Editorial: Top 5 Animated Series of 2014.
Last one, I swear. I did say I would do this, though, and I'm bound by my word in that regard.
(I have specifically said 'animated' rather than 'anime' here, since one of the series on this list is definitely not an anime.)
Anyway, let's roll on with the list.
5. Nobunaga the Fool.
This should surprise absolutely nobody, my love affair with Nobunaga the Fool is extremely well-documented at this point. Look, I like crazy, okay? I like wacky philosophical hijinks with ridiculous over-the-top action, gorgeous animation, and a great soundtrack. I adored this series. If I met this series in a bar, I would buy it all of the drinks.
But I do have to admit, it's got a - lot of problems, not least being that the plot is utterly incoherent and really only gets more so as time goes on. I could barely justify putting it on this list, so I certainly couldn't justify putting it any higher than the bottom spot.
But if I could have, I would have.
4. Psycho-Pass 2.
I think pretty much everyone who watched the first Psycho-Pass expected this to be really good, and I, at least, wasn't disappointed. Well, I was a little disappointed sometimes.
Akane made a great protagonist and Kamui a great antagonist, the plot was fun and raised some interesting questions, the writing and pacing was a lot tighter than the first series (not least due to having some half the episodes to work with), and the animation, music, and voice acting remained top-notch.
But gosh, did it have a bit of an obsession with Saw-esque gross-out horror. It was distracting at points, the way the series would try to shove limbs and faces and blood at you while yelling 'ooga booga wooga' and hoping you'd be frightened.
'Oh my god,' someone might possibly be saying somewhere maybe. 'Another mecha series?'
Actually, in general, 2014 had a statistically significant amount of giant mecha anime. Aldnoah.Zero, Nobunaga the Fool, Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen, Break Blade, and more besides. You could barely get away from them, giant robots were absolutely everywhere. I think Aldnoah.Zero was probably the best of them, though, and I will fight anyone on that.
It was fun, ridiculous, over-the-top, and had both some interesting worldbuilding that explored the idea of desperate people essentially deluding themselves into thinking they were a great culture with the help of intense jingoism (heh, that sounds like some people we know), and a nice premise of 'real robot vs super-mechas.'
Also, a possibly autistic main character. Possibly. No confirmation on that one.
2. Legend of Korra.
Legend of Korra actually also had a giant robot in it. Seriously, giant robots, what is it with those in animated series this year? Has it always been like this and I just never noticed before?
I have always liked Legend of Korra, but it's been up and down in quality a lot. In 2014, though, it was at its best, throwing interesting villains like the Red Lotus and Kuvira at us, having storylines dealing with disability and invisible illnesses, utilising some very tight and streamlined writing, showing consistently good animation, and culminating in two characters being confirmed to be a canonical LGBT couple.
(If you cock your head to the wind, you can still hear the sound of Mako fans crying.)
There was also a video game. Maybe the less said about that the better, for now.
1. Free! Eternal Summer.
This was a difficult choice, and Legend of Korra could have easily seized the top spot, missing out only because of Nickelodeon-executive-fuelled ridiculousness.
Free! was something that I watched more on a whim than anything else, since I'm not a big sports anime fan, but it got me hooked very quickly. It's a very solid, well-written series, with good characters, some excellent storylines, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to visit crushing emotional impacts upon its audience.
So, it was a close one, but Free! did eventually take the top spot, and I think it deserves it.