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.).
Tiered rankings will be found here, and full series reviews for the shows that need them can be found on the Reviewed Anime List, as well as on the front page of the blog as I post them.
Let’s get started!
And so passes the best show (by far, I should add) of the Winter 2014 season, Silver Spoon, as Hiromu Arakawa adds to the legacy of her writing. This was a show that transcended both the genre and the medium as the sheer, unbridled (that was intentional) authenticity of Arakawa’s personal experience shines through at every moment. It wasn’t the flashiest; it was the funniest; it wasn’t even necessarily the most fun to watch. But it was honest and true to the human experience, and there is no replacement for that.
To be totally honest, I was pretty torn as to how I wanted to rate this show. My gut instinct was that Silver Spoon is a 9/10, the first one I’d seen in a quite a bit. But my current rankings didn’t really allow for that, which lead me to believe that my rankings, once again, needed something of an overhaul. So, that’s what I did. Silver Spoon gets a 9/10 from me, setting it at the very top of tier II. This is a show I would want to show to my kids when they are Hachiken’s age, because it hold that much meaning and that many valuable lessons.
And so, I bid farewell to one of my beloved pet shows from the Winter 2014 season, Witchcraft Works, a show that gets better the less seriously you take it. Although Witchcraft Works wasn’t the best show of the season, it was probably the most fun. And I’m partial to fun. Fun things have good re-watch value. And they make me happy.
On the strength of the fun factor and the ridiculously lovely art from J.C. Staff, I am pleased to award Witchcraft Works with a rating of 7/10, to be found comparatively ranked over at the Ongoing Rankings Page.
In lieu of a traditional review, I have opted to take a different approach for Noragami. It really is fascinating to see the overlap between different religious traditions. Noragami, with its (mostly) Shinto-based characters, displays a wide overlap with Catholic teaching on the nature of sin. It is a fascinating and hopeful experience to be able to bring two different traditions together and find, for once, the similarities, rather than the differences.
Disclaimer: Before I begin this discussion, I want to first guard against the criticisms that may come from undertaking an interdisciplinary approach to this topic. Any analogies that are made within this article are first and foremost that: analogies. When I discuss Yato as a Christological figure, I am not forgetting that he is a Shinto god of calamity, whose existence is directly resultant from the evil wishes of humans. The analogy is not perfect. I recognize this. But in fact there is no perfect analogy between God and anything extant on earth. My concern here is to distill parallels where they can be found, not to draw the perfect metaphor for the Catholic concept of God using this anime.
Tokyo Ravens is the second show to finish up for me this season, after a couple shows I thought were ending earlier wound up having another week (I’m not complaining). Following the magical adventures of Harutora Tsuchimikado adapted from Kōhei Azano’s light novel series, Tokyo Ravens was a solid genre entry into the shounen fantasy pantheon. Not exceptional except for a few episodes, but solid nonetheless. It’s a 6/10 for me, definitely a good rating for a show like this, and the comparative ranking is up on the Ongoing Rankings Page.
I must say, I am quite grateful to Log Horizon for plowing through the break between seasons, as doing so meant that it got done before the majority of the other shows from this Winter 2014 season. Being able to knock out at least one review before the end of season rush, even just one, is a huge help. So, thanks to NHK for keeping Log Horizon going. You’ve made my job easier.
Log Horizon had the misfortune to be broadcast just a few seasons after the preeminent MMORPG-based show of the decade, Sword Art Online, (and that’s a fact, whether you like it or not). For me, they were different enough to not really bear any true comparisons, but I would say that Sword Art Online is the superior of the two, for all its flaws. Log Horizon gets a 6/10 from me, and its comparative ranking can be found at the Ongoing Rankings Page.
While I’ve only been watching simulcasted anime for three seasons, the Winter 2014 season is probably the weakest I’ve seen. This is mostly due to a number of very inconsistent shows. I’ve seen batches of shows that were consistently excellent or consistently mediocre or consistently bad, but Winter 2014 has brought many shows that just can’t make up their mind if they want to be good, bad or just run-of-the-mill. It’s a frustrating phenomenon, which makes those shows that are consistently good much more valuable to us viewers. So, which shows are falling more on the good side than on the bad? Read on to find out. Here’s a hint: