If asked, that would be how I would characterize this season so far. Look at this line-up: Noragami Aragoto, Haikyuu Season 2, Owarimonogatari, and One Punch Man – aka sequel to my #11 anime of 2014, sequel to my #5 anime of 2014, sequel to my #2 anime of 2009 ~ #7 anime of 2012 ~ #7 anime of 2013, and an anime that seems destined to finish at least in my top 10, if not higher for 2015. Sequels can be a bit touchy but all of these three sequels have started very strongly and seem set to be worthy additions to their respected franchises. Or looked at from another direction we have series from Bones, Production IG, Shaft, and Madhouse; we’re short just Kyoto Animation from being able to say this season has basically all the established top quality animation studios. (Waiting for the Sunrise fans to say something 🙂 .)
Yes, the top fifteen. I’m not trying to be 50% better then those top 10 countdowns 😉 . The idea for this countdown is that it contains all the series of merit from the past year that finished or aired enough episodes that I feel confident about including it here and is planned to be a longer running series. That means the exact number will fluctuate between years and is influenced by the diversity of shows I end up watching. The only hard and fast rule for the number of series included, beyond needing to be an anime of merit, is to have no more then 25% of the shows I’ve finished listed. The only way that there’d be a need to list more then 25% is if I’ve gone soft in my judging and this is a check against that. For this year, I finished 76 series so the list can contain a maximum of 19 series.
Before we get to that top 15, there’s two more awards to give out.
Noragami was, very nearly, the best series that aired this winter 2014 season and that includes the carryover series. The only series that were able to beat Noragami were Silver Spoon 2 and Hunter x Hunter.
I was thinking about how good this season turned out when the thought came, unbidden, that in all my years of watching series from Bones that I’d never seen one of theirs that was as strong and perfect as Noragami. I felt the gears in my brain grind to a halt. I thought to myself – That cannot be! Surely there has to be something better. However, I checked their list of works out and couldn’t find that something better. Now, because of my past rocky relationship with Bones there are a number of earlier works I never watched; so I inserted that degree of uncertainty in the title to reflect this. 🙂
In the last 10 years, which is an eternity in anime fandom, the only major Bones work that I’ve not yet seen and could impact this discussion is Darker than Black. (Which tempts me to change the title to narrow the time frame down and increase the certainty shown.) Based on opinions of people I’ve read and heard, earlier Bones works that I’ve yet to see and could change my assessment of Noragami include: RahXephon, Wolf’s Rain, and Scrapped Princess.
I’m assuming there will be disagreements to this assertion; so, setting those titles I just mentioned aside, lets run through the list to see where I’m coming from.
Actually, if it wasn’t for the Olympics pushing a few shows back a week this would be more aptly called the 3/4 season report. 🙂
Well, the anime apocalypse that this winter season was supposed to bring turned out not nearly as bad as people feared. The sequels are holding their weight and the seasonal surprise hits arrived on time, like they always do, and there’s plenty of assorted goodness spread around the other shows to keep the wolves at bay. Anime is not dying yet. The placards and rhetoric can be put away for a future season.
That said, my attention is starting to drift towards spring. Dangle the promise of a series directed by Masaaki Yuasa (Kaiba, Tatami Galaxy, Kick Heart) and you’d have to be an idiot not to get excited.
But let’s not get sidetracked.
Below the fold are my thoughts about each of the 21 anime series I watched that began airing this season. They are ranked from best to worst and grouped into six broad groups ranging from superior to poor. Before we start I wanted to quickly mention all the carryover series I’m watching and how they’re fairing: Hunter x Hunter > Kill La Kill > Nagi no Asukara > Space Brothers > Golden Time > Magi 2 > Tokyo Ravens > Samurai Flamenco. Oh Samurai Flamenco, how far you’ve fallen.