The top anime I’ve watched this summer

As with anything that lives largely on the internet, the world of anime seems to love a good list. So today, because of criminal lack of reviewing over the past couple of months, I’m going to rank all of the shows that I’ve seen over the summer since the start of July by enjoyment (any attempt at being critical is being thrown out of the window for this article!). I’m going to every show I’ve seen whether it aired this season or I’ve only now got around to watching it, but to keep things interesting I’ll be combining seasons. Let’s get started!

  1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Bottom of the pile is the famous (infamous?) Madoka Magica. I’m not exactly an avid fan of magical girl genre but given the hype behind this show I felt that it might be worth the watch. What I found from watching the 12 episode season was a dark, beautiful but other underwhelming show that didn’t really seemed really confused up until the final 4 episodes. Then I watched the follow up movie: and the mess that it’s ending created is the cause for the Madoka Magica’s poor position in the list. Shame.

A stuffed pink animal would have been more fun than Madoka Magica.
A stuffed pink animal would have been more fun than Madoka Magica.

  1. No Game No Life

There were lots of good things about No Game No Life. It was very pretty, there was a solid narrative, fan service was rife if you’re that way inclined (everything in moderation, right?) yet of all the shows I’ve watched over the summer this was the one that was the most underwhelming. By creating a premise where the main characters are undefeatable the show gave itself a problem from the very get go: how do you create tension and surprise? In this case, the writers couldn’t come up with an answer, leading to a series of very predictable events.

You need a little bit of tension in a show, really.
You need a little bit of tension in a show, really.
  1. Gate: Thus the SDF Fought

Gate had so much potential it’s painful to see that it’s ended up here outside of my top 10. A combination of modern and fantastical backgrounds, great (if stereotypical) heroes and two opening episodes that promised so much. Sadly, the show lost it’s way in terms of narrative and by the end I wasn’t sure where the show was going – maybe the writers didn’t either because Gate has been split into two cours which the second of which, with any luck, will give us the anime we all wanted.

Look, an elf!
Gate was pretty and had some great characters, shame it forgot what it was doing though.
  1. Chaos Dragon

If you were to go to the MyAnimeList page for Chaos Dragon you would find some truly scathing reviews as well as pretty awful average score. This anime went down with the community like a lead balloon. Perhaps because I’m nice or maybe because I lack the critical eye of other MAL users, I thought Chaos Dragon was a pretty interesting show. Don’t get me wrong, there were some real problems that needed addressing: to start with the world that we were iintroduced to was so big there was no way 12 episodes would have been enough to flesh everything out. That aside though, I liked most of the characters, the bad guys were good at being bad and the plot made sense: I felt pretty satisfied with the ending and – despite it’s flaws – that’s more than can be said for some the shows that are still to come in this list.

Did I mention there's a dragon? Oh right, title...
Did I mention there’s a dragon? Oh right, title…

9. Rokka no Yuusha

Rokka no Yuusha is a show of two parts and it’s because of the first part that the anime finds itself down at number 9. Essentially, Rokka is a mystery whodunit kind-of-a show, and a good one at that. There were hints as to who it was from the start and if you paid enough attention you might have realized the culprit (no, I didn’t -_-). Every episode of the mystery left me wanting more and then it gave me more when it finally arrived – worthy of a higher spot do you not think? Well, here’s the rub: the first four or five episodes. The show starts of as a confused ‘actiony’ type thing but has absolutely no direction other than ‘monster killing and rendezvous with some other people hopefully’. It’s so lacking in structure I felt like I was being honestly trolled. No anime, you can’t do this to me and get away with it!

Vaguely sums up the show actually.
Vaguely sums up the show actually.
  1. ef: A Tale of Memories

Now here’s the thing about ef. It’s a really good show. I mean, most people in their right minds would be rating this 8 or 9 out of 10 and be singing it’s praises for detailed characters and emotional, in depth story telling. Not me though – I took a very childish view of ef. As a romance with a love triangle involved, I had a preferred option. One girl was whiny and impulsive and whiny some more, while the other was just as fun but responsible and gahhhhh, I won’t spoil it. Ef is fantastic but I couldn’t help but hate it – let’s move on before I get annoyed.

  1. Sword Art Online II

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Sword Art Online II, that show got old 10 episodes into the first season’. I know that line of thought, but I can’t help but disagree with you. The first arc of the second season is for many reasons just as good as the first arc of the first. In terms of characters, we’re introduced to a new character who is developed really, really well and then we’re given a fantastic setting to back it up with (yes I know Kirito is still OP, but we can’t have all of the things we want). The second half of the show wasn’t as strong, but overall, SAO II fits nicely in at number 7.

I liked Sword Art Online II, but remember this is my opinion and you're allowed your own.
I liked Sword Art Online II, but remember this is my opinion and you’re allowed your own.
  1. Love, Chunibyo and other Delusions

The first season of Chunibyo was brilliant. From start to finish this romantic comedy was everything it should have been. The characters were funny and played of each other really well and the concept was new and unique. It made me feel sad, happy and most importantly immensely satisfied. The second season was just as fun, but lacked some of originality the first season had. In some ways, it abandoned what had made it different and picked up some ‘safer’ tropes – by no means a bad thing, but I did prefer the effort for being different.

Gotta love Rika, or is it the eye of the wicked lord?
Gotta love Rika, or is it the eye of the wicked lord?
  1. Noragami

Top 5 – how exciting. Noragami comes in at number 5 quite deservedly. Along with Seraph of the End, it’s the most exciting tailor made shounen show I’ve seen (and the new season looks to be on course as well). In many ways, it wasn’t an anime that took an original approach to the genre but it was really exciting. We’ve got a main character who is essentially the character everyone imagines themselves being but with a dark edge just adds that little bit of depth that the show needed to stop it becoming run of the mill. Oh and did I mention, the mystery behind the evil characters in this? Let’s just say it’s just as well the new season has started.

Noragami has it all, action, comedy and pink scarves- wait a minute...
Noragami has it all, action, comedy and pink scarves- wait a minute…
  1. Fate/Zero

Fate/Zero doesn’t need an introduction from me. In fact, at number 4 on this list, I probably need to give an explanation as to why it’s not higher. First things first though, why is it so good. The show takes on several of the characters from Fate/Stay Night and gives them a backstory – why do they act the way they do? Why are they there? Fate/Zero is great just for answering so many questions that we had from the first season. Why is it only at number 4? Simply, the first half of the show is slow. Sorry guys, but it’s boring. Build and build and build is fine for a couple of episodes, but I didn’t enjoy 10 episodes of it. That said, once it gets going it’s brilliant and you can almost forget the time wasted at the start of the show.

Saber actually has a vaguely skilful master in Fate/Zero.
Saber actually has a vaguely skilful master in Fate/Zero.
  1. Charlotte 

Ahaha. You’re having a laugh, Sam – Charlotte? Above Fate/Zero? With that ending? Well no, I’m not joking – in fact I’m completely serious. Let’s let the elephant out of the room before anything else. The ending is a train wreck – it generally stops the show becoming an instant classic and instead turns it into a tragic missed opportunity. However, I found Charlotte, as a 13 episode anime series, to be really, really enjoyable. Even at the end when the ridiculous conclusion was unraveling before me I couldn’t help but smile. The show develops it’s main character really well early on and then hits us with a bombshell that then gets resolved. For the most part, it’s structured perfectly to great effect. Sure, the show as a whole is disappointing, but then, surely disappointment and enjoyment don’t have to be mutually exclusive?

I felt like a small child with sweets after the first episode of Charlotte.
I felt like a small child with sweets after the first episode of Charlotte.
  1. Tokyo Ghoul

I think it’s probably fair to say that of all of the anime released in 2014 and 2015 Tokyo Ghoul has been one of, if not the most popular. I watched both season 1 and 2 over the summer and can completely see why. Tokyo Ghoul is a mix of horror and drama that has somehow mixed together really well. The horror genre hasn’t ever been something that’s grabbed me but in Tokyo Ghoul they get it just right. It’s super faced paced throughout both seasons, though I preferred the first for the development we saw with the main character, Kaneki. The first season has a fantastic opening song and the ending scene in both seasons are examples of how endings should be done.

Tokyo Ghoul for all it's violence, is very emotional.
Tokyo Ghoul for all it’s violence, is very emotional.
  1. Kokoro Connect

Kokoro Connect comes away with the number 1 spot. In truth, as a high school romance, it doesn’t have a lot of the hard hitting aspects most of the other shows on this list do. That said it doesn’t need them. Kokoro Connect is about a group of friends that have terrible things happen to them and as a result have their emotions forced out into the open, slowly and in an often messy manner. The show has an excellent narrative with five very good characters. The ending leaves you satisfied (even if there are a couple of episodes towards the end that are a little questionable). For Kokoro Connect though, it goes beyond the original Japanese version: as one of the shows I watched in English, Kokoro Connect’s dub voice cast did a fantastic job at portraying each of the five characters in a way that made me sympathize with all them. It was far from perfect, but it was incredibly enjoyable – and at the end of the day, that’s what anime is really about.

Kokoro Connect was a lot fun and who doesn't want fun in their spare time?
Kokoro Connect was a lot fun and who doesn’t want fun in their spare time?

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