Thursday, January 29, 2015

5 Anime From 2014 You May Have Overlooked

2014 was really the first year I started watching a lot of airing anime as opposed to just one or two shows, as well as listening to a lot of buzz surrounding the airing shows. Now the year is over and I've seen plenty of end-of-year lists touting which shows were worth watching the most. I've seen a lot of the same shows pop up. You had your mainstream hits like Space Dandy, Kill la Kill, Fate/Stay Night, and Parasyte. You had your cult hits like No Game No Life, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Log Horizon, and Shirobako. There were mentions of shows that surprised everyone once they started airing, such as Barakamon and Bahamut. You even had some attention thrown to artsy shows like Ping Pong and Mushishi Zoku Shou. All of those were great, but I'm not here to talk about them.

 Barakamon was sweet and adorable and unexpected but everyone's already talked about how Barakamon was sweet and adorable and unexpected.

If you want to read about the shows I just mentioned, just Google "best anime of 2014" and I'm sure you'll find a few lists that mention each of them. What I'm here to do is talk about some of my favorite shows from 2014 that were overlooked by the larger anime community. Sure, there were obviously plenty of viewers who probably enjoyed them to an extent, but these are, in my opinion, some really solid shows that just never generated that much buzz for whatever reason.

5. Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii/The World is Still Beautiful

I have to admit that I'm a sucker for a good romance, and if a show can actually pull a good romance off, it's one that has my attention. And unlike most romance, it has a fantasy setting! Admittedly, The World is Still Beautiful is kind of hit and miss, but it manages to craft a romance that isn't just "I have a crush on this person but am too busy blushing whenever they're around to do anything." This show opens with our protagonist, Nike, forced into a marriage with the cruel Sun King, Livius. Livius also happens to be a young boy (though, to be fair, one very mature for his age). Though she's not pleased with the arrangement, Nike decides to make the best of the situation and attempt to heal the pain Livius carries with him by showing him how, despite all the hardships humans have to face, the world can still be beautiful. The show begins with Nike and Livius resenting each other, but by the end, they legitimately love each other and it never once feels like their relationship was rushed or drawn out to get to that point.

Like I said, it's a bit hit-and-miss, though, which is probably why it never caught on with most people. Certain plot elements that get a lot of focus feel unimportant, it can feel a bit repetitive, and I don't think they actually go far enough with the relationship. Sure, Livius is really young and I can see how some people might find the relationship between someone of that age and a young adult to be a bit uncomfortable, but the relationship is portrayed tastefully, the two are married, are clearly in love with each other, and Livius seems to be mature enough to understand the birds and the bees. It legitimately seems to cheapen their relationship by explicitly stating that the two have never done more than kiss. But whatever. Still a fairly satisfying show, and while it might not be the greatest show out there and maybe isn't your thing, it's a romance worth checking out.

4. Gugure! Kokkuri-san

I've always liked shows that draw humor from the absurdity of the world the characters live in, such as Nichijou or Cromartie High School. Kokkuri-san is another one of these shows. It focuses on a stoic young girl named Kohina Ichimatsu (who claims to be a doll or synthetic lifeform) and the supernatural companions she collects. The main cast is rounded out by fox spirit Kokkuri-san (who acts as the straight man), dog spirit Inugami (who frequently swaps between male and female form and is worryingly obsessed with Kohina), and the lazy Tanuki drunkard Shigaraki. It's your standard enjoyable situational comedy from that point, with fun characters in fun situations rattling off fun dialogue. Like I mentioned, a lot of humor is derived from the strangeness--yet also cuteness--of the world and characters, such as Kohina's obsession with cheap cup noodles or the fact that one of the boys in her school is inexplicably an alien.

There are also some legitimately sweet or beautiful moments in addition to the comedy. Episode 10, for example, feels almost like an episode of Mushishi...if Mushishi were a comedy with a slightly raunchy sense of humor, at least.

I feel like this show was largely overlooked due to the sheer number of good comedies that came out in 2014. Denki-gai (which aired the same season) and Nozaki-kun (which aired the season before) ended up gaining much more attention, and quite a few shows not strictly classified as comedy (like Space Dandy, Kill la Kill, No Game No Life, or Barakamon) had a lot of strong comedic moments as well. But if you're looking for something that is both funny and cute, Kokkuri-san is definitely still worth a watch.

3. Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken/I Can't Understand What My Husband is Saying

From romance, to comedy, to Danna ga Nani: a comedy focused on a romantic relationship. Office worker Kaoru marries the otaku Hajime, and while the show initially seems to be setting itself up as an otaku wish fulfillment--okay, well, that's admittedly kind of what it is, but it's also way more than that. At first, it seems like the show is about Kaoru's difficulties living with someone so obsessed with otaku culture, but as time goes on, we see that the two actually compliment each other very well. Yes, Hajime is constantly spewing pop culture references and using fanspeak that Kaoru doesn't always get, but she loves him and tries to accept and understand his hobbies even though she just doesn't "get" them. Kaoru herself is not always easy to get along with, what with her inability to cook, her devilish nature that emerges when she's drunk, and her occasional immature fits.


Sure, Danna ga Nani's references might be a bit inaccessible to more casual fans, but ultimately it can still be enjoyed as a story about a healthy relationship between two people who don't always understand each other, but are still in love. There's also a fun supporting cast that gets a fair amount of development. It's impressive they managed to flesh all this out in a 4-minute short. That's probably a large part of why Danna ga Nani was overlooked: in addition to the premise (which sounds generic and terrible), short series often don't garner as much attention, possibly because they're seen as having less content, and they're usually excluded from ranking lists. Which is a shame, because Danna ga Nani manages to pack a ton of humor and romance into less than an hour.

2. Nobunaga Concerto

Who isn't sick of the Sengoku period by this point? We've had the Sengoku period where everyone's genderflipped (The Ambition of Oda Nobuna), the Sengoku period with Pokemon (Pokemon Conquest), a version of the Sengoku period that involves horses with handlebars and tailpipes and guys who fight with six swords at once, and just prior to Nobunaga Concerto, we had Nobunagun and Nobunaga the Fool. And yet it was this one that really stood out to me. First, it doesn't use a "Sengoku period but there's a difference" gimmick. Instead, it's more or less a straight alternate history. High school student Saburou accidentally finds himself transported back in time to the Sengoku period, where he meets a sickly Oda Nobunaga. As Saburou looks near-identical to Nobunaga, the man asks him to take his place. Saburou, however, is not particularly familiar with history, and while he has a history book that helps guide him in the beginning, the book gets destroyed and Saburou begins making the same decisions Nobunaga made on his own. If the viewer is vaguely familiar with the history of this period, the main appeal of the show becomes the dramatic irony. For example, it's made relatively clear who Hideyoshi is due to a few offhand comments, so viewers instead begin wondering how the man becomes Hideyoshi. And all the while, Saburou's 21st century mannerisms along with his own eccentricities make his transformation into the warlord known as Oda Nobunaga a fun one.

So why did this one get overlooked? Probably partially due to Nobunaga fatigue (seriously, you can't avoid him), probably partially because it began airing later into the season, and probably partially due to the art and animation style. I don't have much of an eye for animation, but it looks like all the characters are 3D models painted over to look 2D? I don't know, if you know what RWBY is, it's similar to that. See for yourself what it looks like in the ED (which is great, incidentally). Personally, I liked the animation because I thought it made it look vaguely like a period painting, but I know that plenty of people disliked it. It's a shame how few people gave this show a second thought, though.

1. Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou/The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior

I honestly have no clue how this show wasn't one that got talked about a lot, which is a shame because it was easily one of my favorite shows of the year.

Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou is a play on words meaning "we all live in the Kawai apartments" or "we are all pitiful," and that describes the show pretty well. It's about a group of weird, pathetic people who all live in the same apartment complex. Our protagonist is a high school student named Usa, who develops a crush on the adorable introverted bookworm named Ritsu, whose family owns the complex. Unfortunately, in addition to both Usa and Ritsu's awkwardness, Usa has to deal with his masochistic roommate Shiro, the always unlucky-in-love Mayumi, and the devilish Sayaka. It's part comedy and part romance and it looks absolutely beautiful.

Seriously, do yourself a favor by checking this one out. Fun characters, good romance, cute situations, beautiful art and animation...I honestly don't see why this one didn't get more love. Go. Go watch it.

Well, hopefully I've given you some new shows to check out. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

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