I'm with you, I want to like Shimano better and used to but I find myself owning and using Daiwa's way more.
So...... yeah. I'm a Shimano guy. My Bantam and SLX look and feel pretty good to me. Oh yeah and my Stradic Ci4+ is a gorgeous reel too, though the red accents are a little flashy, and I prefer the more understated look of the Stradic FK. All 3 reels perform very well and they feel good and look good. I really want to try out a mid to high end Daiwa reel, but I don't want to take the plunge myself. Not when I have this much confidence in Shimano, at least with the couple reels I have and have tried.
The thing that makes we vote for ABU in the end are my spinning reels, because I feel that they're ahead in that category. I have MGX20, 30 and 2000s reels on my finesse rods, and I just like them better than anything Shimano has to offer in that regard. (Got a Stradic Ci4+ as well and it's fine. Just not great.) Maybe the Excense would change my mind, but I just can't bring myself to even consider putting a $550, 30-size reel (that's rather heavy, as well) on a finesse rod.