The Winter season in the world of Anime land has finally come into a close, bringing in a new list of series to devour in the coming months. But before we get into that horizon here is my roundup for the season; personal favorites -- of my own choosing -- based on the series I have maintain to follow through from the beginning right to the end. Winter has been a disappointment, shows on my lineup, including the carryovers, have dropped like flies because of my sheer discontent with them. I have no regrets with the minimum number of series I've decided to keep, as it gave me time to watch older shows from way back when. So before I continue myself from spouting nonsense here is my roundup for the Winter 2014 season.
Best Animation - Winter 2014
P.A. Works excels at what they do best: excellent animation, character designs that are cute but not excessively Moe, and dreamy scenery porn that transports you into a magical place. Since Nagi no Asukara's first cour their campaign for this category goes strength to strength from each frame and in every episodes. As a whole the series never faltered and maintained its astonishing quality.
Runner-ups: Noragami; Space Dandy
Runner-ups: Noragami; Space Dandy
Best Opening Song/Sequence - Winter 2014
There are so many contenders for the top spot but I'll have to give it to Ray and Nagi no Asukara (although Viva Namida comes in on a close second). This is the one song of the season that truly stamped on my memory; beginning with its first chord - the piano embodying the transition of the story, even the change in the weather - it signals perfectly that we're in it for the heartbreak, drama and a possible happy end.
Runner-ups: Viva Namida by Yasuyuki Okamura; Life by Fujifabric; Goya no Machiawase by Hello Sleepwalkers
Best Ending Song/Sequence - Winter 2014
Gin no Saji 2's closing sequence is the clear frontrunner for this category. Goose House did a great job and they captured the overall mood and theme of the series. I love the joyful exuberance of the music, its pop-folksy flavor, as it contradicts the drama of this masterpiece and relishes on the fun of life.
Runner-ups: Kaze ga Shitteru by Akai Kouen, X Jigen E Youkoso by Etsuko Yakushimaru, Saved by Maaya Sakamoto
Best Soundtrack - Winter 2014
Runner-up: Space Dandy, Hoozuki no Reitetsu
Favorite MC (Male Character) - Winter 2014
Tie: Yato (Noragami) & Hoozuki (Hoozuki no Reitetsu)
From the early episodes Yato is my clear shoo-in winner for Favorite MC, but you can't ignore Hoozuki - he is the ultimate Alpha male and he doesn't even need any pecs and abs to get his job done. Yato is a mischievous God and has always been up to no good, yet a charming one with his outlandish comedic humor, and he is voiced by my favorite seiyuu, Hiroshi Kamiya. On the other hand, Hoozuki is Lord Enma's right hand man in the Jigoku world, a calm and sadistic, high-maintenance demon with a penchant for gold fish; even the highest rank demon lord can't get their way around him. I like the polarity of these two characters, both of them are funny, although Yato is more flamboyant and Hoozuki's wit is more dry and dark. At the end of the day both of them are my winners and I'm looking forward to seeing them again for a second season.
Runner-ups: Dandy (Space Dandy), Hachiken Yuugo (Gin no Saji 2)
Best Girl - Winter 2014
I always have some trouble choosing my Best Girl. Because in the anime world some of them are not fully developed as a character, either they are built on stereotypes or there are moments I find them utterly annoying in one or two episodes. If Scarlett has more screen time in Space Dandy she would have been my best girl, but alas, that's not the case. Nibutani Shinka is one of my contenders for Best Supporting Character, her overall effort for the second season of Chuunibyou has endeared her more to me than anybody else. So let's make her my Best Girl! She is supportive of her Chuunibyou infested friends, loves them for what they are and loves their delusions on the equal ground. She encourages them to be honest about what they feel and would even go the distance to help someone in need. In my opinion, she is one of the best character's KyoAni has produced in their recently dismal year's in spite of their several mainstream hits. I'll take Nibutani Shinka as a role model to empower all the little girls out there; she has her flaws, but she's on her way to becoming the best.
Runner-ups: Sayu Hisanuma (Nagi no Asukara), Minami Katayama (Wake Up, Girls!), Scarlett (Space Dandy)
Best Supporting Character - Winter 2014
Cuteness overload...and we need a dose of them every now and then to make anime a much nicer place to visit. These three are the epitome of a good supporting character because they bring out the best in our main guy. After all, Hoozuki looks so snobbish it's easy to presume he is not capable of doing nice things to others or we can overlook the possibility of an interesting persona behind his calm and sadistic demeanor. But we have Karauri, Nasubi and Shiro to thank for, and frankly, they are my reason for checking out the first two episodes of this series. I'm glad they showed me the way because Hoozuki no Reitetsu rocks!
Runner-ups: Kumin Tsuyuri (Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren), Touka Fushimi (Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha)
Favorite Recurring Character - Winter 2014
I love this girl. She is so different from Rikka, less annoying, independent, and not very one dimensional. I probably got stuck with the second season because of Shichimiya, and I wouldn't mind (in fact, I seriously want) a Clannad-like spinoff where she, and not that eye-patched boring girl, is Togashi's contractor. That would be interesting.
Best Villain - Winter 2014
How do I describe this hairball? Well he isn't really the most evil of all because so far, we have no idea WTF is Gogol's intention with Dandy. Dr. Gel actually dies every episode so I feel sorry for him. But if I have to pick the best villain for Winter 2014 I'll hand it to this guy. He makes the art of the chase really special every time.
Runner-up: Nora (Noragami)
Exceeded Expectations - Winter 2014
This is by Production I.G. (penned here as Wit Studio) and that says a lot already. So much expectation. I went ahead having no idea what this series is about. It's difficult to understand the story if you have no background on Japanese culture, but thats' where the hurdle ends because the director and the writer made it so effortless for the viewers...like taking a walk in the park. The humor is not so hard to catch on; there's always something for everybody, and it's cerebral without bordering into elitism. Such a joy to watch and definitely worth your time.
Guilty Pleasure - Winter 2014
There are times when you need to stop over-analyzing, relax your brains and just cool off. That's where the guilty pleasure comes in. I'm not really into anything Idol, may it be anime or music. As much as possible I steer clear from them. Wake Up, Girls! fortunately, is surprisingly good. I tried the first episode and the movie and I got hooked, but I guess it has to do with the premise because it's more into the slice-of-life genre. The characters are fleshed out really well, and I like the inclusion of "realistic" bad instances happening their way in each episodes.
Best Story - Winter 2014
One word to sum up this series: genius! Not every one is a fan of episodic anime, but for Space Dandy it works because it refreshes the story and broadens the opportunity to tell more story. The team pays tribute, or you can say "homage", to several cultural pieces of cinema and television. Slapstick humor or whatever they throw in the mix their formula is just spot on amazing. The journey continues comes summer 2014.
Runner-ups: Gin no Saji 2, Hoozuki no Reitetsu, Noragami
Most Under-Appreciated - Winter 2014
In spite of its popularity, the anime adaptation of Gin no Saji is unfortunately not as well received in terms of its DVD/BD sales in Japan in comparison to its manga. That's quite a sad feat because its fate for a possible third season depends entirely on the market. Arakawa-sensei and the rest of A-1 pictures team did a solid job every single time without failing to deliver the goods. Gin no Saji has made the world of anime a better place for sure and I hope it would continue to do so if given another chance.
Disappointment - Winter 2014
Good premise right there gone to waste. The limited number of episodes has done more damage than good for this series. Everything was rushed; the characters were underdeveloped and the ending was combined all together without doing justice to the entire story. In the process, it lose all sense whatsoever of its plot points. Such a shame for a well done animation.
Runner-up: Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta
Runner-up: Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta
Best Anime - Winter 2014
This is my favorite series for Winter 2014. I haven't read the manga and I'm glad I went in without any idea or high expectations for the show. Noragami made me pumped up every week. I just loved everything they did: the fantasy aspect, the action sequences, our beloved characters, the comedy and its darkness, I could go on and on why I love this series (and probably some of you would find their way to contradict me). Regardless of its flaws, those imperfections only made Noragami even more beautiful.