In America, December brings with it peppermint mocha, a larger appreciation for sweaters, and an unending flood of listicles popping up in even the more reputable social feeds. Critics professional and amateur alike climb over one another to assert that their selection of “Top 7 New Nylon Blends of 2015” grabs the eyeballs, but rarely do I see much consideration for what didn’t make the cut because said critic didn’t commit.
I don’t think it’s necessary to drink every major wine to make a top ten wine list; similarly, it’s easy for a seasoned individual of taste to cull 2/3 of the pool of things they’re listerizing at face value and only miss maybe a handful of good things. That said, I feel confidence (though not necessarily accuracy) in my forthcoming Top 15 Anime of 2015 list because I’ve watched so much.
If an anime is on Crunchyroll, I’ve watched it with absolute certainty. If it’s been licensed by another company in the United States, I’ve absolutely given it a fair chance, at least watching the first episode to completion, if not the first three. Well, not for everything. I’m going to spend today’s 12 Days of Anime article to talk about all of the best anime that I’m guilty of missing out on.
Lupin the Third – Part IV
Going into this fine year of 2015, I listed out my most anticipated anime of 2015, with the bulk of my excitement directed at Lupin the Third. From his many different color coats a generation ago, to his series of television specials and films, to his more recent adventures in A Woman Named Fujiko Mine and Jigen’s Gravestone, I have adored every time that my favorite gentlemen thief has stolen my attention from anything else. So, understandably, when I discovered that, thanks to an Italian television station, that Lupin would return to broadcast with an eventual Japanese release, I imagined that a Western simulcast would be soon behind.
That was not the case.
It’s 2015 – there are very very few titles that escape the aggressive simulcast licensing game, especially within North America. I do still imagine that Lupin will get rescued – hopefully even prior to its Japanese broadcast closing out, but I am deeply frustrated that we’re in a situation where the only option to watch Lupin is to steal it…as ironic as that is. From mid-season rescues like Wakako-zake to non-simulcast simulcasts like The Seven Deadly Sins or Amagi Brilliant Bark, the Western audience has been rewarded for biding their time and waiting for a legal option in the super-majority of situations, so I’m going to do so, but I’m going to be very unhappy to be glossing over a title that certainly would’ve made my list.
Go! Princess PreCure
To be an active member of the anime community online means that you will spend a vast majority of your time interacting with folks who consume a lot more cartoons through less-than-legal methods than you, no matter how much you pirate. I bring this up to say that I’ve seen a massive amount of Go! Princess PreCure GIFs, screenshots, and even the occasional clip. The one thing that each has had in common is that I LOVE THEM. Not a frame looks off – from my extremely limited experience with the program, and from reading the insights of those I trust immensely, not a detail was spared in the production of Go! Princess PreCure.
The people who seem to like the anime that I gravitate towards are the ones who come out most strongly for PreCure in general, so I’ve been counting down the days until Netflix releases its bastardized version of Smile PreCure, the PreCure from about three years ago. I anticipate enjoying it massively, and since it’s looking to be the overlocalized “for kids” version, I’ll be able to keep it on in the background as I do other work. The only fear I have with that is that it’ll only exacerbate my desire to watch Go! Princess PreCure, but I do believe I have the willopower to wait until it has its own bastardized American version too.
Your Lie in April
In addition to being my girlfriend and my old boss’ favorite anime of the year, Your Lie in April is a series that I myself enjoyed…for the first half. Though the drama was telegraphed and the characters acted a few years older than their middle school setting would have you believe, I found Your Lie in April to be an immensely competent story, though perhaps not the best one told week-to-week. Starting the first weekend of 2015, I went to IkkiCon in Texas and began a long string of conventions that prevented my anime consumption patterns from being anything resembling normal.
As my girlfriend progressed, too gripped by the story to wait for me to catch a connecting flight, I felt more and more apathetic towards Your Lie in April. I’m told by many that the last few episodes especially swelled into something truly special, and I’d like to experience that at some point. One day I’ll finish the remaining 11 episodes, but for now, I think it’s fair to call this a potential contender for best anime of 2015 without giving it the chance to make it on the list by watching it.
The Case of Hana & Alice
I’ll admit, I don’t know much about this movie, but from the synopsis to the reviews, this film seems to be in my wheelhouse and I had an opportunity to see it…and to see the director! However, that day was one where I was incapable of making it to San Francisco for reasons that are beyond the limits of my memory, so instead of (potentially) making it onto my Top 15 list, The Case of Hana & Alice rests here, without anything interesting to be said about it. I should bug @VamptVo about his thoughts about this one again – I remember him really liking it too.
Sarusuberi: Miss Hokusai
I’m very happy to follow good talent around for their careers, and Miss Hokusai was home to a fair amount of talented animators alongside director Keiichi Hara, who’s worked extensively on Crayon Shin-chan (the strongest indicator I’ve ever seen for someone being good at what they do). The writing I’ve encountered regarding Miss Hokusai has me seriously impressed, even the less-than-generous reviews from Western critics.
I’m certainly influenced by some of the accolades I’ve seen this film receive, including the Satoshi Kon award, and this interview only served to whet my pallet for a film that is, as of writing, completely unavailable in the US. Most other Western countries have had a formal release announced, and while there have been a pair of screenings that I was made aware of in Los Angeles and Texas, I was unable to make it to any of them.
That concludes my list of the top anime that I’m sure I would’ve loved that won’t be making my Top 15 list for the worst reason. Starting tomorrow I’ll jump into the actual list, so until then, thanks for reading!
Post Script: I really don’t think it’s necessary to watch everything. I’ve internalized a lot of the cues that allow me to know whether or not an anime will be “good” months out – my list of surprises is fairly sparse, and my top 7 or so anime that I was looking forward to for the year are all among my top 10 (the ones that made it to the States, at least). I can safely say that other people who create top lists without watching everything are equally valuable.