Banjo’s Top 10 Winter 2015 Anime
This arrives way later than I expected it to!
Having finally completed and reviewed every anime that I set out to watch at the start of the Winter 2015 season, this list can now come into fruition. There were a lot of contenders — more than 25 in total — but only the best of the best can arrive at the forefront.
Looking at the season as a whole, it’s actually pretty astounding to realize just how lucky we are, as an audience, when it comes to the medium we love so much. The diversity, the ideas, the passion; it’s present everywhere you look. I’m not one to shy away from harping on anime — see Isuca, Tokyo Ghoul Root A, and Juuou Mujin no Fafnir for examples — but even these lowly ones showcase the incredible range anime has in its repertoire. This time around, there are shows involving lesbians of the dragon and bear variety; shows that induce sadness through song and relaxation through dinner; and even some that go meta in their own, respective ways. It was an interesting season, one that proved that anime is, and always will be, amazingly unique.
Before diving into the list, it’s important to know two ideas. First, that I am an advocate of an anime “counting” in the season in which it completed. Meaning, whether it’s fantastic or not, something like Assassination Classroom has no place here. On the opposite end, anime such as Log Horizon 2nd Season do have a shot since it concluded in Winter 2015 despite starting the season prior. So, if you don’t see Parasyte — The Maxim here on my list, that means I either didn’t see it or it wasn’t good enough to make it (it’s the latter!).
Second, each anime has a personalized review that demonstrates why it deserves to be here in the first place. Simply click on an anime’s name to be linked to its review to read my complete thoughts on it. For every review that I wrote last season, follow this link to my Winter 2015 Reviews page!
With all of the introductions, formalities, and rules out of the way, it’s time to get to my Top 10 Winter 2015 Anime!
What do you get when you mix together a motherly girl, a rambunctious child, and a refined woman, each of who is connected by the very food they consume? The answer’s Koufuku Graffiti. While it contains oddly detailed eating sequences, its not necessarily the food that’s important but what said food means that matters most. With themes focusing on family and a trio of characters that work in harmony, this one is not just relaxing but comforting, too. Plus, that preview song is way too adorable!
Yes, they’re playing bikini twister. Yes, it’s contextually relevant. And yes, there is plenty more of it. Cross Ange scares a lot of people away with its quite jarring first episode. But what lies beyond the initial shock is an anime that is totally in its element. Its willful theme is nice, but Ange, Salako, and the rest of the cast aren’t as polished. Yet, the amount of fun that’s had is undeniable — the sex jokes, ridiculous circumstances, and absurd plot developments never bring about a dull moment.
How To Raise A Boring Girlfriend is a harem, this much is true. What it excels at best, though, is the level of meta it reaches. The writing, the scenarios, the characters; everything is designed to be as self-aware as possible without feeling overdone. However, its attempts at being dramatic and purposeful actually act as a detriment to the anime. So when it is reveling in the sex and comedy it uses on a near-constant basis, it doesn’t falter. And as icing on the cake, Utaha Kasumigaoka is found here in all her glory.
Virginity implies a certain level of ignorance. And for Maria of Junketsu no Maria, this applies doubly so. Taking place in medieval France, what this anime offers is not just magic but realism, too. It’s a show that makes you think, about life and the choices we decide to make, while also providing a set of characters that do just the same. It’s somewhat dry in terms of entertainment and the sound-work isn’t too memorable, but the art and animation help to alleviate these issues to a certain extent. At the minimum, Maria will leave you pondering just how strong your own convictions truly are.
The title of this is in all caps by its own choosing, and for good reason! GARO is an anime that starts off rather rocky; it’s not too enticing from the get-go due to the repetitive, world-building, “monster-of-the-week” formula it employs. But the slow build-up eventually gives way to a runaway roller coaster that never lets up. The characters are quite strong, the art is scenic, and the idea of sacrifice is utilized. Its experimental music is largely hit-or-miss, though. However, once invested, the anime will not let you settle down till all is said and done.
When you think of dragons, what image manifests? Most people would think of a huge, scaly, fire-breathing beast of mythical origin. For Akatsuki no Yona, the dragons of her era aren’t creatures to be feared but people to be saved. Following Yona and her quest to seek the mighty yet “cursed” heroes of the prophecy which revolves around her, this show takes a look at one’s purpose while using its fantastical setting to its advantage. With a nice set of characters, intriguing sound pieces, and some on-point comedy, Yona proves that she and her anime are one tough dragon to be feared.
Shirobako does something that no other anime has done before: provide insight into the very medium in which it was crafted with. Aoi, Midori, Ema, Zuka, and Misa are women who aspire to work with the anime they have grown up loving. The slice-of-life work aspects are handled well, but its greatest achievements are the education it gives, the dreams it instills, and the family-like cast that support it all. With a healthy dose of P.A. Works art and some impressive sound design, this is an anime that has easily earned all of the praise it has received.
The seven cardinal sins: lust, wrath, envy, greed, gluttony, sloth, and pride. We all know them because, at one point or another, we’ve taken part in them, too. The Seven Deadly Sins isn’t an anime about the sins we commit but rather the goodness we are all capable of producing. The narrative is tight, focused, and complete; the characters are interesting, complex, and purposeful; and the art, animation, and music is almost unfair. If these kinds of sins are wrong, then I don’t ever wanna be right!
An inevitability of the lives we lead is the end that they all must reach. In other words, death is something that is unavoidable for all of us. Therefore, why dwell on it? Instead of worrying about the end, enjoy the now, for it’s these moments we share with the people we love that have the largest impact on not just ourselves but on the people around us. This is what Your Lie in April sets its sights on, creating an anime with these strong themes. Combined with its emotional narrative, characters that exemplify the self, and moving music, its a show that truly touches the heart.
As the best anime of Winter 2015 — and now one of my all-time favorites — Lesbian Bear Storm is a stunning work of art. The symbolism is both purposeful and profound (which I dissected in full in my essay, Yuri Kuma Arashi and the Effects of Symbolism). Its astounding uniqueness and incredibly strong themes on prejudice are glorious. And Kureha, Ginko, Lulu, and literally every other character reflect and mirror love. It’s a wonderful experience from start to finish, with it deserving nothing less than the highest of accolades possible.
And with that, my Winter 2015 anime season is done! If you managed to read through all of my reviews this past season, I am forever grateful for such kindness; more so than you’ll ever know. Even if you only read a few words here or just skipped down to the bottom to see what my own number one ended up being, I appreciate you taking the time to peruse this list.
Spring 2015, here I come! :3