Top Summer 2014 Anime: Final Ratings

And so we bid farewell to what has been the weakest season of anime I have watched since I began following shows weekly. The numbers show it. I finished only seven shows this season, not including my sad farewell to long runner Hunter x Hunter, with four ongoing shows remaining. Thank goodness fall is coming, because it looks a lot more promising to me.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

Mikorin basking in the breeze of being the best.

1. Zankyou no Terror (8/10)

An ambitious, thoughtful show. While Zankyou no Terror didn’t quite live up to all the potential it had, it came far closer than most shows do. That’s not to compare it, only to say that I appreciate how much it did end up doing. Techincally, in terms of the directing and general presentation of the show, nothing even came close to Zankyou no Terror, which looked gorgeous. Watanabe’s directing was spectacular and Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack was always great, frequent divine. Despite the problems in the script, Zankyou no Terror told the most complete story of any show this season. It’s not a masterpiece, but if more shows aspired to be like it, I’d be very happy. (Series Reflection)

Awards: Best of Summer 2014, Best Story, Best OP, Best Drama (Honorable Mentions: Best Animation, Best Female Character—Lisa Mashima)

2. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (8/10)

Riotously funny, constantly adorable, and inspiring my narcissistic choice of Mikorin as the best male character of the season (because we’ll probably never see another anime character that matches up so well with my personality). And then there’s all the parody, artist jokes, and general insanity from all corners of the cast. Nozaki-kun was a pleasure to watch, and is a fairly important industry piece as well due to its progressive portrayal of gender roles and delightful tendencies to make fun of them without ever drifting into negativity. Highly recommended. (Series Review)

Awards: Best Comedy, Best Romance, Best Male Character—Mikoto Mikoshiba (Honorable Mentions: Best of Summer 2014, Best OP, Best ED, Best Female Character—Yuu Kashima)

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

3. Barakamon (7/10)

I’m truly very thankful that I was wise enough…err, that my schedule was busy enough to force me to put off watching Barakamon until it was almost finished airing. It was a lovely show to marathon, and the peaceful, kind nature of the show was enough to make it my favorite show of the season. Handa is one of the most likable, relatable protagonists I’ve seen recently, with the show striking a splendid balance between his immaturities and his desire to grow up out of them. It’s not often that we get to see a character actually committed to changing himself for the better like this—he fails, gets down, picks himself back up, tries again, says he’s sorry. Seen through the refreshing lens of country life and childlike innocence, Barakamon is a true gem. Oh, and Naru steals the show.

Awards: Best Slice-of-Life, Best ED, Best Female Character—Naru Kotoishi, Personal Favorite of the Season (Honorable Mentions: Best of Summer 2014, Best Story, Best Comedy, Best Male Character—Handa Seishuu)

4. Haikyuu!! (7/10)

Not many action shows can match the sheer energy and intensity Haikyuu!! brought to the volleyball court week after week after week after week…Incredibly, fantastically consistent and monumentally entertaining, Haikyuu!! has been my pre-church Sunday morning show for almost half a year now, and what better way is there to get excited and sweating before going to worship? None, I say! Production I.G. did this show true justice with jaw dropping animation and stellar direction. I’ll be very much looking forward to the inevitable next season.

Awards: Best Animation, Best Action, Best Sports

Haikyuu!!

A shoutout to the gorgeous manager of the Karasuno volleyball club! Kiyoko-sannn!!!

5. Free! Eternal Summer (6/10)

Much better than it’s predecessor. I don’t usually change scores for a second season from a first unless the second season has been good enough to merit it, but Free! Eternal Summer almost felt like an entirely different show from the previous season after it got going in episode six. I was pleasantly surprised to find a show that thoughtfully engaged a few themes in a meaningful manner, and despite its tendency to oversell the emotional high points, I found myself tearing up as I watched these young men struggle to come to grips with their future and realize their dreams. It was never something I expected from this show. (Series Review)

Awards: (Honorable Mentions: Best Animation, Best Sports, Best Male Character—Rin Matsuoka)

6. Argevollen (5/10)

Argevollen is only halfway done, but I want to give a shout out to second most consistent show of the season here and to what I’ve called the best mecha of the season since week three. Argevollen loves small details, and I found its commitment to bringing those moments to the viewer to be both endearing and valuable. It’s certainly not the flashiest show on the schedule (and I’ve been assured it’s well-indebted to time-honored mecha tropes), but I found the calm realism and understated writing to be, if not exciting, then at least attention-worthy. I won’t say I was pumped to watch Argevollen every week, but I never regretted it. (Episode 5 Notes)

Awards: Best Adventure (Honorable Mentions: Best Story, Best Action)

Argevollen

Just Jamie making Jamie faces.

7. Glasslip (4/10)

The most baffling show of the season. I’ll be honest—I expected more than what we got from Glasslip and P.A. Works, but what we did get was a fascinating not-really-a-mess and consistently odd show. It sounds weird to say this, but Glasslip‘s episodes were probably the quickest moving episodes of any show for me this season. It’s inexplicable, frankly. The whole show is. It makes sense, but it doesn’t. It concludes, but it doesn’t. I’ve been saying for a while that the show felt like a work of abstract art I couldn’t figure out, but now that it’s over, I think it’s more of a failed philosophical-aesthetic experiment. The show is massively, unavoidably flawed, but I still get the sense that someone had a vision, an idea behind this show. It didn’t make for a good story, but it made for something genuinely fascinating to watch.

Awards: (Honorable Mentions: Best OP, Best ED, Best Slice-of-Life)

8. Fairy Tail (4/10)

Thankfully, the Magic Games/Eclipse arc is over. It was pretty bad, except for a few brights spots in the middle and a nice wrap up episode. But now, I hear we’re going into a filler arc? Well, why the heck not? It can’t get any worse than it already is. A massive disappointment, and if the next arc is as bad as the one I just suffered through I’ll be dropping Fairy Tail.

Fairy Tail

I won’t forget you, Ultear!

9. RWBY, Volume 2 (4/10)

The action, as always, is good—if a bit Rooster Teeth rote. But this season has relied a lot more on dialogue than the last and for RWBY, that’s not a good thing. When it tries to be funny, it fails. When it tries to have serious dialogue, it stumbles. When it tries to be mysterious or obtuse…it succeeds, but often in the wrong way. At 14 minutes a pop, it’s not a bad time investment, but Volume 2 of RWBY is basically the same thing as the first season. And that’s more concerning. I’d hoped there would be some evidence that someone had learned something from the first season, but as of now I’ve yet to see it.

Awards: (Honorable Mention: Best Action)

10. Akame ga Kill (4/10)

Mostly just picked it up to marathon it in spurts. Has some glaringly scary morally bankrupt mindsets, which are pretty much impossible not to see. For all that, it’s the type of shiny shounen that I like to go brain dead while watching. The cast is shiny enough to keep me interested, and it’s fun enough in chunks of episodes. I’m sure I’d hate it if I was watching it weekly.

Akame ga Kill

11. Aldnoah.Zero (4/10)

It was the big one. The Urobutcher. The chosen epic blockbuster. It was not very good at all. I greatly disliked the first three episodes, liked the fourth a lot, and then progressively liked it less and less until the colossal mess of an ending destroyed any chance the show had of getting me to like it. I don’t want to talk anymore about it. So I’m done. (Series Review)

Dropped

Sailor Moon Crystal (6 episodes), Rail Wars! (4 episodes), Tokyo ESP (4 episodes)

Barakamon

Unawarded

  • Honorable Mention—Best Drama (x2)
  • Honorable Mention—Best Comedy (x1)
  • Honorable Mention—Best Romance (x2)
  • Honorable Mention—Best Adventure (x2)
  • Best Fantasy (& Honorable Mentions)
  • Best Short
  • Honorable Mention—Best Slice-of-Life (x1)
  • Best Harem
  • Honorable Mention—Best Sports (x1)

18 thoughts on “Top Summer 2014 Anime: Final Ratings

  1. “Not many action shows can match the sheer energy and intensity Haikyuu!! brought to the volleyball court week after week after week after week…” I’ll say, I made the mistake of trying to watch episode 24 before bed to help calm my nerves so I could go to sleep, got a few minutes in and realized it was going to be way too intense for that (“whelp, at least it’ll give me something else to focus on!”)

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      • Barakamon deserves another season! 🙂 I have mixed feelings on the matter of finding out the whereabouts of Naru’s parents if another season is on the way.
        My only concern with Barakamon is that there are many different characters around Handa, both from Tokyo and from the island, so I kind of expected more interaction between these characters, like Handa’s parents actually visiting the island or Handa bringing Naru and co. to Tokyo. Nevertheless, it’s a really refreshing series and I can really feel the vibe of Summer when I’m watching it.

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  2. Wow. A lot of our tastes seem to be similar bless. There are a few I would have put lower than you did probably, also a few I didn’t even touch after the first 2 or 3 episodes… but other than that at least we have roughly the same tastes.

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  3. I’m wondering: do you base your rating on your take on certain aspects (characters, story, visual, music & animation) and add your personal enjoyment to that mix, or do you rate exclusively on personal enjoyment? Because unless something happened, I ‘d have expected Argevollen to have a better score based on the second one, but the first one would explain why Haikyuu got a 7 while you were just as giddy over it as me, or as to why Free is so low while you were raving over it and while it has fantastic visuals (that KyoAni trademark).

    It’s hard to know whether or not I agree with these if I don’t know if they’re based on “objective” analysis or just enjoyment.

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    • Ah, yay, another reminder that I need to write another post explaining my ratings philosophy! If this keeps happening, I’m sure I’ll get around to it sometime! ^_^”

      To sum it up in less than an essay: the ratings are my attempt to capture, in a single numerical value, what I feel is the overall value of the show. So, everything you mentioned (production, writing, personal enjoyment) is fed into that score, along with me imposing my personal value systems on the show. How valuable of an experience is this show? That’s the question I try to answer with my ratings.

      I could throw in my obligatory disclaimers about how reductive this is and how really my words are more important than the numbers, but it terms of trying to quantify the value of an artistic experience…I do the best I can.

      Examples: So, for Zankyou no Terror—throw in brilliant direction, beautiful visuals, along with the fact that I personally enjoyed it. But the most important thing was that I felt what the show was trying to say was important and that it did a good job of saying it. And—this is the rating right here—I think other people would benefit from watching it to a degree of 8/10. Again, my perception of how valuable it is.

      Argevollen or Haikyuu!!, on the other hand, simply didn’t strike me as being as “valuable.” Haikyuu!! is obviously great fun and does that really well (besides having all the stellar production, which just feeds into the fun), but 7/10 is as high as I’m willing to go for a show that I felt only offered a visceral experience of fun as its primary value.

      I dunno if that makes very much sense. Hopefully it at least helps. Like I said, I’m hoping to eventually write a piece on how I think about this kind of stuff. This piece is old, but it does have some relevant information on how I think about rating shows. It might not be totally accurate to me today, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually really enjoyed this season – to me, it felt far stronger than the spring line-up did. Zankyou no Terror, Nozaki-kun, and Barakamon each got solid scores from me (9, 8, and 7 respectively), and perhaps surprisingly, Kuroshitsuji impressed me quite a bit as well (although I’m perfectly willing to admit that this, along with Free!), were probably more personally enjoyable than objectively great). I’m fairly disappointed with Sailor Moon right now, and am only still watching because… well, just because. Hopefully I’ll figure out why soon, because my score on that’s been dipping lower by the episode.

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    • Yeah, I think the seasons actually compare somewhat evenly in terms of high ends to low ends, but I think the difference for me was that spring had Ping Pong, and then a number of shows that I really liked (Chaika, Seki-kun, Haikyuu!!).

      Chaika was probably the pivot point, though. xD

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      • That’s fair enough. I didn’t end up watching any of Ping Pong, Seki-kun, or Chaika though, so other than Mushishi there was nothing I was head over heels for.

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  5. Aldnoah.Zero “simply the best” !!
    idea, story, soundtracks is WONDERFUL, i don’t understand why you dislike it !
    i think the second season is the key to transform this anime series to the Awesome or Bullshit 🙂
    but for now CREATE and DESTROY 🙂 a character like “Slaine Troyard” is a GREAT
    so i hope the second season is good enough to make me satisfied.
    personally “I HATE HAPPY ENDING” 😀

    Like

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