Hey everybody! As we start the Spring 2014 anime season, I thought it was a good idea to give one last look back at the Winter 2014 season, and honor what I thought was the best of the best for the season. Overall the Winter 2014 season was a rather disappointing one all things told, but even then there were still some quality anime series deserving of recognition. Now to specify some things, to be eligible for any awards a series needed to end in the Winter 2014 season. As such, shows like Yowamushi Pedal, Ace of the Diamond, Nobunaga the Fool, Nisekoi, and Tonari no Seki-kun are ineligible for any award as they are still airing in the Spring 2014 season. And it should go without saying that I had to have watched the show. So with that said, let's get started, shall we?
Silver Spoon Season 2
The story in Silver Spoon Season 2 was one of the most emotional rides I've ever been through as an anime fan. It featured great character arcs for all of the show's primary characters while also feeling just extremely realistic, as it dealt with topics that are very real.
Kill la Kill - While a bit predictable at times, Kill la Kill still managed to craft an overall unique and engaging story that continued to grow in scale as it progressed.
Wake Up, Girls! - Wake Up, Girls!'s story gave a good inside look at the truths behind the idol industry while also examining the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
Witch Craft Works
Witch Craft Works' animation is crisp, fluid, and extremely vibrant and colorful. Plain and simply, Witch Craft Works was a gorgeous assault on the eyes.
Hajime no Ippo: Rising - Hajime no Ippo's animation was one of the reasons the fights were so engaging. It just made every punch look like it had force behind it. And seeing Ippo's Dempsey Roll in action is something I think every animation fan should do.
Kill la Kill - Studio Trigger's talent at creating lively, cartoonish animation was in rare form with Kill la Kill. While not always the best it can be, as the show featured a decent amount of reused animation and often had still images, when Kill la Kill was at its best, it was a sight to behold.
Noragami - Noragami's animation had a nice flair to it. There was fluidity to the fight scenes, and the visual whenever a phantom is destroyed is beautiful.
Kill la Kill
There's just nothing really like Kill la Kill's character designs. Aside from the background characters intended to look the same, everyone in the series has their own unique look. On top of being unique, everyone just looks cool.
Log Horizon - Log Horizon has a vast cast of amazingly designed characters. It becomes hard remembering all of the character names, so the varied designs makes it easier to recall characters.
Nobunagun - While there is some uniformity in terms of the base uniforms the E-Gene Holders have to wear, the overall look to each of them is unique, and everyone's AU weapons look cool.
Witch Craft Works - Witch Craft Works' character designs also have a base uniformity in that they all have a similar template, but beyond that everyone yet again has a unique look.
Kill la Kill
I can't think of many other series that are so tied to their soundtrack like Kill la Kill is. Without Sawano's amazing soundtrack, Kill la Kill just wouldn't be half the series it was.
Hajime no Ippo: Rising - During some of the show's biggest fights, some pretty epic songs would begin to play, and it just made the fights even better than they were at that point.
Noragami - Noragami had a surreal soundtrack that was part techno and part traditional Japanese songs. It was certainly a unique audio experience.
Silver Spoon Season 2 - Silver Spoon's primarily acoustic guitar soundtrack helped accentuate many of the scenes, and gave even more emotional impact to the show's strongest parts.
Kill la Kill
Kill la Kill was a badass series with constantly escalating fight sequences. The fluid animation combined with the amazing soundtrack helped make the fight scenes even better.
Hajime no Ippo: Rising - Ippo was a tense boxing series. While the show isn't entirely just boxing matches, they comprise the majority of the show's content, and none of them were dull. Even the comedic fights packed a good action filled punch.
Noragami - While Noragami isn't entirely focused on fight scenes, they are the highlight of the show, especially Yato's fights with Bishamon and Rabo.
Witch Craft Works - One of the best things in Witch Craft Works are the fight scenes. Unfortunately most of them are over rather quick, and some of the more intriguing fights we don't even get to see happen, just the end result.
Hozuki no Reitetsu
A rather dark comedy series, Hozuki no Reitetsu gets better the more it progresses as it stops relying on mere references to Japanese mythology and instead bases its jokes around its recurring characters.
World Conquest Zvezda Plot - Zvezda Plot is a nice little series that follows a seemingly hapless villain organization.
Silver Spoon Season 2
While there is plenty of comedy to lighten the mood, Silver Spoon Season 2 is a drama through and through. The series is serious in tone at its heart, and we get some very good interactions between the characters.
Golden Time - While Golden Time does stumble into its ending, the emotional journey the series takes the viewer on is still one of the better ones in anime.
Wake Up, Girls! - Wake Up, Girls! is an earnest look at the idol industry and the recovery people have to go through in the aftermath of disaster.
Witch Craft Works
Witch Craft Works uses its fantasy elements to great effect. The gorgeous visuals become multilayered as they sneak in various fantasy details, the use of magic is pretty creative all things considered, and the show is squarely focused on its fantasy roots.
Log Horizon - Log Horizon takes place within the setting of a fantasy-based MMORPG. Despite this the show isn't entirely focused on its fantasy elements, spending a lot of time on building a society and dealing with politics. In terms of fantasy series it's more Game of Thrones than say Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter in regards to its focus on its fantasy elements.
Noragami - Noragami's fantasy elements come in the form of the Japanese gods and their regalia that make up the bulk of the show's cast. The designs of the phantoms that the gods dispose of are phenomenal. The whole experience is just a bit surreal.
Nothing frustrates me more than a romance series that ends when the romance begins. Thankfully Sakura Trick isn't one of those series....or is it? Technically it's both, I guess, because the bulk of the series has them doing things most romance series would have a heart attack at the mere thought of doing, but they aren't technically in a relationship until the end.
Golden Time - Golden Time is certainly not a happy romance series, but it is rather realistic considering the people who are doing the romancing.
Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions! REN - Albeit a cute and funny show, Chunibyo doesn't really progress much from the first season. That being said, the romantic moments between the characters were still extremely cute to see.
Silver Spoon Season 2
Silver Spoon Season 2 is a show carried by its characters. There is no end of the word disaster that needs to be stopped, no higher villain to be toppled, it is just a story about a teenager slowly maturing into the man he'll be for the rest of his life and the struggles and successes of those around him.
SoniAni: Super Sonico the Animation - SoniAni takes place over the course of a year in the life of the titular Super Sonico. We get to see Nitroplus' mascot just live life as a model, college student, and musician.
Onee-chan ga Kita
A rather cute series about a boy and the new big sister he gains from his father remarrying. No complex plot, it just uses its brief allotted time to show cute things.
None. Tonari no Seki-kun was the only other short series I saw that was truly good. Wooser's Hand-to-Mouth Life's second season was vastly inferior to the first, having to resort to cameos of characters from other franchises like Miss Monochrome from Miss Monochrome, Iona from Arpeggio of Blue Steel, and Senketsu from Kill la Kill in each episode to be entertaining. And the only other short series I saw beyond those three was Pupa and....please.....please don't make me talk about Pupa again.....
Yugo Hachiken (Silver Spoon Season 2)
As I said in my review for both seasons of Silver Spoon, Hachiken has one of the greatest character arcs recorded in narrative media. His journey from a cowardly, lazy, weak willed city kid into a hardened, mature young man is simply amazing.
Ippo Makunouchi (Hajime no Ippo: Rising) - Ippo is a hardworking boxer. Unlike the typical image of a boxer, Ippo is incredibly smart and a kind man. Despite this, Ippo will do anything to win under his own terms. Such as trying to beat a counter-boxer with his signature Dempsey Roll, a move that can easily be countered.
Ira Gamagoori (Kill la Kill) - Gamagoori is Satsuki's shield in her Elite Four. He's always trying to protect those he cares about with little regard for himself. He has arguably the strongest resolve of anyone in the Kill la Kill series.
Shiroe (Log Horizon) - Shiroe is a rather reclusive person, both in real life and in the game Elder Tale. Though only by choice in the latter. Shiroe likes helping other players, it is just that he finally caught on to people trying to just use him for his incredible talent for strategy. Shiroe would do anything to see a plan come through, even if it meant throwing himself under the bus and becoming the villain in the eyes of those who didn't know the truth.
Kaya Kikuma (Wake Up, Girls!)
Kaya is the mature anchor for the idol group Wake Up, Girls!. Always being the one to get through to the other members, and being the first one to take action whenever someone wrongs the group. All of that alone would have made Kaya a strong character. The thing that lifts her to rare heights is that she is able to do all of this despite suffering tragedy of untold scale. The fact that she could remain this strong, and being the one everyone else leans on despite all that she has lost makes her one of the best characters around, regardless of gender.
Satsuki Kiryuin (Kill la Kill) - While initially presented as someone who could do no wrong and was perfect in every way, Satsuki is probably the most flawed character in her show. She manipulates power and those around her to protect those she cares about.
Aki Mikage (Silver Spoon Season 2) - After unfortunate circumstances strikes a dear friend of her's, Mikage has to reevaluate if she wants to pursue her dreams of taking care of horses. She tries to bottle up her feelings so as to not worry Hachiken, but with his help comes to a decision.
Silver Spoon Season 2
Silver Spoon Season 2 accomplishes the rare feat of being a second season to be better than the first season. The amazing characters from the first season are developed even more, and the series tackles more serious issues regarding the argiculture industry than it did in the first season. While the show was mostly serious, it still knew how to have fun, having plenty of well timed comedy to lighten up the mood. All in all, Silver Spoon Season 2 is just flat out one of the best seasons in anime ever and conversely makes Silver Spoon as a whole one of the best anime ever.
Hajime no Ippo: Rising - A surprisingly emotional sports series, Hajime no Ippo drew me in from the first episode and refused to let me go. Each fight had me actually cheering for the protagonists. Perhaps not the deepest or most complex plot around, Hajime no Ippo was just great fun. Much like Silver Spoon Season 2, Hajime no Ippo knew when to catch its breath, as between each fight was filled to the brim with comedic gold.
Kill la Kill - Trigger's first TV series ended up a resounding success. Arguably the most original series in a long time, Kill la Kill boasts some great characters, flashy animation, amazing music, and awesome over the top action, all while having some surprisingly deep theming.
And so there you have it. What I felt were the best of the season were. And though it may look like it, Silver Spoon Season 2 didn't just steamroll everything. In a lot of categories it was a back and forth fight between it and Kill la Kill. Those two were far and away the best shows of the season in my opinion. As for why, then, Hajime no Ippo: Rising was an honorable mention for Best of Winter 2014, well Ippo is my third favorite of the season, and I felt like not too many people gave it a chance, so I decided to give it a little bit of extra recognition.
So, like always, please be more than welcome to comment on what you think of my picks, what your own picks would be, or even just what you thought of the season as a whole.