The Josei’s Top 10 Anime of 2014: Part 2 (#1-5)

Panning the anime stream to bring you the year’s shiniest gold nuggets.

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Did you miss out on Part 1? Fear not! You can click here for the year in review and the bottom half of the Top 10, including honorable mention(s). Or, if you’re ready to check out the cream of the crop, you can hit that jump and read on for more.

The Rankings

As a reminder, all shows that ended in 2014 are eligible for this list, including sequels, even if they began their run in 2013 or earlier. Ongoing series (like Parasyte or Aldnoah.Zero) will be eligible in 2015.

So here we go, my picks for the best shows of the year! Drums rolled? Fingers crossed? Angry comments about the series I didn’t include typed and at the ready? Perfect. Let’s do this thing.

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Glancing Upstream: Summer 2014 Retrospective and Review

This season defied all kinds of initial expectations, for better and for worse.

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Series Review: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (“Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun”)

Yep – still great.

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I don’t think it’s any secret that I love this show. Heck, I wrote an entire essay on why it’s freaking amazing. Hilarious and subversive, progressive and approachable, with one of the most lovable casts in recent anime/manga memory, I truly can’t think of a single thing to criticize about this series. Well… except maybe the fact that it’s only 12 episodes long (for now). I was really hoping for a Season 2 Announcement, but alas. Fingers crossed it could still happen. Until then, there’s always the manga…

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Heroine Boys and Princely Girls: How “Nozaki-kun” is Challenging Gender Roles in Fiction

Going all analytical on Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (“Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun”), the funniest – and smartest – show of the summer anime season.

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For those who haven’t seen Nozaki-kun yet, it’s a comedy about a high school girl who finds out her crush is secretly a popular shoujo mangaka (comic artist). She ends up working for him as one of his assistants, and the story follows the two of them and their friends/assistants as they navigate life at school and work.

Simultaneously very funny and sneakily brilliant, it’s one of those rare beasts that can provide smart satire without coming across as pretentious or bitter. While it does play with anime/manga tropes, I think there’s a universality to the humor and ideas that can work even if you’re only a casual anime viewer. In short: You should be watching this series.

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Panning the Stream: Summer 2014 Midseason Review

If I had to pick a single word to describe this season, it would have to be “eclectic.”

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While this past Spring was dominated by very good sports series, and this past Winter was dominated by, uh… kami, I guess? (it was a pretty weak season), this Summer seems to have taken a cookie out of every genre jar. Action flicks, thrillers, rom-coms, satires, school dramas, period pieces, mysteries, Gothic horrors… you want it, this season has got it. And while none of them have been quite as jaw-droppingly perfect as Spring’s Ping Pong or Mushishi, on the whole I’d say there are a lot of solid, B-range shows on the schedule. It’s made it very hard to trim titles off my watchlist, that’s for sure.

And now that we’re six (or five, in Nobunaga Concerto’s case) episodes into the season, I figured I’d pop back in with some quickie reviews to talk about what’s still working, what reeeally isn’t, and everything in between.

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Rule of Three Review, Digest Edition: Space Dandy 2, Akame ga Kill!, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun – Episodes 2-3

“Easy like Sunday morning,” my ass.

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In addition to our many new shows, I’ve also got my sports show carryovers to watch (Baby Steps and Haikyuu!!), plus Sundays are usually my translation days, to say nothing of the cleaning and grocery shopping and annoying Adult Stuff I should be doing, so… Yeah, there’s a lot happening. You’ll have to forgive me if I cluster these, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. And so…

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Panning the Stream: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, HaNaYaMaTa, Blue Spring Ride

If you heeeeear any noise, it ain’t the boys – it’s ladies’ night! ♪

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This trio features three shows with female leads, and while I’m only giving one of them a Gold Nugget Alert, all three were good enough to convince me to come back for more. After several (several!) seasons of high-quality shows packed with male characters, could this be the season when well-written female protagonists make a comeback? In the name of the moon, I sure hope so.

Hit the jump for the full meet ‘n’ greet.

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