Kai’s Favorite Anime of 2015

Coming up with a favorite list is harder than I thought.

Coming up with a favorite list is harder than I thought, especially when I want to limit it to just 5…

It’s the start of 2016, so with it, come another post of my favorite anime of last year. Again, I want to make it clear that despite this list being numbered, it’s not listed in any consecutive order at all, even my honorable mentions should have been included in the main list. The thing is-I want to keep these lists short; ideally 5, so entries past the 5th entry would have to be honorable mentions.

Anyway, here are my favorite anime of 2015.

[Commie] Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku - My Teenage RomCom SNAFU TOO! - 05v2 [E3D61B82].mkv_snapshot_05.47_[2015.05.13_06.20.56]

1. OreGairu Zoku

I’ll start by saying this, while some people were praising OreGairu (season 1) as one of the best anime when it aired, I didn’t think as much, but I do appreciate what it is trying to portray. Another part of my problem is that I marathoned the whole show in one go, which is not advisable for an anime like this-considering the amount of subtleties it presents. Overall, OreGairu to me is at it’s core just a romance comedy with a deconstruction, at the same time, it is also an introduction, to an otherwise extremely spectacular season 2 in OreGairu Zoku. I may only be a casual observer but I admit, I’m a fan. It’s this season where it quite literally tossed any elements of romance comedy that may remained from season 1, and replaced them with feels-inducing drama and layers upon layers of character-analytic psychology. In a way, the Sagami arc in season 1 is not the end, but the true beginning for the series-where story arcs on par, or even better quality than it are all presented throughout Zoku. OreGairu Zoku is a wonderful anime-it is a deconstruction, but, it is also quite an in-depth study of human nature, a study of teens suffering from loneliness and insecurities, and a study of teens who outside of the cynical context just desire simple, genuine friendship.
 

Fate.stay.night.full.1810324

2. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

Unlimited Blade Works gets a lot of flak from people that until now, I just don’t understand. To me, it’s a much better adaption than the movie, and definitely better than the original Fate/Stay Night. From what I notice, it’s an extremely faithful adaption of the visual novel. Admittedly, I’m a fan of the Fate franchise, so there may be some level of bias here, but really, I feel like some of the criticisms against Unlimited Blade Works are from people who aren’t that familiar with the franchise. But whatever it is, I’ll stand by my choice here-Unlimited Blade Works deserves a spot in this list, as far as quality of a Fate/Stay Night title is concerned, this one beats the original Fate/Stay Night and the movie by a landslide; though it definitely plays second fiddle to Fate/Zero, in a close fight nonetheless. The adaption also did a great job of adding original anime content whenever necessary-most predominantly that extended epilogue which showed the lives of adult Shirou and Rin. Finally, I think we can all agree at the very least that visuals and music are top-notch. I know I’m correct, but that doesn’t mean I’m right.
 

euphonium

3. Hibike! Euphonium

Looking at my last year’s favorite anime list, it may look like I sound very critical of KyoAni, and while their shows may be a hit-or-miss (arguably more hit than miss), they are still a great anime studio which produces great anime titles in general. One of them this year, Hibike! Euphonium, had really struck it’s chord among anime fans. The anime follows Kumiko and the concert band at her new high school-a journey of ambitions, struggles and agonizing practices to reach their goal of making it to the nationals, not without dozens of internal strife and difficult choices accompanying them along the way. It is one of the best school drama I had watched in awhile, enhanced even further by it’s top-tier, photogenic visuals. Last but not least, I just want to get this out-Kumiko x Reina, enough said.
 

gakkougurashi

4. Gakkou Gurashi!

Gakkou Gurashi is quite simply my favorite anime of the Summer season. While moe and darkness is a combination the anime industry had been dabbling in for awhile, you can never get more blatant as Gakkou Gurashi where moe anime girls are inserted into a zombie premise. The more interesting thing about Gakkou Gurashi is that it doesn’t outright scare it’s viewers by showing how gory, ugly and grotesque zombies look visually, but through apprehension. In fact, the zombies are usually concealed, whether or not it’s dark shadows covering the eyes, or at some point even black auras would surround them-which is an interesting visual design, but brilliant, and reinforces my point on how the anime scares people not through visuals but the mind. It’s as if the anime is constantly trying to confuse you that there isn’t anything wrong-just like the delusional main character of the show. At it’s heart, Gakkou Gurashi is also an anime about high school and slice of life, characters suffered but they grow, they spent their daily lives at school and they graduate. To encapsulate this whole paragraph, Gakkou Gurashi is pretty much high school slice of life/drama with zombies, in which when taken out of context, the zombies could even symbolize some problems of reality too, in which I’ll stop here and leave it to your interpretative hands (or minds).
 

shirobako

5. Shirobako

Funny story-Shirobako is actually in my main favorite anime list now too, an entry I considered for awhile, but still feel like it’s well-deserved. Shirobako is a (realistic) anime about making anime-it is at times sort of a documentary and is very informative-showing us the behind-the-scenes of anime production, at the same time, it is also a slice of life anime about the working lives of young adults. One thing I like about Shirobako is that it doesn’t depict the anime production industry with rose-tinted glasses, it’s realistic, and paints the hardships, struggles and the generally chaotic environment of the workplace-which could arguably be worse than some other jobs. Anime production is serious business.
 

[HorribleSubs] Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka S2 - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_19.42_[2016.01.01_21.26.57]

Honorable Mention(s): Moe Anime

Moe anime this year had been top tier, so I’m going to group a few in one entry. First up, Non Non Biyori Repeat. The series had always been great with their extremely relaxing atmosphere and season 2 is no different, and is able to reproduce that magic flawlessly. The anime depicts a relaxing rural lifestyle-it’s a “healing” anime which uses it’s lush visuals, calm tunes and brilliantly-inserted sound effects to produce an overall soothing atmosphere unlike any other. Next up, is GochiUsa Season 2. As far as typical moe shows go, GochiUsa isn’t that much different from it’s peers-relaxing, slice of life, yuri subtext with (very) subtle character and relationships development, but it’s just so damn good at what it does (even better than Season 1 imo). GochiUsa is an extremely endearing show filled with good, cute characters. Last but not least, Yuru Yuri Season 3, which is actually excellent in the sense that it went in a different direction-focusing more on the slice of life aspects rather than the zaniness from the previous two seasons. Another thing I feel warrant a mention is that some characters had really begun to interact in one-on-one conversations, as compared to previous seasons where it’s more focused on group dynamics. In other words, even Namori, the creator of the series, has got herself into the yuri shipfest as well, and we finally get to see interactions between some characters not in doujins, but -officially- as well.
 

plasticmemories

Honorable Mention(s): Plastic Memories

A lot of people disliked Plastic Memories for it’s comedy, criticizing that it ruined it’s potential. For me, I like it -because- of it’s comedy. Don’t get me wrong though, Plastic Memories isn’t a comedy anime in the first place, but drama, and the tear-jerking type at that. The reason why I’m praising it’s comedy isn’t because it’s good; in fact, it’s pretty much akin to LN shitty comedy (I would give it Angel Beats-level comedy at best), but that it’s comedy is necessary in the bigger picture. It just can’t be a weekly “Crying of the Week” episode where the characters routinely take care of different Giftia until the end, aside from the other Giftia, the main characters themselves are also developing characters and I definitely like the direction the anime actually took. Comedy and drama in frequent transitions-you would see LN comedy hijinks and a slow build-up drama, and this contrast between joy and sadness just made the entire experience more heartfelt and feels-inducing. No matter what people say, I love this anime, and for those who says otherwise, you guys suck.
 

[HorribleSubs] Noragami Aragoto - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.23_[2016.01.03_18.51.09]

Honorable Mention(s): Noragami Aragoto

Noragami to me, is just a shounen, but admittedly, a well-written shounen with great thematic focus. Noragami Aragato is another case where the sequel gets even better than the already excellent prequel. It’s interesting because the season started off with an extremely strong arc in Bishamon’s, in which it actually used a plot point introduced in season 1, but magnified to a much larger scale. It’s interesting in the sense that we see the two gods, Bishamon and Yato operated in completely different manners-in short, the arc deals with the theme of relationships between the gods and their Shinki. As good as the Bishamon arc was though, the second major arc in the season felt even more powerful. Particularly, Ebisu brought a lot of interesting elements to the table, for one, he is sort of an anti-hero of the series. But more importantly, Ebisu is pretty much the catalyst for Yato’s character development, in what was arguably the most feels-inducing scene of the anime. Ebisu and Yato barely interacted for just a few episodes this season, but to be able to feel this much emotional impact from that really tells you how good the writing is. Honestly, I would have been fine if the anime ended right then and there without revealing that shitty love triangle (spoilers in the link), but I guess we can see how this would play out in a possible season 3.

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This entry was posted by Kai.

23 thoughts on “Kai’s Favorite Anime of 2015

  1. I know I’m correct, but that doesn’t mean I’m right. – This xD

    You bring up an excellent point in saying that the Sagami arc of Season 1 was the “real” beginning of Oregairu. This is also where I find (what I believe to be) the reason behind Zoku’s success. I see Oregairu: Zoku as a product of good timing. When I try to look back at the arcs in the first season, I can’t help but see the slow progression from light and fairly rom-com to something fairly “darker”/heavier, and the Sagami arc, to me at least, was what set the tone as to what Oregairu is really about. Coming in to the second season we see the immediate fallout of that arc (with 8-man now a social pariah who, ironically, people go to now “to do things that no one else is capable of doing”) and that very well-done transition between the two seasons was what I appreciated the most. Whether the change in studio or just the sheer timing of the adaptation had anything to do with it, I really can’t tell, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both played a factor.

    “Unlimited Blade Works gets a lot of flak from people that until now, I just don’t understand.”
    My best guess is that the same people who give it flak see a lot of flaws in UBW (and the Fate series in general), that they in turn don’t understand why us fans like it so much.

    • Definitely a product of good timing, also the series released at a more modern time of anime culture-where short anime are more common than long anime (even for longer 20+ episodes anime, a lot of studios love breaking them into cours nowadays), and season 1 really stopped at just the perfect timing, showing us a glimpse of what OreGairu truly is. The change in studio also helps signify the feeling that “something is changed” in the anime, yes.

      That, and perhaps it’s just popular to hate popular things… :p

  2. Ah for such a post I had no time unfortunately, I also honestly forgot what aired in the rest of 2015.

    I only watched OreGairu this year, the elaborate characters and different portray of high school life,
    caught me off guard, this different way is amazingly good and thought provoking. It’s good that it isn’t completely drama
    and the characters do have fun together once in a while.

    In Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works I finallly learned to appreciate the Saber character, in this season she was
    a very good girl, the three person date really increased her charm points for me.
    I liked the last episode a lot, including the timeskip part was excellent.

    I think Kumiko x Reina, was great yuri love material, but I just feel dislike for Hibike! Euphonium,
    I hated the club, I hated it’s members…XD The club was portrayed as labor camp and actually
    no one had fun it. Also such lethargic, depressing highschool kids just suck XD

    I liked how Gakkou Gurashi! turned from a moe moe WTF! anime into a … yeah close to a masterpiece,
    the build up drama and changing atmosphere were handled carefully and it had a wonderful emotional power.

    I perfectly ignored Shirobako this year, but I will probably watch it later, hopefully it’s not a reality documentary…

    Yuru Yuri San☆Hai was awesome this season, it turned from mainly exploitation comedy to something with a heart.
    The appreciation for every character was in the atmosphere. It felt more like a portray of SOL friendship,
    but it still managed to be extremely hilarious. I was so that these crazy Akari bullying jokes stopped ^^
    The different pairings were also quite interesting, I loved it!

    • Indeed, again as I highlight in this post, OreGairu Zoku really shifts the atmosphere to the point that it doesn’t even feel like the same anime as season 1. There are tons of subtleties even when the characters have fun >_<

      Aside from Rin, Saber's definitely more bearable in UBW. She actually smiles (like a lot), not something common in the original Fate/Stay Night, and her just being the support for Shirou (and Rin) really just helps me like her character more rather than just making her all stiff and high-strung.

      They are going for drama in here, and it’s a really good drama for me. Lots of people were going into this show thinking it’s just another K-ON. I think to me, all the other added elements make this show a little more special than a show where “everyone has fun with no drama”-although I do love the latter kind of shows too, don’t get me wrong.

      I think to those who aren’t spoiled, episode 1 has to be the biggest shock. It definitely has a great atmosphere and the slow build-up drama coming to a conclusion is great, yeah.

      Shirobako’s not just a reality documentary, just watch it :p

      “appreciation for every character was in the atmosphere” Yeah, which is interesting, because this is something I don’t feel quite as strongly when I watch the previous seasons, the change in focus to slice of life moments definitely help I think, and the fact that they’re focusing more on two-character conversations rather than group dynamics. Her invisibility is very bully-able I guess xD
      They are kind of “experimental ships” by the creator herself, and most of them resulted in pretty refreshing dynamics.

  3. 2015 wasn’t a good year for me with anime but I did have a couple of favorites which were Shirobako and Noragami. I tried to watch Plastic Memories but it didn’t hold my attention long enough. May revisit it.

  4. I really need to go back for OreGairu and Shirabako.

    I loved Plastic Memories myself. I think the happy moments were a vital part of what the show is. I’d even argue that the happiness of Plastic Memories is really what the show is all about. Anime tragedies usually go in for the kill by pushing false hope on the characters if not the audience. Even Your Lie In April teased a miracle. Plastic Memories didn’t do that. It told us exactly what was coming and it did it’s best to make us smile anyway.

    • Damn man, finally someone gets it :D Not much to say here other than the fact that I whole-heartedly agree. In fact, it’s the same point I had been trying to make since the beginning of the show (or more specifically episode 3).

  5. I can see that loads of anime fans are putting Shirobako on their 2015 favorite list. I’m sure the reason is simple – we have a peek at behind the scenes stuff. And more than that, Shirobako has a way of letting audience cheer on the characters when they’re facing challenges.

    Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works will always be remembered for its actions. I enjoyed this version of Fate/Stay Night much better than the first. And unfortunately, Hibike! Euphonium is a miss for me.

    • That, and it’s just easy to relate to the characters with the theme they are going for. Shirobako also treats it’s characters with respect and care-not shoving them into nonsensical stuffs. Even “bad” characters in the show have an important role to play. It’s especially hard not to relate to characters like Zuka.

      Yeah, UBW’s action scenes are top notch. I would argue and say the show definitely has something going for it beyond just the actions, but if you’re already liking it then that’s good :p Euphonium’s a pretty good school drama for me, but nonetheless, I do see some people not liking it, definitely more of a rarity though.

  6. Welp. I didn’t watch any of these anime.

    The good news is, I do have a lot of them on my to watch list for 2016 (Gakkou, Euphonium, Noragami). Lists like this help. I’ll find out why these anime were so highly praised.

  7. It seems that there is a good number of shows that are on my top 5. It seems that PA Works (aside from Charlotte) and Kyoto Animation had a good year in terms of Anime TV productions. Shirobako (carry over from 2014) and Euphonium were very good. Also, liked how Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works turned out and looking forward to Heaven’s Feel movie.

    While I didn’t get to watch that many shows, at least 2015 was a pretty good year.

    • Shirobako and Euphonium are the very best last year indeed. Yeah, not sure about adapting it in a movie, but guess we’ll see.

      Definitely, have more problems limiting it to 5 entries than last year.

  8. Well you know which ones I picked up and ones I missed. The ones I did we wholeheartedly agree on why they’re awesome shows and which highlights they had. Good stuff all around for those who knew where to look.

  9. Pingback: Lists – I need 5! | deluscar

  10. Pingback: 12 Days of Moe – Day 9: Moepocalypse | deluscar

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