Wait... anime?

What, you thought I was only ever going to talk about video games here?

Anime is a relatively new hobby for me. Discounting the Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh I watched as a kid, I only started watching anime at all around two years or so ago. But I've watched a decent amount in that time, and the time spent watching it this year accounts for a lot of the time I didn't spend playing games. So I figured I might as well do one of my annual best-of posts for anime as well. Maybe having a whole other medium to write about will hasten the updates of this blog.

Probably not.

Anyway, similar to the gaming best-of, an anime just needs to have had a release sometime in calendar year 2015 to be eligible for this list. In the context of anime, that generally means that an episode aired in Japan sometime this year. For movies, theatrical and home media releases both count. And like the gaming best-off, these are in no particular order.

Shokugeki no Sōma

It's because his... food is so good.

It's because his... cooking is so good.

An incredibly fun, intense, hype show about... cooking. Food Wars, as I believe is its official English title, is how I imagine a Dragonball-esque shounen show with all the crazy battles replaced with cooking. Our main character, Soma Yukihira, is an almost high-school age dude (about 14-15 in Japan) who runs a small diner with his dad. Both of them are hella fuckin' baller at making food. One day, his dad decides he's off to travel the world for a bit, so while he's away he secured Soma a spot in Toutsuki Academy, a high-school for the absolute culinary elite, with a tiny graduation rate due to the insane standards. Soma is somewhat arrogant and wants to be the top-dog at the school, but to get there, he has to defeat anyone who stands in his way at shokugeki - the school's traditional form of dual. The premise is kinda dumb, but the execution is superb, with a great cast of characters and great animation. There's also a large amount of... foodgasms. The guy who draws the original manga is known for being a hentai artist... Overall, pretty great.

One Punch Man

The very embodiment of a hero.

The very embodiment of a hero.

I don't ever rank the things I put on these lists, but hold a gun to my head and make me, One Punch Man might be my #1. I'd go so far as to say that if you have even the slightest passing interest in either anime or western-style superheroes, you ought to watch One Punch Man. Saitama is pretty much the epitome of the oblivious, uninterested dude, who's a hero just "for fun". But he is so powerful that any enemy he comes across is felled with just... one punch. To the point he's become bored at the complete lack of challenge. Genuinely funny, as well as being able to remain exciting throughout with a protagonist who finishes every fight with almost literally no effort. It's a shame that the anime industry generally isn't conducive to sequels, so waiting for more will likely be a long wait. Fortunately, the manga is probably just as good.

 

Owarimonogatari

[Presented Without Context]

[Presented Without Context]

The latest instalment in the what is now fairly long-running Monogatari Series. Monogatari is really fucking weird. Like, definitely-would-not-recommend-to-people-who-don't-watch-a-lot-of-anime-and-even-for-those-who-have-is-still-love-it-or-hate-it weird. Incredibly dialogue heavy. Large amounts of (somewhat untranslatable) Japanese humour. Crazy art-direction and cinematography. A little bit more fanservice than most people would probably be comfortable with. For fans of the show, Owarimonogatari is among the best its been, but describing it's merits to someone unfamiliar can be difficult, especially in this particular short-form format. Perhaps I will one day do something on the series as a whole. Perhaps not. Those interested in the show should start with 2009's Bakemonogatari, then proceed through the others in release order.

Charlotte

An adolescent guy discovers he can take over other people's bodies.

An adolescent guy discovers he can take over other people's bodies.

If I gave out different categories of awards, Charlotte would almost certainly win "Most Potential Squandered". Similar to Angel Beats, creator Jun Maeda's previous work, Charlotte is marred with pretty horrendous pacing issues. But like Angel Beats, the entire premise of the show is really interesting, with a set of characters that deserved more time for development. But like Angel Beats, Maeda tries to tell a story whose scope is not very well suited to a standard 13 episode anime. The result is a show that I was really enjoying for the first half, before the main plot kicked in without nearly enough episodes left to tell it, and I finished somewhat disappointed. Overall, I mostly enjoyed it, and it stuck with me, though mostly for negative reasons. While not a total trainwreck, and definitely worth watching for the earlier episodes, just be ready to leave thinking this should've had another 12 episodes.

 

Non Non Biyori Repeat

Renge might be my favourite child character to appear in anything, ever.

Renge might be my favourite child character to appear in anything, ever.

The second season of Non Non Biyori, a show that reminds me what it felt like going outside to play with my friends back when I was still in primary school. It invokes a strong feeling of nostalgia in me. A slice-of-life show about a group of friends ranging from ages 6-7 to around 15 living in a rural countryside Japanese town. Charming, funny, heartwarming and very relaxing to watch. Felt good coming in from work on a Monday night and just chilling, and watching Renge and co. get up to... well, nothing in particular; the kinds of things you did with your friends when you where little kids.

Sound! Euphonium

Seriously, this show looks incredible.

Seriously, this show looks incredible.

The latest from Kyoto Animation, who are at this point probably my favourite animation studio. Set in high-school, like most of their works, Euphonium focuses on the school's concert band. The school at one time used to participate in national tournaments, but as of late haven't even made it to the qualifying tournaments. This changes due to the arrive of the club's new, friendly, but strict instructor, and the band itself decides to try for the nationals. The story focuses a lot on the commitment required to build up their strength as an orchestra, as well as the drama that can occur between members - a more talented, but less popular student being given a solo to play, for instance. I was never much of a musically-talented person, but discussion from other "band kids" on the Internet show just how faithful the representation of being in a highschool band can be. Being a KyoAni show, it's not all drama of course, with plenty of lighthearted, more slice-of-life type moments, as well as just gorgeous animation. Seriously, Sound! Euphonium might be the best looking TV animation I've ever seen.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

MFW I try to read up on the lore of the Fate universe.

MFW I try to read up on the lore of the Fate universe.

Fate/stay night is a visual novel, with three distinct story routes. The Fate route, the Unlimited Blade Works route, and the Heaven's Feel route. This is an adaptation of the second, brought to us by animation studio Ufotable, a studio noted for being up there with KyoAni for producing gorgeous looking shows. The Fate franchise is pretty fucking convoluted, so I'm not going to go into too much detail. Basically, the Holy Grail (as in,  the omnipotent wish-granting device) exists. Occasionally a bunch of dudes duke it out to claim it, known as a Holy Grail War. Each "master" summons a "servent", who is a physical manifestation of the lore and legend of a well-known person from any point in time. Every body tries to kill each other and the last person standing wins. This show is the story of one such of these Holy Grail Wars. It's pretty decent. Gets a bit up its own arse sometimes, but has a ton of cool moments and fight sequences. You know, if you're into that.

Shirobako

Also: sick drifts.

Also: sick drifts.

Shirobako (literally: white box) is an anime about... making anime. A group of five highschool girls are part of their school's animation club and pledge that one day they'll all work together on a professional anime title. And then before you can think "oh god, not another highschool slice-of-life show", it timeskips ahead a few years to where two of the girls already have burgeoning careers at an animation studio. I'll admit, I like slice-of-life and cute-girls-doing-cute-things more than I probably should, but it's refreshing to see a similar type of show, but with characters older than highschool age. But not only that, Shirobako gives a genuinely fantastic insight into Japan's animation industry and the sort of work that goes into producing a typical late-night anime episode. Everything from the drawing of keyframes and inbetweens, to the casting process for voice actors, to having to deal with the companies that own the source material of the anime you're making, to having to deliver the show to the TV stations before it airs. A huge cast of characters, most of whom are very well fleshed out, many of which feel like... well, real people just trying to make a career in a very harsh industry. Fantastic show.

Persona 3 The Movie: #2 Midsummer Knight's Dream

This is a shot from the 1st movie, but whatever, shit it cooool.

This is a shot from the 1st movie, but whatever, shit is cooool.

Persona 3 is one of my favourite video games of all time. A fantastic blend of social/life simulator and dungeon-crawling RPG, with an incredible story and memorable cast of characters. The follow-up, Persona 4 is arguably the better game, mechanically, but something about 3's world and bittersweet plot stuck with me. Like Persona 4, 3 is also getting its own anime adaptation, though in the form of 4 movies as opposed to Persona 4's 25 episode TV show. Midsummer Knight's Dream starts pretty much where the first one left off and introduces Aigis, everyone's favourite robot lady. I can't really delve too deep without getting spoilery, which I don't like to do here. Basically, in Persona 3, you summon your "persona" (which is a physical manifestation of your inner psyche) by pointing a gun-like object (an "evoker") at your head and pulling the trigger. Then, rather than your skull splattering against the wall, a bunch of light shoots out and your persona appears. You do this for almost every attack in battle. It's pretty fucking baller.

Your Lie in April

This dude's hair tho

This dude's hair tho

I don't have much to say about this one, because I don't want to say too much about this one.

If you want something on the more emotional side and you happen to like classical music... well, you're in for a trip.

A feels trip. Hope you've got your permission slips.

 

 

So that's that. Them's are the top 10 animes what I watched this year that I think are completely alright or something. This is the first anime post I've written here, and you can probably expect to see more in the future, what with anime taking up a large amount of my free time (and income) as of late. My top 10 list of video games will drop fairly soon as well, likely before the new year, so look forward to that.

Also, if you happen to be into the animu, and have a MAL profile, mine is here if you're so interested.