あけましておめでとう！Happy new year everyone!! We’re an itsy bit behind with this review and it’s become quite the long enthusiastic post from all of us here at Koekara so without further ado, please indulge with us as we look back at the AMAZING debut year we’ve had covering an incredible 48 shows between the 4 main
Best anime (Overall) – Zankyou no Terror
This was a no-brainer. Without a doubt hands down 2014’s best overall anime because it was just almost perfect, the closest to a perfect show anyone could ask for. We’re very into sound you see, with a name like Koekara no less so this show won us over with brilliant voice acting from newbies Ishikawa Kaito, Saitou Soma & Tanezaki Atsumi and THAT OST! Director Watanabe and music composer Kanno Yoko are a spectacular production combination and with Zankyou, they’ve really reached new heights. Every single track in Kanno’s OST was genuinely purposeful and strike such imagery when heard all on its own. Watanabe’s storyline and art direction respite with shaky camera imagery and animation superimposed onto live footage, just gave such raw authenticity to an anime that surely inspires greater heights among his peers. Most of all, this was an emotional characterisation anime and it really showed on through the voices of the newbies and those intense facial expressions. Zankyou was a very rare treat and I’m glad we all got to enjoy it.
Other notable nominees: Barakamon – because Naru and bakatsun-OnoD make such a heartwarming combi!
Best anime (Sci-fi) – Knights of Sidonia
Many viewers complained about the 3D animation and the weird style behind the character designs but we’re nonplussed because Sidonia proved such a thrill-ride literally as we joined the fish-out-of-water Tanikaze through his heroic climb to greatness. Oosaka Ryouta proved he could take on more serious protagonist roles where he didn’t have to shout and strain his voice so much but honestly, hats off to Kitamura Eri who while voice acting all the Honoka girls – En, Ren, Hou & Ro, could sound so different you wouldn’t have known it was the same seiyuu until the credits rolled in. So much was said in this first cour set in a truly dystopic space age (unlike Gundam that doesn’t have to worry about lacking resources) and amazingly, so much build-up was made into the second cour in 2015. We can’t wait for more awe-inspiring scenes (the ring of all those mechas hand in hand!) plus we’re huge fans of the ability to photosynthesize in lieu of actually eating food lol.
Other notable nominees: Psycho Pass 2, Terra Formars
Best anime (Shoujo) – Ao Haru Ride
Ao Haru Ride was one of the most anticipated shoujo series of the year, simply because of how successful the manga is. While the anime barely scratched the surface of the deeper, darker and more dramatic later chapters of the manga, it still delivered a very beautiful and solid early storyline of the five main characters. Uchida Maaya brought female lead Futaba to life in such a way that we couldn’t possibly think of any other female voice actress who could have done such a stellar job, and Kaji Yuuki proved – to us that he could play a brooding prince in a shoujo series in which his portrayal of Futaba’s love interest, Kou, was the perfect broad shouldered, messy haired boy-to-man character with baggage the size of Alaska. While the plot and the characters of Ao Haru Ride are brilliant in themselves, the more intimate scenes between Futaba and Kou were animated so beautifully and the voice actors did such an amazing job at developing this fragile and tense dynamic and romantic tension between this somewhat tragic couple, which was so important and all while keeping to the manga. While it didn’t quite follow some very important parts of the manga, it was still a lovely anime in its own right and the ending could be left open to interpretation and possibly a second season, which would really get into the more painful aspects of Kou and Futaba’s new and tenuous rekindled romance, and we really anticipate that.
Other notable nominees: Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji
Best anime (Sports) – Haikyuu!!
Honestly, it’s a close one between Haikyuu!! and Diamond no Ace but since baseball hasn’t ended, the winner this time round goes to the Karasuno volleyball team! Sports has seen a revival recently with basketball, cycling and of course, those freely swimming boys. The best part about sports anime is the sheer number of male seiyuus who come on board voicing each new competing team; the Captains are also a huge draw ^_^ But mostly, we’re very taken by the team work that goes into building up almost every single episode’s cliff hanger – do the boys score a point or not?! Haikyuu!! had many of such aargh moments that we had to endure week after week but most times, the tension was well worth the wait. Haikyuu!! had newbies Ishikawa Kaito (who had consecutive stoic roles around the same period) and trap-worthy Murase Ayumu in the lead as first year players. As with the characters they voice, they were supported by their seiyuu senpais whom we just can’t stop gushing about, specifically Namikawa Daisuke’s flirty Oikawa and Okamoto Nobuhiko‘s zealous-to-a-fault Nishinoya senpai. Haikyuu!! ended rather abruptly this first cour but that in itself adds a level of reality to sports animes that otherwise always have the home team win. We’re expecting more camaraderie, laughs and hot-blooded teamwork in the second cour to come! And of course more of Hino Satoshi, Irino Miyu and the rest of the Karasuno boys!
Best anime (Action/Shounen) – Tokyo Ghoul
2013 had the massive manga adaptation of Kodansha’s Shingeki no Kyoujin. In 2014, Shueisha (the same people behind shounen magazine Weekly Jump) gave us the gripping manga adaptation of Ishida Sui’s Tokyo Ghoul. Episode 1 started out slow but tense – wonderfully atmospheric work courtesy of oscar-nominated director Morita Shuuhei. It’s the typical rise of the ordinary shounen who gets put through unfortunate circumstances forcing him to grow into a strong leader who fights for what he believes in. What made Tokyo Ghoul our winner is its brilliant anime adaptation showing Kaneki’s rise from being the hunted to reluctant hunter. The anime medium really brought what was already a strong source material, truly to life. The internal struggles and adlib screaming/shouting Hanae Natsuki provides is perfect. The visuals and animation was colourful, spectacularly sprayed (pun fully intended; watch the uncensored version) across and like the hungry ghouls, made us hungry for more of such visual feasts. The pacing made our adrenaline run and even though the transitions of the last episode were dragged out leaving no room for anyone else but the protagonist, every second of it was so purposefully done in a complete and grandeur manner from visuals to script to background OST tracks worthy of Kaneki’s transition – just look at the unraveling (yes, am refering to the OP) of those red spider lilies. The anime out-shined the manga at that moment. So even though the adaptation skipped some plots, the sheer amount of thought and planning that went into the first anime, first manga and now, second manga and second anime cour, fully redeems it.
Best anime (Comedy) – Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
We’ve had a few laughs this year but none gave us stitches quite as much as Nozaki-kun (Nakamura Yuuichi) and his blatant inability to recognise any of Sakura’s (Ozawa Ari) advances. Much as we all absolutely adored Naru in Barakamon, Gekkan emerges as the overall funniest show for 2014. Most of the jokes’ on the irony that Nozaki’s a shoujo manga artist as week after week we see him think up of shoujo plotlines for Mamiko (Miyako Marie) and Suzuki (a hilarious baka-ouji Miyano Mamoru voicing the type of role he’s best at), roping in his friends who with each episode, really threaten to steal the limelight away from mains Nozaki and Sakura. None were better than Mikoshiba (Okamoto Nobuhiko‘s ability at tennen tsundere comedy really brought him up a notch with all of us) and Kashima (Nakahara Mai) who’s play on gender stereotypes brought the house down in more than one episode, continuing even into the OVA specials. A comedy’s only as good as the seiyuus who deliver the hilarious lines with a straight face and darn has the Gekkan cast done an amazing job!
Other notable nominees: Barakamon, Hoozuki no Reitetsu, Love Stage!! and Gugure Kokkuri-san!
Best anime (Fantasy) – No Game No Life
Most anime is fantasy/supernatural based so there were A LOT of nominees in this category. Ultimately, it just had to be NGNL for us because it was seriously fun to watch the 「Kuuhaku 」 siblings win through proper gaming strategy, plot twists after twists. Initially, we weren’t really sure what to expect from NGNL because siblings holing up at home as a pair of expert gaming hikkikomoris just didn’t quite sound all that… interesting. We’re not usually into the very themes that NGNL ran wild with – gaming, lolis, ecchi, loads of upskirt shots, pantsu shots, sis-con and bro-con. So when viewers like us who run away from such themes actually become convinced to come around to them in NGNL with excellent storylines week after week, how can we deny it to be 2014’s best anime in the Fantasy category? The antics Shiro (Kayano Ai just makes us want to grab her cheeks and hug her like her Sora-nii does) & Sora (we never knew Matsuoka Yoshitsugu could sound so pervy yet comical) get up to together as well as separately, perfectly balanced out this show so well. It was serious yet funny, not taking itself too seriously but yet being able to get the plot moving. The pacing was good, leaving us really anticipating the siblings’ next move. We take our hats off to the staff-san who worked to deliver such a stellar series, and we have no other words of praise except OMEGA GOOD JOB~ The OVA specials do test the R-18 boundaries more though so if the main series’ bath scenes and plenty of side-boobs are more than enough for you, stick to just the main show.
Other notable nominees: Noragami, Log Horizon, Nagi no Asukara, Kyoukai no Kanata
Best anime (TV Short) – Orenchi no Furou Jijou
Short anime series are the lighthearted ones that entertain in just its weekly short 5 mins, 3 if you cut out the OP & ED. We’re most tickled by the merman and his caretaker because it’s a frickin merman living in a bathtub! This aquatic mash-up wins because newbie Yumehara Yuuichirou does such a good job voicing the innocent, eternally young, bimbotic blonde Wakasa. Coming in fresh from another water-based show, Shimazaki Nobunaga‘s Tatsumi doesn’t sound much different from his Haru in Free!! but we don’t mind because it sounds like Haru has moved away from saba fish to mermans! Lol. Really though, it’s Wakasa’s aquatic friends we love the most – Mikuni the affable jellyfish with Hanae Natsuki totally winning us over with just his *jya~jyaa~n*, Takasu the dexterous tako’s Tattsun making us blush with what his tentacles can do and sweet sweet self-deprecating Maki getting so moe in a way the ever versatile Tsudaken did too fabulously. We’re so gonna miss this short and sweet hotpot!
Other notable nominees: Danna ga nani wo itteiru ka wakaranai ken
Worst anime (Overall) – Hamatora, Black Bullet, M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane
This one we’re split over. Akatsuki found both seasons of Hamatora outright appalling although Kamiya Hiroshi did sort of make up for it a little. That’s why seiyuus are so important! They can make or break or in this case, redeem a show just a little by doing a great job. So as fantastic as Kaji Yuuki was in his attempt at building a loli harem in Black Bullet, Kiseki found that show to have been worst of all in 2014 because seriously, what was the whole to & fro of that story? It’s as though it was all just for loli fans! Seiyuus do their very best as well as the scriptwriter writes for them, though for Komorebi, M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane with Okada Mari holding the pen, amazingly fell very far from her other talented works. Matsuoka Yoshitsugu was that season’s favourite for us but even he couldn’t hold onto the abyss created within M3.
I really wouldn’t bother if I were you – Pupa, Bakumatsu Rock, Glasslip, Shounen Hollywood
Apart from those we stuck through and lived to regret in the preceding category, these shows we were enlightened enough on the way to stop watching altogether from early on. Kiseki stuck out as far as episode 06 for Pupa out of affection for Yusa Kouji but even he couldn’t save the show’s incestuous disastrous story. Then Akatsuki gave Bakumatsu Rock all of 17 mins into the first episode before smartly writing it off her to-watch list. Seriously, we love most of them seiyuus especially Saiga Mitsuki but rock-based retelling of the Shinsengumi in the Bakumatsu era? Puh-leaze just leave history alone. It was a sad attempt at combining the successes of Sengoku Basara‘s crazy over-the-top antics with the current boyband idol fame started by Uta-Prince. Studios tried to emulate such commercially successful shows but Shounen Hollywood really takes the cake for digging up a light novel adaptation from 20 years ago! Was it worth it? Perhaps to a certain extent, seeing as how Komorebi managed to trudge through its reviews. Not everyone likes boybands but if you do, then maybe you’ll enjoy it more than we did. And finally, don’t even get us started on Glasslip. Or rather, don’t even get started on Glasslip. After Nagi no Asukara, kiseki tried giving the love quadrilateral type shows another whirl because of Oosaka Ryouta. But seriously, teen angst with the combination of esper powers / clairvoyance and abilities which enabled them to “feel” emotional waves..? Save yourself the time and just listen to the OST.
Most *facepalm* anime – Kamigami no Asobi
This is for shows we’d love to hate but watched till the end for some unknown most-likely-seiyuu-related reason. Such is the affection we have for the talents of a cast of seiyuus, mostly male of course lol. Kamigami no Asobi and its reverse harem storyline got us squirming just from reading its synopsis. But Akatsuki covered it as part of Kiseki‘s review “Reverse harem” challenge and gladly did so since it had the delightful voices of Irino Miyu, HiroC, OnoD, Hosoya Yosomasa (rarely doing so much flirting in this one), Nojima Hirofumi, Sugiyama Noriaki, Toyonaga Toshiyuki, Seki Tomokazu (who really had way too few lines it’s such a pity) the very occasional squeak from Kaji Yuuki (how expensive those squeaks must be…) and of course, master of kabe-don wall slamming Morikawa Toshiyuki. Every time he slammed the wall we *facepalmed*. Oh these love-hate views we have of the Greek, Norse and Japanese gods fawning over Yui… It is worth noting however, that Hayami Saori held up very nicely against these veteran male seiyuus to deliver a believably strong female character that’s terribly lacking in reverse-harem shows. So as much as each episode made us *facepalm*, her presence did make things better overall. Last but not least, have you seen the boyband-esque ED? It’s massive *facepalm* fanservice worthy of winning this category all on its own.
Other notable nominees: Orenchi no Furou Jijou, Shounen Hollywood
The “Guilty Crown” award – Tokyo Ravens, Hamatora
This is for shows that had so much potential, started strong and then just exasperatingly fell very short of itself, just like the show it’s named after. It’s for shows that are hyped up with promising PVs, stellar casting/production that after a handful of episodes, left us wanting more but not bad enough for us to want to drop it altogether. Tokyo Ravens had a strong premise with the onmyoujis casting good old school fashioned magic and Yusa Kouji‘s kansai accent was just to melt for all on its own. There was plenty of intrigue to work on, lots of back story to slowly unveil but things just got messy. There was clearly not going to be enough episodes to cover everything so instead of focusing on the crucial few, corners were cut, plot lines skipped/ignored and by the end, we were just tuning in to hear Yusa‘s Ootomo sensei speak ANY line. It really is a pity things turned out that way and that we’ll remember Tokyo Ravens for being the mess it became – what was it about the ravens part of the title again? That’s how bad things were. Similarly, Hamatora tried to do too much with too little time, especially considering it was a one-cour show before that helluva cliff hanger really left everything hanging. The unfortunate thing about Hamatora is how with that many characters, the characterisation wasn’t interwoven enough. As standalones each partnership was solidly told but they just didn’t come together. So on a shaky weave of characters, it’s difficult to build a good plotline and narrative that sequentially made sense. The biggest gripe we have is with how the tension of the show would build, only to then get smashed with a filler, tangential storyline that didn’t contribute to the main plot. What was the point in that?
Other notable nominees: Kyoukai no Kanata, Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus
Best seiyuu ensemble – Tokyo Ghoul
You know it’s a good seiyuu ensemble when no one seiyuu steals the limelight from anyone else, whether they are voicing main or supporting roles. The script to deliver is one thing but ultimately, it’s the delivery itself that’s key. We thought Diamond no Ace deserved at least a mention because of the sheer number of seiyuus that appeared in that still-ongoing show. And everyone did a great job voicing the hot-blooded high schoolers going round after round of training and competition. However, the true honour has to go to Tokyo Ghoul because although it had characters that were very well-rounded and deep individually, together everyone stood out be they newbie, senpai, veteran or senior veteran. Miyano Mamoru did some of his most crazy psychotic laughter (and that very very creepy sniffing) we were rather spooked. Nice girl-next-door Hanazawa Kana did a 180 in a role we’ve possibly never heard before as demonically deranged Rize. Sakurai Takahiro nailed the precise nuance of gorgeous goth Uta in too few lines. Yusa Kouji turned up as the bad guy in barely 2 episodes and we knew we could count on him to be full on badass. Namikawa Daisuke had just a couple of lines in the penultimate episode and we knew him to be perfectly badass too. Kaji Yuuki proved he could take on antagonistic roles just as well as he does good guys and last but definitely not least, Kugimiya Rie‘s psychologically broken but pieced back together Suzuya shows why she’s one of the best in the business. And that’s just the supporting cast. The main cast held their own solid performances – Hanae Natsuki‘s tormented Kaneki both psychologically then literally was really top-notch in his well-placed pauses and umms to ahhhs, Amamiya Sora‘s Touka was the newbie actress’ foray into deeper voiced, less damsel in distress roles and she took it on wonderfully, Konishi Katsuya‘s righteous Amon came through to match up nicely with Ookawa Tohru‘s sinister Mado to show how 2 contrasting characters’ personalities can still have on-screen chemistry. We could go on and on about the rest of the minor characters – that’s how great everyone did their roles to come together as the best seiyuu ensemble for 2014 with Tokyo Ghoul.
Other notable nominees: Diamond no Ace
Male: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu
This is one section whereby we at Koekara couldn’t reach a consensus on, so much debate went on before we made our decision. After covering huge shows like No Game No Life and Sword Art Online II, it was difficult for us to not choose Matsuoka, who couldn’t have done better as the perverted and snarky Sora who turns into a shivering useless mess once separated from his sister. In SAOII, he played Kirito, our beloved hero from the exciting first season of SAO; with his gentle yet determined portray of Kirito, it’s hard to imagine the show without Matsuoka. He’s had quite the variety of roles this year and has broken his personal barrier with each and every one of them. We daresay viewers won’t remember him as the SAO guy anymore.
Although he’s still considered new to the BL scene, Matsuoka has also starred in various BL works during 2014. Again, we were impressed with his ability to morph his voice to fit such diverse roles – from the boisterous tsundere Tsukishima in Hybrid Child to the docile and timid Mishima in Smells Like Green Spirit – it’s obvious as to why we can’t not have Matsuoka as the best male seiyuu for 2014.
Other notable nominees: Hanae Natsuki
Female: Hanazawa Kana
This was a bit of a tough one, and it always seems to be the case with female seiyuus, seeing as the really famous ones are a very select few, unlike the widening range of male seiyuus, but we finally agreed that the distinctly whimsically dulcet tones of Hanazawa Kana were a winner. She had a pretty bad few seasons, especially in 2013, but really redeemed herself in 2014, with much stronger characters and much more entertaining shows. Most notably, it was her return as a bolder, more mature and hardcore Inspector Tsunemori Akane, in Psycho-Pass 2, where she showcased her serious but no less sugary tones that everyone has come to associate her with. While the second season wasn’t as racy or gritty as the first season, Hanazawa really played up her character’s decisive but warm and empathetic personality, and it was such a delight just to hear her return as the badass character we’ve all grown to love. She also expanded her repertoire to include the sadistic and sultry-voiced Kamishiro Rize, the violent and gluttonous ghoul who sends the main character on his increasingly dark journey, and is the goading voice in the back of his mind. We all agreed that she was incredible as the menacing and womanly ghoul, and while Hanazawa has been in this business a long time, after a not-so-stellar year, it’s good to see her return with more exciting shows and playing deeper, more complex characters.
other notable nominees: Hayami Saori, Tamura Yukari
Newbie: Hanae Natsuki
2014 was a huge year for semi-newbie Hanae Natsuki, who did a multitude of diverse roles with distinct voices and characters and we all agreed that he’s propelled himself into the limelight and into our minds for future roles. He’s crossed through pretty much all the stereotypes in a short span of time, from level-headed Kaizuka Inaho in sci-fi Aldnoah.Zero; sugary sweet, pink-haired rookie Haruichi in DnA; loud-mouthed Hikari in Nagi; the adooooorable Mikuni who stole all our hearts in Orenchi; and, possibly his most notable role so far, the tortured, tragic Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul. That’s a pretty impressive repertoire for a 23-year old and he’s really risen in the ranks of popular seiyuus, so it was a fairly easy pick to choose Hanae as newbie of 2014, and we’re very excited to see all the new roles he’ll be taking on in his promising seiyuu career.
Besides his notable roles in anime, Hanae also made his debut in drama CDs with Akihabara Fall in Love, a lovely comedy romance about an otaku-hater meeting the most adorable otaku (voiced by Hanae) in Akihabara. While his virgin attempt at this genre might not be the best we have ever heard, we think that this newbie deserves a good pat on the back for his portrayal of the clumsy and adorable Ayumu.
Other notable nominees: Ishikawa Kaito, Saitou Souma
Best Supporting Seiyuu: Okamoto Nobuhiko
As the tsun-adorable sweetheart of a Mikorin in Gekkan Shoujo, the awesome, cool and fiery heart of Karasuno, Noya in Haiykuu!!, the pink-haired Kominato-aniki in Diamond no Ace and the wounded yet beautifully gentle Seiryuu in Akatsuki no Yona, Okamoto Nobuhiko was constantly on our minds despite being slightly overshadowed by his co-stars. And so, when it came to voting for the best supporting seiyuu, who better to award this category to than the seiyuu who had impressed us all through 2014? Okamoto has done astoundingly in the numerous roles he has appeared in, so much so that he deserves being crowned best supporting seiyuu!
Other notable nominees: Asanuma Shintarou
Best Comedy Seiyuu: Ono Daisuke
OnoD stole the comedic spotlight in Summer 2014, with his roles as Handa in Barakamon, Hades in Kamigami and above all, the utterly ridiculous Maeno-sensei in Gekkan. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he then went on to voice the bishounen domestic god
dess of a kitsune, Kokkuri-san, in Gugure! (that in itself is already amusing!). In just two seasons, OnoD brought the house down with his comedic timing, hilarious antics and amusing delivery of lines. While other nominees such as Sakurai (the ever pathetic Inugami) and Okamoto (mikorin~) also did brilliantly in their respective roles, they honestly couldn’t hold a candle to OnoD, who in all spirit of baka-ness, gave us laugh after side-splitting laugh in all those amusing roles. After all, there is a reason why we so affectionately nicknamed him BakaD~ （＾ｖ＾）And take note that this is after a year of mostly very serious roles in 2013!
On the more feminine side of things.. Gekkan Shoujo proved to be the series to watch if you’re in for some laughing, as fellow co-stars Nakahara Mai and Sawashiro Miyuki showed off their affinity for the hilarity with their roles as Kashima and Seo respectively. Despite voicing supporting characters, the both of them were not to be overshadowed, and caused such a riot with their playful take on what’s probably their silliest of characters yet!
Other notable nominees: Okamoto Nobuhiko, Sakurai Takahiro, Tsuda Kenjirou, Saitou Chiwa
Best Drama Seiyuu: Hosoya Yoshimasa
This was a tough call. On one hand, we had the wonderful cast of Zankyou. On the other hand, we had Hanae in KimiUso. But when it came down to it, we simply couldn’t not give recognition to Hosoya Yoshimasa for his absolutely stunning performance as Loki-loki in Kamigami no Asobi. His take on the playful/flirty bro was one thing. But when push came to shove (recall a certain cliff scene) and his character was going all overprotective (but still feeling extremely guilty) towards his bro, Hosoya blew us away with his emotional and heart-wrenching voice acting. All them feels made for all them almost tears~
And again, because we could not reach a consensus but kiseki demanded that a female seiyuu at least be mentioned, we would like to give a shout out to Taneda Risa for her role as a certain blonde violinist in KimiUso. That quiver of her voice at 19 minutes 20 seconds of episode three… Enough said.
Other notable nominees: Saitou Souma, Hanae Natsuki
Most Redeemed Seiyuu: Yonaga Tsubasa
We only ever referred to him as blondie from Free!. Then the various roles he picked up in 2014 not only made us rethink our not-so-favourable impression of him, but went above and beyond to shatter that ditzy, cringe-worthy image we had of him. Because of his roles as: the very gentle Manami in Yowapeda; Rufus (the weird Sabretooth dude who’s dressed in red/pink) in Fairy Tail; Kinjou (the serious guy who belongs to the group of people with a lot of money) in Log Horizon and the spoilt but adorable Izumi in Love Stage!, Yonaga showed off his acting prowess going from gentle to dark to mysterious to serious to very very amusing… Gosh, the dude’s even the voice of Kirimi the sanrio salmon! How can we not stop disliking him?!
Other notable nominees: Hosoya Yoshimasa, Saitou Chiwa
Special Mention Seiyuu:
This goes to the seiyuu who did not quite fit into any of the categories listed above, but still did a pretty good job and hence deserves special mention. This is each of Koekara’s “fan favourite” category, for us to have fun and just vote for who we like (*^_^*)
Akatsuki’s heart goes out to Ishida Akira as Arashi-papa in Captain earth. Veteran seiyuus – they just need 3 lines and it’s enough nectar to last a whole year… kiseki goes for Oosasa-kan – lol, I just had to~ Oosaka Ryouta, because.. who doesn’t like him?! Komorebi: Murase Ayumu, the one and only Hinata Shouyou from Haikyuu!! because…Hinata is just so flippin’ cute. <3 Lastly, Shion feels that Tachibana Shinnosuke deserves to be mentioned for his role in Ten Count 1 and Shihaisha no Koi. I’ve only recently discovered this seiyuu (through the Yandere series me thinks *ahem*) and I fell in love with his smooth voice almost immediately, so you can imagine my joy when I found out that he was cast in Ten Count as Shirotani. Tachibana was PERFECT for that role, with his gentle and delicate voice. And right after hearing his frail, gentle and slightly awkward Shirotani, he appeared in Shihaisha no Koi as the arrogant and spoilt Rasheedo(?) who, along with Hirakawa, totally stole my heart. Although he definitely isn’t new, he’s definitely someone I need to keep an eye on in future.
Best OP Sequence: Noragami with Goya no Machiawase by Hello Sleepwalkers
It was a tough call but Noragami’s opening sequence was just a cut above the rest, even across a year of numerous shows. Noragami stole it with one of the best OP songs of the year, Goya no Machiawase by Hello Sleepwalkers, but when song met sequence it was like magic. The two were a perfect match and complemented each other so well. It was like a gritty, urban montage, which makes one think of graffiti and god fights after dark, and the blocks of colour on the characters, laid across the monotonous grey background just gave it that extra, edgy feel. Both the song and the opening fed off each other, culminating in a very sexy and intense sequence, with a whole lot of attitude and suspense. Some anime sequences flow with their OP, and then there’s the Noragami sequence, which strutted to every single beat of the song, and maintained that enigmatically grungy feel for the entire one and a half minutes, and every single one of the characters looked like they were ready for one big gang showdown. We all agreed that it was one heck of a montage and almost a year later we are still impressed.
Other notable nominees: Sidonia no Kishi, Tokyo Ghoul
Best OP Song: Noragami‘s “Goya no Machiawase” by Hello Sleepwalkers
This song was love at first listen for us. With its raucous guitar riffs, that heavy metallic bass, the most outrageously catchy melody and a beat that stresses during all the right moments, how could we possibly not have fallen in love with it??! Add to that Shuntaro’s grunge like vocals that blend in oh so perfectly with the psychedelic instrumentation, and what we’ve got is Hello Sleepwalkers‘ most irresistibly enticing song to date. Goya no Machiawase doesn’t just grab the listener’s attention; it outrightly snatches the listener’s attention with sexy aggression from its very first second. There is not a dull moment in the entire 2 minutes and 51 seconds that this song spans – for crying out loud, just when we think it’s going for some down time somewhere in the middle, it shakes things up with syncopation even! Impressive doesn’t even begin to cover it. While the lyrics might be far removed from the high standards of other nominees such as “unravel” and “Believer’s High“, the fact that it’s been a full year on and we are still raving about this deliciously addictive song speaks volumes of its captivating charm.
Other notable nominees: Tokyo Ghoul‘s “unravel” by TK from King Tosite Sigure, Gekkan Shoujo‘s “Kimi Ja Nakya Dame Mitai” by Ooishi Masayoshi, Gugure!‘s “Welcome!! Disco Kemokemoke” by OnoD, Ao Haru Ride‘s “Sekai wa Koi ni Ochiteiru” by CHiCO with HoneyWorks, Captain Earth‘s “Believer’s High” by flumpool
Best ED Sequence: Free! Eternal Summer with Future Fish by the Free! cast
All them Free boys in various costumes?! Rin gyrating like a male stripper in that cop costume?! Kyo-Ani’s gorgeous colours and graphics in a multitude of settings?! How can we not let Free 2’s ED sequence win? There was really no competition here so much so we didn’t even bother to note any other notable nominees lol.
Best ED Song: Tokyo Ghoul‘s “Seijatachi” by People In The Box
We all agreed that the bass was just too irresistibly sexy to say no to. Sure the intoxicating blend of discordant guitar notes and mysterious vocals lend themselves to that air of mystery which just haunts the listener. And the lyrics are so bleak that they pretty much reject the light of day – the perfect song to off yourself to, just saying (Kaneki tried to when he found out he had ghoul organs..). Ultimately though, the bass really is the defining feature, and one can’t possibly listen to this song without being drawn to it. Yes, that bass line is very much akin to a drug that elevates the listener to the point of ecstasy, and then some. But hey, if it’s to get a taste of something so deliriously exhilarating, then we say go ahead and feed your addiction, because this song is hot, hot, HOT~
Other notable nominees: Haikyuu!!‘s “Tenchi Gaeshi” by NICO Touches the Walls, Mekakucity Actors‘ “Days” by Jin ft. Lia, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso‘s “Kirameki” by wacci
BEST OST – Zankyou no Terror
We have been blessed with a multitude of lovely OSTs in 2014, but none touched our hearts more than the Zankyou soundtrack. We are just absolutely in LOVE with this OST. There are some OSTs that are really suitable for the show (Aldnoah) and there are some OSTs that are just lovely to listen to (Isshuukan Friends). Then there those OSTs which, on top of being an amalgamation of both, play such an integral part of the series that one simply can’t do without the other. The Zankyou OST falls into this extremely rare class, delivering each of the three aspects with that added amount of finesse, and of the highest calibre imaginable. Every single track in this OST had a purpose – a purpose which was fulfilled so wholeheartedly, so sincerely and so genuinely. While each track is stunning in its own right, together, they make for the most well-rounded soundtrack, with the tracks flowing so seamlessly from one track to the next. There are the slower tracks like fugl and (the debussy reminiscent) walt; the rhythm heavy ones of veat and Fa; the grungy dissonant tracks like lolol, alois and ioloi; and the vocal infused tunes of is and blessed… Each and every track, when played, dramatised the scenes, creating so much suspense as to draw viewers into the world of Zankyou with spellbinding resolution. And in the aftermath of it all, listeners are left with such a yearning, an almost frantic desperation for… MORE. We have long regarded Kanno Yoko as the soundtrack goddess, and have revered her works as stunning masterpieces. However, she has undeniably outdone herself this time round with the Zankyou OST. It is artistry like no other OST has presented us with and we really could go on for hours on end about how breathtakingly beautiful this OST is, but music speaks for itself, so we urge you to have a listen if you haven’t already done so. Emotional, inspiring and elegant, this OST has left us completely awestruck and is one that we are unlikely to forget anytime soon.
Other notable nominees: Haikyuu!!, Aldnoah Zero, Barakamon, Isshukan Friends, Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus (in spite of Kiseki‘s initial vehemence that the composer of the first 2 Black Butler series didn’t return to do the circus one)
And because kiseki was given free reign in this section, kiseki can’t help but recommend these other following OSTs of 2014: Haiykuu!!, Isshuukan Friends, Barakamon, Noragami, Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus, Nagi no Asukara, Aldnoah.Zero, Ao Haru Ride, Glasslip, Sidonia no Kishi, Nanatsu no Taizai, Kamigami no Asobi and Free!: Eternal Summer. Yes, in that specific order ꒰･◡･๑꒱♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪
BEST DRAMA CD – Soredemo, yasashii koi wo suru
We can’t really say this is the best drama CD of 2014 because to be honest, there’s just so many and it’s quite difficult to keep up with them all. But among the many our ears have been blessed with, Soredemo really stood out for its voice acting first and then its storyline second. It really helps that it’s a continuation/side-story from Doushitemo Furetakunai because the stories complement each other nicely, particularly when you consider how its the Nojima brothers voicing the ukes in each story. While we’re familiar with younger brother Nojima’s prolific uke works, it’s his oniisan Hirofumi‘s take on tsundere Deguchi that pushed Soredemo to be our pick of best drama CD. Besides that, we enjoyed how Yoneda Kou weaved humour into the story without looking like she tried too hard – oh those conversations between Deguchi and Onoda. Similarly, it was also the Yoneda Kou magic which got us sympathising subconsciously with Deguchi when he struggled with his unrequited love. Although it certainly wasn’t as powerful or moving as its prequel, Soredemo certainly didn’t disappoint us picky listeners at Koekara.
Other notable nominees: Saezuru Tori wa Habatakanai 2 (because Shion and Akatsuki both love Yashiro, and Shingaki Tarasuke who completely nailed that complex role).
Thoughts on 2014 & Resolutions for 2015:
Akatsuki is really thankful to her fellow writers for pushing through Koekara together in its debut year. Being able to review the shows in such volume has been in a way, a surreal dream come true. While we started out with the aim of appreciating animes more, Akatsuki is happy to report that indeed, she has appreciated more shows even though overall she’s seen fewer in 2014 (just 41 this year). She realises she still has a couple of Winter 2014 shows to catch up reviews on and so the first Koekara resolution for 2015 for her is to not only catch up on them but to also try to be more timely with posting lol. Her personal goal of covering a show/movie/OVA from letters A to Z has fallen quite short unfortunately so 2015 shall be a continuation of that challenge!
kiseki has had sooooo much fun this past year writing with fellow writers Akatsuki, Komorebi, Shion and Tsurara (the irregular one, lol) – the loveliest writers imaginable~ Omega good job to us for having made a whimsical suggestion a reality. Koekara has been such a blessing, and other than catching up on reviews, finally getting round to them seiyuu writeups (sorry dearest OnoD, your page has remained all written but pictureless for almost five months now!) and completing more challenges, kiseki simply hopes for more review-fun times~ これから、こえから (^_−)−☆
Komorebi has like, a million shows to catch up review on as well (but this isn’t really a resolution to actually finish writing for them because every single resolution she’s tried to keep she’s either forgotten what she resolute-d to do or failed completely). So. She’ll just say that yeah, she needs to complete all the write-ups she’s left since 2014 because that was a given anyway…
For 2015, Shion wishes to 1) translate more regularly, 2) start to review more current drama CDs, 3) clear up that long to-watch anime list, and of course to watch Diamond no Ace.