It is now the passing of another year and time for every anime critic’s favorite part of the year (not really), listing off the best and worst anime this year! Overall, this year has actually been a little bit of a step up compared to 2013. Wouldn’t necessarily call it a magnificent outing, but there have been some significant shows that are worthy of being crowned best all year round. Most of the categories haven’t changed since 2013’s list, with only a few minor iterations to fit 2014 more closely and decided to do only one runner up rather than two in each category.
Also keep this in mind: These are shows that have started and ended in 2014. Meaning, there are shows that may have started in 2013 but still continued on until after the Winter season of 2014 and will be featured on here. And shows that started in 2014 but are still ongoing and will not be featured here because of that. So, without further ado, let us begin!
Winner: Mushishi Zoku Shou
With some vast improvements to the original Mushishi, Artland Studios has really outdone itself by keeping the ambiance of Mushishi at a higher level. The backgrounds in the ever-present landscape of Mushishi Zoku Shou are truly breathtaking to behold. If there was a show with just still shots of the various trees and leaves that sprout in every frame, I would still think of it as a remarkable experience.
Runner up: Amagi Brilliant Park
It is nice to see some studios to branch out into different ideas of creativity to their animation and KyoAni definitely served us well with this one. Vast vibrant of colors definitely help the comedic interactions and give a unique identity to the characters with cute, cartoon looks that are adorable to see.
Honorable Mentions: (Gochuumon wa Usagi, Strike the Blood, Hanamonogatari, No Game No Life, Space Dandy)
Winner: Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Once again, ufotable never fails to deliver spectacle even if they don’t try to. That and they’re the only studio spend so much on a budget unlike many studios working today. Although I don’t see any striking differences from their last iteration, Fate/Zero, two years ago, they didn’t really have to make it different at all. They’re both breathtaking in how the fighting scenes are nicely directed in their skillful animation artistry.
Runner Up: Kill La Kill
While rough around a few edges, which is why it couldn’t beat out Fate/Stay Night, Kill La Kill still managed to mix old school and modern animation in a perfect combo. It’s cartoony aesthetic in both its action and comedic moments are splendid in the most joyous way possible. Always hoping to see more from Trigger studio and hope they keep this innovation going.
Honorable Mentions: (Sidonia no Kishi, Hanamonogatari, No Game No Life, Ping Pong The Animation, Akame ga Kill)
Best Male Character
Winner: Dandy – Space Dandy
Of course, why wouldn’t it be? It’s Dandy. Anyone who would think of him otherwise are just bitter about how butts are a reason to appreciate life in all its grandeur. You can think of him as a more comedic version of Spike Spiegel in a lot of ways, however I wouldn’t go far as to say he’s just another carbon copy of Spike. Dandy actually portrays himself as a unique identity amongst others like him in his bodacious way of philosophizing about the universe and what it has to offer. That or just try to seem like the Japanese equivalent of Johnny Bravo, but hey, who am I to judge?
Runner Up: Yato – Noragami
Oh Hiroshi-sama, you never fail to make any male character want to go gay with. With that lewdness out of the way, Yato definitely fits the definition of making a comedic lead right. Likeable, even at points where we could easily find him despicable, and absolutely hilarious to boot, he fits the bill up there with one of the anime comedic greats.
Honorable Mentions: (Makoto “Smile” Tsukimoto ,Seishuu Handa, Nagate Tanikaze, Meow)
Best Female Character
Winner: Ryuko Matoi – Kill La Kill
Tremendous growth and a stunning presence on-screen, Ryuko would most certainly be considered not only the best female character, but also best character overall this year. With a tremendous performance as always, by Ami Koshimizu, her commanding charisma will garner the attention of anyone who is dare enough to watch her journey to avenge her father.
Runner Up: Naru Kotoishi – Barakamon
Why else would I not leave Naru off as a runner up? While not as captivatingly adorable as Rin from Usagi Drop, which you could make the case for their similarities, Naru has the energy and heart-warming charm to win anyone’s hearts. Childhood innocence isn’t so easy to capture, but with characters like Naru, it’s always so pleasant to see.
Honorable Mentions: (Izana Shinotose, Kaoru Tsunashi, Chiyo Sakura, Stephanie Dora, Lisa Mishima)
Winner: Mushishi Zoku Shou & 2nd Season
Technically both of these are the same show. Nevertheless, it was a nice experience to see Mushishi back one last time to see a proper ending to the series. At least until that eventual movie comes about.
Runner Up: Space Dandy Season 2
With a sequel that has an actual musical number in an anime, how else are you going to top that as a great sequel?
Honorable Mentions: (Hanamonogatari)
Best Cast of Characters
A wonderful cast of colorful characters are always the best considering how they carry an anime forward along with its story. Nisekoi managed to take its generic set up and make it actually an enjoyable ride thanks to how endearing the characters are in terms of humor, cuteness, and romance.
Runner Up: Space Dandy
Not only does Dandy stand out for the show, but even the other characters that are with him are a tons of fun to see. Meow and QT work each other very well in chemistry with Dandy along with all kinds of weird people and travelers they come across.
Honorable Mentions: (Kill La Kill, Noragami, Gochuumon wa Usagi, Barakamon, Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou)
Winner: Sidonia no Kishi
Often when we read a story about an post-apocalytpic setting, we don’t really get attached too much to the story because of how little weight we feel about our own species’ existence. Sidonia no Kishi gets this right by putting us right into the psychological underpinnings of how we would feel if the life of our species were dependent on us to keep on living. Even if the circumstances are quite low.
Runner Up: Kill La Kill
Sure, it is your typical revenge story of a female protagonist who lost a family member to someone that she is searching for. Kind of like Kill Bill ironically! But what makes it engrossing is how we see the development of Ryuko while she is off to reach her determined goal. Not to mention the amount of twist and turns to the plot that make for a captivating thrill ride through the later portions of Kill La Kill.
Honroable Mentions: (Barakamon, Mushishi Zoku Shou, Ping Pong the Animation)
Best Action Show
Winner: Kill La Kill
This was tough to determine who was going to win, but eventually Kill La Kill won by default due to how creative the fighting sequences felt. Scenarios that involve various wacky set pieces that are fresh and innovative that poke fun at the highschool layout that we see often in modern anime.
Runner Up: Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works
As I said about its animation, this is how it gets to be an enjoyable action show. Very flashy and beautiful to gander at for minutes at a time, this is certainly something that no action junkie will have to miss in his daily intake.
Honorable Mentions: (Sidonia no Kishi, No Game No Life, Akame ga Kill)
True, slice of life isn’t nearly as funny as a pure comedy show with a lot of clever punchlines and hilarious antics. However, Barakamon is one of those cases where, underneath its calm slice of life exterior, when it gets to the comedy, it makes the comedic moments all the more special. That right there is something that studios have to keep in mind when making more comedic anime.
Runner Up: Nisekoi
Going back to pure comedy, this is how you do this style of comedy right. This was a tough choice between Noragami and Nisekoi, but the latter one eventually due to how it beats the former in quantity. That doesn’t put it in a bad way, it certainly hits most of the comedic marks perfectly with Shaft’s brilliant way of incorporating hilarious animation techniques to the pacing of the humor.
Honorable Mentions: (Noragami, Space Dandy, Denki-gai no Honya-san, No Game No Life, Orenchi no Furo Jijou)
Best Slice of Life
The best slice of life are the ones that portray humanity in the most humanistic way possible. Barakamon is no exception to this example. It portrays life in such a way where you can experience the optimistic outlook on how communities are essential to showing us how life isn’t always grim and pessimistic as we let it out to be.
Runner Up: Bokura wa Minna Wawaisou
Same reason, just not as good as Barakamon does slice of life. Nevertheless, the community aspect is still strong and vibrant with the charming personalities to Bokura wa Minna Wawaisou’s characters.
Honorable Mentions: (Denki-gai no Honya-san, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka, Nourin)
Winner: Kill La Kill
Honestly, 2014 has been a disappointing year for ecchi. Not a whole lot of stand outs to mention, except for Kill La Kill. Not to say I’m putting it on here because it’s not even decent, it is actually really remarkable in ecchi standards. Remarkable in the sense that it puts a new look to the ecchi genre that we don’t often see in ecchi, where it provides a deeply layered sub-plot that is tangential to the story that makes it feel very fresh.
Runner Up: No Game No Life
Steph-chan in the nude with just an apron, doggy ears, and tail. What more could you ever want?
Best Anime of the Year
Winner: Kill La Kill
This has been a really tremendous year for Trigger as they have made a debut anime a complete masterpiece for the ages. Its tremendous story perpetrated by its great pacing, over-the-top exciting action, and hilariously memorable characters are what make most anime classics nowadays. I would not be surprised to see Kill La Kill be put up on a pedestal among some of the great classic anime in the next several decades. Goes to show that an anime about masochism, ecchi outfits, and psychotic fighting little girls can even be a hallmark within the medium.
Runner Up: Mushishi Zoku Shou
This was inevitably going to be a gracious swan song for the adapted series and it was definitely worth the wait. The more you explore Mushishi Zoku Shou in each episode, the more you realized how lucky you were to see these wonderful story arcs to be seen in full animated glory. I couldn’t thank Artland enough to conjure up enough money to see a proper conclusion be taken place in the eyes of many who may or may not have seen Mushishi in their anime viewing life.
Honorable Mentions: (Space Dandy, Sidonia no Kishi, Barakamon, Nisekoi, Noragami)
So there you have it my friends! I hope you get to see some shows there you might have missed this year and come check it out on your own time. Let me know in the comments below what you thought was the best of 2014! Stay tuned while I try to roll out the Worst Anime of 2014 tomorrow.