You will notice two things about this roundup:
- These are mostly Fall 2014 shows!
- Seriously, why are these mostly Fall 2014 shows?
Well, that’s because 1. I decided to include shows in the seasons they ended, rather than the one they started in and 2. winter 2015 sux. So, let’s get this Top 5 (and miscellaneous awards) started, shall we?
JAM Project Award for Best OP/ED
5. Maria the Virgin Witch
There’s some social commentary in Maria the Virgin Witch about female sexuality and how it’s controlled by men or something like that but I really don’t give a shit about it because what captivated me about this show were its fascinating characters and its hilarious execution of raunchy comedy, a genre I’m really not a big fan of in normal situation (if only because anime tends to not be very good at it). The progressivism of the series was a really nice cherry on top, though.
Fractale Award for Biggest Disappointment
I really didn’t expect this, but there’s a three way tie (!) for this prize. Really, I had so many hopes for this show that were all crushed by the end of the first month. But if I had to pick? Yuri Kuma Arashi. I was never a big fan of Ikuhara’s overall style, but at least Penguindrum and Utena had a lot of substance to back it up. Yuri Kuma Arashi… not so much. What happened here is that the show spent a lot of time and energy trying to pretend it’s something that it’s not, wrapping itself in pretentious styling and extremely bland social commentary, while other, more important fronts like characterization, plotting, pacing, setting or general coherence decayed.
4. Yona of the Dawn
Yona of the Dawn is really slow-paced and really shoujo as fuck at all times, so it won’t sit well for a lot of people. However, it’s still a very good mix of (mildly) thrilling action, great comedy, excellent characterization (especially for Yona herself), an interesting setting filled with political intrigue (and sadly, the anime ended before it could delve into it; if it did, it’d be higher), and while its conclusion was rather unsatisfactory and made the whole thing feel like a prologue to a real story, it was still pretty good.
Joseph Joestar Award For Best Guy
It was a tough competition for this coveted (lie) prize, but after careful deliberation and a really heartbreaking scene, I decided that Germán Luis of GARO: The Animation is worthy of this title. The many, many hilarious and emotional moments provided by him were amongst the high points of the show, not to mention his overall charming personality and excellent voice work by Kenyuu Horiuchi. Runner-up: Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! had a great cast in general, but if I had to pick one of them, it’s Yumoto Hakone. He’s the top-tier type of moe all shitty Kirara manga aspire to reach: he oozes cuteness in each and every movement and line of his, without being grating.
3. Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!
I think this show makes an excellent contrast to Yuri Kuma Arashi above. Unlike Ikuhara’s brainfart, Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! knows what it is and who its audience is and what they want and instead of pretending it’s something else, it embraces it fully. Instead of trying to stand out with style, it stands out with substance: characterization is strong, with a varied cast of bishies that I can actually tell apart by anything other than a gimmick or appearance. The episodic plots are interesting and refreshingly varied, and not once did any of them feel like a retread of a previous one. Its comedy is excellent, with each character providing a great repertoire of hilarious one-liners and situations. And so, it’s easily the best non-leftover of Winter 2015.
Akane Tsunemori Award for Best Girl:
Who else but Yona to win this award? A fine example of well-done character development, her inner struggles and growth as a person was a sight to behold. Plus, it had Chiwa Saito at her finest, so there’s also that.
2. GARO: The Animation
Kobayashi is back on the GARO franchise, much to the delight of all of us who loved ZERO: Black Blood. And indeed, Kobayashi once again delivered, as she had done countless times before, and brought to us a series that is, simply put, the very definition of cool. It’s uneven, sure – there’s the terrible werewolf episode and that episode about the mecha. But its high points are truly great, and it culminates in an action-packed finale of epic proportions.
Inferno Cop Award for Best Short:
Huh. I was really sure I was going to award it. Oh well. Nothing to see here, move on.
What else were you expecting to be #1? Parasyte is, simply put, a masterpiece. It’s packed to the brim with deep themes that it doesn’t shy away from exploring, excellent character development, interesting plot and story, gorgeous art and animation and it was a constant thrill during the entirety of its 24 episodes. Truly, there wasn’t a thing I didn’t enjoy about Parasyte, and thus it rightfully earn the title of Anime of the Season.