Top 10 Best Anime of 2014

Finally I have arrived at post 300!  Every hundred I’ve done a Top 10 and this time I’ve decided to separate this into the following categories of “Best of 2014”:

  • Animation
  • Opening Sequence
  • Ending Sequence
  • Soundtrack
  • Directed Episode
  • Anime Series

This post reflects series that I may not have covered and includes soundtracks to series that have been released in 2014.  Parasyte is not included in this list because it is still an ongoing series, whereas Aldnoah.Zero had split-cour airings.

This was a really tough selection.  I’ve spent weeks on this, trying to figure out a good way to keep this organized for my readers.  I had covered some really incredible series that were all quite varied and some I neglected on my site due to time constraints.  However 2014 was a huge year for a lot of creativity in the industry to shine through.  So for starters I’ll begin with Animation.


 TOP 10 BEST OF 2014: ANIMATION

 

#10

BOKURA WA MINNA KAWAISOU

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Animation Studio: BRAINS BASE

If there had been any romantic comedy series I SHOULD have blogged it definitely would be this.  This show has heart, it has comedy that isn’t stale.  A light-hearted series about a young boy moving into a boarding house with other residents, crazy residents.

Kawaisou is witty at times, filled with sexual humor this show doesn’t let up the punches with getting a laugh or two from the viewer.  Usa is a strong male character in this series that has such good chemistry between the bookworm Ritsu.  An anime with charm and its the animation that really pulls this off strong!  Brains Base Animation Production Studio consists of former TMS employees and I can really see the amount of talent they have.  A company that sure has grown from animating 2006’s Innocent Venus to 2011’s Mawaru Penguindrum and now this.  At first glance it looks like an A-1 Pictures project with the large emphasis on bright tones on the character’s faces, the sparkles drawn in so well and the gorgeous background designs!  I recommend anyone that wants to pick up a decent romance series with a ton of comedy to check this one out!


#9

CAPTAIN EARTH

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Animation Studio: BONES

Anyone that enjoys STAR DRIVER would appreciate everything this series offers.  The animation is really similar in terms of key animation and character designs.  However this show takes it up a notch with how detailed the Impactors are in this series.  The humans fight against the designer children in space and while you can tell some episodes look better than others they don’t let it distract the viewer from the story.  Shinji Aramaki designed the mechs for this show and just by looking at them they have a nod to 1998’s Gasarki‘s mech designs and STAR DRIVER’s entire basis for its mechs as well.  Aramaki established Star Driver’s ideas–  boys that would control giant robots to save mankind against other robots.  Captain Earth uses the same thought process with prettier animation.


#8

BARAKAMON

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Animation Studio: Kinema Citrus

One of the best series that Kinema Citrus ever animated was Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 in 2009 and it really shows up in this slice-of-life comedy series about a calligraphy artist searching for his own creative style.

Barakamon has a relaxing feeling going for it and it certainly helps when you’ve got a group of talented animators on board.  The backgrounds weren’t striking but did give off a rather realistic perspective of the Goto Island.  The dramatic expressions these characters gave off especially the hugging scenes were drawn with incredible detail!

I can really see Kumiko Watanabe’s wonderful work from the Asura film to this.  Dark to something really bright and it paid off extremely well with this anime!


#7

NAGI NO ASUKARA

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Animation Studio: P.A. WORKS

I’ll be honest here–  P.A. Works is one of my favorite studios.  This studio and Kyoto Animation are my fluff companies I turn to when I want to see some solid animation.  While a lot of their series may look rehashed in the original character designs they more than make up for it with how visually appealing the designs in these characters and background art is!  One of my top series of 2011 was Hanasaku Iroha and that had some really well-drawn animated sequences!

Nagi no Asukara is the same way here–  however the stories they choose are often times way too dramatic. This show has an interesting premise about people that live underwater interacting with people on land.  This show focuses more on the romance aspect a bit too much than emphasizing on the livelihood of the social system it builds up between the two cultures.

Those underwater segments were brilliantly animated!


#6

KILL LA KILL

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Animation Studio: TRIGGER

I absolutely loved this series and if it weren’t for its generic tropes regarding the villains I would have rated this much higher.  Taking this into account, this was a highly entertaining anime to watch!

A series that focuses on clothing as an integral part of its story in amping up Ryoko and the committee members for some ridiculously overpowered fights!  These character designs were done by Sushio whom worked on key animation for Gurren Lagann and even an episode of Mushishi!

Seeing this and Gurren Lagann you can definitely see similarities in the wide-panel fight scenes, the over-exaggerated on-screen text and quick jumps between mature designs and characters that tend to have a more kawaii look to them where comedy enters in the mix.  Especially with the bubble sleeping scenes with Mako.

Trigger is for the most part a bunch of ex-GAINAX employees.  So if you enjoyed LagannInferno Cop and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt than this action series is right up your alley!


#5

Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS

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Animation Studio: MAPPA

Formed in 2011, the original founder of Madhouse Animation Studio Masao Maruyama really got onto the map with the jazz-Shinichiro Watanabe series Sakamichi no Apollon.  This studio is known for making some definitive cinematic choices between close up shots to long overview scenes with beautifully drawn background designs!

What initially got me interested in Bahamut was their work on Apollon and Zankyou.  All three of these series could have had their episodes joined together and really feel like a feature film.  I can’t even imagine what sort of funding this studio receives when they start the drafting process for an original work!

Azazel has a really dark bishounen look to him while Favaro and Kaisar could be pulled from a swashbuckling film!  Naoyuki Onda is really talented when it comes to designing characters and he’s sure come a long way from Sol Biana and Gantz to this!  This was my favorite series in 2014 to portray facial expressions, well this and Zankyou no Terror.


#4

PING PONG THE ANIMATION

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Animation Studio: Tatsunoko Productions {mostly: Masaaki Yuasa}

This was an extremely hard choice.  Masaaki Yuasa is one of my favorite illustrators in the world of anime.  He’s strikingly different as he takes so many risks that detracts people from seeing his works.  It’s a shame really because for me I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every series he’s created.  Most of the time its really gritty but what it lacks in beauty makes up for with so much heart.  Ping Pong is probably going to be in my Top 10 Favorite anime series of all time because of how realistic it truly is.

Tatsunoko Productions.  This studio has been around for a long time.  If I recall they were established sometime around the 1960’s.  One of the worst series they animated in 2014 was Psycho-Pass 2 however, Ping Pong rocks in every way!  Those table matches were so fluid and while they did have Yuasa’s bizarre designs it came off perfectly with this!

Now I would just love to see Yuasa design a Kunihiko Ikuhara series with music by Naruyoshi Kikuchi.  How about an adaptation of Ohana Holoholo?  Noitamina, are you reading this? *laughs*


 

#3

MUSHISHI ZOKU SHOU

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Animation Studio: Artland Animation Studio

How could this not be on here?  Both seasons 1 and 2 are incredibly detailed.  This is a very talented group of animators that have worked on projects since the 80’s.  Macross character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto and director Noboru Ishiguro whom worked alongside Leiji Matsumoto! [one of the creators of Space Battleship Yamato] Artland split from Marvelous Entertainment in 2010 becoming Artland Animation Studio.

Mushishi is really known for captivating its audience with its atmosphere and this almost 10 year break between seasons really shows the charm they are still able to achieve with this occult detective series!  Slow paced scenes mixed with transparent glowing mushi come together to really tell a strong story visually and its this contrast between deep greens and bright colors that manage to pull this off well.

Looking back on Zoku Shou episodes that pulled the animation so tightly had to be Shimaki Tatsu and the Koten no Hoshi episodes!


 

#2

ZANKYOU NO TERROR

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Animation Studio: MAPPA

Shinichiro Watanabe…this director is probably my favorite in the industry.  He’s written quite possibly some of the greatest stories ever told through animation and considering how Cowboy Bebop is my number 1 favorite anime series it’s no wonder that he needs to have everything come together to really pull this off.

As for the animation we’ve got a strong style with this high school terrorism plot that gives off such a feature film feeling to it.  Just like Bahamut this is another MAPPA series that could be put together as one entire 4-hour film and could work well.  There isn’t one scene that has shoddy animation techniques, every scene is drawn with incredible detail.

In the early 90’s Kazuto Nakazawa did a ton of popular series as a key animator and when Watanabe’s Samurai Champloo came out around 2004 he rose to the top as an acclaimed designer.  If I remember correctly this is the same animator that spear headed the designs for Ashita no Nadja and Sarai-ya Goyō.

You can really see some influence between his character Mugen (Champloo) and Detective Shibazaki (Zankyou).  Strong facial expressions illustrate how Sphinx’s bombings affect the other people in this show and it really delivers a strong performance overall.  Powerfully moving series with beautifully animated sequences helps put this series up at the top for me!

#1

Space Dandy

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Animation Studio: BONES

It’s to no surprise that this series made this list being that this was the first Shinichiro Watanabe production that aired in 2014.  I am all for a unique style or rather studios that takes risks.  This had such a huge staff credited and it was different for each episode!  Most of the key animators that worked on this BONES project worked on Cowboy Bebop and there had been quite a few easter eggs thrown in to establish this quite effectively!  The main character designer Yoshiyuki Ito most known for his work on Full Metal Alchemist first season and STAR DRIVER delivered his best drawings for this well-written science fiction series!  We also had some strong level of talent–  Masaaki Yuasa, Sayo Yamamoto, Ryo Kono the art Director for the opening sequence and created the designs to Yojō-Han Shinwa Taikei!  What amazed me the most was with the animation department.

How every planet and every alien had been designed by different animators!  Loved the background art for episode 21 by Santiago Montiel.  The design of the Aloha Oe was done by French animator Thomas Romain!  Considering how the focus of this series was to broadcast it worldwide, Watanabe from the very beginning wanted Space Dandy to be developed by talent from all over the world and it pays off with varied aliens every episode, stunning drawings of the planets and unique concepts for the ships, the characters and stories that were contained in them!  Fans of Cowboy BebopSamurai ChamplooSakamichi no Apollon and 80’s sci-fi films should give this series the attention it deserves, baby!


 

TOP 10 BEST OF 2014: OPENING SEQUENCE

#10

Aldnoah.Zero OP 1:  Heavenly Blue by KALAFINA

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Ah Kalafina, this band is amazing.  Formed by Japanese composer Yuki Kajiura.  You can really tell the orchestral style that she uses in her works because I can distinctly hear from a lot of her songs music from Noir in this.  Magia is probably one of the most popular songs this band has ever done, but this really pulled through in the drama side of this mecha series quite well.  The visuals are gorgeous that match up with this and I really enjoyed the closeup scenes of Slaine and Inaho gearing up for battle.


 

#9

Hōzuki no Reitetsu OP 1:  “Jigoku no Sata mo Kimi Shidai” by Jigoku no Sata All Stars

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This was one of the weirdest songs I’ve ever heard. No, really.  I’m serious.  The main cast dances and sings along to the song. And its the visual style here that depicts the crazy adventures these demons have within hell.  Really unique song and animation that WIT STUDIO used.  Great comedy series.  Perhaps a re-watch is in order so that I can catalog this one on the site.


 

#8

KILL LA KILL OP 2: “Sirius” by Eir Aoi

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A generic anime song.  However, it’s Aoi’s vocals and TRIGGER’s style that pushes this to the max with this opening sequence.  Clothing is so prevalent in this series and it’s these collection of scenes mixed in that give the viewer exactly what its looking for going into the second half!  Also, a good lead into the series villain Ragyou.


 

#7

M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane OP 2:  “Replica” by Maaya Sakamoto

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This is one of my favorite Sakamoto songs to date because of the underlying chorus in the background.  The visuals illustrate the tone that this Junichi Sato series will be dark.  Regardless of how bad this show had ended up, its this opening segment that somewhat establishes some connection with the plot favorably to me.

As it shows a grown up Akashi playing with the very kids he’s forgotten about and the dark metal that seeps throughout this opening scene was drawn really well.  It’s the darkness that overshadows the happiest moments in his life:  A good theme as it gradually presents itself going into the second half!


 

#6

PSYCHO-PASS 2 OP: “Enigmatic Feeling” by Ling Tosite Sigure

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These next two are quite similar and this was really hard to decide which one I liked better. The visuals were nicely done and probably better than the whole show.

I like how Kougami is placed as a shadow in the background to illustrate that he’s never left Akane’s thoughts.  The song rocks.  Ling Tosite Sigure is back from Season 1 to give us a highly experiment screaming to whisper melancholic song about what is it that makes people go crazy.


 

#5

Tokyo Ghoul OP: “Unravel” by Ling Tosite Sigure

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At the very beginning of this Tokyo Ghoul shows off that Kaneki once had a normal life but is suddenly shattered by the women he finds attractive.  The reversal here is what makes this one of my Top of 2014.

The characters walking along at a slow pace while a mirror of their ghoul selves reveals their other identity.  Strikingly bright quinques really show off the talented animators that worked on this OP and was without a doubt my favorite part of this.


 

#4

Samurai Flamenco OP 2: “Bye Bye Bye Shot Down Love Love Love” by FLOW

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Manglobe.  This studio was awesome in 2008 with Michiko e Hatchin.  What happened to them following was a mess of moe shows with no substance.  What attracted me to this opening was how much it shifts between normalcy and downright bizarre.  Mineral Miracle Muse snapping their fingers while the Flamengers have their hands shown:  teamwork that pays off in hilarity throughout this oddball tokusatsu series.  Flow did incredible work at making this song fit with the acting drama side of this series!


 

#3

Zankyou no Terror OP: “Trigger” by Yuuki Ozaki

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This song is beautiful.  The animation is top notch just like the series, and I really like how there are all these parallels between the Savant Syndrome that gets brought up later on in Zankyou in this opening.  Lisa running through the city as the camera followed was gorgeous and those crows flying up in the sky really illustrate that Nine and Twelve were both far away from any home they could connect to.  Five being the white bird was a nice touch here too.  My favorite opening of the summer 2014 season and easily one of the best of that year!  Yuuki Ozaki has a strong voice and it comes off really well in the livetuning that is added to the quick tempo beats in the instrumentals!


 

#2

Ping Pong The Animation OP: “Tada Hitori” (唯一人) by Bakudan Johnny

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Shinya Orihara one of the best animators in the industry right now tackles this.  TekkinkonkreetAkira, numerous Studio Chibli films including Howl’s Moving Castle, and the most recent Giovanni’s Island.  This guy is incredible at creating drawings that are rough and complex while the fluidity of the animation is highly detailed!  This was miles ahead of anything we had airing alongside Ping Pong!  Considering how the first two episodes were just a black and white panel montage its no wonder it took some time to get this opening finished by the third one!  Amazing!  Bakudan Johnny began under an indie label around 2011 but ended up making their debut with this song.


 

#1

Mushishi Zoku Shou OP: “Shiver” by Lucy Rose

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Similar in the way that the first season’s opening was done by Scottish artist Ally Kerr:  Zoku Shou uses a non-Japanese artist yet again.  The song Shiver uses Lucy Rose a singer-songwriter from England.  Easily the most beautiful song and animation we had all year.  A closeup of nature and those flower petals and the transition into fall and winter strongly shows off the atmosphere that Mushishi has.  The acoustic guitar strumming along with the powerful lyrics gives us this gentle perspective about life and what we might be missing.


  TOP 10 BEST OF 2014: ENDING SEQUENCE

#10

Aldnoah.Zero ED 1: “A/Z” by Hiroyuki Sawano/ vocals by Mizuki

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This song is especially powerful because of how dramatic this mecha series is.  Actually both endings should really be up here for how good they are.  However, the water-color like drawings here capture the struggles the kids are having going into battle.  I like where Asseylum is standing with the reflection of the water below showing the Princess side of herself.  Mizuki pours really strong vocals into this!


#9

Captain Earth ED 2:  “The Glory Days” by Tia

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Life outside of fighting and this is the style I like! Oh my goodness!  The animation was awesome in this one!  Daichi and the others cleaning the Earth Engine Impactor and I like how fun and childish it is!  This was so refreshing here!


#8

M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane ED 1: “Ego-izm” by La La Larks

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Originally from the band School Food Punishment, Yumi Uchimura returns with powerful vocals along with her sound producer and keyboardist Ryo Eguchi.  This sounds just like School Food Punishment and I’m glad to see this revitalized here!  The animation is drawn well and I like the background art of the Lightless Realm, everything just comes off as smooth here.


#7

Space Dandy ED: “”Welcome to the X Dimension” by Etsuko Yakushimaru

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The Parallel Dimension theory.  Multiple Dandys being transported through transparent boxes.  What a strange and messy style but for as comedic and odd this show is it works.  Etsuko’s vocals reminds me a lot of the soft voice of Bonjour Suzuki from Yuri Kuma Arashi‘s op.  This song has a certain sway to it that it similar to some of her other pieces especially Arakawa Under the Bridge.


#6

Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS ED: “Promised Land” by Risa Shimizu

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This rocks!  Sayo Yamamoto single-handedly gave us the best ending of the Fall 2014 Season with this.  The animation has that Fujiko Mine series style to it and it left me breathless.  Amira twirling was incredibly animated with a rather stop motion technique against a very detailed background.  The lyrics are emotionally moving and after seeing the series it explains the adventure side of this so well in regards to Amira’s character.  She’s a child and she wants to continue to learn about the world with Favaro.  What a great way to illustrate this through the sepia tone artwork of the mother and her dancing escape into unknown lands.


#5

Gin no Saji Second Season ED: “”Oto no Naru Hō e” by Goose house

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A catchy song, bright animation all of which that features agriculture life so well.  I loved this Noitamina series and I do hope there will be another season of it in the future.  This ending was better than the first season’s because of how Goose House delivered a somewhat family style aspect with the vocals.  Which is a big part of what this series is about.  The still animated shots of Mikage, Hachiken and the rest of the crew were well-drawn!  Nerawareta Gakuen director Ryosuke Nakamura handled this ending nicely.


#4

Mushishi Zoku Shou ED: various endings by composer Toshio Masuda

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Every ending connects with each episode seamlessly.  I think this might be the only episodic anime to tackle this well.  Traditional soundtrack to create an engaging atmosphere to the very end.


#3

Barakamon ED: “Innocence” by NoisyCell

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This band is sure making a name for themselves with their rock sounds between light-hearted comedy series to this season’s Death Parade.  I’m not so sure as to who directed this ending sequence but one thing is for sure that the animation was incredible here.  The very detailed characters without color against a brown backdrop was stunning!


#2

Ping Pong The Animation ED: “”Bokura ni Tsuite” (僕らについて) by Merengue

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What a neat song!  Eunyoung Choi is one of my favorite animators that reminds me a lot of Masaaki Yuasa’s style a lot.  She’s really detailed and it shows a lot where her influence has switched over the years from doing Black Lagoon to Yuasa’s numerous rough projects.  Its clearly seen between her episode 9 of Space Dandy and Yuasa’s episode 16 of the same series!  Kemenozume and Kaiba looks to be the biggest inspiration in her repertoire as we see with this ending.  Her work on episode 10 of Yojō-Han Shinwa Taikei was fantastic as well but this ending is one of her best!  The camera doing a time lapse along the walkway as the cars driving past was beautiful.  The pov car part of this was great–  not every car that is seen is fully drawn in but still gets to telling the big picture of what the animation is trying to convey perfectly!  Like most of Yuasa’s works, its not for everyone as it does have a messy look to it but underneath it all its an ending like this that can capture normal life outside of pong competitions so well!

The song is upbeat and has two versions one that’s a little lower on the drum beats.  However, both are incredibly well-done and I really hope to see more great things from Eunyoung Choi in the future!


#1

Zankyou no Terror ED: “Dare ka, umi o.” by Aimer

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Aimer has such a beautiful strong voice.  Yuki Uchimura and her are my two favorite female singers in the japanese scene right now.  Powerful lyrics about being saved matched up to Lisa falling in the water being drowned by the two crows flying away. Fujiko Mine animator Takeshi Koike pulled off one amazing ending! I absolutely love the penciled in water.  The level of detail on this was incredible!

 


 TOP 10 BEST OF 2014: SOUNDTRACK

The music in an anime series is pivotal in getting the right message across.  These 10 series provided just enough to give a really strong impact in a particular scene and even where there had been parts to an episode that didn’t have any dialogue.  Here are my Top 10 for best soundtrack!

#10

Gokukoku no Buryunhirude

Composer: Nao Tokisawa

One of Nao’s first musical scores.  He’s brand new on the scene and I think the only other anime scores he’s ever arranged were from Kiniro + Mosaic.

I have to say this guy did a tremendous job at making a dark tone match up with the plot of this really well.  Dubstep, I’ve really gotten interested in this genre of music since this score and Kiseiju also did a fine job at it as well!  Good to see these artists doing something creative in the business by shifting away from an entirely piano midi soundtrack!


#9

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii

Composer: Kousuke Yamashita

If there was any composer that could create a truly inspirational collection of songs its this guy. I loved what he did with Chihayafuru, if it weren’t for its soundtrack I don’t believe I would have enjoyed that series as much as I did.  With Soredemo, he continues his success in writing orchestral compositions with such an uplifting theme around them.  If Skip Beat! were ever to be re-done I would love to hear this guy do the music for that series.  Such a romantic calming style between stringed instruments and a lovely horn section.


#8

Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS

Composer: Yoshihiro Ike

One of my favorite orchestra composers on feature films.  Asura was a tough film to watch but what gave it more of an emotional quality to it was its music score.

Ah man, the Ergo Proxy score was eerie, while the Karas OAV was powerfully engaging.  Tiger & Bunny gave a lot of inspiration to Bahamut‘s soundtrack here with the strong chorus melodies and rough quickly-paced string movements.


#7

Tokyo Ghoul

Composer: Yutaka Yamada

Brand new in the anime industry and Tokyo Ghoul is the only thing he’s ever done!  I hope to see great things from this composer.  He worked with Hiroyuki Sawano in 2011 on the drama Marumo no Okite, and I can clearly see how much Sawano inspired him with this score.  A mix of bass beats and sometimes techno with a beautiful chorus line that is used in the background.  The violins deliver striking sounds to create this etherial sound mixed with a bit of rock.  Really cool.


#6

Kill la Kill

Composer:  Hiroyuki Sawano

While this guy as I’ve said before isn’t varied, he does have high energy.  Strong chorus pieces matched up perfectly to Trigger’s animation.  Wouldn’t have asked for a better composer for this series.  The style Trigger uses is bold and Sawano’s music is very energetic and dramatic.  Loved this!


#5

Aldnoah.Zero

Composer: Hiroyuki Sawano

It’s no big surprise that both his works made it on this list.  You could switch between the scores in both series and they would have probably offered the same result impact-wise.  I think what made me like this more was his energy on the song “Alliez” and the amazing piece they used throughout the battles “MKAlliez” and “Z-Kat”.  When it comes to writing with other singers he’s got a gift of using their voices to their full potential.  Perhaps he should teach Kanon Wakeshima [Selector Infected WIXOSS OP] a thing or two about singing.


#4

Ping Pong The Animation

Composer: Kensuke Ushio

Freaking amazing!  This was single-handedly the best music of the Spring 2014 season!  I actually had a difficult time trying to figure out where to place this on my list here.  Unique and messy just like the animation or rather Masaaki Yuasa’s style.  It screams potential while at the same time has such a strength to it that drives the characters motivations so solid!  It really pushed this story to its limits and enhanced those pong matches especially Peco’s match against Kazama the Dragon!


#3

Mushishi Zoku Shou

Composer: Toshio Masuda

Is there really anything to say here?  This artist is able to use a traditional style from Japan and really give life to the atmosphere of the show as a whole ridiculously well.  Very soothing collection of melodies that plays throughout this series and if this series makes another return I hope that he does the music for it!


#2

Zankyou no Terror 

Composer: Yoko Kanno

She is my favorite composer of all time.  This is without a doubt her best work and she’s got talent for knowing exactly how to develop what’s needed for a particular scene.  Which in Zankyou‘s case was everything about the show–  it was all about how it would look to the audience.  The sound was an astonishing extra that really pulled out Nine and Twelve’s feelings so well!  Not to mention Lisa’s worsening situation as the story progressed!


#1

Space Dandy

Composers: 

  • DOKAKA
  • Fujimaru Yoshino
  • Hiroshi Kawanabe
  • Hiroyuki Namba
  • Izumi Macra
  • Junk Fujiyama
  • KenKen
  • Kensuke Ushio
  • Kouichirou Tashiro
  • Latin Quarters
  • LUVRAW & BTB
  • Mito
  • Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro
  • Noriyoshi Sasanuma
  • Shutoku Mukai
  • Taku Takahashi
  • Taro Umebayashi
  • Tomonori Hayashibe
  • TUCKER
  • Yasuyuki Okamura
  • Yoko Kanno
  • ZEN-LA-ROCK
  • OGRE YOU ASSHOLE
  • Seiichi Nagai

This is some list.  We’ve got Okamura, whom hasn’t done anything in five years and before that he’s had an absence from singing since the early 2000’s from a drug arrest.  These are some of the best of the best in Japanese music!  It’s such an eclectic mix between jazz bands, techno groups and j-pop idols.  Hands down the amount of creativity throughout this series wasn’t just the worldwide animators that worked on Space Dandy but it’s monumental success came from its varied soundtrack. “I should be..” was the most emotional songs out of the entire series and while a lot of it is very in key with the obscurity of the show between guitar riffs and stylized electronic downbeats this show’s score remains incredibly different from anything we had of 2014!  Unique and a series that from the get-go that takes risks!  Let’s see more of this in the future!


 TOP 10 BEST OF 2014: DIRECTED EPISODES

Before I go into overall what series were the best of 2014, I want to jump even deeper into individual episodes.  We had tons of incredible episodes even from one particular series, so compiling my Top 10 on this was rather challenging.

#10

Kill la Kill Episode 5 “Trigger”

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This show introduced the coolest character out of any that this series presented itself with.  Tsumugu Kingase.  From the very beginning we see him destroying the garden club’s flowers and this guy just oozes cool. His confrontation with Ryoko was more than enough to bond her and Senketsu even further!


#9

Samurai Flamenco Episode 19 “The Quiet Life”

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Everything has settled down after Samurai Flamenco’s fight against the Will of the Universe.  We are finally back to what this series shines in–  real drama.  While the tokusatsu aspect of this show remains we were finally given the reveal of Goto’s girlfriend and its a doozy.  Mari was my favorite character of this particularly because of this episode alone.  She’s crazy.  Her reaction when she finds out about Goto’s cellphone is probably the most authentic this show could catch up to.  It also helps the Masayoshi was conflicted on what to do.  He’s been trapped inside his own world for so long he doesn’t understand how to get grounded back towards reality and help his friend.


#8

Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS Episode 3 “Fog of Nebelville”

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This is how to do a zombie episode!  This series is packed with so much adventure and this episode brought into the mix Rita as a great contrast between Favaro and Kaisar.  She’s a necromancer and I like how she shows up.  Disillusioned by the family she lives with and the other villagers–  she has grown accustomed to her life.  When Favaro and Amira show up for the bounty they are also illusioned by the fog that everything is normal.  Nothing truly is what it seems and there were so many parallels between Kaisar’s upbringing and Rita’s that it left this large impact of trust between the two of them exceptionally well.  This was my favorite episode of the series and I wished that we had more like it!  Hope a season 2 dives into more adventures with its episodes!


#7

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii Episode 3 “Chancellor’s Declaration”

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Livius and Nike’s relationship is progressing only after knowing each other for some time–  I like all the duties the future queen must uphold.  She’s horrible at them and really irritates the King’s staff!  I like how there is this huge transition from the dead mother cliche into Nike’s own reasons for being with him.  Loving someone out of protection and this is what Livius gains here in trying to understand her more.  A similarity between the two that both show it in different ways.  I’m glad that this episode was placed much earlier rather than later.


#6

Nisekoi Episode 1 “The Promise”

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This show is really funny in a romantic way.  SHAFT pulled out all the stops in animating this without so many of their usual peculiar animated angles. Raku in appeasing with his yakuza boss’ wishes he pretends to date Chitoge.  The love triangle begins with a promise made 10 years earlier to another possible girl Kosaki Onodera (the girl he really likes).  This was a nice start to a somewhat bothersome situation that Raku is put into as more girls are involved with keys that match his locket.


#5

SPACE DANDY Episode 13 “Even Vacuum Cleaners Fall in Love, Baby”

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I’ll be honest right here.  I wanted to put up all the episodes of Space Dandy within this post, because they were all fantastic!  However, there was something special with this episode.

This was a great end to the first half–  a story that focuses on QT.  A robot that can fall in love.  The animation was unlike anything we had of the previous twelve episodes and had an amazing collection of music attached to it!  Reminds me a lot of the Brave Little Toaster only this story fueled it up by hitting all the right notes with QT’s behavior towards Maker gradually transitioning towards human emotions. The giant robot at the end was brilliantly animated!


#4

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 4 “The Hand That Caresses the Night”

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The first episode of Zoku Shou that delivered a really dark theme.  Tatsu is able to lure animals for hunting but the catch is that the meat has rotten.  Powerful!  Ginko frightened by whatever it is that has swayed Tatsu with such an intent on killing.  What a nice idea to use crows as the strong symbol that something bad was going to happen!  My favorite part of this was the scene where Tatsu is about to be attacked by a group of crows!  Ah that animation!  Breathtaking!


#3

Tokyo Ghoul Episode 1 “Tragedy”

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I wasn’t all that impressed with this series considering how rushed it was by its later episodes.  However, its premiere was a really strong one!  Kaneki is enamored with Rize that sets up the fantastic date they have.  Wonderful way to turn this around by using her as the ghoul and killing Kaneki of any normal life he could have had.


#2

Ping Pong the Animation Episode 10 “I Thought You Were the Hero!!”

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Kazama and Peco’s pong match while Tsukimoto is left nowhere to be seen.  I like how this plays in Tsukimoto’s favor that he is really intuitive.  As visually stunning as this was for me–  it gave me chills with how varied the camera angles were!  This episode was all about passion and what reasons the players have for playing pong.  Kazama had held on a desire to win for the sake of achieving greatness whereas Peco does it out of fun.  I like how the match tells the story for the two of them and how Kazama basically crosses over to the other side in understanding how Peco feels about the game.  There also was so much symbolism in this episode–  the birds flying to signify the face-off between the two of them, the slow motion sequence of Kazama rolling the ball.  Yuasa’s best episode this series hands down–  it was so intense!


#1

Zankyou no Terror Episode 1 “Falling”

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A series about a terrorist attack that devastates the Shinjuku area of Japan.  What starts off as an action sequence of the two boys stealing plutonium at a nuclear reactor transitions wonderfully into the school setting and winds up with a giant building being blown up!  The visuals, the musical score, the dialogue, everything came together perfectly to start up this chilling story about kids that had been discarded, neglected and finally getting the chance to redeem themselves in their own ways!  This was the most intense episode I had seen all year!


 

Now that I’ve jumped into those categories its time to talk about the best series that aired for 2014.  I’ve decided that I wanted to keep this short but sweet.

TOP 10 BEST ANIME SERIES OF 2014!

#10

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii

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A series that has revitalized the shojo genre for me.  It’s a light-hearted series about a King and princess and the hardships they endure as they progress their relationship towards marriage.


#9

Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou

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I really wish I had blogged this series when it aired in the spring.  It’s a wild romantic comedy series with charm and stunning visuals!


#8

BARAKAMON

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Washed out calligrapher Seishu Handa arrives on an island by request only to discover a new style all his own and finds some friends along the way.  This was written in two halves each episode that gave a refreshing look at life away from technology and focuses on the nurturing side of life.

#7

Captain Earth

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From the same creators that brought you STAR DRIVER.  This series tackles an invasion from beings known as Planetary Gears.  What this series did well was progress these young teens into adults by using mechs at the forefront!  The songs provided the power aspect that this team is known for with their other works!  I really enjoyed the relationship Daichi had with Hana.  Akari was awesome!


#6

Samurai Flamenco

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A lot of people I know did not like this series at all.  Its first half was a realistic perspective of a young actor that wanted to become the superhero he’s always aspired to be.  And by acting in television dramas that had these sort of characters.  The second half more so episode 7 completely changes things into a tried and true Tokusatsu series!  Randomly ambitious and the Mineral Miracle Muse trio were the highlight of every episode they were in!


#5

KILL LA KILL

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Akin to Gurren Laggan, this series develops the idea that uniforms gives someone their power.  This is a series that illustrates the mahou shojo genre fairly well as it piles on with each episode a fierce performance with the intention of being brashly seductive!  Visually its a highly intensified series with a grandiose soundtrack!


#4

Ping Pong The Animation

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One of my favorite directors adapts Taiyo Matsumoto’s ’96 manga series about pong players at various academies.  This is how to write a 1-cour series! Brush off any ideas you have of thinking this show is going to be pretty.  It’s not.  While I really liked this animation and as I’ve said before it’s not for everyone.  This is an unsentimental series that represents itself as an authentic and inexplicably-animated view of high-school life.  Ping Pong succeeded in being one of the best sports series out there!


#3

Zankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo]

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A visually stunning narrative that explores the idea of terrorism on Japanese soil. A nihilistic journey towards retribution with a lot of exposition on 9/11.  I enjoyed this series a ton for how creative it was.


#2

Mushishi Zoku Shou

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This show is beautiful.  Music, animation, characters and the story are just absolutely amazing! Every part of it comes together perfectly.  Individual tales that follow Ginko and his travels across lands while discovering Mushi.  I actually enjoyed this season much more than the first one–  we had some incredible stories!  Some dark, some light-hearted but by the end of them they arrive to one central theme: survival. I would recommend this series to anyone!

My family watches this one!


#1

Space Dandy

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Ok here goes.

Moe, moe, moe, that’s all the industry thinks anime fans like these days.  It does sell well and Sword Art Online is a perfect example of achieving sales.  However, the plot can often times jump ship or crack down its second half.  And then there are those rare times it does work for the case of Kawaisou and Nisekoi which my reasons are stated clearly above. But you know what I think?  You know, the staff that throw it in all willy nilly in their series.  They’re idiots.  Show me a tsundere loving-man and I’ll show you a no-brain, no-class, timid otaku that knows nothing of a quality anime.  I guess I don’t get it.  You gotta take risks, jump for a surprise! You can’t have a well-structured anime series just by female characters’ appearances and personalities alone! No! There are far more important things to consider.  It’s all about everything coming together as one, baby.  Viva All. ~Stay Dandy

Every episode is crafted together with so many different creative styles arriving at one point.  This provides some unique planets that Dandy travels to, strange aliens and the comedy never lets up!  A pivotal series that revitalizes the space opera genre with such worldwide success!

I hope that someday this ‘may be continued’…


Well that’s it!  My 300th blog post.  Now onto continuing the series of 2015 and of course all the other series I’m way behind on writing about.  Hope you all liked reading this.

1 thought on “Top 10 Best Anime of 2014

  1. I’m amazed at the depth and insight of your critiques! Also, at how much you’ve grown in your word-smithing! Great job–I would switch the last two entries in every category they ended up in 1st and 2nd places–Space Dandy and Mushishi. I think the latter wins in every respect over the former. Thanks for the blog! I love it!

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