It’s time to say goodbye to what was truly a very GLORIO 2014, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my fellow writers for their hard work and you loyal fans for your support, etc etc… OK enough nice words, now it’s time to ARGUE ABOUT CARTOONS as we unveil the Glorio Blog’s Top 10 shows of 2014. I say “shows” because this year we’re making Tokusatsu series eligible for the list. The Men in Rubber Suits Punching Other Men In Rubber Suits have become an important part of what we do and we want to make sure they get the credit they deserve. Other than that, the rules remain the same: each of our writers submits their top 5 shows of the year and through the magic of MATH and SCIENCE, we develop our list. Did your favorites make the cut? Do we have any glaring omissions? I doubt it, but you’re welcome to let us know.
Artemis: In part because it aired at the very beginning of the year and in part because it was competing against the likes of more high-profile shows such as Kill la Kill and Space Dandy, I can’t help but feel that 2014’s Noragami came out a little neglected. Admittedly, the show won’t be winning any awards for mind-blowing creativity – some might even say Noragami prioritizes style over substance – but personally I find the storytelling solid enough, albeit outclassed by its own flair in the productions department. BONES does what it does best by delivering sleek animation, accompanied by distinctive character designs and a gorgeously vivid colour palette, while the soundtrack brings an irresistibly infectious energy to the mix; Noragami’s OP (‘Goya no Machiawase’ performed by Hello Sleepwalkers) is not only a welcome reprieve from the standard cutesy J-pop fare, but also the catchiest rock number for an anime opening since Durarara!!’s ‘Uragiri no Yuuyake’. While it may not be perfect, Noragami is still everything a good shounen fantasy needs to be – lively, charming, and above all, fun.
Euri: There were more than a few people keeping an eye on this show due to the high bar set by the author’s previous anime, Toradora!. A comparison to that show would be rather unfair, I think, given that they are two very different shows. Toradora! is a sweet but pretty typical highschool romance, whereas Golden Time goes for something a bit more fantastical, a bit more adult, and ghost-Banri aside, a bit more realistic. I don’t think there’s been any other anime in the genre that has made me go from loving to hating the characters and back again, and it’s not often you get characters that are even remotely interesting enough for that to be a possibility. If you’re a fan of romance shows, you need to give this a watch.
Timmy: If I had to liken No Game No Life to anything it would probably be a roller coaster. The show doesn’t hesitate to let you know exactly where you are going to end up but that doesn’t make the ride any less of a good time. And Sora and Shiro aren’t in it to save the world but instead are here for the same reason as the viewer: to have some fun. With a cast just as colorful as the art direction of the show itself, No Game No Life quickly became one of my favorites this year. It’s only real flaw is it doesn’t have an ending, but hopefully that will be fixed by another season in the future.
Iro: We expected garbage from a mobile game adaptation (and indeed almost got just that), but Rage of Bahamut: Genesis surprised us all by being a plucky love letter to Western fantasy, chock full of setpieces straight out of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. When the premiere opened with two bounty hunters having a rooftop sword fight on horseback as spaghetti-western trumpet strings played in the background, I was sold. The show’s endearing cast and sense of swashbuckling adventure firmly placed it onto my list of favorites in mere episodes, and the waits between each airing were some of the longest I’ve ever experienced while watching anime. FAVAROOOOO!
Aqua: It’s amazing how, more than 50 episodes and an equal number of extensive blog posts later, it’s still impossible for me to give Kamen Rider Gaim the credit it deserves. For starters, despite our extensive campaigning to allow it on this list, it still isn’t as high on the list as it should be. It’s ostensibly a kids’ show, but how the hell Toei ever managed to market this complex and surprisingly cynical tale to people under the age of fifteen will forever remain a mystery to me. No other show delved as deep into its characters’ psyches, put so much at stake in its many battles and violently slammed a stake through your heart as Kamen Rider Gaim this year, exploring fundamental philosophical themes and thoroughly human emotions in its ambitious, sprawling narrative. A lot of the credit for Gaim‘s impressive run falls naturally on Gen Urobuchi’s writing prowess, but his weighty script would not have worked so well if it weren’t for strong performances by the entire cast. Together, the show’s staff and cast turned Gaim into a campy kids’ show about breakdancing pretty boys who transform into samurai by having fruits fall onto their heads into a monumental reflection on what makes a hero, more than just the talking belt, the rubber suit and the plastic sword. You owe it to yourself to check out Kamen Rider Gaim, my favourite show of the year, and the number 5 on our list.
colons: I struggle to finish a 12-episode series of a show that I enjoy, so to say that I managed to finish Hunter, which has been going continually since 2011 and recently ended on episode 148, is really saying something. That I enjoyed every episode is pretty much a miracle. I cared about Hunter. All of the many, many characters seemed like people, like they had stories of their own that would be worth telling. When things happened to them, good or bad, it meant something. It regularly made me smile, and brought me to Madoka-calibre tears on several occasions. I will miss it.
Marlin: Ping Pong was a really special show for me. Out of the gate, it was being directed by Masaaki Yuasa, director of one of my favorite anime of all time, The Tatami Galaxy. Set in TTG‘s same Noitamina slot, I had a lot to look forward to. Just one look at its art and I knew I would be in love with Yuasa’s vision for this anime. Yuasa’s style brought to life a realistic story with a rough, realistic art style. As an old reader of Eyeshield 21 and Prince of Tennis, I wasn’t a stranger to enjoying a good sports show either. Even with all of these expectations, I couldn’t have anticipated how much i would come to love Ping Pong. Not content to be a simple sports manga, it evolves to tell a rich character drama about friends and the sport they built their bond over. By the end of the show, it isn’t about who wins and who loses, but about how the characters come to remember the simple joy they had in playing together.
Jel: Dogakobo shocked us all with last year’s Love Lab and they struck gold again this year with Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. Both series are similar in that they are far better than their boring school comedy premises let on, but Nozaki-kun goes to the next level by making that their entire purpose. Every moment is a joy to watch as each character playfully smashes their normal genre defined roles, giving the anime crowd a much needed reminder that people are a lot more fun and interesting than shonen or shoujo stereotypes. Always uplifting but never naive or overly crass, Nozaki-kun makes you feel good without resorting to cheap wish fulfillment or fan service. I should probably also mention it’s hilarious from start to finish, making Nozaki-kun one of the best anime comedies in recent years, if not all time.
Zigg: Every single episode of Space Dandy had more wit, invention and imagination than many shows do throughout their entire runs. Even at its low points it was never less than funny, quirky and clever, and when it hit highs it did so in dazzling style unmatched by anything in many years. Shinchiro Watanabe assembled an all-star team of writers, animators and directors, fueled them with the gorgeous artwork of BONES and let them loose on the blank canvas of a universe where anything and everything can happen. What other show could weave its way through life & death, musings on the nature of reality, family and mortality, and still find time for busty waitresses and giant robot fights? Space Dandy made us laugh, made us sit back in awe, made us think, and even made us cry. It’s a reminder of how the raw creativity of the animated form still has the power to dazzle.
Gee: Kill la Kill set a high bar at the end of 2013. Come 2014, Studio Trigger proved they had the chops to bring it home and stick the landing. Kill la Kill proves that it’s possible to continuously escalate a show against all odds and boundaries. Every week, we all wondered how things could possibly get crazier. Every week, Kill la Kill proved it could do it with a sort of audacity few of its peers could match. But it wasn’t just crazy for crazy’s sake, it was heartfelt and engaging all the way to its glorious finale. Boasting one of the best final episodes of the year, Kill la Kill proves how truly important it is for a work of fiction to end on a fantastic note. While the show didn’t make any ambitious claims or, “save anime,” it succeeded amazingly at everything it set out to do. Kill la Kill is pure entertainment in its finest form and for that reason, our #1 anime of 2014.