The Best Anime of 2015 Paul Jensen & The 2015 Mega Poll Results
5. One-Punch Man
Shows about super-powered people, especially ones that run for more than a season or two, almost inevitably run into trouble as the main characters become too tough for their own good. Once you've saved the world a few dozen times, the good guys start to seem invincible and each new crisis feels just a little less exciting. What immediately drew me to One-Punch Man is that it took this narrative problem and turns it into the premise for a fun and clever action series. I love the idea of a hero getting tired of always beating the villains without breaking a sweat, but I'm also impressed with the show's ability to develop a compelling cast and explore a wide range of themes. The nicely animated fight scenes certainly don't hurt, either.
4. My Love Story
Quite a few shows were able to make me think this year, but My Love Story did something just as important: it made me smile. Between its delightfully goofy humor and its absurdly charming central romance, this series succeeded simply by being fun to watch. This isn't to say that My Love Story was devoid of substance; it actually did a fine job of building a romantic comedy around a healthy and successful relationship instead of a dramatic and dysfunctional one. What kept me coming back to it, however, was the fact that this show was consistently and genuinely pleasant without being dull or pandering. Out of all the titles on my list, My Love Story was the one I most looked forward to watching every week.
I'm a sucker for the “combine two seemingly incompatible genres” approach, and School-Live did exactly that by setting a cutesy slice of life story in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. The show's early episodes did a solid job of using that bizarre contrast to create a persistent feeling of unease, while the second half hit hard and often with emotional bombshells. The frequent updates to the disturbingly chipper opening credit sequence worked well in parallel with the story as any illusions of peace or safety slowly crumbled around the main characters. School-Live might have been a tad contrived and melodramatic at times, but that didn't stop it from leaving a strong impression. It certainly made watching the new season of Yuruyuri a few weeks later feel surreal and unsettling, and any series that can affect my perspective on other titles deserves a lot of credit.
2. Blood Blockade Battlefront
Some shows take a few episodes to win the audience over with subtle charms and quiet moments of insight. Others, like Blood Blockade Battlefront, make us fall in love at first sight by bombarding us with action, fun, style, and raw creativity. Whether it was wreaking havoc with its fight scenes or playing around with well-timed character humor, this series provided the kind of bombastic entertainment that makes anime as a medium so darn enjoyable. In between all the excitement, Blood Blockade Battlefront also built a vibrant and immersive world that I constantly wanted to learn more about. This one needs a sequel ASAP.
1. Death Parade
I refuse to believe that Death Parade only ran for a single season. It just shouldn't be possible for a series to succeed at so many things in such a short amount of time. It combined a creative premise, memorable visuals, beautifully developed main characters, a wicked sense of humor, and a fantastic opening theme song into a single, complete package. It explored some complex and fascinating ideas, and it even managed to draw a river of tears out of my eyes as easily as if it were turning on a faucet. Doing all of that in twelve episodes while telling a story from start to finish is a very impressive feat. If Death Parade flew under your radar this year, I urge you to find room for it near the top of your to-watch list.
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