It was an odd season. After two straight seasons of Stardust Crusaders, with two yet to go, the fall break was a letdown. Perhaps it colored my outlook because the whole time something was missing. And while none of the series was a complete home run like last season’s Barkamon, most of what I watched as nearly as good. Which meant that this was actually an excellent season, but somehow it felt average without JoJo and the gang.
So, first off, I’ll get the “bad” out of the way.
Cross Ange: I’m 13 episodes in and I can’t really imagine watching the next 12. The girls are generically sexy, there is plenty of fanservice, and the action sequences are usually pretty intense, but this is a bad series. There is no way you can deny it. All the sexy girl butts can’t compensate for bad writing. And much like Elfen Lied, the writers are trying to manipulate you into sadness. I wouldn’t watch this, unless you want to see how NOT to do an anime. And there’s nothing they can really do to fix it, unless they get new writers and start over.
Shirobako: I dropped this after seven episodes. Much like Cross Ange, it is a two cour series and it was so excruciatingly boring, I couldn’t imagine watching 17 more episodes. I will admit that it’s an interesting concept to go behind the scenes of an anime production team. And I guess the meta quality of an anime about anime is kind of cool in a post-modern way, but I could not get into this. Most people seem to like it, so maybe I’m wrong. Decide for yourself if you wish.
I’m not sure where to put Sword Art Online II. I loved the first season, and the first cour of this season was really good, but the writers managed to fuck it up in the end. Much like Shirobako, the first few episodes were pretty boring and didn’t go anywhere. Actually, the second half went nowhere until we find out one of the main characters is an AIDS patient and about to die. I guess people who like overly dramatic and depressing anime will like this, but I thought it was pretty pointless. SAO’s biggest weakness is how it handles serious content and this only underlined that. Since the first and second cours have little to do with each other, you can stop watching at episode 12 and not miss anything good.
Yama no Susume 2nd Season: The second of two cours. It was nice that this season was longer than the first. There is nothing too deep or meaningful here. Just cute girls climbing mountains. Some of the teen angst kind of ruined the magic of the show, but this is a really enjoyable way to spend 10 minutes each week.
Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakarani Ken: Another short. Again, it’s a trifle, but an enjoyable one. The English translation is “I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying” and you can imagine what the series is about. I jokingly say that this is what married life will be like if I marry a non-anime fan. Not that I’ll ever get that lucky. But it’s only 5 minutes and that is the only thing keeping it from the “great” category. The series feels underdeveloped and even extending the episodes to 10 minutes each would have been a great help. But as it is, it’s a very enjoyable series, and you can watch the whole thing in roughly an hour. So get to watching!
Hi*sCoool! SeHa Girls: Moe anthropomorphized versions of Sega consols, who enter games to play for points? Cameos by Sonic and Dr. Robotnik? You got it! Again, another short and a trifle. The animation is kind of odd, but this was one of the most enjoyable series I’ve watched in a while. Just good fun.
Amagi Brilliant Park: I’ve been to a couple parks like the titular one here. A park that has seen better days, or has completed died and nobody wants to say it. Hell, I even got suckered into going to one in Florida a few years ago. Which is to say the atmosphere for this series is spot on. And that the dramatics behind trying to make a lost cause work is inspiring. Of course, the real reason to watch this is for the mascots. But it’s good to see a series that is a full blown comedy, but with tension and drama sprinkled in for good measure. Usually those types of shows fall flat, but this was nearly perfect. The one downside was the 12th episode felt like the true finale, and the 13th episode is more like an OVA. Thankfully it was a very enjoyable OVA, and showed the crew was still working hard and ABP was still thriving.
Girl Friend Beta: I’m alone in loving this series, which makes me love it even more. A lot of people have criticized it for being an anime version of Seinfeld, but that is what I liked about it. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about it. The animation is cute and bright, the overall mood is cheerful. There is enough yuri subtext for fans of that genre to enjoy. And Miss Monochrome occasionally shows up (mostly in the background). But that only made me want a second season of Miss Monochrome even more.
Gugure! Kokkuri-san: Probably my favorite of the season. I kind of sympathize with Kohina more than I care to admit. I’ve not started to call myself a doll, or admitted how cold and indifferent I’ve become, but internally I’m nearly there. Some of the stuff with Inugami was a bit creepy at times, but not enough to spoil things. I only wish Tama was a main character, but everybody worked so well together that it doesn’t really matter in the end.
Denki-gai no Honya-san: One of the best “slice of life” anime I’ve seen this year. Maybe the best since Nichijou. The entire cast is likable and work well off of each other. Many of the jokes have been done before, but they’re done better here. It also had some of the most attractive women of the season. Kameko was underused, but in my dream anime world, she’d have her own series, even if it was only a short.
2014 was a really great year for anime. It’s hard to narrow it down to ten best series, but here goes nothing. I’m listing these in alphabetical order:
- Akuma No Riddle
- Denki-gai no Honya-san
- Engaged to the Unidentified (which also had the best OP of the year)
- Gugure! Kokkuri-san
- Sakura Trick
- Space Dandy (both seasons)
- Stardust Crusaders (both cours)
- Tonari no Seki-kun (probably the best short series I’ve ever seen)
The worst anime of the year, and maybe of all time: Pupa. It was only four minutes per episode, but I kept watching just to see how bad it would get. I think the only people who enjoyed this were incestious pedophiles with a vore fetish. Hopefully nobody like that is reading this blog.