To wrap up the year, like everyone else, I had to make a list of my top anime series from 2014. I wanted to narrow it down to my top ten, but I had too much trouble narrowing it down. As always, this is a list based on my personal opinion, if you don’t spot your favorite series, I may have missed it so feel free to chime in!
I decided to make the list as open as possible, so anything that aired (finished or started) in 2014 is fair game.
Top 15 Anime of 2014
15. Akame ga Kill
I was contemplating whether or not to leave this out based on the ending, but I figured why let one thing spoil all the fun I’ve had with Akame ga Kill. A dark, action packed, and comedic series, Akame ga Kill has a pretty wide appeal. They aren’t afraid to kill off characters, which is a double-edged sword. Often times, they would kill off characters for shock value, creating little impact with the death of a character.
Overall, it was a fun series to watch. Towards the end of the series, the anime deviates from the manga and goes down its own original path. The ending did feel pretty rushed, but overall was a satisfying ending. It would have been nice to build slowly into it, but being pressed for time, they decided to end it within the 24 episodes. Feel free to check out my weekly reviews, or my final review on Akame ga Kill!
Airing in an arguably weaker season (carried by strong Fall 2013 continuations), Noragami easily stood out from the rest of the series. Yato, a lesser known god, crawls around town taking on menial tasks, all for only 5-yen. As silly as it sounds, for a god to search for cats, Yato aspires to one day build his own shrine with his earnings. Hiyori, a normal school girl somehow gets involved with the world of gods when she has a near death experience. The pair go on various adventures, taking on small tasks, and making the world a better place, for 5-yen at a time. Norgami strikes a nice balance between comedy and handling darker, more serious issues (suicide). A rather short series, but definitely a fun one!
The textbook definition of a harem series, but Nisekoi still manages to stand out from the rest. Raku and a girl made a childhood promise to get married years ago, and that pretty much is all you need to know for the story. Years have passed, and suddenly, numerous girls appear, one of which is likely the girl from his childhood.
SHAFT’s direction of the series is what made it stand out. We get gorgeous animation for an otherwise, generic series. Nisekoi is simply a fun to watch, and highly enjoyable if you’re into romantic comedies. Of course, with most these harems, don’t expect any crazy plot development, or even a girl being chosen for years to come!
12. Tokyo Ravens
A series that is rarely talked about since it finished airing. Overall, it was a typical shounen, light novel adaptation. Boy suddenly gains magical powers and begins a new life, while being surrounded by his harem. By all means it sounds generic, and even I was a bit disappointed by the midway point. By the end of the series though, it completely won me over.
The series starts off rather slow. We spend a ton of time explaining how their magic works, and all these technical aspects. Harutora (the MC) doesn’t even do much until the final few episodes. But for some reason, every time I watch the finale, I get the chills and emotional. It’s unfortunate to have an open ended ending (slim chance for a second season), but I still found it to be a satisfying season finale. It wasn’t an ending, but rather the beginning of a new journey, and the next phase of Tokyo Ravens. I don’t want to spoil the series, but I wrote a review on the final episode a while back which explains why I loved it so much. Even if the first half of Tokyo Ravens was lackluster, it served as build up to the grand finale which was one of my most memorable anime moments.
11. Nanatsu no Taizai
It’s unfortunate that there are no simulcasts for Nanatsu no Taizai since it’s one of the better series from the fall line up. Based on a shounen manga, Nanatsu no Taizai brings a sense of nostalgia. The character designs, the story all scream old fashioned shounen, such as Dragon Ball. Meliodas and Elizabeth set off on a journey to reunite the seven legendary warriors and encounter many villains and whacky characters along the way. The music is also composed by none other than the famed Sawano Hiroyuki, bringing an epic soundtrack to the series.
10. No Game No Life
Being based on a light novel adaptation, I really didn’t expect much from No Game No Life. In the hands of Madhouse though, they managed to bring the series to life with their wonderful color palette and artwork. I don’t think I’ve seen a series as visually bright and vibrant as No Game No Life! The story itself is a fun series where we have two overpowered protagonists conquering the world of Disboard. They often corner themselves, but they’re never outwitted, always having a plan to fall back on. Unfortunately, we only scratched the surface of the world, with so many other races and places left for Sora and Shiro to conquer.
9. Cross Ange
A controversial series that had most people dropping it after the first few episodes. With a bit of a slow start, Cross Ange has become my weekly highlight for fall anime. Riddled with fanservice, Cross Ange doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. We have scantily clad girls fighting in giant mechas, and the producers are well aware of that. I think it’s the combination of voice actors, and the fact that they cram so much action and nonsense into one series that makes it so enjoyable for me.
Surprisingly, there was a great deal of character development in such a wild series like this. It took a while, but Ange went from this pampered, spoiled princess, into a stuck up self-centered warrior, and now a compassionate woman. I found myself really growing attached to her character as she began to discover more of the world and shape her personality.
With all that said, Cross Ange is still by no means a masterpiece. Simply put, it’s probably a hit or miss for most people, but I definitely found it grossly entertaining.
8. Tokyo Ghoul
A controversial adaptation from a great manga. Unfortunately, Tokyo Ghoul was only 12 episodes, meaning that changes had to be made, resulting in a rushed series, and loss of the smaller details. Regardless, I still enjoyed the anime series. I’ll admit, there’s probably some bias that went into placing this as high as I did. The anime did cause me to read the manga, so it served its purpose at least. The anime itself had it’s flaws, failing to capture Kaneki’s struggle with finding himself, and keeping him as a whiny character who sits on the sidelines for majority of the series.
I don’t want to get into all the what ifs, but Tokyo Ghoul could have easily been my top anime of 2014 had they given it two-cours, and adapted it straight from the manga (scene for scene). With all that said, the anime itself still manages to capture the main events of the series, building up to a cliffhanger ending. The series is far from finished since we have a second season coming in just a few weeks, and the manga started its sequel a few months ago. I did a lengthier write up in the past, so I won’t go into great detail here.
7. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
Going into this series, I had no expectations, which is why I came out pleasantly surprised. Nozaki-kun follows the life of helplessly in love Chiyo, who can’t get Nozaki to notice her. Through a failed confession, she discovers his secret. The cool, manly Nozaki is the author of a popular shoujo manga. After this revelation, Chiyo is dragged into helping Nozaki with his series, while still trying to win his heart.
Overall, Nozaki-kun is a simple and fun series. The cast brings so much life to the show, with each character having their own little quirks. Rather than focusing purely on Chiyo’s failed attempts at getting Nozaki to notice her, the entire cast has their moments and are given a chance to shine.
6. Nagi no Asukara
Nagi no Asukara started off as a mediocre series to me. Hikari was too angsty of a lead, but he quickly matures. The middle of the series is really what captivated me, a somewhat depressing, view of romance between friends.Everyone is too afraid to make a move, fearing change within their clique, causing everyone to be unhappy. The ending was a bit lackluster in comparison to the set up, but still a great series nonetheless. I just found that while the ending was nice, everything just kind of fizzles out with the Sea God in the end. Still, one of the most gorgeous series of the year, and definitely worth checking out if you’re into romance!
5. Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Probably the most anticipated series of the year. With the previous adaptations being considered poor, Ufotable had high expectations placed upon them for Unlimited Blade Works and they did an amazing job. As expected, they produced one of the flashiest series this year! The first half has concluded, and overall it was a solid series. I think that it did have a bit of a slower start, but the second half promises to just take off. I covered my thoughts on the series more in depth earlier this week!
4. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
While I don’t have any musical background, Kimi Uso really caught me by surprise. We have Arima Kousei, a piano prodigy who suffered some trauma, making him unable to play the piano again. Several years pass, and a fateful encounter reopens that closed door to the piano.
Kimi Uso really is one of those series where the anime brings an element that the manga can’t. Just seeing and hearing the performances is a magical experience. While the dialogue can feel a bit pretentious at times, I appreciate their poetic lines as musicians. We still have another 12 episodes to go, but Kimi Uso has solidified itself as one of my most memorable anime of 2014.
3. Gin no Saji S2
Last year, Gin no Saji came in 5th for my anime of the year, and the second season came back as strong as ever. While the first season focused on Hachiken adapting to the farming life, the second season focuses more on growing up. While it was all fun and games living on a farm, as time passes, graduation nears for the students. Hachiken, and his peers begin to look ahead to the future, and try to figure out where they want to go in life. While it’s a slice of life, and based out in the country, a lot of the struggles the characters face are applicable to a lot of people. Dealing with family pressure, or the fear of uncertainty are all things we deal with. Gin no Saji S2 contains the elements that made me love the series in the first place, and then exceeded my expectations further with all of the development.
I was hesitant on rating an ongoing series so highly, but Parasyte has been one of the highlights this season. Madhouse continues to blow me away with their soundtracks that really elevate their shows to the next level.
A series with space invaders threatening humanity isn’t an original concept, but the way Parasyte handles it is refreshing. Rather than have humanity being exterminated, or humans seemingly having a counter to the invaders, Parasyte takes its time to set things up. The Parasites have their instincts to feast on humans, but they have to slowly adjust to the new environment. Only once they have adjusted, do they begin to even think about taking over society. Even then, they don’t go for big, flashy scenes. The parasites carefully plan their next moves, and try to make the process as smooth as possibly.
Then we have Shinichi, the savior of man kind. He’s one of the few people who can understand both the humans and the parasites. Unlike most series (where the MC would probably be unstoppable), Shinichi takes time to develop. He wanted to avoid all confrontations, until certain events lead him down a darker path. This gradual change and development in Shinichi is what makes Parasyte stand out for me. While I may be praising it too soon, I expect Parasyte to finish as strong as it started, so I don’t regret placing it so high!
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan for slice of life, comedy series. The ability to just sit back and enjoy the little things is exactly what Barakamon is about. Handa Seishuu (Sensei), a young, prodigal calligrapher gets exiled to a remote island, after having his art criticized, and throwing a tantrum. Here on the island, Sensei’s art, and name has no recognition. Everything he was associated with back in the big city is meaningless here. Sensei begins to adjust to his new life out in the country where he truly discovers himself.
Like Gin no Saji, we get to watch Sensei’s character development as the series progresses. Going from this angsty, stuck up artist, to a humble young man. Overall, Barakamon is a simple series that doesn’t need a ton of explaining. It was an enlightening series, that reminded me to enjoy the small things in life. Like the characters in Barakamon, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride (life).
Well there’s my personal list of top anime for 2014! There were quite a few popular series that I missed this year (Haiykuu, HxH, etc.) but hey, this my own list! Anyways, I hope everyone has a great new years, and I look forward to covering the 2015 anime year!