just basing this on the episodes that actually aired in 2014, it’d be in or near first place. But it did have its weaker moments, especially during the Greed Island arc seasons… after giving it a lot of thought, I feel 6th is about right for Hunter x Hunter. The shows that scored higher may have far less complex and less developed characters, but given their smaller episode counts, it’s not a fair comparison.
Finally, a series that proves it is possible to for a well paced anime with a decent plot to wrap up in only 10 episodes! Nine, if you leave out the re-introductory, anime-original first episode! 😮 Helps that the characters were already well established from the earlier series though. A good balance of plot and comedy, and the circus is always an interesting setting – Sebastian and William’s rivalry, and Ciel’s unfortunate stage name got the series off to a fun first half, but things soon got rather tragic. 😦
Something of a guilty pleasure, but one that impressed me enough to briefly put it in my all-time Top 50 list, before common sense kicked in. Plot-wise, not the strongest show of the year – it was always interesting, with all the twists and revelations, but it almost seemed as though they were making up the story as they went along! It’s the production values that give Aldnoah its high ranking – fantastic character designs, arguably the best animation and battle scenes of the year, and without a doubt the best soundtrack of the year to accompany it all.
I only finished this series a few hours ago, so it is possible I might be slightly biased… but somehow, I don’t think so. While its plot was fairly basic compared with most of the other shows in this list, it was just so fun! Favaro and Kaisar’s rivalry, pretty much everything Amira did, and Rita simply being a loli necromancer who summons zombie hoards to AID the main characters… brilliant. Plenty of drama, action and sad moments when the story called for it though, and the change in tone didn’t annoy me as it has in other comedies-turned-serious in the past.
2: Kill la Kill
Another show that, like Shingeki no Bahamut, didn’t have a particularly deep or complex storyline, though the premise was certainly original! Completely over-the-top characters and action, very reminiscent of Gurren Lagann, but much faster paced. Great character designs, plenty of ridiculous costumes, and even more ridiculous powers to go with them. It may have had more style than substance, but in the end it’s that style that’s made it stick in my mind until now.
And finally, my overall favourite series of the year:
I read volume 12 of the manga earlier, but again I’m (reasonably) confident I’d still have ranked Sidonia no Kishi 1st if I’d written this post last week! My excitement at the news of an anime adaptation turned to anxiety when I heard that it would be in 3D, but it didn’t take long to get used to the style, and now I doubt the space battles would have looked as good in 2D, or the gauna quite as creepy. A fantastic sci-fi series with memorable characters, one of whom happens to be a bear. Can’t wait for the sequel~
Series I probably should have watched, but didn’t: