Top Ten Anime Series of 2014

Another year came to an end, I’ve sampled nearly 60 shows, watched about half to completion, and it’s time to see which shows stood out (in a good way). If we’re frank, this year hasn’t been nearly as good as 2013. Had I used the cut-off criteria of 2013, only the top 7 shows would’ve made it in, compared to 12 that passed that bar in 2013 (and Aku no Hana that passed using different criteria). But even if the year as a whole was weak, the top shows were still worthy of your time. There’d be “Notable Absentees” and “Honourable Mentions” at the end of the post, so if you don’t see a show, keep reading!

Only full series had been considered, no OVAs or movies of any sort. The names link to the show’s description and information on My Anime List (MAL).

10. Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis (Rage of Bahamut: Genesis)

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis anime / Rage of Bahamut: Genesis anime

One of my favourite films is the first Pirates of the Carribean film, which I describe as a 10/10 performance by Johnny Depp, lifting a 5/10 film to the realm of 7/10. The show had a great sense of action and fun going for it early on, which in the second half all but abandoned it for slow and tepid non-action weighed down by a non-character taking center stage. The first half of the show and the finale though are more than worth the price of entry. Just like Pirates of the Carribean, loveable rascals with an extreme penchant for getting in trouble and over the top facial expressions while swashbuckling dominate the show. Zombies join on our crusade to bring down a CG dragon, as we cross against angels, demons, drunk gods, and inflatable ducks. How can you not love a show so in love with its own irreverence?

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12 Days of Anime #7 – Watching A Well Made Show, And Crying – Ping Pong the Animation

With all the talk about bad shows, and great shows that surprise us, where’s talk of actual workmanship? Of a show that tells a story without surprising you, actually taking it through all of the motions, from start to conclusion, and has you along? In my post about spoilers I touched on this point, but surprise isn’t the big thing in emotional resonance, which is what I look for in my media consumption. If surprise were everything, then rewatching a series wouldn’t work, and my post on Durarara for day #12 is an example of me revisiting material repeatedly.

So what am I looking for? A show that is well made, a show that is well constructed. The characters make sense, the relationships make sense, and for a character-centric show (which not all are), that means events arise from characters acting true to their nature. I just need people who make sense, explore being people by being people. And Ping Pong was such a show, and it was great.

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Spring 2014 Anime Season Overview

The Spring 2014 anime season had come and gone, and it’s time to look at the wreckage, see what was worthwhile, and what wasn’t, as well as give some thoughts on each of the shows. Some of these might yet get editorials, depending on energy levels and interest on my part, but if not, I’ll always be able to point at this!

Shows organized by how much I liked them or thought they were good, order doesn’t correlate 100% to the scores given. So, let’s go from worst to best!

15) M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane / M3 The Dark Metal:

M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane Anime overview

Look at this gif, it’s so terrible it’s hypnotic, I call it “boobie-balls”. It’s the best worst part of this show. This Mari Okada show is a take on NGE, as the other is a take on Madoka. This isn’t to say they’re actively trying to mimic those other luminary shows, but the point is it feels tired, it feels trying too hard.

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Ping Pong the Animation Episode 11 (Finale!) Notes – A Hero is Refracted Light

(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but up to a couple every week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)

Wow, we’re at the finale. Already. Funny I say that, cause thus far to me the show is closer to 9.9/10 than 10/10, because I just feel the whole dramatic arc would’ve worked better in a movie format, with everything being compressed, even as I don’t feel we’ve wasted time. The plot-structure follows the usual sports show, but the way it handles things is as a drama.

Time for Smile and Peco. The same situation as Coach Koizumi and Kazama the Eldest, two friends with one of them being wounded. But the whole point is that they must play while giving it their all, to enjoy it fully, to fly, to smile.

Thoughts and Notes:

1) Donning The Past to Fight The Future:

Ping Pong the Animation episode 11 notes - Kazama Ryuichi doesn't shy away from responsibility

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Ping Pong the Animation Episode 10 Notes – There’s Life After Death, Freedom After Defeat

(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but up to a couple every week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)

Peco must win, not for himself, but for Smile, and to Smile Peco must win so he’ll be Peco again. Yes, teamwork where Peco must win for himself, for his friend. What of Kazama? He’s here to do his job, to fulfill his duty. Not a hero, yet still bound by honour.

Let us observe the clash of the hero and the anti-hero, the dragon. Will the hero slay the dragon, or will the dragon crush the already-wounded hero?

(Not all screenshots made it into the write-up, here is the full screenshot album.)

Thoughts and Notes:

1) Understanding Kazama: Longing for a Hero:

Ping Pong the Animation episode 10 notes - Yurie and Kaio's coach speak of Ryuichi

1) “Overseas? Not me.” – Though Ruichi goes overseas all the time, the coach is a simple man. Yurie is leaving, and Kazama did not want to speak with her, so he is left behind.

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Spring 2014 Week 10 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

As usual, shows listed by order of my enjoyment of said episode, links to longer write-ups. Mushishi was here this week! But due to tests and such I had a bit less energy for this season, as it’s winding down, rather than winding up for exciting finales. Two episodes’ worth of Chaika, since I’ve missed it last week.

1) Ping Pong the Animation episode 9

Ping Pong the Animation anime Episode 9 overview

 

This episode is about the return of the past. Sakuma and Beach guy? Sure. But how about two friends who are going to fight for the top spot (assuming Peco beats Kazama), where one of them has knee-problems, and the other doesn’t want to harm his friend’s dream? Reminds you of Coach Koizumi and Kazama’s grandfather, eh? Smile had also been told that he’ll harm his opponent if he gives him the win, and Obaba had said Smile has no mercy, and is a monster.

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Spring 2014 Week 9 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

As usual, shows listed by order of my enjoyment of said episode, links to longer write-ups. Another week without Mushishi leaves us orphaned. Drama had been fairly good this week, while popcorn was being its normal popcorny-stuff.

1) Ping Pong the Animation episode 8

Ping Pong the Animation Episode 8 overview

This show isn’t messing around. It doesn’t throw surprise punches at you, but sets up the characters logically, and then lets them act out their natures.

Kazama doesn’t believe in heroes, which means that not only does he not look up to others, but he also doesn’t see himself as a hero. He doesn’t seek to lead his team as a “leader”, but as a symbol of unflagging prowess. He cares not for the psychology of it, and it seems he doesn’t care for them either. No heroes, but there is money, and there are symbols, symbols such as the school. His is a cold world, one of powers, and not people.

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