Best Anime Series of 2015 – Top Ten Best Rated From Around the Web

Posting this a bit late this year but still trying to do it before 2016 ends and better late than never:) There is a relatively good list of anime series here for people to follow. As per usual, this list is based on compilation of reviews and results from various anime sources, including top rankings and reviews from blogs, ratings from Anime News Network, MyAnimeList and other sites and various polls (see Appendix 1 for the full list). Again, the aim is to come up with as unbiased a list as possible based on all info I could find on the internet. Here goes!

*****

10. Owarimonogatari (終物語)

10. Owari

Average rating12.1

No. of episodes: 12

Director: Shinbo Akiyuki

Animation Studio: SHAFT

Watch if you like: Monogatari series

One-Line Synopsis: A new transfer student, Ougi Oshino, attempts to unravel the truth behind strange discovery made in the school

Excerpt:

  • Shows that go on this long have a tendency to repeat themselves, but Monogatari just continues to dig deeper, building on character development and its internal visual vocabulary to consistently arrive at lovely new surprises. As long as Monogatari stays this good, it’s welcome to stick around. [Wrong Every Time]
  • If one choose to look at [Owarimonogatari] into more depth, the detail put into every line is immaculate, clever and  aesthetic…  [Otaku Club Kidz]

My take: I have never followed the Monogatari series and this seems to be another one in the top ten list.

Source: MAL, ANN


9. Death Parade (デス・パレード)

9. Death Parade

Average rating12.0

No. of episodes: 12

Director: Shinbo Akiyuki

Animation Studio: Madhouse

Watch if you likeAngel Beats!, Death Note

One-Line Synopsis: Welcome to Quindecim, where Decim, arbiter of the afterlife, give the chance for redemption or oblivion through different wagers.

Excerpt:

  • in addition to being alternately funny, shocking, and genuinely moving, the show was also just marvelously well composed, demonstrating a talented young director backed by some stellar animators. Death Parade was morbid, yes, but it was also beautiful, personal, and occasionally even inspiring. A welcome surprise.[Wrong Every Time]
  • Death Parade represents the kind of evocative psychological drama that we aren’t treated to terribly often, and, in addition to exploring some interesting (and possibly quite pessimistic) ideas about the afterlife, contained some of the most lovely and poignant moments in anime this year. [TOR]

Source: MAL, ANN

 

8. Your Lie in April (四月は君の嘘)

8-your-lie-in-april

Average rating: 10.4

No. of episodes: 22

Director: Ishiguro Kyouishi

Animation Studio: A1-Pictures

Watch if you likeNodame CantabileKids on the Slope

One-Line Synopsis: Recovering from his downward spiral, the progidious pianist Arima Kousei is on a journey to face music again after the meeting with a violinist Miyazono Kaori.

Excerpt:

  • With themes ranging from the nature of music to terminal illness and child abuse, it is far deeper and more emotional than most anime out there today. On top of that, it is both visually and aurally stunning. [Kotaku]
  • Great character development, multiple plot lines driving the main story forward, and plenty of emotion to warrant breaking out the box of tissues. [The Outer Haven]

Source: MAL, ANN

7. Parasyte -the maxim- (寄生獣 セイの格率)

7-parasyte

Average rating: 10.4

No. of episodes: 24

Director: Shimizu Kenichi

Animation Studio: Madhouse

Watch if you likeTokyo Ghoul

One-Line Synopsis: A parasitic alien took over Shinichi Izumi’s right hand and both are forced into an uneasy coexistence against other hostile parasites that will destroy any threat to their species.

Excerpt:

  • The show has great control over every climax. It evolves very nicely as we learn what’s going on with the characters, and loves to drop random tense encounters with the Parasytes everywhere–which really spices up its scenarios. So in the end, Parasyte remains a thrilling “horror” story that never really dragged on longer than it needed to. [Star Crossed Anime]
  • Parasyte’s primary strengths lie in its story, which mixes the anxieties of young adulthood with the threat of a sinister alien invasion (and some healthy rumination about the nature of humanity), but most especially in its characters. Parasyte has a certain timeless quality that makes it quite a compelling story in any format, as effective in 2015 as it was in 1995. [TOR]

Source: MAL, ANN

6. Shirobako

6-your-lie-in-april

Average rating: 10.3

No. of episodes: 24

Director: Mizushima Tsutomu

Animation Studio: P.A. Works

Watch if you like: Bakuman, Anime production

One-Line Synopsis: Five members of the Kaminoyama High School animation club are fulfilling their pledge to make it in the anime industry. [Wrong Every Time]

Excerpt:

  • Shirobako broke my heart half a dozen times, and I still get chills thinking of the trials its characters went through. Shirobako portrays the beauty and sadness of life as it is, and there are few higher artistic goals than that. [Wrong Every Time]
  • Unless you care nothing about the industry, I wholeheartedly recommend this series.  Learning about anime production, including a few nods to popular anime, adds to an already fantastic series. The solid animation, effective music and, most importantly, the excellent script turns what could have been just another slice of life show into something unforgettable. [Nihon Review]
  • Not only is Shirobako a must-watch for anime fans curious about how the industry works, it’s also a sweet, heartfelt show with characters worth connecting with. [IGN]

My take: Starting to watching this. An anime about making an anime sounds intriguing:)

Source: MAL, ANN

5. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc (ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 スターダストクルセイダース)

5. Jojo

Average rating: 10.1

No. of episodes: 24

Director: Suzuki Kenichi

Animation Studio: David Production

Watch if you likeTengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Fist of the North Star

One-Line Synopsis: Following the ongoing journey of Jojo and his allies, they have made it to Egypt, where the immortal Dio awaits.

Excerpt:

  • With its stellar animation, gorgeously animated fight sequences, and an adaptation worthy of the Holy Grail War itself, Part 2 has proven to be one of the most beautifully animated titles this year. It takes characters that people already know and love, and they reminded us why we loved them in the first place! [SG Cafe]
  • Excellent and eccentric characters, brilliant plot, Epic enemy encounters, Satisfying ending, Justified continuation of Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency. [Rok The Reaper]

My take: I started following the Jojo manga series around this arc back in 1990s so I will be excited to watching this and re-live it again soon!

Source: MAL, ANN

4. Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Season 2

4.Fate

Average rating: 9.6

No. of episodes: 13

Director: Miura Takahiro

Animation Studio: ufotable

Watch if you like: Fate series

One-Line Synopsis: In the midst of the Fifth Holy Grail,  each Master and Servant continue on their plans in order to arise at the victor and claim the Holy Grail.

Excerpt:

  • [Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works] is an excellent alternate version of a popular story filled with new twists and turns that will engross fans and newcomers alike. It has marvelous action, well-developed characters, and visuals that are simply without equal. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works is not to be missed.[Kotaku]

My take: How many more Fate series are there going to be?

Source: MAL, ANN

3. Haikyuu!! Second Season (ハイキュー!! セカンドシーズン)

3. Haikyuu

Average rating: 8.8

No. of episodes: 25

Director: Mitsunaka Susumu

Animation Studio: Production I.G

Watch if you like: Sports genre, Volleyball, Kuroko no Basket, Diamond no Ace

One-Line Synopsis: Karasuno High School volleyball team attempts to focus their effort on the upcoming Spring tournament.

Excerpt:

  • It succeeded in having the heart and energy of the first, whilst expanding the personality and motivations of many secondary characters, in addition to developing those in the lead roles. I also found the comedy in this season to have vastly been upped, which fits into the tone of the show, and made for a much more captivating and entertaining viewing experience. [Avoid the Dance]
  • I think Haikyuu!!!!!!!‘s best qualities are it’s straightforward contract with the audience and lack of pretense.  I love the amazing animation and the BGM, but if the series didn’t feature appealing characters and a respect for the sport it depicts that would be nowhere near enough to recommend it.  You can always count on it, and that’s something as anime fans we should never take for granted. [Lost In Anime]

My take: I am a bit of a sucker for a good sports series and this definitely hits all the right note. Can’t wait for the third season!

Source: MAL, ANN

2. Food Wars! Shoukugeki no Soma (食戟のソーマ)

2. Food WarsAverage rating: 6.7

No. of episodes: 24

Director: Yonetani Yoshitomo

Animation Studio: JC Staff

Watch if you like: Food cooking, Yakitate!! Japan

One-Line Synopsis: Yukihara Souma is sent to Tootsuki Culinary Academy, an elite cooking school where on only 10% of the student graduate and participates in frequent “food wars”, where students face off in intense, high-stake cooking showdowns.

Excerpt:

  • Food Wars nails that competitive intensity, and it takes the time to develop even its most minor characters so we have a reason to care about their successes and failures. It also does fan service the right way; characters’ over-the-top reactions to food make sense when that food is so beautifully animated and enthusiastically presented. [IGN]
  • Food Wars! stands out for two significant reasons. Though the animation is at times superb, the writing of the show stands above and beyond. The show has impeccable comedic timing, and is completely self-aware when it comes to its treatment of common anime tropes (think tentacles). When the show is not focusing on humor, food and the art of cooking are dead center. It’s more than obvious that the show’s creators have a passion for food that is displayed in each and every breakdown of the dishes featured in each episode. If you are looking for a show that is fun and has a pure spirit, you cannot go wrong with Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma. [The Thames Perspective]

My take: Fanservice can be a bit distracting but it is a lot of fun to watch! Great character and comedy and the pursuit for perfection and camaraderie is really nice to see. My girlfriend and I are looking forward to trying to cook up a few dishes from this series too:)

Source: MAL, ANN

1. One Punch Man (ワンパンマン)

1. One Punch Man

Average rating: 1.7

No. of episodes: 12

Director: Natsume Shingo

Animation Studio: Madhouse

Watch if you likeGintama, Tiger & Bunny

One-Line Synopsis: Saitama trained to become

Excerpt:

  • The wow moments in this tale of Saitama, the world’s most overpowered hero (who’s perpetually bored and exhausted as a result) are a powerful hook, but what will keep you coming back to One-Punch Man isn’t merely its action, but its razor-sharp comic timing. Saitama vanquishes comically overpowered bad guys with almost insolent ease, blithely ignoring their apoplexy at his disinterest. To throw my hands up and use a tired metaphor, the series is a knockout. [ANN]
  • Breathtaking animation, high-octane action, and quirky characters are One Punch Man’s specialty, giving us one of the most important and popular anime of 2015 [Reel Rundown]
  • One Punch Man contains some of the wildest and most well-animated action scenes in recent memory, while also boasting an immensely colorful and quirky cast of characters that take a premise that should have died in the water and make it a consistent comedy machine, even if the world it takes place in is far less inspired than the people that populate it. [Reel Run Down]

My take: Really great blend of comedy and action. Hope there is season two! This is the only series this year that are in the top 5 across all categories

Source: MAL, ANN

***

For the animes that missed out the top ten:

  • 11. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO! [12.8] -> narrowly lost out to Owarimonogatari by only 0.6
  • 12. Noragami Aragoto [15.8]
  • 13. My Love Story!! [16.6] – Beloved by bloggers, not so by general raters
  • 14. Baby Steps 2 [17.1]
  • 15. Non Non Biyori Repeat [17.2]

***

OBSERVATION

  • As usual, there is an interesting mix of genres for all taste here.
    • Action -> One Punch Man, Fate and Jojo
    • Sports drama -> Haikyu!!
    • Comedy -> Food Wars
    • Thriller -> Parasyte, Death Parade
    • Drama -> Your Lie in April
    • Niche -> Shirobako (Anime production), Food Wars (Food), Your Lie in April (Music)
  • 4 short series (12-13 episodes); 6 long series (24-25 episodes)
  • One-Punch Man takes #1 in 5 out of 7 sources. ANN ranks Your Lie in April first while Anime Planet prefers Haikyu!! 
  • The difference between vote/rank sources (Blog, SA and Vote) and rating sources (ANN, MAL, AniDB, AniP) is also quite interesting for me
    • For blogs and SA, the sequels (Haikyu, Jojo)and series that that are released much earlier in the year (Winter 2015 season) seem to get much worse scores from the ranking group. This makes sense since bloggers perhaps favors the series they have seen recently and those tend to be fresher in their minds (same phenomenon why some more recent films get higher ratings than old classics)
      1. Haikyu!! -31.1 (#33 vs. #3)
      2. Baby Steps 2 -24.5 (#38 vs. 13)
      3. Parasyte -17.3 (#23 vs. #5)
      4. Your Lie in April -12.5 (#20 vs. #8)
    • On the other hand, a few series are much loved by vote/rank sources but less so by ratings. Many of these series seems to be school-related (School-Live!, SOund!, My Love Story). Is that a trend?
      1. Blood Blockade Battlefront +28.9 (#9 vs. #38)
      2. School-Live! 22.0 (#17 vs. #38)
      3. Sound! Euphonium +20.5 (#6 vs.#26)
      4. My Love Story!! +13.8 (#7 vs. #21)
    • One-Punch Man stands alone as the most consistent(ly loved) series across both source types
      1. One-Punch Man +0.9 (#1 vs. #2)
      2. Shirobako
  • At rank score of 1.7, One Punch Man is the clear cut number 1, with Food Wars a distant second at 6.7
  • One Punch Man is the most clear-cut #1 anime series of the year over the last 5 years
    • with average ranking of 1.7, it is the best ranked #1 series.The second one on the list is Steins;Gate back in 2011 with avg ranking of 1.8
    • It also has the biggest gap from #2 of 5.0. The second biggest gap is Fate/Zero 2 in 2012 who outranks Kids on the Slope by 2.7
  • Madhouse Studios dominate the top 10, with three series (One Punch Man, Parasyte, Death Parade). No other studios have more than two series in the top 10.

Now with a few more years of data, I should look to do more comparisons across years to see which year for any interesting findings. Overall, it seems like 2015 is another decent year with one consensus #1 (One Punch Man) and many recent sequels (Fate, Haikyu, Jojo, Owari). My favourite of the year so far is Haikyuu but I really love One Punch Man too and Shirobako looks very promising as of the time I am writing this. I would love to hear what you think about 2015 and whether there is any other anime series you like that you think should be in this list!

*****

APPENDIX I: SOURCES

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

Blog – I have included rankings from 32 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, ANN and 2ch

Review – Review websites with enough entry for series in 2015. This includes IMDB, THEM Anime, Crunchyroll, Nihon Review and Star Crossed Anime

APPENDIX II: SOURCE WEIGHT

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

Source Type Weight
Blog Ranking 9%
SA Ranking 12%
ANN Rating 12%
MAL Rating 30%
AniDB Rating 12%
AniP Rating 16%
Votes Voting 6%
 Review Rating 3%

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. I choose ones that have comments on their list to ensure that the writing has had some thoughts put into it. Thank you for all of your writings and I hope to reading more of your year-end reviews in future years:)

 



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