Winner: Snow White with Red Hair
Honourable mentions: Blood Blockade Battlefront, Food Wars, Death Parade.
Both Your Lie in April and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works may have made the cut had they been 2015 series. Nonetheless, there were plenty of good looking series this year. From Hibike! Euphonium’s few stand out scenes and generally high animation quality, to God Eater’s underrated detailed lighting and atmosphere, and even One Punch Man’s interesting character designs, this was a good year for fans of various visual styles. Among the best would be Death Parade, which somewhat redeemed Madhouse’s disappointingly produced Parasyte, as they were airing at the same time. Though the faces suffer a bit from Persona 4 style gradient application, the few action scenes were great, the set pieces were creative and often atmospheric and even a few of the character designs stood out. Food Wars may well have been J.C. Staff’s best looking series this year, of the many they produced, boasting imaginative foodgasm sequences, well drawn dishes (that are surprisingly realistic), though the character designs were a bit too on the nose and it had too much nudity for the “parody” label to justify. I’ve previously praised Bones’ work on Blood Blockade Battlefront, with the unique art direction and inspired world building boasted by some of the best animation in any Bones series, though Rie Matsumoto’s Kyousou Giga-like visual pacing was a bit too jittery for me, and as a result it conceded the number 1 position this other Bones’ anime, which got just about everything right…
Yes, Snow White with Red Hair was my favourite series of 2015 in the visuals department, seamlessly immersing the viewer in a dream-like Disneyesque fantasy setting with meticulous scenery and art direction, fluid character movement and even some well-choreographed fight scenes. Everything in Snow White looks appetising, so much so that even an icy blizzard looks like a delicious snow cone. There have been good looking shoujo adaptations before, and even some Disney-themed ones, but when thinking through all the anime in recent years, I’m drawing blanks regarding any anime that nails the Fairest of them all, Kindness is Courage vibes. Add that to distinct warm colour palette and castles that make Frozen’s look like patchwork, and you have a series that few can stand alongside. It’s an outstanding success, and another feather in the cap of Masahiro Ando and the staff at Bones.