[FFF] Shokugeki no Souma - 24 [FE6AE982].mkv_snapshot_24.40_[2015.10.28_02.05.30]

The Best Anime Of 2015 – Part 1: Cast and Character Awards

I do not write stories or create TV series. (I sometimes think I could become a SF writer and among the ideas I’ve had is one for a story that mirrors the recently airing Erased almost exactly except, instead of trying to stop a murder, the main character has to stop 9/11 from happening.) However, I imagine most anime series start out with characters and are fleshed out from there which is why I start here with these awards.

Best Female Main Character

Nominees:

  • Kaori Miyazono from Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
  • Aoi Miyamori from Shirobako
  • Kurokami no Onna from Death Parade
  • Rinko Yamato from Ore Monogatari!!
  • Yuki Takeya from Gakkougurashi!
  • Hiyori Iki from Noragami Aragoto
  • Sakurako Kujou from Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru

[Cthuko] Shirobako - 18 [720p H264 AAC][575450B7].mkv_snapshot_20.08_[2015.02.22_02.41.10]Winner: Aoi Miyamori from Shirobako
Runner-up: Rinko Yamato from Ore Monogatari!!

Because “best” is such a vague qualifier for character awards, I try to include a number of nominees to cover some of the various different routes to a great character. In general, I like a character who is brave, earnest, loyal, a seeker of justice, independent, kind, willing to make a sacrifice for others, and good. To take just one facet of why I’m awarding Aoi Miyamori this award for a second year, while it is commendable to be brave when facing a definable physical evil like a Demon Overlord, I believe it’s much tougher to be brave against an abstract evil like the machinations of an animation industry that crush the soul of many – most? – of the people involved in it.

Best Male Main Character

Nominees:

  • Decim from Death Parade
  • Takeo Gouda from Ore Monogatari!!
  • Makoto Sunakawa from Ore Monogatari!!
  • Souma Yukihira from Shokugeki no Souma
  • Ushio Aotsuki from Ushio to Tora
  • Saitama from One Punch Man
  • Genos from One Punch Man
  • Lupin from Lupin III (2015)

[Commie] Ore Monogatari!! - 01 [0C0EE0AB].mkv_snapshot_13.05_[2015.04.11_02.59.23]Winner: Takeo Gouda from Ore Monogatari!!
Runner-up: Decim from Death Parade

Decim’s desire to do his job correctly in one of the worst after-lives ever made him one of the most interesting male main characters from this year but it’s this quote of his from episode 7, “I respect those who have led fulfilled lives,” that propelled him past so many awesome characters to almost win this award. I can’t really articulate why this so resonated with me other than saying how badass, wise, and beautiful it was all at the same time. I thought for a while he would be a lock for this award until Ore Monogatari!! came along and introduced Takeo Gouda who might just be the most authentically manliest man I’ve ever seen in an anime and one of the coolest as well.

Best Supporting Character(s)

Nominees:

  • Joseph Joestar from JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Stardust Crusaders 2nd Season
  • Tarou Takanashi from Shirobako
  • Asuka Tanaka from Hibike! Euphonium
  • Megumi Tadokoro from Shokugeki no Souma
  • Anna Nishikinomiya from Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai
  • Hana Midorikawa from Prison School
  • Mumen Rider from One Punch Man

[HorribleSubs] JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc - 25 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.50_[2015.01.28_02.36.17]Winner: Joseph Joestar from JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Stardust Crusaders 2nd Season
Runner-up: Tarou Takanashi from Shirobako

Tarou is not a malicious screw-up – in his mind he’s a model employee – but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a screw-up; however, a funny thing happened this second half of Shirobako. Everyone has a place they belong and it turns out that Tarou was were he belonged because his unique world outlook and personality might have been the only thing that was able to thaw the bitter cynicism of Daisuke Hiraoka. For Tarou being Tarou, Tarou earns the runner-up spot. He is beaten by Joseph Joestar aka Old Jojo aka The American Jojo because he had to carry the entire Stardust Crusaders arc on his shoulders which is a difficult thing to do since the rest of the show was basically dead weight and he was just a supporting character.

Best Cast of Characters

Nominees:

Shirobako
Death Parade
Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic
Shokugeki no Souma
Prison
School
Gakkougurashi!
Haikyuu!! Second Season
Lupin III (2015)

[Cthuko] Shirobako - 24v0 [720p H264 AAC][4809B8BF].mkv_snapshot_24.47_[2015.03.27_14.25.42]Winner: Shirobako
Runner-up: Shokugeki no Souma

It would have been easy to create a mediocrely passable series built merely on the idea of really good food leaving people feeling really, really good and this was what I thought Shokugeki no Souma would be – it wasn’t. It uses that trick to entice possible readers/watchers to make us notice it then it promptly wows us with a deeply character driven story positively bursting with interesting characters. It only is surpassed by the towering juggernaut that is Shirobako. Yes, it should be easy to create a humongous cast of characters brimming with individuality and humanness when one can look around their work place for character ideas, however, that doesn’t mean they get showcased as well as Shirobako was able to do so. One of my favorite character moments was from episode 22 where the anime shows two women catching a late dinner at a food cart and they have a completely normal conversation. That’s it, no gimmicks, no cute verbal word play, no I’m-the-author-and-I’m-really-smart-infodumps; and yet, if asked about a conversation I saw from 2015 in an anime this scene will be the first one I think of.

Best Character Development

Nominees:

Shirobako
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
Death Parade
Hibike! Euphonium
Prison
School
Gatchaman Crowds Insight

[Commie] Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso - 22 [1E9BD83A].mkv_snapshot_07.49_[2015.03.25_01.01.23]Winner: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
Runner-up: Shirobako

I think the chances of Shirobako doing well when I countdown the top series of 2015 are very good since it has now placed in four of the five character awards. This anime does a good job showcasing how rising to the needs of one’s job will give people the opportunity to broaden and enhance themselves. When I rewatched Shirobako I was struck at the beginning at how much growth occurred for not only our main cast but a large number of the supporting cast. It was bested by Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, a series that I classify as a “Character development” series, in that, it’s a series designed to focus on the personal development of it’s characters and not, say, Arima winning piano competitions. I particularly liked how they first introduced Arima’s dying Mom as the most evil person ever then they slowly nibble away at that image until we realize her intentions were good – she was worried for her son’s future because she knew she wasn’t going to be there to help him and wanted to ensure that he could take care of himself – but human frailty warped her and her good intentions into something that nearly broke Arima.

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

3 thoughts on “The Best Anime Of 2015 – Part 1: Cast and Character Awards”

  1. There were a lot more female characters I really liked this year than male ones, but both of my favorite leads were clear choices: Yukihira Soma and Megumi Kato. Kato, in fact, was the only 2015 character to break into my current top ten favorite characters list. Her delightfully droll wit and her resolute normality amidst a cast full of arechetypes were a treat, but I also loved her character development, which (fittingly for her) was built up subtly but inexorably throughout the show. On the supporting side it’s Megumi Tadokoro. Watching her character arc and blossoming talent was one of my favorite things about Food Wars. I considered her more of a lead character, but since you put her on your supporting list, she’s an easy pick from that group.

    Honorable mentions (Lead): Takeo & Sunakawa (Ore Monogatari – Takeo was also an excellent choice for male lead), Genos (One Punch Man), Koro-sensei (Assassination Classroom), Kumiko and Reina (Euphonium), Renge (Non Non Biyori Repeat), Hestia (Danmachi), Einhart Stratos (Lyrical Nanoha ViVid)

    (Supporting): Kongou (KanColle), Hinako Inui and Gin Dojima (Food Wars; I liked how the adult characters in the series were just as lively and interesting as the kids), Natsuki (Euphonium), Candy Store (Non Non Biyori Repeat), Lili (Danmachi), Yuriko (Sakurako-san – most of my favorite episodes in the series were the ones she appeared in)

    Cast of characters is a tie for me between Food Wars and Euphonium – I liked both ensembles from top to bottom (note to KanColle: take notes from those two series on how to manage a large cast). Euphonium gets my nod for character development, though, with the way it still found room even in a 13-episode series to give supporting players like Natsuki and Aoi some growth and development, to say nothing of the amazing work it did with Kumiko’s character arc. KimiUso did a lot of good things too, especially Arima’s arc as you highlighted, but I wasn’t a big fan of how it handled Kaori’s development, and that’s why I give Eupho a (slight) edge.

    Incidentally, Kumiko was voiced by Tomoyo Kurosawa, and after that performance and before that as Itsuki in Yuki Yuna (for the half of the show where she had lines, anyway), she’s now officially on my “up-and-coming seiyuus to keep an eye on” list.

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  2. Megumi Kato was the only reason I finished Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata and I wished she’d been in a series that I could enjoy watching.

    In determining if I should consider a character a main or supporting character one of the tests I use is if to imagine the character not being there and seeing how that affects the show. Food Wars would definitely be a weaker series without Megumi Tadokoro but the story and plot would be largely intact, at least in this season, which is why I put her in the supporting category.

    I miss doing my seasonal summaries because there’s shows like Sakurako-san that aren’t quite good enough to appear in the yearly summmaries but were still pretty good shows.

    Euphonium was a great show and I shouldn’t be surprised but I am that people have such short term memory when they decry KyoAni’s direction due to Musaigen no Phantom World not being particularly good.

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