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The Anifile People’s Choice of Winter 2014


Written by MasakoX [@MasakoX]

So it’s been a few weeks since the anime of winter 2014 have mostly come to an end and their seasonal successors for the spring lineup have commenced their runs. These shows may have shuffled off to the annals of anime televisual archives, but that doesn’t mean we’re not quite done with them just yet. Earlier I listed my top five and worst five anime of the season and left polls in each post allowing you, the Anifile reader, to cast your votes for each category. After almost three weeks and over three hundred and fifty votes, we have managed to come up with a list for both the best and worst that the visitors of this website have chosen.

Some of the anime listed are expected, they made a positive or negative impact which caused a widespread consensus amongst anime fans as a whole but there were some surprises as I shall list right now for you. So let’s kick off with the top ten anime!

#10 – Sakura Trick

Sakura Trick surprised everyone with a formula which was refreshingly calm and not as yuri-heavy as it had been predicted. Reviews from other websites applauded the show for its restraint and tasteful delivery and you all have reflected that in your inclusion of it in the top ten.

#9 – Inari, Kon Kon

This touching tale of a girl’s devotion to her local shrine coupled with the adventures of the gods around her managed to warm its way into your hearts as well as mine.

#8 – Nobunaga The Fool

This wacky and yet beautiful looking at an alternative history is both justifiably cool and relevant given the recent fascination with the idea of multiverse theory which has penetrated the mainstream media. History is represented in an eccentric fashion and we’re left slack jawed in shock and awe.

#7 – World Conquest Zvezda Plot

This quirky tale of a little girl wanting to take over the world is pretty cute and has a rather unusual visual aesthetic which was able to interest those bored with the typical dystopian conquest which most tyrannical antagonists usually express.

#6 – Witch Craft Works

Witch Craft Works had this ability to be visually striking, interesting and engaging and was a close second to Wizard Barristers when it came to the best magical anime of the season. The characters may have been a little formulaic but it led to a fun adventure nonetheless.

#5 – D-Frag!

D-Frag! and its bizarre presentation was enough to engage with the audience at large and excite them with its clubhouse atmosphere with the air of gaming at its core. It was enough to remind me a little about The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya because of the rag-tag team present which is both unusual and cohesive. Good choice.

#4 – Nobunagun

Like me, Nobunagun’s different take on the female lead with a penchant for violence and artillery shot it straight into your conscious and leave it wanting more.

#3 – Nisekoi: Fake Love

This is a little higher than I expected but I’m glad to see it here. The story and presentation are commendable with the latter being particular enticing. Chitoge is this year’s Haruhi Suzumiya with the former’s inclusion in the latest smash hit fighter J-Stars Victory Vs. a clear sign that this character is meant for greatnes…at least in the realms of the marketers.

#2 – Space Dandy

It was clear that Space Dandy’s aggressive marketing push in the western audience coupled with its almost simulcast English dub led to the adventures of Dandy becoming engrained in the minds of nearly every active anime fan out there. Whether it was for good or for bad, this space comedy was out of this world!

#1 – Noragami

However, Dandy wasn’t able to seize the top spot in your minds; it wasn’t even close! With almost twice the number of votes, Noragami and its tale of a god left wanting for a new career captured the attention of the vast majority of anime fans. It may have far less marketing than some of the other anime on this list, but it didn’t need it. It had you at hello.

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So we had the best as chosen by you, but what was the worst? Let’s get straight to them!

#10 – Nisekoi: Fake Love

As much as I liked this show, I can understand why others might not. Its professional quality and effort that was put into the production masked the fact that the show’s plot is nowhere as robust. It’s a straight romance tale which we’ve all seen before BUT its accessories such as the mafia motif was one welcome addition which brought Nisekoi to the fore…but for some that wasn’t quite enough.

#9 – Sakura Trick

I’m sad that this show is here but again I can understand the reasoning behind it. Sakura Trick is a more tasteful yuri anime, but it doesn’t quite eschew its girl-love tropes. There are people out there that may have found the show boring and somewhat slow-paced or may have disagreed with the story in general. In the show’s defense, this is a slice-of-life story which is meant to be more grounded in reality than some other shows. Having said that, it is a premise which is bound to cause discussion and it was able to both please and annoy.

#8 – Tonari no Seki-kun

Tonari no Seki-kun doesn’t have much going on. It’s a simple short story about two students who are bored in class; well, one bored girl and one bored boy genius who comes up with ingenious ways of killing time. The first few times you watch Seki-kun, you are mesmerised with his daring stunts and wonder how his teacher hasn’t spotted him. After that you kind of know where things are headed and are left feeling bored. This short shelf-life is enough to turn off viewers and earn it a spot on the worst ten list; it just had little staying power.

#7 – Nobunagun

This is a little weird in my opinion. This was my favourite pick of the season for its sheer insanity and awesome premise. However to others it could be considered grating or vapid in that the entire premise is a complete farce in the eyes of historians or those who question the use of historical figures as templates for warriors. Especially Gandhi. Perhaps it’s that that got this show into the worst ten.

#6 – Z/X Ignition

This show annoyed me. It was a very poorly executed ploy to sell a new type of card game with silly monsters, confusing plot points and an irritating main male character. Or female character. I didn’t know who was supposed to be the real character. I wasn’t ignitied by this show; it stalled at first sight.

#5 – Sonico: The Animation

Yeah, this show is pretty vain and pointless. It’s a tie-in to a company’s mascot and music. Take busty girls, gaming, a dash of K-ON! and there you go – a boring and fanservice-laden tale of a girl who doesn’t like her ears, I think? She never takes those headphones off. It occupied my time pondering that notion whilst watching this as I was so bored.

#4 – Space Dandy

This is the major surprise. Why is Space Dandy so high up on the worst list having scored so highly on the best chart? The answer is simple. Its episodic and hugely misogynistic premise is enough to grate on viewers if exposed to it long enough. The formula is repeated a lot of the time and it does get stuck in a rut after a while. For me I found the show to be funny overall despite the questionable attitude towards women but I get why others might have been turned off or tuned out of this show after a while – it gets repetitive.

#3 – Pupa

For such a short show, three minutes per episode, it’s a surprise that it climbed so high up the list. Then you look at the content and understand why. It’s graphically violent and traumatic. Most people tend to steer clear of ultraviolence and gore. This is meant to be a show that rocks the boat and cause controversy and debate. You all were repelled by the blood and guts on display but if you think about it, Pupa served its purpose and got into your head where other shows might drift out and be forgotten; you can’t fault it for that achievement!

#2 – Magical Warfare

Oooh, this show. This show. It was a poor showing and cheapened the idea of a magical academy by resorting to fanservice to attract attention in its first outing as well as looking shoddy. Not only that, but in the second episode, the deus ex machina weapon is not bestowed through some mythical incantation…it’s in a barrel in a supply room. WHAT?! How stupid is that? It clearly angered most of you and I totally get why. Also, I check the stats for the site and my review for the show is one of the most often visited pages on here! Especially when people search to check if the show got cancelled. I must say, I did chuckle a little.

#1 – Recently My Sister Is Unusual

Thank you. You, like me, found this show to be awful and it [like Noragami for the best anime] was the runaway winner [loser?] of this place on the chart. I’m not going to say anymore about this series, I’ve said enough. Check out the link above and find out why.

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There you have it. Noragami wins Anifile’s first People’s Choice Award. A deserving win as well as a convincing one. Which anime will win next season? Well, let’s find out in the coming weeks!

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[Winter 2014] Sakura Trick


Being a teenager isn’t easy. That tumultuous time where nobody understands you, school is dragging you down, everyone seems to be obsessed with getting laid and you feel that you’re ugly and horrible. It’s also a time for experimentation and emotive discovery as you approach adulthood and realise what it is you might be partial to. Despite its initial impression of being a purely fanservice-orientated show, Sakura Trick is actually a lot better than I thought in exploring the confusion when it comes to that barrier that separates platonic and romantic relationships.

Sakura_Trick2I was initially sceptical when I heard about this show. This is, undoubtedly, a yuri title. Yuri is the opposite of yaoi [romantic stories involving purely men] in that it invests in women having emotional, romantic and in most cases sexual explorations and deviances with the same gender. Some stories can be tender, some can be sexually explicit; Sakura Trick fortunately falls in the former category. Sure it does have fanservice elements strewn throughout the narrative but it could’ve been a lot worse given the initial brief. The story is about two friends named Haruka and Yuu; they are about to start their first year at high school together and leave the comfort of middle school behind them. What Haruka worries about most though is Yuu drifting away from her and leaving her all alone like she was before the two of them met. Yuu holds emotional importance in Haruka’s life and naturally she wants to cement that bond in an unforgettable way. That way is through a kiss; at first Yuu is shocked but she slowly warms up to the idea and they both embrace the chances in which to…well embrace. This is a prime example of two teenagers [of whatever gender] taking their friendship to the next level and solidifying the bond that they have. It’s quite charming. Shame that the ploys for male viewership have to get in the way.

Sakura_Trick5Yes, for most anime of this ilk to become an anime, it has to have its sexual [ecchi] content amped up more than the original. A prime example of this modification is the series A Certain Magical Index. The manga and anime differ wildly in terms of style and content with the the former being far more elegant and tasteful and the latter being a lot more moe [rounder, softer and more cutesy style]. It pleased some, confused others and mostly degraded the source material in terms of artistic impression. Sakura Trick suffers from this but not to nearly as much of a degree. However, groping and extra skimpy costumes and situational positioning do up the ante when it comes to pleasing the male audience watching. It’s sad but at least the panty shot hasn’t made an appearance…yet. In a way, you can count yourself lucky. The lack of more steamy content actually enhances the romantic bond that Haruka and Yuu share and makes it feel more wholesome.

Sakura_Trick3Once you get past the yuri element, you actually find a cute slice-of-life story of six friends in high school sharing their three years together and making the most of their time there. The school they’re in is closing as part of a merger with another school and so their intake will be the last and as such all the events that the school puts on have an extra amount of sentimentality behind them. Yuu is particularly driven to enjoy herself and build strong memories and not to miss out on a single moment. The other four girl characters [Yuzu – the plucky tomboy, Kaede – the cynical sidekick, Kotone – the buxom flirt and Shizuku – the nervous stoic one] have their part to play in the series and it’s also clear that they’re paired off with one another too but it’s a lot more drawn out and subtle than the main pair. I liked Sakura Trick mostly for its narrative quirks and off-beat visuals for chronicling scene changes, character movements as well as emotions. For example, Yuu wears two flowers in her hair and to denote her running over somewhere, one of her flowers bounces across the scene synced with chirpy musical beats. Yuzu and Haruka have hair antennae and those twitch when they are emotionally attuned. These small comedic touches add to the charm that this show has. One problem I have is that I do think Haruka is a little perverted; more perverted than a normal girl would be of that age. It seems like she is a vehicle for what MEN might think and dream of when in a steamy, sexual encounter with their classmate. It’s not always present but it does sometimes become an issue.

Sakura_Trick4

 

So what do I think of Sakura Trick? I like it! Not because of its female-orientated plot [seriously there are NO guys in this show] and sexual undertones, that doesn’t do it for me. I like it for its charm and character. It’s not a cookie-cutter anime with generic characters and bland storytelling. The show has funny and original visual cues which are coupled with a cute main couple. Of course if you’re not a fan of yuri you will be put off by the premise of the series but that part of the narrative is actually quite small when you think about it. Quite a lot of the story revolves around the six main characters having fun and enjoying their time together. I want to watch a show which feels like you won’t forget about it a couple days after watching it and Sakura Trick succeeds in doing that.

Sakura Trick is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

RATING: CONTINUE [if you don’t mind yuri-driven content]

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