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Scamp’s top 10 anime of 2014

Tonari no Seki-kun - 09 - Large 092013 was a decent year for anime with some great surprises, but it was rather lacking in depth once you looked outside the top of the pile. “That was nice” I said to the Gods of Anime. “But how about next year we have a greater variety of decent anime”. So the anime gods responded by having no surprises in 2014, very few great anime, and a load of mediocre series that I have to pick a top 10 from. On another day with me in a different mood, either Barakamon, Knights of Sidonia, Mahouka haha nope, or Hoozuki no Reitetsu could have squeezed into this top 10. But this is the mood I’m in and these are the anime I have decreed to be the top 10 anime of 2014. Hopefully next year is better.

10: Rage of Bahamut

Bahamut - 02 -10[2]After about the halfway point I thought Bahamut was a shoo-in for a top 5 spot. It was an exciting swashbuckling adventure anime with two charismatic lead characters in a Pirates of the Caribbean-esque story. With Kaiser yelling FAVAROOOOO and our ginger afro’d rogue hero being chased across the country by imperial armies, it really had to work hard to remove a lot of that goodwill. But then it seemed to grasp the completely wrong end of what made it enjoyable and started focusing on a boring angels vs demons story that completely lost its fun adventure side. But then the last episode I watched had a drunk god riding on top of a balloon-shaped goose with a crown on its head fighting against the demonified version of Joan of Arc riding a dragon and I figured yo, Bahamut still had something going for it. Enough for it to scrape into this top 10 at least. It can be thankful 2014 wasn’t better.

9: Ping Pong

Ping Pong  - 08 -29[2]I admittedly didn’t enjoy Ping Pong as much as some of Yuasa’s other anime. A combination of disliking this specific manga author’s artstyle and not finding either of the two lead characters engaging put a dampener on my enjoyment. But Ping Pong was still a fascinating character study of a wide range of people. Even minor stories like the one random joke character whose complete destruction at the hands of our lead made him decide to quit table tennis and go travelling to find himself was simultaneously hilarious and weirdly poignant. And then there was Kong Wenge. His story from arrogant foreigner to embittered loser to inspirational teacher was absolutely fantastic. Kong is my Rider/Waver of 2014 in that if the entire anime had focused solely on his story, it would have been waaaaay higher up my rankings.

8: Haikyuu

Haikyuu - 23 - Large 22Sports anime like Haikyuu really start to shine when you have introduced the entire cast, meticulously set up why these games are important, raise the stakes and then engage in multi-episode duels with ever changing parameters and building of tension. Getting through some of those earlier episodes can be a pain though and often just turn me off, as it did for me with Kuroko Plays With His Balls. “It’s a shame” I found myself thinking at the time. “If only this shounen sports anime with a massive female fanbase didn’t look like it was animated by the animators holding their pens between their arse cheeks, I could probably get into this”. Then came the gorgeously animated Haikyuu and indeed I did really like it! Boy I sure am shallow.

7: Hanamonogatari

Hanamonogatari - Large 111Another year, another random Monogatari franchise entrant. It feels a little odd throwing out a place in the top 10 for what is essentially just a single Monogatari arc. But we can only judge what we are given and for what it’s worth, Hanamonogatari is one of the best Monogatari arcs the franchise has produced. I had to describe it recently to someone who knows nothing about the franchise. I said it was about a disabled girl collecting the parts of the devil so she could listen to the fears of worried people because she gets off on other people’s suffering, which made me realise how messed up that is as a premise. It also marks Monogatari’s continued turn into a much more mature series, and even potentially works as an end-cap to the entire franchise. Plus like all the best Monogatari arcs recently, it featured very little Araragi and lots of Kaiki.

6: Ghost in the Shell: Arise

Ghost in the Shell ARISE - 02 - Large 090While far from the best entrant into the Ghost in the Shell franchise, Arise is certainly a worthy entrant and definitely worth your time if you’ve enjoyed the cyberpunk story previously. The best thing I can say about Arise is that it really does feel like Ghost in the Shell and not like a piece of fanfiction. The story and themes focus on memory and how the ability to alter our brains can make us start to doubt who we really are. The fragility of ourselves can make us feel unfamiliar in our minds. It even has some more old fashioned entertainment with fisticuffs and car chases. The Major is still her fiery self, Togusa is still the caring father, and Batou still gets his body hacked by the Major to make him punch himself in the face when he annoys her.

5: Silver Spoon

silverspoon-04I said last year that I felt weird listing Silver Spoon as it wasn’t technically over yet. It’s because of split-cours anime like Silver Spoon that other anime like Stardust Crusaders aren’t being listed for this year. So technically Silver Spoon wouldn’t have been eligible for last year’s list if we had applied the same rules. But then I remembered Silver Spoon was a great anime about very human worries and the scariest dad in anime since Gendo Ikari. I remembered that I could use this as yet another opportunity to tell everyone to go watch Silver Spoon. I shouldn’t have to since it’s the latest anime by the author of Full Metal Alchemist, but apparently a lot of people did pass over it. So go watch Silver Spoon. It turns out  that lady who wrote FMA is a really good writer even on different genres. Fancy that~!

4: Kill la Kill

Kill la Kill - 24 - Large 18There was a turning point for me with Kill la Kill. I was enjoying the show but felt uneasy at the way it tried to say it was about self-confidence while forcing the ladies into compromising positions in the most wedgie-inducing clothes on the planet. But then in some of the later episodes everyone started showing up naked. Everyone’s outfits got steadily more ridiculous and revealing. It ended on the entire planet being controlled by evil clothing and the only way to be free was to be naked. It was then I realised the people making this weren’t just hyperactive horny men but completely fucking bonkers lunatics. The terrorist organisation is called Nudist Beach for crying out loud. Did Kill la Kill really happen or did we just all collectively imagine it? There are some people who claim that Kill la Kill has deep meaning behind it and wasn’t utter nonsense week after week as the creators made it up as they went along, but there are also people who claim they can see the future in tea leaves.

3: Tonari no Seki-kun

Tonari no Seki-kun - 17 -19[2]I warned you Tonari no Seki-kun would be ranked much higher than you might expect and boy has it. I absolutely loved this little show. From its simple premise of a girl getting distracted in class by the world’ most proficient procrastinator, it uses that formula is such a great variety of ways that it never got old for me. Each episode in its own little way explored a little part of their mostly unspoken relationship further that made me theorise as to what each of them is thinking. Whether Seki was starting to intentionally try to get Yokoi’s attention to whether Yokoi secretly enjoyed watching Seki and would miss him horribly if he left. Or maybe I’m just like that glasses girl and reading way too much into their activities. Either way it was a genuinely funny anime and left me with a giant grin spread across my face with its seven minutes each week.

2: Space Dandy

Space Dandy 2 - 01 -3Space Dandy is probably the most imaginative and inventive anime ever. Director Watanabe didn’t really take control of this series. Rather what he did was call up a huge variety of talented people in the industry, gave them an incredibly loose outline of what the series was about (there’s a dandy guy in space with a cat and an autotuned robot, now go) and let them create whatever ideas came to them. What we got was a hugely diverse and creative set of wonderfully colourful and creative episodes, each so wildly different from the last. Even if an episode didn’t necessarily impress, I was always eager to tune in next week because you would never know whether it might turn into Kaiba or Redline or High School Musical this time.

1: Mushishi 2

Mushishi Zoku Shou - 11 - Large 26Surprise surprise, one of the best anime of all time returns for a second season at it too ends up being one of the best anime of all time. Except in some ways that was a surprise. It took 9 years for this sequel to come and I’ve been burned so many times by sequels that took their time to arrive. But Mushishi defied anyone who doubted it by returning as though there had been no pause whatsoever. The same slow haunting tales superficially about nature but more deeply about more base human emotions. Ginko’s travels from village to village as people continuously refused to listen to him when he told them not to whistle on the boat why didn’t you bloody listen to him! But yes, Mushishi. What an amazing anime, and more than worthy my Anime of the Year 2014.

…there was also this shounen anime that ended this year that seemed to be pretty popular…can’t remember its name…eh, I bet nobody brings it up.

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26 Comments

  1. Guratan
    Posted December 28, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    HUNTERXHUNTER

    • lmm
      Posted December 28, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Seriously. Love it or hate it, you can’t call it mediocre.

      • Scamp
        Posted January 1, 2015 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

        Hunter X Hunter is mediocre.

    • ElGoopo
      Posted December 29, 2014 at 3:17 am | Permalink

      Weirdly, that’s exactly what I’d call the bulk of HxH. Long-running anime have that problem. I can’t say I enjoyed what I watched of One Piece any less than HxH, in fact, and I got about as far into that as I did watching the entirety of HxH. I think HxH gets both overly lauded and overly despised, because while the good bits genuinely are good, there’s just so much mediocrity to slog through. Perhaps it’s more lucky to have almost no real competition in the ghetto that is the shounen anime genre.

      • Maxulous
        Posted December 29, 2014 at 4:45 am | Permalink

        I think One Piece interweaves its story arcs and overall ideas better. Hunter x Hunter kinda changes its raison d’être (if you like) quite a lot.

  2. Posted December 28, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    As a big fan of GitS: SAC, it’s my procrastination with movies that had me not watching Arise yet.

    Aside from Silver Spoon I probably knew most of what you’d place on your list, meaning it’s very you. I wish I could enjoy shorts more. Tonari no Seki-kun was indeed one of the best at what it did, but it was something I had no interest in :-/

    I don’t recall, how did you feel about Samurai Flamenco by the time it ended?

    • Shinmaru
      Posted December 28, 2014 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      He did not like it. I’m not even sure he finished it.

      • Golos
        Posted December 29, 2014 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        IIRC he dropped it during the Flamengers arc.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

      I felt Flamenco was too…bad? Like it had no structure. I like crazy twists but they do have to be somewhat internally consistent.

  3. Anon
    Posted December 28, 2014 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Anon’s Top 10 Anime of the Year (Based solely on enjoyment, hype and anticipation-of-the-next-episode-every-week factors):

    10. Nanana’s Buried Treasure
    9. Black Bullet
    8. Sword Art Online 2
    7. King of the Magic Bullet and the Vanadis
    6. Amagi Brilliant Park
    5. Log Horizon 2
    4. Invaders of the Rokujyouma!?
    3. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
    2. I, Will Become a Twin Tail
    1. No Game No Life

    Yes, I have shit taste.

    • Gan_HOPE326
      Posted December 28, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      I think NGNL wouldn’t make it to my #1, but in the top 10? Definitely. It was hilariously funny and generally very enjoyable for me. Was it otaku wish-fulfillment imouto crap? Yeah, who cares, it had a planet destroyed during a wordgame. Not even Yu Gi Oh ever dared that much.

      • Popka
        Posted December 29, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

        To be fair, Yugioh did have a man with dinosaur DNA because his father was an archaeologist who replaced his broken leg bone with a fossil, and a demon with a giant snake penis.

      • Shinmaru
        Posted December 29, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

        WHAT

      • Nasch II
        Posted February 17, 2015 at 8:08 am | Permalink

        I remember that dude! Didn’t he kill his parents later for the bone thing? Right before the angsty kid who was pissed cause he lost a card he never used destroyed the sun and unintentionally created evil aliens who would try to destroy earth several hundred years later in another reality while conducting interspecies romance with fake dicks and mind control. Gods this takes me back!

  4. Varyn
    Posted December 28, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Wow, IMO the list this year seems really mediocre. The Best stuff (Tokyo Ghoul, Jojo’s and Parasyte) cant qualify. You don’t watch HxH and the other good stuff aired so long ago I forgot it was even this year (Kill la Kill & Silver Spoon).

    Nothing left but shorts/’movies’ (those listed were good, but quantity wise a little unsatisfying) and a bunch of shows that weren’t that great (Space Dandy suxks lol) or I haven’t seen.

    Mushishi seems to be the only stand-out exceptional thing to make the list. Whilst 2013 managed to slot 6 shows into my Top 25 of all time.

    • ElGoopo
      Posted December 29, 2014 at 3:25 am | Permalink

      Best? Even Seki-kun is miles ahead of Tokyo Ghoul, Jojo and Parasyte, as far as they have gotten so far. In fact I think we’re mostly just praying that Jojo makes a return to form when we pretend it has more than 2 episodes of entertaining content, and even if it does it will not erase how awful this season was. Tokyo Ghoul wasn’t as bad but it’s mostly only saved by its ending, so it has roughly the same problem, and Parasyte is.. well, I’ll be generous and call it decent for its time (when the manga hit its peak), but it has not aged well no matter how much out-of-place dubstep they throw in.

      • Varyn
        Posted January 3, 2015 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        Well its all personal taste i guess. Still think Jojo’s was as gloriously dumb as ever even if it wasn’t on par with the first season. Tokyo Ghoul did a great job of keeping both the goofy and more serious aspects of the show still feeling consistent and was by no means carried by its dramatic ending IMO. With the exception of the poorly characterised schoolgirls Parasyte is still a great show and has otherwise aged fine IMO.

        I’m not going to bash Seki-kun, it was very good and one of the best shorts I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t Seki-kun I’d look forward to watching every week.

  5. shytende
    Posted December 28, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    How can you taik about Kill la Kill and not mention Mako.

    I was slightly disappointed by this show towards the end, but each of her apparition was perfect.

    Next year, you will be able to put Shirobako, at least. And probably Durarara.
    And there is hope towards this new Ikuhara anime.
    And there would be more Monogatari.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

      Mako is just part of the weird and wonderful world they created. I weirdly struggle to recall specific parts of Kill la Kill. It makes those 6 months really feel like some strange group delusion anime fans had.

  6. Maxulous
    Posted December 29, 2014 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    I’m counting Stardust Crusaders, Egpyt Arc alone could blow your balls off. This is how I feel.

    01 – Ping Pong
    02 – Noragami
    03 – Hunter X Hunter 2011
    04 – Hoozuki no Reitetsu
    05 – Stardust Crusaders
    06 – Tonari no Seki-kun
    07 – Kill La Kill
    08 – Bahamut Genesis (subject to change)
    09 – Barakamon
    10 – Sidonia no Kishi

    Gin no Saji lost me half way through S2 – I wasn’t that interested in the relationship drama. I was following Mushishi, but sorta burned out on it. I relish about 1 in every 4 episodes.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 1, 2015 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      If you didn’t finish Silver Spoon, I recommend doing so. It loses steam at the start of the second season, but picks up right towards the end when the dad shows up.

  7. ElGoopo
    Posted December 29, 2014 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    I don’t even think I’d want to put 10 anime on my top list this year. The only anime I’ll truly remember fondly are Mushishi, Tonari, and maybe half of Gin no Saji 2, but as for the rest? Nope.

    Dandy might stick in my memory here and there, but aside from the ending it’s way too hit and miss; I hate at least as much of it as I enjoyed. At least it’s memorable, I guess. Similarly I might remember Witch Craft Works and Chaika, but only because I feel embarrassed for anibloggers whenever I read them gushing over such mediocre efforts. “Wow, they boringly swapped the genders and there’s a llama! Awesome!” “Daww… Chaika’s so adorable I don’t even care if there’s a story or how godawful the music is!”

    Perhaps I’ll also remember Log Horizon and Psycho Pass as fresh examples of anime that went way downhill in their second seasons, but they were never that great to begin with so it’ll take effort to remember them nonetheless.

    Most of everything else I watched (which was a lot more than I expected) was just more mildly entertaining anime; good enough that I don’t feel embarrassed at/for the medium, but not much that I’d recommend over better stuff from the past. Perhaps Bahamut or Fate for a couple of years, for those people who don’t care about anything but visual quality.

  8. Posted December 29, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Take out Tonari no Seki-kun and move Ping Pong way up and we’d have a very similar top 5. And that’s probably how I’d remember the year: 5 memorable standouts and a bunch of others.

    TANGENTIAL RANT INCOMING

    I’m growing to loath the conceptualization of Monogatari more with each new iteration. Why does this franchise exist as an anime? In particular, why does it hate visual storytelling so much? It’s the culmination of the “tell don’t show” tendencies of LN adaptations. All the important information is conveyed through expository dialogue, which tends to become drawn out, tedious, and tangential too often. It’s content to tell you what characters are thinking and feeling in a rather patronizing way.

    I used to believe the visual direction added something to its script, but after so many story arcs I see it’s just Shinbo up to his old tricks: otaku reference gags, fanservice, obtuse architecture, quick cuts to reams of onscreen text; superficial quirks to grab eyeballs but ultimately don’t add anything meaningful to its core themes. Too many opportunities passed where it could have showed the narrative but relied on long-winded monologue instead. There’s a disdain for active screenplay that really cuts at the heart of what I believe visual mediums are best at.

    I think Monogatari has worthwhile stories, and anime needs more script writers with the kind of wit the franchise frequently displays, but this anime series has become the worst kind of adaptation in a visual medium: a glorified picture drama with actors reading to you all the meticulous, gory details of the LN text.

  9. Ibri
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    I liked Bahamut more at the beginning too, but it was still a fun enough show. Just below what I hoped for after the beginning. But the difference wasn’t small compared to what I hoped for after the first Samurai Flamenco episode and what I got in the end…

  10. Tales_of_Chris
    Posted December 30, 2014 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    1. Hunter x Hunter
    2. Mushishi 2
    3. Kuroko no Basket
    4. Gin no Saji 2
    5. Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to The Animation
    6. Barakamon
    7. No Game No Life
    8. Akame ga Kill
    9. Isshuukan Friends
    10. Space Dandy

    I think the only other anime I actually completed this year that aren’t on this list are Sidonia no Kishi, Stardust Crusaders, and Ping Pong.

    • Posted January 2, 2015 at 12:41 am | Permalink

      You completed 13 anime this year, and Ping Pong wasn’t even in the Top 10? I’ve got some bad news for you…

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