It feels like it needs to be said every now and then, but this is not the Viz Media many of us “grew up” with. This past year has again shown us a very strong and capable Viz Media that’s very market friendly that understands its fans and is doing everything they can to please their fans and obviously grow their business. While we get the staples here to be sure with plenty of Naruto and Bleach releases and there’s a solid supplement of Pokemon material, this is not the company of years ago that just didn’t get how to do things. They get it. While the number of releases are not high, there’s a lot of very good stuff in there and this year is feeling like it’s pretty close to being my favorite year of material from the company. And that has me excited because for the last few years, they’ve been outdoing themselves year after year. If they can outdo this next year? I can’t wait to see what surprises are in store. But for now, here’s my top five Viz Media anime releases for 2014!
5) Blood Lad [Review]
What we get here hits all the right notes and it left me with a lot of laughs, some good looking animation with a bent towards an 80’s female anime form that I like and a look at the larger world in a pretty loose way. Viz Media has put together a pretty solid release all around here and it makes me more excited to see what they’ll plan in the future with other shows. For fans of Blood Lad, this is pretty much the best release you could get and I can’t think of what more you’d want from it.
4) Sailor Moon Season 1 Part 1 [Review]
Sailor Moon in this kind of release has been one of those impossible dreams for many people. The original show and its North American adaptation in the 90’s was one of those watershed moments that brought in a slew of women to the world of anime in the last decade as they “came of age” into college and really helped to change the dynamics of the market in a big way, especially for manga. While there are some issues to be had here with the encoding, the show itself is definitely one that was great to see again and to have a fully uncut brand new dub created for it, which is a monumental task in itself. One of the best parts is that the first seven or so episodes are all about Usagi, something shows (and their original source material) just can’t seem to do anymore. This set in terms of the actual show is solid, the disc materials are a bit of a mixed bag and the packaging is very strong. There’s a whole lot to like here overall and getting a brand spanking new dub is just an amazing feat that should be well supported.
3) Beserk The Golden Age Arc III – The Advent [Review]
This film trilogy (please let there be more!) gave me a fresh, clean and up to date stylish approach to material I’m familiar with and made it wholly accessible by going in the movie format for it. I pretty much love every frame of each episode with the kind of power, grace, beauty and brutality that it brings. These are top notch movies that may not be for everyone, but they fill a hole that exists in what kind of animation is produced these days. It doesn’t hold back and you love it all the more for it.
2) Ranma 1/2 Set 1 [Review]
What we get here is pretty much a fantastic set at a surprising price that delivers in just about every way. What helps is that it has a great story, solid setup and quirky but thoroughly likable characters that makes it easy to connect with and enjoy. This is a series that really needed to get a TV broadcast so it can grow beyond the fans that know it and into something more since it works just as well today as it did in 1989.
1) Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet: Complete Collection [Review]
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is something that works beautifully in marathon form because it’s essentially a very solid miniseries that tells a tale with a beginning, a middle and an end. And with enough material to wrap around both sides of it to provide more. It’s a rare series that I get to the end like this and really start hoping for more to be made in this form again so we have an in-depth story to explore. While there are plenty of elements you have to gloss over to accept how the science of all this works, the end result is a very strong and engaging story that spans some great material, characters and situations to deal with. There’s no “of the week” material here but rather a consistent slate of world and character building episodes with an overall arc that’s well realized. Viz Media put together a fantastic release here and for those that love science fiction anime and hate that there’s so little of it compared to years ago, this is a must own release.