Summer 2014 was such a great season that we at Koekara were rather sad when the end of Summer drew near. As usual, we like to look back at the past season and do an overall review of all the shows we’ve managed to watch. Besides shows, we also take note of our favourite voice actors, OP and EDs of the season, as well as shows which didn’t quite match up to expectations. We have quite a few strong contenders for the various “best of”s this season, almost all of our shows are good in their respective genres and being forced to choose just one was quite impossible but somehow we manage to reach a consensus. So, here’s Koekara’s Best of Summer 2014~
Disclaimer – The views shared below are purely of our own here at Koekara, based on what we’ve collectively seen this past season comprising 21 shows – Aldnoah.Zero, Ao Haru Ride, Barakamon, Captain Earth, Diamond no Ace, DRAMAtical Murder, Fairy Tail, Free!: Eternal Summer, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Haikyuu!!, Love Stage!!, Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus, M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane, Mahouka koukou no Rettousei, Nobunaga Concerto, Re: Hamatora, Sengoku Basara: Judge End, Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49, Sword Art Online II, Tokyo Ghoul, Zankyou no Terror. The nominations are only for shows that have ended in Summer 2014 hence any anime continuing into Autumn 2014 are excluded.
Akatsuki: I’m torn between Hanae and Mamo because they both did excellent work in Tokyo Ghoul. Mamo‘s Gourmet was an unprecedented psycho voice acting that really went about proving Mamo‘s status as the go-to for psycho/crazy characters. But then Hanae‘s deranged Kyouji-kun in SAO II was just as brilliant! In terms of their other shows, I really enjoyed Hanae‘s deadpan, emotionally apathetic Inaho in Aldnoah Zero but for this season, senpai Miyano Mamoru just wins hands down. His kansai-ben in Kuroshitsuji sounded natural even as his Joker got more challenging to voice towards the end. His Matsuoka Rin in Free!: Eternal Summer was much better than in the first season as well, showing more to Mamo than his tenor range of voice acting we’re so used to hearing. Plus, Mamo‘s engrish is probably the best I’ve ever heard so far. What really sold me on voting Mamo this season though, is his role yet again as Nobunaga/Saburo in Nobunaga Concerto. Mamo is baka-ouji (I blame Ouran) to me and Saburo was just plain baka. But to portray a calm, level-headed, carefree baka even in the face of serious time-traveling into the warring era predicament? Mamo did brilliant in bringing out the simple-minded, straightforward high schooler voice acting required. The easiest are always the most complex so at least I’m thankful he took on the role of Saburo. [I realise this long answer might be better placed in a fav of season post.]
kiseki: Hanae Natsuki, Miyano Mamoru, Okamoto Nobuhiko and Ono Daisuke were the four seiyuus who really stood out this season. Okamoto played Mikorin (my absolute favourite character) in Gekkan, and he gave us so many LOL moments with his tsun-adorableness. Also, he voiced one of my favourites in Haikyuu!!, the spunky reliable wild and still pretty silly Noya-san~ That said, if we’re comparing sillyness, then baka veteran OnoD brought his baka A-game this season, with the likes of Handa in Barakamon and Maeno in Gekkan. However, as much as I love OnoD in all his baka glory, his baka-ness was overshadowed by my new pet fav Hanae. Hanae did amazingly in Tokyo Ghoul, so much so that just the first and last episodes of Ghoul alone sorely tempted me to vote him season fav. And to further cement his place in my heart, his take on Shinkawa in SAO II was so psychotic, it was pure bliss just listening to him. Alas, we can’t very well be biased, can we? And so very objectively, Summer 2014’s favourite should go to Mamoru. Mamo‘s had a great season, showing us he could play it calm and cool as Rin in Free! and do a complete 180 with the very very twisted Tsukiyama in Tokyo Ghoul. To add to those two already very impressive performances, was his kansai-ben speaking Joker in Kuroshitsuji. Don’t we all love a good kansai-ben? ^^ of course, he was back to his baka-ouji self for his role as Suzuki in Gekkan, which was so LOL-inducing.. Delivering the diversity that he did to the high standard that he gave us, Mamo deserves to be this season’s favourite~
Komorebi: Miyano Mamoru for his work in Tokyo Ghoul and Kuroshitsuji because his characters from both were so very unique and intriguing – not to mention beautiful – and I just really enjoyed how much voice-time he got. He really did both of their characters justice and his Kansai accent in Kuroshitsuji was such a delight to the ears. His role in Tokyo Ghoul as the unhinged, obsessive and vain Tsukiyama was very impressive too so he definitely gets my vote this season. I have to acknowledge, though, that I am biased in most things I say about my darling Mamo-chan, because he was my first favourite seiyuu and remains so. Others that I’ve really enjoyed, though, were Hanae Natsuki, most especially for his role as Kaneki in Tokyo Ghoul, whom we got to see transition from a very naive character to someone dark and ruthless; top marks for such a drastic change in character in a single show. Finally, I adored Okamoto Nobuhiko this season, for his roles as Dagger in Kuroshitsuji, and the ever lovely and adorable Mikorin in Gekkan. His characters had such a charm in their own ways and his voice is just so nice and “youthful” sounding. I really enjoyed the boyish qualities to his voice and it doesn’t hurt that his characters are so easy on the eyes.
Shion: I’d definitely vote for Miyano Mamoru for his amaaaazing and perverse Tsukiyama in Ghoul. Even though his character was really weird and twisted, having Mamo-chan as his voice actor made me sit up straighter every time Tsukiyama comes on screen. I LOVE the way he pronounces those French words and English words so deliberately, and one of the best things he said during the show, imo, was that one line where he went “I want to eat Kaneki-kun while he’s eating” -ep 05, 10:47. I must have rewatched that scene at least 5 times? Just to hear Mamo-chan. Hanae Natsuki was another voice actor whom I thought might come close to Mamo-chan with his role in Tokyo Ghoul and in SAO II. Hanae is one newcomer whom you should definitely be keeping an eye on because he’s going to be in just about everywhere. I loved the 180 change in character he did in both Ghoul and SAO II, I had to rewatch a previous episode just to remind myself of how Hanae sounded as normal Kaneki/Shinkawa before the sudden personality change, for both animes. He’s really amazing and I think, a few seasons later, his name is definitely going to appear in our “best of” posts again and again.
Akatsuki: Tough one to vote because Summer 2014 was just amazing and full of shows that make me willingly become even more of a hikkikomori. All-rounded best show for me was Zankyou no Terror because from directing, series composition, scriptwriting to OST and sheer animation execution, this show was just top-notch from the very first second, culminating in director Watanabe and music composer Kanno‘s best collaboration to date. Next I’d pick Barakamon just because for an anime adaptation, they were spot-on in pacing and filling our hearts with warmth week after week. Last I’d like to vote for another manga adaptation, Nobunaga Concerto, just because it’s definitely this season’s most underrated. The art was gorgeous even though the 3D animation didn’t sit well with audiences (as happened in last season’s Sidonia). While the expressions weren’t animated well, the voice acting more than made up for it. It had a solid story in a often put down time traveling genre trope. The narrative was strong and strung tightly throughout all episodes, making it one of the most tightly fitted show this season. In contrast, Tokyo Ghoul has spectacular voice acting all around and beautiful animation but the middle block of episodes fell from the high standard it’s debut had set for the show. So even though it ended with one of the best standalone episodes in anime, it’s inconsistency has me voting for the more consistent Nobunaga Concerto instead.
kiseki: Summer 2014 is so far one of the best seasons for me, with an unprecedented three shows getting a 9/10 rating. The front-runners for me were Tokyo Ghoul, Zankyou no Terror and Barakamon. Each series vastly different and distinctly in its own genre, and each managing to keep viewers captivated in its own special way. Zankyou no Terror was just production perfection, with the direction, story, voice acting and stunning OST melding so elegantly to form one sophisticated masterpiece of series. Tokyo Ghoul was another contender, because the voice acting was OUTSTANDING and it just exuded this aura of mystery that really captivated viewers. That said, the middle portion of episodes were not on par with the first couple of episodes, and although the final episode was absolutely BREATHTAKING, plot wise, it left a lot to be desired.. A LOT. It was definitely not easy, but when it goes down to deciding which one was my favourite of the three, I’d have to pick Bakaramon. And that is because it is such a sweet, touching, healing and feel good anime which never fails to put a smile on my face or brighten up my day. I ALWAYS feel better after watching an episode of Barakamon. Warm and fuzzy and every so happifying, Barakamon gets my vote for this season’s favourite.
Komorebi: Tokyo Ghoul, Zankyou no Terror and Ao Haru Ride get my vote this season. Tokyo Ghoul and Zankyou are the inaugural darker, more mature shows this season with beautiful graphics and stunning soundtracks to accompany them. Ao Haru Ride was the lovely yet heart wrenching shoujo series, that was again, a little more mature than your usual shoujo shows, and as a lover of the manga, this was definitely on my list to watch and it hasn’t disappointed. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is mentioned below as my Biggest Surprise of Summer 2014, but I’ll give it an honorary mention as one of my favourite shows to offset the tension and stress that my other three favourites gave me, because after all that, you NEED a good dose of comic relief and laughter in your week~
Shion: I haven’t watched Zankyou no Terror yet, so my vote goes to Barakamon and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. It does feel a little sad that I’m not voting for the animes which I covered, but with such a strong lineup of animes this summer, competition is stiff. Barakamon was extremely enjoyable because I really liked the way it mixed slice of life comedy together with the heartwarming moments and the serious moments where Handa learns something new about life. Gekkan was almost equally enjoyable with it’s wacky cast of characters and crazy humour, but it wasn’t as consistent as Barakamon, since there were a few episodes which I didn’t quite enjoy as much as I thought I should have. Hence overall, I feel that Barakamon was the best anime for me this season.
Akatsuki: Do we only get to choose one?! If it’s best song then Barakamon‘s Rashisa because those lyrics just fit Barakamon like a glove. If it’s best OP sequence then unravel because the timing of the music fit the animation oh-so-perfectly.
kiseki: There were soooo many good OPs this season!! So many! Barakamon, Fairy Tail, Gekkan, Glasslip, Kuroshitsuji, Re: Hamatora and Tokyo Ghoul gave us some of the best OPs. Out of all of them though, my absolute favourite is undoubtedly unravel from Tokyo Ghoul – it was love at first listen (admittedly, the fact that I am a huge Ling Toshite Sigure fan also kinda tipped the scales heh). From the instrumentation, to the vocals, to the lyrics, everything about the song is just so hauntingly beautiful. Darkness, frustration, desperation and heartaceh.. It is such an emotional song and it really suited the tone of the series so well. The song also fits the OP sequence beautifully. That said, I was not that much a fan of the OP sequence, particularly the parts with Rize and Touka and the colours. And so, despite all that rambling, my vote for best OP goes to Rashisa from Barakamon. It is just pure sweetness. The song, the lyrics, and the OP sequence. Oh the OP sequence! Naru when she opens the door.. How can you say no to that adorable face??! There is just something so calming and serene about the entire OP sequence, that I HAVE to watch it each and every single episode. Definitely my favourite part of the OP sequence is when Handa’s fingers draw a stroke to continue the white line in the sky. It was just so symbolic of Handa finally achieving some sort of freedom, and finding his own style (at least, that’s how I read it). So anyway, before I ramble on any further, in summary, Bakaramon‘s happifying OP is my best of the season.
Komorebi: Unravel [by TK from 凛として時雨] from Tokyo Ghoul because of how beautifully gritty and emotional it is. It really fit with the theme of the show. And Sekai wa Koi ni Ochiteiru [by CHiCO with HoneyWorks] from Ao Haru Ride simply because of how lovely it is to listen to. It’s so lush and sweet and beautiful and the lyrics fit in so well with the show. Makes me happy every time I listen to it. Another song I have to add is Kimi Janakya Dame Mitai from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun because of how happy it is and how catchy it is. I completely agree with Shion that it’s got such a funky quality to it that makes me smile every time I listen to it.
Shion: I really enjoyed Kimi janakya Dame mitai from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun because of how funky the music and the OP sequence is. Unravel from Tokyo Ghoul was really great as well. Even though I didn’t really liked it until the last scene of the last episode, just that scene alone got me looping that song over and over again. The lyrics are just so apt for Kaneki in Tokyo Ghoul and the artist just sounds so desperate in that song that everything just fits the anime. Lastly, I also enjoyed LΦVEST from Love Stage!!, so much so that I watch the OP every episode without fail. Even though there’s nothing really special about the OP, it’s just so happifying, both the song, the way it’s sung and the OP sequence.
Akatsuki: I have to agree with kiseki that Seijyatachi‘s bass was hot. But unapologetically I’m going to go with Nobunaga Concerto – My First Story’s “Fukagyaku Replace“. The band sounds very similar to the lead singer’s older brother’s band One OK Rock but that aside, the rock ED and that ED sequence somehow just clicked so well especially when juxtaposed against the main storyline set in the 1600s. Plus, the ED changes with the storyline as new characters get added which really adds to the experience of watching the anime from start to finish instead of skipping the ED as I usually do.
kiseki: Tokyo Ghoul‘s Seijatachi by People In The Box. That is one sexy bass. Enough said.
Komorebi: I agree with Kiseki in that Tokyo Ghoul’s Seijatachi by People In The Box was a very lovely ED.
Shion: None of the EDs really caught my eye, so I”m going with Click Your Heart from Love Stage!!. Although EDs are usually more subdued than the OP, this ED is just as cheery and upbeat as its OP and I always sit through the entire ED because it’s just so happy and cute.
Akatsuki: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. It’s difficult to win through sheer comedy and Gekkan‘s play on tropes was so over the top and ridiculous (I’m still laughing at episode 01’s bicycle story) it got me hooked. I had expected just shoujo and didn’t even have Gekkan on my list until Komorebi convinced us all to watch it. Best decision ever this season!
kiseki: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, because like my fellow writers, this series wasn’t even on my to-watch list until Komorebi got us to watch it. Every episode was such a treat. This series has got comedy solidly down pat. It is silly, random, and just downright ridiculous at times, managing to incite many many LOLs throughout the 24 minutes. So if you are in for more than one good laugh (not complaining, it is the most enjoyable form of ab workout after all), then this is one series to catch.
Komorebi: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun because I went into this without any preconceptions or thoughts about how this show was going to turn out and the first episode had me laughing so hard, as well as pretty much every episode after. Such comedy, ridiculousness and such a parody of shoujo manga. SUCH a good show!
Shion: Barakamon & Gekkan because, Just like Komorebi-chan, I watched the first episodes without any idea on how both animes would be like so I was really pleasantly surprised when Gekkan was so crazy funny while Barakamon was so full of cute moments and mild laughing.
Akatsuki: Even though I went in not expecting much for Re:␣Hamatora, it still managed to become yet again one of the season’s biggest disappointments. It’s just so… lacking. There’s a lot that can be done in Re:␣Hamatora especially after that cliffhanger from last season but rather than exploit it with a strong storyline, it felt like it was trying to please everybody at the same time and simultaneously stay mainstream. If you wanna go dark, go 100%. Don’t screw around by dipping one bloody toe in and keeping our hopes up only to then fall so flat in episode 04 as though it suddenly became bipolar. It’s an original story for g*d’s sake so why Hamatora why?! Even seiyuu kami/god Kamiya Hiroshi couldn’t do anything for me in it.
kiseki: Re:␣Hamatora. Hamatora, oh Hamatora… I don’t even know where to begin. The story? The development? The plot twist(s)? Or rather, the lack thereof..? That seizure inducing cliffhanger from last season was something that this season really could have used to its advantage. There was that ever so slight promise of something more.. promising. The premise was set for a potentially exciting season. And yet, despite going into this second season without any expectations whatsoever (the way last season turned out, it seemed the wise thing to do.. lol), Re:␣Hamatora still managed to disappoint. On the whole, I think this series was trying very hard to be a crowd pleaser, to be a ‘one size fits all’, so as to appeal to all types of viewers across the board, that as Akatsuki said, it became bipolar. And this was where it just kind of fell really really flat. It is just rather frustrating that the story turned out the way it did, because it just had so much potential. Unfortunately, all that it managed to achieve was exasperation from this pretty disgruntled viewer. Even the all amazing HiroC couldn’t save it. And when someone of his calibre can’t even save a show, then it’s as good as doomed (imo). Am just glad that this series is over and done with.
kiseki: Baseball baseball and more baseball! What was initially supposed to be a 52-episode run has been extended, and Diamond no Ace fans now have a further 26 episodes worth of intense baseball action to satiate our craving for all things baseball. After a handful of (much enjoyed) filler episodes, we have finally reached the Seido vs Inashiro finals, in what looks to be the most gasp-inducing fist-clenching heart-pumping match yet as these two remaining teams fight for the highly coveted position to play at Nationals. How will the Seido boys fare against Inashiro’s Narumiya Mei (btw, I do think that the staff did perfect casting Kaji Yuuki as the series’s resident brat), aka the best pitcher in Kantou? Will the Seido pitcher relay work against Inashiro’s strong batting lineup? There has been so much build up to this very important moment, so all eyes will be on pretty much each and every member of the Seido team as they fight for their rightful place at Nationals.
Komorebi: I was very excited wen Kiseki told me that DnA was getting extended for a further 26 episodes because it feels like this show has barely scratched the surface. Finally having reached the Seido vs Inashiro finals, I’m super excited to seeing how Seido handles themselves against such a top notch team. I just love seeing all the Seido boys play, especially when they really get some “team meshing” screen time. Inashiro’s Narumiya Mei is a fearsome opponent for this run and I adore the fact that he’s voiced by Kaji Yuuki who seems to have perfected the bratty, arrogant gaki so well. I never thought I’d fancy sports anime as much as I’ve been, and Diamond no Ace has been a surprising but delightful find. I’ll be biting my nails as we watch our main teams battle it up for Nationals!
Akatsuki: I’m a fan of SAO first season, first cour. So having seen first season second cour, I wasn’t expecting too much amidst the hype from SAO II. Sawashiro Miyuki is still one of my favourites and I’m so glad she’s taken on the role of Sinon because just look at how slow the development’s been dragging on in this first GGO cour! Kirito’s the token trap of Summer 2014 but his star-wars-esque laser beam sword action is still a feast for action fans’ eyes. I’m sticking around again because I’ve yet again invested time into watching SAO’s first cour already so fingers crossed the next cour moves a bit faster as we watch Kirito build up his harem~
Shion: Same here, the first arc of SAO got me hooked and even after the unsatisfactory second arc, I decided that SAO II might just be worth my time. Obviously I didn’t hold high hopes for SAO II but as a non-novel reader, I must say that it wasn’t too bad. Definitely not epic shit like how the first arc was but it’s all right. Some people aren’t too happy about Kirito and his growing harem, but I’ve been numbed to that somehow. Here’s hoping that the pacing for the fourth arc won’t be too terrible~
Akatsuki: The great magic games arc is done and what a blast it was! The dragons finally made their appearance, Sakupyon and Suzuken got more lines and the Kugimiya Rie’s Happy is still amazing, considering this same season she voiced (rightfully) deranged Suzuya in Tokyo Ghoul. That’s a veteran seiyuu for you! Apparently filler arcs are up next so maybe leave Fairy Tail aside for a while and watch them all in one sitting later on or if you’re a manga purist, skip the fillers. It’s probably more of Gray-sama drooling from Juvia anyway; I’m surprisingly still amused at Juvia’s heart-eyes after all this while lol.
kiseki: The great magic games arc is done and I am sad to see it go. It was probably one of my favourite arcs so far, because what’s not to like about teams battling against one another to earn
3 million jewels the title of best guild? The dragons have also been dealt with and as Akatsuki said, Sakurai and Suzuken (Sting and Rogue respectively) get more lines, so again what’s not to like? I literally stopped right after the dragon invasion arc, so if they are fillers, again I agree with Akatsuki, to just leave the series for a bit and catch up with it all in one go (because marathoning it is just the best way to watch Fairy Tail lol). All in all, it was a good Summer 2014 season for Fairy Tail, and that OP was soo addictive~
Akatsuki: Summer 2014 was one helluva season with way too many good shows to watch each week (apologies for still catching up on some reviews…). There was variety and strong showings across genres so there was definitely something for everyone. It’s been such a good and strong season that Autumn 2014 kinda feels like the falling of autumn leaves in that respect. Well that just leaves more time to binge-watch some of the shows I didn’t pick up in Summer :)
kiseki: It was a stunning Summer 2014 season. My hikkikomori self could not have asked for a better way to spend my hikkikomori life.
Komorebi: Summer 2014 was one of the best anime seasons in a very long time for me because pretty much every show I decided to watch exceeded all my expectations. I always looked forward to Thursdays for my Tokyo Ghoul and Zankyou no Terror fix, and Sundays and Mondays gave me two shoujo doses with Gekkan and Ao Haru Ride, and all the other shows in between like Love Stage, Haikyuu and Free were equally as enjoyable to watch and wait for each week. It’s going to be so hard to compete with a lineup like this and I don’t foresee it happening for at least another couple more seasons. But hey, Winter 2015 might just surprise me! There are a couple of NEED-TO-WATCH shows that I didn’t manage to watch over the summer, so hopefully they’ll tide me over during this sleepy Autumn 2014 run.
Shion: This was somewhat my first proper season with Koekara and in my life(?) and the weekly anime indulgence was such an enjoyment. I’m really glad that I chose this particular season to start with, because it was just amazing. We had such a strong lineup of animes that everyone was just going crazy during the first few weeks of Summer, watching just about everything and kya-ing nonstop. Although Autumn 2014 doesn’t look as promising (or as crazily good) as Summer 2014, I’m sure we could all use a well-deserved break after the summer madness.