Stuff I Loved in 2015 (and plans for 2016)

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2015 was a pretty lackluster year for me in terms of media consumption. Lots of things came out that I enjoyed, but there was little which I truly loved, at least among the media which I actually did consume over the course of the year. There’s plenty of nice-looking stuff which I haven’t gotten to yet, and if I make any proper best-of-the-year list for anime in particular, then it’ll be released months from now when I’ve had time to watch everything that I want to. While I can’t say that my loved list for this year is any competition for 2013 or 2014, I’d like to at least highlight the things which I did truly enjoy this year, and which I’d like to carry with me into the future. To start us off, I’d like to share some honorable mentions–stuff which I may not have loved deeply, but which I enjoyed enough for it to stick in my mind.

Undertale won the hearts of many through its fascinating premise and excellent writing. I adore what this game did artistically using the medium of gaming, though I ultimately didn’t enjoy the actual gameplay all that much, as I found the combat to be nothing short of infuriating. Still, I seem to be in the minority on that, and the narrative presentation was legitimately fascinating, so I’m very glad that I stuck it out and played all the way to the end of the pacifist run.

Hibike Euphonium reached a zenith with its date scene in episode six that I don’t think it was able to top afterwards, introducing subplots here and there which I found it difficult to care about; but the show was nonetheless a beautifully constructed and far more sobering than usual take on the show about a club full of high school girls, and I’m looking forward to seeing if the second season announced for next year can elevate it into true loving status for me.

To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar is an album which sits at the top of nearly everyone’s best of the year lists, and for damn good reason–it’s among the most deeply conceptual and hard-hitting narrative albums which I’ve ever listened to, and doesn’t stop short of having five of my favorite singles of the year on it. Still, I found it difficult to find time for this eighty-minute record, which requires some degree of  concentration to fully enjoy at times, and I could never get into it as deeply as I felt like I wanted to, or on the level that others did.

Crypt of the Necrodancer came out of early access this year, and is by far the most I’ve played of a game that I completely suck at to date. I’m not a fan of roguelikes and randomly generated levels because I’m garbage at them and I never feel like I’m making progress; but the entire concept of this game is so perfect that it’s impossible not to love. I danced through dungeons to a soundtrack of Japanese metalcore band Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and there aren’t a lot of experiences more enjoyable than that.

Gakkougurashi really managed to floor me with its constant sense of tension and uneasiness, which transformed the relaxing and comfortable feeling typical of a cute girls doing cute things show into a strangely moody and unsettling nightmare version of the same. I can’t pretend like this show reinvented the wheel or anything, but it was an experience I won’t soon forget.

Third Side of Tape by Lil Ugly Mane is perhaps the single most eclectic collection of music to ever have been produced by one person. Over two hours of random songs in all sorts of genres, cobbled together from Lil Ugly Mane’s countless unfinished projects over the years and put into six twenty-minute blocks of music, this album continually surprised and intrigued me, and became one of my go-tos for background music and something to put on while editing video.

Before I move on to my outright favorite stuff from this year, I’d like to give some shout-outs to stuff that I didn’t watch much of, but am already in love with. I’ve only seen two episode of One Punch Man so far, but they had more character and effort put into their animation than anything else that came out this year. The new season of Gintama was instantly amazing for the like two episodes that I watched, and what I’ve seen of the second season of Baby Steps was living up to the first season well. I also didn’t end up finishing the second half of Log Horizon 2 for some reason, so I’ll get to that eventually. Anyways, on to the top twelve!

I was very very drunk when I watched season two of Danna ga Nani, and I probably got pretty emotional at the site of a couple whom, for all intents and purposes, represents everything I’ve ever wanted out of a relationship. I’m literally using this show to vicariously experience the ideal romance. I might have some kind of problem.

Mad Max: Fury Road was the first movie in a very long time to actually yank my jaw off of my face and smash it against the ground with the sheer beauty of its visual presentation. This is probably the most impressive spectacle action film that I’ve ever seen, and the fact that it manages to back it up with great writing and some legitimately interesting worldbuilding is enough to make it a classic. I definitely look forward to getting to see this again.

Axiom Verge is the first Metroid clone I’ve played which I actually enjoyed nearly as much as I did Super Metroid–and I’ve played a fair number of them. This game gradually got me absorbed into its world and desperate to find all of its secrets before I was done with it, and I was already anticipating my future attempt at a 100% playthrough after beating the final boss. It’s exceedingly rare for me to get invested in a new game on that level, but this one absolutely delivered.

I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty is a folksy, bluesy, poppy album that crushed my heart into a fine powder. Between some of the most utterly depressing tracks that I managed to love this year, as well as some of the most heartbreakingly sweet ones, Father John Misty’s direct, yet poetic lyrics and versatile musical stylings made for one of the year’s most captivating albums.

Before I move onto my top five things of 2015, I’ve gotta give a shout out to the single best youtube video that I saw this year: Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling by Max Landis. A stunningly orchestrated combination of storytelling, analysis, and comedy, this video felt like what would happen if the entire concept of the youtube analysis video reached its final form. I might put together a full list of my favorite youtube videos of the year over on my Digibro After Dark channel, so be on the lookout for that as well.

Food Wars is a series which I actually haven’t finished yet, but that’s okay because I’ve been having a baller ass time with it. Combining my deep love of food with my deep love of hilariously ridiculous anime bullshit and kickass shounen sports tropes, Food Wars is absolutely delectable; and also received one of the funniest critical reviews which I’ve seen all year, and will put a link to down in the description below along with any other videos about this stuff that I want you to see.

Steven Universe was a really pleasant surprise this year, as a show that I got swept up in the hype for and was shocked by how much I actually loved it. The songs and atmosphere were awesome and got me listening to Aivi and Surasshu regularly, and Pearl was definitely best gem, even if Stronger Than You was one of the best moments of characterization I’ve ever seen. I’m still way behind on season 2 though, so don’t ask me about it.

The Martian was my kind of sci-fi movie–unendingly optimistic and feel-good, with a cast full of cool people who just want to solve the problems in front of them. Unlike some other disappointing sci-fi stories in recent years, this is one which actually decided that the main appeal of sci-fi is, in fact, the science fiction, and structured its plot thematically around human progress itself. I had a blast seeing it in theaters, and was very glad to once again have the chance to love a film from one of my favorite directors.

Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax technically came out last year in Japan, but it only saw North American release this October, and was by far the thing which I most hotly anticipated over the course of the year. Being as I’m a big fan of 2D anime fighters, the prospect of playing one where I get to beat the shit out of Kirito and all the other shitty light novel characters that I hate was everything I could possible ask for. The game really took off for me when I started maining Kirino and realized that she’s possibly the most fun character to play with in any game that I can think of, making this entire game an absolute joy for me to have around.

No Now by Clarence Clarity was by far my favorite album of the year; sounding like what would happen if the deep web was conceptualized into a pop album, and was played through a computer plagued with viruses which has just had acid poured over it, this album sounds like it’s dissolving before your ears, and loops back in on itself in such a way that you can just play it on repeat all day and stop questioning what the fuck is going on. It’s an album with a hell of a lot to chew on, and the only release from this year which will have a guaranteed spot among my top 100 favorite albums for at least a few years to come.

Season two of Rick and Morty was every bit as utterly perfect as the first season, and continues to be my favorite American TV show of all time. This series weaves together brilliant high-concept sci-fi adventures which would put serious science fiction stories to shame into a blisteringly fast-paced and consistently on-point comedy spectacular which knocked me on my ass laughing only as often as it punched me in the gut with its somber moments, and tore my heart out of my chest with its season finale. SUPER looking forward to season three.

And finally, the second half of Shirobako was by far my favorite anime to come out in 2015, and the only thing besides Rick and Morty which I’d consider a full-blown ten out of ten. Featuring an uber-dense narrative full of awesomely memorable characters and moments, this show effortlessly wove a pastiche of emotions into a story about life and art and passion and struggle; all on the frames of an anime about what it’s like to make anime. It’s not enough that I’m a fan of meta stuff anyways, but this series couldn’t have possibly been focused on something that I care about more–given that anime is my passion, and that learning about and getting into the heads of its creators is among my favorite aspects of interacting with the medium. Of all the things which came out this year, Shirobako felt the most like a piece of media built specifically for me, and which was excellent on a level that I might cherish it for the rest of my life.

That about does it for the stuff that came out in 2015, but while we’re on an end-of-the year roundup, I may as well talk about some things from other years which I either just got around to, or rewatched and rediscovered for the first time in a while.

I missed the boat on Humanity Has Declined when it first came out, and was very pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the show upon seeing it. I’m not ordinarily much for anthology series, but this one consistently surprised me with both the cleverness of its writing, and with the creative insanity of its ideas.

VVVVVV caught me at the tail end of the year while hammering my way through a bunch of 2D platformers in the latest steam sale, and of all the sub-two hour, hard as nails, instant respawn games I’ve played, this one may have been my favorite; thanks to its chipper attitude, awesome soundtrack, and addictive mechanics.

Yuu Yuu Hakusho was a total blast from the past that I only decided to watch because a friend had the dub on at his house one day, and I was shocked to realize that it was a dub which I actually enjoyed. Having adored Hunter X Hunter at the end of last year, I figured it was time to finally complete its older sibling show in its entirety some 13 years after seeing it last, and I found it shockingly enjoyable. Easily one of the best shounen action series out there, with probably the best tournament arc that we’re ever going to get.

I finally rewatched Neon Genesis Evangelion in its entirety after like nine years of partial rewatches, and while I found myself a little let-down on the realization that the show’s second half doesn’t anywhere near live up to the polish of the first half, and that I feel none of the affection for the last two episodes that I did as a teenager, I nonetheless appreciated the series deeply, and greatly enjoyed getting to write about its incredible first nine episodes over the course of this year.

Chantelise is legitimately one of my favorite video games, which I played through and made a video about towards the beginning of the year, and realized that there’s probably no one who cares as much about it as I do. Regardless, this little indie action-RPG had me deeply addicted to its simple but effective combat system and charging back and forth through its memorable low-poly levels. It inspired me to go nearly all the way to 100% completion, which is something I almost never do–so as far as I’m concerned, it’s a bona fide classic.

Lastly, I was hotly anticipating my rewatch of Kare Kano, after having been let down by its final eight-episode stretch back when I first watched it in 200;, and on the rewatch I was downright blown away. Last episodes be damned, this is far and away the best-written and most deeply engaging romantic comedy anime that I’ve ever seen, and I daresay my favorite thing which Hideaki Anno has ever directed. If you haven’t seen this series yet, then I advise you go in thinking of episode eighteen as the series finale, and everything afterwards as omake. Whatever distaste it might leave you with on your first viewing, it’s absolutely worth it to not miss out on this classic series; which, alongside Shirobako and Gurren Lagann, cracked its way into my top 10 this year.

That about wraps it up for stuff that I loved in 2015, but I’m sure there’s a whole ton of stuff that I missed out on, and which I’ll be happy to try and catch up on in the coming years. If there’s anything which you really think I’d enjoy and you can’t believe I didn’t get around to already, then tell me about it in the comments–or if you otherwise want to hear my thoughts on some of the things from this year that you thought for sure I would’ve liked but apparently didn’t, then feel free to ask me about those things as well. Now, let’s look to the future!

I’m not much for planning anything ahead of time, but I’ve got some ideas about where I think 2016 is going to go for my channel. I’ve just about wrapped up writing and recording all twelve parts of the Asterisk War Sucks series, which I’ve handed over to the Davoo to edit; so while those videos are coming out as fast as he can produce them, I’ll be working on other content on the side.

Over the course of 2015, I’ve really felt myself moving away from making smaller, individual videos, and more towards longer, more high-concept stuff; and I think that’s about how it’s going to stay. I’m not all that interested in doing small videos on individual shows anymore; I’m much more interested in either making hyper-detailed and super-long videos about individual shows, or otherwise making videos that cover a broad section of anime culture. That’s not to say that I won’t make any more small videos at all, but that I’m probably going to dedicate more time to larger videos in the future.

I’m also considering producing more content which isn’t related to anime over the course of the next year, because I’ve managed to create a pretty solid base of my ideas towards anime over the last year and a half. I’ve talked about a ton of my favorite stuff, as well as broken down some stuff that I hate, and shared my feelings on a lot of the shows which are most relevant to my interest. Moving forward, I feel like most of you have a pretty solid grasp on how I think about anime and what my tastes are like, and now I can dedicate myself to bigger and more involved projects dealing with the medium as a whole.

Meanwhile, I might branch into talking more about video games in the coming year, since I’ve been finding more time to play them and getting some ideas about how to talk about them. I struggled to find a way to cover video games over the course of 2015, on account of my relatively bizarre taste in games, and the fact that no one really has a firm sense of what I like about games yet; but in the future, I’d like to find a way to make my games content as interesting and involving as my anime content. One of these days I also want to get into manga in a big way, but I can’t see myself making too many videos about it until I seriously put some thought into how to present it in video form, and read a hell of a lot more of it than what I currently do.

Anyways everyone, that’s my year-end roundup–I hope you enjoyed it, and that you’ll stick with my channel and continue to enjoy my content in 2016. Thanks again for watching, and I’ll see you in the next year.

3 thoughts on “Stuff I Loved in 2015 (and plans for 2016)

  1. I don’t know if you’ll read this Digibro but this is Yasutake Nagisa from Youtube. I watched one of your videos in the past where you said back then you wanted to become a director. From watching your videos, from you exhibiting your extensive knowledge on anime and culture, to your personality and downright funny, informative, and entertaining commentary, I think you should reconsider becoming a director. To tell you the truth, to date I’ve watched your analytical diatribe video on Sword Art Online 20+ times, it is always funny (Downright funny!), informative, and it goes to show that if you were to create a series better than SAO, you could. In fact, watching SAO inspired the story that I want to create (classified) that was also inspired by Log Horizon. Long post short, I hope you reconsider becoming a director, because you have the fanbase, the potential, the vision, and the talent to become one. I’m sure a lot of your fans feel the exact same way.

  2. I would really like to see your opinion on one older anime series.
    Figure 17 to be exact
    13 episodes in somewhat unusual 45 minutes format of beautiful scenery of hokkaido disturbed by somewhat intelligent biological weapon from outer space, and the only person who could save the world is one shy fourth grader.
    i know, it sounds like magical girl material, or some kind of girly show, but it is actually pretty grim sf with a spice of personal tragedy.

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