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2015 has been an interesting and eventful year for anime fans in the UK and not just because a slew of titles have arrived on our shelves much sooner after their Japanese TV debuts but ANOTHER new anime distribution label joined established heavy hitters Manga, MVM and Anime Ltd/All The Anime to help spread the goodness among UK patrons.

Animatsu, formed by two former execs from Manga Entertainment, announced their formation in January and their first release Gatchaman Crowds hit the shelves in April. By the end of the year Animatsu could boast a steady flow of title both old and new to fill in the gaps left by their long serving peers while nabbing a few popular new gems for themselves.

It has also been a frustrating year with many titles from all companies suffering from delays or postponements, a particular nuisance for reviewers such as yours truly who sometimes has to sit on a review for weeks or months on end, or conversely doesn’t get a review copy until the last minute. Obviously these problems can’t be helped so to bemoan their existence is a little churlish but with some labels – no names mentioned – it has becomes a running gag.

The presence of anime on Blu-ray has seen another steady rise this year, with many classics getting an HD revamp, although its market price is still understandably a little steep for some at the moment.

While that may be how things look on the business side of the UK anime market, on the  quality front we have had some cracking titles come out way this year, from golden oldies, to hidden treasures to the best of the newest shows. We really have been spoiled for choice and while fears a new label would dilute the market, if anything it has continued to demonstrate the British hunger for anime!

However it has been another bonanza year so here we go with MIB’s Top Ten UK anime release in 2015, and of course, agree or disagree as is your wont.

 

10. Nadia: The Secret Of Blue Water (Animatsu Entertainment)

nadiaThis forgotten show from the late 1980’s from new label Animatsu is a sprawling Steampunk adventure was based on an abandoned script idea from Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno. Such pedigree would assuredly peak interest but would its antique value be a detriment? Actually no! The superbly crafted script and impressive cell based animation for its time means this held up really well even under the scrutiny of the new HD transfer. Excluding the non-canon abomination of the Island Arc this is a wonderful blast from the past.

Read the full review HERE

 

9. Giovanni’s Island (All The Anime)
giovanni_island

Looking to rival Studio Ghibli’s Grave Of The Fireflies as a poignant look back at World War II, this film looks at the lives of the humble people of a small Japanese island who find themselves under occupation by the Russian army. From the mighty Production IG, the animation is a little different from their usual style but they still create a visual treat to match the various moods of the story. From gentle comedy to emotional drama and packing in some chilling war action, this is a very human and sobering film with plenty of heart.

Read the full review HERE

 

8. Good Luck Girl (Manga Entertainment)

 good_luck_girlA riotous comedy with a satirical meta-bent to it, this show details the perfect life of Sakura Ichiko, a spoiled brat with all the world’s good luck on her side. Therefore a God of Misfortune, Momiji, is sent to siphon off some of Sakura’s good luck but it appears that fate is still on Sakura’s side! Despite relying on some touching and personal themes to help Sakura confront her selfishness, the pace of the comic action is rather manic and certainly never dull.

Read the full review HERE

 

7. Noragami (Manga Entertainment)

Noragami

The second series of this supernatural comedy hit Japanese TV screens just two weeks after this first one hit UK shelves. The story is of the god of Poverty Yato trying to earn a crust doing odd jobs which leads him to meet schoolgirl Hiyori, or rather leads to her death. Yato saves Hiyori by turning her into a temporary phantom and she ends up working alongside him in dealing with rogue sprits. Going much deeper on the emotional front, Noragami also provides a nice balance of comedy, drama and action.

Read the full review HERE

 

6.The Eccentric Family (MVM)

eccentric_familyAs much as it would splitting hairs it would be equally accurate to suggest the title of this quirky comedy should be pluralised – as there are two rather eccentric families at the centre of this offbeat series. The Shimogamo and the Ebisugawa families are both shape-shifting tanuki while providing further antagonism to the pot are the vivacious Benten aka Satomi Suzuki and tengu elder Professor Akadama. The plot is just as esoteric but executed with warmth and good humour.

Read the full review HERE

 

5. Michiko & Hatchin (MVM)

michiko_hatchinAnother older title although this time from 2008 and one of those rare gems one wonders just how it remained to stay so silently in the shadows. An absolutely rip roaring adrenaline rush of a series which celebrates bad behaviour and law breaking while somehow justifying it through the bond of an estranged mother and daughter, recent escapee Michiko Malandro and her nine year-old Hana Morenos, renamed Hatchin. The South American setting gives this a different flavour both visually and contextually but overall this is one heck of a crazy ride! 

Read the full review HERE

 

4. Love, Chunibyo And Other Delusions! (Animatsu Entertainment)

 ChunibyoChunibyo is a recognised state among Japanese children who invent fantasy persona and worlds to disappear into when they fear real life. Many grow out of it, but what if they didn’t? Yuta Togashi thought he had left his chunibyo days behind until he met eye-patch wearing Rikka Takanashi who refuses to even acknowledge her fantasy world is just a façade. While a recipe for a deliriously silly but exploitative comedy we in fact discover the person and the tragedies behind this condition. A show of charm and heartbreak in equal measures.

Read the full review HERE

 

3. Flowers Of Evil (MVM)

 flowers_evilForget that rotoscoping animation was used for this show, it is a crucial element in the way it invades your senses and commands your attention for the duration. Admittedly hard going sometimes with some arthouse flourishes which will deter some viewers, this perverse coming-of-age teen drama is the most effective and darkly insinuating tale of truth and consequences which genuinely could have topped this list where it not for the confusion and non-committal chaos of the final episode. A truly daring and unforgettable experience.

Read the full review HERE

 

2.The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (StudioCanal)

Princess_kaguyaWith Hayao Miyzaki bowing out with The Wind Rises, the other founding member of Studio Ghibli Isao Takahata decides to call it a day with this luscious and haunting interpretation of the legendary Japanese fable The Tale Of The Bamboo Cutter. Rendered in soft, almost pencil like drawings this enchanting, a poor bamboo cutter and his wife raise a small child they find inside a bamboo stalk who grows up to become a princess. It’s rich in both character and poignancy with its exploration of materialism and parental love, and told in that typical whimsical Ghibli style. A stunning swan song for Takahata.

Read the full review HERE

 

No.1 – A Lull In The Sea

(MVM)

Lull_Sea

Okay, I know that this was only listed at number 8 in my 2013 Top Ten anime of Japan, but in my defence the show was barely half way into its run, so the fact it made the cut at that unfinished point demonstrates I was at least aware of its immense potential, right?

Having being afforded the opportunity to rewatch it in one go (I received both disc sets at the same time) I was not only enchanted all over again by this delightful coming-of-age fantasy drama but the lack of weekly wait time afforded me the chance to absorb everything and fully immerse myself in the story. This time, the tale of sea dwelling communities having to integrate with the land people, worked its magic on me with double the impact and really hit home as to what a truly magical show this is. Superbly animated, vibrant in its presentation and touchingly scripted A Lull In The Sea delivers the kind of ethereal pleasure I expect to get from watching anime.

Read the full review HERE

 

So that was what rocked my world in terms of anime released in UK for 2015, although some titles I deliberated hard over and ultimately felt bad about eliminating at the last stage. They include Puella Magi Madoka Magica Movies, Tsuritama, Harlock Space Pirate and Knights Of Sidonia.

I’m sure you all have your own personal favourites which may or may not have appeared here, or you’d have a different ranking, so rant away if you feel so inclined.

Once again I am thankful to Manga, MVM, All The Anime, newcomers Animatsu and other distributors for keeping us UK anime fans supplied with so many great titles in 2015, along with Fetch Publicity for their support and for supplying us writers with the review discs, and look forward to what they have in store for us in 2016.

Thanks for reading and until next time, this is the Man in Black saying Sayonara!

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7 thoughts on “MIB’s Top Ten Anime of 2015 (UK)

  1. Totally agree with you putting A Lull in the Sea and Flowers of Evil so high up! I’m only picking two top anime for 2015 on my blog and it’s proving to be a tough contest…

    Out of interest, how do you get on the press/preview lists for Animatsu and Manga Entertainment? Is a simple enquiry email the way to go?

    Like

    1. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      Manga/Animatsu titles used to be handled through Fetch Publicity but they’ve since handed the reins back to Manga so you’d need to e-mail them.

      Be warned they churn out a LOT of titles over the year so you’ll need to be flexible but they do ask first which ones you want which is a help if you don’t want to get caught up in a long running series.

      The press contact e-mail is on their website: http://www.mangauk.com/ 🙂

      Like

  2. A Lull in the Sea is a worthy winner. Given the twist that happens at the midway point I’m not surprised that your view of the series shot up compared to your 2013 opinions.

    Animatsu is a strange beast. I think I heard that the company’s founder is working for Manga again. Heck Amazon seem to list Animatsu releases as Manga Entertainment titles.

    Like

    1. Hurry up then! 😛

      The “Flowers Of Evil” cover is very deceptive. I didn’t know what to expect when I started watching the anime but it isn’t about killer flowers I’m afraid! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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