A lot of people have been posting about their top ten books read in 2015, so I thought I’d be weird and post about my top ten anime I watched in 2015 instead. (also I read over a hundred books in 2015 and I really can’t be bothered to narrow it down to just ten)
So! The way I’ll do this, the anime will be listed from least favourite to favourite because it’s more interesting that way. I’ll include a short synopsis in more or less my own words, my thoughts, and then a brief content advisory (because I know from experience it can be hard to find good content advisories for anime). Content advisories will be using more or less the British way of rating films because I don’t know how the American way works. I’ll be counting any sequel series as the same series because otherwise this list would be dominated by sequels. When it comes to titles, I’ll have the original anime title first with the English translation afterwards in brackets if there’s a difference. Now, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at this list!
First, some honorary mentions:
Kimi Ni Todoke (From Me to You), Ouran High School Host Club, and the first half of Sword Art Online
Now for the ones that made the list:
10. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun)
High school student Sakura Chiyo tries to confess her love to her schoolmate Nozaki Umetarou, but he mistakes her for a fan and gives her an autograph instead. Turns out Nozaki is actually a renowned manga artist, and Sakura ends up becoming his assistant. As they work on his manga they encounter other schoolmates who assist them or serve as inspiration for Nozaki’s characters. An incredibly silly romantic comedy ensues.
I don’t think I’ve laughed at any anime as much as I laughed at GSNK. The characters are all fantastic and delightfully silly, and it’s very entertaining all the way through. The only reason it’s at the bottom of the list is that I wish there was more of it, since several storylines are never quite tied off. All the same I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for something light-hearted and fun that never takes itself too seriously.
Content: nothing particularly unsuitable. There’s some occasional suggestive content and mild slapstick violence. I don’t remember if there was any bad language, but there might be a little.
9. RWBY (pronounced Ruby)
Fifteen year old Ruby Rose wants to be a Huntress, an elite monster slayer dedicated to protecting the fantasy world of Remnant from the dark creatures of Grim. When she’s moved ahead two years in her training and becomes a member of team RWBY, it looks like her dream is on its way to coming true. But dark characters are beginning to make their moves behind the scenes, and team RWBY might be up against more than they expected.
(Will you believe I couldn’t find anywhere else that had an actual description of what it’s about beyond the absolute basics? So that synopsis was hard to write 😛 )
Some people would argue that RWBY isn’t technically an anime, but since the definition of anime is kind of loose I’m putting this on here anyway (also it’s awesome so who cares). RWBY is an American-made fantasy web series and it’s fantastic. The animation and scripting can be a little awkward at times, but it’s still certainly worth watching. The story and characters are interesting and entertaining, and it has some truly fantastic fight scenes. I mean, look at this stuff:
I’d recommend watching all four trailers (Red, White, Yellow, and Black) beforehand since they include some backstory and other details that are handy to know. You can find the whole thing on the official website, or on youtube.
Content: There’s quite a lot of mild-to-moderate violence, but not really particularly gruesome and not much above PG level. There are a couple of instances of suggestive content I can think of but very clean for the most part. One or two uses of bad language, nothing worse than ‘damn’.
8: Akagami No Shirayuki-hime (Snow White with the Red Hair)
When a young herbalist named Shirayuki’s unusual red hair attracts unwanted attention from a selfish prince, she cuts it short and escapes to a neighbouring country. There she meets a boy, Zen, who helps her after she heals his wounds. But the prince doesn’t give up so easily, and Shirayuki’s adventures are far from over. Will she be able to choose her own future? And who is Zen, really?
This was a very sweet and refreshing romance, set in a semi-fantasy world (it’s a completely made up medieval-ish world, but there aren’t really any magical elements). The characters, setting and plot are interesting and enjoyable. A fairly light hearted mixture of adventure and intrigue that’s enjoyable from start to finish. Season two started a couple of days ago, which has also been good so far.
Content: There are quite a few fight scenes with swords, several of them just being sparring. One of the fights has some blood and several people are killed, but there’s nothing too graphic. There’s a bit of suggestive content, especially in the first couple of episodes. In the first episode there’s (spoilers) mentions of a character being made another’s concubine, but nothing happens in the end. (spoilers ended) I think there’s occasional swearing, but again nothing worse than ‘damn’.
7. Fruits Basket
16 year old orphan Tohru Honda is invited to stay with her classmate, Yuki Sohma and his cousins. When Tohru accidentally discovers that certain members of the Sohma family are cursed to turn into animals of the Chinese Zodiac when hugged by the opposite gender, a series of adventures ensue as she gets to know everyone in the family better. But it’s not all fun and games, and the curse holds terrible cruelty and heartbreak.
Okay, first of all, don’t get put off by the seemingly ridiculous premise. I was at first, and it wasn’t till someone mentioned how good this anime was that I actually watched it, and let me tell you, it’s wonderful. On the surface it’s very sweet and funny, but there’s a darker undertone just waiting to be uncovered. It made me feel all the emotions, and in my book that’s just about the best thing a piece of fiction can do. The one downside is that one of the major plot lines is never quite tied off in the anime, though the ending is still pretty satisfying. If you’re dying to know the rest of what happened afterwards you can always try the manga.
Content: There are several brief fight scenes and a fair bit of slapstick violence. The antagonist is quite abusive to several characters and it sometimes ends in violence. There’s some occasional blood but never too much. There’s a bit of suggestive content, but it’s mostly pretty clean. There’s occasional swearing, mostly ‘damn’ and ‘hell’.
6. To Aru Kagaku no Railgun (A Certain Scientific Railgun)
Misaka Mikoto, aka ‘Railgun’ is a middle-schooler and one of the strongest ‘espers’ (people with supernatural abilities) in Academy City, a slightly futuristic city made up mostly of students and focused on the development of espers. But something dark is going on behind the scenes in Academy City, and it’s up to Misaka, her roommate Kuroko Shirai, and their friends to stop it.
An intriguing, exciting, and slightly dark science-fantasy, Railgun is not to be missed. The second season got too dark and violent for me (more about that in a bit), but the first season was one of the best mystery-adventures I’ve ever seen. It’s relatively slow moving, but exciting nevertheless. The characters are enjoyable, the plot is interesting and well thought out, and it has some great action scenes. (Also one of my favourite opening songs of all time, but that’s beside the point). It also has a lot of creative abilities and creative uses of abilities, which is always fun. It’s actually a spinoff of another series, To Aru Majutsu no Index (A Certain Magical Index), but you can watch it by itself without really missing anything other than a few cameos.
Content: (first referring only to the first season/series) Several fight scenes with mild-to-moderate violence, usually with fantasy elements. There are a few instances with blood but not anything too graphic. Mostly PG, perhaps sometimes slipping into a 12. There’s a quite a bit of suggestive content, especially in episode 2 (which I would recommend skipping since it’s not only the most inappropriate episode by far but also almost entirely pointless. My sister skipped it entirely and had no issues following the plot.) One of the girls has a crush on/attraction to Misaka which can get out of hand. This is mostly silly and played for laughs but can occasionally get slightly uncomfortable (especially in the aforementioned second episode). It never really goes anywhere and doesn’t really affect the plot, but some people might find it a little off putting. I think there’s a few instances of swearing, but once again nothing worse than ‘damn’. Concerning Season/Series 2: I only watched three or four episodes in before it got considerably more dark and violent than the first season, with a few bloody scenes, and an incident where a character loses a leg, which was not dealt with tastefully in my opinion. At that point it was too graphic for me so I stopped watching. So if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, I’d suggest not watching season 2 at all. The first season is tied off quite neatly so it’s a pretty satisfying ending as it is.
5. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uoso (Your Lie in April)
14 year old former piano prodigy Kousei Arima has been unable to play the piano since his mother died. Then he meets Kaori Miyazono, a pretty, free-spirited violinist with an unconventional playing style, and she pushes him to return to the world of music.
This anime is beautiful. It’s about music, but also about dealing with death and how the way you live your life can affect the lives of others. It’s a gorgeous, emotional story with wonderful characters and a beautifully intertwining story line. Just go watch it.
Content: Occasional slapstick violence, sometimes accompanied by a little cartoony blood. Not really anything inappropriate. I don’t think there was any bad language but there may have been a little.
Despite Ryuji Takasu’s gentle personality, his eyes make him look like an intimidating delinquent and as a result he has difficulties in making many friends. After a series of unfortunate chance encounters with Taiga Aisaka, whose delicate appearance and tiny stature contrast with her brutal personality, the two form a reluctant friendship to help each other get closer to their respective crushes. Things don’t go exactly as planned.
This has to be my favourite contemporary anime I’ve seen so far. The characters and their relationships with each other are a delight, and the dynamic between Ryuji and Taiga is fantastic. It’s a lot of fun, with all the emotions, and is overall a wonderfully entertaining and unusual story.
Content: a couple of very brief fight scenes and quite a lot of slapstick violence, mostly involving Taiga. One character gets a nosebleed during a fight, but that’s as bad as it gets. There’s some occasional suggestive content, but nothing outright inappropriate. A few innocent kisses towards the end. A fair bit of swearing, mostly damn and b****, both subbed and dubbed.
In a world of mystical and powerful enemies lurk in every nation, a legendary Nine-Tailed Demon Fox attacked the ninja village Konoha, killing many innocent people. In response of a desperate measure from the people, the leader of the village – the Fourth Hokage – sacrificed his life to defeat the demon fox. By sacrificing his own life, he sealed the demon fox into a very young boy named, Naruto Uzumaki. Naruto has lost his parents during the attack. He grew up in the village and was mistreated badly by everyone in town. With his loud mouth and careless attitude, he is determined to become the greatest ninja, hokage, in his village. Along with friends, and hope, Naruto trains to become a better ninja than expected.
(yeah I just used the official summary since it’s actually pretty good and I have no idea how to sum it up)
Naruto is fantastic. It has a huge cast of interesting, memorable characters, an interesting plot and setting, and brings all the feelings. It’s not without it’s flaws though. The first series can drag on for ages at times, with pointlessly long flashbacks (often in the middle of fight scenes) and a lot of time spent standing around explaining one’s moves instead of actually, you know, fighting. This does get toned down quite a lot in the sequel series, Naruto Shippuden, though. It also has more than it’s fair share of filler episodes to dredge through, though they’ll generally become easy to spot and skip after a while. Even with it’s flaws, it’s one of my favourite anime ever. When it’s not dragging on in filler and flash backs, it’s truly fantastic and certainly worth watching. Of course you can miss out on all the boring bits if you just read the manga, but there is a certain amount of awesomeness that comes with being animated, especially in Shippuden. If you’re up for something really long it’s definitely worth a try. I’d also recommend watching the two canon sequel movies, The Last and the Boruto movie as well. (Unusually I actually prefer the dub to the sub for this one, but that’s more of a personal thing and the sub is fine.)
Content: a lot of mild-to-moderate violence. They don’t hold back on the blood when there should realistically be some, but they don’t go overboard with it either. Characters will die, and there’s occasional loss of limbs and so on, but the worst of it is generally obscured or happens off screen. 12+ at least. Several of the villains and their methods can be pretty icky (human experimentation and so on) but again the worst of it is generally obscured or happens off screen. Occasional suggestive content, mostly PG in that area. A fair bit of swearing, mostly damn and hell. Some translations have the occasional s- or f-word, though the dub does not include them.
2. Noragami (stray god)
Yato is a minor war deity without a shrine. In an effort to gain recognition he grants wishes for only 5 yen. When Hiyori Iki, a girl from a respectable family, tries to save Yato from getting hit by a bus, she dies temporarily but comes back to life. As a result her spirit starts to involuntarily slip from her body at times, and she offers Yato 5 yen to try and fix her. The two start to form an unlikely friendship, but Yato’s light hearted appearance hides a dark past…
Noragami is an interesting, well thought out, slightly dark fantasy. The characters, story, and world-building are all excellent, and come together to form one of the best fantasy series I’ve seen. There are some awesome fight scenes and other elements. It also brings all the emotions, from laughter to tears, which is always a good thing for me.
Content: this is probably the darkest series on this list that I watched all of. There’s quite a bit of mild to moderate fantasy violence, which can sometimes be quite bloody, especially in the sequel, Noragami: Aragoto. There are a few gruesome deaths, though the worst is always obscured or happens off screen. It can be quite frightening at times. The phantoms can be very creepy, and one of the villains is a bit horrific. There are a couple of instances of suggestive content and innuendos. There’s a bit of bad language, but I don’t think it gets any worse than damn or hell.
1. Fairy Tail
17 year old Lucy Heartfilia runs away from home to try and join the infamous mage guild, Fairy Tail. Along the way, she meets Natsu Dragneel, a boy looking for his foster parent, a dragon called Igneel, with his friend Happy the Cat. After Natsu rescues Lucy from a sticky situation, he offers her membership to Fairy Tail, which he’s a part of. The three of them, along with armoured maiden Erza Scarlet and ice wizard Gray Fullbuster, become a team performing various missions offered to the Fairy Tail guild.
This is my favourite anime ever. I liked it so much that having exhausted the anime I went and read the entire manga, as well as the spin offs. It seems like a pretty silly, random, anime at first, but it gets better and better and better as the series progresses. It has a host of memorable and entertaining characters, and a plot that’s actually far more complex than it seems. It’s a long one, with almost three hundred episodes, but every bit of it’s worth it. (except the Eclipse Celestial Spirits filler arc, which is apparently terrible. Skip it. I did, and had no problems following the plot) It’s completely destroyed me with emotions, but that’s the way I like it.
Content: There’s quite a lot of mild fantasy violence, which gets a little worse as the series progresses. There’s an almost complete lack of blood in the first series (the first 175 episodes), to the point where it’s actually unrealistic. In ‘Fairy Tail 2014’ (episode 176 onwards) there’s blood occasionally when there should be blood, but it’s still pretty subdued and never goes overboard. Some of the arcs, especially the later ones, can get pretty dark, but I wouldn’t say it ever goes over a 12. There are fairly frequent innuendos throughout the entire series. Several characters, especially the women, have a tendency to wear fairly revealing clothing. There’s a fair bit of swearing in the sub (I haven’t seen the dub so I don’t know about that), mostly damn and hell. I think there’s an occasional s*** as well.
So, those are my favourite anime I watched last year! Have you seen any of these? Are there any you think you might want to give a try? Any you think I should try? Let me know in the comments!