Summer 2014 Anime Must-Watch List

With the second last of my 2014 Summer season reviews going up this week and the last likely to be later this week or next week, it’s time to give you a shortlist of the titles that you simply cannot afford to miss.

Akame ga Kill

I’ve described Akame ga Kill as a masterpiece of pacing. It is the Gold Standard for anyone creating an anime and looking to see the best way to structure their episodes. It isn’t perfect as a whole – with some characters not receiving proper development and a few other minor flaws – but it is an incredible show.

It is a show that is not afraid to kill off characters, but it always ensures you get to know the character – to appreciate their personality – before it kills them off. And while some of the deaths may seem senseless, they always serve a purpose in the greater scheme of the story, and they always have real impact. Every death hits, even the deaths of characters that may not be the most well developed.

I also strongly recommend you watch the first episode at least twice… go back to it after you’ve watched a few more episodes and watch it again. The first episode is probably the best introduction any anime has ever had, and it has layers of inner meaning that you might not entirely catch at first.

Sabagebu – Survival Game Club

Sabagebu is a show that is hard to describe in a way that really does it justice. It’s a comedy anime about the ‘Survival Game Club’ (Airsoft essentially) at an all-girls high school in Japan. Episodic in nature, each episode details three completely standalone short stories about these characters. This is not entirely unheard of, but what makes it so impressive is how well the show uses these short stories to build an attachment to these eccentric young ladies.

Momoka, the star of the show, is easily one of my favourite characters in a long time. She’s a girl who hasnt had any real friends in a long time due to constantly transferring schools and has learned how to feign interest just enough so that she won’t be ostracized every time she enters a new school. But her true personality is something altogether different. She genuinely believes the world exists for her entertainment – she is the ultimate egotist. And it is awesome.

The show’s other great strength, and what really separates it, is the way it uses its narrator. The narrator isn’t just there to give you an introduction at the start of each episode, he is a constant presence in the show, providing commentary, information, and continuously reminding you just how absurd this show really is. Without him, the show just wouldn’t be the same… but with him? We have a comic masterpiece. Sabagebu is easily the most hilarious show I’ve seen in a long, long time and it is one you would quite likely pass over if nobody told you otherwise – I almost did.

 HaNaYaMaTa

I’m not going to mince words – if you haven’t watched HaNaYaMaTa, go do so. Don’t waste time reading this, just go watch it. In case that’s not sufficient… HaNaYaMaTa is a slice of life show starring the five girls who make up their school’s Yosakoi club. (I went over this in my review but Yosakoi is a Japanese costumed dance usually performed in groups)

This show simply delights. It is adorable and charming in a way that few shows have ever pulled off, and the character development in HaNaYaMaTa is simply superb. All of the characters in this show are amazingly well written, and it’d be hard to pick one to be a favourite. Each character has their own little subtleties, their own personal issues, and their own hurdles. And the way these characters grow – both individually and together as a group – is just phenomenal.

The other aspect I’d like to point out is the music – HaNaYaMaTa’s score is performed by the cast, each and every song including the insert, and it is all amazing. The opening is one of the catchiest songs you’ll find, the ending is simply beautiful, and the songs by Yaya’s band ‘Need Cool Quality’ are fun and lively. Each one of these songs is just exceptional in its own way, and they all help to just make this show amazing.

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