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Japanator Awards 2014: Sal's Top 5

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Anime shorts need love too

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is almost over. While I didn’t get to watch a lot of anime shows during the year, there were still a few titles that brought joy to my life. I guess you could say that I was lucky with the choices that I made throughout the year. Also, I blame my obsession with heroes who vanquish evil while wearing spandex and/or leather suits, since I could’ve been keeping up with more anime titles instead. Curses! Just kidding.

With introductions out of the way, it’s time to get this show on the road.

5. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

When it comes to mediums that know how to be fabulous, the JoJo series ceases to amaze people with its cast of characters who love to pose for the camera. While Stardust Crusaders replaced the Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency's format with the Monster-of-the-Week formula, the show did its best to place its ragtag group of heroes in as many crazy situations where their special abilities can be utilized in a clever and over-the-top manner. In the end, this style suited the series well, as it resulted in many viewers wanting to know what sort of danger that Jotaro and the gang would face each week.

Since David Production’s was given a higher budget for this installment, the studio did a great job in making the manga effects and dynamic moments pop out better than its previous season. Thanks to the way how they handled Hirohiko Araki’s bizarre series, the studio has proven to us that The Adventures of Manly Michael Jackson and Sean Connery is in great hands.

 

4. Samurai Flamenco

As the tokusatsu guy around these parts, it's no surprise that Samurai Flamenco would appear somewhere in my list. While I felt that the show’s toku references where done decently in comparison to the actual medium or parody shows like Akibaranger and After V, the shout-outs were only there to push the main story forward. In reality, SamuMenco’s great strength wasn’t in its homages to the Henshin Hero genre, but in the way how it expressed Hazama’s ordeal to become a true hero to the public.

Even though the show switched genres on people before they could take a huge breath, this format helped shape Hazama’s resolve throughout the series, since it let him come up with some interesting ways to take down his foes (such as the special hug). Due to Takahiro Omori’s creative direction with the show, the evil forces of the Off-Model Animation Frames Empire weren’t strong enough to bring this series down. Sure, SamuMenco didn’t receive a happily ever after, but that doesn’t mean that the ending was terrible, since it did its best to end things in a realistic manner. Just like the various toku shows that have aired in the past, the purpose behind its finale was to give people hope that things will eventually improve for everyone down the road. If not, then evildoers’ll have to answer to Samurai Flamenco’s inspiring words!

 

3. Gundam Build Fighters Try

Back when the original Build Fighters series was first announced, I quickly dismissed the show as a total disaster, since Kenji Nagasaki (No. 6’s Director) was directing the anime. Lo and behold, I ended up eating my own words when the series turned out to be an amazing installment for the Gundam franchise. This was thanks to the way how the series depicted the Gunpla hobby, since the show showed us a world where the hobby was accepted as a national pass-time. Besides expanding on the concept of building custom model kits, Build Fighters gave us the opportunity to see various Mobile Suits from all corners of the Gundamverse battle each other in a glorious manner. The end result was seeing the show’s animators placing their heart and soul into each frame to ensure that each showdown burned the audience’s soul.

While Nagasaki didn’t direct Build Fighters Try, the show’s second season still carried the original series' heart and soul. Sure, Try’s story hasn’t been able to reach the same level as the first season, but the drive behind the main cast continue to make the show a fun ride each week. Speaking of Build Fighters Season 1, I was originally skeptical of Try, since it wasn’t focusing on Sei learning to fight without Reiji’s help. Then again, being surprised by Build Fighter Try’s new direction was a fine way to destroy my foolish skepticism once and for all.

 

2. KILL la KILL

KILL la KILL may have been a fun show when it premiered during the Fall 2013 Anime Season, but it wasn’t until 2014 that the series reached its true potential. Even when TRIGGER was working under a low production budget, Imaishi and his crew made sure that each animation keyframe was a sight to behold-- even when it wasn’t moving smoothly. Combined with the expanded setting, seeing the show transition from Ryuko trying to kill Satsuki to an even bigger story was a delightful banquet on its own behalf.

Perhaps the neatest part about the series was how the team brilliantly used the concept of super-powered clothes and being comfortable with one’s body to compliment the main story. Thanks to these aspects, the fanservice in KILL la KILL essentially became part of the story to the point where it helps turn the show into a ridiculous (such as NUDIST BEACH). Of course, anything that references Go Nagai well is always good in my books. That, and I had fun with Kazuki Nakashima's writing in Gurren Lagann and Kamen Rider Fourze, so it didn't take much for me to be impressed.

 

1. ME!ME!ME!

It may seem out of the left field for me to list an anime short as my number one title for the year, but ME!ME!ME! accomplished so many things within its six-minute timeframe. At first sight, the piece looks like an otaku’s inner fantasy gone wrong, but there’s more to the short than meets the eye. Whether it’s about a guy who’s trying to move on from his last relationship, or a person trying to overcome his fear of real women, ME!ME!ME! is told in a way where people can view it from different angles. In fact, every time I go back to this short, I tend to find a new clue that might lead to the piece's true premise.

Seeing that ME!ME!ME! is a music video, the project's team has shown us once again that you don’t always need a lengthy anime with dialogue to tell a good story, as TeddyLoid and daoko’s music sets up the mood for each scene. Not only that, the short has some gorgeous animation sequences, as we're hit with an array of abstract sexual content that adds the final icing to the cake itself. Since the music and visuals worked well hand-in-hand, ME!ME!ME! is definitely a piece that'll stick with me for a long time, which is why I listed it as number one on my list.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Space Dandy, 20min Walk From Nishi-Ogikubo Station, 2 Bedrooms, Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, 2mos Deposit, No Pets Allowed

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Salvador G Rodiles
Salvador G RodilesSenior Editor   gamer profile

Salvador's an average bystander who took his first steps towards a life-changing goal. During his journey, he's devising a way to balance his time with anime, manga, video games, and tokusatsu in... more + disclosures


 


 


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