Top Fall 2014 Anime: Final Ratings

The Fall 2014 anime season has come to a close, so it’s time to take a look at what was the best, what great, what was good, what was enjoyable, and what was none of those. It’s particularly important in this season to note that these rankings only cover shows that ended this season—if ongoing shows were counted, this list would look radically different.

I’ve also made a few changes to the awards to accommodate the decreasing number of shows I’m watching each season. All the genre awards have been reduced to a winner and an honorable mention, OST has been added as a category, and ongoing shows are eligible for the OP/ED categories. With that in mind, I’m happy to present the top shows of Fall 2014. Well, happy might not be the best word for a season as rough as this, but here’s the list anyways.

HItsugi no Chaika

Shoutout to @ZeroReq011 for giving me this gif!

1. Sword Art Online II (7/10)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. The facts are as such: I didn’t like the GGO arc all that much, but Mother’s Rosario and Excalibur were good enough and fun enough, respectively, to remind me what I liked so much about the first season of SAO. If I had to say, I’d probably attribute GGO’s failures to something as insubstantial as “trying too hard,” and the later arcs’ success as “returning to what SAO is good at.” Or, it could just be nostalgia. Either way, Sword Art Online is my top anime for Fall 2014. In my opinion, the show looks even better than it did in the first season and returning to the familiar world of ALO recovered the earnest charm I found so attractive about the first season. I’m well aware of SAO‘s many faults, but in the end I think it’s a well-intentioned show and I love it despite its stumbles. Because it tries to be good.

Awards: Best of Fall 2014, Best Adventure (Honorable Mentions: Best Story, Best Animation, Best Romance, Best Fantasy)

Sword Art Online II

2. Yuki Yuna is a Hero (7/10)

At the beginning of the season, I was really excited for YuYuYu as a cheery looking slice-of-life show with a few fantastical elements tossed in. Obviously, that wasn’t quite what I got (in fact, some of the slice-of-life episodes were pretty dull), but YuYuYu ended up being one of the better shows I saw this season. Backed by Monaca’s beautiful choral OST and bolstered by my favorite female character of the season, I felt that, despite some early and late season troubles, YuYuYu ended up communicating a message I could really appreciate: it sucks out there, but you can go on anyways. It’s not a particularly innovative message, but I adored Yuna’s character and she was really the pivot on which the thematic wheels of the show turned. Although the weaker episode held YuYuYu back from being great, I think it turned out pretty well for what it was.

Awards: Best Story, Pet Show of the Season, Best OST, Best Drama, Best Fantasy, Best Female Character—Yuna Yuki (Honorable Mention: Best of Fall 2014)

YuYuYu

3. Amagi Brilliant Park (6/10)

A show I wasn’t expecting to pick up, then had trouble finding because no one picked it up for legal simulcasting. Needless to say, I did eventually find it out there on the internet, and it’s a good thing, because now here it is as the third best show of Fall 2014. While the comedy was hit-or-miss for me, it hit more often than not and the moment of drama woven into the final episodes of the show were actually far more compelling than I expected. Seeing Kanie’s arrogant mask come down in the face of both challenges and achievements was surprisingly emotional for me, perhaps made all the more impactful because male characters in anime who actually display a wide range of emotion are…well, they’re rare. KyoAni also did a solid number on the animation for the show, providing plenty of gif-able, meme-able, and screencap-able moments.

Awards: Best Comedy, Best Animation, Best Male Character—Kanie Seiya (Honorable Mentions: Best OP, Best of Fall 2014)

4. Hitsugi no Chaika -Avenging Battle- (6/10)

Certainly, this season of Chaika benefitted greatly from the strength of the goodwill it had stockpiled with me after the first season. While this season failed to reach the heights of comedy or adventure that the first season established, Chaika’s lovable party was still fun to watch, although I felt that the pacing of the show was constantly rushed and I missed the show’s derpier moments from the first season. The ending simultaneously was complete and dissatisfying, as 10-episode runtime damaged a lot of the emotional closure that a show whose strengths have always been in its endearing characters needed.

Awards: (Honorable Mentions: Best Comedy, Best Adventure)

Hitsugi no Chaika Avenging Battle

5. Inou Battle (5/10)

Turns out, Inou Battle‘s central premise was both the thing I liked most about it and the thing that made it the most difficult for me to like. The idea of a group of kids having superpowers but not actually doing anything with them is a fun idea that sits in a really comfortable fantasy place. However, not actually having a superpower-based conflict meant that most of the tension in the show revolved around character relationships…which could have been a total wreck had Inou Battle not occasionally had some of the best character writing of the season. But that occasionally part is the difference between an enjoyable show to watch and a good show to watch. There’s a lot of dead time in Inou Battle, and some of it is slowwwww. But, Tomoyo was a best girl worthy of Best Girl of Winter 2014 consideration, which always compensates for a few flaws.

Awards: Best Romance, Best Harem (Honorable Mentions: Best ED, Best Slice of Life, Best Female Character—Tomoyo Kanzaki, Best Male Character—Jurai Andou)

Inou Battle

6. Yama no Susume S2 (5/10)

As a relaxing slice-of-life short, Yama no Susume S2 functions perfectly. It’s also a blessing of good production values, with several standout episodes like Ryouma Ebata’s solo animated Episode 17 and Episode 13’s fireflies. While casts of likable first-year high school girls are nothing new, placing the main story of the short outside of school in the mountains allowed 8-Bit to go crazy with beautiful nature backgrounds and enhance the show’s relaxation value with decadent pans and peaceful music. Hinata, voiced by Kana Asumi, is the standout character of the bunch, a energetic, kind-hearted girl with enough of a ditzy side to make her believable while keeping her from becoming a total moeblob. It’s pretty hard not to like Yama no Susume, and the 13-minute runtime is an appreciated detail that made the show easy to watch.

Awards: Best Slice of Life, Best Short (Honorable Mentions: Best Animation, Best ED)

Yama no Susume

7. Akame ga Kill (5/10)

Akame ga Kill is a tough one for me. Some might remember my lengthy reflection on its potential as a reflection on the futility of violence from immediately after Chelsea’s death, but having finished the series, I’m still not sure what I think it was trying to say. One thing I think is certain, though. Despite the occasional shounen silliness that pervaded the show, I don’t think it was as tryhard grimdark or immaturely reflective as the general critical community labeled it. There’s a weight to seeing good people lose their lives for good, evil, and pointless causes. Akame ga Kill uses death freely and uses it to manipulate emotions, but I don’t think it disrespects life or death. What is clear to me is that I liked the show and I liked almost all of the characters. And, at the very least, I learned that I’m the type of person who looks for meaning in both life and death. For that, I think I can be thankful.

Awards: (Honorable Mentions: Best Story, Best Action, Best Female Character—Chelsea)

Akame ga Kill

8. Silver Will Argevollen (4/10)

More or less a show where the sum total of what was good wasn’t really enough to make the experience feel significant. There were plenty of really good episode of Argevollen and plenty of elements I liked, but at the end of everything I mostly just felt apathetic towards the ending. As a reflection on the cyclical and pointless nature of war, I think it works, but Argevollen stops short of really trying to make you feel that hopeless and instead ends up being more of a slap on the wrist than anything. So much of the show does reflect the reality of war and the military, but it felt much more like a depiction than it did a critique. For a show with average to mediocre production values and competent writing, Argevollen turned out to be worth the time spent watching, but not much more than that.

Awards: (Honorable Mention: Best Male Character—Tokimune Susumu)

Argevollen

9. selector spread WIXOSS (4/10)

After a first season that, yes, I did think was genuinely good, WIXOSS and Okada morphed into an entirely different beast that managed to be both highly entertaining and legitimately befuddling at times. I don’t think spread WIXOSS was a good show, but I finished it, which is more than I can say for a long, long list of shows from this season. In some ways, I do feel like this second season was a bit of a bummer, because there was some incredible thematic potential available for WIXOSS to tackle. In the end, though, I think I prefer this campy iteration of the show, as a “serious” version would probably not have been anywhere near as entertaining.

selector spread WIXOSS

Dropped

  • Ronja the Robber’s Daughter (1 ep)
  • In Search of Lost Future (1 ep)
  • Cross Ange (1 ep)
  • World Trigger (1 ep)
  • Trinity Seven (1.5 eps)
  • Donten ni Warau (1.5 eps)
  • Gugure! Kokkuri-san (2 eps)
  • The Fruit of Grisaia (2 eps)
  • Denki-gai no Honya-san (2 eps)
  • I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying (3 eps)
  • Sora no Method (4 eps)
    • Award: Best ED
  • Twintails (6 eps)
  • Rage of Bahamut: Genesis (10 eps)
  • Fairy Tail (28 eps)

Ongoing

  • Your Lie in April (Currently landing anywhere between 6/10 to 9/10)
    • Award: Best OP
  • Shirobako (Solid 8/10, could land higher)
  • Akatsuki no Yona (Solid 8/10)
  • Garo (6/10, but that was a heck of a finale to set up the second half of the show)
  • Log Horizon 2 (6/10, following the first season’s lead)
    • Award: (Honorable Mention: Best ED)

Log Horizon 2

Unawarded

  • Honorable Mention—Best Drama
  • Honorable Mention—Best OST
  • Honorable Mention—Best Short
  • Best Sports (& Honorable Mention)

 

17 thoughts on “Top Fall 2014 Anime: Final Ratings

  1. I hate saying that in general, but damn, a bad place to drop Bahamut. Episode 11 wasn’t great, but it was somewhat of an improvement over episodes 7-10, and the finale (episode 12, so close) was really great.

    Fairy Tail, did you drop it before or after it began its fillers arc? Heh.

    About Akame ga Kill, I think it’s not even really about saying anything, just having fun with limbs flying about and stuff.

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    • Yeah, I might go back and finish Bahamut sometime, but I was just so uninterested in anything going on in episodes 7-10 (plus, I was in the middle of my Toradora! project) that I just didn’t feel like continuing. I never really was as enamored with Bahamut as the general community anyways, so I didn’t have a ton of character investment to pull me through.

      I dropped Fairy Tail after the mole side-story, which was just abysmal. I kind of miss the show, actually, but it wasn’t anywhere as fun to watch as the first season.

      I guess I still do disagree about AgK, but I haven’t fleshed out my thoughts enough yet to make any sort of convincing argument for why I think that.

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      • About Bahamut: Dropping it when you did, You missed a huge chunk of Rita’s screen-time. She’s priceless! In essence it’s a boilerplate quest, but it had some of the most stunningly gorgeous animation of the season. Plus, it had a comedy duck with a crown 😉

        But how you could keep up with anything with all you put into the Toradora entries….

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        • For a while I was managing the Toradora posts and keeping up with things, but it all pretty much came crashing down (ironically) when I came home for winter break. Honestly, I’d like to do more write-ups like that, but maybe on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, instead of on a daily one.

          Urgghhh more Rita whyyyy torture me like this??

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  2. Looks like most of the top shows are the ones that have at least 2 cour. I wonder if there’s a relation.

    I really wanted to like Argevollen and wished that it meets at least 6/10 by your standard, but I agree that it just didn’t get its messages across well enough.

    As for SAO, I’ve always taken SAO as a romance series with sci-fi (MMORPG) sub-plot instead of the other way around. Perhaps that’s why the GGO arc did not perform as well as I liked. Is it weird to think that way? Haha.

    I watched Akame ga Kill without getting attached to its characters after seeing how the show will go. Perhaps because of the unwillingness to get depressed over it. That might have made it lesser of a good show for me.

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    • I think it takes a lot more skill and self-restraint to tell a story effectively in only a single cour, especially given that most anime are adapted from source material longer than what a single cour can contain. So I don’t think it’s a coincidence two cour shows often do better with me. As far as the ongoing shows go, I think those being the best shows that aired during this season just was how things shook out. 2014 has been a weak year overall, so it seems fitting that those five shows be remembered as part of (a hopefully stronger) 2015.

      & yeah, I liked Argevollen quite a bit myself, but 4/10 is the ranking I give to shows who represent a net gain/net loss of zero. You don’t lose anything by watching Argevollen, but you don’t gain anything either.

      And yup, I agree about SAO. The first season is most definitely a romance—I dunno if that translates into being the reason the GGO arc didn’t go over as well with me, but it certainly could be a factor.

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  3. Yuki Yuna was easily my favorite of the ten shows I was watching this fall, and has actually topped the second season of Lyrical Nanoha as my favorite magical girl series to date. I’ve already watched it twice, and liked it even better the second time when I could see how the whole story fit together and how carefully everything was built up. I could write pages and pages about everything I feel like it got right (and a few things it got wrong, some of which you alluded to yourself), but right now I’m just kicking back and enjoying one of the greatest gifts it gave us: the soundtrack CD. I bought that almost as soon as it came out, and it’s hardly left my CD player since.

    Inou Battle is my #3 show of the season (the first cour of F/SN is #2), but as much as I generally enjoyed it, it didn’t do a good job trying to balance so many disparate elements, especially the poorly handled fairy battle subplot. I agree the harem romance was its strongest part. I don’t usually even like harem shows, but the good character writing and how they all actually had a solid base of friendship and respect for each other helped a lot. Andou also gave them an unusually strong lead to build around.

    And yes, Tomoyo=best girl. My three favorite girls of the season other than my old favorite Rin Tohsaka were 1. Tomoyo, 2. Rita, and 3. Nagi (the one shining gem in the sea of mediocrity that was Daitoshokan). Yuna was a very good choice too, but I like all the Hero Club girls collectively more than I liked any of them individually; the wonderful chemistry they all had as a group was one of the strongest points of the show.

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    • It was close between YuYuYu and SAO II for me (I actually had YuYuYu rated at 8/10 for a day or two), but in the end SAO II was just too nostalgic for me and YuYuYu as a whole show impressed me less than the second half. If you ever end up writing those pages and pages, though, let me know! I’d be interested in reading them.

      Inou Battle: mfw when the strongest part of any show is actually the harem romance. If I didn’t adore Yuna so much as a thematic pillar of YuYuYu, Tomoyo would have won the award easily. As much as I liked Chelsea, she was nowhere close to the level of the first two for me.

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      • Will do! Before I think about doing that kind of writeup, though, I’d want to re-watch Madoka first, as well as a few other magical girl shows like Mai-Hime that I haven’t seen in quite a few years, because one of the things I’d definitely want to do is be able to frame Yuki Yuna’s narrative and character development within the context of its genre (and at the same time address why those “Madoka clone” accusations it gets are so shallow and ignorant). I also felt like it was drawing some inspiration from the Key Visual Arts catalog too – and maybe that shouldn’t be a total surprise since Seiji Kishi has also directed a KVA series (Angel Beats) – but that’s something I still need to think about some more.

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  4. Chaika and Inou Battle, being far from excellent, were still entertaining shows.

    I haven’t finished Yuyuyu yet. The OST is one of the best recent ones, although I haven’t found the lyrics to the chant-like songs… I guess these don’t tend to be published, because there are some songs from past years anime that still don’t have lyrics published.

    Now, the VN and 4-komas… these displayed more the yuri that wasn’t in the show, from what I’ve read. I guess that is becoming more common in magical girl and slice of life shows.

    Grisaia… I dropped it after two episodes aprox. Not only had “borderline” (very vulgar) fanservice, but it seems that it wasn’t a very organized story either.

    I started Sora no Method, looks very fun and calm. The artwork is quite good too.

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    • Yup, Chaika and Inou Battle were definitely fun to watch (at least most of the time).

      I’d be interested to hear what you think of YuYuYu’s ending. The religious elements of the show and the worldview of the show were both quite intriguing to me. At the end, I felt like the balance definitely tipped towards the more positive.

      Heh, you got farther in Grisaia than I did.

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      • Yes, sadly Chaika had pacing issues, some episodes were slow, while the last ones were very fast. I have said it before, but the general aesthetics and some of the character designs are very good. With more modest clothings some of these would have been better.

        Now, what I don’t like, and makes me wary of recommending it… the fanservicey (or the ones that go beyond basic fanservice) images from the LN, and some promo images. For example, one that was on Crunchyroll, made by the LN illustrator… poor Chaika. Basically, these are very easy to find for anyone looking for illustrations, images, or info about the series. It seems that the OVA is going to be like a nod to that stuff from the LN.

        I’ll comment here, or in one of the yuyuyu post you have when I finish it.

        About Grisaia, since the first episode, I knew it wasn’t going to be a recommendable series, but I thought I would at least stay in the “non recommendable, but watchable” category, but no, I began to read more before watching the next episodes, and it seems that it got worse, so I dropped it.

        I liked the animation quality, and details like some shading and backgrounds… but that reminded me that shows like that one get so much budget while World Trigger, for example, had that mediocre animation.

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