Best Anime Series of 2014 – Top Ten Best Rated From Around the Web

Best 2014

Another year has passed and it is time I go back to looking at what are the best anime series of 2014 compiled and calibrated from all the English blogs, rating sites and votings from around the web. Same rule goes as my previous entries:

  • Include series that finished its runtime in 2014 (e.g. Hunter x Hunter)
  • Exclude series that may have started in 2014 but does not yet finish in 2014 (e.g. Parasyte, Your Lie in April). The latters will be included in 2015 ranking
  • For series that are split into two half (Jojo: Stardust Crusaders), as long as there is a proper end date for the first half, I will still include the first half in this year. The second half will be included in next year’s list

So here are the top 10 animes for 2014!


10. Kill la Kill (キルラキル)

10 Kill la Kill

Average rating: 13.3

No. of episodes: 24

Director: Imaishi Hiroyuki

Animation Studio: Trigger

Watch if you like: Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, FLCL

One-Line Synopsis: Matoi Ryuuko, the woman with the scissor blade’ is a vagrant girl traveling in search for clues to the truth behind her father’s death

Excerpt:

  • Every week, Kill la Kill proved it could do it with a sort of audacity few of its peers could match. But it wasn’t just crazy for crazy’s sake, it was heartfelt and engaging all the way to its glorious finale. [Glorio]
  • Kill La Kill is filled to the brim with some of the greatest action ever animated, considering the budget. It’s over-the-top in the best way, and is exactly what you’d expect from the guys behind Gurren Lagann. It’s like Power Rangers on crack. [Website of Doom]

My take

Source: ANN, MAL

9. Silver Spoon 2 (銀の匙 第2期)
09 SilverAverage rank: 11.0

No. of episodes: 11

Director: Deai Kotomi (2nd directorial series after Rolling Girls, Assistant director of the first season)

Animation Studio: A-1 Pictures

Watch if you like: Moyashimon, Honey & Clover

One-Line Synopsis: Hachiken starts a new semester at Oezo Agricultural High School and continues to discover the harsh and beautiful realities of the countryside

Excerpt:

  • Arakawa-sensei has given us a true coming-of-age story in the traditional style, one full of harsh lessons and hilarious missteps… It would be hard to imagine a high-school series more grounded in reality, more relatable and believable and less reliant on trope and cliche. [Lost in Anime]

My take: I just notice that Goose House does the theme song performance for them. Pretty cool since I have been following the myself on youtube on the various J-Pop cover they do.

Source: ANN, MAL


8. Haikyu!! (ハイキュー!!)

08 Haikyu

Average rank: 9.7

No. of episodes: 25

Director: Mitsunaka Susumu (Cuticle Detective Inaba)

Animation Studio: Production I.G

Watch if you like: Sports, Volleyball, Kuroko’s Basketball, Hikaru no Go

One-Line Synopsis: Shoyo Hinata joins force with his former rival Kageyama Tobio to take on local volleyball tournaments on their way to the nationals

Excerpt:

  • When I say Haikyu!! is an emotional rollercoaster, I’m not kidding. In any given episode I went from laughing, to being left breathless during tense moments, to shouting with great excitement… Unlike any other sports anime I’ve watched recently, Haikyuu!! captures all of the emotions one can feel while watching a sporting event. [Anitay]
  •  It does a lot of things well while being thought-provoking and enjoyable at the same time.  The execution of the entire series, along with fantastic writing and animation, made for a really unforgettable and enjoyable show with essence.  [Button Smasher]

Source: ANN, MAL

7. No Game, No Life (ノーゲーム・ノーライフ)

07 No GameAverage rank: 7.7

No. of episodes: 12

Director: Ishizuka Atsuko (also directed Hanayamata, another series ranked XX this year. The only female director (also at only 35) on the list)

Animation Studio: MADHOUSE

Watch if you like: Sword Art Online, Log Horizon, MMORPG

One-Line Synopsis: Sora and Shiro, legendary gamers who are also NEETs and hikokomoris, are summoned to an alternate world to save Humanity from extinction

Excerpt:

  • No Game No Life lifts a premise as cliché-riddled as nerds transported to a game-centric world and delivered a very polished and snappy light novel adaptation. Being aesthetically saturated with rainbow-colored gradients, indulgent in heaps of fanservice comedy, and playing some clever tactical and psychological games, the show knew how to keep your attention and mix up the stakes before the situation got too stagnant. [Nihon Review]
  • No Game No Life is a nonstop parade of intense gaming, hilarious characters, and an overall fun time to be had by all, only really let down by a bit of over-stylization and an inconclusive ending. [Ember Reviews]

Source: ANN, MAL

6. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, 月刊少女野崎くん)

06 Nozaki

Average rank: 6.7

No. of episodes: 12

Director: Yamazaki Mitsue

Animation Studio: Doga Kobo

Watch if you like: Ouran High School Host Club, Daily Lives of High School Boys, Bakuman, Manga industry

One-Line Synopsis: High school student Sakura Chiyo becomes an assistant to her classmate Nazaki, a renowned shoujo artist, to try to get closer to him

Excerpt:

  • Every moment is a joy to watch as each character playfully smashes their normal genre defined roles, giving the anime crowd a much needed reminder that people are a lot more fun and interesting han shonen or shoujo stereotypes. Always uplifting but never naive or overly crass, Nozaki-kun makes you feel good without resorting to cheap wish fulfillment or fan service. (Glorio)

Source: ANN, MAL

5. Barakamon (ばらかもん)

05 Barakamon

Average rank: 6.7

No. of episodes: 12

Director: Tachibana Masaki

Animation Studio: Kinema Citrus

Watch if you like: Usagi Drop, Silver Spoon, Calligraphy

One-Line Synopsis: Handa Seishuu is sent to Goto island after punching a famous curator for criticizing his work and must adapt to the country life after being in the city all his life

Excerpt:

  • There aren’t that many anime set in the country side of Japan… so with many of the characters have heavy accents and being very energetic compared to the city-dwelling Handa Seishuu, Barakamon has a lot of charm. With that charm, it lead me through a journey of laughs as well as lessons that seemed to surprise me in the laid back genre known as slice-of-life. [Mind Tap]
  • It succeeds as not only a lighthearted comedy but also an exploration of growing up and making a place for yourself in the world of adults. If you like slice-of-life, this is a must see; and even if you don’t like it as a rule, this may be the exception that breaks that rule. [Kotaku]

Source: ANN, MAL

4. Ping Pong (ピンポン)


04 Ping Pong

Average rank: 5.9

No. of episodes: 11

Director: Yuasa Masaaki (Mind Game, Kaiba)

Animation Studio: Tatsunoko Production

Watch if you like: Sports, Ping Pong, Tekkon Kinkreet, Kaiji, Mind Game

One-Line Synopsis: Tsukimoto “Smile” Makoto and Hoshino “Peco” Yukata are in the local tennis club and with the help of the club teacher strive to become better at the game

Excerpt:

  • Ping Pong not only stands out in its character approach, development, or growth but in its splendid animation style… They will grow, learn, & change your perception of them; all intelligently. [Geekenstein]
  • [Ping Pong has] universal messages, ones that everyone should hear. As an artistic experience, it’s phenomenal. And for the last time, this show is NOT  ACTUALLY ABOUT PING PONG, so don’t ignore it because it’s a sports anime. [Mage in a Barrel]

Source: ANN, MAL

3. Hunter x Hunter [2011] (ハンター×ハンター)

03 HxH

Average rank: 4.7

No. of episodes: 148

Director: Kojina Hiroshi (One Outs, Kiba)

Animation Studio: MADHOUSE

Watch if you like: Yu Yu Hakusho, Dragon Ball, Tournaments, Shounen

One-Line Synopsis: Gorn Freec is on a quest to follow his father’s footsteps to become a Hunter, an elite class with a licence to go anywhere and do anything

Excerpt:

  • This world and these characters are so intricate, so subtle, so real – there’s really nothing else quite like it in shounen or anywhere else in anime. [Lost in Anime]
  • Enhanced by the efforts of studio Madhouse who went above and beyond what is necessary, pouring every bit of their heart and soul into this adaption, Hunter x Hunter harmonizes into a symphony of creative genius of the likes you rarely see in anime. [Nihon Review]

Source: ANN, MAL

2. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works02 Fate

Average rank: 4.0

No. of episodes: 13

Director: Miura Takahiro

Animation Studio: ufotable

Watch if you like: Action, Fate series, Claymore, Mai-HiME

One-Line Synopsis: Shiro Emiya finds himself drawn into a  battle to the death between seven magi called Masters, where each commands the spirit of a hero of legend called a Servant in pursuit of the legendary Holy Grail

Excerpt:

  • The animation is simply of the highest quality that no other show comes even close to comparing, especially when it comes to the fighting scenes. While the story or characters aren’t exactly my personal favorites, it is a wonderful pleasure to see a show match or exceed the source material backed up an unlimited budget. (Sea slug team)

My Take: I was pretty impressed with the Fate Zero 2 years ago so with the same animation studio behind it, I can see this one being equally as polished. Is this a retelling? It’s interesting how there seems to be so many version of this Fate series that I can’t keep up with how they all relate anymore!

Source: ANN, MAL

1. Mushishi: The Next Chapter (蟲師 続章)

01 Mushi

Average rank: 3.7

No. of episodes: 10

Director: Nagahama Hiroshi

Animation Studio: Artland

Watch if you like: Mononoke, Haibane Renmei, Contemplation, Atmospheric & philosophical series, Youkai

One-Line Synopsis: Ginko, the Mushi Master, is still on the quest to encounter, study and deal with the mysterious mushi along his journey into the unknown

Excerpt:

  • Mushi-Shi is as gorgeous in aesthetics as it is poignant in themes, a collection of biting fables that alternately soothe, shock, or simply make you think. The world Ginko explores is full of wonder and insight, and nearly every episode feels like a gift. Everyone should watch Mushi-Shi. [ANN – Nick Creamer]
  • Same format, same badass main protagonist, same overall fun and enjoyment, if not better.  Mushi-shi has always been known to be more calm and relaxed in terms of its storytelling, and that aspect does not diminish in the second season, which is a fortunate thing. [Button Smasher]

My Take: I am glad to see this series topping the list considering how highly the first one was rated a decade ago.

Source: ANN, MAL

***

Here are 11-15:

11. Log Horizon (13.6)

12. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (14.6)

13. Terror in Resonance (15.4)

14. Rage of Bahamut: Genesis (21.7)

15. Hanamonogatari (22.2)

***

OBSERVATION

  • Ranking lists tend to rate love-it-or-hate-it shows much higher. Ranking list (Blog, SA, APR) adore Kill la Kill, Ping Pong and Space Dandy [looks like these series are more stylized]. On the other hand, Rating sites (ANN, MAL, AniDB, AniP) totally love Fate/stay night, Mushishi, Hunter x Hunter, No Game No Life, Haikyu!!
  • List of No. 1 is very diverse. 6 series (including top 5 anime in the list) came first in at least one source. Mushi-shi (ANN, AniDB), Fate: Unlimited Blade Works (AniP), HunterxHunter (MAL) , Ping Pong (SA, APR), No Game No Life (Vote), Nozaki-kun (Blog),
  • Psycho-Pass 2, a sequel from last season’s number 7, does not rank as well this year, coming outside top 40 this year
  • Talking about series that are the most polarized, Space Dandy has to top the list. It ranks 15-50 among ratings sites but number 3 on blogs and SA. What do the bloggers and ‘hardcore followers’ see in this series that the general public do not seem to find?
  • Madhouse is the only studios with 2 series on the list, granted one is Hunter x Hunter which has been around for the last 3 years
  • Out of the 10 series, one is the ultra-long (Hunter x Hunter at 148), 3 is the 24-25 episodes (Kill la Kill, Log Horizon and Haikyu!!). A surprising 7 are the one-season type. In comparison, last year, we have 8 24-26 episode series
  • From the top 10, show genre seems a bit less diverse. 2 shows are about countryside (Barakamon and Silver Spoon 2), 2 about sports (Haikyu!! and Ping Pong) and there are quite a bit of action (Fate, Hunter, Kill la Kill)

FINAL WORDS

Out of these, I am most excite to watch Haikyu!! and Ping Pong (good sports animes are always fun to watch) and may check out Kill la Kill and Fate (actions for both look amazing). Mushi-shi is also in the to-watch list but I will have to be in the right mood before picking it up. What do you think? Is there any series you wish had made it to the top ten?

**********

Appendix 1: Sources

Here is a list of sources that I use in coming up with the list above

Blog – I have included rankings from 33 lists (see appendix 4 for the whole list)

Something Aweful [SA] –  Based on their year end thread to ranking anime series in 2013, I have collected information from 84 users

Anime News Network [ANN] – Ratings as given in Animenewsnetwork.com

My Anime List [MAL] – Ratings as given in MyAnimeList.net

AniDB – Ratings as given in AniDB.net

Anime Planet [AniP] – Ratings as given in AnimePlanet.com

Votes – Collections of voted taken around the internet, from Ramdom Curiosity, ANNKotaku, Game FAQ

Anime Power Rankings – Rankings by bloggers administered and collectedkadian1365 from Nihon Review. 87 blog writers participated this year.

Appendix 2: Source weights

The weighting again is loosely based on the number of voters/users/raters each source has.

Source Type Weight
Blog Ranking 7.5%
SA Ranking 10%
ANN Rating 10%
MAL Rating 30%
AniDB Rating 10%
AniP Rating 15%
Votes Voting 5%
APR Ranking 12.5%

* I looked at the inclusion of other review sites (The Nihon Review, THEM Anime, IMDB, Star Crossed Anime Blog) but they do not really have too many reviews of these series so I am excluding them

Appendix 3: Methodology

I use the same methodology as my analysis from previous years. Here are the recap:

  1. The data for all series are collected
  2. For each source., each series is given a rank based on its position relative to other series.
  3. Weights are assigned to each source based loosely on the numbers of raters/reviewers/bloggers and my discretion (what I personally view as important)
  4. A composite rank is then calculated based on the sum-weight of ranks and weights in the last two parts. I have toyed with using logs of the ranks to favour high ranks but I find straight weight average gives simple and reasonable enough results.

Appendix 4: Blogs

Similar to the previous years, I owe part of my research to these bloggers with their best anime lists:


8 Comments on “Best Anime Series of 2014 – Top Ten Best Rated From Around the Web”

  1. KenKurusu says:

    this is so complex O_O i love your style of ranking!❤

    • Thank you very much for stopping by for a comment! Hope you get to check out some animes in the list (if you haven’t seen it already). I always like to refer to this list whenever I need to find another series to watch. At least it gives the most weighted perspective I could find

  2. Adam24601 says:

    I wait for your list every year Mr. Sweater Sir. It’s a great guide to what shows to watch. Thanks!🙂

  3. Jay Boerner says:

    Gosh. I’m just so surprised that Space Dandy didn’t even crack the top 15! Crazy. But, glad to see Mushishi and Ping Pong getting the praise they deserve🙂

    • Space Dandy is probably the foremost example of a series that bloggers (ranking it 3rd from all titles in 2014) absolutely love but general public is more ambivalent on (ranking more in the 30s). Thus, when it is weighted, the series is ranked 18th overall. I have not yet seen it so I can’t quite pinpoint why this may be the case. Is it so stylized that it is frowned upon by public (but then again Ping Pong ranks highly) or is it something else?

      Mushishi and Ping Pong are generally loved across the board:) I need to watch both of these series myself!

  4. I’m late to the party. In contrast to last years post I only watched one of these to completion: Hunter x Hunter.

    I watched maybe 5 episodes of Kill la Kill and
    Maybe 2 episodes of No Game, No Life

    All others I didn’t even touch.

    Sigh.

    As for the reason Space Dandy may be so controversial is because not only is it stylized the aesthetic is old. It’s more akin to Lupin 3rd crossed with cowboy bebop. I liken it to the same style as #14 from 2012: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. Though looking back at the rankings only 5 blogs voted for it and most below the 5th slot. So maybe I’m wrong about that comparison or maybe that year was more stacked than people believed at the time (as indicated by commenters on Shinmaru’s list).

    • To be honest, I still have not watched many from the list myself… Recently finished Ping Pong which I thought was amazing. Really want to watch HunterxHunter but it is pretty long and won’t have time. Gone through about 10 episodes of Kill La Kill and need to find some time to finish it. Did you not touch the other for lack of time?:)

      I can see that stylized shows can be polarizing and your comparison of Fujiko Mine to Space Dandy is quite apt (at least it got the same score on MAL). Can’t quite say if 2012 was that much worse than 2014 though looking back, the fact that Sword Art Online managed to come 5th in the ranking I put together might not bode well for the quality of series that year… (full disclosure, I really did not enjoy SAO that much. Kirito is way too over-powered and the series got soooo formulaic towards the end). I’ll still be interested to watch Space Dandy at some point for the fact that it’s another Watanabe’s production alone:)


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