The year is winding down, and that can only mean one thing, best of the year lists! Yes, all over the internet, people are releasing their lists of their favorite games, books, movies, TV shows, songs, and of course, anime from the last year. But like last year, I can’t just settle on doing a mere “Top ‘X’ Anime” list. I loved far too many series this year for that to happen. So once again I am honoring various series across multiple categories, such as my favorite stories, or favorite action shows. You know, things like that.

Only this time there are some new changes. For starters, I’ve changed my eligibility rules. Last year I had it to where only shows that ended at least one season in 2014 or films that came out in Japan in that year. This year, everything that started airing this year is eligible. Conversely that means anything that didn’t start this year is left hanging. Sorry, them’s the breaks.

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Secondly, I’ve added a few more categories this year, some of them being production categories that I decided to split up (for example, last year I only had an animation category and a story category, but this year they’ve been broken into animation and art style, and story and writing, respectively), others being genres that met my minimum requisite of seeing at least 3 shows in those genre.

Lastly, there’s more nominations! At least outside of the genre and block-specific categories, those are still 3 nominations total, but the production and character categories have been expanded to 5 nominations each. This allows me to cram in a few more acknowledgements. Oh and one final thing, I won’t be doing a list of my favorite shows of the year like I did last year, instead I’ve made Anime of the Year a category of its own, and between the winner and four honorable mentions, you’ll have my five favorite shows of the year.

So with everything all sorted and in order, let’s get the show on the road!

Favorite Studio

Winner: Madhouse (Ace of the Diamond Second Season, Death Parade, My Love Story!!, One Punch Man, Overlord)

Honorable Mentions: Bones, J.C.Staff, Lerche, Wit

Just look at that line up in paranthesis. Just look at it! Those are some of the best shows in their respective seasons and genres this year. Even if Madhouse wasn’t my all time favorite studio and thus having an automatic advantage, they would be topping my list of favorite studios this year. I saw and enjoyed all five of those shows, and that’s before even touching the crowning achievement in animation that was One Punch Man, which they managed to put out on an “average” budget. Bones was, well...Bones and did phenomenal work like usual, Lerche also put up a hell of a fight, essentially having their coming out party this year much like how MAPPA did last year, and Wit had some phenomenal backgrounds and animation in its shows this year, but you just can’t touch the king when they’re having a good year, and this was a good year for Madhouse.

Favorite Animation

Winner: One Punch Man

Honorable Mentions: Charlotte, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 2nd Season, Noragami Aragoto, Sound! Euphonium

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Speaking of the amazing animation work Madhouse did for One Punch Man...yeah it’s amazing. It’s a tour de force assault on the eyes. There’s not much else I can say about it now. You just have to see it to believe it.

Favorite Art Style

Winner: Yurikuma Arashi

Honorable Mentions: Blood Blockade Battlefront, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders - Battle in Egypt, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace

It’s a Kunihiko Ikuhara show, man. Part of this man’s claim to fame is his incredible sense of artistic style and signature animation traits. Whenever he drops one of his rare works on us unworthy plebes, there’s no question which show is going to have the best art style of its year. Rampo Kitan gave Yurikuma a run for its money, but you can’t out-Ikuhara Ikuhara. You just can’t.

Favorite Episode

Winner: “I Made a Teru-teru Bouzu” (Non Non Biyori Repeat)

Honorable Mentions: “Memento Mori” (Death Parade), “Insight” (Gatchaman Crowds Insight), “What Must be Done” (Noragami Aragoto), “Unyielding Justice” (One Punch Man)

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This was a really tough call this year. Hell, even just narrowing it down to the five total nominees was hard. There were a lot of great singular episodes this year. Even shows I wasn’t too favorable on like Charlotte and Rampo Kitan had a signature episode that was incredible to sit through. I could have easily picked any of these five episodes to be my favorite of the year. “Memento Mori” was a beautifully constructed episode that finally revealed the tragic truth behind the mysterious woman who had been helping Decim. “Insight” was one of the best finales of the year and cemented Hajime’s hero status for me. “Unyielding Justice” gave an otherwise mostly action and comedy show some much needed heart and elevated a character who was introduced as a joke to certified badass status. And “What Must be Done” was the amazing and emotional climax to the much lauded Bishamon arc.

So why did I go with “I Made a Teru-teru Bouzu”? Because of two things; 1) I am a very hard person to get to with emotional moments, so much so that any show built around trying to make the viewer cry always gets a weaker response from me than most other people and yet this episode got me right square in the feels, and 2) this episode is basically an emotional 20+-minute short film. All the other episodes are amazing and emotional in context, taking them as they are, without any knowledge of the events prior in their respective shows lessens their impact to some degree. This episode however works as is by itself.

Favorite Fight

Winner: Saitama vs. Boros (One Punch Man)

Honorable Mentions: Gelsadra vs. the Gatchaman (Gatchaman Crowds Insight), Vanilla Ice vs. Jean Pierre Polnareff/Iggy/Muhammad Avdol (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders - Battle in Egypt), Bishamon vs. Yato (Noragami Aragoto), Ainz Ooal Gown vs. Clementine (Overlord)

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Much like with my favorite episode of the year, there were many really good fight scenes this year. From the climatic Gelsadra vs. the Gatchaman to Clementine getting her much deserved just desserts against Ainz to the thrilling and heart pounding battle against Vanilla Ice (on that note I’d like to quickly make an aside as to why this was my pick for JoJo’s fight scene over say something like DIO vs. the Stardust Crusaders, and that’s because this fight was far more thrilling to me, the heroes in this fight fought with a lot more desperation and I got to see Polnareff fight with both creativity and raw emotional aggression the likes of which I hadn’t seen from him before. On top of that, Polnareff is my favorite Crusader behind Joseph Joestar, so that makes this fight more special to me), these five fights were some of the best moments of their shows, and of the year. But ultimately I just have to hand it Saitama vs. Boros. It is simply just too god damn awesome not to pick as my favorite. After seeing this fight I became like Hinata in Haikyuu!! and could only explain the fight with words like, “Wham! Whoosh! Boom!”.

Favorite Soundtrack

Winner: Gatchaman Crowds Insight (Taku Iwasaki)

Honorable Mentions: Blood Blockade Battlefront (Taisei Iwasaki), Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (Masaru Yokoyama), Noragami Aragoto (Taku Iwasaki), One Punch Man (Makoto Miyazaki)

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There were some truly amazing soundtracks this year. So many that even having five nominees doesn’t do the year enough justice. As such I pretty much only nominated the five soundtracks that improved their shows the most in my eyes. It truly speaks volumes to the sheer depth of quality this year that I can leave Hiroyuki Sawano off my nominations, and I’m a freaking Sawano fanboy. Instead I have to tip my hat to Taku Iwasaki, who picked up where he left off with Gatchaman Crowds and churned out another absolutely phenomenal soundtrack. Iwasaki then had to go and do an amazing soundtrack for Noragami Aragoto as well. Either way, Taku Iwasaki was getting the nod here.

Favorite Story

Winner: Noragami Aragoto

Honorable Mentions: Death Parade, Maria the Virgin Witch, School-Live!, Yurikuma Arashi

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While I enjoyed the Yomi arc immensely, I must admit that this show got the nod here mostly because of the Bishamon arc. After the first anime ended, all I would hear about from people reading the manga was how good the Bishamon arc was. And...they were right, it is phenomenal. In just half a season Norgami as a franchise went from something I thought was good, but flawed, to one of the best series of the last few years. And then the Yomi arc happened and cemented that opinion for me.

Favorite Writing

Winner: Gatchaman Crowds Insight

Honorable Mentions: Death Parade, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, The Perfect Insider, Yurikuma Arashi

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Having good writing and a good story are not the same thing. I’ve seen plenty of shows with a story that is cliche or even flat out crap, but still enjoyed the hell out of the show because the writing as a whole is phenomenal. I’ve also seen plenty of the inverse, a show with a great story, but the rest of the writing is not exactly up to snuff. And thus the reason for why I split the story category into two different categories this year. Gatchaman Crowds Insight is like the poster child of what I meant in the first few sentences here.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the story is ass or anything like that, but it certainly is the weakest part of the show’s writing. However, everything else about the writing is top notch. A multi-layered, complex biting piece of social commentary that doesn’t hold the viewer’s hand and requires some deeper thinking and reflection to get everything. That’s not to say the show is “2 deep 4 u” or anything of the sort, just that it rewards those who decide to peel back the layers and dive in a little deeper. I’ve dissected this show to hell and back and I still learn new things even now. That, my friends, is some damn good writing.

Favorite Action

Winner: One Punch Man

Honorable Mentions: Blood Blockade Battlefront, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders - Battle in Egypt

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Ok, before I get started on One Punch Man (again), can I just say that that’s one of my favorite trios of action titles I’ve seen from the same year in a long ass time? Let me just bask in it for a little bit longer. Ah. Ok moving on. So yeah, One Punch Man, lots of badass action. It’ll put hair on your chest just from the raw energy it emits. ‘Nuff said.

Favorite Adventure

Winner: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders - Battle in Egypt

Honorable Mentions: The Heroic Legend of Arslan, The Rolling Girls

I mean come on, the word’s in the freaking title of the show. While the first half of Stardust Crusaders was a fun little romp, it did have several...let’s call them lulls. The Battle in Egypt half of the show, however, did not suffer from such things, giving us both wacky and serious fights, and just on the whole felt a bit more like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s first season. And of course it had some of the best Engrish in the anime to date.

Favorite Comedy

Winner: Mr. Osomatsu

Honorable Mentions: My Love Story!!, Prison School

It is extremely odd to say this, but it feels like the copyright issues this show’s earlier episodes got into may have actually helped the show in the long run. I make this claim, because ever since that happened, the episodes have had progressively less direct pop culture references, and instead of using that kind of comedy as a crutch, they’ve been much more creative in their comedy, to hilarious results. The thing is, I honestly don’t know what to expect from an episode of Mr. Osomatsu now, and that makes me look forward to each new episode more than I’ve probably ever have for a purely comedy show. The best part is, this show is only half done! We still have another cour to go, and I for one can’t wait.

Favorite Drama

Winner: Yurikuma Arashi

Honorable Mentions: Death Parade, Sound! Euphonium

Shock! Kuma shock! Yes my friends, Ikuhara’s tale of lesbian bears and the society that hates them is my favorite drama of the year. While the show is certainly more style over substance, the substance that is there is still really damn good. And the show as a whole does one hell of a job at taking the piss out of Japan’s stance on homosexuality, for that is the sexy way, shaba-da-doo.

Favorite Fantasy

Winner: The Heroic Legend of Arslan

Honorable Mentions: Maria the Virgin Witch, Overlord

It seems odd, but this year I felt like the mantra “less is more” greatly applied to the fantasy genre. While I greatly enjoyed the over the top fantasy elements in shows like GATE, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, and Overlord, I liked Arslan’s more grounded low fantasy take on things much more. While there were some clear magical elements at play, for the most part, it was humans fighting humans with words and weapons. I am a sucker for historical fantasy, which is why Maria the Virgin Witch got a nomination as well due to its take on the Hundred Years’ War. Getting to see a series set in a Persian-inspired world was truly a treat on a completely different level, though.. I can’t wait to see where Arslan’s adventures take him next.

Favorite Harem

Winner: Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls

Honorable Mentions: Nisekoi:, Saekano -How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend-

So...yeah the harem genre kind of sucked for me this year...with Nisekoi: barely making my nominations. Hell I actually didn’t even like this season of Nisekoi, because barely anything happened.....

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Basically, this was a two horse race, and while Saekano was good for many laughs at the expense of the genre, I have to side with MonMusu, because it actually added something new to the genre. The use of monster girls gave new takes on the stale genre conventions. On top of that, it’s the first harem series to use an all-adult cast that I’ve seen in years, which by itself makes it a breath of fresh air to the genre.

Favorite Horror

Winner: School-Live!

Honorable Mentions: Kagewani, Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace

Everything will be daijoubu! Everything...will be...daijoubu! Everything will not be daijoubu! Holy crap, this show certainly came out of nowhere, didn’t it? It was a rather refreshing entry in the horror genre, and while it isn’t my absolutely favorite in recent memory and I felt it faltered quite a bit at the end, it is still a quality horror tale, and a constant reminder to not judge a show by its exterior.

Favorite Mystery

Winner: The Perfect Insider

Honorable Mentions: Death Parade, Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers-

I think the biggest mystery for the mystery genre this year is....why did so many of the mysteries suck? Even Rokka’s was rather weak (I figured it out on freaking episode four, the same damn episode the mystery was introduced!), but that still made the cut for me because I liked the characters...er...most of the characters. The Perfect Insider basically walks away with this by default, as it is the only full length mystery show I saw this year whose mystery didn’t just fall apart before it was solved. Death Parade’s mysteries were very intriguing in their own right, but the majority of them were only one episode in length, with the longest mystery in the series being something I just can’t in good faith call an actual mystery, at least in terms of referring to the mystery genre.

Favorite Romance

Winner: My Love Story!!

Honorable Mentions: Saekano -How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend-, Yurikuma Arashi

My Love Story!! manages to do something few shows have been able to do; be a shoujo show that I managed to finish. Not just finish, but make me wish there was more. I loved seeing the big oaf Takeo fumble his way through a relationship, because in a lot of ways I am like him. I also love that the show isn’t just focused on typical romantic love, it encompasses all the people Takeo loves in his life. From his parents, to his closest friends.

Favorite Sci-Fi

Winner: Gatchaman Crowds Insight

Honorable Mentions: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, The Perfect Insider

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This year was much, much kinder to the sci-fi genre than 2014 was. For starters I’m not scraping the bottom of the barrel just to find enough nominees that I like. Iron-Blooded Orphans is probably the most I’ve loved a mecha show in a long time, and that’s more than enough to get it a nomination, but since it is only partially done, I can’t fully go ahead and say it was my favorite sci-fi series of the year. As for The Perfect Insider, I liked a lot of the more grounded tech it had. Hell I wouldn’t be shocked if people didn’t think it was a sci-fi show at all. But I mean come on, it has isolation tanks that double as the Matrix, basically. That’s some pretty sci-fi stuff to me. However I have to give the edge to Gatchaman Crowds Insight, because some of my favorite works of sci-fi, especially in anime, are works that were made with social commentary in mind, and in that regard, Gatchaman excels.

Favorite Slice of Life

Winner: Non Non Biyori Repeat

Honorable Mentions: The Rolling Girls, School-Live!

Slice of life shows tend to be among some of my favorites for the year, usually because they thrive on what I am finding I love the most above anything else, great character writing. All three of these shows succeed in that regard, but I have to give it to Non Non Biyori Repeat, because it just feels more...special. It’s childhood wonder incarnate. There’s just something about chilling with Renge and her friends that no other slice of life show has managed to capture.

Favorite Sports

Winner: Ace of the Diamond Second Season

Honorable Mentions: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma, Haikyuu!! Season 2

First off, I know many people will probably question my inclusion of Food Wars! into the sports category, but hear me out. It’s a series based around a form of competition that requires both mental and physical skill, particularly under pressure. Plus it is basically Iron Chef: The Anime, and have you seen what most of the people who participate in Iron Chef look like after they finish cooking? They look like they ran a marathon. So in my books, it’s a sports anime. I mean if many of us can agree that board and card game series can fall under sports anime, why can’t a cooking competition show?

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Anyways, moving on, I have to give this to Ace of the Diamond. While it is true that we got more of my favorite sports anime from last year, Haikyuu!!, and what we have so far is really damn good, the first half of this season of Haikyuu!! has mostly just been set up. On the other hand, Ace of the Diamond is currently deep in a thrilling and exciting Fall tournament arc. I dare say even better than the Summer tournament arc that formed the majority of the first season, because the stakes are higher and the team Seidou is fielding in Second Season is in many ways a worse team than the one in the first season. Every game is a mixture of nail biting tension, great comedy, gut wrenching lows and fist pumping highs. It actually makes watching baseball on TV exciting.

Favorite Supernatural

Winner: Noragami Aragoto

Honorable Mentions: Blood Blockade Battlefront, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders - Battle in Egypt

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JoJo’s and Blood Blockade Battlefront both came armed with some awesome spins on vampires, as well as a variety of other great supernatural powers and creatures, but there’s absolutely no question that this year I have to back the gods of Noragami. It is something of a myth, the legendary second season that improves on the first one. Yet Noragami Aragoto goes above and beyond to improve on virtually everything about the first season. Add in some...creative “fun” with some phantoms, and the inclusion of one of my favorite Japanese myths for good measure, and you have my favorite supernatural show of 2015.

Favorite Short

Winner: Wakakozake

Honorable Mentions: Kagewani, Ninja Slayer From Animation

Wakakozake is a very simple show. It follows an office worker named Wakako, voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro, who is a bit of a foodie, as she goes around to various bars and restaurants after work, trying out different meals and pairing them with the right alcohol for the situation. There’s nothing much more to that, besides Wakako having one of the cutest sighs in anime, a signature “Pshuuuu” that she lets out when the food and booze makes her relaxed. It’s a very relaxing way to kill a few minutes.

Favorite noitaminA Show

Winner: The Perfect Insider

Honorable Mentions: Punch Line, Saekano -How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend-

noitaminA had a rather solid year in 2015. The block known for its experimental original series and adaptations of critically acclaimed books and manga didn’t really have any true misses this time around. The weakest show on the block was probably Rampo Kitan, and that was at least a visually stunning show, so it still has some merit. Conversely, it also didn’t have many break out shows, either. This is the block that had my second favorite anime from 2014, Ping Pong the Animation, for reference. So what I’m trying to say is none of the shows on the block this year made me feel like I wasted my time, but none of them are in my Top 5 of the year, either.

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That being said, though, I feel like The Perfect Insider was the best of this year’s offerings. I actually had to let this show sit around for a few weeks, due to being really damn busy the first month of the Fall season, so I had to binge the first half. I think that is part of the reason I like this show the most out of what the block offered us, because I became hooked on the mystery, and not having to wait week after week for at least half the show certainly helped in that regard.

Favorite Ultra Super Anime Time Show

Winner: Kagewani

Honorable Mentions: Wakaba*Girl, Wooser’s Hand-to-Mouth Life: Phantasmagoric Arc

Ultra Super Anime Time is a new block, similar to noitaminA, that was started in the Summer season this year. It’s a weekly 30 minute block that airs 3 short-format shows in it each season. Much like noitaminA, there’s some experimental series on tap, to various quality. Kagewani is that experimental nature fully realized. It has a unique look to it that is sure to divide people into the “love it” or “hate it” camps. It also starts out as kind of like a version of Mushi-Shi that focuses on monsters, but eventually a plot begins to develop that ties back into all of the earlier episodes and ends satisfyingly enough. The tale the show is able to weave given its short run time and how late they actually introduce the plot elements is rather impressive. On top of that, the series is genuinely suspenseful and full of tense moments. If gems like Kagewani are what we can expect to come from the Ultra Super Anime Time block from time to time, we are in for good times.

Favorite Movie

Winner: Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade

Honorable Mentions: Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie

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I almost didn’t get to see this in time for this article, because there was no word on it coming out, and yet it suddenly appeared on Netflix along with the first film. Out of nowhere. Poof. And damn I am glad it did show up in the eleventh hour. I loved the first Little Witch Academia film to death, as it came out just as I was starting to get back into anime in 2013. It was one of my first exposures to what “modern anime” looked like animation wise. I unfortunately couldn’t contribute to the crowdfunding of this film, but I sorely wished I did. This was a wonderfully charming little film that anyone who is purely a fan of animation as an art form needs to see.

Favorite Female Character

Winner: Hajime Ichinose (Gatchaman Crowds Insight)

Honorable Mentions: Rachnera “Rachnee” Arachnera (Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls), Rinko Yamato (My Love Story!!), Renge Miyauchi (Non Non Biyori Repeat), Bishamonten (Noragami Aragoto)

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Hajime continues to be one of the most deceptively complex characters in anime. Beneath her bubbly personality, Hajime is one of the few people in Gatchaman Crowds who doesn’t plant their head firmly up their ass. She never takes sides, rather standing on the sidelines and sees the truth that arises from the smoke when the two sides on a topic clash. She’s also selfless, willing to do anything in the name of what she thinks is right.

Favorite Male Character

Winner: Mumen Rider (One Punch Man)

Honorable Mentions: Klaus von Reinherz (Blood Blockade Battlefront), Daryun (The Heroic Legend of Arslan), Takeo Gouda (My Love Story!!), Yato (Noragami Aragoto)

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All five of my nominees are certified badasses. There is no question about it. So what ended up tipping the scales in Mumen Rider’s favor? His unwavering giant adamantium balls. Oh and his truly heroic sense of justice, I suppose. Even when higher ranked heroes are turning tail and running from a threat, Mumen Rider heads towards it, because someone has to. He was introduced as a bit of a joke character, but ended up with my eternal respect. Thank your Mumen Rider.

Favorite Villain

Winner: DIO (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders - Battle in Egypt)

Honorable Mentions: Gilgamesh (Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 2nd Season), Hana Midorikawa (Prison School), Boros (One Punch Man), Clementine (Overlord)

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First, Boros aside, I just realized all my favorite villains this year were blonde...weird...anyways, even if the fight against him wasn’t my pick for JoJo’s nomination for my favorite fight of the year, there’s no denying that my favorite villain this year was the big D. He sashayed his way to the top with relative ease. Granted this is because I’m probably subconsciously adding his portrayal in Stardust Crusaders to his Phantom Blood version, but hell even if that is the case, who cares. Are you going to tell DIO he’s not a great villain? Thought so. DIO’s going to force feed you alphabet soup and you’re gonna choke on the D, I, and O.

Anime of the Year 2015:

Winner: Gatchaman Crowds Insight

Honorable Mentions: Blood Blockade Battlefront, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders - Battle in Egypt, Noragami Aragoto, One Punch Man

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While all four of the other nominees were more fun shows for me to watch, Gatchaman Crowds Insight gave me a different kind of fun. It was the most fun I’ve had discussing an anime in a long, long time. Not to say gushing about the animation, or the comedy, or awesome fight scenes in these other four shows wasn’t fun either, but with Gatchaman there was just more meat to what was being said. Social commentary done right is something that stands the test of time, as a reflection of its era. Plus, you know, I said this show was my favorite of the year in my review of it at the end of the Summer season, meaning that there was only one season left to change my mind on that, and nothing did, though One Punch Man and Noragami did come pretty close to doing so.

So there you have it folks! My various anime favorites from 2015! What about you guys? What are some of your favorites? Do we share some favorites or do you think I’m wrong on everything and am a terrible human being? Feel free to comment below and let’s look forward to another year of great anime!