The CFG Best of 2014: Anime!

2014 was a great year to be a ConFreak and Geek. We had interesting new Comics surface, some amazing Super Hero Movies (some not so great), fantastic video games, and best of all, some AWESOME Anime. There was no drought of things to watch and many were HUGE surpises. Here’s our list of the 10 best from this year! (Authors note: This is not in any particular order, just the ones that deserved mention.)

The Cream of the Crop

 

Akame Ga Kill (White Fox Studios) 

 

Akame-ga-Kill the teamThe series takes place in an empire that has been in existence for a 1000 years. It’s filled to the brim with corruption, evil deeds and the weak are easily trampled. An unruly group of heroes, the assassin band known as Night Raid steps in to overthrow the empire and set the world on it’s true path. Sounds like fun right? It really was. Between its sweet action sequences, well paced story and fantastic animation Akame Ga Kill is a complete package. The show has a fantastic cast of characters, all very unique with interesting abilities and weapons. It’s really easy to like the Heroes and Villains all the same. The pacing is perfect and will keep you on the edge of your seat! The complete series is currently running on Crunchyroll and Hulu. Plus, don’t forget to check out our review!

 

 

Kill La Kill (Studio Trigger) 

 

Studio trigger is somewhat of a unicorn in the animation studio world. A perfect combo of talented animators and creative minds. A spawn of former animators for animation legend Gainax (FLCL, Tenggen Toppa Gurren Laggan),  Kill La Kill had a big set of shoes to fill.It kicked those shoes and made its own mold! The animation in this show is deliberately rough, but it’s style makes it unique and dear anime gods it looks good! Studio Trigger kind of set off a small nuke with their work. The show was met with quite a bit of controversy about it’s charcter designs and their incredibly skimpy outfits (I mean borderline nudity here). Others saw the tones that the show was trying to set which was confidence in your self, even in the eyes of others leering at you. It kicks it into high gear and barely lets off the accelerator. Normally this is an issue, but the world they established is so crazy and cool that it doesn’t even need rails. Add an incredibly well thought out sound track by composer Hiroyuki Sawano (Attack on Titan, Sengoku Basara: Samurai kings) and you’ve got a hot combo. The series main character is the most brash lead I’ve ever seen. Ryuko is hot headed, quick to make desicions, strike now/think later type of character. Despite that, she is kind and willing to stand for those weaker than herself. Her partner is literally her clothes. Dubbed Senketsu, her partner enables her to change into her Kamui mode (queue the almost nudity) which brings out her true power. Armed with a half scissor blade and hell bent on revenge, she sets out to face Hannouji Academy and learn of her fathers killer. It’s not all about Ryuko though, her compatriots she gains along the way are just as wacky and the bad guys are essential in this. If you need something to motivate to the moon and back and help you kick logic to the curb, watch Kill La Kill. The complete series is currently running on Netflix and Crunchyroll.

 

Mushi-Shi II (ArtLand)

Every once in a while, it’s nice to encounter something that is of a less brisk pace. Many animes are go-go-go from start to end. Mushi-Shi is not afraid to let things unveil themselves slowly and with beautiful, sometimes trippy results. The main character “Ginko” is a fascinating character, his motives are not to slay the Mushi , (Spritiual beings with numerous forms, names and abilities) but to make it possible for them to co-exist with humans. The Mushi change the world in amazing ways, subtle or dramatic and Ginko has the knowledge and the skill to make the world balanced. A great set of standalone stories wrapped in a beautiful soundtrack and watercolor art. If you’re looking for something a bit calmer and on the beautiful side give this show a shot. The Complete Series is currently running on Hulu and Crunchyroll

 

JoJos Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (David Production)

 

Jojos Bizarre adventure is an incredibly unique and long running series (20 Years, my goodness!). The series follows characters named JoJo (often times a nick name) and follows the Joestar family line through different generations. Each has a crazy, music refrence inspired enemy that have to be seen to be believed. The shows anime adaptation is pure awesomeness. It captures the essence of the manga perfectly, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look stylish at same time. Crazy action scenes filled with unique characters and a voice cast to make your head spin. I started watching the first series (Known as Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency)a total newcomer, by the end of the first episode I was hooked. Season two starts in January and I will be bolted to my couch when it hits! The series is currently running on Crunchyroll

 

 

 

 

Re:Hamatora (Lerche)

 

Hamatora is a show that really captured my heart. With it’s very modern design choices, colorful art, catchy soundtrack and interesting story full of twists and turns. It follows a group of super powered individuals known as the “Hamatora Detective Agency”. The group are known as Minimum Holders, the next step in human evolution that unlocks parts of the brain and enables unique abilities. The story has a focus around Nice, his Partner Hamasaki, and a some what unusual cast of characters.  The second season is full of gags, unique fight scenes, and some serious “AHA!” moments. yeewiz reviewed the first season if you want more info! The complete series is currently on Crunchyroll.

 

 

 

Monthly Girls Nozaki Kun (DogaKobo)

 

Speaking of colorful anime, this one came as a major surprise this year (at least for me). If you aksed me what I thought of romance anime in general I’d say bottom of the barrel. But I’m a sucker for good comedy. Monthly Girls Nozaki Kun is one of the few “Romantic Comedies” I can stand. It’s so non-formulaic and fresh that I can’t help but be impressed.  The story focuses around two characters, Chiyo, who is deeply madly in love, and her tall clueless person of affection Nozaki. In an attempt to confess her feelings, she accidently yells “I’m a fan of yours!” to which she receives Nozaki’s autograph. The signature is of a popular shoujo manga artist who happens to claim the number 1 spot. An odd but totally adorable relationship begins and hilarity ensues. Almost constantly. There’s humor of every flavor here and it is top notch. The main characters also have a cast of supporting characters that deserves an award for how odd and fantastic they really are. If you need a good laugh and something that will make you feel like sunshine on clear day watch this show. I can’t recommend it enough! The Complete Series is currently running on Hulu and Crunchyroll

 

Space Dandy (Bones)

 

Space Dandy was a manga turned anime, directed by the legendary Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop). The series protagonist is Dandy. A booty loving alien hunter who’s sole purpose is to find new aliens and register them for the sake fot he universe….and his wallet. Along with QT, a robotic vacuum cleaner and a cat-like alien named Meow, they explore the universe on a series of wacky and hilarious escapades to get paid. Studio Bones has made quite a name for themselves these last decade (Soul Eater, Full Metal Alchemist ) and with this production they are in unfamiliar territory. The universe is often depicted as a dull gray place with nothing but dim stars and empty spaces (I’m looking at you Knights of Sidonia). Space Dandy almost fearlessly depicts in it a bright colorful way where the glory of the cosmos sing. The worlds explored are both extremely strange but also beautiful. The aliens are so unique it’s hard to criticize. Space Dandy hits you with the funny hammer  often with its antics and serious wtf moments. These moments can range from any where to the universe facing a zombie apocalypse (and then learning about the day in the life of a zombie), a cosmic dance off, to a space race in the vein of a cosmic Speed Racer. It’s that good! We have a more in depth review here as well! The Complete Series is currently running on Hulu

 

Wrath of Bahamut: Genesis (MAPPA)

 

If I told you there was a show with a bounty hunter, a knight fallen from grace, a half demon and a zombie on the same team and it was all based on a card game you’d probably give me a funny look. That’s actually an accurate descripiton to describe the cast of primary characters for Rage of Bahamut, a card game made by the good folks at Cygames. After escaping his fight with Kaisar and drunkenly boasting, he attracts the attention of Amira the half demon seeking her mothers whereabouts. The tow set off on what seems like just a personal journey. Behind the scenes however, there is a struggle between the gods and demons to prevent the unleashing of Bahamut, the ultimate destroyer of the world. For a 12 episode anime it handles everything pretty well and there is only a small handful of side characters that are less than developed. MAPPA did a great job with the character designs and animation has a nice shine to it. Short and sweet are how I’d describe this in a phrase. The Complete Series is currently running on Hulu

 

Sword Art Online II (A-1Pictures)

 

The first season was generally met with reverie. The series has gained significant populartity in the last couple of years and I’m finally starting to understand why. The second season brought me back into the fold with ease. SAO II took everything it did right in the first season and made some minor tweaks, but took things that were very much over looked or not quite there and revamped them fairly dramatically. The result was a more satisfying over all story. The animation and over all production are still rock solid, and the issues I had with lack of character development were handled with a sense of care.  I did a review of the second season here. If you didn’t like the first season, I urge you to give it a go. I’m glad I did. The Complete Series is currently running on Hulu and Crunchyroll

 

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade works (Ufotable)

 

And last but certainly not least, is Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works. Based on the practically immortal Fate/Stay Night visual novel, this adaptation is a gorgeous presentation by Ufotable. Incredibly detailed animation, fantastic battles that have a sense of weight to them, and a strong reccuring cast round out the show to a must watch. This particular version Follows the  Unlimited Bladeworks story path from the visual novel almost to the tee. Check out Georges Review Here for more info on this stand out work. The Complete Series is currently running on Hulu and Crunchyroll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable mentions!

These are a few that were not quite the top, but worthy of the mention.

 

Irregular at Magic High School (Mad House)

 

The Irregular at Magic High School is a an interesting show. It mixes elements of a good combat anime, technology and magic, and a look at highschool politics when it comes to segregation. Based on the popular light novel set in the far flung future where magic is key to success. We are quickly introduced to our protagonist Tatsuya. He is an under achieving genius and is placed what is known as a second class student (Or a weed as his “First Class” peers reffer to them).  He is quick to turn things on it’s head, the spectacle is worth the price of admission. There are very few characters who don’t get some time in the spolight, Plenty of story to keep things moving, and best of all is the pristine animation. A good mostly-serious  anime with an excellent setting and some flashy character centric moments. The Complete Series is currently running on Hulu and Crunchyroll

 

 

 

I Can’t Understand What my Husband is Saying (Seven)

 

A quirky set of micro-sodes about a newly wed couple. Kaoru is a hardworking office woman, and her husband Hajime, a total otaku. The two are adjusting to being newly weds and there are some funny kinks they are working out. Kaoru is the primary provider and Hajime starts as a blogger. The two start to get in the groove before their family and friends intervene. It is both very cute and very funny. Hajime is such an otaku that making anime references or imagining the world in a more anime way comes naturally to him. Kaoru struggles to folow with his logic, but also for logic for married couples, like pondering having children and spending time with the ball and chain of your life.  Each episode is based on a four panel comic and so the episodes (if you can call them that) are about 3-4 minutes long. Perfect if your looking for a quick laugh or some comedic commentary about marriage. The Complete Series is currently running on Crunchyroll

 

Nobunaga the Fool (Sateworks)

 

Fusions of genres can often yield rather poor results. Nobunaga The Fool is an amazing example of blending things well. The show has a Medieval/Feudal Theme with Mechs thrown in for good measure. The animation is gorgeous and helps to maintain balance with character designs that go a bit over the top. The show has a very believable story considering how brisk the pace is for a 24 episode anime. Awesome battles with mechs are always a good thing, especially when the pilots are just as cool. If you need a good escape from reality and don’t mind two very different histories clashing then this is a show for you. You can read our review here as well. The Complete Series is currently running on Hulu and Crunchyroll

 

What was your favorite Anime of 2014? Let us know in the comment section! Cheers and Happy 2015!

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