For the most part 2014 has been another good year for anime in the UK. Manga Entertainment are raking in the cash with their never ending releases of Dragonball, One Piece and now Yu-Gi-Oh. The upcoming year should be equally profitable despite some management changes at the tail end of 2014. Compared to a few years ago, MVM’s output has increased substantially with their catalogue now boasting some of my favourite titles of the year. Newcomers Anime Limited will however be hoping for a more prosperous time in 2015. Last year a number of their discs were plagued with technical hiccups and as someone who loves a bargain I can’t say that I approve of how they overcharge to cover the cost of their flashy packaging.
Looking at my blog’s stats it appears that my annual Top Five posts rank amongst the highest read articles. With that in mind, for the second year running, I have decided to compile a chart of the best anime I watched in the previous twelve months. As was the case with the 2013 summary, the list below is comprised of shows and movies that I watched for the first time during 2014. Just keep that in mind should you spot an entry that was technically released prior to that. The list below is a reflection of what DVDs I enjoyed watching last year, as opposed to the best shows currently airing in Japan.
5th. Patema Inverted: One piece of bad news that surfaced in 2014 is that Studio Ghibli’s fate is uncertain after the retirement of Hayao Miyazaki. The loss of such a legendary studio would be sad, but if Patema Inverted is anything to go by there are plenty of other talented creators in Japan who can take up the Ghibli mantle for producing exceptional animated movies. Patema Inverted is a magical tale of a princess who leaves her subterranean homeland to explore the surface world. There she discovers that gravity is reversed leading to many creative scenes were Patema must avoid getting sucked up into the sky. It’s a lovely film and unlike some of my other picks is suitable for a family audience.
4th. Usagi Drop: Also known as Bunny Drop in some quarters, Usagi Drop tells the story of a middle-aged man named Daikichi who has volunteered to adopt a six-year-old girl. Oddly the adorable tyke in question is actually Daikichi’s aunt, as she is the daughter of his now deceased granddad. The setup is a little bizarre, but once you get past it you’ll find a lovely story that emphasises the importance of family and the struggles single parents face. Usagi Drop is so sweet that after I finished watching it I was diagnosed with diabetes. Sadly the series is only eleven episodes long, which left me wanting more. Ending prematurely may be for the best though as I understand that the later chapters of the manga source material go down the incest route, which some viewers may find creepy.
3rd. Attack on Titan: Manga Entertainment’s release of Attack on Titan finally gave me the opportunity to sample anime’s hottest property. After watching the first season I am pleased to say that it lived up to the hype. Although the premise of humanity struggling to survive against man-eating giants is fascinating enough, it’s made all the more captivating thanks to gory action and a story packed with many surprising revelations. The interactions between the cast are well written and believable, although I would caution viewers against getting too attached to anyone, as AOT is a show peppered with gruesome deaths were no one is safe. The next season isn’t due out until 2016 so don’t blame me if I capitulate to impatience and start reading the manga in the meantime.
2nd. Fate/Zero: My, what a difference giving a franchise to a credible studio makes. Many moons ago I partially watched Fate/Stay Night and was far from impressed, despite its cool plot that involved historical warriors and mages battling it out to attain the wish granting Holy Grail. Fate/Zero managed to redeem the series by being a rare example of a satisfying prequel. Not only are Zero’s production values through the roof, but the mature script easily trumps the silly tripe I witnessed in Stay Night. When deliberating what my favourite anime of 2014 was Fate/Zero was a serious contender. It just misses out on the top spot due to its less than resounding finale, which is forced to setup the next instalment of the Fate saga. Fingers crossed that the upcoming Unlimited Blade Works proves to be a worthy successor. We can then all pretend that Stay Night never happened.
1st. Psycho-Pass: Although Fate/Zero narrowly misses out on first place, writer Gen Urobuchi still gets to celebrate courtesy of the brilliant Psycho-Pass. This sci-fi crime thriller stars the Public Safety Bureau who wield advanced weapons, called Dominators, that can pre-emptively stop crime by detecting mentally unstable people before they are able to break the law. I’m a sucker for good cyberpunk yarns so Psycho-Pass was right up my alley. Its narrative hooked me with its topical message of how the fallible systems designed to maintain law can strip society of freedom whilst at the same time failing to achieve true justice. I highly recommend Psycho-Pass to anyone who appreciates dark storylines, although be warned that some of the murders the PSB investigate are really disturbing. Production I.G did a stellar job animating the series so I’m disappointed to learn that they won’t be returning for season two. Hopefully, despite the changes, the series will maintain the quality showcased in the opening twenty-two episodes.
In case anyone is interested (and still reading) some honourable mentions that narrowly failed to make the cut include Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Girls Und Panzer, Jormungand, The Princess and the Pilot and Sword Art Online. I wish to thank all you fellow otakus who have supported the site throughout 2014. Your feedback and likes are always appreciated. So, what did you think of my picks? Do you agree/disagree with my selections? If so I’d love to hear your opinions on what the best animes of last year were in the comments section below.