Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Favourite Anime of 2015

Tastes in anime are going to vary from person to person.  I must have watched a couple of dozen series last year and some were good, some were really good, and some I never watched more than a couple of episodes.  I lean more towards the science fiction or slice of life end of the spectrum and avoid a lot of the shonen type anime as I'm just not particularly fond of hotheaded heroes.

Still, here is a list of the stuff I enjoyed the most from last year in alphabetical order.
  1. ALDNOAH.ZERO.  It wasn't that surprising that I really liked this anime.  This anime had an interesting setup between Earth and a more advanced Martian Empire established by humans.  The Martians have better tech as they found this Aldnoah Drive from a long dead civilization on Mars.  So, you have a cool and calculating protagonist defeating advanced Martian mechs with his less capable mecha every week by figuring out how to exploit their weakness as each different implementation of the advanced tech has a different Achilles heel.  Formulaic, but it was still original and fun.
  2. ARGEVOLLEN.  I liked this series for the platoon of special forces misfits, some of which are pretty good mecha pilots.  The political situation was contrived, and I still can't figure out what happened to planes in this series (they have advanced everything, but no flying machines), but it was still entertaining for a mech show about a "special" pilot for an experimental mech that is slowly killing him.
  3. Arpeggio of Blue Steel.  I'd say this show was surprisingly good for something that was supposed to be a submarine show with low key fan service.  Once you got past the Fleet of Fog owning all of the world's oceans after defeating all of the combined naval might of our planet with super advanced tech, the story plays out rather well.  The characters, story line, submarine tactics, and political machinations were top notch, with the AI's that ran each of the Fog warships actually being pretty cool, even if they're anthropomorphized as cute human females.
  4. Food Wars! Shokugeki No Soma.  Lots of food and food ectasy related fan service in this show, but I like the star and his cooking when he is up against the best that the cutthroat cooking academy can offer.  A great cast of characters, super tasty looking food, and cooking tips (some of which are actually real) make this an awesome cooking competition show.
  5. Gate.  This modern day story of the modern Japanese Self-Defence Forces establishing a defensive base around a gateway from a medieval world where magic works, gods exist, and dragons are big and scary is one of my favourites of all time.  Our hero is a special forces soldier who would rather be an otaku, but he's a practical guy who wants to do his best for the soldiers he leads and the locals that he befriends.  You have a goth-loli demi-goddess, elves with pointy ears, a smart apprentice mage who looks like Rei from Evangelion, and of course cat girls.  Good stories, great application of modern weapons against the locals who don't understand they have bitten off more than they can chew.  While I really like this show, it  does treat women as being very subservient in many cases, too much for my liking, and their attempt at a couple of strong female leads don't really balance this out that well.
  6. Gundam, Iron Blooded Orphans.  I didn't actually think I would like this Gundam series as it seemed like it was more the of the Earth versus the colonies theme, but with children warriors being exploited.  The story turns more interesting after the kids revolt and start their own mercenary company that is escorting a female peacemaker to Earth.  They join one of the factions vying for power, meet space pirates and are caught up in revolutions along the way.  You cheer for them as the show goes on. 
  7. Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon.  Another fantasy themed anime with a plucky hero who is inspired to be better after being saved by an advanced swordswoman.  Adventurers all belong to a Familia run by a god/goddess and delve into a central dungeon.  Lots of old tropes, but it is well done, and very entertaining.
  8. KanColle.  Fleet girls, based off the computer game.  This is kind of like Strike Witches with a more organized naval theme and big battles against the Abyssal Fleet.  If you like Strike Witches, you'll like this.
  9. Log Horizon.  This is the best thought out fantasy series where the protagonists are trapped inside a MMORPG.  Plenty of development for the characters, the world, and backstory to the event that trapped them.  I looked forward to this show every week.
  10. Rail Wars!  Only for rail way fans.  I like trains and fan service in this context I guess.  This was a fun series and it ends up being a harem type anime with lots of trains and a character who aspires to be a train driver for the Japan National Railway (fictional organization based on real rail companies).
  11. Rokka - Braves of the Six Flowers.  This is a pure fantasy anime with super powered heroes in a faux Aztec type world.  The world building could have been better is it was kind of like Japan with Aztec makeup, but the storyline with humans versus the great demon evil was pretty well done.  I'm looking towards the second season to conclude it after the great mystery plot that ended the first season.
  12. SHIROBAKO.  An absolutely awesome anime about a group of female friends who want to make it in the world of Japanese animation.  It give you good insight into how anime are made and makes it way more exciting than it probably is.  If you like anime and have an interest in how it is made, this show is for you.  There are many inside references via the characters who work at the anime studio to existing creators at many real anime companies.
  13. Sound Euphonium.  The first of two musical anime.  This one is about a school band and it had great characters and interactions.  Very good.
  14. Your Lie in April.  The second of two musical anime that I really enjoyed.  This one is a real tear jerker with absolutely great characters, tough musical competitions, and a story that would bring tears to a hardened warrior.  A really good watch.  Watch Anohana after this or before this.
Those were some of my favourite anime for 2015 and it seemed like it was bit of a hit and miss year as it went, but looking back, there was some really good stuff that was aired.  All of these shows are on Crunchyroll.

What I like so far for 2016.  Plenty of new shows and I'm busy watching!
  1. Erased
  3. Durarara
  4. Myriad Colors Phantom World
  5. Schwartzes Marken
  6. AOKANA: Four Rhythm Across the Blue
Other stuff from last year I need to watch
  1. My Love Story
  2. Gatchaman Crowds
  3. Beyond the Boundary
  4. Knights of Sidonia

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