Happy New Year! (Better late than never… right??)
Another year has flown by, and it’s time to look back and remember some of our favorite (and not so favorite) series from all the anime that aired in 2015… There were a lot of shows to choose from last year, both good and bad, and I always find it fun to go back and relive some of my top moments from the year. In all honesty, I wasn’t blown away by the pickings this year, but of course, I haven’t seen every single anime, so perhaps I have yet to experience the best (and worst) of 2015.
On a personal note, 2015 was a year of huge changes for me, involving the stressful completion of my husband’s doctorate degree, packing up and selling off all our stuff in Chicago, road tripping it across the country in a tent back to my hometown of Vancouver, and then jumping on a plane and moving all the way to Tokyo.
And, of course, if you have any of your own favorite picks, I’d love to hear them! Suggestions on what I should watch, but missed, in 2015 are also very welcome (for your reference, here’s my MAL profile and my Hummingbird library)!
At long last, Working!!! has wrapped up and I couldn’t be happier that we not only got a third (and final) season, but that everything concluded so nicely. As a gag comedy anime, I never really expected much to happen in the way of character progression, especially when it came to the romantic relationships. It was always mostly just about all the dumb antics and situations the cast stumbled in to, so I was pleasantly surprised when things started wrapping up in every way possible.
Funny, silly, and at times, even touching, Working!!! was a great end to a wonderful series, with plenty of laughter to go around. It was so satisfying seeing all the characters develop over 3 seasons, and I had a smile on my face the entire time I watched it. And, maybe I squealed a couple times too.
4. Akatsuki no Yona
I do love me a good fantasy adventure story with a strong female heroine, and so Akatsuki no Yona was a perfect fit for me. I really enjoyed watching Yona and seeing her transformation from a pampered, wimpy princess to an independent, strong-willed adventurer, through sheer determination and force of will alone.
Sure, it was full of a cast of pretty boys, and yes, it’s technically a reverse harem, but I really think that at its core, this anime was a character-driven adventure. Yona in particular shone in this anime, growing exponentially as the series went on. I would definitely watch another season of this… so, can someone make this happen… pretty please?
3. Shokugeki no Souma
Of course, I love cooking, so I naturally loved Shokugeki no Souma! As a battle shounen cooking anime, I wasn’t really expecting a lot from this anime, but I was pleasantly surprised when it turned into a heart-stopping, exciting show full of ridiculous cook-offs, over the top characters, and a showcase of foods so delicious that it will knock not only your socks off, but every shred of clothing too.
I’ve definitely expressed this before in my 12 Days of Anime post, but I’ll reiterate it again here: I especially loved Megumi and her underdog story. While Souma was undoubtedly the star of the show, Megumi was the character I couldn’t help but just root for. She was sweet, determined, emotional, and skilled, though lacking in confidence much of the time. Her growth in this anime was a joy to watch and I cannot wait for season 2 to see how far she and Souma can go in the cut throat world of competitive cooking.
2. Kuroko no Basket 3rd Season
What a ride! I don’t often watch sports series, but I had heard so much about Kuroko that I decided it was high time that I check it out. I only started the series this year, and I am so glad that I did! It was an amazing ride that was so wholly satisfying, with a great cast of characters, and enough cliffhangers and intense sports moments to last me a lifetime.
I think what I loved most about this series was all the characters. They all had detailed backstories and plenty of personality, and it never felt like anyone was left out. Even minor side characters got their time to shine, so that at the end of the series, they all felt like individuals with personality, hopes, and dreams, and not just a handful of nameless faces there to fill in the background.
And, one more thing: can we just talk about the music for a moment? I really loved the soundtrack for Kuroko no Basket, and found that it added so much to the intensity of all the matches. I don’t often listen to a lot of anime soundtracks, but I admit that I sometimes listen to the OST when I feel my life needs a little extra hype.
I’m going to say that it was really hard choosing between Shirobako and Kuroko, and that even though I’ve placed Shirobako in the top spot on this list, I really did love both series fairly equally, though for entirely different reasons. Maybe Shirobako’s just here at number 1 because it actually made me tear up at the end there…
Consistently funny, tense, and touching, P.A. Works certainly redeemed themselves after their 2014 disaster, Glasslip, by creating an anime all about the anime industry. Sure, it was a sugar-coated take on the industry, but it was also a very touching one full of memorable characters and moments.
The workplace dynamics and the adult-aged characters were a nice change from the typical high school fare so often seen in anime, and I really felt for Aoi Miyamori. I cheered when she cheered, laughed when she laughed, and hung my head in disbelief when Toru did something idiotic. The range of emotion was wonderful, and I felt totally satisfied when the series ended – which is not something I can say for many series.
I’d rather not mention:
4. Owari no Seraph (Seasons 1 and 2)
Generic, predictable, boring, and nonsensical, this series was a train wreck of all the most cliched story components whipped up into a series that was just plain dumb. Friends-turned-enemies? Check. Bullheaded, overpowered main character? Yes. The Power of Friendship? Got it. Angels, demons, and vampires? You bet. Death flags galore? Sure, but only for characters you care nothing for…. and the list goes on.
So, why did I even bother watching this series? Maybe for the same reason you just can’t help staring at a train wreck.
3. Tokyo Ghoul √A
I mean, maybe I should have expected season 2 of Tokyo Ghoul to be sub-par, especially after its mediocre debut in 2014, but Root A was simply lackluster. There is little development of any kind, almost nothing to keep your attention (even the battles seem dull because I couldn’t bring myself to care about whatever was at stake), and a handful of characters you feel little connection to walking around in circles the entire time. Kaneki broods, Touka frets, and nothing really happens.
And the finale? Essentially 20 minutes of walking in the snow silently. Yay.
2. Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu
Why did they even bother with this show? While I liked the original Haruhi Series, this newest rendition featured the blandest main character (if you can even call her that) ever. I basically felt absolutely nothing for any of these characters that were beloved for me in the original series, but horribly neutered in this version. And honestly, most of the time, I was simply bored. Nagato’s extreme shyness and ultra bland personality might be appealing to some, but for me, it just induced a total snore-fest.
1. Sailor Moon Crystal
Why? Why did they do this to us? It could have been so good, but the terrible animation, stiff CG transformation scenes, lack of character development, and rushed plot really ruined it for me. I think this is at number one on my “can we just forget this ever happened?” list because of how much I was looking forward to this series before it came out.
What I remember as the epic romance between Usagi and Mamoru ended up being portrayed as lukewarm at best, and the other sailor scouts were like cardboard cutouts with nonexistent personalities.
And, while I understand that the manga moves pretty quickly as well, I think what I was really hoping for with this new reboot was a nice medium between the characters and emotions of the original series, and the fast-paced epic scale of the manga. You know, something a little more serious, with less monster-of-the-week filler? Instead, we got something that felt more like bullet points than an actual story, that sacrificed pretty much everything in the name of brevity.