The end of the year has arrived and it is time yet again to try and break down the past year and figure out some of the shows I enjoyed the most. I wouldn’t say this is the most objective of top 10 lists. Rather than just looking at the parts through a perhaps not as honest objective lens, this is just going over what shows really had me enjoying what I was seeing. These lists will vary between people for the simple reason that tastes are very personal. It will certainly vary from even other lists on this site. The most I can do is look at this season from my point of view and select the top shows. Just the view of a fan sending it out to the internet.
A few things stand out when looking back on 2015. Certainly the power of sequels remains as strong as ever. A fair number of shows on this list ended up being continuations of shows that I enjoyed in the past. That isn’t much of a surprise in itself. Anime in general does like to play it safe with things that have been successful previously, whether that is previous anime seasons or adapting popular source materials. I would also say that this year has delivered a nice variety of shows. Whether you are a fan of slice of life, mecha, fantasy, action, shoujo, etc, this year has given us some nice shows to enjoy. While there may not have been an infinite amount of every kind of show…I’d say that this year definitely gave us enough. Hopefully 2016 can also deliver a great variety of series so that no matter one’s tastes there will be something to enjoy.
10. Gundam Build Fighters Try (Fall)
A lot of the time a sequel will basically just continue where the original left off or try to perfectly recreate it. Build Fighters Try took an interesting route of jumping ahead several years and following a brand new group. Sure this group had a small connection to the original cast and the original cast had a kind of influence, but this was very much a new story. They could have taken the easy route and really focused on the nostalgia, but characters from the original show didn’t make many appearances. The main duo of the first series didn’t really appear at all and thus didn’t threaten to steal the show. In their place they had a fairly nice new cast. They in a sense took what people liked about the occasional team battles in the first series and made it the main focus.
The show also tended to avoid the first season’s habit of having the same attack finish every fight in the exact same way. Although can say the series did have a bit of a bad habit of simplifying things down to 1v1 fights within a team setting, but as a whole they did have some nice moments. Even though the original did a better job of settling potential romantic pairings, I did like the new cast. It was a large and interesting group. Still kind of amazing that some of the best Gundam series over the past few years have been the Build Fighter series. Thus this show deserving its spot on the top 10 list.
9. Akagami no Shirayuki-hime (Summer)
There are some shows that surprise you, but I wouldn’t quite say this was one of them. I’d heard enough about this before it aired to have it on the radar, but I was surprised at how good it ended up being. This was definitely one of the best shows of the year (thus why I got it on the top 10 list). It is arguably the best romance of the season, though I’m sure other shows could try to claim that title. Shirayuki was one of the best female leads of the season. A really interesting characters who clearly grows through the show helps others and is helped in turn.
There are some nice layers to both her and the male lead in Zen. The second-prince of a Kingdom and that is actually a pretty important thing since the show does actually tackle how things are not simple in life. Just liking someone is one factor, but there are a lot of things to consider. Plus I just like how this show doesn’t rush it. The relationship takes time to build and both these characters are chasing personal goals along the way. The secondary cast is solid and likable. Overall, this show has a lot of good things to it and thus I wanted to recognize it. The show isn’t done yet with the second cour starting in winter, but the first half was just that darn good.
8. Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans (Fall)
Never would have guessed I’d have two Gundam shows on the top 10 list when this year started. Gundam has had a really rough past few years. The best shows have basically been the ones about the buildable models. The past couple seasons really haven’t turned out the best. And while this show isn’t over yet, the impact of this show has been good enough to get it on this list. This has been surprisingly a powerful show. It has a level of seriousness about it, but still is something you can get into. The characters are pretty reasonable for their situation. These aren’t the kind of every-man leads we’ve had in some series. These are basically orphans of war, taken in by military companies and having to work to the bone in order to survive. The cast reflects the kind of lives they’ve lived and are a refreshing change of pace for the series.
The show doesn’t have as much action or at least not a fight every episode, but the story is strong. It’s a much more…brutal kind of Gundam show at least in terms of the action. Less the flash and beam shooting of previous shows, but rather melee weapons and less rapid fire cannons. It looks at some pretty tough topics. Child soldiers and the mentally of people who grow up like this. Though it isn’t all dark, there is an issue of family and not just ones of blood. Definitely a show worth checking out even if Gundam isn’t your thing.
7. Baby Steps 2nd Season (Spring)
This is a sequel that I knew I was going to really enjoy. The first season was a bit weak on the budget, but it got a sequel which had be extremely happy. Baby Steps is one of the best pure adaptations of a manga in terms of how loyal it is to the material. Adding scenes to flesh things out, but rarely changing anything pointlessly. The downside was that no third season was announced, but that’s not a flaw for the show. This season showed the continued growth and development of the lead character Maruo. The fun thing with this show is that it is solid progress, but progress that is worked for and paid for in terms of effort and time. Maruo grows as a player and a person and he puts the time in for it, he dedicates himself to the game of tennis. The visuals are stronger this season and things get quite interesting in terms of the road to him becoming a pro player. Plus his personal life has some major developments which are highlights of the season. I really enjoyed watching this show continue and seeing how the series would adapt such good material. Easily a top show of the season for me.
6. Working!!! (Summer)
It is kind of amazing when a series just so perfectly concludes its story. The third season of Working should go down in history as one of the best last seasons for a show. It was just a steady process of concluding story arcs and wrapping up just about every loose end that existed after 2 seasons of the show. A show that I wasn’t sure would ever get even a second season, ended up with a third season that just about perfectly wrapped things up. Getting an hour last episode just to make sure it not only finished properly, but did a good job of ending the show. That ending alone makes it deserve a spot on this list for me. I enjoyed just seeing the cast we’ve known for all this time take steps forward in their lives and end at a strong point. Just a really nice third season.
5. Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV) 2nd Season (Spring)
And now we reach the top 5. The point where things get really tough in terms of slotting shows in. In the end I think this show deserves its place in the top 5 of the season. I know some people had issues with this adaptation, but frankly I enjoyed it as a whole. The only downside was that while a visual novel is ok being more story than action…in a show where you have mythical heroes summoned to take part in a crazy magical war…you need more action than we got. But the show itself was still really strong. The visuals were really good. The show had its style and it worked, the budget given to make this show look good was probably pretty high. The action that we got was really good. I enjoyed seeing the character of Shirou fully examined and maybe given more credit than normally he gets. They really go into why this person is how he is. It’s a really interesting version of the story that gives us different situations than the original. Definitely worth watching and a top show of the season.
4. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?? (Fall)
Definitely not a show I expected to have on this list a year ago. Mostly since I completely disregarded the first season based on the summary and not thinking it would be worthwhile. Well that turned out to be in error. In the end the show was really good and the second season just took that a step further. Rarely is there a show I’d say can actually just make your day better by watching it, but this is one of them. Such a positive and fun series that it’s hard to be in a bad mood after watching it. The cast is fun and likable, the visuals are bright, the comedy is on point, and the show manages to continue to develop the bonds that exist between these friends.
It’s fun to see this cast evolve and tackle some of their issues. It may be a series of cute girls doing cute things, but I think there is more to it. You see their lives slowly moving forward, not focusing on their school lives but rather their work lives and their free time in-between. New characters are added to the mix, but it doesn’t take away from the core group that makes this show worthwhile. It is definitely one of the best shows of 2015. Has one of the best EDs of the season and really just was a lot of fun to watch every week.
3. Senki Zesshou Symphogear GX (Summer)
This was probably one of my most anticipated shows of 2015 and I expect there’d be some disagreement on its placement from those who watched the show. However, I still think this was a really good show. Just perhaps one where the flaws drop it down to the third spot rather than easily finishing on top. Regardless, this is still one of my favorites of the year and that’s just how it is XD. This series easily starts with one of the most epic first 5 minutes of any anime in existence. It’s so over the top and awesome and I loved every moment of it.
The show starts out really well I think. Symphogear has this great little superhero/magical girl, thing going on and it uses it to perfection. The song selection for season 3 is some of the best in the show with the mystery song at the end for a certain character being a really darn good one. The action is fun, the abilities are over the top, and I had a good time watching it. The middle portion does get a bit repetitive, they don’t as easily resolve the personal issues of the characters as smoothly as was done in season 1 and 2. But, it is still a really good show and had a strong end. The fun thing is that this series should continue forward for additional series, because it still works.
2. Nanatsu no Taizai (Fall)
It really is tough when you have to pick out the top shows of the season, but here we are. This may be one of the best shows of the year that was surprisingly not as popular as I would have thought it’d be. This is very much a fantasy action series. The main cast are mostly not human beings and are all exceedingly powerful. The fun twist with Nanatsu no Taizai is that the main cast are already ungodly powerful. These are all former heroes of a kingdom that basically have to go into hiding after a setup. The great thing is that you start off this show with such a powerful main character in Meliodas and you slowly assemble the rest of his group (the Sins). Out of the gate you can have some great fights against some fairly powerful opponents.
The best thing I think is that every Sin does have a story to them. They have these titles named after Sins because they committed or were charged with crimes in the past. Ban is one of my favorite characters in this show and part of it is because his backstory was just tough to watch. All these characters have their character flaws and are imperfect heroes. But they have such great personalities and the show is well animated. The music as well is a big highlight, having great tracks for the action scenes and other dramatic moments.
In the end this is easily one of the top shows of the year for me. Just a really good example of this kind of show done right and glad to know a second season will be coming later on.
1. Hibike! Euphonium (Spring)
And here we are at the top. It was a tough bit of deciding, but I have to give 2015 to Hibike! Euphonium. This show just did so many things right. It’s one of the best examples of school drama I’ve ever seen. It’s very grounded and that is part of what makes it a strong show. The drama isn’t about the end of the world, but rather this school band that has a lot of history behind it. The main characters are these first years who are coming into the picture, both changing the situation and being changed by it. Kumiko is a great main character. She’s got an interesting bundle of skills and flaws. She’s not a bad person, but has a habit of blurting out things that come to mind. Things that could be less than plesant for others to hear. The girl’s middle school band wasn’t all that great and an incident around that lead to her planning on stepping away from music, but of course she gets pulled into her high school band and everything just takes off from there.
It’s a really interesting show because of how utterly dedicated KyoAni was to the animation. This show is honestly gorgeous. The characters look great, the instruments look great, and the backgrounds look great. What might be a minor thing to some, but was huge to me was the performances. How they showed the characters playing. Actually looking like they were breathing into the mouthpieces, looking like they were putting a lot of air into their playing and even fingering the instruments in a way that looked accurate. The sound quality was also outstanding. It wasn’t just good playing and that was it. You could actually pick up the skill level even if you aren’t a big music person. When the band is supposed to suck….they suck. When they make moderate improvements, they sound moderately better. Such a big thing in the story is individual skill level and the show gets that.
Of course there is the personal side to it. I did play the Euphonium in the past and kind of wish I had one after seeing this show. The cast was really strong and had some good character moments. Kumiko and Reina were stars, but a lot of characters had nice scenes. I think when it comes to slice of life and an interesting musical focus, this show steals the year. This show just brought it and I’m glad to have watched it. Had to go with this for my top anime of 2015.
And there you have it. If anyone has survived long enough to read this last part then I congratulate you. I’ll save on honorable mentions since that could go on forever. In the end this is the bunch I decided to go with. For me if the show had a fair chunk of episode cross over into 2015 it was fair game for this. You have shows that started last year and ended this one and you have shows that won’t finish until 2016. But, these shows were the ones I enjoyed the most this past year. It goes to show that during a year you can almost always find a lot of shows that will appeal to you. Some years will be more bleak and empty than others, but that’s just how it goes.
It was a pretty balanced year in the whole. Most seasons had at least one show I really enjoyed and so I didn’t have to push myself on covering a lot of shows I didn’t at least enjoy. I hope that 2016 will have the same kind of positive result. Of course if it turns out to be even better than 2015 then I’m in XD. In the end I just hope that everyone can say they have at least 10 shows they really enjoyed watching, even if their list drastically differs from my own. These are just the shows that really appealed to me. I’m glad to have gotten to watch them and with some of the shows actually blog them.
See everyone next season and hope you had a great holiday.
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