Top 25 Best Anime of 2014

It’s been an incredible year for TV anime (but hasn’t it always?). If you’ve been busy with pesky life things or like to bulk-watch at the end of the season, this list is packed with 2014’s best shows, from comedy to romance to “what the…?!” and from short series to long. There’s surprisingly good series to shows you know will be great; it’s a tough list to rank, but everything here is guaranteed gold.







 

Hunter x Hunter has been airing forever, but with its final anime arc ending in 2014, it’s time to recognize this series as the truly amazing show it is.

Twelve-year-old Gon never really knew his father after the man just up and left like anime dads like to do. When he discovers that his father, Ging, is actually a widely respected hunter, Gon decides to leave home and become a Pokemon mas— I mean, a hunter. On the way, he crosses paths with various people and gets into trouble thanks to his new friends. But it’s all good fun, because you can’t kill a twelve-year-old… not right away, at least.

Although an action/adventure show just like everything else, Hunter x Hunter abandons the long training arcs to victory, preferring to let everyone suffer just that bit longer. Fight scenes (when they do happen) focus on strategy, and it’s not uncommon for Gon and friends to lose. There’s a lot more adventure to be had, and when the action happens, it’s surprisingly realistic.

Why it made the list: Hunter x Hunter seems like it could be another Pokemon anime, but if you look at it for more than a second, it unravels to show you a thoughtful story that doesn’t lose itself in trying to imitate everything else. Gon’s journey is the focus on the series, and with the show wrapping up in 2014, it kept on being amazing right until the end, unlike some other long series.

Watch if you like: A break from action; hunting; little boys; journeys; being different; tone shifts; smooth arcs; unpredictable series; not being overpowered; character development; strategy; long series.

 

 

 

If you haven’t seen our list’s second best series, drop what you’re doing and get to it. Really. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

MATOI RYUUKO is on a quest to find the mysterious killer who took her father’s life. This journey brings her to Honnouji Academy, practically run by KIRYUIN SATSUKI who gives the students various levels of superpowers. When MATOI RYUUKO discovers that KIRYUIN SATSUKI holds the answers she’s been seeking all this time, she vows to take the whole school down. This involves getting naked and yelling names.

Rarely do you get an anime you just can’t forget, but Kill la Kill leaves a strong impression. It’s all sorts of messed-up crazy in the best way possible and kind of defines what we love about “oh Japan” kinds of anime.

Why it made the list: Kill la Kill is such a unique, crazy, weird show that goes to such extremes that it’s hard not to find it really likeable, if not a quick favourite. There’s no surprise in how it handles itself when you see the creators also did Gurren Lagann, but while it has the same overall extreme feel, it still has a clear and separate identity.

Watch if you like: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann; extremes; school settings; powers; yelling people’s names; scissors; being naked; action; comedy; large cast of characters.

 

Watch Kill la KIll on Amazon Right Now

 

 

Oh, what’s a top anime list without some Type-Moon? Ufotable’s most recent anime sweeps that terrible first F/SN anime under the rug while dazzling viewers with amazing animation and a very close adaption of the original visual novel.

The Holy Grail War from Fate/Stay Night (TV) is on, but this time things are a little different. While Shirou still summons his Servant to fight for the coveted chalice that will grant any wish, he teams up with tsundere classmate Rin Tousaka and her Servant, Archer. The two fight against all odds to win the war, but Shirou doesn’t expect to question his very life’s meaning in the process.

Anyone remotely aware of the series will know what to expect, but this version of the classic F/SN story is presented so wonderfully that you’ll likely want to binge watch it. Every detail, whether it’s in the story or the art, is presented with the loving caress of a creepy otaku fan.

Why it made the list: Ufotable’s F/SN is the one remake the series deserves. Everything it does is flawless, from the dazzling battle scenes to its faithful adaptation of the original story. If the first F/SN anime left you disappointed, this one will make you forget all about it, which was probably the goal in the first place.

Watch if you like: Fate/Stay Night; Type-Moon; magic; tsunderes; action; identity; reading the visual novel; ufotable; alternate routes; series broken into two.

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KyoAni finds a way, and this year it’s with the short but hilarious anime, Amagi Brilliant Park. The animation studio keeps knocking it out of the park with show after show of quality fun, with this series being no different.

Kayne West and 50 Cent team up with the mascot from Full Metal Panic Fumoffu to save a failing amusement park because its staff are faeries that live off the fun it generates. Seriously though. Amagi Brilliant Park sees Kanie and Sento – two not-so-regular high school students – desperately try everything to get a run-down amusement park to meet its annual visitor count, all while dealing with an array of mischievous mascots.

Amagi Brilliant Park is as fun as it looks, but not in the traditional way. Almost every character is a huge shit and watching them try to achieve something together is like watching a dysfunctional family.

Why it made the list: Amagi Brilliant Park is not the comedy anime you expect, but maybe the comedy anime you’ve always needed. There’s no fresh and innocent cast to be found here, but instead a bunch of assholes who you can’t help but love as they struggle with the one thing they hold dear.

Watch if you like: Bonta-kun; amusement parks; rap star names; mascots; a large cast of characters; short series; forgetting the details; KyoAni; catchy opening themes; magic; shenanigans.

 

Although there are a few comedy shows on this Best of 2014 list, Nozaki-kun stands out as a romantic anime that appeals to guys and girls – and respects both audiences.

It’s no secret that high school girl Chiyo likes Nozaki. But when she finally works up the courage to confess, Nozaki mistakes her as a fan and gives her an autograph. It turns out Nozaki is a well-known shoujo romance manga artist but he has zero experience with love. And so starts Chiyo’s efforts to grab Nozaki’s attention

Nozaki-kun is the anime that goes against all expectations you might have. The guys are girly, the girls are guy…y… roles don’t really matter and the comedy is respectful of everyone. Everyone is a breed of megadork but is so absolutely lovable that this show’s brand of humour will probably suck you in with episode one.

Why it made the list: You don’t need to be a genius to see that Nozaki-kun is a different show, but it’s a different show that’s good at what it does. Its brand of humour is respectful, kind of quirky and exactly what a romcom anime needs. What makes it great is that guys and girls can get into it very easily.

Watch if you like: Comedy; high school setting; defying gender expectations; manga; tanuki; boxes; romance; shounen anime; shoujo anime; short series; quirky humour.

 

Next on our list is Space Johnny Bravo who adventures with an otaku cat and a vacuum cleaner in space. Random space shenanigans haven’t been this exciting since Cowboy Beebop.

Space Dandy is a dandy guy in space, as the series puts it. But what exactly being “dandy” is exactly is something of an eternal mystery. All we do know is that Dandy, Meow and QT are three clueless guys who roam space to capture aliens in a hope to get rich quick. But instead of doing their job, they stumble into all sorts of trouble. Not to mention an entire empire army is stalking their every move.

Space Dandy likes to mix it up like a married couple out to try some weird things in bed. The series takes a while to warm up, but when it does, it becomes so obvious that you’re in for something you never expected. Every episode is a surprise and, as cheesy as it sounds, a gift.

Why it made the list: Realtalk here, Space Dandy is great as a concept, but what makes the series truly shine is its sheer creativity. Animation fans will soon realise that every episode has a different director and, as such, the anime showcases a wealth of talent we hardly get to see so close together. If you’ve ever been interested in what anime can truly do – Space Dandy.

Watch if you like: Sci-Fi; Pop Sci-Fi; references; space; animation; series broken into two; adventure; comedy; episodic series; simuldubs.

 

Watch Space Dandy Episodes on Amazon Right Now

 

 

Ping Pong bounces into our number seven position on the list for being the stand-out artistic anime of 2014. It manages to be an anime about table tennis that isn’t like any other sports anime but has the fluidity and energy of watching the actual sport. Ping Pong is animated art.

Makoto and Yutaka are two boys who play table tennis all throughout their school life. The two are friends but polar opposites, and while energetic Yutaka excels, shy and reserved Makoto needs a push to gain some competitive spirit. But before you think of it as a regular sports anime, throw those expectations off the table; this show is all about five kids and how they grow up.

The anime is brought to you by Masaaki Yuasa, the animator known for being able to draw what it feels like to be on LSD. While not as trippy as most of his other works, Ping Pong has a very specific look and feel that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Why it made the list: Ping Pong is so much more than the sports anime it sounds like in summary. While it’s still focused on the journey of people who play the sport, this anime is all about the art and movement of animation.

Watch if you like: Animation; sports anime; realism; Masaaki Yuasa; coming of age stories; taking LSD; seinen anime; short series; no overpowered characters.

 

Watch Ping Pong Episodes on Amazon Right Now

 

 

It’s not our only sports anime on the list, but it’s certainly our best. Haikyuu spikes into {NUMBER} place with a fresh new sports anime that gets all the standard stuff exactly right while giving us a whole new cast to love.

Hinata’s reasons for applying to Karasuno High School all involve revenge and balls. When his love for volleyball and burning ambition to beat the guy who took him down in middle school drives Hinata to join the school’s team, he finds that his rival is closer than he imagined. Now the two have to team up to smack balls against even more formidable foes.

Haikyuu is your standard sports anime, but don’t think that it’s just average. It works a no-talent group of players into a close-knit group that eventually works as a team to take on a whole bunch of other players. This anime loves its characters and you just might too.

Why it made the list: Haikyuu is this year’s answer to new sports anime that has everything you could want in a show about punching balls.

Watch if you like: Volleyball; sports anime; teams; comradery; birds; rivalry; no superpowers; shounen anime; drama; comedy.

 

9

Space Brothers (Uchuu Kyoudai)

 

 

One of the two longest series in this list is also one of the longest running ads for NASA recruitment. Space Brothers is the 99 episode answer to “where’s an anime that deal with realistic space dreams?”.

Young brothers Mutta and Hibito make a promise to grow up and become the one thing all little boys aspire to: astronauts. But several years on, Mutta is as far from his dream as possible while his younger brother is making it big as an astronaut-in-training. After some family and friends band together, Mutta is set on the track to achieve his childhood dream one again, but he needs to man up if he’s going to catch up with his brother and jet into space.

Space Brothers takes a relaxed approach to career aspirations. Much of the series shows the childhood of the two main guys as they vie to be the net man on the moon. It’s an anime to watch while you sit back but never gets boring.

Why it made the list: Space Brothers grounds its interesting story in reality, with some surprisingly accurate renderings of American places. Because of its real-life inspiration, this series feels like a genuine glimpse in the lives of astronauts-to-be, complete with funny moments and a slice of life atmosphere. Of course, it makes it on this list for ending in 2014 and wrapping up a consistently great series.

Watch if you like: Space; brothers; long series; astronauts; career dreams; pugs; America; real life settings; detail; comedy; slice of life series.

 

One of the few sequels on this list is also one of the best anime this year, expanding on its immensely popular season one back in 2013. If you haven’t picked your waifu yet, it’s time for round two.

It’s a new year and with the idol group’s goal a success, nine high school girls can finally focus on the more important things: being the ultimate cute idols that ever existed. To do this, they enter the new and improved Love Live, a competition that pits girls from schools all over to savagely tear down the competition… with songs and popularity contests. It’s up to the still fledgling group to finally win the title they’ve all dreamed of.

Love Live’s second season improves on the first in almost every area, turning from a fairly usual idol anime to a series with a lot of love (and lives). The ending has a stronger feeling of finality to the series, which is always good to cry over.

Why it made the list: While the first season of the series finished on an incomplete note, Love Live 2nd Season wraps everything up very well. It takes the cuteness of little girl idols and expands on their personality, not just giving them a story but also showing how they bond. Like any good idol show, it involves you in the group and gives a great sense of togetherness.

Watch if you like: Idols; school setting; comradery; singing; large cast of characters; girls; alpacas; slice of life; character interaction.

 

D-Frag! makes it to our number eleven spot as 2014’s slice of life comedy series, taking the everyday life of a Game Development Club member and making it downright hilarious.

Kenji is the kind of guy who struts around school like he owns the place but is actually pretty harmless. Even though he thinks of himself as a delinquent and leads the Kazama Gang, he’s no match for the Game Development Club, who club him over the head and drag him into their ranks. Now Kenji and his gang get to be weirdos and delinquents at the same time.

Slice of life comedy hijinks ensue with this series. Just like any other club anime, there’s no real direction with the story, but instead you get quirky jokes from all kinds of directions. D-Frag! has a kind of humour for just about anyone.

Why it made the list: D-Frag! has a hilarious mix of humour only made better by its range of characters and situations. While it seems like another slice of life comedy about school club activities, it constantly knocks it out of the park with jokes in this tragically short series.

Watch if you like: Comedy; games; seinen anime; delinquents; girls; high school setting; clubs; slice of life; quirky humour; random humour; short series.

 

Fret not, only two shows in our Top 2014 Anime list are sequels, and Stardust Crusaders is pretty easy to understand even if you didn’t see the 2012 remake of the original story. Stardust Crusaders is 2014’s Stylish Action anime.

The Joestars are a long line of super-buff men who, due to a life-changing event in the past, can never escape the constant threat of fabulous, equally buff vampires. One day, the youngest descendent of the family, Jotaro, awakens to the strange spirit inside him; a powerful being called a Stand. Now that he can stop bullets and punch through anything, he teams up with a group of guys to travel to Egypt to stop a vampire and save his mother.

Jojo – and the Stardust Crusaders arc – is a difficult series to describe but once you watch it, there’s no stopping. Its mix of stylistic fighting, absurd poses, muscles, 80s flair and art style make it incredibly unique and just as interesting.

Why it made the list: Any Jojo anime is a class in its own, but Stardust Crusaders is one of the longer animated arcs and a little easier to get into if you want more fantasy with your battles. It also opens into a second season, giving you an overall longer arc than the previous ones.

Watch if you like: Muscular men; action; journeys; the major arcana; watching the second season; vampires; the ‘80s; the supernatural; being fabulous; all-star voice acting cast; rock music.

 

Watch Jojo's Bizarre Adventures on Amazon Right Now

 

13

Cool-Headed Hozuki (Hoozuki no Reitetsu)

 

 

At the number thirteen spot of our listis Hoozuki no Reitetsu, your shot of dark humour for this year that mixes in mythology and Western characters to make for an interesting and hilarious series.

The King of Japanese Hell isn’t exactly the big, red and powerful goatman you expect, but like any other guy in charge, he needs an assistant, and that assistant is Hoozuki. Hoozuki takes no nonsense and is out to resolve problems in Hell, but not everyone has a good idea of what’s going on and somehow Western Hell pokes in every now and again.

Hoozuki no Reitetsu mixes mythology and comedy like no other. It includes a mix of Eastern and Western beliefs to concoct bizarre but funny situations while teaching you a bit about mythology and Eastern beliefs.

Why it made the list: Hoozuki no Reitetsu excels in dark humour and its episodic nature means you can basically start and stop whenever you like. It’s an incredibly easy series to like and find funny with a whole mix of characters you’re bound to love.

Watch if you like: Jigoku; Japanese mythology; short series; comedy; talking dogs; the supernatural; comedy; demons; catchy OP songs; episodic series; slice of life; large cast of characters.

 

If the other titles on this list haven’t been colourful enough for you, No Game No Life fills your screen with animation brought to life with an entire rainbow. Add in some great action, solid comedy and games, and you’re all set.

Sora and Shiro are a pair of famous siblings that are so good at being NEETs that their reputation is recognized all over the internet. And it just so happens that God calls them into an alternate universe where their laze-about lifestyle could save humanity. In a world where everything is decided by games, Sora and Shiro compete to win back human territory from a whole range of other species.

No Game No Life is a colourful celebration of gaming that takes a usual setting and twists it into something that boosts the already confident main characters. No fish-out-of water story here.

Why it made the list: No Game No Life has some striking visuals that open up into an interesting anime about games. It has the extreme feel of a lot of heavy actions series but is always sure to set things up so that everything happens for a reason and the over-the-topness doesn’t get out of control.

Watch if you like: Games; colour; brothers and sisters; alternate worlds; comedy; different species; saving humanity; battles.

 

 

Next on our Top 2014 Anime list is Selector Infected WIXOSS (say it like “Wii Cross”), the anime that pulls a Madoka Magica-like atmosphere out of an ordinary card game.

WIXOSS is the name of the latest card game craze to hit Japan. But amidst the buying and the playing, there are special cards called LRIGs that call out to particular girls. These girls are special girls who have been chosen to participate in a secret competition between themselves where the winner gets a wish granted in some reverse Madoka manner. This is how Ruko enters the competitions and finds friends before she destroys their life’s wish.

It’s easy to see WIXOSS (just like Yuuki Yuuna here) as yet another anime that gives a dark twist to something usually lighthearted. While this show has a lot of similarities, it ends up not as a mindless clone but something a little different than usual. Also, incest.

Why it made the list: Selector Infected WIXOSS isn’t your usual card game anime and pulls some pretty dark themes out for a show that, when it gets down to it, was made to advertise a product. You don’t need any knowledge of the game to get into the show and nor do you really need to think much about what’s going on.

Watch if you like: Card games; competition; Madoka Magica; drama; suffering; little girls; wishes; incest; psychological anime; sometimes school setting; watching the second season.

 

Watch Selector Infected WIXOSS Episodes on Amazon Now

 

 

Knights of Sidonia is 2014’s surprise CGI hit, not unlike the surprise that was Arpeggio in 2013. While at the core its story is just what it sounds like (and it’s not that one song by Muse), it doesn’t stray into so-bad-it’s-good territory just yet.

Humanity’s homeland was destroyed after the alien race known as Gauna annihilated the solar system. As always, the surviving handful of humans flees into space and train to fight another day. One such fighter is Nagate, who pilots a legendary mecha and that’s about all that’s remarkable about him.
Knights of Sidonia is exactly what it sounds like and yet is great to watch for the action and to play a drinking game of “who’s going to die”.

Why it made the list: Knights of Sidonia is a pot full of common Sci-Fi aspects that doesn’t exactly do anything new but manages to be really engaging for its action scenes and strong sense of tension. It’s not groundbreaking, but it goes exactly where you expect it to.

Watch if you like: Sci-Fi; space; mecha; CGI; action; generation ships; aliens; watching the second season; tension; common plot.

 

After Working!! let us into the hospitality business and Servant x Service brought us the joys of office life, we have Denki-gai, the anime about working in bookstore giant Toranaora.

Seven friends work together at the Akihabara branch of Toranaora, but for copyright reasons it’s called Umanohone. It’s a tough business to sell manga to every otaku that visits the store, and even harder when your own otaku interests clash. But the small group of friends do their best, recommending ecchi books, drawing last-minte manga, coveting waifus and trying to fit in.

It’s hard to describe a series that’s not unlike a version of Gintama where dicks are replaced with manga. It’s not a humour that appeals to everyone, but if you’re in with the crowd, it can be as hilarious as it is weirdly touching.

Why it made the list: Denki-gai’s the kind of comedy anime that can only appeal to people already too far lost in otaku culture. But when it makes jokes about eromanga, mangaka or how it feels to have a waifu on Christmas day, it really hits the mark.

Watch if you like: Manga; Akihabara; episodic series; comedy; some romance; nicknames; eromanga; slice of life; Japan; otaku culture.

 

Of the few science fiction anime on this list, Aldnoah.Zero is the one most strongly rooted to recent events, giving us an alternate history with some pretty big “what if”s and some equally big amounts of action.

In an alternate universe, the 1972 Apollo mission was a success that resulted in finding a portal to Mars on the moon, for some reason. But when humanity moves to Mars and makes it their own, their arrogance over having a new home makes them fuck up big time. Barely a decade after people settle on Mars, they wage a war against those left on Earth and use their superior technology to exterminate them.

The series has some big names behind it and delivers some amazing action scenes that are both well produced and get better over time. Sometimes things can feel like they come out of nowhere though, and the ending can make a lot of people feel weird about it, but this 12 episode series is a journey.

Why it made the list: Aldnoah.Zero is a strong hit with action and high production values but can be a miss with the main cast, who the story relies on quite a bit. You’re either going to be blown away with all the fancy explosives or left wanting over the protagonist and a few others, but it’s still a great show.

Watch if you like: Alternate history; mecha; space; wars; short series; watching the second season; action; Sci-Fi; deux ex machina; mixed opinion endings.

 

The first anime version of a popular 80s manga makes it to our next spot on this list for being a very solid horror anime. It’s also one of a few series to use dubstep in the soundtrack.

Main character Shinichi lives in a quiet Tokyo neighbourhood that suddenly turns horror fest when worm-like aliens invade Earth, settling in the brains of human hosts and transforming them into flesh-eating monsters. When it’s Shinichi’s turn to be taken over by a parasyte, it fails, instead eating his right hand and making any future attempts at masturbation pretty damn awkward. As he learns to live with the alien in his hand, Shinichi also learns to fight the other aliens who mercilessly devour humans every day.

Even though this series is a remake of a pretty old manga, everything about it works. The visuals look great and mature while the music is something a little different than usual. As much as it has plenty of blood and cannibalism, it asks a lot of questions about morality.

Why it made the list: Parasyte is this year’s surprise adaptation. The premise itself is interesting, and each fight with new parasytes brings character development as well as body horror. It’s a very interesting mix of sci-fi and horror that goes together in a different way than you’d expect.

Watch if you like: Dubstep; aliens; eating people; zombies; hands; moral questions; cool visuals; blood; body horror.

 

Okay, stick with me on the long title here. While just reading it might make you think of some of the harem shows that have come out the past few years, Locodol is something much more different and a whole lot sweeter.

Nanako is an ordinary high school girl who starts getting interested in working part-time. But when her uncle approaches her with an opportunity, the last thing she expects is to represent her small hometown to all of Japan. With her sempai Yukari and the two girls who work inside a weird animal suit, Nanako shows off her locodol skills by stuttering her name, stripping at a mall, and barely getting paid a wage.

Locodol is an idol show for those who aren’t fully into idols. The whole “representing your entire hometown” bit can sometimes be forgotten when you watch the girls do community jobs and take a slice of life approach to daily interactions.

Why it made the list: Locodol sounds like an average slice of life anime, but once you let your guard down, it hits. The show captures that feeling of working-together friendship that is often hard to get right. There’s a layer of sincerity that makes the show really stand out compared to other idol anime.

Watch if you like: Idols; the Japanese countryside; local mascots; friendship; yuri goggles; slice of life; soundtracks; scenery porn; relaxed pace; short series.

 

This year’s “what the fuck” comedy is Samurai Flamenco, the anime about being a superhero in a generally peaceful world. Except it’s not that peaceful. No wait, it is. Alright, maybe we need a vote on this one.

Samurai Flamenco, just like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures, is the kind of anime you need to watch to truly understand what it is. While it’s just as much about a self-made superhero and the cop who has to chase after him, it’s a strange mess of ideas, genres and tone shifts that come together to make this weird thing that involves no samurais dancing the flamenco.

Samurai Flamenco is best watched with a drink or two and an open mind. The series doesn’t go where you initially think it might, but by the end you’ll either love or hate the directions it took.

Why it made the list: Samurai Flamenco is the kind of comedy show that not everyone’s going to get or maybe even want to get. Its frequent animation problems and just as frequent tone/genre shifts make it hard to hold on to, but if you sit back and go with the flow, you’ll find it’s enjoyable.

Watch if you like: Super heroes; Kick-Ass; action; comedy; genre shifts; quirky humour; tone shifts;  parodies; everything making sense in the end.

 

Filling in for the lack of relaxing series on this list is Isshuukan Friends, the anime about… uh… wait, I had it. Give me a min… Nope, it’s gone.

Kaori is a strange high school girl; every week she forgets all the friend she’s made – and only memories about her friends. Because that’s kind of a downer, she chooses to isolate herself from everyone. But Yuuki won’t have any of that and tries to make his way into her life every week. That’s about it.

Isshuukan Friends is the kind of anime that feels warm and relaxing, where nothing much happens but each episode feels like growing close to someone. It’s not the anime equivalent of 50 First Dates but rather a very cute, slightly romantic story.

Why it made the list: Isshuukan Friends has that quiet but warm feeling few shows have. It goes at its own slow pace but it peaceful because of it. If anything was the most relaxing anime of 2014, it’s this series.

Watch if you like: Drama; comedy; slice of life anime; romance; light colours; slow paced anime; short series; small cast of characters; reading the manga.

 

Witch Craft Works gives us our dose of witches this year with a bit of role reversal on the side. This anime is the surprise enjoyment of the year, making the seemingly average into a guilty pleasure.

Honoka is an average student who gets bullied for being near the most popular girl in the school. But everything changes when Ayaka, the popular tall beauty, rescues him from certain death and basically tells Honoka that she is his babysitter. It turns out Honoka has a hidden power inside of him, but it’s certainly not the power to win over cute girls.

The show is short and at times not that well produced but it’s surprisingly enjoyable despite the complete mix of everything you might find in a harem meets fantasy anime.

Why it made the list: This isn’t the only anime on the list with role reversal but it’s certainly an entertaining series that takes “hopeless male protagonist” to new levels, though his eventual rise to be a hero isn’t unexpected. Witch Craft Works sets you up for an average harem anime but turns it into an enjoyable fantasy romance.

Watch if you like: Witches; magic; the guy being the princess; action; short series; large cast of characters; quick pacing.

 

Alright, this one’s a sequel to 2012’s popular Sword Art Online series. But while you do need to watch the first season to make any sense of SAO II, and we do prefer recommending you anime you can watch from the get-go, the show is still very worthy of a spot in 2014’s best anime list.

After everything that happened in Sword Art Online and ALfheim Online, Kirito is approached by important government people to solve a problem in another virtual reality game, Gun Gale Online. This time, a particular weapon is killing people both in-game and in real life. Because Kirito is the only person in the world capable of dealing with anything, he joins a shooting tournament to hopefully meet this mysterious killer.

Sword Art Online hasn’t changed much from its first season, and yet the second season feels like it settles into a pace and story that’s a bit more easy to enjoy, even with certain aspects being questionable. It also introduces some new themes and characters.

Why it made the list: While the first season left a few things to be desired, SAO II is a lot more enjoyable for what it is. It still has virtual reality shenanigans, action, Kirito, girls and basically everything that made season one great.

Watch if you like: MMOs; guns; triggers; social problems; games; action; adventure; fantasy; romance; shounen anime; virtual reality; standard-length series.


25

Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero (Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de aru)

 

 

Last on our list we have this year’s attempt at Puella Magi Madoka Magica but with enough different elements to be something different and surprisingly thoughtful.

By day, middle school girls Fuu, Itsuki, Tougo and Yuuna carry out acts of community kindness as part of the Hero Club. At night (well, any time), they transform into magical girls to save the world from monsters called Vertexes. It’s all fun and punching action until they realise that being a magical girl demands more of them than they want to give. Oh, and did we mention that they’re basically living on a small patch of land that was spared from the apocalypse?

A lot of Yuuki Yuuni rings similar to Madoka Magica, right down to its deceptive slice of life set-up to the outside being controlling the girls. But when it comes down to it, the tone and eventual conclusion of the series gives it a different identity.

Why it made the list: Yuuki Yuuna is the optimistic alternative to Madoka Magica. It deals with disability and more concrete consequences for being a magical girl without drowning in drama and angst (at least for too long). The series has some interesting ideas that make it a more enjoyable show inspired by Madoka Magica but that doesn’t get lost up the earlier series’ ass.

Watch if you like: Magical girls; disabilities; optimism; reading the LN; short series; gods; slice of life; slices of life; unusual soundtracks; Madoka Magica.


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