Sunday, January 4, 2015

Top 5 Best Anime of 2014

2014 has finally come to close, so let's count down my Top 5 Best Anime of 2014!

2014 is finally over! Thank God for that! In all respects, 2014 was a generally awful year all around. Most movies were incredibly disappointing, video games were laced with controversy upon controversy, and celebrities died like moths to the flame. Seriously, you can not imagine how happy I am that 2014 is finally over. However, anime had a pretty good year in 2014. It wasn't a phenomenal year like 2011, which gave us shows like Madoka Magica and Steins;Gate, but it was a solid year overall with some great titles behind it that I want to become classics. Instead of doing a Best Broadway Show award like I did last year, this is going to be my replacement from now on, since I find this much more interesting and fun. If you're really disappointed though that there's no Best Broadway Show award, that honor goes to A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. Now that we have that out of the way, let's go over some ground rules first!

First off, the anime has to end in 2014. The show can still be ongoing, but I'm only judging a show by what was released in 2014, so shows like Parasyte are off the table unfortunately. Not only that, but I'm judging only anime shows and not OVA's. Some series had OVA's produced the same year they finished, like Kill la Kill, but I'm only judging the show itself and not the extra content released after the series finale. So with those rules in place, these are my personal Top 5 Best Anime of 2014. If you agree, more power to you! If you disagree, that's perfectly fine as well, but in my opinion, these were the best shows that I watched all year long. In case you want to refresh yourself on the titles I've seen this year, here are all of my Seasonal anime reviews of the past year.

Winter Anime of 2014
Spring Anime of 2014
Summer Anime of 2014
Fall Anime of 2014

Honorable Mention: Orenchi no Furo Jijo
Okay, this may be because I've just finished the show less than a week ago, but I keep coming back to just how funny this show is. It's a merman living in a bathtub. And it's a pink bathtub. I don't know what about this series makes it so funny, but every episode had me smiling and in stitches the entire time. Whether it's Wakasa's antics in the tub or all of the friends that he invites over, I laughed my ass off at ever episode, including the yaoi undetones. Oh my God the yaoi undetones were intense with this show, but in a way that just intensified all of the jokes and humor. Adding on to that it's brilliant opening that lulls you into a false pretense of what the show is, expecting an epic and dark show, but instead getting chibis in a bathtub. It's brilliant comedy at its finest.

So why doesn's this show get into the Top 5? Each episode is only four minutes long. I mean... come on. That's a little cheap to say that a show that has only four minutes each episode is better than a full 24 episode series. Still, check this show out! It's hilarious, will only take you about an hour, and had me smiling that such a simple an effective comedy could exist in this anime market.

Number 5: Yuki Yuna is a Hero
Yuki Yuna is a Hero is the show that I had no idea I would like. At first I've heard that it was an outright Madoka Magica clone for its semi dark take on the Magical Girl genre, but I actually enjoyed it a lot for its heart. It's not a bombast on constant despair like Madoka was or WIXOSS is. Instead, there are several episodes dedicated to just slice of life problems where the girls are just being middle school girls, followed by maybe an episode or two of Magical Girl action. It was a great balance, and when the show began to go in a darker territory, it was all the more impactful because I actually cared about every girl and the repercussions of using their Magical Girl powers.

Try as I might though, I could't disassociate it with Madoka Magica. Despite my best efforts, I keep on coming back to Madoka Magica and how this show is in the shadow of that phenomenal show. I can imagine a normal person sitting down, watching both anime back to back, and instantly preferring Madoka over Yuki Yuna. In fact, I would kinda of prefer Madoka over this anime. I'm happy that Yuki Yuna ends on a happy note and doesn't leave the characters miserable and lonely, but if it went dark at the ending like Madoka, then I feel the story might have been a bit stronger. Still, the ideas of friendship talked about in this show are fun and meaningful, and when sad moments happen, they're incredibly sad. Togo in particular is such a well developed and sad character that she kept my interest in the show the entire time. She's physically disabled, but she's still able to save the world from evil. Or can she? I won't spoil this show anymore, but take it from me, even though people may call it a Madoka clone, it still has enough good elements to it to merit a watch.

Number 4: Akame ga Kill!
Let it never be said that simple does not equal good. For the best two seasons, I've been turning into Akame ga Kill! ever Sunday night just to see what kind of action would take place next. I was eager to see all of the fights and see if any of our heroes would live through the fight or die against their enemies. Even though I never really cared about any of the main protagonists, I was still entranced by the action ever week. The show lends itself to having constant over the top action with new and insane characters, sometimes literally, that just made this show a blast to watch.

A bunch of people were miffed that this show had an original ending that deviated from the source material, but I personally didn't mind at all. It was a solid ending that close several character arcs and led to some of the series' best fight scenes. Seeing Akame fight against the main villain, General Esdeath, was worth the original ending just for how amazing their fight scene was. I was on the edge of my seat watching these two women battle it out to the death, each sizing each other up in a perfect final battle. The show had a great first episode to keep me hooked, and while it took a while for me to really become interested in the show, once episode 5 happened, there was no going back. I was hooked, and there was no stopping me from enjoying Akame ga Kill!

If I could say one major problem I had with the anime as a whole was that sometimes plot elements just seemed to be shuffled together with no rhyme or reason. Characters that had entire arcs dedicated to them were summed up in one episode then killed. It got a bit too kill happy where the character deaths began to lose meaning for me. It's fine to have a character die after a climatic battle that caps their character arc, but when major characters are dying every episode, it can become a bit too much for me. It creates an environment that has me lose my attachment for the characters because I know they're going to die, so why bother getting invested in them. Still, those problems emerged later on in the series, so I can find a problem like that relatively passable. If you want a good action series to tide you over until Attack on Titan comes back next year, this is a good place to look. 

Number 3: Witch Craft Works
My GOD is this show underrated! Out of all of the titles on my list, no one has ever heard of this little gem, but believe me it is worth it. I talked about this titles waaaaaaaay back in the Winter Season, but it's still fresh in my mind. This was just a plain old fun show to watch. It has a cute premise, fun characters, and always manages to stay upbeat even in the worst of times. Characters are always worth a solid chuckle or two, and it even manages to pull off discussing gender politics in a way that's actually beneficial to the anime industry. 

I really, really, really love this show. It's simple and small, never reaching beyond its capabilities, but everything about this show just makes me want to go an rewatch it again right this second. It's that good. Kagari and Takamiya has reversed gender roles, yet they make such a cute couple. Kagari is always defending Takamiya, who is always in need of saving and being rescued, despite him being male. I know that I'm not qualified at all to talk about or analyze gender or sexual politics, but this show is fascinating for me to watch because of how it flips the table on traditional anime tropes. Women are in charge here, get used to it, but that's never portrayed as a bad thing. It just so happens that all witches are female. Get used to it. 

I know I just rambled for quite a bit about this show, but it's just that good in my books. I had a blast ever second that this show was on, and clocking in at just thirteen episodes, this show can easily be watched in a weekend. Set some time to yourself, and watch this criminally underrated and not talked enough show. 

Number 2: No Game No Life
No Game No Life split many anime fans when it first released back in the Spring Season. Some thought that it was brilliant and one of the most fun anime to watch that season. Others thought that it was full of plot devices and some of the worst tropes that anime has to offer. This was probably one of the most polarizing titles of the year outside of Grisaia and Sword Art Online II. However, I loved every second that this show was on. 

This is a show about games and the joys of games. It applauds intelligence and originality over everything else. This is a very smart show that established a rich and detailed world that has its own unique structure, but never really seems alien to us. It's a world controlled by games and the winners of games, and God forbade cheating in this world. So not only does it become a game to outsmart your opponent, but in some cases, find ways to cheat without being discovered. This is a brilliant little series that had me entranced unlike any other show this year. Every second I was watching this show was like watching a insane painter paint everything that he saw in his mind with ferocious intensity. It was a spectacle to say the least. 

I can understand why some people don't like this show, but I have very little qualms with the show. Does it have incest in it? Not really, with Sora, the older brother, displaying a clear interest in other women. Does it rely too much on plot devices? Probably, but when the results are as entertaining as they are here, who am I to complain! Then there are the people who complain about the visuals, which are filled with bloom and odd color choices. My response to them is that this is a fantasy world. Of course the colors are going to be off and evoke a much more fantastical setting. The only thing hat I may concede on is the rampant fanservice in the show, but even then I was mostly fine with that because it helped to show Sora and Shiro's characters and provide some great fodder for jokes. 

I loved every second that this show was on and I am praying, PRAYING for a second season. No Game No Life is based off a ongoing manga, but there are enough volumes now to warrant a second season. Strike while the iron is hot! If I see No Game No Life at all next season, I will be an incredibly happy man. 

Number 1: Kill la Kill
Call me unoriginal or completely predictable, but there was no way I was going to keep Kill la Kill off of this list. This was by far the most popular anime of 2014. It took he anime world by storm and completely embraced it. While some people may bemoan Kill la Kill and its popularity, its popular for a reason. This is the best action show of the year and has some of the best characters of the year too. Whether its Ryuko, Sneketsu, Satsuki, Mako, Gamagori, Nui, or Ragyo, there were too many characters that people loved inside of this show. It made every episode an absolute joy to watch, especially when the series really started to get insane. 

Like I said in my list specifications, I'm only putting this show in the list based on the second half of the show, which aired in the Winter Season. In there, we got the best fight scenes in the show, the best character development, the best moments of the show, and the biggest plot reveals. It's hard to separate the second half from the first half, but everything that I saw was just incredible. 

True story; during the second half of the show, I had an incredible amount of work I had to do on Thursdays. From 2 p.m to 10 p.m, I usually was working nonstop, whether it be with classes, clubs, or rehearsals for shows. I almost never even had a dinner break, since it was always nonstop for me. Still, I was able to make it through ever day based on the fact that when I got back home very day, I would take a shower, get some food, and watch the latest Kill la Kill episode the day it aired. That's how good this show is. It motivated me to make it through tough work days with little work or nutrition. 

If you haven't seen Kill la Kill yet, do yourself a favor and watch it. Even if you don't like anime, I would still say give Kill la Kill a try. It's the best action series of 2014, and the best anime I've seen in 2014. You may disagree, but Satsuki would disapprove of your disapproval, and no one wants to be on the receiving end of those massive eyebrows glaring at you. 

And those were my Top 5 Anime of 2014! Disappointed the some of your titles didn't make the list? Let me know below! Also, don't forget to spread the links and like us on Facebook at The Critical Order!

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