The Annual Anime Awards – 2014

Hey, everyone! Sorry we’ve been a little slow in such a busy time of the year. Instead of running down the year’s best shows on a show-by-show basis, we thought of something a little more unique. A little more flashy. A little more fun to do. Yes, that’s right, Haru and Yata have come up with 33 categories and brainstormed who and what deserve these prestigious (?) anime-related awards from the year 2014. There are a lot of repeated winners – after all, this is to recognize what we thought were the best of the best and the worst of the worst, and as the saying goes, the cream rises to the top.  We agree a lot, though occasionally we felt it necessary to deviate from each others’ opinions. Below are our award winners and explanations. Have a blast reading, and if you’d like, feel free to comment with your own winners.

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Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.47.23 PMHarubro’s Pick: Ping Pong The Animation
Yeah, the Pong is unquestionably the best anime of 2014. Truly a mold-breaker, whether it’s the art style or the fact the Pong was a sports anime with a realistic and very relevant plot about life. Watch the Pong and soak it all in.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Ping Pong The Animation
The hero appears. I think all of us here at For Great Justice agree that Ping-Pong was the best show to come out of 2014. Everything about it screamed “classic”. It helps that the story itself was phenomenal before getting an anime adaption, but that doesn’t change the fact that the production team also dared to do something different with the medium and not only succeeded at keeping Ping-Pong a flawless work, they elevated it to a level nothing could top for the rest of the year. Long live the Pong.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.47.39 PMHarubro’s Pick: Akame ga Kill!
Man, this show just sliced itself to pieces with all of its edginess. Between that, and the played out concept and cookie cutter characters, Akame ga Kill just fell flat on its ass, at least for me. This show operated on shock value alone, whether it was killing off another character or another gore scene. The only shining point of the show was the obligatory bro character Lubbock, who was much better than the city he was named for.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Akame ga Kill!
Agreed, again. I’m still baffled at how positive most of the response to Akame ga Kill has been this year. It’s an average overrated shounen. Nothing more.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.47.50 PMHarubro’s Pick: Shirobako
Not enough people are talking about Shirobako, still. I love working shows as they are already, but the way this show depicts the struggles of all these individuals who make up Musashino Animation as they crank out episode after episode of anime, much of it based on actual experiences of the staff who make the show, it’s just amazing. You can tell that more often than not, there is true passion in this craft, and Shirobako is proof of that.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Shirobako
It doesn’t seem like much at face value, but this show is so damn good. We’ve spewed a bunch of praise at it already in our fall season reviews, so I’ll try to be brief; Shirobako does something I wish more slice-of-life would do: actually depict life. Its struggles, its momentary glimpses of optimism, its busy and occasionally satisfying nature. It’s the kind of thing I wished we’d get the pleasure of seeing more often in anime.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.48.00 PMHarubro’s Pick: Shirobako
That said, after P.A. Works kind of sputtered from NagiAsu’s end to the atrocity that was Glasslip, I totally had written off Shirobako as one of those “cute girls doing cute things” shows on P.A Works’ down turn when it was so much more. I’m truly glad I gave this show a chance, and it sure as hell ran with that chance.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Shirobako
Guess who? When we discussed the fall preview back in September, I initially wrote off Shirobako as a cash grab show for P.A. Works after the disastrous Glasslip the season prior. This goes to show two things:
· Never write off new work from a prestigious studio.
· Never trust those vague series synopses. They’re terrible.
In my defense, Shirobako’s two best qualities are its directorial work and dialogue, two things which couldn’t be advertised well before the show came out. To win this award, I would’ve had to enter the show in question with extremely low expectations and feel guilty about how low my expectations were. That happened with Shirobako. If you’ve been holding off on it, don’t make the same mistake I did.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.48.07 PMHarubro’s Pick: Mekakucity Actors
I kind of dug my own hole with this one. I was already a fan of Kagerou Project, and a huge fan of SHAFT anime, so I totally thought this show was going to be gold. Boy, was I wrong! Terrible pacing, budget issues, and just all around piss-poor execution led to an absolute stinker of a show, but at least it bingoed. This show almost got the nod for my “Most Overrated Show,” too. However hard as it tried to be, Actors was not the nail in the coffin for Vocaloid franchises getting anime adapations.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Rail Wars!
Finally, we disagree. Look, Mekakucity Actors could still be enjoyed in pieces as vignettes. It was disjointed beyond repair and I was eventually let down, but at least it wasn’t worthless the whole way through, and I didn’t enter it with a lot of hype. Rail Wars though? Literally all it had to do was not bore me. I knew it was going to be bad. In fact, I was looking forward to it being bad. Like all bad anime, its only job was to not make me lose interest. Throw a million curveballs at me. Samurai Flamenco yourself, I don’t care, just don’t make me hate you.

Well, you had that one job, Rail Wars, and you had me flying off the rails before the end of your first episode. Shame.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.52.52 PMHarubro’s Pick: Gonna be the Twin-Tail!!
I went into the first episode of this show expecting a god-awful try hard gender bender comedy wannabe. This show did not disappoint. Almost as important a question as “Why was this show made?,” is “Why the hell did I even watch this?” I still ask this even now. Twenty something minutes of my life I’m never getting back. Gone.

Yatahaze’s Pick: This was the dumbest, most irredeemably shitty thing I watched all year. It was painful just to sit through the first couple minutes. Promptly dropped. Hell, I wonder if anybody even made it past the first episode.

Don’t tell me if you did, I don’t want to know.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.48.22 PMHarubro’s Pick: Fall
Though Summer was a close second, the Fall of 2014 was just jam-packed with quality shows. Practically every day I’ve had some sort of show to watch, and more often than not, it was an actual enjoyable watch rather than something I’d have to try to force myself to watch.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Fall
There was something above average nearly every single day for the last three months. Between Shirobako, Your Lie In April, Parasyte, Log Horizon, Chaika AB, Amagi, and Bahamut, fall was miles ahead of this year’s other seasons. Better yet, the four best of those are sticking with us through March, as well as the increasingly fun Yona. I’d much rather have seasons where I get annoyed with my lack of time to watch good shows than get annoyed due to a lack of good shows. Not bad, fall. Not bad.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.47.31 PMHarubro’s Pick: A-1 Pictures
Silver Spoon 2, World Conquest Zvezda Plot, Nanana’s Buried Treasure, Aldnoah.Zero, Your Lie in April, SAO II, and others. You more than likely watched an A-1 production in 2014, and you probably liked it, too. No other studio turned out consistent hit after hit (and with such frequency, too) like A-1 Pictures did this year.

Yatahaze’s Pick: A-1 Pictures
As Haru said, you probably watched something by A-1 this year. They’ve always been known for churning out works like crazy, but 2014 was a particularly strong year for the studio, where even if the show wasn’t something I’d call good (SAO II, Nanana’s Buried Treasure) there were few (if any) total flops. In addition to what he mentioned above, I’d also like to point out the studio’s great job with Space Brothers, which after two years came to a close back in the winter season. You will never go to space, Mutta, but you sure were fun to watch.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.48.29 PMHarubro’s Pick: Haikyuu!!
While it may not have the smoothest or the most vivid animation out there, Haikyuu is an extremely faithful adaptation of its manga, and on top of that, one of the best animated sports anime of all time. I know of way too many 1-cour sports anime that totally cheaped out on their animation, especially in the action scenes when it matters most. I never got that feeling with Haikyuu, and it was a 2-cour show. Production I.G. really put in a winning effort for this one.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Knights of Sidonia
Say what you want, I still think it looked great. Aesthetically, it’s one of the best space mechas I’ve ever seen. Though they were a hot topic of debate for a lot of the anime community, the CG character movements rarely bothered me, and the rest of the animation was incredible.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.53.12 PMHarubro’s Pick: Haikyuu!!
I didn’t even pick it up until it was finished airing, but after seeing enough lol-worthy reaction pics, gifs and clips, I decided to start watching Haikyuu, and I was pretty impressed with it! This show is unusually solid for a sports anime, and part of how it just works is how the show’s characters bounce off of one other. Haikyuu’s reaction faces just add on to a plethora of well-executed gag scenes. Good stuff.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Barakamon
MANDOM.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.53.01 PMHarubro’s Pick: Chrono Shindou (Cardfight!! Vanguard G)
Seriously, what is the deal with card game anime protagonists and their hairdos? Swirly-head here easily takes the cake for best hairdo in my book. I never watched this show, so just how did I come across this guy? An artist I follow online is a big fan of said card game animes, so I happen to see a bunch of card game things in my timeline every now and then, and this was one of them.

Sure, I could’ve gone the quality show route and picked Ota, or Takeshi Explosion-head from Your Lie in April, but I wanted something from totally out of left field for this.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Ota (Ping Pong The Animation)

Who else?

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.49.28 PMHarubro’s Pick: Ping Pong The Animation
Yeah, I’m one of those people who adores Ping Pong’s crazyballs art style. It just fits. Should more shows take on this art style? Probably not. Ping Pong was so solidly and confidently executed in every aspect that the art focused viewers on the happenings of the show, rather than being a distraction.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Ping Pong The Animation
OOOOOOOOOOH YEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!
If this were any show other than Ping Pong I might reconsider, but let’s be real, the show and art style were made for each other. The manga-esque paneling has never been pulled off as well in an anime as it was here, really making the most of the show’s stylistic lower animation quality. Filled with symbolism and its own Yuasa-style visual narrative, Ping Pong’s success can be attributed to its art style just as much (if not more) than its direction and writing. Speaking of which…

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.53.50 PMHarubro’s Pick: Masaaki Yuasa
Yes, he directed Ping Pong. Ping Pong 4 lyfe.

But really, Yuasa did a superb job with Ping Pong. He took some liberties here and there with the show, but instead of detracting from the show, these liberties just added to the experience. Ping Pong was very much akin to a virtuoso’s performance, just a dazzling show, methodically and lovingly made in every aspect.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Masaaki Yuasa
Since Ping Pong is just as much about visual narration as it is about character development, this could have been a mess without proper direction. Hell, it could’ve been a mess if any one component of Ping Pong wasn’t as perfect as its others. Thankfully for us, it was perfect. Yuasa, you’re a genius, man. Oh, and you also did that one racing episode of Space Dandy and one of the most downright bizarre episodes of Adventure Time ever this year? Yeah, you deserve this award. Not a doubt in my mind.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.49.45 PMHarubro’s Pick: Ping Pong The Animation
Yes. Ping Pong is this good. Deftly and lovingly written in all aspects, this show is deeper than the Challenger Deep, sort of strange for a sort-of sports anime. Ping Pong is struggle. Ping Pong is love. Ping Pong is life.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Ping Pong The Animation
Ping Pong is just plain better than you.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.49.52 PMHarubro’s Pick: Shirobako
This category was probably the hardest pick, but in retrospect, the most obvious. Shirobako is undoubtedly the only good pick for this category. You get the full range of emotions with Shirobako. The passion of these animators and staff, the frustrations of failure, the adoration of a favorite old show, the withering despair of dead ends and feeling like baggage, to the total joy of the work coming together. I love this show, and P.A. Works loves it, too.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Shirobako
I think it speaks for itself that this category’s winner is a show that doesn’t try to be melodramatic. Shirobako revolves around stress, and it depicts stress very realistically. At the end of the day, that’s something I can relate to more than assassins dying right after they’re introduced, a mom beating her prodigy child into traumatic hell, or a girl shooting a robber and then subjecting herself to therapeutic video game escapism to cope with her actions. I don’t feel those things. I feel stress and Shirobako gets that. I’d argue Ping Pong would come in a very close second.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.50.20 PMHarubro’s Pick: Silver Spoon Season 2
Whether it was introducing us to some of the various nuances of life on the farm, the lighthearted moments, Hachiken’s fish-out-of-water culture shock, to his existential crisis and familial drama, or the crushing reality of how tough the economics of farming can be, Silver Spoon did a brilliant job of covering all the bases, again. A very well-rounded show, totally worth picking up.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Silver Spoon Season 2
I’ve already written about Silver Spoon’s two seasons together and one of the things I wish I could’ve emphasized more was its solid structure no matter where it ventured. Silver Spoon tried comedy and got it. It tried drama and got it. It tried boring daily life and got it. Silver Spoon understands life, and it highlights everything it needs to without one of its themes holding more weight than any of its others. The spoon may be silver, but for this category the show gets the gold.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.50.43 PMHarubro’s Pick: “Trigger” by Yuuki Ozaki – Terror in Resonance
Have you watched this OP yet? It’s just mesmerizing to behold. What you pay attention to first? That articulate electronic beat by Yoko Kanno, the vocals by Yuuki Ozaki (who sang AnoHana’s OP), or those gorgeous visuals? As far as the whole audiovisual experience goes, only the mighty Pong came close to challenging Trigger for Best OP.

Yatahaze’s Pick: “Trigger” by Yuuki Ozaki – Terror in Resonance
Click here for my rundown of my 25 favorite OPs of the year, including my analysis on why “Trigger” is the best.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.50.51 PMHarubro’s Pick: “Innocence” by NoisyCell – Barakamon
At least to me, it’s strange that a show’s ED would be the best sequence of music of the year featured in an anime. Barakamon’s ED was by far and wide my favorite song from any anime this year. More than Trigger or any of Terror’s OST, better than any other OP, OST, or ED for that matter. This song is just raw emotion channeled into music, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold. I love this song.

Yatahaze’s Pick: “Innocence” by NoisyCell – Barakamon
ALL THE TIIIIIIIME WE BEEELIEEEEEEEEEVED
Beautiful production and tone, perfectly fit for TV size, a wonderful match with Barakamon, and a neat art style. I think we have a winner.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.50.59 PMHarubro’s Pick: Terror in Resonance
Yoko Kanno turned in a stunning array of arrangements for Terror in Resonance. From quiet and somber to wild and energetic, this OST covers the full spectrum. Some of these songs can really get some feels stirred up at times. Heck, I enjoyed this OST enough that I had one of the tracks from this OST as my ringtone for a while. Only one other show can make that boast, so there was clearly no other pick but this.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Terror In Resonance
Describe this OST, Yata. Oh, well, um…Yoko Kanno goes Sigur Rós. As you’d expect, the results are stunning. Disregarding the fact that it’s a soundtrack, this is still up there as one of my favorite albums this year, and that’s not something I take lightly.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.51.07 PMHarubro’s Pick: Barakamon
Seriously, I think part of the reason this show was so convincingly good was the fact that it’s one of those rare shows that had actual children voicing the kids in this show. It just sounds so natural. Every scene is very well executed throughout. Add in the well executed performances in the crazier scenes of this show, and what you have is a winner.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Ping Pong The Animation
Though Barakamon had fantastic comedic voice acting that really shined during its comedic scenes, Ping Pong had voice acting more reflective of conversational non-anime drama. I’m a sucker for those kind of performances, and every single member of this show was cast perfectly. Massive props in particular to Fukujurou Katayama (Peco) and Wen Yexing (Wenge) in their first ever anime roles, the latter a bilingual one.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.53.27 PMHarubro’s Pick: Natsuki Hanae
The madman newcomer seiyuu lent his voice to Hikari from NagiAsu, Harucchi from Ace of Diamond, Asuta from WCZP, Inaho from Aldnoah.Zero, Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul, and Kousei from Your Lie in April. He also voiced what goes down in my book as the single most memorable moment the SAO franchise has offered and ever will offer. Even when he’s not doing anime, he is entertaining to follow, so easy pick here.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Shunsuke Sakuya
Sorry Harubro, I’m gonna have to go with quality over quantity on this one. Not that Hanae didn’t have some good roles, but Sakuya provided two of the best voice roles from two of the year’s best shows and nothing more. With a 100% satisfaction rate, I have to hand it to him. Zankyou no Terror’s Detective Shibazaki was one of my favorite characters this year, and his voice work was nothing short of flawless. That’s not even mentioning his work as Kazama from Ping Pong. Both of these roles belong to internally conflicted characters with complex layers to their personalities. Mr. Sakuya, fantastic job on nailing them both.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.53.35 PMHarubro’s Pick: Sora Amamiya
Another relative newcomer snags Best Actress. Amamiya voiced Akame from Akame ga Kill, Princess Asseylum in Aldnoah.Zero, Kaori in One Week Friends, and Touka in Tokyo Ghoul. There seems to be a ton more active voice actresses than actors, so the quality picks were rather scattered for this category. Either way, Amamiya turned in wonderful performances for her roles, so she is my pick.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Suzuko Hara
As we’ve already mentioned, Barakamon’s voice acting was superb and I too admire the directorial choice to make the show’s youth voiced by actual kids. Suzuko Hara, who plays the young female lead Naru Kotoishi, really made the character come alive and was a huge part of why I found Barakamon’s plentiful comedic moments so amusing.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.51.17 PMHarubro’s Pick: Seishuu Handa (Barakamon)
I don’t think there was a more well-rounded MC in 2014 than Barakamon’s Seishuu Handa. He has his flaws, a lot of them, but the islanders accept him for who he is, and this allows Handa to chill out and clear his head. Handa’s interactions with the islanders, especially Naru, were a treat to watch week in and week out. The Handa in the last couple episodes of the show is a changed man from the one that punched the art director at the beginning of the series.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Seishuu Handa (Barakamon)
While I felt tempted to give this award to somebody from Ping Pong or Shirobako, those two shows were so amazing because every single character contributed something to nearly every other character in their casts. They thrived on relationships in a very wide scope, while Barakamon was centrally about a few people and how living on the island changed Handa. It’s more evident and easier to award to a character with this kind of development, even though Wenge Kong’s personal growth was amazing and Aoi Miyamori is such a magnificently competent female lead for a change. Handa still takes the cake for me here, possibly because I would consider myself artsy but inexperienced and stubborn as well. Also reflective of someone with his personality, there isn’t one “EUREKA!” moment where Handa does a 180. His growth is slow and gradual, and it’s reflected more in his thought process than his behavior. Good character development series are a treat to watch, and to say Barakamon understood what is was doing and made it really natural would be an understatement.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.51.24 PMHarubro’s Pick: Moffle (Amagi Brilliant Park)
I think I may be going out on a limb with my pick here, but the park mascots, especially Moffle with his anger problems and violent tendencies, were an integral part of why Amagi’s gut-busting slapstick hit so well. Whether it’s his ruthless militarism, how he was somehow the Princess’ uncle, or how his personality contrasted greatly with his adorable outward appearance, just about everything about this guy makes me laugh.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Yasube “Yasu”/”Odin” Morizumi (World Conquest Zvezda Plot)
Yasu is a terrible human being. He’s fickle. He’s pretentious. He’ll betray anyone holding him back from instant gratification. He’s not Zvezda’s rival, but he ends up the root of their problems time and time again throughout WCZP. In spite of all that, he’s always accepted back in by Kate. Because WCZP so confidently embraced its eccentricity, Yasu is one of the few characters that feels even the slightest bit remotely human. He’s the weakest pup in a dog-eat-dog world, trying to do whatever he can to get by while also telling those who accept him to shove it. He may not be a likeable character, but his presence is important in a show like this. In fact, though he’s one of the oldest members of Zvezda, he acts like the most immature and rebellious. You know that sort of distant family member you see at gatherings and stuff who acts like a prick to everyone? That guy you don’t want to get to know at all but is really funny to watch piss everyone and himself off? Yasu is that guy, and he makes Zvezda and their big happy family complete.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.51.50 PMHarubro’s Pick: Death Gun (Sword Art Online II)
There’s probably a ton of characters that deserve this title more, but DESU GAHN was just so over-the-top ridiculous I seriously couldn’t pick anyone else. From the goofy Gratuitous Engrish moniker, to his get-up, to his chuunibyou-from-hell routine, or maybe even for that moment he scared the shit out of the great hero Kirito, DESU GAHN is just incredible, and the moments we got of him are to be treasured as some of the finest examples of overly cheesy antagonism in anime.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Time (Shirobako)
Loopholes answers are fun. Hold on to your seat.

Not a single material antagonist this year held my attention without fail. I’m sorry, Gauna. I’m sorry, Death Gun. I’m sorry, parasites. You all intrigued me but your shows didn’t present you well enough to impress me. But time…oh, time, you’ve always been a little different, haven’t you? We never have enough of you. You fly by like nobody’s business. And worst of all, you never stop, and you will never stop until I am dead. And even then, you will continue to haunt the other people who live after me, who fear or are oblivious to your coming and going like a feather in the wind. You scare the hell out of me, time. Shirobako and its stressful career antics present your horrors far too well. You almost make it painful to watch, but you also make it heartwrenchingly realistic. For that, I am both eternally grateful and downright terrified.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.51.57 PMHarubro’s Pick: The unicorn (Chaika: The Coffin Princess)
Let’s be real here, this whole scene is what sold me on the speculative pick that was Chaika. I still grin when I remember how that man-eating unicorn fucking got it at the hands of Toru and Chaika. On top of being one of those gloriously well choreographed fights that made the first season of Chaika great, this unicorn’s death was just…. amazing. I can’t recall anything better that happened all year.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Sidonia’s evasive acceleration maneuver (Knights of Sidonia)
Maybe that’s cause you didn’t watch Knights of Sidonia, buddy. Sidonia was filled to the brim with death, but almost every fatality was that of a pilot – people who signed up to risk their lives for glory and honor. The ship acceleration killed hundreds (thousands?) of innocents. And better yet? It still saved more lives than if the top brass hadn’t ordered it to be done. That was one of the defining moments when I realized Sidonia was (in spite of its haremy main characters) attempting to be something darker and capable of succeeding. The execution of this scene was outstanding. It didn’t overstay its welcome or try too hard. It just those unlucky victims, very faintly in the background, almost dotlike, pull several Gs while falling to their splattery deaths, sans one couple-second close up shot. And the screams. Oh my god, the screams.

Shit was brutal.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.52.08 PMHarubro’s Pick: Terror in Resonance
Though I have some bones to pick with the questionable writing choices taken in the second half of this show (lol airport chess), the fact that the rest of the anime original shows that aired in 2014 didn’t fare any better (somewhat begrudgingly) makes Terror in Resonance the winner here.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Terror in Resonance
Sometimes, this category ends up being the year’s best show overall. This year, it wasn’t that close. That said, Terror had several moments that produced genuine awe. It was inconsistent in quality, but consistent within itself, and its highs were some of the best scenes all year. I still believe it functions as a thematic work if nothing else, and its execution in that regard makes it a wonderful watch. There isn’t really any other 2014 anime original close to matching it.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.50.33 PMHarubro’s Pick: “A High-Grade Fish” – Barakamon, episode 7
I enjoyed the “Guys from Tokyo” arc of Barakamon a ton, but episode 7 of Barakamon is easily my favorite single episode of any show this year. This episode had all the elements that made Barakamon such a fun show to watch. The art and style-centric conversations and themes, the well-timed comedic scenes, the coastal scenery, and the tease of the big catch after a day of fishing all made for a natural episode that flowed perfectly. The metal detector scene at the end of the episode was particularly entertaining to me. Even now, I can watch this episode over and over again and still be entertained.

Yatahaze’s Pick: “A World Without Sadness, Baby” – Space Dandy Season 2, episode 8
Space Dandy always had this vibe of wholeheartedly reveling in its own stupidity while also being aesthetically different enough to be interpreted as something greater. I felt its best episodes were the ones least like its average shtick. In that regard, this was definitely its best. A symbolic commentary on death in a series that takes death extremely lightly, this episode found a much less flamboyant Dandy wander Planet Limbo in his own funeral procession. Its ending is a little vague, though that’s part of its charm, and the buildup to it was easily the most intriguing self-contained episode of anything I watched this year. Generally I’d prefer to give this award to a pilot or finale that peaked tall above everything else, but upon my first watch and my many rewatches of “A World Without Sadness, Baby,” I knew then and still contend now that nothing could possibly top it. Space Dandy may be inconsistent, but this episode was spectacular.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.52.15 PMHarubro’s Pick: Tonari no Seki-kun
True though it may be, to say My Neighbor Seki won this category by default doesn’t do this bundle of comedy gold justice. Seriously, the short category was pretty lacking this year. Pupa? lolno. Back to Seki! Seki’s weekly antics and Yokoi’s reactions to them are just the best. This show was great, and everyone loves scrambled eggs.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Tonari no Seki-kun
There wasn’t really any competition for best short this year. Seki-kun is pleasant, even if ultimately skippable. Want some decent popcorn every once and a while? Watch some Seki. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.52.31 PMHarubro’s Pick: ME!ME!ME!
You want to talk about mesmerizing audiovisual rides? If you haven’t watched ME!ME!ME!, you’re in for a wild ride. The third part of an animation showcase, ME!ME!ME! is bound to leave quite the first impression on you. It certainly did for me. What it actually is, is a brilliantly written and vivid music video (with tits galore) that hints of a story of a guy seeking (and seemingly failing) to escape from past regrets and present reality through his otaku lifestyle. Really heavy hitting stuff for an approximately seven minute long ONA.

Yatahaze’s Pick: ME!ME!ME!
Tits or GTFO? More like tits and stay the fuck in. That’s essentially what ME!ME!ME, the third installment of the Nihon Animator Mihonichi expo, is about. Its glory is all in the execution here. The color palette and animation quality are amazing. Its story will make you laugh, cry, and scratch your head interchangeably just about every second. Better yet, and though it’s not really a surprise due to the short/special/music video’s meme status and subsequent analysis videos that have surfaced and disappeared as quickly as they came, ME!ME!ME!’s core narrative is a scathing critique on otaku addictions. Miyazaki would be proud. If you haven’t already seen ME!ME!ME!, I don’t want to spoil it any more for you. If you have seen it, you already know why it wins this award. Check out the rest of expo entries too, most of them aren’t half bad, though this is by far their best offering in 2014. Tits or GTFO? More like tits and stay the fuck in. That’s essentially what ME!ME!ME!, the thi-

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.52.42 PMHarubro’s Pick: Tamako Love Story
I enjoyed Tamako Market when it came out almost two years ago. Tamako Love Story took what I thought were the show’s biggest strengths and just ran with them, and ran, and ran, and ran some more. Mochizou, for all of his struggles, I feel was one of the most underrated characters in a show in recent memory, and here, he finally gets his big moment. Instead of feeling like an awkward add-on to a franchise like some movies can be, Love Story feels like the TV series was just a setup for it. KyoAni really hit it out of the park with this one.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Giovanni’s Island
Giovanni’s Island is a riveting tale of two Japanese children on the disputed island of Shikotan following World War II. Though slightly based on a true story containing hints of Japanese nationalism in a territory dispute that remains to this day, the film itself is extremely humanizing to both the Japanese and Soviets without drifting too far away from the brutality of war. It’s also highly indebted to Night on the Galactic Railroad, providing a whole new layer of symbolism and parallelism to dig through if you’ve seen or know about both stories. Because I enjoy good historical fiction and a real tearjerker every now and then, Giovanni’s Island is my obvious pick for best anime film of 2014.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.53.58 PMHarubro’s Pick: Silver Spoon Season 2
Sometimes, “more of the same” can be good thing. Silver Spoon’s sequel definitely fits that bill. A very enlightening look into farm life with bits of reality that hit hard and some genuinely heartwarming moments scattered throughout. Simple and yet simultaneously complex, this is a very easy series to pick up and to run through. A very natural show that has an excellent flow to it, Silver Spoon is just good, pure entertainment from beginning to end.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Silver Spoon Season 2
It might as well have not been a sequel. Silver Spoon’s first and second seasons had to be seen together. They’re amazing. See my review.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 4.54.06 PMHarubro’s Pick: World Conquest Zvezda Plot
Yeah, it was a big part of why A-1 got the nod for Best Studio and why Hanae won Best Voice Actor, but Zvezda Plot didn’t truly get the spot in the limelight it deserves. You would think with a title of “World Conquest,” this would be a heavy show, but instead, it was a brilliantly written self-aware comedy with some really heartfelt moments seasoned throughout. I was practically sold on this show when Kate resolved to destroy all the smokers, and the mayhem that resulted from that resolution. Also, the KuruKurus are freaking adorable, I want one.

Yatahaze’s Pick: Noragami
Noragami, you’re really not my type of show. You take inspiration from the millions of smash shounen spirit-hunting hits before you, but you easily one-upped them all despite having only one season’s worth of episodes. Your voice acting was solid, your plot and pacing were solid, your sense of timing was pretty good, and better yet, you had firm control over your drama and action choreography. I guess what I’m trying to say is Noragami, you weren’t brilliant, but you were certainly better than I expected you to be, and the fact that you escaped mention so far rests only on your contentedness to settle for “pretty good” and not go the extra mile to “amazing.” Noragami is still worth a watch and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes shounen that cover all the bases. This one does so more quickly and better than most.

And that’s what we’ve got for 2014. Who and what would you have given awards to? Comment and let us know. Thanks for reading.

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