2014 has yet been another year where anime was saved many times; this year, by the likes of Space Dandy and Mushishi, among others.
May the competent people of the industry, both those who want to make only their own version of good and those who consider balancing commercial appeal with what they personally want as the goal, find more funding to continue making things.
Any finished TV series that aired at least around half its episodes in 2014 are eligible. Anything that also was airing for at least around three quarters of 2014 is eligible. In OPs and EDs, anything that was used during 2014 qualifies.
I don’t wanna give a best animation award because for me it’s always the final output that matters. The parts are there to accomplish what the final goal is. And it’s really fun to see how the parts work with each other to make an experience. There are plenty of times where the animation is good but isn’t used very well / didn’t add to what the scene was trying to do — or maybe the compositing and editing was bad so the good animation was kinda wasted. That’s why I want to broaden my specific awards a bit, especially on the visuals.
With that, let’s start.
By visuals I mean everything for the eyes. Art, designs, color coordination, compositing, animation, storyboards, etc. You can even say editing — and to stretch it more, directing — even influences this. I don’t want to make a clear-cut distinction because I don’t think it’s possible to separate things in a way that’s applicable to everything.
Why am I even doing these specific awards if I think like this? Well, just because.
So again, my favorites.
Honorable Mentions: Ping Pong the Animation, Yama no Susume S2, Amagi Brilliant Park, Sora no Method, Barakamon, Mikakunin de Shinkoukei, Zankyou no Terror, Mushishi Zoku Shou
This should be Space Dandy, but I haven’t watched that yet. It was hard to decide because there isn’t one among those I’ve watched that really separated itself from the rest IMO. In the end, I think Haikyuu!! was the most admirable for me. I personally really liked its art. But the consistency of its above average visuals, and how much these added to the storytelling really made its visuals my favorite for the year. Maybe the surprise factor also played a part because I didn’t expect Haikyuu to be that consistently great in the visuals.
Even though the sample above isn’t that special animation-wise (it’s very good but it’s far from among the best of the year), the choices in framing, lighting, timing, animation, etc really hammered the feeling of the spike being a force — from the elongation of the arms to highlight the momentum and power building up from the jump, then cut to only the ball with the effects without backgrounds and people. It makes the moment really feel like a sudden burst of power even without the sound. It was an unstoppable force. It was all thanks to how everything visual was executed. It’s also a lot easier to produce those cuts than animating all the people competently. It’s kinda addition by subtraction, unless they had the people and budget to go about animating everything. And saving effort and money while still nailing the intention of the scenes is what you’re after in TV series, with the limited time and talent. Even Haikyuu!!’s use of 3D CGI to always animate the bounces and spins of the ball cheaply was effective because this made the balls on the series really consistent with sufficient quality. You can’t afford to waste “waste” drawings on making animators draw thousands of balls. This kind of effectiveness even in the more limited scenes animation-wise in Haikyuu!!’s visuals is why it is my favorite visuals-wise. Other series technically may have had better production values, but we’re talking about my favorites here. 😀
For movies, I haven’t watched a lot but Tamako Love Story and Kaguyahime Monogatari are really noteworthy. Sorry IM@S.
Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Honorable Mentions: Zankyou no Terror, Aldnoah.Zero, Sora no Method, Nagi no Asukara
This also included how well it was used and how well it fits its anime. C3-bu would’ve taken my favorite OST last year had I only considered what was the most fun to listen to separately. What was an over the top OST used awkwardly during the hunter exam arc has become an unusually but excellently used OST especially in the Chimera Ant and Election Arc.
My favorite OP/EDs are also influenced by how well they fit and set the tone for their anime, but I think it’s mostly just on how much I liked the song and video and both as one.
“Tada Hitori” by Bakudan Johnny (Ping Pong the Animation)
Honorable Mentions: “Believe in Yourself” by Abe Mao (Baby Steps), “courage” by Tomatsu Haruka (Sword Art Online II: Excalibur Arc), “Sekai wa Koi ni Ochiteiru” by CHiCO with HoneyWorks (Ao Haru Ride), “Itsuka no, Ikutsuka no Kimi to no Sekai” by fhána (Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou), “Rashisa” by SUPER BEAVER (Barakamon)
“Hoshikuzu no Interlude” by fhána (Sora no Method)
Honorable Mentions: “Innocence” by NoisyCell (Barakamon), “Set Them Free” by Akira Jimbo (Tonari no Seki-kun), “Startear” by Haruna Luna (Sword Art Online II ED 1)
Ushinawareta Mira wo Motomete
Honorable Mentions: Wake Up Girls!, Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou, Nobunagun
When it comes to seiyuu performances, how much I like the seiyuu’s voice themselves is an influence. But I think I look more at how much the seiyuu’s performance added to the characters because I usually don’t pay much attention to the seiyuu performances unless it’s terrible (can’t help but get distracted by terrible acting). If it got me paying attention, the performance was probably at least great for my standards and taste.
Female Seiyuu Performance
Honorable Mentions: Matsui Eriko as Yonomori Benio (Mikakunin de Shinkoukei), Tomonaga Akane as Furukawa Yui (Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete), Hara Suzuko as Kotoishi Naru (Barakamon), Han Megumi as Himelda Window Cure Queen of the Blue Sky (Happiness Charge Precure!), Ise Mariya as Killua Zoldyck (Huunter x Hunter 2011)
Male Seiyuu Peformance
Honorable Mentions: Ono Daisuke as Handa Seishuu (Barakamon), Uchiyama Kouki as Kanie
West Seiya (Amagi Brilliant Park), Okamoto Nobuhiko as Mikoshiba Mikoto (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun), Nakano Yuto as Ginko (Mushishi Zoku Shou)
For characters, I listen to my kokoro, fanboy feelings, critical appreciation, and just plain liking them as characters (with help from their respective seiyuu performances). everything is considered because it’s from the kokoro.
Honorable Mentions: Shirayuki Hime / Himelda Window Cure Queen of the Blue Sky (Happiness Charge Precure!), Yonomori Benio (Mikakunin de Shinkoukei), Takasaki Natsu (Baby Steps), Sakura Chiyo (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun), Kawai Ritsu (Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou)
Honorable Mentions: Rundelhaus “Rudy” Kode (Log Horizon), Mikoshiba “Mikorin~” Mikoto (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun), Susumu Tokimune (Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen)
Romantic or not, it doesn’t matter.
Honorable Mentions: Jamie & Tokimune (Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen), Chitoge & Raku (Nisekoi), Nat-chan & Ei-chan (Baby Steps), Ritsu & Usa-chan (Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou), Aoi & Hinata (Yama no Susume S2)
Next will be my top 10 for 2014. Just a list. No explanations. 😀