The Winter 2014 season has come to a close, and so it’s time to assess the shows that I watched, rate them and rank them. What follows is are short reviews and rating on a scale of 1-10 of the shows that I watched during the winter 2014 season. Overall, the season was one of the least impressive I’ve seen, although it did has a few shows I genuinely enjoyed.
Here’s the format I’ll be following. I will be going through the list of shows I’ve been watching in ranked order. Each show will be given a rating out of 10, as well as a short review and any awards the show won (Best Animation, Best Comedy, etc.).
Let’s get started!
Top 10: Winter 2014
# 1: Silver Spoon (9/10)
A show so good I had to redo my ratings system a bit just to accommodate it. Silver Spoon as a full series, particularly this second season, has shown itself to be yet another proof of Hiromu Arakawa’s prowess as a character writer and as a writer in general. The power and honesty of this show is astounding. It’s beautiful. And it’s terrifying. Absolutely deserves to be called the best of the Winter 2014 season. (Series Review here.)
Awards: Best of Winter 2014; Best Slice of Life; Best Male Character-Yuugo Hachiken (Honorable Mention: Best Individual Episode, episode 9; Honorable Mention: Best Comedy; Honorable Mention: Must Watch of Winter 2014)
# 2: Golden Time (8/10)
As I’ve said elsewhere (including in my series response), I think Golden Time is a greatly flawed show, yet one of the most important shows I’ve watched in a long, long time. While the sheer density of issues, emotions and relationships that are dealt with works against the show operating smoothly as a narrative (Ghost Banri was a disaster), somehow everything felt really significant at the end of it all.
Awards: Best Romance; Best Female Character-Koko Kaga; Must Watch of Winter 2014 (Honorable Mention, Best ED: “The World’s End” by Yui Horie)
# 3: World Conquest: Zvezda Plot (7/10)
Some have compared World Conquest to Peter Pan, but I think World Conquest is a much more empowering and motivational piece than the beloved fairy tale, because it turns childhood into a force capable of enacting change, rather than a semi-delinquent rejection of growing up. Wonderfully creative and masterfully presented. (Series Review, Essay)
Awards: Best Story; Best Fantasy; Best Character Designs; Surprise of the Season (Honorable Mention: Best Animation; Honorable Mention: Best OP “Be Mine” by The Band Apart; Honorable Mention: Best ED “VisuMania” by Aoi Yuuki; Honorable Mention: Must Watch of Winter 2014)
# 4: Nagi no Asukara (7/10)
Still not sure if Nagi no Asukara will get a full review from me at this point. The art in this show is simply decadent, absurdly beautiful P.A. Works backgrounds cut in multiple times each episode, providing laptop backgrounds for months to come. A strong first cour was held back by a faltering second cour, lead by one of the best characters of the season (Hikari) and one of the worst (Miuna).
Awards: Best Drama (Honorable Mention: Best Story; Honorable Mention: Best Animation; Honorable Mention: Best Romance; Honorable Mention: Best Male Character-Hikari Sakishima)
# 5: Noragami (7/10)
Solid execution of a decent premise lands Noragami fairly high up on the list, as BONES gets things started off on a good foot in 2014. Although Noragami wasn’t really the best at anything this season, it was probably the most consistent, and in a season where inconsistency was the predominant theme, I greatly appreciated that. (Catholicism in Anime article)
Awards: (Honorable Mention: Best Story; Honorable Mention: Best Action)
# 6: Witchcraft Works (7/10)
With no other series this season did I have more fun during my viewing than with Witchcraft Works. J.C. Staff lands their second show in my top 10 of the season, and it deserves to be here with a faithful (or so I’ve heard) adaptation of the manga. The art style of Witchcraft Works was my favorite of the season, the whimsical sensibilities effectively enhancing the overall tone of the show. (Series Review)
Awards: Best Animation; Best OP: “divine intervention” by fhána (Honorable Mention: Best Action; Honorable Mention: Best Fantasy; Honorable Mention: Best Character Designs)
# 7: Tonari no Seki-kun (7/10)
Unquestionably the best comedy I have seen come out of the medium, Tonari no Seki-kun knows exactly what it wants to do with itself and the confidence in its identity and formula shone through week after week. Thank goodness this show is ongoing. Thank goodness.
Awards: Best Comedy; Best Short Series (Honorable Mention: Best Male Character-Seki)
# 8: Kill la Kill (6/10)
Flashy, over-the-top, fun and boasting a splendid soundtrack, Kill la Kill wasn’t the anime savior I was lead to believe it would be (okay, I never really thought anime needed saving in the first place), but it was an enjoyable series. Episode 22 was the highlight of the entire show for me, cashing in on Trigger’s ability to shoot adrenaline directly into your veins through scenes of sheer human willpower and epic determination.
Awards: Best Action; Best OST (Honorable Mention: Best Female Character-Satsuki Kiryuin)
# 9: Tokyo Ravens (6/10)
Tokyo Ravens checked pretty much all the boxes I like in an anime: magic, a little slice-of-life, a little romance, some cool fights and one heck of an epic final battle. Decently executed, it’s neither a marvel nor a failure, just a slightly above mediocre show that reaches most of its goals without surpassing them. A shame we’ll probably never see a second season. (Series Review)
Awards: (Honorable Mention: Best Fantasy)
# 10: Log Horizon (6/10)
But we will have a second season of Log Horizon, and that’s good news! A pleasant show with a likable cast of characters and some truly epic moments. A little too much talking that went nowhere for my tastes, but I liked it enough that I will definitely be watching the second season when it comes around in the fall. (Series Review)
# 11. Engaged to the Unidentified (5/10)
Engaged to the Unidentified had one of the best starts to the season, and looked for a while like it would break out of the eternal pit of rom-com mediocrity. Sadly, it ended up riddled with worn out tropes and a grating side character (Benio), which really lessened the impact of what initially had the potential to be quite good. But it was enjoyable and cute, which is sometimes all you can ask.
Awards: (Honorable Mention: Best Romance; Honorable Mention: Best Slice of Life; Honorable Mention: Surprise of the Season)
# 12. Wake Up, Girls! (5/10)
WUG struggled to balance its characters, plot and industry commentary, crippling what might have been an effective shot at the idol business. It did manage to somewhat capture the essence of being a team working to create a performance, but it was sadly bogged down by occasionally terrible animation and a general lack of polish. That being said, it was my first idol show ever, and I enjoyed enough that I might watch a similar show in the future.
Awards: (Honorable Mention: Best Drama)
# 13. Hamatora (5/10)
Had a cool street-smart vibe all the way through and a nice aesthetic (the ending fight scene looked awesome), but struggled to maintain its primary conflict through numerous side-stories and surface level characters. And it ended on one of the most infuriating cliffhangers I’ve ever seen. You have to earn a second season, not force the viewers to need it.
# 14. Nobunagun (4/10)
An exciting first episode and a stellar main character had Nobunagun near the top of my list at the beginning of the season, but got mired down in side-stories and backstories and non-stories and poorly paced battles split between too many places. But hey! We got a kiss at the end, at least.
# 15. Seitokai Yakuindomo* (4/10)
One of my true guilty pleasure anime, SYD* was pretty much the same this season as it was last season: crude humor, a cast of archetypal characters with great chemistry. It’s just an inappropriate, fun watch. The jokes can be hit-or-miss, but when you get ~3-5 jokes/minute, that’s okay.
Awards: (Honorable Mention: Best Female Character-Shino Amakusa)
# 16. Buddy Complex (4/10)
First Sunrise mecha anime I’ve ever seen, and the net gain and loss of watching this show proved to be approximately 0. I’ll probably give the second season a watch on the off-chance that it improves. Nothing really super great or super terrible to recommend this show either way.
# 17. Wizard Barristers (3/10)
A creative concept that fell apart because it couldn’t pull all the ends together. There were some truly terrible episodes (episode 7) and episode 11 aired without being finished, which only partly obscured how terrible the writing in that episode actually was. Not to mention the fact that the court room scenes were downright infuriating to watch as character after character in the room threw logic out the door.
#18. Strike the Blood (3/10)
If you like harems, you’ll probably like Strike the Blood, because the range of girls that fall in love with the (not terribly, but still) dense protagonist is truly impressive. Don’t be fooled though, this isn’t Kojou’s anime, even though he’s the supposedly the most powerful character in the show: “No, senpai! This is my anime!” -Yukina Himeragi
Awards: Best Harem
# 19. Magical Warfare (2/10)
Eventually got so bad that it was hilarious. Dreadful characters with no motivations steered around by a plot that never actually got around to anything resembling magical warfare. At least it had the best ED of the season, by far.
Awards: Best ED, “Born to Be” by nano
# 20. Pupa (1/10)
I don’t like horror generally, but beyond that, a character can only say “Onii-chan” so many times in an episode before it starts to really make you want to punch a hole through your laptop screen. Failed as an anime, but maybe succeeded as an advertisement for the manga.
- Best Individual Episode: Hunter x Hunter, episode 116 (“Recovery x And x Revenge”).
- Honorable Mention, Best ED: “Axis” by Stero Dive Foundation from Nobunaga the Fool
Note: Nisekoi is unlisted, as it will continue into the Spring 2014 season.