Top 10 (and Worst 5) Anime of 2014Posted: January 21, 2015
Another year, another time to be unoriginal and do a top ten (or some degree thereof) post like everybody else in the universe. But they’re pretty fun to do, so it makes sense why everybody does them.
2014 was a pretty solid year for anime. I think I said the exact same thing about 2013, but this year was even better. When I make my list I go through all of the shows I watched that are eligible, and write down the ones that I think deserve a spot, then after I’m done I sort through the shows and decide which ones will actually make the Top 10. Sometimes I have just enough shows for the list, other times I don’t have enough and need to expand out a bit so I can have enough, and then there are times like this year where I have more than enough shows.
This wasn’t an easy list, I had an especially difficult time deciding the placements for the five through one spots, and if I could I would have given number one and two both the top spot in a heartbeat. But alas, there has to be one single winner.
Before getting into the list, I should explain which shows are eligible. The basic rule is that the show needs to have ended at some point in 2014. Doesn’t matter if it started in 2013 or even 2012, as long as the show ended in 2014, it qualifies. This means shows such as Your Lie in April, Parasyte, Magic Kaito, etc. that are still airing were not eligible.
Normally that would be the single rule of this, but now that split-cour shows are becoming a Thing, I’m adding a new one: split-cour shows where the second half doesn’t finish in the year are also not qualified. That means no JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, or Aldnoah.Zero. I’m defining a split-cour show as one that’s clearly incomplete without its second half due to no real resolution, or has a blatant cliffhanger to lead into it. These are shows that are typically planned to be split-cour in the first place and announced as such.
Oh, and also obviously only shows I watched are eligible. If a show you think is great didn’t make my list, there’s a good possibility I either didn’t watch it or it just didn’t manage to make the cutoff. …Or I may have thought the show was shit, but the former are more likely.
With all that out of the way, let’s get down to business.
If I realized going into this show that it was being directed by the same guy that did Tiger & Bunny, I don’t think I would have been as surprised about how entertaining it turned out to be. It wasn’t the most compelling plot ever, but the characters more than made up for it. Favarooooooo and gang were great to watch on their journey. It’s also important to remember that this show was based off a card game. How they managed that I will never know.
A comparison a lot of people make with Knights of Sidonia is that it’s Attack on Titan in space. That’s a fair one to make, but Knights of Sidonia did almost everything better. One of Titan‘s big problems is that the monsters stop being intimidating by about the halfway point. That’s not the case at all for Sidonia. The monsters start off weird and creepy, and just continue to get even more disturbing. A later episode even managed to have one of the creepiest cliffhangers in recent history due to this. Some will argue against the CG, but I’m actually fine with it, and it even kind of fits Sidonia’s setting. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to season two when that airs.
After Sword Art Online, quite a few people didn’t have very high expectations for Log Horizon. But then it proceeded to blow those expectations out of the water by introducing a sizable cast of a characters that were actually likeable. It wasn’t the slower and more thought out look at MMO structures that drew me in, it was really just the characters. Some of the best scenes in the show were the ones with Krusty and the princess. I would have watched an entire season of that. Point is, focusing on writing solid characters will do you wonders. The rest of this list seriously backs that statement.
Amagi Brilliant Park is the show I’ve been waiting for KyoAni to make for years. I’ve never been a fan of their heavy melodrama, but I’ve always liked their art, animation, and sense of comedy. The best characters were Macaron and Tiramie, the juxtaposition of their cutesy looks with their devilish and prankster attitudes was the best. The show did dip a bit into melodrama in the second to last episode, but then it finished off with a pure comedy episode that featured basically every staff member of the amusement park, which was a great send off. It was as if it was saying, “How you put up with this pack of misfits for thirteen episodes I will never know.” I heard some people didn’t care much for Amagi Brilliant Park, but I assume it’s probably because I watch KyoAni shows with the opposite expectations of pretty much everyone else.
I admittedly didn’t care much for the overarching plot of Noragami, but everything else was solid. Yato was a great character to follow around and learn about, and Yukine struggling with accepting the fact that he’s dead was a solid character arc. It was also surprising just how good the art was from start to finish. Just a shame that there seems to be no second season in sight.
I originally wasn’t even planning on picking up Inari, Konkon at the start of its season, but changed my mind shortly before it started airing. It’s a good thing I did, because Inari, Konkon was a great watch. The comedy was great and the characters were fantastic, with the character relationships being ever better. Seriously, the shipping potential in this show is absolutely absurd, and most are heavily implied to be canon. There’s a reason the unofficial title for this show is OTP Generator 2014.
Hey look, a show that I actually did a post on! If you want more in-depth thoughts on Samurai Flamenco you can go read that, but the short version is that the show was a hell of a ride. As off the rails as the plot was, the characters and their relationships were consistently excellent from start to finish, and most of them went through some intense struggles to develop. Even if you don’t care about it’s potentially DEEP messages or themes, the show is a thrill just to watch in the sense of “what in the actual fuck is going to happen next?” It’s just a shame that the staff seemed to be affected by the low sales, because the art and animation quality dips pretty heavily the further in you get. But hey, at least it had a prime minister with a suit of armor that was powered by his approval rating. If that’s not the most amazing thing ever written, I don’t know what is.
I think my thoughts on Tokyo Ghoul are obvious by now, but I completely stand behind my opinion that it’s one of the greatest character arcs we’ve gotten in recent history… and that it qualifies for this list despite my rules. You don’t often get shows that are willing to introduce a character, have them define clearly what they stand for and how they view themselves, then proceed to completely destroy them mentally and turn them into the very thing they tried so hard not to be. Nor do shows usually do it with the level of care that Tokyo Ghoul did. Seriously, that last episode will and should go down in history. If there’s any director in anime whose shows I’m going to be sure to always pick up from now on, it’s Shuhei Morita.
Nozaki-kun was the funniest show of the year, hands down. It’s kind of hilarious that I picked up this show thinking that it would be a regular shoujo show that might impress me, just for it to turn out to be a show dedicated to poking fun at shoujo tropes. It sometimes does it by taking them to extreme levels, but most of the time it does it simply by swapping around gender roles constantly. A lot of comedy shows have the problem of the characters being boring, dull stand-ins that exist solely as devices to tell jokes; however Nozaki-kun doesn’t have this issue in the least. This is a cast of some of the most lovable doofuses that you’ll find anywhere. There’s something to be learned in the irony that a show that spends so much time parodying shoujo tropes has infinitely better character chemistry than actual shoujo shows.
Also, SEASON 2 OR RIOT
In the end, the top spot absolutely had to go to Silver Spoon. You might remember that the first season made my Top Ten last year, but the second season was even better than the first. While the first season was more about getting to know the cast and Hachiken getting used to rural lifestyles, practices, and a farming school in general, the second season was about the characters on a more personal level. Their struggles, ambitions, successes, and failures. This is some, if not the, best character writing you’ll get from anime. Also, the ED was one of the best songs this year. Stay based, Goose House. Oh, and just a reminder that this is from the same author who wrote Fullmetal Alchemist. If that was Hiromu Arakawa proving she’s one of the best plot writers in the industry, then Silver Spoon is her proving she’s one of the best character writers too. I think it’s safe to say she’s proven herself to be one of the best writers period.
If you’ve seen either of the FMA shows and liked them for any reasons other than just the fight scenes, and you haven’t watched Silver Spoon yet, you should seriously do yourself a favor and change that.
So that’s it for the top ten, but as I’m now making standard, it’s important to look at both sides of the coin and go over the bad too. The rules are the same as before, with a single addition: I have to have finished the show in order for it to make this list, unless I dropped it for a reason other than boredom.
Without further ado, these are the five worst shows 2014 had to offer.
Glasslip is a show that’s unfortunate that I finished it, otherwise it wouldn’t have qualified for this list. It was soooooooooo boooooooooooring. Nothing fucking happened the entire show! You could watch the first five minutes of the first episode, then the last five minutes of the last episode, and you’d get just as much out of the show as people who watched the whole thing! There was this weird future-sight plot angle that two characters had that wasn’t used to add any suspense or anything and went absolutely nowhere, one of the characters was schizophrenic or something but not really which also didn’t go anywhere, there was sexual tension between two characters that, you guessed it, didn’t go anywhere. The only thing of value the show had was its art and the amount of detail put into the backgrounds, and you can really get that from any P.A. Works show. Don’t watch Glasslip.
Magical Warfare insulted my intelligence. It aspired to be nothing more than the most generic thing possible, which wouldn’t be that huge of a problem if it gave its own spin on things, but instead it decided to just take the worst parts of high school and fantasy shows and threw them all together. This is also the single show I’ve seen where Mamoru Miyano actually sounds bored voicing his character, but maybe they just directed him to sound like that or something. I finally snapped at the episode where one of the main girls gets a fever, then starts walking around and acting like she’s intoxicated. Thank you Magical Warfare, without your infinite wisdom I would have never known that having a fever and being drunk were basically the same thing.
While Glasslip was boring because nothing happened, Mahouka was boring because it had absolutely no idea how to do tension or suspense correctly. Watching an absurdly overpowered main character solve problems left and right who is also apparently smarter than the rest of the cast combined does not make for fun viewing. It got a bit hilarious at the end when the staff stopped caring and went overboard with the Jesus imagery, but it didn’t save the show from being immensely boring. I think the most damning thing I can say about Mahouka is that it makes Kirito look like a great main character in comparison.
#2 – Recently, My Sister is Unusual
I just… this show is… why did… ehhhhhhhhh. I think it’s supposed to be arousing or something, but it’s just fucking creepy. She spends half an episode running around being unable to pee. What the fuck. At least the live action adaptation had the decency to basically be porn.
It’s strangely fitting that my top best and worst shows are both second seasons of shows that aired last year. I’m pretty sure everyone that watched this second season fully understands why it’s here, and those that didn’t watch it should keep it that way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show completely miss the point of its series. If it didn’t have the Psycho-Pass name to it maybe I could have at least found its stupid plot ideas amusing, but as a second season of an established show it completely fails on all levels. Let’s all just pretend this season was a bad dream, and watch the movie once subs are out for that. Hopefully the movie will also pretend this season doesn’t exist.