We have revealed our Games of the Year, but the celebrations continue! This week, we bring you some of our non-gaming favourites of 2014. Today, our expert in Japanimation Shane Cousins get in the freaking robot and reveals his top anime of 2014.
Looking back over this year, I realised how good this year actually was for anime. Starting from Fall 2013/14 (anime seasons go by actual Japanese/Northern Hemisphere seasons), I always had a huge amount to watch — not because I had to, but because I wanted to. And that’s not exactly something I could say this year for games. With the giant that was Shingeki no Kyojin ending just before the start of the year (although I don’t rate it as high as everyone else seems to) and the general fear that Anime was dead, I came into 2014 with a bit of doubt in my mind. But thankfully, it was unwarranted.
Aldnoah.Zero was not unanimously loved, even though it had a very impressive staff roster, from the Urobutchi Gen as the creator and scriptwriter (albeit only for the first three eps), to Aoki Ei as the director. The show had an amazing start, and it maintained the pace that the first few eps set. It had well written characters (especially Inaho, who wasn’t your standard perfect main protagonist) and a great conflict that breaks the standard black and white. The ending was a great twist for me, although this was the main thing that split the anime community.
I really enjoyed Aldnoah.Zero and with the second season airing very soon, there’s no better time to try it.
I’m not sure if Kill la Kill counts as it started in 2013 and ended in 2014, but I don’t really care. It was a surprising release from the newish studio TRIGGER, who had only done minor animation work and a really good short film, Little Witch Academia (watch it if you haven’t seen it, especially if you love the art style of KLK).
Kill La Kill started of as a comedy and slowly got deeper and more serious, as many anime and manga do, but it didn’t fall into the on-off genre switch trap that often happens. The art style was somewhat fresh, throwing back to FLCL and Gurren Lagann (the original animation directors of those two are in TRIGGER), and the animation is chaotic yet comprehensible.
Where this show loses many is the character design and the story, as it is easily overlooked with the amount of fanservice and the revealing outfits that the main characters wear. However, TRIGGER used this as a plot device to create character development, and I loved the way Kill La Kill weaved its story and its subtle digs at society.
Sabagebu! is definitely the best comedy this year; literally had me waking up everyone in my house at insane hours of the morning just because I just couldn’t stop laughing (sorry everyone).
First thing you’re told going into this show is to not take it seriously, and I’m not really sure if you can. It revolves around a ‘survival games club’ at an all-girls high school and the shenanigans that they are forced/put themselves into. The main focus of the story, Momoka, is a refreshingly and comedically cruel character, and most of the best humour comes from or involves her. While there are a few flaws to be mentioned, repeating music and no real engaging overarching story, the comedy really does carry the show.
If you are a fan of laughing or even small facial expressions, this is one anime I’d recommend for you.
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou (also known as The Kawai complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behaviour)…what can I say…Hanazawa Kanna is my seiyuu waifu (voice actor I love very much). It’s a light romantic comedy based around Kazunari Usa, a newcomer to a boarding house, and the other unique characters who are living there. The diverse characters and personalities are the driving force of this anime; from the introverted Ritsu to the dysfunctional Mayumi, the way they interact and meld together while being somewhat believable is a sight to enjoy.
While the art and music don’t exactly stand out, the vibrant colours and the harmonious music really fits well with the anime. The voice acting is done extremely well and fits each character’s personality.
All in all, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but…Hanazawa Kanna.
Sorry I lied to everyone who watched the Anime of the Year segment but, Tsukimonogatari aired on 31 December 2013, although I watched it on 2 January, so it counts, or I’ll make it count, ‘cause it’s a Mongatari.
What I love about the Monogatari series is the brilliant dialogue, how it sways from playful to serious to playful, back and forth, and Tsuki didn’t let me down. Araragi Koyomi is back as the main focus, and he’s thrown into another situation where females needs his help…just after his bath with his sister. While Tsuki fell into the same/worse controversy that the previous series Nisemonogatari did (look up toothbrush innuendo (Editor’s note: Don’t.)), it handled it just as well or even better than Nise did by slightly diverting your attention with great dialogue, character development and a plot point.
Shaft’s quirky but amazing animation and art style was still alive and kicking. To top it off, Senjougahara has short hair and is…. sorry Margaret…. best waifu.
Tsukimonogatari raised my expectations again after a slightly disappointing — no, not disappointing…different — Hanamonogatari. But the real question is, what do I do after it’s all over?
There are a few honourable mentions:
- Mekakucity Actors, which had a really good opening but felt a little rushed at the end (Still love the NicoNico Chorus covers of the Kagerou Project vocaloid songs, which the anime is based off);
- Barakamon and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, both great comedies;
- Persona 4 Golden Animation, which had Hanazawa Kanna voicing Marie — need I say more?;
- Haikyuu and the second season of Kuroko no Basket, sports animes with over the top powers with great animation;
- Psycho-Pass 2, though it didn’t reach the heights that the first season did, it was still a very well presented story;
- Hamatora and and No Game No Life, both stylish and very colourful;
- Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin, a nice comedy mystery with great animation for the trap rooms; and lastly
- Noragami and Witch Craft Works, which both started the 2014 anime year off really well
Ok, that was more than a few and I should probably stop there, before I start listing more…
Come back tomorrow for more GOTY 2014 Bonus Round, or catch up on our 2014 Games of the Year