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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How Great is the 2014 Year in Anime?:

The fall season is the final season of anime for the year.  Now that we know what's good that is currently airing, we can look back on the full year and see how far we've come.  I believe I said 2013 was the best year in anime ever, based on the number of new good series that came out and the number of old good series that received sequels.  How does that ranking compare to 2014's output?

In 2013 there were 56 ranked series that received new content, and 11 of those were all new.  (I subsequently dropped Noucome from my rankings, however, so really only 55 good series received new content and 10 good new series appeared last year.  Noucome is beautiful and funny, but there's just too much graphic and unintellectual humor that weighs it down.  The biggest problem is how the series was only ten episodes long and yet still relied mainly on repeat gags I'd long gotten tired of already.)

First off, let's cross out one show that isn't a good part of 2014's lineup.  Trinity Seven.  In its second episode, it spent 90% of its time making lame sex and toilet jokes, had a character nearly destroy the world out of scientific curiosity without even receiving a reprimand for her conduct, had a guy randomly jump through a window for no known or good reason in order to introduce himself, and otherwise just making a total fool of itself.  There's a limit to irrational or rude behavior a series can have and still be good, and Trinity Seven crossed that limit about as badly as Cross Ange did in its second episode.  This is not a competition for how terrible your show can be, folks.  Maybe these shows didn't catch the memo.

On the bright side, 2014 had 50 ranked series receive new content (or will receive new content before the end of the year).  This is smaller than 2013's number by just a tad.  In terms of original good anime content, 2014 had 15 new series entering the rankings.  That's a record high.  The fifteen new series that debuted this year are, in order of worth, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Gokukoku no Brynhildr, Sakura Trick, Mikakunin de Shinkoukei, No Game No Life, Atelier Escha & Logy, Hanayamata, Wake Up, Girls!, Locodol, Ao Haru Ride, Grisaia no Kajitsu, Akame ga Kill!, Sora no Method, Akatsuki no Yona, and Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai.

Sadly, all 15 of these shows are in the bottom half of my 'top rankings.'  This is mainly due to the fact that it's nigh impossible for a short series to be competitive with older, longer series, and series that just debuted in 2014 are by necessity stunted and short.  If these shows ever got sequels, like Kin-iro Mosaic is slated to receive, they could probably shoot up to #51 too, just like Kin-iro Mosaic did.  Out of all fifteen of these shows, only Wake Up, Girls! can be said to have received a decent ending.  None of the remaining shows stopped at their actual stopping points.  It's only natural they would suffer in comparison to other, more completed shows that came before them.

So in terms of total extra content, 2014 falls short of 2013, but in terms of new fresh content, 2014 surpasses 2013.  What about in terms of standout great content being released?  In other words, is there something like Railgun Sisters that came out as a sequel to an old great show?

The answer is yes.  Sword Art Online season 2 is a huge addition of value to the series, and the flagship reason why 2014 is a great year for anime.  In addition, the resumption of Fairy Tail which allowed for the conclusion of the Dragon Festival arc to finally take place was resplendent.  The new Fate/Kaleid Liner season was amazing, as is this new Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works season airing as we speak.  The long-awaited resumption of Dragonball Buu Kai started this year, as did the long awaited Sailor Moon Crystal remake.

Does that beat out Haganai Season 2, Oreimo season 2, Fate/Kaleid Liner season 1, Jojo's season 1, etc?  It's tough to say, but I think I'll lean in favor of 2014.  Fairy Tail, Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Fate/Stay Night and Sword Art Online are such hugely important series to all of anime, simply landmarks of colossal size that dwarf all competition, that it's hard to ignore what just transpired in front of us this year.  The resumption of all these series at once is like a miracle granted to us by God.  No matter how great Haganai and Oreimo were last year, Fairy Tail and Dragon Ball are just way more important franchises that can't be ignored.

You could argue the case either way, but I've made up my mind.  2014 is the greatest year in anime ever, supplanting 2013 whose record only lasted one sad and solitary year.  How long will 2014 hold on to the throne?  That really depends on what series are announced for 2015, neh?  With more Working, Fate/Kaleid Liner, Idolm@ster, Non Non Biyori, Kin-iro Mosaic, and Strike Witches already announced, 2015 will definitely give 2014 a run for its money.

Like I said last time, nothing of note actually happened this year aside from anime.  Syria's dictator still hasn't been overthrown.  Egypt's still a mess.  The economy is still basically in worldwide recession.  The PS4 still doesn't have any good games.  The World Cup and Winter Olympics were great sporting events, but the resumption of the Cold War between the USA and Russia really spoiled that bit of international fun.  If you want to talk about positives for the year, the only good thing you can talk about is anime.  Yet again, Japan rose to the challenge and outdid itself with a bevy of new and old anime greatness.  No one else did anything positive at all.  2014, the greatest year in anime, and the worst year in politics.  Half of Iraq belongs to freaking terrorists now, for God's sake.  The sooner this year is behind us, the better.

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