On the 1st Day of Anime — A Hunt Worth Undertaking

Three years, 148 episodes, and seven arcs have given us a show that leaps far and beyond the story that was introduced in that first episode, an adventure spurred by a young boy’s wish to simply meet his father. This is not only a story about a boy growing up, but about life in general, the darkness and difficulties in it, and what exactly makes it worth living. We laugh when Gon smiles, grimace when he clenches his fists, cheer when he succeeds, and cry out with his frustration.  Hunter x Hunter has burned itself into my heart with stunning force and deserves my final slot for the year of 2014.

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On the 2nd Day of Anime — A Talking Hand and a Prettier Face

Fall was probably one of my least researched seasons of the year, largely due to my busy life schedule and struggle to keep up with the summer shows. I ended up very quickly scanning through what the new season had to offer and choosing a handful, relying later on my friend’s initial reviews and tweets about shows worth watching. Kiseiijuu happened to be one I chose from my first grouping, not because of the art or studio or premise. It was actually KWoo who wanted to try it out. So imagine my surprise when the sci-fi turned out to not only be gripping, but to also have horror elements right up my alley. I was immediately reminded of an old favorite of mine, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where plant-like aliens invade a town and take over the bodies of its residents without many people noticing until it’s too late. Similarly, Kiseiijuu features spore-like parasites bent on overtaking humans’ brains to survive and consume on Earth. The image of a small, drill-like blob fighting to enter Shinichi’s body through any orifice was terrifying but fascinating. Like a slow motion disaster headed your way, you can’t help but stare and wait for the consequences. The unexpected result of Shinichi’s luck and determination in turn gives us one of the most successful adaptations to anime in 2014.

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On the 3rd Day of Anime — #1 Survival Girl, Momoka-sama

Momoka is girl of the year. Any girl who can get away with wrapping natto in a sushi roll and slapping her club mate in “assistance” of her natto prejudice is worthy of my vote ;) Momoka’s initial introduction, revealed competence and brutality, and promising future have all earned her a warm place in my heart…at least until the day we clash and I out shoot her in a match!

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On the 4th Day of Anime — A Flame-haired Dragon of Legends Old

I am a sucker for high fantasy stories that include journeys, a gathering of group members, and strong female characters. Some shows that immediately spring to mind include Juuni Kokuki, Saiunkoku Monogatari, and to a lesser extent, Fushigi Yuugi. The last two are considered reverse harems, though the latter is more so than the former. Similarly to SaiunkokuAkatsuki no Yona has overtones of otome romance though largely avoids it in preference of a more competent female lead and a greater purpose. Princess Yona may be royalty, but her mental maturity is stunted by her sheltered upbringing and quick trust for those around her. When disaster strikes and she sets forth into the world in pursuit of a legend, we see her grow both psychically and psychologically at a rapid rate. In ignorance, she fulfills the whispering of reborn heroes from the nation’s birth. Hers is a terrifying, yet thrilling, destiny that I must witness.

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On the 5th Day of Anime — The Antithesis of Shoujo Romance

The confession of love in a shoujo romance usually doesn’t occur until partway through the show after the girl or boy has undergone sufficient agonizing and courage-building. So when Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun started with a face-to-face confession, I knew that this anime was going to have a completely different pacing and direction than most of its genre. I had no idea just how short I was falling from the actuality of the matter. Not only did Nozaki-kun start off in an uncharacteristic scene, it also threw back its shoujo wrapping and emerged as a shounen comedy. Now, I love fluffy romance shows–think Kimi ni Todoke, Bokura ga Ita, and Hana Yori Dango. I also happen to love series that poke fun at genre stereotypes and character archetypes, like NichijouDanshi Koukousei no Nichijou, and Minami-ke. This particular anime mostly stands in the second camp, though there are the occasional overtones from the first that make characters like Sakura and Mikoshiba so endearing.

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On the 6th Day of Anime — A Year of Sports Anime

Sports have never been my forte either in real life or in my viewing preferences, but I do tend to have one or two a year that I end up enjoying. That’s how I’ve found some favorites like the baseball anime Cross Game. This year, however, there was a torrential downpour of sports anime. I ended up watching much more than I have ever before within a year. Below are my choices, some of which are still airing.

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On the 7th Day of Anime — CG Faces and Space Photosynthesis

There aren’t too many CG shows that are able to fight their way to the top of a given season, but Sidonia no Kishi had a fabulous setting and story to push it into the limelight this past spring. Sure, the vast majority of characters were exact templates of one another and I sometimes couldn’t tell the difference between one girl from another, but the original concept of the main character and his world held me enthralled. I’m reminded greatly of one of my favorite sci-fi television shows, Battlestar Galactica. Like in Sidonia, theirs is an existence shaped by alien invasion and the last resort for survival. They float boundless through achingly beautiful, yet cold, stars, constantly on the lookout for hostile encounters and natural resources for harvesting. As terrifying and abnormal as such a life may sound, their many years in space have given them the time to adjust to their new reality.

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On the 8th Day of Anime — The Shots Heard Around the AniWorld

The truth is that if you’ve seen this past summer’s Aldnoah.Zero, you likely know exactly to what my title refers. The show had several surprises up its sleeve through its run, but nothing beat the finale in shock factor. The outcry that came pouring out after this episode aired clogged my online feeds and resulted in one of the longest discussions I’ve had about a single anime episode with KWoo. Neither one of us expected what happened, particularly with the way the protagonist stood on a pedestal for the majority of the series.

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On the 9th Day of Anime — Coffee Girls and a Fuwa-fuwa Rabbit

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? triumphs over the entirety of the year on cuteness, hands down. Young girls in gloriously frilly uniforms serve up drinks with latte art of submarines and tanks. Classmates who get drunk on caffeine and waitresses with exotic naming conventions for food and drinks live just around the corner. The rabbit cafe also doubles as a bar in the evening, staffed by a kindly older father and an overly fluffy “rabbit” grandfather that looks more like a basketball wrapped in sheep’s wool than anything else. It’s a haven for aromas, sights, and taste buds, and a place I could imagine making my regular morning stop on the way to work.

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On the 10th Day of Anime — The Ageless Mushi-shi, Ginko-san

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to my readers that Mushi-shi would make it to my top twelve for the year, being as the original still stands over the past eight years as a show I consider to be among the best, even including other visual mediums. The timeless emotions that well up upon watching the familiar and the alien intermingling with one another never completely melt away. They seep into your eyes; they push through the tiniest of crevices and become one with your consciousness. When the second season started in the spring, it was if the long break never happened. It’s almost a miracle how the years fall away upon that first episode of Zoku Shou and you are again with the mushi-shi, as if just waking from a long sleep.

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