2014 is the first full year of my much-diminished anime viewing habits, which first went down sharply in Fall 2013. Nonetheless, I did finish 19 full-length and four short series. I also finished a 2013 series I’d only gotten half through (Monogatari Second Season + Hanamonogatari). A couple rewatches happened this year too (Scrapped Princess, Gurren Lagann, and some others)

And before anyone asks why most everything is rated so highly, see this answer.

Watched Anime

10/10s, Among the best of the best of any year
1. Sakura TrickWinter – From the first episode, there was no question regarding anime of the year. I’ve already described at length why this show is so important to me. But I’ve not talked about the ending much, and that’s what I’ve seen misinterpreted most about the show. In short, the final episode couched Haruka and Yuu’s relationship in slightly ambiguous terms. It’s all explainable, but comes off slightly awkwardly considering how strong their feelings were in the rest of the show. It doesn’t hurt the show for me, partly because I understand it’s an ongoing manga. But more importantly one of the themes of the show is how, when you’re an excitable teenager, the body advances quickly and leaves the mind and heart to play catch-up. I think it’s all quite fitting, and it’s in no way implying that they don’t love each other romantically. They’re just coming to fully learn what that means. That they’re both girls in a society that still considers that taboo makes their hesitation all the more understandable.
And that’s totally okay! Sakura Trick works so well for me not just because of how much I care about yuri, but because it’s the most honest romance anime I’ve seen. I might like heterosexual school romance stories more often if they were more like Sakura Trick. My first relationship felt a lot more like Haruka and Yuu’s than the nonsense from most light novel romcoms or manga harems. Obviously it includes a lot of very “anime” hijinks, so I’m not saying it’s completely realistic, because it’s not trying to be. But there’s honesty there I appreciate so, so much. Honesty you just can’t get even from the best “subtext-only” shows, no matter how shippable. It may not offer technical skill or mastery of tone on par with Yama no Susume, but Sakura Trick is unquestionably my #1 of 2014.
Pros: The yuri (or just relationships in general!) anime to beat, likely for many years to come. Depicts physical intimacy between passionate teens in love a lot more honestly than the vast majority of romance anime. Solid comedy. Unbelievably endearing character relationships. Mitsuki’s storyline provided a very good dramatic grounding amidst the fluffy slice of life moments. Kaede’s own storyline as very subtle, but powerful in its own ways, particularly in how her situation contrasts with Haruka and Yuu’s or Kotone and Shizuku’s. Catchy music. Occasional moments of excellent and expressive character animation.

Cons: Those moments aside, visuals were generally average at best. Ending that generates some misunderstandings, as outlined above.

2. Yama no Susume Second SeasonSummer – While Space Dandy is the go-to example for showcasing the industry’s best talent, Yama no Susume s2 is in many ways a similar (if much less flamboyant!) experiment. With the added bonus of being a show I actually want to watch content-wise! I’m not going to claim the talent on display here was as A-list as Dandy but it was stunning in so many ways. A bunch of solo-animated episodes. A ton of visual creativity without compromising the feel of the characters and setting. Fantastic character animation and great faces. Moments that brought me to literal tears not purely due to happy or sad moments but because I was overcome by the fact that an enjoyable short with unusually solid production values for a short series could morph into this shining two cour celebration of everything the art form of animation hopes and strives to be.
Pros: Gorgeous visuals. Gorgeous music. Gorgeous direction. The two best OP sequences of the year. Kaede, for reasons explained here. The genuine emotions in Hinata’s and Aoi’s concerns about what the future holds for their friendship. The Fuji-san arc, with its understated but devastatingly effective ways of conveying Aoi’s worsening condition. Episode 23, the most perfectly executed episode this year.

Cons: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Everything it tried to do, everything it wanted to do, it did beyond any expectations I could have had.

 

8-9/10s, Second tier imports
3. Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita.Summer
Pros: Best ED of the year. Sweet, wholesome, heartfelt story. Very aware of its niche among idol-themed shows and sticks to the “local” premise. The girls understand they’re there for their community, not for stardom, and they find great emotional fulfillment in this. Seeing the community rally around them is touching. Very nice animation during the final musical performance. Cute running gags. Yukari x Nanyako forever! Also this show had exceptional eyecatches. If you claim to be into idol anime (personally, I don’t) and don’t watch Locodol, you’re doing your whole life terribly, terribly wrong.

Cons: Pretty sub-par visuals most of the time. The first episode involved Nanako’s uncle being a underhanded in getting Nanako into the role, and it’s not really clear at the time that that’s not the kind of person he is and some people got outlandishly wrong impressions of the show because of it.

4. Saki: Zenkoku-henWinter
Pros: Huge cast with great variety in character designs. The care put into developing Kiyosumi’s opponents as people, not just antagonists. The intensity of the matches and the creativity employed in turning a game about placing mahjong tiles into something truly exciting. The formula is pretty well established at this point, but it’s such a good formula.

Cons: Ritz is lazy and I have no idea when we’ll get more, let alone an ending. There’s also a fine balance between having the other schools drive a match and having the protagonists almost not matter, though this was more an issue in Achiga-hen than the main series (Achiga is still great, STFU). None of the matches quite had a crescendo on par with Saki/Yumi/Koromo/Kana’s big finale in season one. But I’m just digging for nitpicks now, this show is stellar.

5. Akuma no RiddleSpring
Pros: Great balance between comedic parody of the “assassination game” genre and legitimately serious and engaging stories. Isuke and Nio keep things interesting. Did a surprisingly good job selling me on Haru’s backstory and why she is how she is. When Haru got proactive in her own defense, we got the best scenes of the show. A variety of really cool ED sequences, and Queen is one of my favorite songs this year. Good final episode that got away with dialing the ridiculous/serious contrast up to 11, and I loved that about it.

Cons: Unnecessarily confusing confrontation at the climax of the series. A bit too much reliance on Tokaku making naive decisions to drive the conflict. The mix of serious material and self-aware joking I like so much definitely doesn’t work for everyone. Proactive Haru was so good that I got a little frustrated when there was a long dry spell of that in the middle of the show. Somewhat uneven quality of the one-off episodes.

6. Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de AruFall
Pros: Unexpectedly solid writing delivers a masterful twist, a heartrending climax, and a deeply satisfying ending. Outstanding use of vocal BGM tracks to heighten tension. Pervasive sense of dread without being comically grimdark about it; the subtlety was illustrated very well in episode 8. Emotional tension and intimacy between Yuuna and Tougou thick enough to choke on. Karin being perfect. Baiting for a sequel in all the best ways.

Cons: So-so art during a lot of scenes. Some ugly character CGI in the first episode and again with the mankai. A solid if not entirely remarkable first seven episodes results in an uneven product. Slight overreach with Fuu’s breakdown in episode nine, though not too bad. I’ll probably drop this a little when the excitement of the ending wears off.

7. HanayamataSummer
Pros: Yosakoi is a novel premise, and the pretty colors of the outfits made for nice visuals. Great use of dramatic material to bring the girls together and strengthen their bonds. Loved seeing the quiet introvert Naru bloom like the flower motif of their team through the spectacle of yosakoi. Yaya‘s multi-part character arc was especially satisfying. Catchy OP and ED. Phenomenal final episode in every way. Hana x Naru is perfect.

Cons: Occasionally thin lead-up to the heavier material. Only really an issue for me in Tami’s episode, and even then not that much.

8. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?Spring
Pros: Setting was interesting, like a European-themed tourist trap in the middle of Japan. Rize x Sharo is a top tier ship. Chino’s gradual acceptance of Cocoa as her onee-chan was super cute and played well with Cocoa’s growing imouto obsession. Chiya teasing Sharo. Chino’s ventriloquism gag. Encouraging to see an iyashikei show crack 10k for the first time since K-ON!.

Cons: Nothing particularly obvious. I suppose I’m kinda disappointed Sharo’s feelings are so one-sided thus far, but it’s hard to see Rize sparing a thought towards love any time soon.

9. Hitsugi no Chaika / Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging BattleSpring / Fall
Pros: While the season two ending was rushed, the first season ending was one of my favorites of the year. Superb pacing in the first 9 episodes of season two. Excellent development of Chaika both as a person and a combatant, particularly her impressive teamwork with Tooru by the end. Awesome action sequences, highly varied styles and a feeling of weight behind the strikes. Frederica constantly being incapacitated and shrugging it off given she knows she could beat the hell out of anyone they faced was amusing. Downplayed the already minor romance storyline to basically nothing in season two, and was all the better for it. Shades of Sutepri, unsurprising given the author, but unquestionably holds up as its own story. (Also probably at least in part prompted a Scrapped Princess BD box release, which got me rewatching that and damn it’s still good.)

Cons: Akari suffers from being a largely one-note character with her brocon schtick. The unavoidably rushed ending (thanks Kadokawa). Far too brief epilogue.

10. No Game No LifeSpring
Pros: Sharing the lead position between Shiro and Sora eliminated much of what could have been annoying about Sora. All the cocksure smugness would have been obnoxious if Sora were a solo lead, but the emphasis on how much they really need each other made both characters more likable, more sympathetic. Jibril and Steph provided endless amusement. Really neat “games” that only got better as they got more ridiculous. Kurami and Fi are a surprise pick for one of the best couples of the year. I was not expecting that to be allowed in a light novel with a co-lead male protagonist that does get a tad haremy at times, but it handled them excellently and their back story was moving. The scenes when other characters took Steph seriously and expressed sincere gratitude to her were too good for words (this was one of my favorite scenes of the year). Very distinctive use of color. Great OP/ED. Just head and shoulders above what you’d expect from a light novel adaptation like this.

Cons: There were times the vibrant colors actually drowned out features on screen and made it tough to tell what was going on. The Steph bullying probably shouldn’t have been as funny as it was (but fuck it, it was).

11. Sora no MethodFall
Pros: The best first episode of the year. Best OP sequence in a show not named Yama no Susume, and best ED too. Truly excellent visuals at critical moments, such as the planetarium reconciliation scene. Noel is a WMD-class cutesplosion, although Yuzuki ended up as my favorite. Excellent final arc, taking what would be a cheesy 30 second epilogue in most shows and turning it into two full episodes.

Cons: Art got lazy here and there. A bit too much emotional yo-yo with Shione. The show explained itself well enough to justify it to me, but it did feel like they had a little bit more time than was really needed for the core story.

12. Free! -Eternal Summer-Summer
Pros: Rin! Best character improvement between seasons ever, and I don’t even think he was bad in season one. He made up for all his earlier shortcomings as a person and then some. As a captain, as a friend, as a mentor, he excelled at everything and made everyone around him so much better. The swimming animation was fantastic and Gou continues to be amazing in all the ways she’s been amazing. Sousuke was also a very good addition, not the one-dimensional antagonist he could have easily become. Overall a stronger season than the first in almost every way.

Cons: Really weird loss of momentum in the middle of an otherwise very strong finale as the characters recap the show and cry kinda awkwardly. One or two one-off episodes were a little weak, but they were devoted to the characters that most needed the focus (Rei and Nagisa) so I’m pretty okay with it.

13. Amagi Brilliant ParkFall
Pros: Totally on-point with the humor. The Elementario are the sexiest character designs of the year. Outstanding variety in visual styles even within the same scene. Latifa is an angel. Sylphy is just about the most committed I’ve ever seen a character be to the “space cadet” archetype and she’s glorious to behold in every scene. Unexpectedly effective dramatic moments in episode 12.

Cons: The Seiya/Latifa backstory in episode 10 didn’t click for me, particularly in a show that is so comedy-focused. Episode 13 was good, but an obvious step down from the great climax in 11-12 so being just an OVA might have worked better. While most of the fanservice was great, one or two bits left me feeling a bit “ehh”, like the swimsuit video they filmed for the ¥30 promo.

14. Log Horizon (season one)Fall ’13 – I include shows based on when they end rather than when they start so this goes here.
Pros: A story about being trapped in a game, except the protagonist is a effective if reluctant leader who plays a support class and prefers to spend his time devising strategies rather than arbitrarily ignoring game rules. Really nicely fleshed-out world, with lots of attention paid to game mechanics in a way that feels enlightening, not like having a manual read out to you. Really cool concepts like the role of the NPCs.

Cons: Pretty laughably bad art. The love triangle was mostly inoffensive but still unnecessary. Where it really did damage was to Akatsuki’s character. The second season fixes her but she was a real waste of a character in the first.

15. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! RenWinter
Pros: Awesome showing by the secondary cast, particularly Shinka, Sanae, and Kumin. The expected KyoAni comedy and production values, particularly the chuuni battles. MoriDeko shot up as one of my top pairings, even above season one levels, after getting two great episodes to themselves.

Cons: A (very) few weak moments visually, even if that’s relative to KyoAni’s usual output. Rikka and Yuuta’s relationship should not have been the central plot. It’s only really the ending that bothered me, but it was representative enough of the fundamental flaw in the season’s premise to to pull the show down a notch. Their relationship regressed for no reason other than that it was assumed that’s what has to happen in a romcom, and that bothers me. Shichimiya was a character with a lot of potential, but wasn’t fully explored. Also just a downer to talk about online because so many people I know complain about the show, so I tend to avoid talking about it despite liking far more than I disliked about it.

 

6-7/10s, Non-imports, but still good!
16. Super Sonico The AnimationWinter
Pros: Confusingly cute and heartwarming! Some genuinely moving backstory. I described it before as Tamako Market with boobs. Both Tamako and Sonico are “kanban musume” loved by the community that they love back in return. It’s just a really sweet series! So not what I ever would have assumed before watching.

Cons: CG EDs, CG in the final performance. The show is so darn wholesome that the few moments of lewder fanservice feel out of place. Not something you’d expect to say about a Sonico anime!

17. Girlfriend (Kari)Fall
Pros: Seiyuugasm ahhhhhhhhhhh! Does a surprisingly good job managing its massive cast, all things considered. The core characters really stand out with even moderate screen time. Tange Sakura doing adorable French accents. A probably very crappy mobage dating sim game getting greenlit as an all-girls slice of life comedy with nice yuri undertones – a surprise, but very welcome! Episode four was one of the better episodes of the year.

Cons: Even if it handled it okay, the cast was still comically large to the point where most characters barely even get names.

18. BarakamonSummer
Pros: Lovely visuals. Adult (er, technically) protagonist is a nice change of pace. Great supporting cast made the town really lively despite the super laid back rural setting.

Cons: I didn’t particularly connect with any of the characters on an emotional level, I guess?

19. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust CrusadersSpring
Pros: “Over the top” describes everything about Jojo. Some genuinely great sequences. Polnareff.

Cons: Third Jojo is my least favorite of the Joestar guys so far. The show is macho-obsessed, totally sexist, loaded with animal cruelty. To be honest it’s because it’s so goofily self-aware that those don’t bother me, but they’re worth mentioning since I don’t consider them positives even if they’re forgivable. My bigger issue was the glacial pacing. I’m okay with a slow moving adventure series but I prefer the tighter plotting of the first season in Jojo’s case.

 

Shorts
Puchimas!!: Petit Petit iDOLM@STER
Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san – Imported
Go! Go! 575 – Imported
Robot Girls Z

 

Dropped
Seitokai Yakuindomo*
Tonari no Seki-kun
Wake Up, Girls!
Sabagebu!
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei!
Momokyun Sword
Shirobako
Gugure! Kokkuri-san

Wish I’d used the album feature in imgur more, given you can only see your last 200 uploads, but albums seems to go back forever. So I don’t have anything from Winter. Oh well, I got tired of looking for screenshots partway through anyway.

Miscellaneous Favorites

Favorite Female Character
Chaika Trabant, Hitsugi no Chaika – Chaika is so unique in design, with that speaking pattern and those eyebrows, and she couples it with awesome growth as a character over two seasons. That makes her an easy character to point to as a favorite. I have a hard time picking characters who work best in pairs, and tend to have an easier time picking individuals who stand out in their shows. If I were to pick a second there are so so many I’d like to mention but it would have to be Saitou Kaede from Yama no Susume Second Season.

Favorite Male Character
Matsuoka Rin, Free! Eternal Summer – Rather simple choice given he’s my favorite male character ever. Runner-up in the rather slim pickings of male characters I encountered in 2014 would be Shiroe from Log Horizon, Seiya from Amagi, or Makoto from Free! ES.

Favorite Couple
Sonoda Yuu and Takayama Haruka, Sakura Trick – Yeah, no question here. Honorable mentions to Nanako/Yukari from Locodol, Aoi/Hinata from Yamasusu, Kotone/Shizuku from Sakura Trick, Sanae/Shinka from Chuunibyou, Hana/Naru in Hanayamata, Yuuna/Tougou in Yuyuyu, Kurami/Fi in Nogenora, Rize/Sharo in Gochiusa, and there’s a bunch of good GF Kari and Akuma no Riddle and Saki and other pairings and ahhhhh, I’ll stop before I go all night. Gotta say there wasn’t one even half decent het pairing this year. I kinda like Crusty and Lenessia in Log Horizon but their relationship is so minor.

Favorite Song
Mirai Shoujo-tachi, Futsuu no Joshikousei ga Locodol Yatte Mita ED – Honorable mention to the songs here, I might tweak the order now, but it’s close enough.

Favorite OP/ED Sequence
Mainichi Koharu Biyori, Yama no Susume Second Season OP2 – See the link above for more OP/ED picks. Since then, the Yuyuyu OP has grown on me quite a bit, tho not sure where I’d place it.

Standout Director
Ishizuka Atsuko, No Game No Life and Hanayamata – As the only director behind two separate shows I watched this year, not to mention both top 10 titles, this was an easy choice. Nogenora really gives me the impression it transcended its source material (granted I have very little faith in the skills of light novel authors and maybe this one deserves more credit), and while Hanayamata should have been good from anyone, for it to be *this* good clearly took some work. Obviously the single best directed show was Yamamoto Yuusuke’s Yama no Susume but Ishizuka is the name I really took note of this year. Really want to know what she does next!

Standout Studio
I don’t know how I’d pick a stand-out studio, actually. If we limit to studios that had more than one show I watched this year and go purely on technical merit, that’d be Kyoto Animation, unsurprisingly. And that’s really the most meaningful way to judge a studio. Based on how much I enjoyed the shows Studio Gokumi (Yuyuyu, Saki) has the highest combined score by rank but like White Fox (Gochiusa, Sonico), I don’t think there’s any meaningful connection between the shows in each pair besides the studio name. Madhouse at least got two and from the same director (the Ishizuka works).

Final Comments
Not a bad year! Watching half the anime you used to isn’t that big a deal when you for the most part only watch the stuff you’d have liked the best anyway.

I ended up importing 15 of the full length 19 shows I finished, or ~79%. Also imported two of the four shorts. If you count multi-buys (YamaSusu x2, Sakura Trick x6) I imported the equivalent of 21 series while watching 19. …110% import rate?

Sales wise, my favorites didn’t fare so well. Bolded my top five. Only 5 or 6 of the 17 (including shorts) that I imported hit 5k, none of which are in my top five. One of the >5k sellers (Chuunibyou) is off >50% from its previous season. 8 (nearly half) are on track to end below 3k, including four of the top five. Welp.

Major Hits, 10,000+
22,070 – Free! -Eternal Summer- (4 of 7, expectation 20k)
11,046 – Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?

Solid hits, 6,000-9,999k
8,537 – No Game No Life
?,??? – Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru (8,225 v1wk2)
7,054 – Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren

Decent, 4,000-5,999k
?,??? – Amagi Brilliant Park (5,858 v1wk1)
4,686 – Saki: Zenkoku-hen
4,012 – Log Horizon (season one)

Mediocre, 2,000-3,999k
3,746 – Hanayamata (3 of 6, expectation 3.2k)
3,575 – Yama no Susume Second Season (3 of 7, expectation 3.1k)
3,195 – Futsuu no Joshikousei ga Locodol Yatte Mita. (3 of 7, expectation 2.7k)
2,380 – Sakura Trick

Dead, sub-2k
1,518 – Hitsugi no Chaika
1,395 – Akuma no Riddle
1,351 – Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san (short)
?,??? – Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle (no data yet, expectation 1.2k)
?,??? – Sora no Method (no data yet, expectation 1.0k)
*,608 – Go! Go! 757 (released as a bonus with one the CDs)

2 Responses to “2014 Anime Watching Year in Review”

  1. hpulley says:

    2014 seems to have been an idol year for me! I love music and characters and character development so that is the real theme you’ll find in most of my imports.

    WARNING: THESE CONTAIN MANY SPOILERS SO UNLESS YOU HAVE WATCHED THESE SHOWS, STOP READING NOW.

    2014 for me in imports and favorites which tend to mostly be the same thing for me aside from a few which I really liked but an episode or two or some artwork kept me from importing it. Ordering them is tough, like picking favorite children. All the shows I import are 9/10 or 10/10 to me. So here they are in alphabetical order:

    Futsuu no Joshikousei ga Locodol Yatte Mita. I loved the local idols, both telling the story of what they do and development of the characters used to portray them in this show. Great music, wonderful comedy. Just a sweet, sweet show, both the seiyuu and their characters and their development. I love the anime and the live events as well. Season 2 likely never, makes me very sad.

    Hitsugi no Chaika (and Avenging Battle). Chaika is such an amazing character, so strong after realizing that who she is was a lie all along, doubting her own existence and reason for being, but deciding to follow her goal to the very end anyway, no matter what the cost, believing in what she believed it. Her broken speech was so cute, her eyebrows, the gothic outfit… her knowing her strengths and weaknesses, her frank admission of them. The side characters are also wonderful and are developed enough that we care for them all. A shame that the second season was so rushed but a real blessing that we got a second season at all and that it completely animated something, even in a rushed 10 episode fashion.

    LoveLive! Second Season. I love all the girls in Muse and the second season did a great job of expanding upon many of them individually and as a group, a group which would end with the graduation of the third years. Super emotional for me, the show could be serious, it could be silly, it could be surreal. I love the music, the seiyuu, the characters, the music videos of which the last few episodes end up being for the most part. Movie coming, I hope they figure out a way to make a season 3. I play the mobile game as well, buy all the discs and concerts, hoping and praying that this series will never, ever end.

    Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji. Wonderful shoujo. Starts with the old trope of the fake couple including the part where the hot girl/guy really just wants to be part of the relationship to avoid other attention. Continues the trope to the part where the other one really does love them, no matter how badly they are treated but somehow, it does it just right in a way which is very believable. Along the way she dabbles with some other failed relationships and her fake boyfriend is there to bail her out, showing in the end that in fact he really loves her as well. It ends so well, so beautifully. Best shoujo I’ve seen in years. Great music, love the characters, wonderful humor. The manga continues, S2 unlikely.

    Sabagebu! This is a shoujo anime that has some of the shoujo artstyle but combined with panchira… an odd combination with lots of great humor. Seiyuu using voices they rarely get to use, great music, a great Mom who also shoots toy guns at her daughter even in the house, voiced by endless seventeen Kikuko. I really enjoyed this show, both the anime and the live events. Just a great cast, great humor, fun show, wonderful OVA episodes as well. The manga continues, S2 very unlikely but a few more OVAs to come at least.

    Sakura Trick. It is a miracle this got made at all, a miracle that they pulled no punches in the adaptation. We knew from the OP that there would be a lot of wonderful yuri in this anime and it delivered completely. I knew from reading the manga what to expect so I didn’t find the ending bewildering at all. I enjoyed the animation style which while not perfect seemed quite fitting. It was fun, great OP and ED, great insert songs, bought the whole thing (only 1 copy though!) and all the CDs and the manga which is now up to volume 5…. so my only disappointment here is that we likely won’t see a second season made. It would take another year for there to be enough anime anyway and perhaps it will be forgotten by most other than something and I but I will remember and rewatch this forever. Great seiyuu, great music, love the characters and their development, love the yuri, I hope to see a show like this again in my lifetime but it may never happen. Glad to have been alive and watching anime in 2014 is all I can say. And glad the manga continues, hopefully to its logical conclusion after about 9 volumes, the usual end of high school though it is great to see Mitsuki in a business skirt suit heading off to work so I am glad we get to see her post high school and wish it was possible to make this transition; sadly, it is very rare. Manga 5 is up to November so it seems as expected v6 will end their second year, 7-9 should be the third year, with luck we’ll get a volume 10 of them to see where they go. They continue for now to pursue their dreams, so great to see. Would love an OVA.

    Yama no Susume. It was not a miracle that this got made, given strong season 1 sales. Sadly season 2 didn’t sell well which is I think due to the half-sized format which, ironically, works perfectly for the show but I can’t remember a half-length show that sold well. That and I think it may have been too serious for some cute girls doing cute things shows these days who expect something more like Non Non Biyori (which I absolutely loved too). Amazing show, great seiyuu, Great animation, lovely scenery. Great characters and development. The manga continues though Earth Star has shifted to digital or is trying to, the first online issue is late, delayed. OVA still to come.

    Wake Up, Girls! I loved the movie and the whole season. It is a shame they ran out of time and money to animate it properly while airing it, I think that surely must have hurt the sales. An attempt to show a more realistic side to the idol industry combined with the horror of what happened in the Sendai region tsunami and the rebuilding there. I thought it worked really well. I love all the girls, both the seiyuu and the characters. Sadly only really a few of the seiyuu has reached even modest post WUG-success but I hope there is still time for them. I loved the overall message for the series, the stories and development for each of the girls. Great music too. WUGzoo and another movie continue it at least which makes me very happy, would love another anime season as well though I’m not even sure what they’d do.

    Yuuki Yuna wa Yuusha de Aru, my favorite mahou shoujo show to date. It started out so intense, gave us some nice slice of life episodes in the middle and then became such an incredible ride, twist and reveal down the stretch. I loved the final episode, I am glad they didn’t leave me hanging though I understand who some feel episode 12 would have been better done as two episodes with a cliffhanger about Yuna recovering before them getting better in episode 13. But I for one am very happy that I was not left hanging or I might have died of suspense. Beautiful, simply beautiful. Terrifying, amazing, incredible. Music, animation, characters. Season 2 seems possible though most things seem to point to prequels or other heroes which while it could be good, would mean leaving behind Yuna so I don’t know how I’d feel about that.

    Honorable Mentions:

    First, some great comedies which didn’t quite make my re-watch grade for an import:

    Barakamon: again, great characters and humor
    Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun: wonderful characters and humor, good music.
    Gugure Kokkuri-san: recurring theme, wonderful characters and humor, amazing music
    Seitokai Yakuindomo*: amazing humor, so zany, great music

    Then some great harems which I really enjoyed though not quite enough to buy them:

    D-Frag, the games club, great characters, very fun.
    Jinsei Soudan, Advice Column club, again lots of fun.
    Gokukoku no Brynhildr. Wonderful harem, great SF/fantasy, just too rushed. Loved the characters and music.
    Nisekoi: big tease, who will he pick? Onodera or Chitoge or??? Very Shaft.
    Seikoku no Dragonar, what to do when your dragon is actually a humanoid loli named Eco
    Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance, what do do when your spirit is a humanoid loli sword named Terminus Est
    Trinity Seven, probably the best harem MC ever, suggesting 3-ways with the girl who already says she is his bride and she doesn’t seem to mind.

    Surprises of the year:

    Super Sonico the Animation. Coming from a game mascot and some CDs and lewd figures we got… a wonderful slice of life show! Amazing! I loved the music already and then to make such a sweet character out of her, flesh out the side members of her band, her grandmother, her friends… I don’t know where they got any of it from but it was amazing. Unfortunately there were a few episodes I didn’t enjoy which prevented me from ordering it but I really wanted to do so and I bought all the CDs and continue to buy them.

    Girlfriend (Kari). Coming from a trading card fighting dating sim game we got… another wonderful slice of life show! They somehow handled a cast of nearly 100 of the best female seiyuu working today, created some great characters and small stories. It worked really well. The last episode was so good…. almost good enough to make me import it, but not quite. Too bad the game lacks all the charm of the anime, is really just a stupid card fighting game with some silly side stories as otherwise I’d have some way to continue to enjoy the characters after the show but there really isn’t much there to go on.

  2. Endiem says:

    2014 was an interesting year for me as while I didn’t change my viewing habits I did decrease my import spending, to the point that between September-November I really didn’t import any series from Japan. The extra cash was nice, but I realised I love anime too much and it’s really my only hobby (along with manga) so I’ve returned to the fold as of December with purchases of the Maria-sama ga Miteru blu-ray boxset, Akuma no Riddle (you can +1 to the sales count for it, at least), Witch Craft Works and No Game No Life. Going forward I’ve decided I will import but try to limit myself more so I don’t spend up to $1500 a month like I used to. 3 series a season is probably my new goal.

    Regarding favourites for the year, it’s hard for me to say because I can’t really remember what was this year and what was 2013. I rewatch a lot of series so it starts to blur a little. I’ve had to go and look up the anime charts for last year. I enjoyed a lot of series last year, but if I had to pare it down to just my top picks they would probably be:

    – No Game No Life – loved this series, as I definitely prefer intelligent protagonists and clever actions to the dumb, over-emotional types. Really wish they’d produce another season (this really deserves 52 episodes and a complete story) or that someone would pick up the novels. I may try reading the novels in Japanese. I’ve managed a few Kino’s Journey novels so it wouldn’t be the first time I read books in Japanese.

    – Log Horizon – as above re smart protagonists. The animation could have been better but it worked. So happy that it got a second season.

    – Akame ga Kill – I’ve also started purchasing this series from Japan. A really surprising series, and surprisingly dark given the cutesy character designs, though given it’s by White Fox (Jormungand, Steins;Gate) that shouldn’t have been surprising. I liked that it actually had an ending, too, which a lot of the series I’ve been watching lately haven’t.

    – Parasyte – A surprising pick, given I actually didn’t expect to like this series since the images of the parasytes I’d seen looked kind of gross. But it’s had such significant character development and good story pacing that it’s hooked me completely. Given the manga is long since finished in Japan I also have high hopes for a good ending.

    – Shigatsu wa kimi no uso – Another currently running series, this grabbed me so much I became impatient waiting for each new episode and just imported the manga. A top notch musical series, worthy to sit beside Nodame.

    – Akuma no Riddle – For some reason the first time I watched this series it didn’t totally grab me, though I’m not sure why. I went back recently and rewatched it and found it much more rewarding. Maybe 1 episode a week was too slow for me and I liked it better marathoned. At any rate, the love this series got from its creators (unique ending songs ftw) and knowing it didn’t do as well as I think it deserved to meant I have gone ahead and imported it.

    – Sakura Trick – No need to comment as Something already covered it so well. :)

    – Saki Zenkoku-hen – Ditto. :)

    – D-frag – Very few series get me to start rewatching halfway through airing, but this one did. Good fun and another series I’ve gone on to buy the manga for.

    – Mahouka – I adored this series (see again above regarding smart protagonists) and it was another one I started rewatching halfway through airing. Something I loved was that they didn’t just show magic to be a weapon (though that was definitely one application) but also showed the beauty it could produce. The best scene that comes to mind regarding that was when the protagonist gave his sister a prototype flying device and she floating around the room like she was ice skating. I may import the series but it’s 10 expensive volumes (darned Aniplex) so I’m hesitant.

    – Monogatari series – I love anything Monogatari so the Hanamonogatari and Tsukimonogatari (which counts as 2014 as it aired 31 December!) story arcs were very welcome.

    – Witch Craft Works – A quirky series where anything could happen. Witches wandering around shopping centres with Llamas, Medusa living in the spare room. I found it quite intriguing.

    And for a few more thoughts:
    – Best opening: Brynhildr OP 1. I found the series too rushed in the second half to include it as a favourite, but the opening was just incredible. It really shows what a non-vocal opening can do.

    – Best ending: Witch Craft Works. Five witches singing a catchy tune as they are subjected to various torture devices made for a surprisingly brilliant ending credit sequence.

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