Alright everyone, it’s time for me to count down the best anime of the first half of 2014 – the Winter and Spring seasons. It’s been incredible looking back on the anime of this year, there have been so many amazing shows and so many shows that I didn’t expect much out of that so far surpassed my expectations it’s hard to describe… this list has been amazingly difficult to narrow down as there are more than 6 I’d love to spotlight. In fact, it’s taken me most of this list to narrow down the final choices.
6) Nanana’s Buried Treasure
Nanana’s Buried Treasure featured a rather incredible twist on the ‘monster of the day’ setup that just made it so memorable. The ‘labyrinth of the day’ made each episode an exciting journey of exploration as the characters uncovered new puzzles to solve.
But what really made Nanana special was its cast… such a fascinating and diverse cast who had such great interactions. It was an absolute pleasure, and it is such a pity that a second season hasn’t been announced, because this is the type of show that could literally go on forever, and I’d love to see this be the next One Piece or Bleach.
5) Irregular at Magic High School
This show started on such a good note, with one of my favourite magic systems I’ve seen in a long time. The mid-point that Irregular at Magic High struck between technology and intuition was so clever, so unique, that I was enthralled. I loved watching the effects, and the various different individual styles each character had with their magic. Even moreso, I loved watching as the system developed over time as they revealed more and more details about it. It just was so fascinating.
The one drawback to Irregular at Magic High School is that there were some character development issues in the first season, but with how good the action and the magic was… it was easy to overlook that.
4) Black Bullet
This was probably the hardest decision to make. Black Bullet and Irregular were so close in my mind that it could’ve gone either way… what put Black Bullet above it was the fact that Black Bullet did something so few shows are able to do: keep your spirits up despite grim subject matter and serious circumstances.
All too often, otherwise good shows suffer because they let things get too heavy. Some element of levity helps to make the show easier to watch without taking away from the impact… and this was something Black Bullet did extraordinarily well. When you add in that the show has interesting characters, a good plotline that resolves itself nicely, and amazing action. it really adds up to an exceptional show with one flaw. The ending is really weird and feels like they should’ve cut it after the previous episode unless they had a second season already lined up… and it’s the ending that makes it not quite live up to the top 3.
3) Kill la Kill
This show was bonkers. There were moments during the first few episodes where I had to really work up the motivation to keep watching because of just how ridiculous it was…. but once you got into it a really cool, over the top story unfolds in front of you. The action is insane, the powers are absurd, the dialog is ridiculous… but it is all awesome.
It’s hard to really say much about Kill la Kill, because it’s so weird that you probably wouldn’t believe some of what I might say… but if you give it the chance, you’ll find something truly special. It really is one of the most unique anime of the year, and it deserves all the accolades I can give it. Just, be prepared… it has a pretty slow start and it might take a half-dozen episodes before you really start to appreciate it.
2) No Game No Life
And now we enter the final two… and trust me, this was a hard call. No Game No Life was great. From the moment these two characters stepped into the fantasy world of Disboard, I was hooked. The catchy opening, charming and adorable closing, and the absolutely stellar characters made this show easy to love but it was the games themselves that stood out for me.
Each challenge Sora and Shiro were matched against created an interesting sort of tension, a puzzle if you will… how were they going to solve it? What was the end result going to be? Sure you could be relatively confident they’d eventually win, but what was it going to take – what was their plan? That was the real question… and for the answer, well you’ll just have to go check out the show itself.
1) The World is Still Beautiful
Much like No Game No Life, The World is Still Beautiful is a nearly flawless show. With some of the most incredible music I’ve heard in my life, one of the most relatable love stories I’ve seen in any medium, and a pair of main characters that have so many layers you could almost compare them to onions…. the show is just phenomenal.
The one thing that made The World is Still Beautiful stand out above the competition, and really the main reason that it beat out NGNL for the #1 spot, is how complete the show felt. The ending of a show is so important… and it’s so difficult when you’re dealing with a story that clearly continues beyond what you’ve seen so far. Some shows are content to merely give you a cliffhanger and briefly wrap up the season’s events… but The World is Still Beautiful actually managed to sum up the season in such a beautiful way without closing any of the possible threads for continuation. This is a show that, while I would absolutely be thrilled to see more, I am completely content with how it ended. And that’s all too rare.
What are your picks from the Spring/Summer seasons? Anything you think belongs on here? Feel free to comment below! And check back next week for a bit of a change of pace… next week I’ll be counting down the six biggest disappointments of 2014!