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Corin Hemphill’s top picks for 2015

English Dubbed Anime Lovers k return of kings
English Dubbed Anime Lovers k return of kings

My TOP 20 Anime of 2015

This list include anime TV series, OVAs and movies that began and ended this year. However, I will also include shows that began in 2014 and carried over into 2015.

Let’s get started.

Honorable Mentions
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans – The show is probably my favorite of the year but it’s only halfway over. It’s still a consistently good anime and I recommend it to anyone who wants to get into the Gundam franchise.

Chivalry of a Failed Knight – There were quite a few magic high school anime that aired this year. While some were at least enjoyable Chivalry of a Failed Knight is the only one that came close to being good in my opinion. The show actually a decent romance, exciting fight scenes and a protagonist that wasn’t totally boring. What makes the show really stand are its last two episodes especially the penultimate one.

Re-Kan!- An adaptation of a 4-koma manga series Re-kan! had some hit or miss episodes. Still the characters were very likeable and the background music was nice so I wouldn’t tell anyone that it’s not worth watching.

20. Gangsta- (Manglobe, 12 eps) When Gangsta first premiered it was instantly compare to Black Lagoon and with good reason. It’s a dirty, gritty series that takes place in a shady setting. The characters are cool but they’ve done very questionable things in their life. Unfortunate the show ends on a bad cliffhanger and with Manglobe declaring bankruptcy a sequel is not going to happen anytime soon.

19. Kyoukai no Rinne (Brains Base, 25 episodes) – Based on a manga by Rumiko Takahashi (Inuyasha, Ranma ½) Rinne gives us a rather relaxing supernatural series. In its 25 episode run the show never once got serious or angsty and just stuck with its signature humor. A second season is set to air next spring.

18. Nisekoi 2( SHAFT, 12 Eps.) – The first of many sequels on this list, Director Akiyuki Shimbo continues adapting the romantic-comedy with his signature style. While not as good as the first season Nisekoi 2 still brings out the laughs and there’s one arc in particular that earns the show a spot on the list.

17. Charlotte (P.A. Works, 13 Eps.) – I love Key and I love P.A Works so I knew I was going to enjoy this one. While there are some questionable writing decisions towards the second half I think the show pulled through just fine.

16. Snow White with the Red Hair (Bones, 12 Eps.) – It’s been awhile since studio Bones adapted a shoujo manga and they picked another good one. The fantasy romance offers us an interesting setting and one of the best female leads in recent memory. A second season is set to air next spring but there’s no cliffhanger or sequel hook in the first season so it’s good enough on its own.

My TOP 20 Anime of 2015 Part 2

This list include anime TV series, OVAs and movies that began and ended this year. However, I will also include shows that began in 2014 and carried over into 2015.

Let’s get started.

15. Seraph of the End (Studio Wit, 2 seasons, 24 Eps. , Dubbed)- Seraph is an interesting viewing experience. There’s something engaging about watching a flawed show improve on itself. The first season is really just buildup to the second. We start out with a stubborn, dim witted main character and end with a typical but likeable protagonist. In fact, once they start cooperating in battle all of the characters come into their own.

14. Gundam: Reconguista in G (Sunrise, 25 Eps.) – I wasn’t able to include the Gundam series that aired I can include one of the two that ended this year. The other one was Build Fighters Try and while it was a fun series G-Reco was better overall. Director of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series, Yoshiyuki Tomino, returns to deliver a fast paced show with no exposition and humor to cover up its dark moments. It also features an animation style that looks like it came from the 80’s.

13. Monster Musume (Lerche, 12 Eps.) – The second most NSFW anime on this list, a show that could have easily been garbage but turned out to good harem comedy. Monster Musume owns its absurdity. It knows how ridiculous its premise is and knows how to use it.

12. Prison School (J.C. Staff, 12 Eps., Dubbed) – THE MOST NSFW ANIME on this list and maybe of all time. The dirtiest, nastiest cruelest jokes that you can think of are right here. It’s also a well written social commentary on gender roles. Behind all the abuse and laughs there is serious criticism on masculinity, feminism, and even social justice. An OVA was recently announced and given this a J.C. Staff anime a second season is not unlikely. Still, the show has a satisfying conclusion and was consistently entertaining throughout.

11. One Piece: Adventure of Nebuladia (Toei, 1 Eps.) – A new TV special for the long running shonen directed by Konosuke Uda, the first director for the One Piece anime. It has all the comedic elements you would expect but also an element of suspense as the Straw Hats face circumstances that put them at a huge disadvantage. Couple that with a good villain(It’s NOT Foxy) and some above average animation and you’ve got a pretty good OVA.

My TOP 20 Anime of 2015 Part 3

This list include anime TV series, OVAs and movies that began and ended this year. However, I will also include shows that began in 2014 and carried over into 2015.

Let’s get started.

10(tie). Love Bullet: Yurikuma Arashi (Silver Link, 12 Eps, Dubbed) – If you watch the first episode of this anime and find yourself asking “WTF did I just watch?” look up a man by the name of Kunihiko Ikuhara. He is a visionary director. Everything he’s worked on from Penguindrum to Utena to even parts of Sailor Moon is filled with symbolism covering several themes. It’s as interesting to look at as it is to think about and discuss with others.

10(tie). K- Return of Kings (GoHands, 13 Eps) – The sequel to the 2012 K TV series and its film Missing Kings. Here we have new antagonist who is both relatable and motivated. We’re also given more time with SCEPTER 4 who sort of got the short end of the stick last time. The animation is far more consistent, the music is more fitting, the cinematography is beautiful Return of Kings certainly is a step up from its predecessors.

9. Rokka – Braves of the Six Flowers (Passione, 12 Eps.) –Rokka is a fantasy series about six heroes who are destined to fight the demon god. So it starts out three very good episodes that execute fantasy tropes perfectly. Then we get episode 4 and shift into the real meat of the story: a mystery. A basic concept suddenly becomes a thrilling series filled with tension and suspense. Even if you figure out who the culprit is most of the enjoyment comes from the characters forming alliances, betraying each other, and trying to avoid suspicion.

8(tie). School-Live!-(Lerche, 12 Eps.)- Mood Whiplash, False Marketing, those are two phrases that can best describe this anime. Because I’d rather not spoil the plot when discussing it. While there clues hidden in plain sight in the first episode the reveal at the end of it is shocking. This show was both a tear jerker and healing show. Endearing characters in an abysmal setting that hang onto every bit of hope they can find. The surprise of the season and probably the year.

8(tie). Noragami ARAGOTO- (Bones,12 Eps., Dubbed)- it’s rear that Bones does a second season for a manga adaptation. When the first season ended with anime original episode it was unlikely that there’d be any more, but here we are with with the Bishamon and Ebisu arcs. Every episode of this season managed to deliver an emotional punch and half of them had cliffhangers that left you wanting more

7. Kuroko’s Basketball 3rd Season (Production I.G., 25 Eps.) All good things must come to an end and this was a very good thing. It’s actually hard is three years old at this but we’ve made it to the final season. The games are ridiculous hype with even more over the top basketball moves and the characters remain just as quirky as ever. Speaking of the characters, we finally get some answers on the Generation of Miracles and how they turned in an emotionally strong flashback. Production I.G. finishes adapting the biggest hit sports manga since Prince of Tennis and they send the series off with a bang!

6. Durarara!!x2 Shou and Ten (Studio Shuka, 2 cours, 24 Eps, Dubbed) –After five years Durarara returns to TV anime and it has not lost it. Bringing back all the intrigue, humor, and twisted love in this urban fantasy. The show is at the same level as quality as ever and there’s much else to say about it.

My TOP 20 Anime of 2015 Part 4

This list includes anime TV series, OVAs and movies that began and ended this year. However, I will also include shows that began in 2014 and carried over into 2015.

But first I’d like to pick some of my favorite characters and music in 2015.
Favorite Opening of the Year
FLYERS by BRADIO from Death Parade
This was the clear choice, FLYERS is the best opening theme of the year by far and an instant classic. The song itself is a parade of wonderful jazz music with loud trumpets and brash bold vocals. With catchy lyrics and the characters dancing in the opening credits, FLYERS earns the number one spot.
Runner-up: Raise your Flag by MAN WITH A MISSION from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans; THE HERO ~Ikareru Kobushi ni Hi wo Tsukero~ by JAM PROJECT from One Punch Man

Favorite Ending of the Year

Sugar Song and Bitter Step by Unison Square Garden from Blood Blockade Battlefront
While most ending themes go for slow, melodic ballads this ending theme is an energetic J-Rock song that could easily open the show. It’s catchy, upbeat and entertaining to listen as well as watch.
Runner-up: Orphans no Namida by MISIA from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans

Antagonist of the Year:

Kugaha from Noragami Aragoto
There are two other characters in Noragam Aragoto that could be considered the antagonist of the series but one isn’t totally evil and the other’s motivations aren’t clear yet. Kugaha earns this title because he isn’t a redeemable character at all. He’s manipulates several characters and is responsible for even more character’s deaths but the worst thing about Kugaha is that his motivations are completely selfish. He’s just a jerk.
Runner-ups: The Underground Student Council from Prison School; Embryo from Cross Ange

Female Protagonist of the Year:

Yona from Yona of the Dawn
After spending most of her life as a sheltered and spoiled princess Yona is forced to grow up and boy does she grow up. Throughout the course of the series we watch Yona grow from a meek girl to a strong willed woman ready to lead a band of warriors and reclaim her homeland. Her character is performed beautifully by both Chiwa Saito and Monica Rial.

Runner-ups: Ange from Cross Ange for taking charge of the series; Shinoa from Seraph of the End for her smug adorableness; Erina Nakiri and Megumi Tadokoro from Food Wars for the way they contrast with the main character as well their own motivations; and Shirayuki from Snow White and the Red Hair for being a spunky, independent red-head.

Male Protagonist of the Year:

Yukihira Soma from Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma
Yukihira is the son of a world class chef that runs a small town diner. That puts him in a very odd underdog story where he has the pedigree but not upbringing. He definitely has the talent though. Yukihira is good at cooking and he knows it. What makes his character entertaining is his confidence. Yukihira is never nervous, a bit of a sore loser, and enjoys making comeback victories. While the supporting cast is plenty good, he carries the show on his shoulders and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka’s performance just makes him more charismatic.

Runner-ups: Saitama from One Punch Man for being a hero for fun and a meme; Yato from Noragami for being a multi-layered character; Adlet Meyer for his wits and charisma; and Yu Otosaka from Charlotte for pushing the boundary of anti-heroes.

Anime Film of the Year:

When Marnie was There(Studio Ghibli, Dubbed)
Isao Takahata directs a beautiful film about love, friendship and loss. The hand drawn animation is astonishing and the story completely draws you in. It’s another name on the long list of brilliant films from Studio Ghibli.
Runner-up: Digimon Adventure Tri. Saikai

Now for TOP FIVE ANIME OF 2015

Let’s get started.

5. The Heroic Legend of Arslan (LINDENFILMS, 25 Eps., Dubbed) – The second anime adaption of a fantasy novel series that’s been running since 1986. This one in particular follows he material from the manga illustrated by Fullmetal Alchemist author Hiromu Arakawa. It’s a slow paced story that builds up to great battles in an epic war. The show takes it time to establish it’s setting so there’s a lot of world building and character development. However, what makes The Heroic Legend of Arslan is that it explores the themes of how and why a war starts as well the consequences.

4(tie). One Punch Man (Madhouse, 12 Eps.) – Undoubtedly, the most popular series to air this year and there’s a good reason for it. One Punch Man can appeal to basically anyone. It’s a parody of Shonen anime so people who aren’t fans of it can enjoy the satire while still being respectful enough of the tropes that it works as a Shonen title in its own right. Not only that but Madhouse delivers some of the best animation quality they’ve ever done. That’s saying a lot when you consider this is the studio that brought us Summer Wars.

4(tie). Shirobako (P.A. Works, 24 Eps.)- It’s an anime about anime. Shirobako gives an interesting look behind the production of anime in Japan. We follow the careers of production assistants, animators, screenwriters, and voice actors in an engaging slice-of-life series. The writing is strong enough to make the business jargon and practices both understandable and relatable. Even the staff meetings and mundane tasks are enjoyable due to the dialogue and relatable characters.

3. Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma (J.C. Staff, 25 Eps.) – Food Wars as you can tell by it’s name is cooking battle anime. The anime features intense competitions between talented chefs by wagering stakes on both sides. The art is very good of course, the character designs are attractive and the food always looks delicious. Food Was is nonstop entertainment and I’m very excited that it’s getting second season. Also, foodgasm

2. Blood Blockade Battlefront (Bones, 12 Eps., Dubbed) – From the creator of Trigun, Blood Blockade Battlefront is a supernatural anime with a vivid setting. The has quite large cast and the story is so big and ambitious that the final episode was delayed so that it could be made twice the length of a normal one. It’s crazy, funny and emotional with lots of great visuals and a strong soundtrack to back it up. Blood Blockade Battlefront is truly a gem.

1. Death Parade (Madhouse, 12 Eps., Dubbed)- Death Parade is the full length Television anime of the Death Billiard OVA that came out a year earlier. The anime came out in January of 2015 and by the time it finished airing Death Parade set the standard for every show to follow it. Madhouse is as impressive as usual when it comes to the art and animation. The character designs, color palette and one particular scene are executed beautifully. Even the eye designs are striking visually. Death Parade features a wide cast of characters that is memorable either by their face of their backgrounds or their actions. The show is both psychological and philosophical as it pushes their character to their mental limits so they can question what’s morally right as well as what constitutes living. If Death Parade doesn’t entertain you then it’ll at least offer you some new insight.

Thank you for reading this list. I feel this was a stronger year for anime that the last two; not only because of all the good title but the lack of bad or cringeworthy anime. Each season brought us at least two or three popular new show and in the fall we got a smash hit anime and I think this will help make the medium more popular in America. Here’s to 2016!

anime line up

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