Top Ten Anime of 2015

And so, another year of anime winds to its end. There have been surprises and disappointments this year, and my ultimate list doesn’t really look much like what I’d expected to find, but in the end, anime is anime. At the beginning of this year, I was looking forward to crowning two of 2014’s better series – Your Lie in April and Parasyte. Unfortunately, both of those shows kinda lost their way in their second halves, which was sad for everyone. Later on, at the year’s halfway point, I was again excited about my end-of-year list – I already had a good seven or eight shows I felt were top ten-worthy, and was beginning to think this would be a year to rival 2013. Unfortunately, the year’s second half only really gave me the last couple shows I needed, and so here I am, recognizing just enough shows to fill out a full list. This year didn’t end out quite as strong as I’d hoped, but ultimately I probably shouldn’t complain about any year that featured enough shows to fill a list plus honorable mentions.

And I actually do have an honorable mention, one I honestly feel a little bad not including on my list proper. Although not all its sequences were equally strong, Studio Khara’s Animator Expo definitely deserves a mention – you might have heard of it just because of Me! Me! Me!, but the whole thing is full of wonderful, creative little vignettes. If you’re interested in the visual potential of anime, or just want to see some cool short-form pieces, Animator Expo is a can’t-miss experience. The third season is still available online (here’s a particularly good one), so I’d definitely check that out. I should also probably mention One Punch Man, since I get the feeling not mentioning it means it will dominate the comments. Yes, I watched it, and no, I didn’t think it was that great. Strong animation, but everything outside of that felt pretty mediocre, and so you won’t see it here.

But that’s all preamble. You guys are here for the top shows, and top shows you will have – shows from a wide span of genres and creators, shows to thrill and shock and make you cry. Every year in anime brings new treasures, so let’s buckle in and run down the best in one more year of Japanese cartoons!

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Summer 2015 – Week 13 in Review

Hot damn it’s Wednesday. And a very special Wednesday at that – the final Wednesday of summer season 2015, possibly the weakest anime season since I started doing week in review posts. That’s actually worked out okay for me, though – given the relative scarcity of airing shows I cared about, I’ve been able to burn through all sorts of backlog and review material, getting through Love Live S2, Saekano, The Idolmaster, and Turn A Gundam all in record time. Plus I’ve gotten to watch Paranoia Agent weekly, and there still have been a couple airing shows worth their salt. So let’s start right there, with a show that’s consistently worked to engage its audience on multiple levels and challenge our conceptions of what anime can really be about.

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Gatchaman Crowds insight – Episode 12


I can’t really feel that sad, though. This was an excellent conclusion to an excellent series, tying up the show’s existing ideas and character journeys well while giving us a few final standout conversations to remember it by. That melancholy conversation between Tsubasa and Gelsadra in the first half had to be one of my favorite sequences of either season, and the actual battle with Hajime wasn’t far behind. The show really pulled out all the visual stops for that one – Hajime finally got to have a Big Damn Hero moment, and it was glorious. insight has challenged the messages of the first season and swept in more ideas besides, and its thoughts on group culture could not be more relevant to our modern world. Even if this show is aimed specifically at Japanese culture, anyone who uses the internet could probably learn something from this show’s example. HURRAY FOR LEARNING AND EMPATHY AND STUFF.

Anyway, you can check out my huge-ass review over at ANN, or my notes below!

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Summer 2015 – Week 12 in Review

The week in review has come again. We had a pretty serious bumper crop of episodes this week, with basically everything but Classroom Crisis offering one of its best episodes yet. Of course, “best” is a relative term this season, so when it comes to Monster Musume and Prison School, that really equates more to “most absurd/delirious/grotesque/bizarrely well-executed” – but that’s what I’m watching those shows for, so more of what they are definitely isn’t a bad thing. And on the “actually respectable show” front, both Gatchaman Crowds and Paranoia Agent seem to be ending as well as possible, with Gatchaman in particular really pulling things together beautifully this week. This has been a lousy season overall, but it’s looking like the few brave shows that made it to the finish line are going to let it end with some god damn dignity.

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Gatchaman Crowds insight – Episode 11

AW SHIT THIS EPISODE FUUUUUUU. I was a little worried about where insight would be going at the end of last week/beginning of this one, but man, this was a brutal answer. It’s an answer I’m surprised Hajime would come up with, since it requires an acknowledgment of many of the cynical elements of this season that I figure she’d want to reject. But Hajime’s not stupid, she’s just very reserved with her thoughts, so I guess it’d make sense that she could play this game as well.

Anyway, I already wrote up a storm about this one in my review and notes, so let’s get to it! My review is thataway, my notes are below!

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Summer 2015 – Week 11 in Review

Wednesday has come again! Once again, I devoured an absurd bounty of anime this week, all concentrated into one friggin’ show. It turns out when I don’t have a day job, I can really crank through those reviews. Who would have guessed! I’ll probably spend next week working more on site interface stuff and freelance work, working towards establishing ways to make funding specific writeups more accessible, but for now, all I can do is marvel at the fact that I’ve probably watched around seventy episodes worth of anime in the last two weeks.

Fortunately, this week was all upside – not only did I watch the second half of a good show, even the weekly stuff put out some stellar episodes. So let’s start right there, appropriately beginning for the very first time over in this season’s reliable Trash Alley.

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Gatchaman Crowds insight – Episode 10

Gatchaman Crowds pulled a bunch of threads together this week in an episode that I felt had maybe the season’s first real missteps. The main issue was the handling of Rui’s arc – having X just talk Rui into feeling motivated again just felt way too simple, and Rui’s story felt poorly integrated with everything else that was going on. It made me think the story just kind of didn’t know what to do with Rui for a while, which is a disappointing thought. But there was also a whole bunch of great stuff in this episode, with my favorite parts concentrated in Millione and Rizumu’s choices. The two of them actually seem pretty alike in their assessment of humanity, but Millione embraces going with the flow for ratings, while Rizumu just uses it to make himself feel powerful. Cool guys, cool guys.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below!

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Summer 2015 – Week 10 in Review

Wednesday has come again, and with it, one more scraping collection of show reflection fragments pulled together out of my paltry watch schedule. Fortunately, this week I was able to supplement my bare-minimum weekly viewings with a big ol’ ten-inch steak of anime. This week I watched basically the entirety of The Idolmaster!

But before we get to that, let’s run down the usual suspects, whose episodes this week ended up being well…. kinda suspect. But hey, at least the bad shows had good episodes!

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Gatchaman Crowds insight – Episode 9

SHIT IS FUCKED. Things are a total mess in Gatchamanland, and it will take more than Hajime wearing cute pigtails to sort all of this out. This was another solid episode in a very impressive sequel, and one that made me feel frankly a little awkward to cover, considering how charged the topics it’s dealing with are. Gatchaman is hot-off-the-presses commentary, its thoughts on the dangers of groupthink in more harmony-focused Japan equally relevant to modern online discourse. These conversations have essentially been turned radioactive by recent controversies – there are people looking to start witch hunts all over, and gamergate lurking in the background, eager to either pounce on targets or seize on comments as vindication of their pet issues. It is awesome that Gatchaman Crowds is so relevant to what’s going on this very second, but I sure hope writing these posts doesn’t get me killed.

You can check out my megasized writeup over at ANN, or my notes below!

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Summer 2015 – Week 9 in Review

Wednesday has come again! It’s time to talk about cartoons and other very serious things.

Uniquely serious things at the moment, it turns out. “Anime is serious business” has lost some of its humor in light of last week being my final week with a day job. Right now, as of this week, anime is my business. My only business.

This is kind of terrifying! I can’t exactly say I’ve reached the point where I can go comfortably full-time on criticism and writing in general, but I can at least fake it for a while. Between my ANN work, my advertising money, and my Patreon support, I’m gonna try to make a go of this. Things are gonna be kinda tight for a while, but this also means I’ll have a whole lot more time to work on writing projects for all you guys, so hopefully this is one big step towards a pretty delightful future. If you’d like to support me in this grand experiment, please feel free to chip in a couple whatevers, though I also accept worried, half-disbelieving “good lucks”, or even confident ones.

A few people have asked if I’d be willing to proofread, edit, or review things on commission, and the answer is definitely yes. I’m going full freelance here, meaning I’m a mercenary with nothing to lose and everything to prove, meaning yes I will take your projects that sounds awesome. I’ll hopefully integrate ways to inquire about such things on the site in a more formal way shortly, but you can message me here, on twitter, on, or on patreon if you’ve got anything you’d like to discuss. The one formal project I’m most concerned with getting off the ground is setting up communal support funds for specific shows – like, if ten people want me to start reviewing Eva episodes one by one, they actually have a convenient way to make that happen. I’ve got a whole big to-do list to run down there.

Speaking of formal projects, I’ve got one more surprise! People keep asking me when I’m going to play some videogames again, and that can finally be answered: a couple friends and I have just created 10 Royal Games, a channel where we’ll be playing through all manner of games and shooting the shit on whatever strikes our fancy. We’re starting off with some very classic Zelda and some very fresh Metal Gear (first videos should hopefully be up tonight, and I’ll link them both here and on twitter), but feel free to suggest other stuff we could dive into, or topics you’d like us to bring up. It should be fun!

WELP, THAT COVERS ALL THE WORK STUFF. Now that I’ve sobered everyone up with serious discussion of my financial future, let’s soothe those weary brains with some ramblings about anime. And manga! And maybe some western cartoons! Hell, let’s just randomize the whole damn thing. RUNNING ‘EM DOWN.

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