Just a few days left to go until 2016… but until the new Winter season starts in a week or two, I’ve got plenty of free time to look back with nostalgia at what’s already come and gone. Not a bad year for anime, all things considered, so here are my Top 12:
That first episode, which beat the likes of Rokka no Yuusha and Durarara!! to top the beginning of my Summer rankings. Slicing through mountains and surfing on rockets. Symphogear remains a guilty pleasure, far more style than substance, though personally I’d say the third series was my favourite of the franchise so far. The Autoscorers made for really powerful and terrifying opponents, and the interactions between Hibiki and the other gear users have gotten more interesting as the cast has grown, and they’ve gotten closer to each other. But yeah, mostly up here for the music and the explosions.
One of the better mystery series of the year, focusing on one long story instead of short weekly ones. Admittedly, a lot of it went over my head, but I can’t blame the series for my own lack of knowledge. I liked the character interactions, particularly between Saikawa and Nishinosono, and Magata’s story and views on life were also quite something. I don’t really understand why, but I’m glad she escaped in the end. 😛
10: Noragami Aragoto
I only finished this series this morning, and was relatively satisfied with the conclusion… though I wasn’t expecting that twist at the end! The series got off to a slow start in my rankings, with the main characters side-lined as the focus remained on Bishamon’s family, but once it got going it was by far one of the most consistently good anime of the Autumn season.
9: Death Parade
Death Parade topped my rankings right at the start of the year, and barely left my Top 5 all Winter. I really liked the setting of this series, the games played between people who don’t realize they’re dead… many of their stories were really good, despite the fact they only had an episode’s worth of development. Also, the fact that there’s still so much about this afterlife and the arbitrators that inhabit it that was left a mystery, even at the end of the series.
Though I enjoyed the old 90s OVA, it was nice to finally have all the backstory on the characters and events that lead Jotaro and co. on their bizarre adventure in Egypt to begin with! And as with their previous adaptations, David Production did a really good job. Consistently enjoyable over the Winter and Spring seasons, and I look forward to Diamond Is Unbreakable in the new year!
I can’t help but feel as though Kekkai Sensen would have ranked much higher if it weren’t for the long wait for the final episode. As well as killing some of the enthusiasm that the stylish and energetic earlier episodes built up so well, I also found that I couldn’t remember much of what was going on when I eventually came to watch it. Again, probably my own fault for picking up too many series to be able to focus well on any single one of them. Animation and music were top notch, that much I do remember!
I can see why this series got hyped up so much – the action blew most of the year’s other series out of the water, and the comedy was surprisingly good, despite being quite formulaic. I’m glad that the final episode finally saw Saitama engage in a real fight… or close enough, anyway. It could have gotten repetitive and boring, but the fun characters and short episode number ensured that didn’t happen. And now that all the introductory stuff is out of the way, I feel there’s potential for a second series to be even better, as there were so many intriguing characters introduced that never got the chance to do anything.
5: Arslan Senki
Oh Arslan, you may well have made my Top 50, if you didn’t look so derpy! Liden Films’ animation left a lot to be desired a lot of the time, but other than that, I struggle to fault the show. Nice Persian-inspired semi-fantasy setting, really interesting heroes and villains, and the constant promise that one day Arslan will be king… again, I’m really looking forward to more in 2016!
4: Parasyte -the maxim-
Also falling just short of my all-time Top 50 is Parasyte… Migi and Shinichi’s story ranked highly throughout its run, but I felt the first half of the series was definitely stronger, and it lacked that extra something needed to get a full 5/5 from me. But a brilliant series nonetheless, I loved Migi, and the way its relationship with its host deepened and blurred over time, with Shinichi becoming colder while the alien begun to understand basic human emotions.
It wouldn’t be an AngryJellyfish Top 12 list without a cheaty 2-in-1 entry. 😛 More Durarara!! was always going to be a good thing, and I’m still amazed at how often new characters and storylines are introduced to its already complex world, without the quality ever really dropping. The only thing that did suffer slightly in the change of studios was the animation… but at least it wasn’t as bad as Arslan! No doubt it’ll claim a fourth place in my Top 50 in the coming season.
Although it dropped one place from last year, I actually feel Sidonia no Kishi’s second series was the stronger of the two. For starters, we finally got to see Tsumugi animated! Nagate’s harem continued to grow, and moved in with him as he bought a house! And as well as the rom-com side of things, the action scenes remained spectacular, and the dark plot continued to progress… before coming to an abrupt halt in the 12th episode. Don’t let this be the end, Polygon! 😮
And finally, my overall favourite series of the year:
There was no real contest this year – Rokka really gripped me, I looked forward to each new episode with more excitement than I’ve felt for any other series for years. Again, the animation didn’t look great all of the time, but it looked amazing when it needed to. Great music, a varied bunch of characters, and an action-packed mystery plotline full of twists and betrayal. It’s a shame that it was so poorly received in Japan, I fear a sequel is unlikely, but here’s hoping the light novels get an English release at the very least!
Series I probably should have watched this year, but didn’t:
‘Wait, I watched that?’ award for being truly forgettable:
3 – Koufuku Graffiti
2 – Isuca
1 – Sengoku Musou