2016 In Review – Our Favorites, Biggest Disappointments, and Guilty Pleasures

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Favorite Show: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Season 1

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Best Episode: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 16

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Biggest Disappointment: GATE 2

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Guilty Pleasure: Qualidea Code

I ended up reviewing the fewest shows among my comrades, but Gundam was so good (and so, well, long) that it made up for the lack of shows I was really interested in. I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed in both the last cour of Durarara!! and with Macross Delta in general, which I, perhaps misguidedly, believed would at least be as good as Frontier was.

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Favorite Show: ReLIFE

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Best Episode: Orange – 03

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Biggest Disappointment: WWW.Working!!

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Guilty Pleasure: Momokuri / Hundred

Both of my GPs offered good bang for the buck; there’s not much to either of them, but I was always excited to watch both; Momokuri to see how much farther the couple would progress that week, and Hundred to see what stupid thing they’d do (or fail to animate) next. WWW.Working!!, on the other hand, I just couldn’t get through.

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Favorite Show: Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

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Best Episode: Re:Zero – 15

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Biggest Disappointment: Mayoiga

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Guilty Pleasure: Sousei no Onmyouji

Well, SnO was my GP until I realized it wasn’t really going anywhere and wasn’t really good enough to keep around once I fell behind due to other obligations. In a way, it replaced Ushio to Tora as my GP, and I really didn’t need two such shows back-to-back. SnO’s 50 episodes proved too many. As for Mayoiga, woof.

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Favorite Show: Boku dake ga Inai Machi

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Best Episode: Re:Zero – 01

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Biggest Disappointment: Mob Psycho 100

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Guilty Pleasure: Haikyuu!! Season 3

If not for the super unpleasant mid-point and throwaway section introducing the battle for the throne, I would gladly have given my top slot to Re:Zero, which was surprisingly unique in a year filled with ‘in another world’ AND ‘time travel mystery’ shows. Regardless, the opening episode flew me high and caught me by surprise with its dark twist and sealed my favorite single seating for the year. ReLife and Flying Witch both deserve honorable mentions too.

The Top 15 Anime We Watched in 2016

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In 2016 the staff of RABUJOI watched 101 shows and reviewed 42 of them to completion (and yes, that’s the answer to life the universe and everything). When all was watched and reviewed, these fifteen shows comprise the cream of the crop, based on our average ratings.

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15. Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge

Spring – 8.17

Tanaka-kun is one of only two shows from a pedestrian Spring that managed to make this list, despite its relatively modest rating. Call it an honorable mention. It’s here because few shows this year were funnier, made better use of silence, or possessed better comic timing. It was a deliciously witty high school comedy that made the classic “boring lazy protagonist” to the extreme and made him not boring. Tanaka wasn’t the only star of this show; the entire eclectic ensemble was imminently likable, and they attended a Shaft-esque, architecturally elaborate school in a mundane yet beautifully-rendered, often luminous town. And it wasn’t all comedy; there were some nice relationship moments too.

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14. Flip Flappers

Winter – 8.58

Flip Flappers shares this year’s title for most visually creative, dynamically animated show with Space Patrol Luluco. Beautiful and light, FliFla’s mysterious world exudes a storybook quality that should be inviting for most audiences. Unfortunately, as the mystery made way for a more anime-conventional conflict and a convoluted backstory, which FliFla’s weekly one-off adventures could not possibly set up, those dreamy visuals lost their luster. In the end, it remains worth a watch, if only for the first four episodes.

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13. ReLIFE

Summer – 8.46

Don’t let the average looks, gimmicky premise, or goofy title fool you: ReLIFE combined young adult regret and ennui with solid high school drama that really captured the undue importance young people place on their personal affairs and entanglements at that age. While not as dense or sophisticated as, say, Oregairu, the intensity with which ReLIFE presents the joys and trials of youth is plain to see, and every character is well-rounded, rootable, and just plain fun to watch. This show was also released all at once, Netflix-style, making it perfect for a midsummer binge.

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12. 3-gatsu no Lion

Fall – 8.55

Though not quite half over, March Comes In Like A Lion nevertheless earns a spot on this list. Its title may call to mind Your Lie in April, and features an emotionally stunted prodigy with shaggy black hair and Issues, but it stands on its own merits: one of the year’s more lovable families and coziest homes, a gorgeous watercolor palette, unique character design, and a toned-down but still interesting, often striking direction from Shinbo Akiyuki. I daresay the show succeeds in spite of its protagonist and his interminable inner dialogues, thanks to the care taken with the people and world around him.

11. Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara

Summer – 8.62

While lacking the same novelty, inventiveness, and pace of its excellent first season, I still had plenty of appetite for Food Wars 2, which aired as a single Summer cour. Even matches and face-offs we knew were coming became thrilling in the heat of battle, and the culinary lessons learned (or confirmed) and ideas gleaned are a nice bonus. I’ve gone on record as saying the best part of this season, and a big reason it’s on this list, was the Stagiaire mini-arc, and watching characters outside of the arena and school applying their trade in real world situations. Food Wars is above all comfort food, and is always welcome as long as quality doesn’t dip too far (cough cough WWW.Working!!).

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10. Alderamin on the Sky

Summer – 8.62

Fantasy military shows seem like a dime a dozen, and on the ‘cover’, this ‘book’ looked like it had all the makings of another fun, if anonymous, low-fantasy romp. Further perusal of its ‘pages’ revealed Alderamin had two things that distinguished it as a rewarding, worthwhile viewing experience: an abundance of Gravitas, and a phenomenal core friendship. Ikta and Yatori made this show. For the first four episodes, we immediately learn the unique and complex nature of their relationship, then the fifth episode provides firsthand context and deepened my devotion to them all the more. While the show sometimes attempted (and failed) in its attempts at slapstick humor, I never tired of the witty – or serious – banter between these two.

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9. Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

Winter – 8.67

Grimgar draws you into its beautiful, brutal world and doesn’t let go. A pristine textbook lesson on the importance, and the spoils, of careful preparation. World-building, character-building, conflict-building; Grimgar’s first seven episodes prepare the audience for an electrifying reckoning in the eighth. The show could have ended right there and still been on this list – higher up in the rankings – but its final third still ended strong, for the same reasons the first two, only in a more compressed, less impactful form.

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8. Amaama to Inazuma

Winter – 8.83

I own and maintain a small child, about Tsumugi’s age and together we watched this show wrapped in our proxies’ worlds. AtI nails the specifics of a small child, for the most part, and the nature of being an adult living with that child. It’s earnest, charming, and the recipe of the week nature makes it easy to drop in and love. All it was missing was visual variety (almost always taking place in the wood toned kitchen) and a long term goal or purpose. Regardless, this is a thoughtful, insightful slice of life about people, food and loss and you should go back and watch it if you did not.

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7. Hibike! Euphonium 2

Fall – 8.85

Even though the vast majority of the cast are elite teen musicians, Euph remains the gold standard for the genuine depiction of relatable young people as they amble gingerly towards the responsibilities and (relative) emotional stability of adulthood. And there are few characters this year as inscrutably effective in getting things done as Kumiko, nor are there BFF duos with chemistry as good as Kumiko and Reina. The second season has seen Kumiko not only put out a number of potentially cohesion-killing brush fires among the band, but also mend fences with her estranged sister. And just when you thought all these dealings had her drifting from her beloved Reina, the two have a thoroughly touching reconciliation. Sure, Hazuki, Sapphire, and especially Shuu are pretty much background characters this season, but who cares?

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6. Orange

Summer – 8.92

The best romantic dramas (or comedies, or dramadies) preclude the viewer from asking questions like “why is everything so damned dramatic?” or “yes, but why should I care?” From word go, I never considered those questions, so immersed was I in the drama and suspense of the events in Orange. The show only stumbled when it got to granular about the mechanisms of its time-travelling correspondence, but while the ideas it presented were hardly new, their serious application in a shoujo romance made for compelling viewing; sometimes intensely so.

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5. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Winter – 8.92

The number of TV anime series we watched this year that depict wartime and postwar life in Japan as rigorously as Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu can be counted…on one finger. It’s a prickly space to work in, but Shouwa manages to thrive in a narrow corner with the very specialized vehicle of rakugo. It avoids being overly clinical in its explanation of the highly refined and deeply Japanese variant of oral tradition thanks to the powerful portrayal of its complex characters, two of whom approach their slowly waning craft from opposing directions. Once they get into a story, and that fantastic jazzy score kicks in, you can’t help but be swept in. I frankly can’t wait for the continuation of their story this coming Winter.

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4. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Winter – 8.96

The score above applies to the first twenty-five episodes of IBO, ending in March of this year. Yes, half of that season began last Fall, but it ended this Spring, with a lot accomplished and a lot of promise for the still-ongoing second season (which is also pretty damn good). From the start, it was clear this was going to be a gritty, low(er)-tech Gundam, packed with complex players who populate every possible shade of gray. Motivations and loyalties shift with time and circumstances. Battles rage to varying degrees of completion, and the stakes continue to mount as we become more invested in the combatants. There are characters who were born with everything, and some who were born with nothing. There’s the struggle between rebellious youth yearning for freedom and a stubborn over-class of adults of various levels of nefariousness, looking to cling to old systems. Finally, the gritty, rusty, brutally physical nature of the mobile suit battles themselves match the overall tone of the show.

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3. Boku dake ga Inai Machi

winter – 9.00

Prior to the Fall, Re:Zero and ERASED were pretty closely matched as Franklin’s favorite shows of 2016 and both have a time travel element. Of the two, ERASED is more tightly paced (as it must be with half the eps) and consistent in emotional impact. In ERASED, we ultimately know there is only one villain and one hero, with a small cast of friends to save along the way. This makes ERASED focused but it also means the world building largely works because it is our world, with recognizable structures. This also means that ERASED’s post-villain showdown payoff, that its protagonist finally has manga worth making and ‘gets the girl’ is somewhat unrelated feel-good gravy. But that doesn’t discount the quality, or the intensity, of the buildup that preceded that payoff, which is good enough to land ERASED in our 2016 Top 3.

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2. Re:Zero

Spring – 9.04

Re:Zero‘s gut churning mid-arc, where Subaru burns many of his bridges, was the boldest narrative decision made by any studio this year. Breaking Subaru into a sputtering, unlikable and emotionally raw character risked turning off viewers, but gave us a fantastic, rounded hero to cheer on by the end.

Yes, it is frustrating that the conflict of the moment all but crowds Puck, the Dragon and the Witch’s stories out but, by playing the exact nature of those mysteries close to its chest, and implying that those mysteries may not be knowable as they can be changed dynamically by Subaru’s actions, Re:Zero almost gives us something better.

What held Re:Zero from top show was, ironically, several elements that leave so much mileage left in its tank. Priscilla, Anastasia and Felt ultimately feel tacked on only to make the battle for succession bigger. Felt in particular feels like a genre cliche, with her “I’ll break the nobility system” yo-yo to/not to participate. While her response may have emphasized Subie’s downfall, it was mostly cringey and, since she wasn’t in the rest of the series, felt like a needless thread. That false thread also emphasized the needlessness of others like the blank letter and the exploding stones.

Similarly, Reinhard, Priscilla’s bare-chested knight and Otto each came off as plot-movers and not real characters. This would be more acceptable if each had functioned like a traditional NPC and appeared across a larger number of episodes. Otto in particular feels under explored or over exposed, since his magic drag racing ability wasn’t necessary for Subie’s final showdown with Sloth-chan.

However, at the end of the day, Re:Zero is packed with expectation-breaking moments, great highs, and deep lows. Subie writing an end to Sloth-chan’s book of prophecy (in his blood) was just one from the finale. Packed is how I would describe this show in general, as it regularly stuffed narrative into the opening and closing credits and, even at 25 episodes, rarely felt like it was ‘dragging its feet’ for the final battle.

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1. Yuri!!! On Ice

Winter – 9.42

In purely technical terms, Yuri on Ice!!! is the best-crafted show of the year. From color pallete, to gesture, to camera moves, to variable focal depths and character stylizations being used to control the viewers focus, it nails everything with a master level. But YoI is more than that – it builds a relatable world with dozens of characters, each with an intricate network of relationships, motivations and goals.

However, what truly elevates YoI above is what it is not. It is not a time travel show. It is not a mecha/scifi show. It is not a grim-dark drama with fate on the line. It has no story gimmick or genre familiarity or topical hook or magical spin on the visuals for the audience. It barely has stakes at all. Like Hibiki, this means the show must carry the audience’s attention entirely on its own merits, and boy did it.

Congratulations anime of 2016, you just got schooled by a quasi-boy love show about ice skaters!

2015 By The Numbers

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1

Punch needed for Saitama to defeat the vast majority of his opponents

2

Food-themed shows

2.08

Episodes reviewed per day*

3

Shows reviewed exclusively by Franklin (Oigakkosan)

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4

Preston’s controversial rating of Rokka no Yuusha’s final episode

5

2-cour shows contained entirely within the year

6

Number of Steins;Gate episodes added to the RABUJOI World Heritage List (RWHL)

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7.8

Percent of episodes rated “10” (Masterpiece)

8.25

Weighted Average Rating of all shows watched

9

GOD EATER episodes aired; the remaining four will supposedly air in Winter 2016

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12

Shows dropped

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13

Shows in which Hanazawa Kana voiced a lead or supporting character

17

Sequels and spin-offs*

26

Episodes added to the RWHL (for a total of 59)

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57

Total shows watched*

116

Lines of dialogue devoted to boob size

278

Hours of anime watched (>11.5 days)*

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758

Episodes watched and reviewed*

920

Blog posts

2,018

Comments

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483,000

Words written*

*Dropped shows not included.

Hannah’s Top 10 Anime of 2015

See Preston’s List Here. See Zane’s List Here.

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Honorable Mention #2: Cross Ange – Winter (7.32) – A brash, audacious, ambitious, subversive, and above all polarizing feminist alternative to Gundam, but also a roller coaster of dizzyingly-awesome heights and embarrassing lows, resulting in its unimpressive average rating

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Honorable Mention #1: Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai – Spring (7.91) – Somewhat parallels Saekano with its richly detailed harem scope in which each girl gets her just dues, but in a sweet fantasy-action-military setting, and featuring a soundtrack so good it elevated the show’s rating at least half a point

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10. Ghost in the Shell ARISE – Spring (8.10) – A very cool, slick, and competent (if not groundbreaking) re-imagining of a classic. Reignited my passion for the awesomeness that is Major Kusanagi

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9. GANGSTA. – Summer (8.25) – The title needs a little work, as did the ending, but the fallen world setting, complex relationship between the two male leads, and the arc of the female lead transcended the usual crime-action fare

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8. Durarara!!x2 Shou – Winter (8.25) – With two cours down and one to go in its sequel triad, the first was slightly better than the second, with particular focus on single episodes that best expressed the franchise’s sprawling spirit

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7. OverLord – Summer (8.38) – Quickly set itself apart from SAO with a style and a comic swagger all its own, featuring some of the best overpowered battles of the year, along with some of the biggest laughs

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6. Attack on Titan – Retro Review (8.40) – Not a 2015 show per se, but that’s when I finally cracked it open, and I instantly got the appeal. It’s often dark, brutal, and merciless, but the action is righteously addictive

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5. Aldnoah.Zero 2 – Winter (8.58) – An exciting, immersive, technically impressive space opera that could have benefited from a less perfect protagonist and a better sense of humor.

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4. Sidonia no Kishi 2 – Spring (8.83) – A dark, gritty, sexy, terrifying, gorgeous and impeccably-rendered sci-fi milieu that left me wanting more

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3. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – Fall (8.85) – Only halfway in and I’m prepared to declare this the best Gundam I’ve seen (sorry Seed, 00, and Recon in G). Bold, gritty, complex, and immensely fun

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2. Fate stay night: Unlimited Blade Works Season 2 – Spring (8.92) – A powerful conclusion to a show I started last year, which backed up its world-beating visuals with compelling, even iconic clashes, with a nice romance on the side

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1. Steins;Gate – Retro Review (9.38) – Also far from a 2015 show, but one I watched in 2015, and one that blew everything else away to become one of my all-time faves

Zane’s Top 10 Anime of 2015

Click here for Preston’s List.

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Honorable Mention #2: Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry – Fall (8.38) – The best of the three Fall “Magical School/Harem” shows, due in large part to a likable couple with a extremely solid and credible central romance

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Honorable Mention #1: Owarimonogatari – Fall (8.42) – Really a tale of two shows; IMO Sodachi Lost was superior in terms of emotional resonance than Shinobu Mail, which felt like it dragged a lot more

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10. Shokugeki no Souma – Spring (8.58) – Food. Comedy. Romance. Rivalries. Everything I love in one show! Inspired me to cook a lot more than I usually do when I was watching it. Deliciously awesome

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9. Oregairu 2 – Spring (8.58) – Brilliantly written drama driven by a cast of wonderfully well-rendered, emotionally struggling young people trying to find out who they are and where they fit in the world and in each others’ lives

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8. One Punch Man – Fall (8.67) – Brevity is the soul of wit. This show’s title is its premise, and it’s gushing with both wit and bodaciously awesome – and typically howlingly funny action

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7. Hibike! Euphonium – Spring (8.75) – Turns out there was room for another high school music romance in my life – one with less psychedelic visuals! And some moments ended up matching and even surpassing Violin Girl

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6. Gakkou Gurashi! – Summer (8.83) – Don’t let the bright, cheerful beginning fool you, this bold and uncompromising show is a lot more than meets the eye, and it went places I never thought it would

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5. Ore Monogatari!! – Spring (8.92) – Huge nice guy, tiny nice girl, and a regular-sized, nice best friend. The quality that unites them all is kindness, earnestness, and selflessness. Even when they faced inevitable conflicts, the trio was always an absolute joy to watch

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4. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – Winter (9.05) – Even when we knew tragedy would befall the protagonist, and the childhood friend lamented her lot in life for the umpteenth time, I still couldn’t look – or listen – away. A show that truly brought out all the feels without fail (though its slapstick comedy often clanged on the floor)

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3. Prison School – Summer (9.08) – No show since Aku no Hana has so effectively weaponized adolescence and sex. Only where that show was dark, this one is mostly hilarious, though also tense and occasionally sweet

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2. Saekano – Winter (9.15) – A smart, funny, sexy, cute harem rom-com that’s a send-up of harem rom-coms, having its cake and eating it too. Featuring one of my favorite characters of the year: a boring girlfriend who’s anything but

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1. Yuri Kuma Arashi (9.17) – There are multiple ways of watching YKA – Gorgeous eye (and ear) candy on its surface, but deeper analysis of its characters, themes and iconography comprise a harsh critique of Japanese society. Not quite as good as Penguindrum, but still petty damn great

Preston’s Top 10 Anime of 2015

As is standard practice at the end of the year, the three of us are presenting our Top 10 lists for 2015. I’m up first —MagicalChurlSukui

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Honorable Mention #2: Parasyte – Winter (7.88) – Far from perfect, especially in its second half, but definitely worth watching for the creepy horror factor

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Honorable Mention #1: GARO – Winter (7.88) – Amidst all the yelling, armor-donning and monster-smashing came one of the year’s best and heartbreaking episodes

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10. Subete ga F ni Naru – Fall (8.00) – An all-consuming, intimate, claustrophobic little murder mystery that really got the brain cells churning

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9. Ushio to Tora – Summer (8.04) – It’s an old story – A Boy and His Youkai – presented in with throwback style and earnestness but a modern, self-deprecating edge – plus a lot of badass girls

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8. Kamisama Hajimemashita 2 – Winter (8.17) – One of the most consistently sweet romances of the year, without ever descending into the saccharine

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7. Sakurako-san – Fall (8.25) – An unconventional tentative romance is borne as the gorgeous genuis detective/osteologist investigates cases involving rare-for-anime themes

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6. Owari no Seraph 2 – Fall (8.33) – The family of demon gear-using soldiers that stays together survives together, along with one vampire who never wanted to be one

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5 (Tie). Kekkai Sensen – Spring (8.36) – One of the weirdest, wildest, and most visually and thematically ambitious show of the year, as is be expected from the creator of Kyousougiga

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5 (Tie). Yamada-kun no 7-nin – Spring (8.36) – A surprisingly poignant and complex romp set in a school where seven distinct magical powers are handed down to students who need them

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4. Re-Kan! – Spring (8.38) – The biggest surprise success of the year, full of wonderful moments of love and kindness that had me in tears more than once

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3. Tokyo Ghoul 2 – Winter (8.67) – A sequel that surpassed its predecessor by further developing its core (and tossing them into depths) while presenting a compelling supporting cast

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2. Noragami Aragoto – Fall (8.69) – Another sequel better than the original, balancing the growing bond of the core trio while challenging them and their friends with fresher, more complex villains

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1. Charlotte – Summer (8.77) – P.A. Works fully redeems itself with a brilliant blend of fantastical superpowers, down-to-earth romance, and an epic scale with heavy stakes

The Best, Most Surprisingly Good, and Most Disappointing Shows of 2014

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2014 was a big year full of tons of shows, and tons of shows we reviewed. We went from several semi-silent reviewers with one voice to three reviewers to four, officially running their own schedules, arguing for the best and worst of each week. Looking back, here were our picks for highlights of 2014:

The Best Shows

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Sidonia no Kishi – We all agree that this was one of the best all-round shows, if not the best. It almost makes the Most Surprising list as well, because if it weren’t for Franklin accidentally stumbling across it early in the season, none of us were planning to watch it!

SnK’s storytelling is solid, dark, weird, and unique but that’s not even it’s most notable feature! For us, this was the first, fully CGI show that is both fun to look at and well-produced!

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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – Frankly, this show looked like it was going to be great from the get-go, recalling shades of the Ghibli “real world” masterpiece Whisper of the Heart, as well as the more contemporary works of Shinkai Makoto and KyoAni. One 11-ep cour in and it has been great. No other show this year has delivered so many spellbinding moments, or so expertly blended abysses of despair with dizzying heights of triumph.

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Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – No other show we weren’t watching (or had no previous exposure to) was more highly recommended by you, our treasured readers. And, for that, we thank you. Even if it has an eye-rollingly silly title, and we probably missed dozens of references to and easter eggs from other Fate media, it was still a confident, impeccably-crafted show we had no trouble immersing ourselves into.

The Most Surprisingly Good Shows

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Amagi Brilliant Park  A massive (yet massively fun and memorable) cast inhabiting a sprawling (yet specific) setting with lots of room to breathe convinced us to give this show constant praise. What made ABP surprising is how little attention its PR items got and how everyone here but Franklin dismissed it before it even came out.

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One Week Friends – This quiet, unassuming show packed a lot of powerful, even nosy emotion. We also didn’t catch on to this until after the season started, but we’re glad we did.

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Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – Zane watched this with his nose pinched, worried it was another case of ‘guy treats girl like crap; girl keeps coming back.’ It turned out to be a lot more complicated, and satisfying, than that.

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Sabagebu! – Princess Ugly herself, even Franklin almost dropped this absurd show at first glance, assuming it was going to be a knockoff of Gainax’s mostly dull Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 (which only had one or two great episodes). It turned out to be much funnier; so much so that we could forgive it’s subpar (if we’re being charitable) production values.

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WTF?! Special Mention: Love Stage – 03 – A guy essentially sexually assaulting another with “Sailor Moon costume change”-style effects was not what Franklin was expecting at that point in the show!

The Most Disappointing Shows

These weren’t the worst shows, per se. Just shows that were surprisingly disappointing to us, especially because we liked them to begin with.

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InoBato – Put concisely: It simply never knew what it wanted to be. It was a good show, but that indecisiveness kept it from being great.

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PSYCHO-PASS 2 – It had its moments, and those were times when the show most closely hewed to its 2012 predecessor. Hannah was in the fairly unique position of having finished PP’s first season right before starting the second, with no time in between. PP2 too often traded the old show’s intellectual/philosophical battles for shootouts, explosions, and credulity-straining plot twists. Its ending also felt immensely rushed.

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Zankyou no TerrorThis pissed off Franklin most of all, but even Hannah can’t deny that the introduction of the highly cliched Five character really dragged the show down, especially when she attempted to speak English for no good reason.

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Special Mention: Aldnoah.Zero – 12 – ‘Killing off’ people who are most likely going to be back in the second season was kind of deflating.

RABUJOI’s Top 38 Episodes of 2014

Episodes are listed alphabetically by show title.

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Akame ga Kill! – 21


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Akame ga Kill! – 24


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Amagi Brilliant Park – 08


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Fate stay/night: Unlimited Blade Works – 00


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Fate stay/night: Unlimited Blade Works – 01


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Fate stay/night: Unlimited Blade Works – 03


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Fate stay/night: Unlimited Blade Works – 04


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Fate stay/night: Unlimited Blade Works – 07


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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – 11


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Golden Time – 22


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Hanamonogatari – 04


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Kill la Kill – 17


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Kill la Kill – 18


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Kill la Kill – 20


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Kill la Kill – 21


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Kill la Kill – 22


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Kill la Kill – 23


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Nagi no Asukara – 18


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Nagi no Asukara – 25


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Nagi no Asukara – 26


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Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – 07


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PSYCHO-PASS 2 – 05


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Sabagebu! – 12


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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – 02


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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – 04


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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – 06


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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – 08


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Shingeki no Bahamut – 02


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Shingeki no Bahamut – 04


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Shingeki no Bahamut – 05


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Sidonia no Kishi – 05


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Sidonia no Kishi – 12


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Space Dandy – 05

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Space Dandy 2 – 08


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Sword Art Online II – 23


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Zankyou no Terror – 04


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Zankyou no Terror – 07


RABUJOI’s Top 22 Couples of 2014

UPDATE: We’ve added a couple more couples from Fall 2013 shows that carried over into Winter 2014, bringing the total to 24, not 22.

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1. Mine x Tatsumi

Akame ga Kill! – At first it seemed like Tatsumi’s love interest would be the titular Akame, while Mine was someone he merely constantly bickered with. Yet their chemistry only got better in time, and after both saved each others’ lives multiple times, they finally clicked, and got to say what needed to be said before Mine tragically succumbed to her battle injuries.

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2. Esdeath x Tatsumi

Akame ga Kill! – Another romance involving Tatsumi that started out as a joke but grew more serious as time and circumstances with the war progressed. Esdeath proved that while she was a monster, she was also still a human being, which meant sought someone to give her heart to and share her life of death and destruction with, and Tatsumi literally checked all of her boxes. I only hesitated to list these two because Tatsumi never really seemed interested in Esdeath beyond superficial titillation, but Tatsumi did basically offer himself to her if she came over to the rebellion.

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3. Haru x Tokaku

Akuma no Riddle – While this list is mostly boy-girl pairings, that doesn’t preclude other combinations as long as they were interesting, and Haru and Tokaku’s certainly was, with both girls in turn taking up the “protector” role as conditions warranted, and even Haru’s dark secrets not swaying Tokaku from her side.

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4. Kisara x Rentarou

Black Bullet – Rentarou was adopted into Kisara’s family, but while that technically makes them siblings and thus not couple material, that turns out to be the least of their worries. Let’s get one thing out of the way: Rentarou and Kisara love each other, and it goes beyond standard familial love; they’re devoted to one another, with a bond forged in the hellish fires of the past. What dooms them, in the shows somewhat curtailed ending, is Kisara’s descent into darkness, choosing to become an even greater evil to destroy the great evil that infects the world…starting with Kazumitsu, her brother by blood. It’s a road Rentarou can’t follow her down, and she knows that. It’s also quite sad.

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5. Rikka x Yuuta

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – Well…duh. You didn’t think these two wouldn’t be on this list, did you? I mean look at them…bloody adorable. But that’s not to say they were just a couple of cute faces. They went through some things, including trying to parse out what their relationship is and what its pace should be, as well as overcoming a feisty rival.

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6. Hilda x Roselie x Chris

Cross Ange: Tenchi to Ryuu no Rondo – Yes, I know, this is a trio, not a couple, but I’ll allow it. Arzenal is many things, and ‘women’s prison’ is one of them. As such, the ‘weak’ (either physically or emotionally) ally themselves with the ‘strong’, be it in the skies, the mess hall, or boudoir. These three comprised Troop Captain Zola’s harem, and Zola looked after them both on duty and off. When she was killed in action they carried on with Hilda in her place. Then Hilda deserted, and it was just Chris and Roselie. When she’s recaptured, Hilda claims she was just playing around with them…but I wasn’t convinced she was being totally honest with herself.

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7. Nagi x Kyoutarou

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – Yes, the show wants to give all the girls possibilities with Kyoutarou, and seems to want to nudge him in the direction of Tsugumi in particular, but I’ve always found this pairing to be the most compelling. They have a past, and spend the most time together, often with no pretense or tension. The only problem is they share the same father. Whoops…

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8. Rin x Shirou

Fate stay/night: Unlimited Blade Works – Rin and Shirou are far from an official couple, but it can’t be argued that they have a certain romantic tension in their interactions, which have varied from verbal to physical/magical altercations to sharing dinner and spending the night under the same roof (though not in the same room). They’ve been enemies, and they’ve been allies, and there’s the constant indication that the alliance is temporary and they’ll be enemies again before too long…but in the interim, they make a good team.

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9. Kazumi x Ryouta

Gokukoku no Brynhildr – This is another case (there were many this year) when I wasn’t as interested in the show’s intended ‘main’ couple of Ryouta and Neko. Kazumi was a way more dynamic character and she and Ryouta have some great dramatic and comedic scenes together.

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10. Tomoyo x Jurai

Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – There are cuter and more precocious (Chifuyu), taller and more voluptuous (Sayumi), lovey-dovier (Mirei) and more familiar (Hatoko) women in Jurai’s life, but none ever clicked quite so well as he and the crimson-headed Tomoyo. They bicker a lot, but out of mutual interest in and affection for each other, not loathing.

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11. Satomi x Shinichi

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – File Satomi and Shinichi under 2014’s Most Doomed Couples, despite their mutual affection and brilliant natural chemistry…well, when Shinichi isn’t making scary faces, yelling at her for no reason, or tossing puppy carcasses in the garbage.

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12. Rurumo x Kouta

Majimoji Rurumo – You can’t tell a book by it’s cover, and the rather childish-looking MMR had a surprisingly rich and mature romance at its core, which rightly took center stage, rather than the magical milieu. Ruru even shelves her original purpose for contracting with Kouta, because completing that would separate the two (via his death), something neither of them want.

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13. Chisaki x Tsumugu

Nagi no Asukara – I loved Miuna to death, but for most of the second core when she’s a main character, her’s was a one-sided love. No, the best couple in this show were the two I thought least likely to pair up, only it happened anyway due to circumstances and time. Their relationship is threatened by Tsumugu’s future and the awakening of their friends, but by the end it endures. They just fit, as the photo above indicates.

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14. Kosaki x Raku

Nisekoi – Sorry, Chitoge, but Kosaki was here first! Not only that, Raku liked her and she liked him first. They were on the cusp of connecting when Chitoge arrived, and no matter how much progress she and Raku made towards becoming less of a fake couple and more of a real one, Chitoge still felt like an interloper. Of course, that’s partly on Kosaki and Raku, for not having the guts to come right out and confess to each other. The show itself didn’t seem to want them together, but that doesn’t change the fact that they were the best fit for each other.

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15. Kaori x Yuuki

One Week Friends – There were times on this show when you weren’t sure whether Kaori’s was a real brain condition caused by her accident, or if it was a psychosomatic process she went through in order to avoid getting too close to anyone. In any case, it made her a tough nut to crack, but Yuuki put the work in and devised a way for her to remember him even when she forgot, regardless of the reason. It was a bumpy road, but immensely satisfying.

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16. Erika x Kyoya

Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – One of the upstart surprise of the year, Ookami’s general premise of ‘guy treating girl like a dog’ naturally had me pre-turned off, worried it would be demeaning towards women. It turned out to be a lot more nuanced and likable, as were Erika and Kyoya, despite their many flaws and missteps. I’m not sure if any other couple had quite so many obstacles to finding happiness, but they navigated them all with grace and humor.

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17. Aoi x Naoto

Rail Wars! – Aoi is constantly telling Naoto he’s not tough enough for railway public safety, dubbing him “Stringbean” and such. But the truth is, Naoto was a lot tougher than he looked, and never let her down when they were in a spot. They developed a good working relationship, but the more death-defying adventures they shared, the closer they became, to the point where Aoi is unashamed to be officially in the fight for Naoto’s heart along with the other girls, and Naoto is not opposed to the chase.

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18. Tensai x Juugo

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – While these two were never an official item, they shared a mutual respect and admiration that would sometimes veer into the realm of romantic affection/attraction. They’re rivals who keep one another on each other’s toes, but when they come together – Tensai’s brains and Juugo’s brawn, they can accomplish great things.

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19. Yuu x Haruka

Sakura Trick – This show mostly focused on one thing and one thing only—the budding relationship between two young people in love for the first time—and did it damn well. Perhaps no other show this year captured that unique joy and excitement that comes not just from finding the right one, but knowing that person thinks you’re just as right for them. That, and the thrill of making out in places where one could get caught.

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20. Kaori x Kousei

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – I considered putting Tsubaki and Kousei here, because despite having different callings (athletic versus musical) they seem to be the more natural match due to time and proximity, which are tried-and-true reasons two people come together. Kaori and Kousei, meanwhile, have the look of a more idealistic, star-crossed couple. Kaori is amazing and everything, but she’s also dying, as we the audience know better than the other characters.

But at the end of the day, Kousei is in love with Kaori, not Tsubaki. He’s said as much to Kaori, though he could have been clearer and she has yet to clearly respond. Still, there’s nothing else on TV, animated or not, quite like watching these two make music together. Yes, music music…get your head out of the gutter!

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21. Chiharu x Mitsuo

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta – Pilot’s Love Song had some issues…chief among them, it didn’t really, um…end, so much as stop. But one thing it did well was introduce perhaps the quickest but most compelling and moving romances of the year, between the affable Chi and kind Mitty, both side characters in this meandering tale. Like so many other couples who suddenly find each other in the midst of war, that war ends up tearing them apart prematurely, in one of the most heartrending scenes of the year.

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22. Yui x Sou

Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete – Aside from her super-romantic (and heartbreaking) confession/kiss/farewell in the street where Sou had just narrowly escaped death-by-bus, a kiss immediately proceeded by her no longer existing in his universe, the time-traveling Yui’s love story was often overshadowed by future Sou’s obsessive quest to save Kaori, but always present, to the point where Yui started as a means to save Kaori, but then a safe Kaori became a means for Sou to one day create Yui anew. Still with us…?

Bonus Couples

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23. Kouko x Banri

Golden Time

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24. Mako x Ira

Kill la Kill

Merry Christmas!

RABUJOI’s Top 19 Female Characters of 2014

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Note: Characters are listed alphabetically by name. We may love some more than others, but there’s no official ranking.

1. Esdeath

Akame ga Kill! – Yeah, her name is kinda silly, but the ice blue-haired general was more than just an evil villainess. Sure, no one can argue that she was a murderous, bloodthirsty, and highly prolific conqueror and torturer, but she was a product of her upbringing. She was taught that the strong slaughter the weak…and that’s it. But most importantly, her own heart rebelled against that dark philosophy and the Imperial Arm that propagated it. For all her scars and wrong-headed ideology, she still fell in love. One of the bigger tragedies of the show is that Tatsumi wasn’t quite able to turn her away from evil. Making us feel for such a fundamentally awful villain is no mean feat.

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2. Hanabusa Sumireko

Akuma no Riddle – Sumireko was the self-appointed class president and a gorgeous, well-bred young lady of impeccable manners. She sat behind that desk, being nice and polite as girl after girl tried and failed to assassinate Haru, and when it was finally her turn, she did not disappoint, ditching her prim uniform for revealing combat attire, showing absolutely no mercy, and delivering one of the most elaborate, over-the-top battles of the show.

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3. Ikkyuu Tensai

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – While her cute blonde looks belie her samurai-style name, Tensai wasn’t just another pretty face. She was a genius detective, as well as a shameless self-promoter who happened to be able to back up her own hype with results. She really stood out among an otherwise meh cast, and her verbal spars and ‘chess games’ with Juugo were always a highlight of the show.

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4. Kanbaru Suruga

Hanamonogatari – I know, this was technically a movie, but it was structured like five episodes of television, and that’s how I reviewed them. Suruga was (due in no small part to her seiyu Sawashiro Miyuki) always one of my favorite Monogatari characters, and she gets the spotlight in this wonderful arc that explores action and inaction, regret, adolescence…and the perils of sleeping in the nude.

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5. Komadori Renge

Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda – You wouldn’t think Renge had much in common with the violent and domineering Esdeath…but you’d be wrong, and I’m not just talking about their tendency to wear white. Like Esdeath, Renge has fallen for the enemy…only in her case, she’s on the ‘good guy’s and he’s with the ‘bad’, only doesn’t know Jimon is part of Zvezda at all until quite late in the show, and even then, like Esdeath, those feelings don’t change. It’s quite fun to watch the two lovebirds walk a tightrope, both trying to keep their alter-egos secret, and while in their respective disguises.

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6. Maji Mojiruka Rurumo

Majimoji Rurumo – While not a particularly serious-looking show, MMR had a serious (if simple and sweet) romance at its heart, and Rurumo was the slightly better half of it. Always derided and placed in a box labeled ‘slow and inept’ and pushed into training that will eventually take Kouta’s life, her time with him compels her instead to extend that training indefinitely so she can be with the person she’s become so fond of, despite their wildly different backgrounds.

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7. Miyazono Kaori

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – The brilliant violinist who yanks Kousei out of his dark sea of self-loathing and regret and shows him the true beauty and light of music, Kaori is a bundle of energy and charisma, capable of engendering laughter or tears at will. It’s a shame then, she seems to be dying.

8. Murano Satomi

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – If this list were ranked by luck (rather than the alphabet), Satomi would be pretty high, just as Shinichi would be high on the guy’s list. Her life isn’t all that bad…except for the fact Shinichi isn’t Shinichi anymore. What she doesn’t know is exactly what that means. Her love for him, tinged with her crushing fears, are ably expressed by Hanazawa Kana.

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9. Sakurai Aoi

Rail Wars!RW! was a flawed and sometimes just-plain-dumb show that just happened to have awesome trains, but the extremely badass Aoi was a definite bright spot, as was her tenuous relationship with Naoto. The proud (and very apparent) daughter of a cop, Aoi formed the ‘muscle’ of Defense 4 along with Shou. But her considerable confidence in combat was contrasted with her insecurity with her femininity and struggles with her feelings for Naoto. Aoi was many things, but never boring.

10. Salia

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – Big changes seem in store for Arzenal in the near future, but at this point in Cross Ange’s run, Salia has been the poster child for a typical Arzenal Norma life, with emphasis on ‘child.’ We’ve explored the many ways in which Arzenal is basically a kindergarten you never leave. It’s the only home she’s ever known, and inspired by the likes of Jill as well as magical girl stories, she’s always dreamed of becoming its savior. Unfortunately, like Jill, she doesn’t quite have what it takes to be the heroine or even the troop leader, and must be content in a supporting role, which doesn’t sit right with her at all.

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11. Hildegard “Hilda” Schlievogt

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – The opposite of Salia in many ways, Hilda did know a life before Arzenal. It was an idyllic life, like Ange’s, from which she was cruelly ripped away once she was revealed to be a Norma. Rather than working and fighting to become the hero like Salia, all of Hilda’s scheming and screwing has been to find and secure a way out, back to her original life…which didn’t go well at all.

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12. Kazumi Schlierenzauer

Gokukoku no Brynhildr – While she starts out as a callous and annoyingly flirtatious pain in the ass, but steadily grew into the most compelling and endearing of the girls, embracing her mixed-up adolescent tendencies and raw humanity with abandon. Her seemingly always-imminent death terrifies her, and you can’t help but feel for her.

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13. Shinatose Izana

Sidonia no Kishi – Speaking of feeling for someone, one can’t help but sympathize with Izana’s unenviable position as the ‘neglected best friend.’ Add to that the fact she transitioned into a woman (from her original third gender) because of her feelings Nagate, who can’t see the forest of Izana for the trees of Shizuka (who was lost to the Gauna) and the artificial copy of her (which lingers in the ship’s lab).

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14. Shinohara Erika

Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – This list is full of flawed and imperfect women, and Erika is no different. But she knows what she wants: friends, and a happy high school life; if she has to lie about having a boyfriend to get those things, so be it. She gets her comeuppance, but eventually comes to want something else: for her fake boyfriend to become real, and love her as she comes to love him. It’s a rough road before that happens, but that’s what makes it so satisfying.

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15. Shiodome Miuna

Nagi no Asukara – Miuna’s one of those characters you won’t learn much about by reading her MAL profile, nor will you really get her unless you watch her full arc, which spans several years and in which she grows from melancholy girl to increasingly strong and selfless, even heroic young woman. Voiced by Komatsu Mikako in what I believe to be her finest voice work to date, Miuna was one of the richest and most beloved characters of the year, full stop.

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16. Sonokawa Momoko

Sabagebu! – There are characters you love to hate, but the pink haired Momoko is someone you almost hate to love, because she is, at best, not a particularly good person, and at worst, a scheming, morally bankrupt scoundrel who’d happily tread upon the corpses of her friends to snatch victory. That being said, all the violence is make-believe (mostly) and she’s immensely entertaining to watch.

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17. Takanashi Rikka

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren – Was Chu2Koi 2 as good as Chu2Koi? No. Is it still some very strong KyoAni romantic comedy with a healthy dose of fantasy? Yes indeed, and Rikka is a big part of that. Her insecurities about the nature of her relationship with Yuuta (which are largely resolved by the end of the show); the elaborate chuuni ways in which she communicates with Yuuta; her competition with Satone; heck, just the way she says Yuuta…it’s all gold. Watching her and Yuuta grow steadly closer brought a lot of warmth to the cold, snowy Winter.

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18. Tsunemori Akane

PSYCHO-PASS 2 – The guy’s list had a gumshoe in Shibazaki, but male or female, I don’t think there’s anyone who can stand up to Inspector Tsunemori in terms of wits or pure badassery. Maybe Esdeath, who has command of ice; or Miuna, who can breathe underwater…but Akane would give them a fight. Sure, she did much of her finest work in the first season, but she doesn’t exactly embarrass herself in this somewhat rushed and action-oriented sequel, either. In fact, she cracked the biggest case of them all: getting Sybil to start cleaning up its act.

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19. Yuuki Asuna

Sword Art Online II – Perhaps the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the year was the fact that after undervaluing, undermining, and marginalizing our favorite SAO character in the second half of its first season and the first half of its second, the show not only brought Asuna back to prominence, but made her the unchallenged star of the show in its final arc which not only explored both her real and virtual families, but had her join another, which led to some of SAO’s best narrative and character work.

RABUJOI’s Top 12 Male Characters of 2014

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Today we begin our cavalcade of end-of-year lists, starting with our favorite male characters of the year. Note: Characters are listed alphabetically by name. We may love some more than others, but there’s no official ranking.

1. Archer

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade WorksEmiya Shirou may be the protagonist, but Archer is his Number One Critic, and an exceedingly surly curmudgeon to boot, never missing an opportunity to throw the younger lad’s ideals in his face. Heck, he even tried to kill Shirou, lest he sabotage his (and Rin’s) chances of coming out on top of the pile. Archer is a jerk…but he’s an oddly lovable jerk.

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2. Handa Seishuu

Barakamon – The young, up-and-coming prima donna calligrapher who was stuck in orthodoxy, slugged a judge, and shipped off to a remote island, met some snot-nosed kids, learned about the simple joys of life, and found a new and daring direction in his art.

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3. Izumi Shinichi

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – This list is full of guys getting raw deals in life, but there are few deals rawer than Shinichi’s, whose very body is infiltrated by a mysterious alien parasite. Sure, he ends up with heightened strength, speed, and senses, but he scares the shit out of his would-be girlfriend.

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4. Kaizuka Inaho

Aldnoah.Zero – Inaho is a very very steady, stoic fellow who keeps a cool head in 99% of all the situations he faces, regardless of how intense they may be. He’s a welcome rarity among shounen/mecha protagonists.

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5. Kanie Seiya

Amagi Brilliant Park – He starts out as a shameless braggart and cynic, but as he takes on the mantle of park savior, that park gradually opens his heart of gold, without taking away the edge that makes him so good at getting things done.

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6. Kiryuu Shougo

One Week Friends – Like Inaho, Shougo’s a rarity: a rom-com guy sidekick who isn’t an annoying jackass. He provides welcome commentary and perspective on the protagonist’s shortsightedness, denseness, or outright stupidity. He also has a pretty damn good little romance of his own.

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7. Favaro Leone

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – Kind of a fantasy/renaissance-era mix between Han Solo, Mugen, and Bossun. A real rogue’s rogue, with a fierce sense of self-preservation that constantly clashes with his agreement Amira (who gave him a demon’s tail) and, indeed, the entire world (which might be better off if he killed her).

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8. Lubbock

Akame ga Kill! – Though he was rarely the focus of the show (and typically used for comic relief early on), Lubba gradually became a more serious and cool, if not particularly sympathetic, member of Night Raid. He actually had one of the most pleasant pasts of all the members—he had it all—but rather than having it taken away, he chose to give it up, for the love of a woman. He kept loving (but never got the chance to tell her) until his badass demise.

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9. Luis Herman

GARO: Honoo no Gokuin – A man, called “Shitty Dad” by his son, who is able to balance the responsibilities of a Makai Knight (protect the people, even the ones trying to kill you) and the appetites of an unapologetic Don Juan-style libertine, figuring if he has such a raw deal in the knight department, he might as well enjoy the pleasures of life. Sometimes, though, that means he has to fight horrors in his birthday suit.

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10. Shibazaki Kenjirou

Zankyou no Terror – The son of hibakusha, Shibazaki is a brilliant, no-nonsense, hard-boiled detective who poked the wrong hornet’s nest and got demoted to demeaning desk duty—sort of an anime Lester Freamon. Then the Sphinx case comes around and suddenly his not-inconsiderable skills as a profiler and investigator make him indispensable to the force. And of course, he digs deeper than ordered and finds an even bigger shitstorm beneath the grime.

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11. Sora

No Game No Life – One half of the legendary undefeated gamer duo known as [blank], you never want to bet against Sora and his inseparable stepsister Shiro…in anything. While in the real world they were NEETs and hikikomori, in Disboard they rise to kingship and make plays to re-annex lost land. While his sis handles most of the number-crunching, Sora is more of an observer and (usually correct) predictor of and opponent’s personality and behavior. A master manipulator with boundless stores of confidence and arrogance…as long as Shiro is close by, of course.

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12. Tiramie

Amagi Brilliant Park – Don’t let the pink fuzziness or girly voice fool you; Tiramie is a guy, and not an altogether moral one. A self-deluded ‘ladies man’, the vast majority of women are rightly put off/creeped out by his schtick. That being said, he’s not a bad entertainer and gardener; his efforts ensured the soccer teams would have a world-class pitch to play on.

RABUJOI’s 2013 Anime Rankings, with Haiku

Here they are, dear readers: all 44 series we watched this year (five dropped), ranked by their cumulative ratings as of today. Seven Fall shows still have one episode to go this year, so we’ll update this list as we complete them.

We’ve also included what the thousands of denizens over at MyAnimeList (MAL) thought about these same shows (again, as of today). One of the reasons we switched to a 10-point rating scale is so we could roughly compare our ratings to MAL’s.

Analysis: While we’ve always thought we had a tendency to overrate things, we actually gave 21 non-dropped shows lower ratings than MAL, while rating 18 shows higher.

Our ratings actually came quite close to MAL’s—within 0.4 points or less—on a dozen shows:

  • Kimi no Iru Machi (+0.020)
  • Amnesia (+0.077)
  • OreShura (+0.082)
  • Tamayura: More Aggressive (+0.177)
  • Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (+0.217)
  • Kyousougiga (+0.310)
  • Free! (-0.013)
  • Nagi no Asukara (-0.177)
  • Oreimo 2 (-0.242)
  • Vividred Operation (-0.273)
  • Tamako Market (-0.320)
  • Kakumeiki Valvrave 2nd Season (-0.375)

MAL also agreed with us that Valvrave’s second season has been better than the first.

The biggest outliers (not counting dropped shows) were Aku no Hana (we rated it 1.358 points higher than MAL), and The Unlimited (we rated it 1.290 points lower than MAL). There’s a good reason for each: Aku was incredibly polarizing, while The Unlimited likely went over better for those familiar with the Zettai Karen Children universe (which we weren’t).

In all, we were off of MAL’s scores by +/- 1 full point or more on only six non-dropped shows. By no means do we strive to match the average consensus from MAL (we just looked them up today), but it’s fun to compare, and it’s good to know we’re not totally insane about our taste in anime. We may be way off the consensus on a few occasions, but that comes down to personal preference, which is unique to everyone.

Finally, we decided to write a haiku either summarizing the show or our impressions of it…with, er, varying results. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

44. InuHasa

Guy turns into dog
Become’s favorite author’s pet,
who then tortures him.

Final Cumulative Rating: 5.000 (scissored after 5 episodes)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.74

43. Log Horizon

Trio of heroes
in a real-life MMO;
Low rent SAO?

Final Cumulative Rating: 5.667 (logged off after 3 episodes)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.08

42. Strike the Blood

Powerful vampire
meets pretty young sword shaman
Childhood friend jealous.

Final Cumulative Rating: 5.714 (struck after 7 episodes)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.67

41. Coppelion

Follows adventures
of radiation-proof girls
icing stealth bombers.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.000 (copped out after 4 episodes)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.74

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40. Vividred Operation

Color-coded girls
with cool CG mecha suits
Lots of booty shots

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.417
MyAnimeList Score: 6.69

39. Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke

Really long-lived dude,
bad guy from the older show,
main character here.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.500
MyAnimeList Score: 7.79

38. Valvrave the Liberator (1st Season)

Kids form a nation,
vampire mecha pilots,
screwed at every turn.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.583
MyAnimeList Score: 7.44

37. Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta

High hopes for this show
after Hoshi no Umi.
Huge disappointment.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.600 (panty-shot down after 10 episodes)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.51

36. Danganronpa: The Animation

High school whodunits
Demonic bear and pink blood
Hope versus despair

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.615
MyAnimeList Score: 7.56

amnesia

35. Amnesia

Heroine gets lost
jumping back and forth through time
Is caged at one point.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.667
MyAnimeList Score: 6.59

34. Love Lab

Better than OP
Better than “love club” premise;
Better than rating!

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.692
MyAnimeList Score: 7.67

33. Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova

World War II vessels
Pretty girl avatars
Ample explosions

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.727
MyAnimeList Score: 7.69

32. Servant x Service

Office slice-of-life
Long-named lovable she-goof
Tacked-on imouto

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.769
MyAnimeList Score: 7.93

31. Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince

Underachievers,
armed with shiny new mecha,
proceed to kick ass.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.917
MyAnimeList Score: 7.52

oregairu

30. Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. (Oregairu)

Three social outcasts,
linked by a car accident
Snappy dialogue.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.923
MyAnimeList Score: 8.05

29. Tamako Market

Weird conceited bird
Lovely lived-in market town
Slice-of-life done right.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.000
MyAnimeList Score: 7.32

28. Blood Lad

Otaku vamp boss
Human girl turns into ghost
He vows to save her.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.000
MyAnimeList Score: 7.74

27. Kimi no Iru Machi

Guy moves to Tokyo,
dumps new girlfriend for his ex.
A bit of a cad.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.250
MyAnimeList Score: 7.23

25. (tie) White Album 2

Light music club formed
Love triangle formed with it
One girl cut in line

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.333
MyAnimeList Score: 7.98

railguns

25. (tie) Toaru Kagaku no Ralgun S

Railgun in too deep
Fights city’s dark underside
Gets help from her friends

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.333
MyAnimeList Score: 8.27

24. Valvrave the Liberator 2nd Season

Safe on neutral moon
Then things get complicated
Lots of people die

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.455
MyAnimeList Score: 7.83

23. Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru (OreShura)

Fresh take on harem
Girls have good motivations
Nice pastel palette

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.462
MyAnimeList Score: 7.38

22. Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen

Goddesses in girls
Gamer must reconquer hearts
Third time is the charm

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.500
MyAnimeList Score: 8.52

21. Oreimo 2

Kirino returns
Kyousuke dates the black cat
Then “marries” sister.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.538 
MyAnimeList Score: 7.78

rdg

19. (tie) RDG: Red Data Girl

Shy god-vessel girl
Her reluctant protector
A quiet romance

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.583
MyAnimeList Score: 6.73

19. (tie) Nagi no Asukara

Town under the sea
Four struggle with their feelings
As their world’s end nears

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.583
MyAnimeList Score: 7.76

18. Hataraku Maou-sama!

Devil comes to earth
Gets a fast-food part-time job
Comedy ensues

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.615
MyAnimeList Score: 8.16

16. (tie) Tamayura: More Aggressive

Girl starts photo club,
which only has two members,
including herself.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.667
MyAnimeList Score: 7.49

16 (tie) Maoyuu Maou Yuusha

Demon King’s a girl
She and Hero join forces
Great allegories

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.667
MyAnimeList Score: 7.45

stella

15. Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3

Girl joins war games club
Has a knack but grows obsessed
Alienates friends

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.692
MyAnimeList Score: 6.76

14. Monogatari Series: 2nd Season

Cat finds self; time travel
Snake god; the darkness comes
Deceiving a god

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.909
MyAnimeList Score: 8.67

12. (tie) Sasami-san@Ganbaranai

Amaterasu
Stuck inside a listless girl
Wants a normal life.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.917
MyAnimeList Score: 6.81

12. (tie) Free!

Cast is mostly male
Swim club returns to glory
KyoAni trolling?

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.917
MyAnimeList Score: 7.93

11. Chihayafuru 2

Karuta battles
heat up exponentially,
much to our delight.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.042
MyAnimeList Score: 8.67

The Top 10

kotourasan

10. Kotoura-san

Shy girl can read minds
Finds someone suited for her
Doesn’t ruin it.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.083
MyAnimeList Score: 7.40

gatchaman

9. Gatchaman Crowds

Social media
Very cheerful heroine
A whimsical romp

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.250
MyAnimeList Score: 7.58

samflam

8. Samurai Flamenco

A hero rises
Bad guys get more outrageous
Never accept evil

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.182
MyAnimeList Score: 7.28

gargantia

7. Suisei no Gargantia

Earth one big ocean
Space pilot and his mecha
Fish out of water

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.308
MyAnimeList Score: 7.81

kyoukai

6. Kyoukai no Kanata

Girl with cursed blood
Half-demon half-human guy
Fall for each other.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.333
MyAnimeList Score: 7.83

kyousougiga

5. Kyousougiga

A fantastic world
A tale of love and rebirth
of one family.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.400
MyAnimeList Score: 8.09

kllllakill

3 (tie). Kill la Kill

To avenge her dad,
girl dons a strange uniform
Powerful weapon.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.500
MyAnimeList Score: 8.04

goldentime

3 (tie). Golden Time

Guy has amnesia,
forgets old love, finds new one…
Then he remembers.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.500
MyAnimeList Score: 7.99

akunohana

2. Aku no Hana

When he’s caught with shorts
Girl makes guy contract with her
Deviant within.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.538
MyAnimeList Score: 7.18

ucho

1. Uchouten Kazoku

Tale of redemption
A family of tanukis
With “idiot blood”

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.769
MyAnimeList Score: 8.13

15 Great Characters from 2013

We showed you whose voices we liked this past year, now let’s take a look at some of our favorite characters. Mind you, this isn’t a ranking, just an alphabetical list.

Bell Hydra (Blood Lad)

Bell was our favorite character from this relatively so-so show, because you never quite knew whose side she was on, or rather she was always on her own side, and always tried to stay on top. Her magical trickery was more than a match for Staz’s brute force, regularly frustrating him to no end. And then she fell for the guy. We also liked her sense of style, as she’d randomly change outfits throughout the run.

Chamber (Suisei no Gargantia)

Ledo’s trusty, badass Machine Caliber wasn’t just a tool, or the brunt of numerous sight gags as he performed manual labor, but a character in his own right, with his own arc that paralleled Ledo’s. The strict Galactic Alliance subroutines that drove his behavior gradually softened the more time he spent on Earth, to the point he rebelled against authority and sacrificed himself to save his pilot.

Ebisugawa Kaisei (Uchouten Kazoku)

By the time we actually see Kaisei in human form, it’s nine episodes into the show. But before that she’s seemingly always around in disguise (something she excels at), including at crucial point in one of the show’s many flashbacks. As Yasaburou’s would-be fiancee, she represents the peace that was meant to be struck between the families, and her playful banter with Yasaburou always tinged with a kind of quasi-spousal loyalty. She even plays the heroine by freeing Yashirou when things get hairy.

Gokou Ruri (Oreimo 2)

When she showed up at the Akiba real-world meetup in the second episode of the first Oreimo, we would have never guessed how far Kuroneko would come, leapfrogging over all others to become the best character on the show. As Kyousuke struggles with his relationship with Kirino, he also independently forms a bond with ‘Neko, who gets better the more sides of her we see: be it at home, at school, and in girlfriend and post-girlfriend modes.

Goto Hidenori (Samurai Flamenco)

While he may look good in uniform to some, Goto is neither a model, idol, or gaudy superhero. He’s just an ordinary guy with a quiet police gig with a loving long-distance girlfriend and a modest abode. As things go absolutely apeshit around him, he stays grounded, even when driving pink Hummers into rockets. All these superheroes and villains around him have made life a lot more interesting, but it hasn’t changed the decent, unassuming man that he is. He’s the show’s steady anchor.

Hayashida “Linda” Nana (Golden Time)

While she delayed her response to her longtime childhood friend’s confession by mere hours, Linda ends up losing everything once he gets amnesia, has his feelings for her resurface year later when they reunite in college, and he then decides to distance himself from her so he can focus on his girlfriend, after much will-they-won’t-they teasing. It’s a shame she has to go through so much, considering she’s such a kind, caring, beautiful person. But the cookie just didn’t crumble her way.

Kaga Koko (Golden Time)

Koko is one of the most interesting characters of the year because of how quickly she transitions from irritating crazed shrew to sympathetic love interest. After chasing the wrong guy for years, she finds Banri. She’s not as perfect as she looks, but she’s very tough on herself, constantly trying to be a better person and girlfriend. Considering what her status as Banri’s girl means to Linda, you’d think she’d be a character to be loathed, but the show excels at making everyone’s situation understandable and sympathetic.

Kaiki Deishu (Monogatari Series: Second Season)

We first met him in Nisemonogatari, where he was unveiled as the con-man who gave Senjougahara crabs (well, it’s not quite that simple…) but in any case, he was something of an easygoing villain: powerful, but not particularly motivated. In Koimonogatari, he’s given a mission by that same Senjougahara in her time of dire need, hits the town, and gets to work. It’s been extremely enjoyable watching him playing the role of hardboiled private eye, father figure, even unspoken love interest.

Katsuragi Keima (Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen)

The second season of The World God Only Knows wasn’t as good as the first, but this third one was excellent, as all the chickens come home to roost and things get infinitely more complicated for our cynical, bespectacled gamer. Keima is most effective (and entertaining) when his back’s against the wall, but this season he also actually ended up feeling something for his conquests. There’s no easy reset button for him, which showed growth.

Kotoura Haruka (Kotoura-san)

Kotoura-san may be an almost disgustingly adorable character, but the show wastes no time establishing precisely the kind of person she is and why, based on a traumatic past in which her parents basically abandoned her. Watching her transition from looking at herself as a curse upon all who associate her to someone with worth who deserves a happy life with caring friends (and a boyfriend) was immensely fulfilling.

Mankanshokou Mako (Kill la Kill)

We touched on this in Suzaki Aya’s profile; Mako has made the full transition from goofy comic relief sidekick to full-fledged crucial participant in the overarching drama of Kill la Kill. She’s the one who first reached out to Ryuuko, opened up her home to her, gave her the family life she never had, and then snapping her out of a near-fatal frenzy. She’s also not afraid to speak her mind to everyone, be it Ryuuko, Elite Four, Satsuki, or Nui.

Nakamura Sawa (Aku no Hana)

An example of a character we liked precisely because she scared the hell out of us. A part of that fear comes from the intense realism of the series. Subtle human movements that more stylized animation wouldn’t pick up are on full display, and Sawa slinks and slithers across the screen, and sometimes breaks into sudden startling movements while messing with Takao. Yet for all of the mayhem she causes in his life, she’s far from evil incarnate: she’s an intensely frustrated young woman, a victim of the benign dullness of the town that doubles as her prison.

Nana (Golden Time)

Nana is one of the best supporting characters we’ve come across this year, someone with a fierce sense of individuality who forces people to either accept her or fuck off, and gives off the air of not caring about anyone, when the polar opposite is true: Nana turns out to be both a caring reliable friend to Linda (and unwitting would-be matchmaker) and a decent neighbor to Banri. Hopefully his disassociation from Linda won’t mean much less Nana.

Shimogamo Yajirou (Uchouten Kazoku)

Like Kaisei, part of what we love about Yaijioru is how much impact he makes despite how little we see of him. For the vast majority of the show he’s a frog in the bottom of a well, where he tries to forget his life as a human, which he deemed as an abject failure. As another victim of the Ebisugawas, he was forced to believe he was responsible for getting his father cooked. Even when the truth came out, it took getting him drunk to spring into action to save his family, but his contribution was vital.

Wakamiya Shinobu (Chihayafuru 2)

Another supporting character introduced as a “big bad” in the first season, the brilliant, quirky, melancholy Queen Shinobu plays a much larger role in the second, showing us her past and how heavy is the head that wears the crown, as she simply isn’t interested in team matches or fulfilling any of the royal responsibilities expected of her. She and Arata also spend a lot of time together, making her a rival to Chihaya in love as well as karuta.

Images Courtesy MyAnimeList