Friday, January 2, 2015

Otaku's Best of 2014

I fell a little short this year on my Goodread's reading challenge;three short to be exact. In 2014, I read 119 volumes of manga, across 26 series, and 38 books for a grand total of 157 books or 29,090 pages. In addition to all the books I've read, I've also watched more anime and foreign dramas (primarily Korean and Taiwanese) than might be good for me.

Following are my best picks for manga, books, anime and dramas I read or watched in 2014. I hope to give those I haven't already reviewed a full post in the coming year, but I'm not sure if I'll actually do so based on my limited posting from last year.

My Best Manga Reads of 2014 

Say I Love You
Say I Love You by Kanae Hazuki:  I watched the anime series last year and fell in love with it. When I heard this series was finally being translated into English, I knew I had to read it. The first few volumes were a little rough, but they've gotten progressively better with each new installment and the things I love about the anime shines brightly in the manga. My favorite thing about this series is how every character, even the most villainous, can find redemption. The series does a great job creating three dimensional characters who are believable precisely because of their flaws. Take a kick ass heroine who doesn't take crap from anyone, coupled with a hot leading man and you have a recipe for awesome. 
Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama:  The anime is spectacular and while I don't think the manga is quite as good, it's still well done. The world building in this series is well done and truly horrifying. The premise is fascinating and not a little mystifying which will keep you reading long into the night. 
Ao Haru Ride
Ao Haru Ride by Io Sakisaka:  I LOVED Strobe Edge, but I think this series is even better. Like Strobe Edge, the characters have a sense of depth not always found in manga and I related to them on several levels. There are all the usual shojo tropes in this series, but the character development is so well done that it makes them seem new again. There's a lot of emotion in this series, which is something I've come to expect form Io Sakisaka. I only hope this will eventually get translated as I'd love to own the series and read the official translations. As it is, I'm just grateful of the online fan translations.  
Sand Chronicles
Sand Chronicles by Hinako Ashihara:  This series is quite broad in scope and reminded me of We Were There. Like We Were There, it tackles serious issues and follows the lives of these characters over a twenty year time span. The series explores dark and innocent themes alike. Beautiful character development and a rather lovely ending. While I could have done without the sort of prequel volume the rest were well written and hard to put down. 
I am Here
I am Here by Ema Tōyama:  A super cute series that'll make you feel happy. I enjoyed the simplicity and sheer joy found in this series. It reminded me of a younger version of Kimi ni Todoke. I enjoyed watching Hikage grow into herself and finally speak out and act on her needs. It's a really fast read guaranteed to make you smile. 

My Best Book Reads of 2014

Jellicoe Road Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: One of my all time favorite books, I've read it multiple times this year. The writing is beautiful with deep observations on life, family, and friendship. I can't gush enough about this book. I laughed and cried and in the end I felt better for having read it. The story and characters will stick with you long after you've finished reading.  
Bone Doll's Twin Bone Doll's Twin by Lynn Flewelling:  This is the first book in the Tamir Triad and all three have found their way on my favorites shelf. This is a blend of fantasy, gothic and coming of age with a bit of court intrigue. The writing pulls the reader in from the first page. The author took an overdone plot device, the hidden child King (or Queen in this case), and turned it into a truly unique and rather dark tale. Beautifully crafted. 
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: I related more to the main character in the book than I like to admit. Cath is the ultimate fangirl living in her make believe world, which is cooler than anything the real world can offer...or so she thinks. I loved watching her come more fully into the real world, while not giving up her enthusiasm of the fandom she loves. The book also explores the bond of sisterhood and what it means to be a twin--the struggle of finding your own identity when someone else is wearing your face.
Crash Into You
Crash into You by Katie McGarry:  This is a series that improves with each volume. Isaiah is one of my favorite characters, and I so wanted him to find a happy ending after his unrequited love was well and truly rejected in Dare You To. This volume delivers all this and more. 
Still Life Still Life by Louise Penny:  I usually don't go in for mysteries and if this hadn't been a book club pick I never would have read it. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this first in a series. While it was a rather slow beginning and the mystery was easily solved the character development is top notch and the writing is beautiful. 

My Best Anime Finds of 2014

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood: I started watching this series on a whim, and binged watch most of the series in a week. The story is action packed, has a unique premise, and alternates between comedy and sorrow at any given moment. I loved the relationship between Ed and Al and can't wait to watch season five! 
Sailor Moon Crystal Sailor Moon Crystal:  I'm a huge Sailor Moon fan, so I'm incredibly excited that they've rebooted the anime. While I have a soft spot for the original series, I have to say that I LOVE the new reboot. The artwork is better and the characterization is more true to manga series. My only issue is that the episodes are released as such a slow rate. If they revamp the entire series it may be ten years or so before they complete the fifth season. 
Blue Spring Ride Blue Spring Ride:  Based off of the popular manga series Ao Haru Ride by Io Sakisaka, this is one of my favorite anime and manga finds this year. While the anime series only covers the first half of the manga, it does a good job of tying up loose ends since it's unlikely to get a second season due to an unfair bias against shojo anime. The anime series leaves off on a hopeful note that I think defines the manga series. The music in this series is quite beautiful and at times playful. 
Attack on Titan Attack on Titan: Such a freakin' awesome anime series! I fangirl ridiculously hard for this series. It has a compelling plot and unforgettable characters. Not to mention one of the coolest female heroines in anime. While I liked the manga I think the anime is better. And the soundtrack is amazing!
My Little Monster My Little Monster:  This series is ridiculously cute and silly, something I feel like we should all have more of in our lives. The chemistry between the main characters, Shizuku and Haru, is not only believable but so much fun to watch while it develops. Super cute; super fun!

My Best Drama Finds of 2014

To the Beautiful You To the Beautiful You:  I adored this K-drama. While the premise is unrealistic (no one is mistaking Sulli for a boy, even with short hair) it didn't distract from the story. I loved the straightforward way the series approaches gender issues, especially with regards to Eun-gyeol's feelings for Jae-hee. I'm not gonna lie, I also love the fact that Shinee's Choi Minho is the leading man in this series. I also love that EXO members were also part of the series. K-pop makes everything better!
Fated to Love You Fated to Love You:  One of my best friends recommended this T-drama to me and I'm so very glad she did. It might be one of the most melodramatic series I've ever watched, which just adds to the sheer pleasure of watching it. The more ridiculous the better! I'd like to add that it has one of the funniest "sex" scenes I've ever seen. This scene alone makes the series worth watching.
Playful Kiss Playful Kiss: I tried watching this last year and couldn't get past the first episode. The daydreaming was just too out of control. This year, I decided to give it another try and I was rewarded with a new favorite. Part of the reason is because I find Kim Hyun-joong incredibly sexy. I adored him in Boys Over Flowers and absolutely loved him in this. The asshole with a heart of gold works for him. If you can make it through the first two episodes you'll be rewarded with a cute yet unlikely love story. The absurdity of it all makes it that much better.


  1. JELLICOE ROAD AND FATED TO LOVE YOU! Does this mean that you've finished Fated To Love You? :P

    Love your lists! You do an awesome job of giving short description and reason why. My post is just very list-y.

    1. I'm not quite finished yet. I'm about half way through, but I plan to have it completed by January.

      And I don't think your post is too list-y. The lists are actually quite concise. Loved the pictures.