Top 10 (and Worst 5) Anime of 2015Posted: January 8, 2016
Another year, another batch of complaints that the just-finished year of anime was “bad” or “mediocre at best”. It never gets old, really.
I thought it was a pretty good year seeing as I was sweating and biting my nails over what would make my top ten this year. That tends to be a pretty good indication of a solid if not good year of anime.
But you know what, I’m going to do things a bit differently this time. Maybe part of the fueled negativity towards each year is leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths by ending these with the worst five shows that aired. I’m going to keep doing those because I still think balance is important, but from now on I’ll start with them, and then do the top ten after. Maybe ending on a positive note will help inspire more positive thoughts about each year from now on.
Before we start, here’s the rules as per usual: It doesn’t matter when the show aired, as long as it finished airing in 2015 it’s eligible. In turn, shows that did not finish airing before December 31st, 2015 are not eligible. That’s really about it. As for the worst list, I have to have completed the show in order for it to be eligible, or I need to have dropped the show for a reason other than boredom. Otherwise the list would just be full of shows that bored me to various degrees, which would make a really lame list. This also means if a show you think should have made either list isn’t there, I most likely either didn’t watch it or dropped it.
That’s it for the rules, let’s get this started.
So, the worst five. I had a lot of trouble with them this year because I had a hard time actually finding five shows to make up this list. Not necessarily because less crappy shows aired, but probably because I’m getting a lot better at avoiding shows I’ll most likely not enjoy and also dropping the shows that show signs of going downhill. Still, I managed to scrounge up five, so here they are.
#5 – Beautiful Bones
Beautiful Bones isn’t actually a bad show. It kept me entertained enough each week, even if I did have my issues with Sakurako being a bit too Sherlock-y at times. Her being knowledgeable about bone-related things makes sense since it’s her profession, but she also seems to know a bunch of random factoids about other topics just because it helps her solve things in later episodes. But the main reason it made this list at all is simply because it didn’t end. The show spent a bunch of time teasing this final villain of sorts, but the show ends right before they’re about to do something about him. It tries to end on this incredibly lame bit on how the main guy shouldn’t stick around Sakurako because he might get manipulated by said bad guy, but it’s hard to care because the show still never bothered to actually tell you about this incident in her past with this kid that fueled this conflict in her to begin with and aaaargh. It’s one of those inconclusive plot endings that’s frustrating because it was the most interesting thing about the show. Maybe it’ll eventually get a movie for an ending or a second season, who knows.
#4 – Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
DanMachi‘s biggest issue is that it’s just boring. The main characters aren’t interesting, and there’s not much plot to latch onto either. It also doesn’t help that its popularity and lifeblood stems from the least interesting girl in the show. Seriously, every other girl in the show is better than Hestia. Fight me.
#3 – Comet Lucifer
I actually liked the first few episodes of Comet Lucifer. It was a pretty world with a potentially interesting story to tell. The problem is that it starts to feel like the writers are just making things up as they go after a while. A whole lot not of nothing happens in the middle of the show, and the last couple episodes are so ridiculously nonsensical that you’re mentally checked out of the show by the time it ends, leaving it to go out with a whimper rather than a bang.
#2 – Charlotte
“Oh wow a Jun Maeda show made Riyoga’s worst of the year list this is me being incredibly surprised.” Yeah, I know I’ve made it clear that I’m clearly not incredibly fond of Jun Maeda, but it’s not like Charlotte did anything to change that opinion of mine. His writing still feels like he came up with core story events and then wrote around them, leading to a story that feels like a rough draft more than something that was actually finalized. But hey, he learned from Angel Beats so at least there weren’t any pacing problems.
#1 – Rokka no Yuusha
It’s kind of interesting that two different shows (#1 and #5) both made it to this list due to their endings. Though while Beautiful Bones was just okay with an inconclusive ending, Rokka was actually good until the ending decided to throw everything out the window. The reveal of the seventh being basically psychotic was underwhelming since I’d rather them be a more rational person who’s maybe ruthless in their ideals (especially since that angle was perfectly setup due to Flamie’s backstory). But the real kick in the nuts was introducing another Brave to bring the count back up to seven meaning there’s another fake to find. Not only does this feel incredibly lazy due to reusing the exact same conflict, but the result of the last one having everyone trust each other now that the fake is gone was rendered null and void and now everyone will just suspect each other again, making everything the show did utterly pointless. Maybe the second light novel volume quickly wrapped this up, but it doesn’t make the ending any less of a giant middle finger to the audience, and being insulted is a quick way to get your show onto a “worst” list.
Good, now that the worst shows are out of the way we can move on to what made this year stand out. Though first, I wanted to make a few honorable mentions. Not in the typical sense of “these shows just barely didn’t make the list”, but rather shows that I haven’t finished yet, but like enough to seem like shows that could have possibly made it if I had finished them on time.
In no particular order: The first season of Garo, Seven Deadly Sins, Yona of the Dawn, Shirobako, and Maria the Virgin Witch.
I’m sorry, I pick up too many shows and I inevitably fall behind on things, okay?! Nobody’s perfect.
Anyways, actual honorable mentions go to Ore Monogatari and Death Parade, which just didn’t quite make it. I’d say “good luck next year” but, well, yeah.
On to the top ten.
#10 – Punch Line
Tenth place was a hard-fought battle between Punch Line and Prison School. While Prison School is hilarious and immensely entertaining, I feel like I got a bit more out of Punch Line while also being entertained, albeit in different ways. Maybe I’m just biased because it was written by Kotaro Uchikoshi and I love the dude, but I never stop being impressed by his ability to throw out seemingly inconsequential story and characters bits just for them all to tie together so damn neatly at the end. I still have no idea how he does it, let alone so well.
#9 – Arslan Senki
It’s pretty clear that Arslan Senki had production issues, though it’s unknown if it was due to a lack of time, money, talent, or some combination of the three. Despite it, the show managed to be really enjoyable, in no small part due to the writing and sound design/directing picking up the slack. Hiromu Arakawa has shown with Fullmetal Alchemist and Silver Spoon that strong, genuine character moments are one of her fortes, and Arslan Senki is no exception.
#8 – Knights of Sidonia S2
If there’s a recurring theme I’ve noticed over the last couple years, it’s sequels being even better than their previous seasons. That doesn’t usually tend to be the case, so it’s really interesting to see. Needless to say, Knights of Sidonia is one of those shows where its second season managed to surpass its original. That’s probably due to the first season feeling more like an intro, whereas things seemed to actually get done in season two. It also introduced one of the most moe, non-human characters out there, which was amazing.
#7 – One Punch Man
I’m actually curious whether people would get more shit for not having One Punch Man on their list at all, or for it being there but not in the number one slot. It’s one of those meta-issues that crops up when a lot of people really like something, so it reaches the point of being deified as a perfect example of everything and can make no mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, One Punch Man is great and deserves the praise it gets, just not this embodiment of perfection nor Anime Jesus. I wish it put more focus on some of the elements that got a bit sidelined (there’s a reason I chose the bit of art I did), but the show is still an insane visual spectacle that shows what happens when you bring a bunch of talented animators together on a work they’re passionate about.
#6 – Himouto! Umaru-chan
I ended up enjoying Himouto way more than I expected to. Even after the first one or two episodes I wasn’t entirely sold on it, but it was one of those shows where the more I watched of it, the more I enjoyed it. Which is why it’s saddening yet unspurprising that it got a fair share of hatred for Umaru being a not so great person a fair chunk of the time. Which may be surprising considering I’m petty outspoken about just how much I hate OreImo. Here’s the thing though: the issue with OreImo wasn’t the Kirino was a bad person, it’s that she was a bad person but the show tried to present her as perfect and how you should relate to her. Umaru is definitely at her worst in the first episode, but the show never tries to paint her tantrums as positive and you’re supposed to relate far more to her brother than her.
It’s all about intent and execution, but that’s a conversation for another time. Himouto made this list because it’s funny. It has a solid sense of humor that’s backed up by good comedic timing in both visuals and sound. The animation is actually pretty darn good too, even if it’s on more subtle motions.
#5 – Noragami S2
I don’t think anybody was expecting Noragami to actually get a second season, but I’m glad it did. There isn’t much to say though, since it just did more of what made the first season so good. Namely the good cast of characters, solid art and animation, and a great sense of style in its presentation. Now everyone can move on to being upset that a third season will probably never happen.
#4 – Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry
If I had to take a guess, this is the show that will raise the most eyebrows for being on this list, but I liked Rakudai quite a lot, it was my surprise of the year. I went into the show not expecting to like it at all (except for the music because Kotaro Nakagawa). The way I’ve commonly explained my draw to this show is that it’s the kind of show that with any other staff behind it, it’d probably be completely boring and forgettable. There’s some really impressive and creative directing in the show, and honestly the writing isn’t shabby either. It does have some problems with unnecessary fanservice bits, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.
#3 – Magic Kaito 1412
This one might also be a surprise since I didn’t talk about it much (outside of Twitter), but I really, really liked Magic Kaito. I was expecting a fun show with a kid pulling off entertaining and creative heists, but it’s a bit more than that. There’s a story that goes with each one, adding some nice weight to the events that go on. The soundtrack was also surprisingly fantastic and fit the tone of the show perfectly, though maybe I should have suspected it since it was Taku Iwasaki and he has pretty solid track record. It’s also a show with some of the best chemistry between love interests I’ve seen, and the show isn’t even primarily a romance. It’s just heartbreaking that a second season is basically guaranteed to never happen since Gosho Aoyama is too busy raking in money with Case Closed to give Magic Kaito more material.
#2 – Gatchaman Crowds Insight
I wasn’t kidding when I said sequels were making a comeback. The second season of Gatchaman Crowds has themes that can resonate with nearly anyone considering it deals with the negatives that come with such a connected, Internet-based world. Jumping to conclusions, the dangers of a hive mind, the unwillingness to let dissenting opinions exist. You know, the usual day on the Internet. It’s definitely less subtle than the first season, though given the messages they’re working with it’s kind hard to be anything but blunt. I think it actually works in its favor since the first season had a tendency to be a bit too obtuse. It’s just another sequel that I’d say manages to even outshine the original.
And speaking of sequels…
#1 – Tokyo Ghoul Root A
I don’t think anyone is too surprised at this being here given my last post. Tokyo Ghoul is simply one the best character stories I’ve ever seen done in anime. I don’t think there ever won’t be drama about the Tokyo Ghoul anime’s content and opinions on it, but it’s something I’m more than willing to defend to my deathbed.
So that wraps up 2015, and here’s to another good year of anime in 2016.
…Which everyone will call bad and mediocre yet again no matter what actually happens.