Kitaaaaaa! The New Year is here, and you know what that means? Not much actually... But we can group up all of the anime marked with that 2015 label and set them against each other in a battle of popularity! Popularity... With a single person... Me. Yay~
Favorite anime: Shirobako. An office drama anime, with a large lovable cast, a good sense of humor, and some insight into the workings of the anime industry. It might be a bit slow for some new viewers, but Shirobako flew from 2014 into 2015 in quality fashion, and no show since has come close to being as engrossing or emotional as this simple TV drama-styled show. The creators put a lot of care into the show, and it shows! (hah...) The best thing about the show is it's wide appeal. You don't even need to know much about anime, despite that being the focal point of the show. Have you been in a working environment ever in your life? Boom! Shirobako is a reflection of that time. A really good reflection. The only real downside to the show is how little screen-time some of the "main" characters got... But that's what a second season is for! ... Shame they might never make one.
Least Favorite anime: Tokyo Ghoul √A. It should have been Owari no Seraph here, but at least that show only had a bit of good background art as it's promise. Tokyo Ghoul Root A was clearly the result of a secret anti-TG organization. They took a largely loved franchise, filled it with QUALITY, shoved the favorite characters aside, and then just gave up. It DID have a nice OP and ED, but it doesn't make up for the pain of the actual show. Remember last year, when I said DRAMAtical Murder was impressive because it became so disturbingly lifeless? Well with the shoddy animation and the botched sound effects work, TG√A will remind you of that pain.
Shoulda just given us a still frame of Touka for 20 minutes. It'd have been a lot better.
Favorite moment: Jitsu wa Watashi wa - Episode 9. Sandwiched in-between the loud comedic streak of episodes and the start of the romance-fueled drama, there sits a fairly unimpressive scene. It's the pool episode, so everyone is showing skin and learning to swim. But for our main heroine, a single pool trip isn't enough. This leads to a rare break from the hectic but fun atmosphere of Jitsu wa Watashi wa. Our hero and heroine sneak into the school at night, go to the pool, and... They practice swimming.
It doesn't sound impressive, and honestly, the scene isn't amazing as a standalone... But it was a really sweet and peaceful scene. It reminded us that, while the bright trope-filled romcom is there to make us laugh, these characters can bring a smile to our faces in much simpler ways... They can just be real.
Best guy: I spent a while thinking about all the different male characters, and comparing them all... But in the end, none of them feel like a "best" character. Sooo, no best guy this year.
Worst guy: Slaine Troyard. It's not often that the "worst guy" title is used in a positive light. Slaine wasn't a bad character... That award goes to his counterpart Inaho. Slaine was the bad one. That was his role, and everyone knew it. The portrayal of this role however is the biggest reason to even bother watching Aldnoah. Aside from it's nice music, there would be no reason to watch this show without Slaine. He's awful, and I applaud him for that.
Best girl: Kumiko Oumae isn't my favorite Hibike! Euphonium character. She may not even be in my top 5 favorite cast members... And even though I felt the show was ultimately another KyoAni letdown, no one can deny that Oumae is one of the better protagonists of the past 5 years. When it comes to Euphonium, despite the large cliche'd cast, there are some characters who are depicted so well that it is stunning to view. The way they act, the way they are shown, and the way that they change. Oumae is the embodiment of what Euphonium tries to achieve and portray. She's the uncertainty we see in other classmates, the hypocrisy we see in the classroom, and the determination we see in her friends. She's the perfect protagonist for this kind of story... Something you don't hear often in relation to anime.
Worst girl: Nachetania. I actually didn't dislike many of the girl characters in anime this year, but Nache got pretty annoying sometimes. She was too loud and unreasonable, and she didn't treat others very well. I think most people get that impression of her once they get past the bunny girl thing.
Best cast: Joukamachi no Dandelion. My section on this show in my Summer wrap-up post explains my reasoning for this pretty well.
"Meet the Sakurada family, a group of 11. Being so large isn't the only strange thing about this family however; The father is a King, and the 9 children are in a battle to become the next in line! A battle of... popularity!
There is another strange thing about this family though. All born of religious blood receive a superpower.
Each week, we get to watch them deal with both public and private life, understand their responsibilities as both royalty and superhuman, and find out why they want to become the King of their land, all in hopes that they will be number 1 on the popularity polls.
Each episode has us follow around at least one member of the family, during which we will get to know them better. Most episodes are split into 2 or 3 parts, each part centering around a different Sakurada. With 11 family members, you'd think developing the cast would be quite the task, however the show does a surprisingly good job of bringing each character to life, even the parents! We get a good look at everyone's little group. Some people spend more time with certain family members than others. Some have totally different circles in school and at work. It's really nice to see all the connections."
We didn't get as much time with the cast as I'd have liked, but even a season later I remember my love for the large Sakurada family and their friends.
Worst cast: Owari no Seraph. Everything about this show sucked, but the two whiny shounen-protags who never get anything done being the focal point of the show? Baaad idea. I couldn't even stand Eren, and he's much better than these guys. Shoulda just been Shinoa insulting people each week.
Guilty pleasure: Digimon Adventure Tri: Saikai. The first half was really painful to watch. It was really bad. The second half was enjoyable as a Digimon fan, but it didn't have much content. Once that second half came though, I loved it. Trashy animation, badly-managed sound effects, inconsistent cast, not much happening, no re-establishment for people who have hazy memories of previous Adventure shows... It sucked.
Biggest disappointment: I want to say Punch Line... But I'll go with Kekkai Sensen instead. Kekkai Sensen is what happens when you get a bunch of talented people together, give them a crazy random source to work with, and then have them try to make it serious. Then your staff go off, make their dream scenes, come back, and realize none of it fits together... But it looks cool! Kekkai Sensen was pretty, it had an interesting cast, a world that felt amazing, great comedy, an intriguing and emotional story, some of the best music in anime this year... It had a lot going for it, and y'know, if you look at this show scene-by-scene, you will see all of that promise come to fruition. As a whole however, the show is just messy and forgettable. With what it had to work with, it could have been one of the best shows of the year. Instead, it's just... It's there.
Unexpected favorite: Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry started as a slightly less-bad Asterisk, but it quickly made it's intent clear. It may have all the tropes of a light novel harem story, but Rakudai has a pretty good love story that starts very early into the show, and actually progresses in a reasonable fashion! (Oh, and all of it's fight scenes pace perfectly with Don't Lose Your Way... Just saying.) Responsible for two other shows of the season, and following up on the awfully bad Chaos Dragon, I didn't expect much from Studio Silver Link, however, for this show in particular, they brought back their old 2012 charm; they start a show, and then as the episodes progress, they get more and more serious about their work, leading to a finale that makes you think... "Wow, that was good?" I wish this was getting a second season instead of Asterisk, but hey, there's always the Light Novels!
Favorite OP: Munou - österreich. Hi again Tokyo Ghoul! So yeah, I listened to this song for the whole year. It's been stuck in my head since the first time I listened to it. Yamada-kun's OP almost stole the spot, but I have to praise Munou on it's longevity. I'm still not bored of it somehow.
Favorite ED: This is actually a really tough one, so I'm going to have to give some honorable mentions. Absolute Duo's Believe x Believe is honorable mention #1. While the show wasn't great, this ED is such a nice peacefully upbeat track to listen to. The animation for it is really cute too. Asterisk War's Waiting for the Rain is my other notable. It is used really well; likely being the sole factor that kept me hyped about the show. The timing of both the music and the animation is the work of wonders, something the rest of the show surely needed. Edging past the strong competition, Classroom Crisis is my ED of the year. I was pretty surprised as I hadn't heard ClariS since they swapped out one of the singers, and I didn't expect such a song from the ClariS name. I gave it a loooot of coverage in my Summer wrap-up, so I'll copy what I said about it there.
"The ED is the crux of the nostalgia this show’s music gives me. I love the instrument choices. It’s kinda sci-fi, but very old school at the same time. The singing sounds like that too. Props to ClariS for that.
Mixed with the old style of placing still images on one side of the screen while the credits fade in and out of a black background on the other side, and I’m in love. The image choice is very nice too, especially that shot of Mizuki pulling Iris out of the shadows. They were very smart in using the ED as a chance to add more history to Mizuki and Iris. It’s an ED that adds development to the show. By skipping it you are missing out on crucial information… and I love that."
Favorite Soundtrack: Gakkou Gurashi. Hands down the best this year. It's a very large one, so it's not the most consistent thing, but there are a lot of crazily impressive tracks! Unfortunately most of them haven't been released yet, so I can't share any previews, but that gives us something to look forward to. From the broken music box struggling to keep going, to the depressingly hopeful 'We Took Each Other's Hand' Gakkou Gurashi has the perfect series of songs to represent it, and it took advantage of that better than any other show of 2015.
Late to the show: Sidonia no Kishi. I skipped past this show for a few reasons. My main reason was that it is Sci-Fi... A genre I think is really hard to do well. I can count the amount of Sci-Fi things I've liked on one hand. To make it worse, Sidonia no Kishi is a mecha show, my least favorite genre in anime... However I had a chance to go see the director, so I figured I may as well watch it before going. I was actually really surprised. It captures the right atmosphere almost instantly, something (that I only noticed during the show) space-themed anime are generally really good at. While the protag took a while to become... Someone... I liked the entire cast. It was beautiful visually (with the help of svp) and it's soundtrack was glorious. It has really good battle scenes for a mech show, and the story is really intriguing. I imagine a lot of people have already seen it, but if you haven't, it's worth looking into. Oh, and those 100 sites of Sidonia? Such beautiful little images.
Looking forward to in 2016: MORE DIGIMON! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The first kinda sucked for half of it, but I don't care. I liked seeing all my digibuds again, and I want to like it even more in future.