As we wrap up our third year of Glorio Blogging I’m proud to say we put out some of our best content yet. While various real life changes and circumstances have kept some of us from putting out as many posts as we would like, rest assured we still love writing about anime and doing silly things like our trip back to 1995 and will keep doing them as long as we can. It helps that 2015 turned out to be pretty good for anime, with our notoriously picky staff able to find quite a few shows we liked throughout the year. As is our annual tradition, we’ll all be individually posting our highlights throughout the week, post our top 10 shows of the year, and this year we have another special surprise planned on top of that. MYSTERIOUS! So let’s kick things off with a few of my favorite moments from 2015:
10. Dance with Dogs
Dance with Devils Episode 6
There are a lot of heavy moments on my list this year. This is not one of them. If you needed 2 minutes to encapsulate the type of “so bad it’s good” enjoyment that is Dance With Devils, Loewen’s character song is the perfect example. For context, it was just revealed the main love interest’s pet Pomeranian is actually a cute boy. He then breaks out into song, trying to seduce our heroine with his… army of chanting Pomeranians??? The icing on the cake is the reveal that this cute doggy is actually Cerberus, mythological (and apparently adorable) gatekeeper of Hell. All of this is 110% serious and therefore incredibly entertaining.
9. Maccha Punch!
The Rolling Girls Episode 1
I don’t think anyone expected a cute show about cute girls taking a cute road trip across a cute alternate universe Japan would feature one of the best fight scenes of the year. The fight between Shigyo and Maccha Green not only looks great, but you can feel the tension carry on throughout, even into their impromptu ramen eating battle later in the episode. Gee would be able to explain better from a technical standpoint why the animation was so stellar, but as a whole The Rollings Girls‘ first episode is brimming with passion, creativity, and promise. Let’s just end the story there…
8. The Deadliest Lunch Break
Blood Blockade Battlefront Episode 10
The two greatest strengths of Blood Blockade Battlefront are the camaraderie of the cast and the setting. Both are perfectly highlighted in episode 10 as the newly formed trio of Bros Leo, Zapp, and Zed risk their lives for some decent grub. Their dangerous romp through the show’s stylish re-imagining of New York City is visually great, kind of endearing, but mostly hilarious. I could only laugh harder as each murderous situation became more and more ridiculous. It’s certainly in the running for one of the funniest episodes of the year, and this from a show that is not really a comedy.
7. Live Letters
School Live! Episode 11
I’ll say this one more time: if you haven’t watched School Live! stop reading this and go watch at least the first episode. It’s worth going in blind. That said, the big reveal of episode 1 feels kind of gimmicky for the bulk of the series, until we finally get our emotional payoff in episode 11. The girls’ relationship with Megu-nee becomes the emotional core of the series over time, making the reveal that she was always trying to protect the girls, even in un-death, incredibly bittersweet. Having Miki be the one to put her down, after finally understanding why the other girls loved her so much, makes the moment even more poignant. It almost makes putting up with the awkward fan service and slower slice of life segments worth it. Almost.
6. Anytime Yamada and Shiraishi are On-Screen Together
Most Episodes of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
These two crazy kids have such great chemistry that I couldn’t pick any single moment to highlight. It starts with having two well rounded characters: Yamada is tough and reckless but can also be shy and caring. Shiraishi is quiet and smart and but can also be very brave and forward. It’s important that they are all those things at once and not just using one to hide the other, a seemingly small distinction but it separates them from a lot of other one dimensional characters you might see in these types of shows. Put the two of them together and they effortlessly complement each other, never really denying their attraction until it reaches it’s inevitable conclusion. They might just have the best chemistry of any anime couple this season, except maybe for our next entry…
5. A Shrine to Remember
Noragami Aragoto Episode 7
Yato getting his shrine is the kind of big plot goal that most series would save for the end. It’s been his entire raison d’etre from the beginning. So to have it addressed in such a small, sweet way was one of the most adorable moments of the year. Even if Hiyori’s hand crafted shrine gets traded in for something bigger someday, her effort and Yato’s reaction are a testament to how close they’ve become. They might just be the best couple of the year, except maybe for our next entry…
4. Ponytails Mean Business
Sound! Euphonium Episode 13
In a surprise twist I’m not actually going to talk about the electric chemistry between Kumiko and Reina (although I will use that as an excuse to mention the amazing episode 8) but instead highlight the lovely symetry of the first and last episodes. As Kumiko prepares for the big concert, a tug down on the skirt and quick hair tie say so much with so little when contrasted with how she prepared for school in episode 1. Now less concerned about appearances and focused on results, it ties in perfectly with her monologue over the final performance. “Wishes don’t come true unless you wish out loud” she says, some of the best life advice I’ve ever heard in an anime, particularly for creative people. Even though we don’t see the band continue on with the competition, we still feel satisfied seeing Kumiko find something she is determined to do.
3. The Most Heroic Song About a Cartoon Robot Dog Ever
Yatterman Night Episode 12
Of all the recent Tatsunoko revivals, I’d say Yatterman Night does the best job of balancing homage to the original show with making something modern and unique. As the old theme music from the original Yatterman kicks in during the final battle, it seems silly out of context. But as the bittersweet return of a classic hero, it is perfect. It’s both exhilarating in knowing our ragtag band of freedom fighters have reached their goal and heartbreaking to know their relationship can never be the same. No amount of technical flaws can hide the fact that the finale of Yatterman Night is a rare example of building up to climax and delivering something even better than you expected. Now if someone can PLEASE get us the fixed up Bluray version, because this show deserved better.
2. Death Twister
Death Parade Episode 6
While the powerful ending of Death Parade has the most emotional impact of, well, anything this year, I think the lighthearted stories are more important for elevating the show to something special. Episode 6 aka “Death Twister” is the best example of this. The arbiters try to bring out the worst in their guests and sometimes the worst is just being an overzealous idol fan. Acknowledging that we are not all defined by some difficulty in our past or driven by base emotions like revenge goes a long way in rounding out the show’s overall view of humanity. Watching this episode finally made the amazing, exuberant opening song make sense. Death Parade is not about death, it’s about celebrating life and living it the way that makes you happy.
Mr. Osomatsu Episode 9
For a show that is normally so bold and in your face that two episodes had to be altered or removed completely, you wouldn’t think subtlety would be Mr. Osomatsu’s strong point. Episode 9’s “Jyuushimatsu Falls In Love” disproves that theory. It’s a beautifully directed and animated segment full of tiny, subtle details that tell a story without needing too many words. By itself it would be a pretty straightforward tale of a fun guy meeting a troubled girl, but in the context of the show’s regular silliness it becomes incredibly bittersweet. As the weirdest, goofiest, and seemingly most innocent of the Matsuno brothers, it’s both heartbreaking and uplifting to see poor Jyuushimatsu experience the ups and downs of truly caring for someone. Best of all, the show never flips the script to use his pain for a cheap laugh. Instead we get a rare but important glimpse into why Osomatsu is the caring “Big Brother” of the group and one of the best anime moments of the year.