Ladies, gentlemen, and fellow otaku, as 2010 draws to a close, the occasion calls for some reflection on the year that’s been. In that spirit, I present to you my anime highlights of the last 12 months! I fully expect this list and the rambling that follows to deviate hugely from the popular consensus, and from the top 10 lists of everyone else. So, keep in mind that this is based on my own mortal judgment, and not on the commercial or critical accomplishments of the series in question. And this list is restricted to TV-anime, which is still the bedrock of the anime medium, and more specifically, to anime a bulk of which aired in this year (so it doesn’t matter if it started in 2009). I’d love to hear others’ favourites (and what you think of my choices) in the comments!
And there you have it! Where you surprised by the list? Disappointed? Offended? Well, just to set the record straight, I guess I’ll share my reasoning!
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood started in 2009 and the majority of the show aired that year, but it ran until July of this year so I feel at least a bit justified including it in this year’s mix of anime. Especially because 2010 was the year I watched it (twice, actually). But really, FM:B was such an important, impressive, and profound part of the year, that it would take a whole horde of homunculus to keep me from etching it into the top of my list. A 64-episode saga, FMA:B is one of those very rare anime that can truly be described as epic. The story is huge, ambitious, filler-free and full of exciting twists; the action is unforgettably animated by the most talented animators in the TV-anime business today; and the characterisation is really something special. I don’t get to say this very often but I almost teared up at the end of this anime. Few stories can capture the essence of adventure, manliness, love, loss, desperation, and war in one seamlessly exciting journey. The only flaw in this anime is the first 13 or so episodes, which are basically a rushed recap of much of the first anime. But after that point, it becomes something pretty amazing. I wonder if there will ever be a shounen anime this good again! If you’ve seen the original anime and are thinking “that’s enough for me”, then you’re missing out big time. I almost made that mistake!
Then there’s Shiki, a flawed anime without stellar animation or impressive production values, but nonetheless an anime I anxiously await every week, and one that I’m utterly enthralled while watching. For its last few episodes (at episode 18 specifically), this anime hit a critical turning point which exploded a 9 week rut of growing despair into pure awesome with a “just as planned” moment that would make Yagami Light shit himself. Sometimes dark, occasionally violent, and as frustrating as often as it is rewarding, Shiki is just one of those exhilarating anime that can get you going (as long as you get past the hair styles that seem like you could cut yourself just by looking at them!) My third choice is a little more obvious, and probably one that a lot of other people chose (including fangirls). Durarara!! caught my attention well before it aired because I was a big fan of the author’s previous work, Baccano. Baccano is still better, but Durarara still has a certain energy and zest that makes it entertaining and memorable.
On the other hand, Ookami-san is one of those anime that I just enjoyed a great deal without really being able to say why. I’ll admit, it swung a little hit and miss at times, but when it hit it was uproariously funny, heart-stoppingly moe and quite sexy. The big appeal in this anime is in Ookami-san herself, who I’m now able to crown as my lucky waifu of 2010! Even if there’s an air of cliche there, I found her mix of insecurity and toughness to be very endearing. I also appreciated the way the animation was handled – a number of talented animators were able to express themselves by handling their own episodes. OreImo had me at a cute, young otaku-imouto (or imouto-otaku?), but the show definitely lived up to its premise and delivered plenty of laughter and moeee moments. The strong production from AIC Build helped too! Working!! falls in a similar catergory – supremely cute and sharply produced.
Ichiban Ushiro no Daimou – it would be unwise to dismiss this as merely an ecchi anime! Sure, it has plenty of nosebleed-worthy fansevice, but it has much more to offer, including some truly GAR moments, and an incredibly cute cast. This anime is a strong entertainment package. You might not say the same thing about House of Five Leaves, but even if it alienated many viewers with its strange art style and flaccid pacing, it did eventually pick itself up into some pretty beautiful and evocative stuff. Meanwhile, the closest Index gets to beautiful is its bishoujo characters! My own personal head-jury is still out on Index, but from what I’ve seen of season 2 so far, it’s looking pretty damn hot. The two-episode arc focusing on Kuroko was pretty awesome stuff. Also, the fanservice has been of the highest quality! Kuragehime is one of this anime I thoroughly enjoy while I’m watching it, but it just disappears from my heart and mind as soon as I finish the episode. But I can’t deny its quality and comedy value.
Beyond the scope of TV-anime, my highlights also include the Black Rock Shooter OVA, which I thought was really well animated, the Nanoha movie, which sent me spiraling into a nostalgia trip, and the Macross Frontier movie which won me over with its spectacle. So, what were your favourites of the year?
As an extra, here are my favourite OPs of the year!
House of Five Leaves:
So, here’s to a fun and fulfilling year, and may 2011 bring the same! (by the way, I also have a post coming which discusses the anime industry for the year!).