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