The Best Anime Of 2014 – Part 1: Cast and Character Awards

One of the ways I’ve tried to streamline my yearly award posts this year (which helps to ensure that I’ll finish them) is to focus on those categories that are important enough that someone might be convinced to watch the anime based on the strength that anime has shown in the specific awards. This was always the unsaid reason why I would do these posts – to celebrate the great series from the last year and showcase those series that shouldn’t be missed from the year – and categories like “Best Power” weren’t strong enough to do so.

Best Female Main Character

Nominees:

Hiyori Iki  from Noragami
Rumi Yokoi  from Tonari no Seki-kun
Chiyo Sakura from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
Naru Kotoishi from Barakamon
Aoi Miyamori from Shirobako
Yuuna Yuuki from Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru

[Cthuko] Shirobako - 01 [720p H264 AAC][E2FB3DA5].mkv_snapshot_21.05_[2014.12.17_03.52.06]Winner: Aoi Miyamori from Shirobako
Runner-up: Yuuna Yuuki from Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru

“Best” is a messy term that covers so many different possibilities, especially when talking about characters. Hiyori Iki scored serious respect for going through her crisis with a cool head. The tenacity and stubbornness that Yuuna Yuuki displayed in her pursuit to be a true hero was soul stirring. The narrative tour-de-force that is Naru Kotoishi was attention stopping. Watching Rumi Yokoi go to pieces over the doings of Seki-kun was a joy to watch. Chiyo Sakura and her attempts to get her crush to even respond to her feelings while navigating the joy that is high school sucked me in, made me care for her, and silently (and not so silently) had me cheering her on. The winner did a little bit of all of those, however, and is perfect as the star in a genuine work place situational comedy. Watching Aoi Miyamori from Shirobako navigate everything from co-workers that undermine your work to dealing with increased responsibility (with no extra pay) as “reward” for going a good job to trying to keep up with friendships when there’s hardily enough time in the day to even grab a beer before crashing in bed was one of the best highlights of 2014 in anime and because Shirobako continues into 2015, Aoi Miyamori will be the early favorite to win again next year.

Best Male Main Character

Nominees:

Mutta Nanba from Space Brothers
Gon Freecss from Hunter x Hunter
Toshinari Seki from Tonari no Seki-kun
Shouyou Hinata from Haikyuu!!
Makoto Tsukimoto from Ping Pong the Animation
Inaho Kaizuka from Aldnoah.Zero
Favaro Leone from Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis

 [HorribleSubs] Hunter X Hunter - 131 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.08_[2014.05.29_01.50.25]

Winner: Gon Freecss from Hunter x Hunter
Runner-up: Favaro Leone from Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis

It took the Chimera Ant Arc of Hunter x Hunter for me to appreciate Gon Freecss as he was when he began his journey at the start of series because I watched as he was slowly twisted into a wretched, broken abomination through a slow series of decisions, made with the best of intentions, to get stronger so he could protect the people he cared for. It was awe-inspiring, bleak, sorrowful, and broke my heart all at the same time to see. Gon was able to eventually regain his humanity and a sense of normality only with the help of the great number of friends he made throughout the course of the show. For being the absolute best in almost every possible sense of the word, Gon easily wins this category. A very distant second was Favaro Leone. I loved watching his inner desire to do the right thing war with the amoral bounty hunter persona he adopted and hid behind.

Best Supporting Character(s)

Nominees:

Mako Mankanshoku from Kill la Kill
Mashiro Mitsumine  from Mikakunin de Shinkoukei
Joseph Joestar from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Wenge Kong from Ping Pong the Animation
Ryuunosuke Tanaka from Haikyuu!!
Rita from Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis
Mimori Tougou from Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru

 kill_la_kill08786

Winner: Mako Mankanshoku from Kill la Kill
Runner-up: Mashiro Mitsumine from Mikakunin de Shinkoukei

If I had finished my 2013 Best Anime Awards then it would have been clear that Mako from Kill la Kill had won this award for a second year in a row. Since I didn’t, I had to mention it like I just did 🙂 . One of the metrics to measure a “Best” supporting character would be to measure how important the supporting character made him/herself to the show. Using my MAL score as the basis, Mako added 2 points onto Kill la Kill’s score and pushed it from a 7/10 to a 9/10. The runner-up Mashiro actually had a bigger impact, pushing Mikakunin de Shinkoukei from a projected 6/10 to a 9/10. Other factors like individual likeability, personality, and behavior helped push Mako into first place.

Best Cast of Characters

Nominees:

Hunter x Hunter
Space Brothers
Haikyuu!!
Ping
Pong the Animation
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis
Shirobako

[HorribleSubs] Haikyuu!! - 25 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.54_[2015.01.29_03.03.39]Winner: Haikyuu!!
Runner-up: Ping Pong the Animation

There were many series that featured a stellar cast of characters this year and I’d recommend any one of the nominees to people looking for an anime with a great cast of characters. Haikyuu’s cast of characters being great is intrinsic for a sports show like Haikyuu to succeed; however, even with this much higher standard, I was blown away by how sublime Haikyuu’s cast was. Unique, diverse, likeable, and put together most exquisitely – I could watch dozens of more episodes just to see how the various cast of characters bounce off each other. In much the same way the cast of characters in Ping Pong gobble up the runner-up spot.

Best Character Development

Nominees:

Hunter x Hunter
Nagi no Asukara
Silver Spoon S2
Ping
Pong the Animation
Amagi
Brilliant Park
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

 [Commie] Ping Pong - 11 [CD248944].mkv_snapshot_10.52_[2014.06.26_03.03.47]Winner: Ping Pong the Animation
Runner-up: Hunter x Hunter

In years past I would separate Character Development into the whole cast and a single character but this year I’m trying to streamline things a bit so that I can actually finish these posts. I say this because Gon from Hunter x Hunter would have won for character development of a single character in this year but overall Hunter x Hunter is only good enough for runner-up, which is still a pretty good achievement. Beating them out is the not-really-about-sports sports anime Ping Pong. This anime was more interested in examining and following the characters as they came to terms with learning that practice alone and a lot of heart is not all that’s needed to succeed in a sport (and life). This emphasis sees many characters go in very interesting directions and gives Ping Pong one of it’s most compelling and strongest components. (For other noteworthy components check the future posts 🙂 .)

That’s the end of part 1; I hope to have the  next part up within a day or two. Comments and feedback are always appreciated – I’d love to see what others would pick.

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