Following on from yesterday’s video game list, the time has come for me to announce the finest animes reviewed by The Otaku Judge in 2015. I didn’t have much trouble selecting the year’s top three shows, but I did have to wrack my brain a bit to determine who would secure the last two spots. Looking back at the past twelve months, I have to say that my love for Japanese animation shows no signs of waning. I am however buying fewer DVDs. Storage space has hit saturation point at my household and sadly most releases aren’t available to download legally over here in Europe. Hopefully the UK’s increasing number of anime distributors will make more of an effort to secure digital rights in the future. At the moment though they continue to focus on the physical market, with pricey special editions becoming more and more commonplace.
Honourable Mentions: Beyond the Boundary, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F, Kamisama Dolls and Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions.
5th) Log Horizon (Season One): The Oculus Rift is due out this year – fools did Tron teach you nothing? Whenever humanity dabbles with VR the risk exists that you will find yourself trapped within a digital world. Case in point – Log Horizon written by tax dodger Mamare Touno. This excellent series follows an ensemble cast who are coming to terms with life inside a fantasy MMO. Rather than escape their confines the former players integrate with the native NPCs and begin to influence the land’s politics. Mistakenly compared with Sword Art Online, this more cerebral tale feels like Spice & Wolf given that major portions of the story deal with medieval business ventures.
4th) Cross Ange: This is likely to be the most controversial pick on my list, as squeamish audiences found the brutality Ange suffered in the opening episodes to be abhorrent. Viewers who can stomach those scenes (and the excessive nudity) will however be rewarded with an excellent Sunrise mech show. The biggest praise I can lavish upon Cross Ange is that at times it channels the awesome Code Geass. The bot versus dragon action sequences are impressive and the script has that Geass knack of seamlessly transitioning from tragedy to comedy. My only gripe with the show is that Angelise’s love interest (Tusk) is a bit of a dweeb. Yuri fans would have been much happier had he perished leaving Ange to fly off into the sunset with Hilda instead.
3rd) Kill la Kill: In search of her father’s killer, Ryuko Matoi enrols at Honnouji Academy. Once there she takes on the fascist student council armed only with an elongated scissor blade and a sailor uniform that leaves nothing to the imagination. Kill la Kill is just as whacky as its premise sounds, but that should come as no surprise given that the series is the brainchild of Gurren Lagann’s creators. Thanks to the zany comedy, awesome soundtrack, over the top action and stylish visuals Kill la Kill deservedly earns a place in my 2015 anime top three. I would have ranked it even higher were it not for the extortionate home release, which cut up (scissor pun not intended) the series into three pricey special editions.
2nd) Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works: For the second year running a Fate series takes the runner-up spot. Unlimited Blade Works may not match the quality of Fate/Zero, but it’s still an exceptional show. Ufotable’s rendition of the Holy Grail War, which pits mages and ancient heroes against each other, easily surpasses Studio Deen’s 2006 effort. The outstanding animation brings the epic duels to life and I much preferred this version of the story, as it focuses more on everyone’s favourite twin tail tsundere Rin. Perhaps 2016 will be the year when Fate finally earns first place in my anime chart, courtesy of the upcoming Heaven’s Feel movie? It all depends if Ufotable release the movie on time… never a certainty as their adaptation of God Eater will attest to.
1st) Parasyte the Maxim: Ever since I read my first Spider-Man comic I have had a soft spot for nerdy heroes. Perhaps that’s why Parasyte resonated with me. Protagonist Shinichi Izumi certainly fits the Peter Parker mould, of nerd who acquires superhuman powers, after his right hand gets replaced with an extra-terrestrial named Migi. The pair form an uneasy alliance and in order to survive have to pit their wits against an array of nightmarish parasitic organisms. Madhouse have done a sublime job modernizing the eighties source material for a twenty first century audience. The action is deliciously gory and the banter between the leads succeeded in eliciting chuckles from yours truly. The only fault the series has is a weak female supporting cast, although Reiko Tamura did stand out as the best anime mom since Wolf Children’s Hana.
Three cheers to Parasyte for winning The Otaku Judge’s 2015 Top Five Anime Award. Shinichi I would congratulate you with a hardy handshake but you’ll have to make do with my well wishes, as that Cyclops protruding from your palm looks peckish.