Adios 2014, And A Fine Howdy Doo To 2015: 2014 In Review

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” but all in all 2014 had a mix of lackluster & astonishing moments in the world of entertainment. From video games, movies, and anime; I’m here to highlight my personal list of Top 10 esteemed endeavors of the year. Let’s begin, shall we?

#10: Selector Infected WIXOSS. The simplest way I can break this anime down to you is to tell you to think of Puella Magi Madoka Magica meets Yu-Gi-Oh. The story centers around all girls and the granting of a wish (Sound familiar?) The only major difference is that a card game is involved, and the consequences that you pay when you lose 3 times. If you want an anime that’s short & to the point, pulls at your heart-strings, and you like Yu-Gi-Oh & Madoka; this anime will be the perfect fit for you.

#9: The Fault In Our Stars. This movie RIGHT here. Words cannot describe how I felt when I first saw & watched it again afterwards. The emotional gripping love story of two dealing with a sickness that can take them both out, and how they live their lives in spite of the adversity. This movie was a light that shone in the darkness for me this year, and I still need to read the book. The movie knew how to joke around as well as take itself very seriously because of the issues highlighted throughout. It hit home for me because I have extended family & friends that go through similar problems. The Fault In Our Stars is a must-see if you’re a sucker for a love story like I am. I’m a big softy, I know.

Ringing in at #8 is FFX/X-2! Now I have a personal love for this game from the characters and gameplay, to the enchanting story. The reason this game makes the list is not only because of all the original standards, but the way they incorporated the International gameplay & amped up the soundtrack. The lush forest of Kilika Woods, the vibrant/bustling backdrop of Luca, the majestic heights of Mt. Gagazet, all of it pops out SOOO much more in the HD remake. The only issue that I have with the remakes is a minor one, and it’s with how the eyes/mouthes look in certain scenes in comparison to the original.  Here’s a key example. I don’t know, the original seemed to show a lot more “real EMOTION”! Get it!?!? Okay, I’ll stop now. Personally, the new HD look could be pretty off setting at times to look at character-wise, comparing back to the original, but not off setting enough to stop it from being near & dear to my heart.

Coming in at lucky #7 is Persona Arena Ultimax. LET THE P-1 GRAND PRIX BEGIN ANEW!!!!!!! Being a dedicated advocate of the Persona series, as well as not being so scrubbish in fighting games anymore, Persona Arena Ultimax has been quite the enjoyable experience for me. One of the things I most love about it besides the addition of Junpei & Ken to the roster (Sorry Yukari, I’m still not fond of you…your fighting style in this game is interesting though) is the ability to get Persona Arena for a very discounted price to play alongside the game which makes vanilla Arena obsolete. I never played original Arena so having that feature, along with a diverse cast of characters, outstanding music, and a story that combines both all-star casts together makes for an outstanding game.

#6: My Little Pony: Rainbow Rocks. After watching the first MLP movie branch into the human world get received relatively well; I had high hopes for this movie, and it did not disappoint whatsover. From beginning to end, My Little Pony: Rainbow Rocks captivates you with their infectiously catchy songs, colorful characters, light-hearted (for the most part…because high school) atmosphere, and competitive “Battle of the Bands” central theme. Every time you think My Little Pony can’t outdo itself, it shoots rainbows all over your doubts & leaves your mouth gaping wide…the ending alone is proof of that. I really don’t know what they’re gonna do with the third movie, and I’m glad that I don’t. I’m ready to be dazzled like I was in this. Hasbro, keep up good work!

#5: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle. ORAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  JJBA: ASB is the 25th anniversary tribute along with the beautifully done animation of the Jojo anime series, and OHHHHH what a tribute it is. The one unique thing that stands out about Jojo the most is the raw, unadulterated art style that Araki uses to create the characters & the world. The arenas and characters pop out at you, almost like they’re yelling at your eyes & your eyes are gonna go deaf from listening. Using this art style to Araki’s advantage, fights happen in a mock-up comic style. JJBA has the quintessential balance of being serious and knowing how to make fun of itself. JJBA’s rosters spans over 8 different arcs, with 25 years of glorious work. If you want a fighting game that makes you laugh, cry, be mad, and love looking at AMAZING art…JJBA: ASB is a must from 2014!

Back to the world of anime, at #4 we have a truly outstanding anime called Shirobako. This anime is a series centered around girls (2014 is apparently a girls year for me right now; maybe this year’s review should just be called 2014: Coming Up Girls) in the anime industry. From production assistants and voice actors to 3D/Key animators and scriptwriters, the work in the world of anime is vast & Shirobako does it best to cover a little of it all. Still staying true to its “slice of life” roots, Shirobako knows how to look back at itself and relax. Even in the slow moments, the show never ceases to drop in quality. It’s an anime about making anime & that’s what I love so much about it! Each girl has her own personal hurdles in the industry day in & day out, but each step gets them ever closer to their dream: working together on an animated masterpiece! One of my favorite episodes from the series is Episode 2, where they have to break down the back story for a character central to the team’s central project: Exodus! This then leads to straight into another favorite episode of mine, Episode 3, where you see how even the most subtle of changes in animation can convey an even stronger message in the long run. Shirobako is a must-see for anyone who’s an anime fan. After watching, I have an even deeper appreciation for the craft. Special thank you to all animators the world over!

Almost to the home stretch now! Coming in at 3 is Yowamushi Pedal! I actually ended up hearing about this series from my friend who’s really into cosplay. Yowamushi Pedal is a shonen anime about bicycles & cycling. The main character, Onoda Sakamichi, is an otaku entering high school hoping to bond with others about anime because of his lack of bonding in middle school. This leads to him trying to revive it & recruit members. One of the members he tries to recruit has a condition that if he can beat him in a bicycle race; he’ll agree to join. In spite of his extraordinary effort, Onoda was not able to win the race against his now friendly rival, Imaizumi. This still didn’t stop him from trying to warm his cold heart. Imaizumi ends up coercing Onoda to join the cycling team, and that is where the story truly takes off. Through climbing mountains & valleys and racing through the night, each challenge that Onoda has to conquer seems to get more intense making him into that much better of a rider. Watching Yowamushi Pedal makes you want a ride a bike to feel the wind on your face, and push yourself to the next level! In every victory & defeat, you get caught up in a maelstrom of emotions due to each team member’s unique personality and style. Each episode teaches you what it takes to be a professional cyclist. One of my favorite things about Onoda in the series is that he sings sometimes to pump himself up as he climbs through a race, eventually making that apart of his signature style as the heart of the entire team! Yowamushi Pedal is a must-see for sports anime fans & anyone who likes bicycling.

Coming in at #2 is Bravely Default! This game, where to begin……… From its charming art style and compelling world to its enchanting music and dynamic characters; this steampunk Turn-Based RPG masterpiece is everything you’d want in an RPG & more. Reminiscent of Final Fantasy, Bravely Default carries a class system with each character. With over 20 different classes to choose from, the range of playing styles you can use in the game are practically endless. One of the amazing features of Bravely Default that I believe EVERY RPG should have is the encounter rate setting. That’s right people! You can change the setting for random encounters! That means if you feel you’ve leveled up enough, you can choose not to fight monsters & move on with the story. Or, if you just lost a fight and need to grind like crazy you can by setting encounters to max! There’s even a speed up button for moves in battle! So battles that would seem to drag on are done in half the time. An experience left in the hands of the player; who would’ve thought that would come off so well? One of my favorite characters in the game is Edea because of her sass and the character progression she goes through in seeing the world & the actions of her comrades for what it truly is: unjust. Her signature “Mrgrgr!!!!!” always makes me smile. There’s really nothing bad that I can say about this game. This game gets a perfect 5/5 from me. Anyone that likes a good Turn-Based RPG that wants a unique, unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experience, definitely add Bravely Default to your wishlist!

And #1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!: Super Smash Bros. That’s right!!!!! #1 is SMASH BROS!!!!!!!!!!!! Now by the fourth game it’s pretty self-explanatory, but we here at Teh Lunchbox Publications bring you nothing but the truth so I’ll break down anyway. Over-the-top maps as far as the eye can see, an out-of-this-world, unforgettable cast of all-star characters, and inside content from here to Timbuktu, Super Smash Bros. never ceases to entertain. The only real issue I have with this Super Smash Bros. is the lack of story mode. The story mode made Brawl for me. It always felt really clunky to me, but the story was what kept me playing. The reasoning behind why they cut the story mode out of this Super Smash Bros. still saddens me, but what Super Smash Bros. lacks in story they more than make up for with content & game modes. Super Smash Bros. always seems to pique the curiosity & tantalize the imagination of anyone who plays. It’s pretty much a love letter to all their fans, spanning the collection of many games & memories scattered through time. There’s even a smash lore hidden deep within that I’ll take good care not to spoil for those just experiencing Super Smash Bros. for the first time. Veterans and newcomers alike will enjoy the diversity, customization, and down right crazy antics that Super Smash Bros. has to offer. This one might not be as fast as Melee, but it definitely doesn’t feel as clunky as Brawl did and that’s a big plus to me.  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, good day, bad day, mediocre day, Super Smash Bros. always seems to make my day. One of my favorite characters that I’ve been playing as recently is Dark Pit. His “edgy” wins have me rolling back all the time. If you have a Wii U (or a 3DS), and don’t have Super Smash Bros…you’re doing it wrong! Get it right in 2015 & make Smashing a priority!

Well, I believe my job is done here. As awesome as 2014 was, I’m truly looking forward to what’s to come in 2015! We’ve had our ups & downs this past year, but every new day is a triumph! My hope & prayer for this year is for new video game IPs, less focus on the saturation & more on the quality of both anime & games along with more outstanding movies. I only got to see a few movies last year; that’s definitely gonna change this year!

Thanks for all the memories 2014, alright 2015 time to see what you can do!

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