Hell, everything kinda sucked in 2014– on an anime level– on a personal level– on a cosmic level. Everything was coming up barftastic. Nerd culture pulled off its cheesy latex mask and revealed the serial killer dwelling within that anyone with half a brain knew was there the whole time. The world kept being as shitty as it always has been, but it seemed like more people were getting fed up with current shitty trends. My trivial personal matters (mostly work-related) sank me into the depths of Charlie Brown-like existential apathy.
2014 seemed to give everyone the proverbial rock in the Halloween bag, and it can go fuck itself in the abstract concept hellhole that’s its grave.
But there were a few anime things worth talking about. A few. Maybe half a dozen? Maybe a couple more than that. Sure wasn’t enough to make a full-on Top 10 this year.
Actually, I lied. There’s enough to make a Top 10. The year still sucked. Fuck 2014.
11. Akuma no Riddle
Bad people doing bad things to each other. Said bad people happen to be assassins of the female variety. I’d rather they be adult females, but I’ll take what I can get when it comes to this sort of thing. Akuma no Riddle’s exactly
the sort of thing I’m looking for, and for long stretches it was kinda perfect in that regard (DAMN that Romeo and Juliet episode was perfect.), but it botches it all with an atrocious ending that ruins all of the sacrifice and drama that went down. I ranted about that shit here, so there’s no need to repeat it. If you ignore that epilogue, this is all time favorite material. With it, it’s just another also-ran that could have found a place in my black heart, but will forever be pushed aside.
10. Rage of Bahamut: Genesis
The first two episodes of this series are nigh-perfect. They distill a lot of the action-adventure stuff you see in good Hollywood productions and turn it into 20-something minute masterpieces. Had the entire series been like these two episodes, with their riffs on things like Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones and spaghetti westerns, it’d likely be up in the top three. Unfortunately, this thing’s based on some mobile phone collectible card game or whatever, and said game is all about gods and demons and JRPG stuff, and said stuff ends up dominating most of the series. When it’s about the two dudes duking it out over misunderstandings and desires for revenge and whatnot, it’s awesome. When it’s about bad appropriations of Jeanne d’Arc and androgynous angels of all alignments, it’s just as tedious and dull as the video games it’s aping. There’s enough of the former to make this show worthwhile. And then there’s that god duck thing. And the awesome horse. They need to tag team it up and show those god dorks what’s up.
9. Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls
Sega’s most (in)famous home console systems are anthropomorphized, sent to high school, and make passive-aggressive threats at one another. When it’s working, it’s pretty zany and absurd and cute. When it isn’t working, it has Sonic the Hedgehog stinking up the place with his vile presence (I really hate that thing.). Sega Girls works due to the way the three voice actresses riff off one another. Apparently this is done by (some of?) the same peeps who did that gdgd Fairies thing that I need to check out, and that was that series’ shtick, so they’ve had some practice with this sort of thing. Like the previous two shows on this list, not everything works about the series, but Sonic aside there’s nothing really egregious that turns me off totally. They really should have done more old school games. Less Phantasy Star Mobile Online Pay To Win XZ23 and more Space Harrier and Golden Axe next time. Also, the ending to this thing is strange and kinda morbid if you understand the history of these game systems and the general route Sega’s gone as far as consoles go. They’re going for bittersweet melancholy, but the context turns it more into a death march.
8. Tonari no Seki-kun
Dude slacks off in class by playing with toys and shit. Dude doesn’t realize there’s a girl who obsessively watches him. Dude is a complete dumbass. It’s funny stuff. It’s also my high school years in animated form. Most relatable anime of the year, man. Doesn’t quite “stick” for whatever reason. I had to remind myself a few times it aired this year.
7. Ai Mai Mi: Mousou Catastrophe
This year’s best short anime (that I finished). It’s something of a soul sister to the brilliance of Teekyu, but it doesn’t quite have the same manic bite of its superior sibling. Still, this is some madcap insanity with its own brand of twisted, high-strung humor. I totally wanna play those 8-bit mash-ups from the credit sequence.
6. Witch Craft Works
There’s a lot going on in this thing. You got some neat stuff with gender role reversals, where the dude is the “princess” and the girl’s the cold, stoic protector. You have some neat magical battle stuff. You have cool characters with cool gimmicks and visual quirks. It’s the sort of fluffy, generic “high school is important because of magic” thing you expect from modern anime, but it’s elevated beyond such triviality by being damn good at what it does. I’d call it the best of its type since the likes of season one of Haruhi. It also has a llama being burned at the stake in one of its episodes and an end credit sequence all about fantastical witch torture, so it makes me all warm and giggly inside.
It’s everything Akuma no Riddle should have been without actually being everything Akuma no Riddle should have been.
I swear, there’s an actual season 2 of Psycho-Pass hidden away in some vault that details everything we needed for the actual season that exists to make sense for the masses. There’s something that helps set up the relationships between these characters, like Akane and her grandmother and the team with that new super-bonkers dude that does super secret but not really stuff to screw them over. As it is, the season we got is something of a disjointed mess of emotions and ideas that don’t really mesh, but make for some kind of perfect procedural spectacle all about competing abstract manifestations of collective consciousness and the judgement of groups and the death of the individual as a viable concept. It’s some real fucked up shit that hits you over the head with its unwieldy concepts with a proverbial sledgehammer, and if you survive the blow you’re rewarded with some of the craziest, most worthwhile nonsense I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.
3. Lupin the Third: Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone
This is exactly what I wanted to see post-Fujiko. It keeps the same vibe of that series while going off and having fun with a typical Lupin story. Jigen being targeted by a swanky hitman while in the middle of a jewel heist is classic Lupin stuff. Fujiko being forced to fight a giant robot with a drill for its crotch for the amusement of rich millionaire sickos is the sort of stuff straight out of the new series. A whole series like this would be perfection. Shame it’s just a two part OVA thing.
It ain’t over yet, but what we’ve seen of Garo so far is pretty damn great. It’s basically a tokusatsu show taking place in a medieval setting, complete with transformations and crazy cg martial arts combat. There’s also a lot of stuff going on about parents and parent figures letting down their kids and how said kids struggle to live up to their expectations. The world is going to shit, and these people just might save us all, but they ain’t gonna save themselves, and that’s alright. We’ll see if the second half lives up to the first half, but so far it looks to be a real keeper. Right on the verge of being a personal favorite. Hopefully they jump off that ledge and go full on crazy with their ideas.
1. Space Dandy
Pure animated storytelling bliss. Second half better than the first. Everything I want out of this cartoon shit and more. We aren’t good enough for Space Dandy.