2014 is over, meaning the 70+ anime I was watching that had episodes airing this year are ultimately behind me. This also marks my first complete year as an anime blogger, so this is the first time I’ve gotten to reflect on a full year of anime consumption. I’m not here to act like a pretentious critic, because these aren’t really awards as much as they are celebratory commendations. The anime industry has such a colorful and creative existence, that it wholly deserves to be considered in the same vain as an award show, so I’m going to do my best to make this at least a bit organized and serious.
Let’s lay down some ground rules. I am only nominating and declaring winners from the pool of anime that I have watched, or attempted to watch. There are a couple that managed to slip by me. There are even some that I will admit are probably well made, but are so far from my personal preferences that I don’t care to watch them just for the sake of their popularity. This means certain anime, like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, are not being considered. I am also being a bit impartial in my selections as well, but there are anime that appeal to me more than I believe they will appeal to the masses. It’s a bit of a mix of both. Rest assured, the winners of each category are hopefully justified. So let’s get started! I’ll be your host, and this is a celebration of the greatness that anime achieved in 2014! The first awards will only discuss the winner, but the main awards will also list the nominees in alphabetical order, followed by the runner up, and concluding with the winner!
Best Anime Short – Me! Me! Me!
I bet those who follow current anime trends saw this one coming from a mile away. This anime short has sparked a lot of conversation recently, and it’s one I absolutely love partaking in. This short amounts to roughly five minutes, is lavishly animated throughout, and contains a rather high percentage of seemingly unnecessary sexual content. This has caused many to instantly dismiss this short as crude, perverted expression without a sense of depth. But that’s not true now, is it?
This short, after a small amount of forgiving reflection, actually has a lot of self-awareness, and in fact, this sexual content is actually a character in itself. This short doesn’t have content like this simply because it’s creators are a bunch of perverts. This content is in this short because it already exists, and it’s using it to tell a powerful character story. What, exactly, that story is tends to hinge on interpretation of he viewer, but it’s quite easy to snag the basic foundation. This sexual content is causing the main character of the short all kinds of mental and emotional turmoil. He wants it. He doesn’t want it. He falls victim to it. He tries resisting it. It’s a struggle, and one that is bundled up in so much anime-like aesthetic that it seems mindless for those who purely look at it’s shell. Sure, they spent extra time to make the eroticism look stunning, and therefore it seems like that’s all the creators care about, but this was an entry in a competition, so I’m sure some fastidiousness is wholly justified. They put that much attention into everything. It’s the majority of the audience who isn’t dividing their attention correctly. You can watch Me! Me! Me! here.
Best Anime Opening – Tokyo Ghoul
For this particular category, I did watch anime openings to anime I didn’t necessarily watch, but even with that, the winner was still clear with only minor competition. The Tokyo Ghoul opening video is both a work of visual beauty and musical bliss. While any specific song won’t sound as good to each person’s ears, it’s hard to say that the song isn’t well made. It’s raw, energetic guitar riffs and high-key vocals create a memorable harmony to add visual cues to. And man do these visual cues send it home.
The subtlety of the opening is one reason it does so well. It’s not a barrage of montages, nor is it a standard-fare look at all the characters one after the other. This opening is pure artistic expression using the anime characters as the medium. The Kagune, which are the striking predatory organs of the ghouls serve as the visual “punch” that this opening needed to give it more visual identity then all the other openings this year. Making the effort to have each clip of the opening look more like a work of art rather than a random glimpse at a fight scene from the series definitely made this feel much more reflective and evocative. You can watch the opening here.
Best Anime Music Video – Salvation of Kiritsugu
Out of nowhere, this slickly edited and perfectly paced AMV hit the anime community like a truck. It’s an entry in the still-in-progress Akross International AMV contest, and it’s widely considered to be the surefire winner this year. (Winners will be announced in February.) It uses the song “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” by Lorde, which is a sublime cover of an older, much more uppity song. It’s creator goes by the moniker, Tsuki-bito.
This AMV is based on the critically acclaimed 2012 series, Fate/Zero, and perfectly captures the harrowing journey of Kiritsugu, the main character. Starting off with a dark, ambient build up full of subtle, grim shots, it slowly escalates into a masterful cacophony that still manages to dazzle and amaze. It shows that Fate/Zero is an anime with beautiful action, but before that, it’s a dreary, and powerful drama. You can watch this AMV here.
Best Surprise Anime – Shingeki no Bahamut
This anime shouldn’t have worked. It’s based on a mere digital card game, and every hint and implication painted this anime as a soulless cash-in to simply make the card game more popular. Then nearly the entire anime community ate their words as they were treated to a perfectly suitable adventure anime with fun, energetic action. The characters all had their own type of charm, most particularly, anime’s first ever “Jack Sparrow,” in our own Favaro Leone.
The artwork and animation is impressive, to say the least, and at times, it was the best looking anime of the year. The character designs all ooze with fantastical characteristics, and every demon, angel, and warrior had a distinctive look and feel to them. And just about all of them are bad-asses in their own way. It was a delightful turn of events that this anime turned out to be something completely enjoyable. Now, whether it deserves a spot near the best of the year will be debated in that respective award.
Worst Surprise Anime – Glasslip
Hot on the heels of Nagi no Asakura, the beautiful and well-received anime with amazing water visuals, everyone expected Glasslip to be another charming and stunning work of animation. So how in the world did this end up turning into their worst reviewed anime since the studio’s first anime in 2006?! There’s not much blame to throw around. This was just a stroke of bad luck, and I hope P.A. Works gets a better crew and/or storyline for their next big anime.
Glasslip was just awful. It’s art was pretty, as is expected of the animators behind Angel Beats and Another, but even that couldn’t carry this atrocious character drama at all. I really wanted to like this anime, and so did a lot of other faithful fans, but it would take an inhumane amount of devotion to follow this to the end.
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