Hello all, I’m Kristof and I have been watching anime on and off for around 20 years. As of 2008, though, I stopped watching the medium all together, but not because I lost my love of the art form. I was just so busy that I stopped watching almost all TV. Between a difficult and time-consuming major, Physics-Astronomy, and two hobbies that soaked up 40+ hours a week, rock climbing and competitive ballroom dance, there was just no room for anything else. When 2010 rolled around and I graduated, started working full-time and spent less time climbing and dancing, I started to watch TV again, shamefully, this did not include anime and there was no good reason for it.
So when did I start watching anime again? Why June 2014. I, sadly, cannot be more exact than that, I don’t happen to remember which day of the month it was. Since then I have watched a considerable amount of anime, the backlog I have accumulated is near soul crushing, and with a couple of other authors ruminating on what they have done over the last year, I was inspired to create something of my own as a way to introduce myself as an AniTAY author now that I have posted a few times. And what better way to do this than a list of the best twelve shows that I have watched since coming back.
To be on this list I must have watched the show to completion since returning from my hiatus and it must be the the first time I have seen it, so no re-watches, sorry Bebop and Champloo. Also, I am not considering any show that is currently airing no matter how much I am enjoying it, so no Arslan, My Love Story or Kekkai Sensen. If any show has multiple seasons I am counting them together, so even if a show had one really good season it will not be on this list if it had one or more bad season to drag it down.
The process for getting to this list was very simple. I took all shows that fit the above criteria, a total of 82, and while looking it over I compiled any that I thought should be considered, which left 21. After that I ordered them in a way that just felt right. This whole process took all of five minutes and while writing this up I never had the need to change the order, which is surprisingly decisive of me. I will keep each of the entries to a paragraph or so, otherwise this article would become ungodly in length, and no one wants that. Included after each show will be a link to it’s AniTAY review, if it has one. Now let’s get started.
Fair warning: This may very well turn into incoherent ramblings.
This may seem like an odd entry to anyone reading this, but there is a good reason I felt the need to include Sword Art Online. Just so you know, SAO was not one of the 21 that made it to the semis, not even close. I list it here, because it was the first anime I watch back in June of 2014. Having been away from the medium for so long I did not know what SAO was, but as I was scrolling through Netflix it caught my eye and I decided to give it a try. Though flawed, it still managed to remind me of just how much I enjoy anime and within a few weeks I had subscriptions to both Crunchyroll and FUNimation. It was shortly after that, while looking for lists of good shows to watch, that I first stumbled onto AniTAY. I even remember the first article I read, this one: Koda’s Top 10 Summer 2014 Anime Openings. It is for this reason that SAO will be remembered fondly, though never as a favorite.
Winter 2015 was an absolute beast for me, as GARO is just the first of five shows that made it onto this list from that season. It is also a great show to start off with. GARO mixes the right amount of the old and the new beautifully, with retro 2D artwork spliced with fluid 3D animation, it was a visual treat every week. I could not help but be reminded of the Shonens I watched growing up, in all the best of ways. It also had the most lovable asshole of the season, who wouldn’t want a dad like Gérman? I look forward to seeing more.
This may be a fairly divisive pick within the AniTAY community, because I know there are at least a few that felt burned by this show. If you come in expecting a rom-com you might react the same way, luckily I didn’t. You instead get a comedy about teenagers trying to figure out what makes something romantic and for my part I found it fantastic. I was just good clean fun. This is one of my go-to shows when I just want to lighten the mood and have a good laugh, I will happily admit to having watched the series completely three times to fulfill that very purpose. It says a lot about the quality of the writing and comedic timing that the jokes still work after repeated viewing.
Life after death may not work this way, but it would be awesome if it did. The mythos of this show felt fresh and at the same time perverse, as those involved in the games were put through the ringer. Having not watched Death Billards before starting Death Parade, I had few expectations outside of the synopsis provided. I believe this worked for my benefit as the ideas presented were completely new. If the afterlife is half as intriguing as this show we are all in for quite the experience when the time comes. All men die...
The music in this one is simply awe-inspiring. I am going to now provide links to the shows OPs and EDs: Hikaru Nara, Kirameki, Nanairo Synphony, and Orange. Orange is my personal favorite, but each is unique and special in its own way. With one of its central themes being music and the power it can convey, Your Lie in April is a treat for any audiophile. The OPs and EDs are great but so is the music that permeates every aspect of this show. Add in a powerful story of love and love lost, and you have quite the recipe. It makes me wish that I was not the youngest of four, by the time my parents got to me they were much less pushy about getting me into music and sports early on, so no piano lessons.
I started watch both seasons of Free! at the end of Summer 2014, which is about the best time to watch a show about swimming, especially if you live in a colder climate, like I do. I love to swim, though I have never done it competitively, and I am always looking forward to summer as I usually need to wait until late June or early July before it is warm enough in the area to swim outside, though the water is still really cold it feels great on a hot day. Those that like to see a lot of man flesh and are not ashamed to admit it, like the team’s manager and excellent source of comedy Gou, will be happy with this one as the animation is smooth and spotless. Those that do not fall into this category should enjoy it too. You will also experience some incredibly intense bromantic situations in what is an otherwise great sports anime.
No review - I guess I will need to do this one.
Having grown-up a city myself, and therefore knowing little to nothing about farming outside the small garden that my family kept, I can empathize with our protagonist Hachiken as he struggles to figure out how he fits into and what he can do for a community that he knows near nothing about. Silver Spoon’s two seasons give us an incredibly profound look at what it means to grow-up, which is balance nicely with some great comedy. Everyone who watches this show will either learn, or be reminded, of the hard lessons one receives as you struggle to be both self-reliant and willing to rely on the help of others.
What is strange about Shirobako is that of all the shows on this list it is the one I would be least likely to try sharing with someone not already fully engrossed in anime. Partly because, materially, it is the most dense show on this list, having a near endless supply of characters and jargon to throw at you, and while not for everybody, this show really resonated with me. Having been a working professional for around four years I have had both the pleasure and displeasure of working with just about every type of person portrayed in Shirobako. I could feel Miyamori’s pain as she had to deal with the incompetence of one particular employee. This show succeeded in making me feel the stress that the characters were under, especially Miyamori, as deadlines approached and plans fell apart. It was a surprisingly cathartic experience.
Unlike my last entry, Barakamon is the show I would be most likely to try sharing with others, especially those that have never watched anime or have watched very little. It is a superb slice-of-life that should appeal to just about everyone. I have never watched anything before or since that caused me to have such a strong desire to drop what I am doing and go live in a small fishing community on a remote island where everyone talks with a funny accent and privacy from the eyes of your curious new neighbors is nearly non-existent.
Both a strange and oddly specific desire.
Any good sports anime should make you wish you had played, or could continue to play, which ever sport is being portrayed and Haikyuu!! does just this for volleyball, but then I am forced to remember that I have never had hops and should be satisfied that I at least get to watch a fantastic show. I am super hyped for the second season of this show, which was recently announced, and looks to be airing during the Fall 2015 season.
Let us begin the chant: Can’t wait for Fall 2015...don’t get pushed back to another season...can’t wait for Fall 2015...don’t get pushed back to another season...can’t wait for Fall 2015...don’t get pushed back to another season… can’t wait for Fall 2015...don’t get pushed back to another season…can’t wait for Fall 2015...don’t get pushed back to another season….
I want to start off by tipping my hat to Morie. The reason? Though Spice & Wolf very quickly found its way into my backlog of shows, I was unlikely to watch it any time soon, as it was lost in a vast ocean of anime. Then Morie posted OP/ED a Day #51, The Wolf Whistling Song, and I could not help but watch the first episode later that day. I have enjoyed the series so much that I am now working my way through all fourteen of the light novels and I know that once I am done with them, it should not take me that long, I will be impatient for the fifteenth volume that comes out this August.
I will now steal a quote from Morie that she in-turn took from her fiance, “it’s the show about business you didn’t know you wanted to watch.” Now go, watch it.
I will be posting reviews for the light novels in the near future.
This is the show that I completed most recently, I actually started writing this article before I finish watching it, but that did not matter because as soon as I started watching Chihayafuru I knew there was no way I would not binge through it in a matter of a few days, it is just that good. There are two things that need to happen with this show: one, get licensed for sale in the US, because I have a need to share this with others, and two, have a third season announced, the manga should be far enough along by now. The lack of either is an absolute travesty. I am compelled to mention the OP for the first season, Youthful, as it is on my list* of OPs that must never be skipped, for it is a sin to do so. Click on the link, seriously, listen to it.
*List does not actually exist.
This might sound strange, but I am glad that I did not start watching this show until January 2015 even though it started in October. If I had I am pretty sure I would have been driven insane having to wait week to week for the next episode over six months, three was bad enough. If you had asked me what my favorite anime of all time was before I started watching Parasyte, I would have hemmed and hawed for a while, as I suck at picking favorites. That is now no longer a problem, that show is Parasyte the Maxim, my favorite all time. I came this this conclusion simply because there has never been another anime that I looked forward to each week more than Parasyte.
As I wrote up this article, most of the time I was listening to Next to You in a continuous loop. I cannot get sick of it, it sets such a great mood.
As you can see, most of the shows on this list are from the last year and I imagine that each person reading this probably thinks I am crazy for not include one show or another, not to mention the order. This is most likely because I have not watched it yet, which is probably the worst possibility you can think of. So, please, include in the comments any shows from the 2008 to 2013 time-frame that you think I should put at the tip-top of my backlog. The better the argument the more likely I am to consider it. Thanks for reading.
(Looks at backlog...shudders.)
Update as of 1:50pm PST 5/14/15: For those that are curious these are the nine shows that made the first cut, but did not make the final 12.
No Game No Life, HaNaYaMaTa, Yona of the Dawn, Noragami, The World God Only Knows, Yuki Yuna is a Hero, Kill la Kill, Toradora!, Maria the Virgin Witch.
I have also put together a list of all suggestions, so thanks again.
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