2014 was definitely a year of comedy animes for me. Last year my list was composed of action hits like Attack on Titan and Freezing Vibration, as well as loner life highschool animes like Watamote and Oregairu. This year did have its fair share of action anime, some of which I’m still watching such as Black Bullet, but I mainly sank my teeth into all the easy-going stuff. With that said, here’s my own personal favorite anime from this year, and remember that this is only my opinion and is based solely on the anime I have watched.
Honorable Mention – Tonari no Seki-kun
This series was nice to watch mainly because each episode was a bite-sized 7 minutes, and each had a very clear gag/gimmick to make me laugh each time. It wasn’t just the silly antics of Seki-kun himself, but also how Rumi’s imagination would run wild whenever Seki-kun was up to something, which would put a smile on my face. It’s not the deepest or most complex anime, and I couldn’t really fit it into my list as being stand-out in any way, however it was definitely quite special.
10 – Date A Live II
Date a Live didn’t skip a beat as it entered its second season, introducing new ladies, new plot points and new villains. I really enjoyed how Shido, the protagonist, took a more active role this time and even fought with the help of the Spirits. Of course, there was the obligatory gender-bend scenario, which seems to happen to every harem anime lead character eventually. However, even that was well handled and it added to the plot nicely. Date a Live II was action packed, hilarious and just emotionally sweet enough to be a great watch every time a new episode came out. I had a ton of fun watching it and I can’t wait to see where the series might go next.
9 – Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
It’s your typical shoujo-romantic comedy anime that’s very self-reflective about the shoujo anime genre, but its vibrant and memorable cast of characters make it worthwhile. There isn’t a single character within the main cast that isn’t instantly lovable and charming, and you get great joy from seeing how they all interact. This anime is, luckily, free from the melodrama and angst of typical rom-coms and you’ll find it easy to watch throughout. This was a much-needed boost to its appeal, since I really wasn’t looking for another sob fest, haha. It’s rare that you see shoujo rom-coms that are just straight up happy all the way, so that made me appreciate this anime even more.
8 – Akame ga Kill
Perhaps the show was more ambitious that it was actually capable of, but when it started to have fun, it really shines. When it was off trying to be edgy and dark, it made it much more laborious to watch, but when it was just trying to be straight up action, it was some of the best I’d seen all year. The characters aren’t particularly phenomenal, but there are some distinct ones such as Esdeath and Bulat, and even Tatsumi himself isn’t all that bad either. In fact, I’d say I mostly enjoyed the developing relationship between Esdeath and Tatsumi, which was one-sided but it made it even better. Though I wish it wasn’t as super serious as it was, Akame ga Kill was tense and exciting.
7 – Sabagebu
Sabagebu hosts the most ruthless and arrogant female protagonist I’ve seen since Sakura Ichiko from Good Luck Girl, and she was absolutely amazing. Shizuka Momoka is unrelentingly selfish to a hilarious extent but always pays for her bad attitude, so it’s perfectly balanced. While the first episode seems to set this anime up as yet another club anime with a hint of slice-of-life drama, the rest of the show quickly diverts from that and becomes a random scenario gag anime with a dramatic shoot-out scene at the end. It’s not as over-the-top action as other ‘girls with guns’ anime like Black Lagoon, but within the imaginative framework of the Survival Game Club’s activities you do get to see some awesome battles. It wasn’t an instant favorite, but watching it week-by-week made me warm up to the girls of the club, and I was actually sad to see the show end.
6 – Tokyo Ghoul
For me, Tokyo Ghoul wasn’t so much a gory action anime as much as it was a look at society’s concept of ‘the other’. It dealt more with emotions, character interactions and motivations, instead of power levels and world ending events. Of course it still had the usual shonen anime set-ups, including the hero gaining a dark power through his chance encounter with a mysterious woman (which I do love by the way), but it balanced its action with a lot of character development. I really enjoyed its more steady approach to the narrative, making the fight scenes not only justified but also necessary. The climax was satisfying, albeit abrupt, and I was happy with Tokyo Ghoul as a whole. Also, the opening and ending themes are the most unique anime songs I’ve ever heard. Honestly.
5 – No Game, No Life
I didn’t quite catch on to this anime for a while, but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed it. The really unique thing for me in this anime was how I could never quite expect things to go a certain way. Each episode I couldn’t wait to see what wacky or amazing thing would happen next and each time I was very surprised. The characters are all very dynamic and empathetic and I was able to laugh at them and feel bad for them at the same time. Some episodes were very epic, especially episode 6 which really went the extra mile to make a visually stunning stand-off of wits. Some may say it’s overrated and maybe they’re right in that regard, but still it’s a really fun and awesome anime.
4 – Space Dandy
Definitely the most creative anime on this list, Space Dandy was as bust-a-gut hilarious as much as it was bittersweet, action packed, trippy and mind-boggling. I feel like Space Dandy covered next to every genre, trope, stereotype and movie cliche within its 2 seasons. The pop culture references weren’t overwhelming compared to other animes with a similar style, though you did have to know what it was referring to sometimes. It’s hard to pin down exactly what made Space Dandy so awesome, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Space Dandy, a lot like Kill la Kill, managed to mix in whatever style and plot devices it wanted, without ever being tied down to one way of looking at things. It was very experimental, but also managed to play it safe, making it very enjoyable. Space Dandy was, dare I say, dandy.
3 – D-Frag
I LOVED D-FRAG. Every year there’s a high school club anime that really hits the right spot and this year it was D-Frag. The whole anime can be summed up as a gag and punch-line reel, which almost sounds redundant but it never was. A lot like with Sabagebu, the anime focused very little on what the club was actually about and more on random, wacky occurrences that showed how each of the characters would react. It had very lite romantic undertones and the occasional sweet moment, though it never fell into a pit of drama. D-Frag was unflinchingly hysterical and hilarious and I constantly find myself re-watching episodes just to laugh at the silliness all over again.
2 – Nisekoi
It felt like watching a TV rom com with the special effects of a J. J. Abrams movie. Lens flare and all. Nisekoi had me itching to see each new hilariously overdramatic episode after each one finished, earnestly waiting to see how we’d come one step closer to finding the girl with the key. Or not, haha. Nisekoi isn’t treading unearthed ground as far as cliches and tropes go, but it was just so fun and well paced that I never once held it against it. There were some genuine moments of angst, sorrow and remorse and you rooted for your favorite characters as events unfolded. I’ll be honest though; by 2/3 of the way through I felt like there was no solid closure in sight, however it was the journey, not the destination, that kept me hooked. Nisekoi was good, and that’s all that mattered to me.
1 – Fate/ Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works (Prologue)
Yes, I’m cheating. Yes, this is a cop-out. Yes, this choice makes no sense. But honestly? The prologue episode and first episode of the new Fate/ Stay Night completely blew me away. I enjoyed the original Stay Night anime and I was excited but not overenthusiastic about the remake. However, the prologue episode that focused on Rin Tosaka and the first episode that focused on Shiro Emiya, were nothing short of phenomenal. Each was over 40 minutes long, establishing the narrative, the characters’ personalities and giving an instant dose of action that set the stage for what was to come. The anime is still ongoing and will end in 2015, so I was decisive about adding it to this list. Despite that, the sheer quality of wow factor in the beginning of the anime far exceeded that of every anime I’ve seen this year. It hit so many high notes and reminded me why I love ufotable; the studio behind this remake and the ones who made Kara no Kyoukai and Fate Zero. I’m looking forward to how the anime progresses and I’m sure it’s going to be epic all the way through. In regards to the prologue however, those 2 episodes alone stole my vote for best anime of this year.
And that’s all for my list! What were your favorite anime of this year? Let me know in the comments either here, or on my facebook page. Thanks for taking the time to read it 🙂