Text version and links:
Full Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLw6UBKuaMyFAxI1scBKFw_KEvKLzh-EaR
#4. Space Dandy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6REAScnP-pU
#3. Kill la Kill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3TtamBzZHg
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Log Horizon Review and Analysis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rsm0G6Y_jHQ
Maoyu, Log Horizon, and the Shandification of Fantasy Anime: https://myswordisunbelievablydull.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/maoyu-log-horizon-and-the-shandification-of-fantasy-anime/
Toshiyuki Inoue interview: http://www.pelleas.net/aniTOP/index.php/toshiyuki_inoue_interview
Watch this series on Crunchyroll:
I’ve already spilled quite a bit of digital ink on what makes Log Horizon such an awesome series, and I’d rather not tread too much of the same ground; so I’ll put links to both my full analytical review of this series as well as a follow-up post that I wrote on it later down in the description. For now, I’ll try to summarize the overall appeal of this show as succinctly as possible, and add in my thoughts on the currently-airing second season which is thirteen episodes deep so far.
The strength of Log Horizon lies primarily in the power of its concepts and theming, which come as the result of light novel author Mamare Touno’s deep understanding of and fascination with the inner workings of society. Touno is able to write the greatest story ever written about video gaming not only because he thoroughly understands the mechanics of the MMORPG, but because he understands why those games are designed the way that they are. He understands the appeal of video games, and the psychology of the people playing them. Or perhaps, more broadly, he understands people, period; and that’s why he’s able to weave this story of a bunch of gamers trying to build a society inside of a video game world so expertly.
Anime blogger Omoikane once wrote of his favorite series, Martian Successor Nadesico, that to him it was like a fine jerky which continually released new flavors the longer he chewed on it. I feel similarly about Log Horizon. On the moment-to-moment level, it may not be as instantly gratifying as a lot of other anime–but when I think about how deep the mechanics of the story really are, and how much they can tell me about the psychological and sociological effects of video gaming, it just keeps blowing my mind over and over again.
A lot of the best moments in Log Horizon happened in 2013. and had the entire show aired this year, then I might’ve had to tie it for my number one spot. That isn’t to say that Log Horizon ever stops being awesome, as both the second half of season one and the first half of season two have had their spectacular moments; but I’d be lying if I said that every plot thread or episode of Log Horizon had the same impact.
Season two in particular has suffered somewhat at the hands of being animated by Studio Deen, as opposed to Satellite. While I did defend the artwork of the first season, it’s not as though this was ever the best-looking show on earth; but a few episodes of season two are outright ugly. Nevertheless, one thing that Log Horizon will always get credit for is its dedication to making every single background character unique. This is such an important part of the appeal of MMORPGs, and it’s something that even high-budget productions like Sword Art Online have managed to fuck up, so I think that Deen at least deserves props for keeping that up.
There’s also a bit of an issue with how the first half of season two adapts two of the novels at once, and gives us a bit more of the first one than we needed, i.e. it quickly gets repetitive and slow. I understand that they’re taking their time because the show is catching up with the source material, but the first season never seemed to go for such long stretches with nothing interesting happening. Still, when the show clicks, especially in episodes ten through twelve, it hits with the same magnitude that it always has. Again though, if not for the issues that I had with season two, the series possibly could’ve maintained the number one spot on this list.
Even still, the fact that I’ve put this at number two should indicate the fundamental strength of this show’s concepts; and needless to say, I’m dying to see where the rest of season two is going to go, and where the series as a whole plans to go in the future. You can watch Log Horizon legally for free over on Crunchyroll.
Now, since that one was pretty short, and my number one video is going to involve a lot of spoilers for reasons that I can’t control, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on this top twenty list, as well as to talk about some other favorites of 2014.
Firstly, in the time it took me to make this list, some of these shows aired a few more episodes, and I also found myself rewatching some of them, which inspired me to change up the order a bit. Were I to remake the list now, it would look something like this:
- Log Horizon
- Kill La Kill
- Space Dandy
- Ping Pong
- Baby Steps
- Inari Konkon Koi Iroha
- Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
- Denki-gai no Honya-san
- Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken
- Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?
- Mushishi Zoku Shou
- Ookii 1 nensei to Chiisana 2 Nensei
- Tamako Love Story
- Nihon Animator Mihonichi + Fastening Days
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
- No Game No Life
Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis
Shirobako managed to take the lead on Ping Pong because of the research I’ve been doing into the meta aspects of the show, such as how real-life animation legend Toshiyuki Inoue was indeed brought in to draw the horse scene in episode twelve; and how a lot of Sugie’s dialog is obviously inspired by an interview that the head of P.A. Works did with Inoue a couple of years ago (which I’ll be linking in the description). My research surrounding Shirobako has been getting me even more passionate about animation than ever before, and there’s so much to look for and to sink my teeth into that I can’t get the show out of my mind. Again, there’s real potential for this one to make it into my favorites list by the time it’s over.
Danna ga Nani made a huge leap up my list after I rewatched it all with my little brother and realized that I wasn’t giving it nearly enough credit. Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis and Parasyte have both been relegated down to the honorable mentions section after their disappointing later episodes soured me to both, while Tamako Love Story and the Studio Khara Animator Expo take their places. Technically, both of these would have been on the list anyways, but I’d put them down in the honorable mentions because I didn’t have enough to say about them, so it works out pretty well that Bahamut and Parasyte got knocked back. That should cover all the changes for now.
It’s also worth mentioning that there are a few things which I didn’t get to watch from 2014 that could potentially be on here. I wanted to rewatch the first season of Saki before I started on season two, and to my great shame, I still haven’t even started on Hajime no Ippo, which I think broke a hundred episodes this year. There was also a new Ghibli film, Omoide no Marnie, which came out in the summer time, and which probably won’t be released on blu-ray for another six months. Also, even though I stopped watching Haikyuu around eight episodes in while it was airing, I’ve heard so much good stuff about it that I might go and finish it up. There’s also OVAs and stuff of shows I’m not caught up on like Natsume Yuujinchou which I’m sure are great.
While we’re at it, I don’t want to dedicate a whole video to my top 10 favorite openings of the year, but I’d love to make a list of them anyways. Each of these takes into account both the song and video in making my decision, and Database from Log Horizon is disqualified because it started in 2013–and also I broke my foot doing karaoke of it at Otakon, so it’s being punished.
At number 10, I couldn’t decide between the Mushishi Zoku Shou opening, which is horribly fucking depressing but doesn’t really have a video, or the Shingeki no Bahamut opening, which is really dumb but a lot of fun.
From there, we go:
- Viva Namida from Space Dandy
- Rashisa from Barakamon
- Kimi ja Nakya Dame Mitai from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
- DIVINE FLAME from GARO
- Daydream Cafe from GochiUsa
- This Game from No Game No Life
- killy killy JOKER from Selector Infected WIXOSS
- Enigmatic Feeling from Psycho-Pass 2
- Tada Hitori from Ping Pong
So, let me know what you think of this list, and what you think of Log Horizon in the comments below, and in case you missed them, check out my videos on #3, Kill la Kill, and #4, Space Dandy, and stick around on my channel to see what my favorite anime of 2014 is tomorrow!