[Kantai] Kantai Collection - 01v2 (1280x720 AAC) [2C97E4C7].mkv_snapshot_21.05_[2015.01.29_17.13.44]

The Best Anime Of 2015 – Part 2: Genre and General Story Awards

Characters, even the most excellent, need something to happen around them to give them an opportunity to be excellent. So, as we build towards the countdown of the best anime of the year, we next turn our focus to those anime that excelled in a genre format and/or general story way – Most Entertaining or Best Drama, for instance.

Before getting to the awards, as a reminder, I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum but there’ll be some because of how they’ll relate to specific awards. As for the continuing shows, only the part of the series that ran during this year is under consideration for this year’s awards.

Best Action Series

Nominees:

Tokyo Ghoul √A
Rolling
☆Girls
Yoru no Yatterman
Shokugeki no Souma
Kekkai Sensen
Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri
Haikyuu!! Second Season
One Punch Man

[HorribleSubs] One-Punch Man - 12 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.23_[2015.12.21_02.07.23]Winner: One Punch Man
Runner-up: Rolling☆Girls

Some of these categories have such clear favorites that it almost seems silly to bother mentioning obvious truths like One Punch Man was the best action series of 2016. Half of the action could have been cut from OPM and it would probably still be the easy winning pick. So really, the choice here was going to be runner-up and, here, there was a fierce battle. In the end I chose Rolling☆Girls; it would have been really nice if the creator’s schedule had been a bit more forgiving and the writing was a bit more focused but it was still a very good show. One of the areas it excelled at was it’s action scenes. Episodes 1 and 2 were the obvious standouts but there many other great action packed, nicely animated episodes.

Best Slice-of-Life Series

Nominees:

Shirobako
Koufuku Graffiti
Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic
Wakaba*Girl

[Cthuko] Shirobako - 22 [720p H264 AAC][300FB3E1].mkv_snapshot_10.12_[2015.03.24_00.44.22]Winner: Shirobako
Runner-up: Koufuku Graffiti

Beyond the winning series – Shirobako – this year was a bit light on really good slice-of-life series. Too many series, it seemed, fell on the far side of the slice-of-life / comedy divide, though, on the plus side, that made the comedy award easier to do than it normally is. This is the second year Shirobako won this award and with the good sales this series garnered, I hope more series featuring adults in an office setting get made to help fill this section out. Moving on, after creating two exceedingly successful series, getting bought out, and slowly bleeding talent to other animation studios; the Shaft studio that I fell for no longer exists and I miss it. I miss the Shaft that could turn out multiple weird yet good series a season. The Monogatari series remains interesting because the story and characters are interesting but it’s been a long time since the series has broken any new ground. Koufuku Graffiti was a pretty decent stab by Shaft to get back to the time when they were animating series like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Arakawa Under the Bridge.

Best Science Fiction

 

Nominees:

Aldnoah.Zero 2nd Season
Plastic Memories
Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki
Classroom
☆Crisis
Gatchaman Crowds Insight

[Underwater] Knights of Sidonia S2 - The Ninth Planet Crusade - 09 (720p) [DCBEF327].mkv_snapshot_01.09_[2015.06.07_04.18.01]Winner: Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki
Runner-up: Gatchaman Crowds Insight

Season 2 of Knights of Sidonia did not go in the direction I, or many other people, thought it would go. After the first season we were prepared for another season that focused on the brutal environment with little focus on the characters; but, what we got was a series that spent much of it’s time focusing on it’s characters with only occasional reminders of the omnipresent lethality of life on a generational ship fleeing aliens bent on wiping out humanity. It took time to remap expectations but I enjoyed the second season as much as the first season, though, the tangle of the plot threads that are introduced this season makes me very impatient for a third season. And Gatchaman Crowds Insight gets a bump that helps it place second from excoriating the methods liberal “progressives” use to silence those they don’t agree with, while apparently no one in the anime bloggerdom realizing it. I guess they were too busy worrying about Gate to notice.

Best Comedy

Nominees:

Show By Rock!!
Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic
Grisaia no Rakuen
Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai
Prison
School
One Punch Man

[Commie] Prison School - 01 [E8289115].mkv_snapshot_14.25_[2015.10.08_15.58.17]Winner: Prison School
Runner-up: Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic

Shirobako taught me many things, one of them is that Tsutomu Mizushima is a criminally under-appreciated director and when his next series dropped – Prison School – I knew it was going to be two things: funny and, at a minimum, a decent show. I was still hesitant about watching it but Prison School turned out to be amazingly hilarious and a masterpiece. Incidentally, his next series – Mayoiga – begins airing this spring 2016 season and should be on everyone’s to watch list. Kiniro Mosaic tried it’s best to make things difficult for me by being either a very funny slice-of-life series or a comedy with an emphasis on slice-of-life elements. In the end, I remembered how much more often Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic made me laugh over the first season and designated it a comedy – at least this second season. It saw the show reach a constant higher level of quality than the first season was able to accomplish and makes me hope for a third season.

Best Drama

Nominees:

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
Death Parade
Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki
Gakkougurashi!
Ushio to Tora

[FFF] Death Parade - 01 [354391BE].mkv_snapshot_01.24_[2015.02.16_18.56.11]Winner: Death Parade
Runner-up: Gakkougurashi!

I thought Death Parade had this award sown up only to see Gakkougurashi! almost catch it over the summer. Which is not bad, considering, the show was basically the daily lives of high school girls after the zombie apocalypse. The moral here is never discount what talent, attention to detail, and inspired execution brings to a show. One of the other favorite moments from anime bloggerdom in 2015 that I enjoyed was the fit people threw over the morality shown during the early episodes of Death Parade only for the show to reveal – after these people, with their hair trigger perfect prognostication skills, swore off the show – that this lousy afterlife was the point of the series.

Most Entertaining

Nominees:

Ore Monogatari!!
Punch Line
Shokugeki no Souma
Prison
School
Senki Zesshou Symphogear GX: Believe in Justice and Hold a Determination to Fist.
One Punch Man
Lupin III (2015)

[HorribleSubs] One-Punch Man - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.23_[2015.11.08_17.30.26]Winner: One Punch Man
Runner-up: Shokugeki no Souma

Entertaining is not exactly the same thing as comedy but it’s close which is why there’s overlap in the nominees between the two categories. Much like how the recently finished Boku dake ga Inai Machi was never meant to be a “mystery” but was definitely “mysterious”. One of the differences between comedy and an entertaining series is that comedy will often return, repeat, and slightly vary it’s core comedic bits; whereas, entertaining works will often continually seek to keep themselves fresh which helps push these works to have a more involved story. This is the case with both One Punch Man and Shokugeki no Souma. They have a hallmark comedic bit – Saitama can kill anything with a single punch and Souma can make food taste extremely pleasurable – but neither show is content to stay a one-trick comedy pony and we are all much better off because of it.

Best Show No One Saw

Nominees:

Yoru no Yatterman
Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic
Show By Rock!!
Wakaba*Girl
Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou
Lupin III (2015)

[Asenshi-Mezashite] Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic - 02 [07FAE95B].mkv_snapshot_08.15_[2015.04.28_17.31.25]Winner: Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic
Runner-up: Lupin III (2015)

“No one” is a bit of a stretch; but, it’s close enough for government work. All the nominated works were worth the time to watch them; so, if one is looking for an anime to watch, don’t overlook these series. I continue to be shocked at how the Lupin franchise is overlooked over here. I realize people are intimidated when a franchise has been around a long time – I am too – but Lupin is hardly a complex series that requires a ton of foreknowledge to get. With the second half playing in 2016, I’m sure Lupin will appear on next year’s list and it can get another shot at winning this award. I love it when a sequel is markedly better then the prior season as Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic was. I’m not particularly surprised, though. In the first season, the best episode was the first episode which was an anime original episode, which, showed the talent of the people working on the anime adaptation and getting a second shot at the series allowed them to improve the second season more.

Best Plotting

Nominees:

Shirobako
Death Parade
Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki
Gakkougurashi!
Prison
School
One Punch Man

[Vivid] Gakkou Gurashi! - 01 [41249C22].mkv_snapshot_07.23_[2015.07.27_02.52.39]Winner: Gakkougurashi!
Runner-up: Prison School

“Best Plotting” goes to the series that best puts together it’s plot and knows how to keep itself feeling fresh and vigorous. Last year as Hunter x Hunter was winning practically ever award, including this one, I wondered what shows would be it’s replacement this year. I would not nor could not have imagined either a show like Prison School or Gakkougurashi! being here, but, never underestimate the ingenuity, talent, and creativity of people who know what they are doing.

Best Storytelling

Nominees:

Shirobako
Death Parade
Ore
Monogatari!!
Shokugeki no Souma
Gakkougurashi!
Prison
School

[Vivid] Gakkou Gurashi! - 01 [41249C22].mkv_snapshot_09.13_[2015.07.27_02.55.58]Winner: Gakkougurashi!
Runner-up: Ore Monogatari!!

“Best Storytelling” is given to the series that best tells it’s story. This might sound deceptively simple but this award really factors in many parts of a series into one award because of what anime is. How is the time of each episode used? Do the OP/ED help or hinder the main series? How about the choice of background music and seiyuu? Are the characters the best they can be and utilized in the best possible way? Is the writing sharp? Cinematography? How well were problems dealt with? The list could go on. Ore Monogatari!! almost wins this award because it didn’t go for the low hanging fruit of the shoujo rom-com genre, but, instead, builds a really touching story of first love that never lost it’s sparkle that was always engaging and left the viewer wanting to see what happens next. An OP by itself isn’t enough to win this award but the slowly changing OP of Gakkougurashi! is an example of the incredible level of craftsmanship that went into this anime. Good storytelling should also mean that one never tires of revisiting that story and Gakkougurashi! was just as engrossing the second time through as the first.

Best Ending

 Nominees:

Shirobako
Yoru no Yatterman
Kantai Collection: KanColle
Ore
Monogatari!!
Prison
School
Gakkougurashi!

[HorribleSubs] Shirobako - 23 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.35_[2015.03.20_21.06.17]Winner: Shirobako
Runner-up: Kantai Collection: KanColle

I’m going to talk about KanColle because I think this will be the only time it appears here, and, I’m going to have plenty of other opportunities to talk about Shirobako. KanColle was very close to being a great anime but it suffered from trying to do two disparate things: make the fans of the game happy by showing as many of the characters as possible and tell a serious story. I stuck through the goofy cute ship-girls doing cute things part of the series because there were worse things to watch and, truthfully, if the anime had featured the American navy as ship-girls I would have even enjoyed this part. The show starts to shift towards the end when the admiral seemingly disappears and the senior ship-girls try to carry out the war with only their own knowledge and sketchy plans the admiral outlined. The admiral is a person living in our world, we never see who, and is obviously trying to not repeat the failure of the Japanese navy at Midway (though, in the game and anime they are fighting alien Abyssals in a campaign that only mirrors the Pacific campaign). Something – fate – seems to be working against the admiral and is hell-bent on seeing the ship-girls fail and get sunk at Midway. Several of the ship-girls begin to feel a sense of impending doom as if they know somehow that they are heading to their death. After an intense battle, full of setbacks that seemed to extinguish all hope, they achieve the impossible and are able to break the chains of fate. (Trust me, it was much better than I’m making it sound right now.) It was only after being thrilled by this ending that I realized a series that had focused more on the idea of breaking the fate that seems to tie the ship girls to their real life counterparts would have been a superior series to what we got.

That’s it for part 2, the next part is the VMA awards.

4 thoughts on “The Best Anime Of 2015 – Part 2: Genre and General Story Awards”

  1. I guess Lupin just isn’t an institution in most countries like it is in Japan. It’s become such a big part of the culture here over the years that it’s now blended almost seamlessly into it, and people sort of take it for granted, regardless of whether they actively like the character/show/franchise or not – sort of like how Ghibli’s become an institution as well. On the other hand, I never really expected huge numbers of non-fans in America or wherever to watch the new Lupin (though I personally like it a lot). There’s just not that big of an already-existing fanbase.

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  2. I’ve always assumed Lupin was liked in Japan from how much of it gets made but I hadn’t realized it was that large. I wonder if this new season of Lupin would do better in America if it was a completely new franchise with no history.

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  3. Anyone who picks something other than One Punch Man as the best action series of the year either didn’t watch One Punch Man or is being deliberately contrarian.

    And yeah, Mizushima is usually a really strong comedy director. Not to say he can’t have his duds (Kemeko Deluxe), but he’s hit for me a lot more often than he’s missed. Magical Witch Punie-chan is probably my favorite of his comedies that I’ve seen so far, though I haven’t watched Shirobako yet – that’s pretty high on my backlog priority list. I just borrowed the first season of Squid Girl from one of my friends to watch, too.

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  4. @WingKing: Someone at Random Curiosity gave best action series to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

    Comedy is such a hard thing to judge. Squid Girl was a very bi-polar experience for me. At times it was hilarious and, at other times, it was boring. At the time I watched it I remember wondering if the highs and lows were more of a product of the source material or from the animators. Knowing Mizushima better now, I Iean to the adaptation helping the show but I don’t know for sure.

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