Top 10 Animated Series of 2015
6Star vs The Forces of Evil
We got another good magical girl show this year! Star vs the Forces of Evil tells the comedic tale of a magical princess who was sent to earth as punishment for all the trouble she caused with her magic. A bunch of monsters pursue her because they want to steal her magic wand, but that’s okay, because Star REALLY likes fighting and so does her new friend Marco. And they’re good at it!
This show focuses really heavily on the comedy and wacky hijinks galore. The first few episode were a little rough for me, like the show was trying too hard to be funny and weird. But it gets better. Later episodes give us some character development and relationship building, as well as exciting and mysterious villains. The show managed to deliver a really dramatic, high tension finale to the first season that hinted at a lot more drama and intrigue to come.
Star vs the Forces of Evil is showing on the Disney Channel.
7Yuri Bear Storm
If you watched Revolutionary Girl Utena, you know that Kunihiko Ikuhara likes weird stories. And it’s hard to get much weirder than his latest project, Yuri Bear Storm- a tale of a world where humans and (very cute) bears are at war and their worlds are separated by a wall. Two bears sneak over the wall and masquerade as human in order to devour some tasty human girls. But what will happen when they run into Kureha, a girl who’s sworn to destroy the bears that killed her mother? And what of Kureha’s secret girlfriend?
If it sounds bizarre, it is, and the show revels in comical absurdity. However, it’s also a really interesting examination of the yuri genre. The work is very open to interpretation, but to me the show comes off as a study of the two types of lesbians one tends to see in fiction. Humans are the closeted, chaste lesbians who never get to kiss or really have a explicit relationship in the text. The bears are the predatory lesbians you see pop up as the villians in stories- heartless women with an insatiable sexual desire, who destroy, defile and devour poor innocent girls. The show asks the question if a middle ground can be found between these two extremes, or if lesbians are destined to forever be represented as one of the other in our world.
There’s no doubt that this story examines both homophobia and misogyny, just with…cute plushy bears attacking random girls. Even if the themes don’t resonate with you, you’ll likely find it good for a laugh- thrill to the giant CGI bear claws and utterly bizarre transformation sequences.
Which brings up to a big warning: The underage girls in this show are ridiculously sexualized, sometimes in disturbing ways. There are those who would argue this is meant to be “satire”, and maybe it is supposed to be, but to me personally it just seems like every other lesbian-fetishizing anime. There’s also sexual assault and intense bullying shown. Watch at your own risk.
Yuri Bear Storm can be found at Funimation.
8We Bare Bears
This brand new cartoon series about the shenanigans of three bear brothers doesn't have a much a plot going, but it's a fun, relaxing watch. It's funny in a gentle way, the art is pleasing to the eye and both the character designs and the friendships of the show are pretty adorable, especially the bond between the bears and the awkward young prodigy, Chloe. The highlight is Ice Bear's deadpan delivery of ridiculous statements, which someone never gets old. "Ice Bear thinks you should immerse yourself in these silly talking animals".
We Bare Bears shows on Cartoon Network.
9Gatchaman Crowds: Insight
Another installment of Gatchaman Crowds came out this year and it was a worthy follow up to the first season of the show about transforming teens who save the world.
The last season of the show focused heavily on the power of social media and combatting the apathy of humanity. This season chose to tackle groupthink, mass hysteria and conformity and the commentary was very biting, but ultimately hopeful. The series showed the public being swept up in the desire to “become one” and follow a new alien who had arrived to “save them” all and the consequences of this. This really was political commentary with no-holds-barred- there was a part where a survivor of World War II even commented that is was going along with the crowd and engaging in blind nationalism that led him and many others to fight in a horrible war they didn’t really even believe in, against people they didn’t really hate.
Though some of the supporting characters of the series are sadly sidelined this season, we do get to see the two new characters introduced go through some great development and the lead of the series, Hajime, makes a stunning heroic sacrifice. All in all, it’s another good installment of a good show.
Gatchaman Crowds: Insight can be found at Crunchyroll.
10One Punch Man
I’ve already done a full review of the supero romp One Punch Man that you can read here, but the animation was so next-level it deserves a place on this list for just that. The story was good for a laugh too.