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Japanator Awards 2014: Jeff's Top 5


Totally did not copy Josh's Top 5

It was a great 2014 in terms of the anime mill--each season offered something pretty special, and a wide variety of interesting titles. Still, a handful of titles rose to the occasion for me, and I didn't have much of a problem doing a top 5 or 6. I'll pull my hair out if you asked me to do a top 10, since there are a dozen shows that will compete for the remaining 4-5 spots; it's that kind of a year. And if my taste in anime was wider and I had more time in 2014 to watch more shows, it would have been impossible to do a top 10. There were so many solid shows in so many different categories. Anyways, let's get started.

5. Space Dandy


For the most part, Space Dandy is an all-around great show. While I don't really like it that much, but in my heart of hearts, I just can't leave it off my list. I think fundamentally Dandy is such a departure from the ordinary, yet it tries to be another kind of ordinary, like what you can find on Cartoon Network. As a matter of taste, it's pretty much what I don't want in my anime.

But as a matter of seeing the talent and animator muscle that went into it, Dandy is excellent. I just can't really force it on anyone, or outright reject it. So it'll stay at number five.

4. Wake Up, Girls! The Movie

Tachiagare is such a great song

I think what is surprising about WUG is its forwardness to tackle real issues like the whole idol business aspect and how to make a proper tribute to Tohoku's reconstruction, and these elements help me remember the show. It's not unlike Space Dandy in that there are undeniable aspects to this show that I want to rep, despite some other aspects of the show that leaves me lukewarm. The animation was pretty bad at times, even if they were fixed up for the home video release. But for me, the story for WUG was cheer-at-first-sight. Once I saw the movie, I knew I was a fan.

The other really remarkable thing about WUG is how it is the first real marriage between seiyuu idols and their cartoon characters. There have been plenty of anime before where a group of talented voice actors or actresses band together not unlike an idol group. WUG takes that to the next level or two, by starting with entirely fresh faces and giving them a chance to take things as far as they can. It's the AKB48 formula but honed so it works with the animation industry aspect as the center of it. And for me, that's really special.

3. Nagi no Asukara


There's another show this season featuring the writing talent of Mari Okada, promoting the WIXOSS trading card game. Fans of that series can try out NagiAsu, the somewhat less emotionally manipulative story where a fairy tale-like setting mixes with modern anime-style dramatic romance paint a strangely moving story that's not too far from The Little Mermaid. Actually, another reason why I want to highlight this show is that due to its span of 26 episodes wrapping around New Years 2014, it didn't get a lot of recognition it deserves since all the good stuff happened on the second half of the series, and a lot of best-of-year lists limit themselves with shows that started in the same year.

More importantly, I still remember how watching this show each week means trying to outdo myself in how hard my jaw can drop. It made me scream on the inside, because the twists and turns are framed so well, so dramatically pitched to the audience. If you want a really solid drama, here it is.

2. Ping Pong the Animation.

When animator genius Yuasa takes an adaptation to TV, I always try to catch it. Coincidentally, Ping Pong is also the most mainstream-friendly cartoon that I've tried to show to non-anime fans this year. It pretty much locked my relatives down for 4 episodes in a row when I just casually started watching the first one when they visited. For North Americans, it's all on Youtube (and the usual places), you have no reason to not enjoy the most interesting sports anime I've seen in a long time.

If there's a fault, it's probably because Ping Pong, the source manga, is written with a particular spirit of the time and place that might be unfamiliar to the average anime viewer. It also feels a little too hip at times, but I can hardly fault it.

1. Shirobako

Honda is going to make those moe cakes for waifu birthdays isn't he.

This is a strange show. By episode 3 I already coined it anime of the year, because it's the kind of love letter written by people who are passionate about anime for people who are passionate about anime. Now, at the half way point, Shirobako only further cemented its place as AOTY.

Shirobako is timely. My love for late night Japanese cartoons has never been more tested than this year when an avalanche of responsibilities threatened my anime time. At the same time, throwing down the context of having that creative pursuit in the face of life's grim realities just make the whole thing all the more charming. It's extremely personal, but I feel for a lot of us who have labeled ourselves anime otaku, Shirobako is a moving story about the best things in life. I guess that narrows things down some; PA Works' typical sensibilities and a riveting way to describe anime production makes Aoi's tale all that much easier to buy for me, and hopefully for you too.

Honorable Mentions:

Locodol, Yama no Suzume, Sega Hard Girls, Log Horizon, Ace of the Diamond, The [email protected] Movie, Tamako Market movie, The Wind Rises, Princess Kaguya, Kill la Kill, Inou Battle, Gundam Build Fighter (and Try), Aldonah Zero, Hanayamata, Chaika, No Game No Life, Witch Craft Works, Expelled from Paradise

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Jeff Chuang
Jeff ChuangAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Yet to be the oldest kid on the block, this East Coast implant writes cryptic things about JP folklore, the industry or dirty moe. Attend cons and lives the "I can buy Aniplex releases" life. ... more + disclosures



Also on Japanator: Shirobako   (10)   From our database:

  • The Japanator Awards 2015: Sal's Top 5 Anime of the Year - Salvador G Rodiles
  • The Japanator Awards 2015: Josh's Top 5 Anime of the Year - Josh Tolentino
  • Final Impressions: Shirobako - Josh Tolentino
  • Annotated Anime: Shirobako episode 23 - Josh Tolentino
  • Annotated Anime: Shirobako episodes 20-22 - Josh Tolentino
  • Annotated Anime: Shirobako episodes 16-19 - Jeff Chuang
  • Annotated Anime: Shirobako episodes 14-15 - Jeff Chuang
  • Annotated Anime: Shirobako episodes 13 - Jeff Chuang
  • Annotated Anime: Shirobako episode 12 - Jeff Chuang
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