30 CommentsYear in Review / By Scamp /

My Top 10 Favourite Anime of 2002

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While 2001 was a year where TV series still struggled to work with the digital animation switchover and the actual quality anime was left up to movies and weird experimental stuff, 2002 had the TV series finally get their shit together. The movie front was noticeably barren this year, with even Ghibli doing a movie equivalent of a Young Animator Training Project. The OVA market has finally sunk down into the dirt with only one or two titles seeping out. So the TV anime arena really needed to stop looking like arse, which they mostly achieved. OK there was still the occasional arse-lookalike such as Saikano (holy shit how the hell can anybody like that anime it is the worst and I mean the worst), but it seems animators finally got the knack. The list of anime I liked from this year still ended up rather thin on the ground, but it sets a nice groundwork for later years to up the ante.

10: Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi

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Gainax were still apparently reeling from the collective depression after Evangelion and continued their path towards increasingly absurd anime. Abenobashi is a rather neat piece of nonsense about two kids travelling across dimensions trying to get home. Each dimension is a parody of a certain genre of anime, but it also manages to keep an engaging story about the acceptance of loss going through each dimension leap. It’s an awful shame then that it went and ruined everything with the single worst ending in all of anime that single handedly destroys all of the development, ruins the entire story and renders the whole journey meaningless. It’s honestly a good anime, but that ending…goddamnit Gainax!

9: Macross Zero

Macross_Zero_Ep05_Birdman_[720p,BluRay,x264]_-_THORA.mkv_snapshot_26.07_[2013.04.08_11.04.45]

Macross Zero is a prequel of sorts to the original TV series about a fighter pilot visiting a tropical island full of magical rock worshippers. It’s pretty typical Macross fodder with music having power and fighter jets and Itano Circuses up the hoohah. It’s absolutely gorgeously made, with even the CG looking respectable long before any other Japanese animation studio got CG looking right. That’s…unfortunately about all I have to say about Zero though. It’s fine. It’s entertaining enough. It’s a popcorn flick. But the depth never really grabbed me and the lore was all a bit silly, leaving it feeling oddly forgettable.

8: Hare Guu Deluxe

Hare--Guu-Episode-1-English-Dubbed

It’s more Hare Guu. It’s more of the same. More Guu endlessly torturing Hare and more of Hare yelling the whole time and more of a surprisingly heartfelt story about family and love and stuff like that. I’ve always liked how Hare Guu manages to work in that story in between its utterly bonkers regular proceedings. I don’t really see why this had to exist when the TV series ended on a great note, but we got to see a cute little baby so whatever my motherly instincts kicked in and gosh isn’t it adowabubble.

7: Lupin III: First Contact

Lupin_Sansei_Episode_0._`First_Contact`_-_1_-_TV_Special.mkv_snapshot_00.32.51_[2013.04.11_14.12.32]

I was hoping for First Contact to reveal some hidden depth and motivation behind the Lupin characters, seeing as it’s an origin story. There is absolutely none of that at all. It’s about as typical standard Lupin as you can get, which I found disappointing. However once I got over that, First Contact is actually a pretty good specimen of standard Lupin. It uses the key characters well. It’s paced in a way so that when Goemon starts doing the completely ridiculous stunts like chopping a bolt of lightning in two, it actually feels shocking and funny rather than the same ridiculous stuff happening throughout the movie. It’s no Cagliostro, but I’ve seen about 10 of these Lupin things now and none of them come anywhere near to Cagliostro. Still, this is one of the better ones.

Castle of Cagliostro > Alcatraz Connection > Eternal Mermaid > First Contact > Secret of Mamo > From Russia With Love > Fujitits > Bye Bye Liberty Crisis > Green vs Red

6: Azumanga Daioh

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What was it that Azumanga had that the countless other 4-koma adaptations about a bunch of girls doing nothing didn’t have? Well, Azumanga had a brilliant sense of comic timing….well, that’s pretty much it. I think if people who hold up Azumanga as the show that ‘got it right’ went back to it today, they would be a little let down as I was. Azumanga didn’t hold up to the rewatch as well as I was hoping. That said, it can still be hilarious, particularly whenever it goes into the surreal. Plus somewhere along the line its narrative about the wonders of high school and friendship and growing up did manage to penetrate my cold dead heart and I understood, at least in part, what it is other people see in these kinds of stories.

Full Review

5: Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space

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Yeah bitches, putting this indie artsy pretentious movie over anime comedy classic Azumanga. Tamala has a similar story-telling style to something like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Shots linger on strange trippy imagery that can get into some truly disturbing territory, which contrast effectively with the cartoony aesthetic. It’s all a big commentary on capitalism and marketing icons. It’s not accidental that the main character looks a lot like Hello Kitty. It doesn’t all work, in particular a stupid 20 minute monologue from an old bloke sitting on a couch explaining the plot of the movie, but it’s one of those movies that mostly defies criticism because it’s so weird and out-there that it’s hard to quantify what it does that’s so gripping. I think it might mostly be down to the music.

Full Movie

4: The Cat Returns

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Cat Returns was originally just supposed to be a project for young prospective Ghibli animators, but apparently the Ghibli higher-ups liked what they saw enough to make it into a full movie. And huzzah for them for allowing them to spread their wings, because Cat Returns is massive bags of fun. It’s the funniest movie Ghibli has made, with loads of neat visual gags. It manages to pack in a nice story about believing in yourself and haven’t confidence in who you are and your identity without ever losing its sense of humour. Plus it bypasses a load of problems I usually have with Ghibli films. In not taking itself entirely seriously, it means I’m able to laugh along with the silliness rather than having it drag me out of the story. It’s kind of a forgotten Ghibli title, which is a shame because it’s become one of my personal favourites.

Full Review

3: Haibane Renmei

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Haibane Renmei is not something I’d normally enjoy that much. It’s about a bunch of girls faffing about in some alternate purgatory-esque place doing not very much and occasionally getting angsty. That’s why its position here should really stress how perfect this thing is. It’s got a similar feel to older fairy tales before Disney got their hands on them and modernised them. There’s a creepy, almost tragic edge to this world they live in. So many details about the world are left open to interpretation as they focus on the character’s more personal journey, but they manage to pack in so much information that you want to scour the episodes to decipher the clues and make your own mind up what this world actually is. Also that opening episode with the wings sprouting is an image that will never leave me.

2: Full Metal Panic

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I didn’t expect Full Metal Panic to hold up to a rewatch, but turns out I still totally enjoy goofy cold-war era paramilitary stories, especially when they include a whole load of silly anime stuff. You know, like the captain of a state of the art technologically advanced submarine being an albino teenage girl who commands her crew using her moe-ness as a weapon so the crew don’t want to let her down. Or that there’s giant robots, which we all know improves every anime. Full Metal Panic is one of the most anime anime out there, if you get me, and I unashamedly love it for that.

Full Review

1: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

600full-ghost-in-the-shell--stand-alone-complex-screenshotMy favourite episode of Stand Alone Complex is the one where a bunch of characters we never met before or since sit in an internet chatroom and discuss the world they’re in and the apparent aim of this cyber terrorist The Laughing Man, simply because it pushed me that much harder to think hard about what was going on in this world. The extraordinary depth in constructing its story and characters in Stand Alone Complex is phenomenal. Watching the series was always an effort in intense concentration, but one which thoroughly rewarded you for every minute you paid attention. It’s the most in-depth complex political thriller and I love it for that, and this is coming from someone who honestly doesn’t really like the Tachikomas that much.

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30 Comments

  1. Ramiel
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Agreed, the Tachikomas were about the only thing I didn’t care for in SAC. Their god awful english dubs didn’t help any bit either.

    *ducks to prepare for incoming fire*

    • Scamp
      Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      I think the english dub was a big part of that. It’s otherwise fantastic, but their voices for the tachikoma’s were irritating as fuck

  2. Posted April 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Yay! You tried out First Contact! I kind of wish you stuck out with Heat Guy J though, but I do like how aside from the order, your list almost matches mine, barring the last two (which I never saw).

  3. cybustier
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    If you’re still in the mood for more Lupin, check out Fuma Conspiracy. There’s actual character development (even if it’s just for Goemon), a ton of awesome action sequences and the animation is GOD TIER.

    Seriously, its on a par with freaking Disney movies. So fluid and detailed, its a joy to watch after so many series with cutting corners animation.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      That’s high praise. I’ll keep it in mind whenever I’m in the mood for more Lupin

      • luffyluffy
        Posted April 27, 2013 at 1:34 am | Permalink

        Seconding Fuma Conspiracy. It’s my favorite special and it definitely raised Goemon from being “that guy” into being my favorite of the trio.

  4. Canary Paint
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Only 2 anime have burned an impression into my mind: “Stand Alone Complex” and “Spice and Wolf.” I am ecstatic anytime I see a mention of how freakin’ awesome SAC is.

    I could not quite grasp what a stand alone complex is and wanted to think about that after the episodes were over. Theorizing about media is not something I do. I did not really get it until days after I had finished the series, and it hit me while I was doing something else entirely. Ahhh… So that is a stand alone complex!!!

    Being a William Gibson fan, I felt the events of the Neuromancer series could have been happening a few blocks down the street. That was a treat for me as each attempt at portraying Gibson’s universe on film has failed miserably. The Major is now how I see Molly from the books.

    ***SPOILER***

    The tachikomas were pretty incidental for me as I watched the series. Thus, my reaction to their sacrifice caught me profoundly by surprise. The combination of them making this gesture, just as they were really realizing their self awareness, of burning away into nuclear oblivion all the while singing a nursery rhyme was so oddly moving to me.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      I think I might just need to watch it again to see if the tachikoma’s do something more for me. I got why they were supposed to be interesting, but I found them super annoying as characters. Not sure why, because robots gaining intelligence and self-awareness is usually something I dig. It’s probably because I hate moe

      • Pusswookie
        Posted April 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        “It’s probably because I hate moe.”
        But…you love Tessa don’t you? Tessa is moe in all the right ways.

      • Shengar
        Posted April 27, 2013 at 2:56 am | Permalink

        Tessa is moe done right, so we need no to feel guilty to like her.

    • Canary Paint
      Posted April 28, 2013 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      Annoying too cute English dubbing aside… I found the idea of beings programmed to be relentlessly curious to be interesting,

  5. ANON
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    TESSA FTW!

  6. Klonoa7H
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Wheres Princess Tutu?

    • Scamp
      Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Not on this list

    • Posted April 27, 2013 at 2:54 am | Permalink

      Haha, it’s definitely someone’s first time here.

      (For the record, Princess Tutu is cool and Scamp is a big poophead.)

      • Scamp
        Posted April 27, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        No you are a big poopoohead

        OH YES BITCHES IT IS ON!!!

    • gedata
      Posted April 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Klonoa7H, to show what an awful degenerate Scamp is, here is the awful list
      http://thecartdriver.com/the-12-worst-moments-in-anime-2011/
      PS: Tutu is better than Madoka Magica, because it has no cop-out BS conclusion, and it doesn’t need to sacrifice a quarter of it’s run-time delving into one character (Madoka Magica did that with Sayaka). (runs)

      • gw_kimmy
        Posted April 28, 2013 at 5:30 am | Permalink

        agreed. *stays and gets hit by a car*

  7. AG
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad to see some appreciation for The Cat Returns, it’s probably my favourite Ghibli movie but it’s never talked about.

    I’m actually one of the rare people to have watched Azumanga recently and I still consider it as one of the animes who got it right. It just kept on coming with the jokes and I don’t think there is an episode where I didn’t find it funny which is something I can’t say about most 4-komas

    As for GITS. I’m only on the 6th episode but I can tell you I was blown away from those few episodes, which is strange as I didn’t find the movie all that great. I have rarely seen a series where it manages to be smart without feeling that it’s faking it so to speak.(the tachikomas are definitely annoying though especially with the dub)

    • Shengar
      Posted April 27, 2013 at 3:00 am | Permalink

      Maybe its because Cat Returns considered too silly compared to another Ghibli titles, which for me sound kinda weird because silliness done right is better than being preachy.

  8. Nazaren
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    “My favourite episode of Stand Alone Complex is the one where a bunch of characters we never met before or since sit in an internet chatroom…”

    Yup! If I catch it on the terebi, I have to watch it. Same thing with Saito’s origin episode, the “MOTOKOOOOOOOO!” episode, and a few others.

    Tachikomas in dub are annoying as all hell, but it’s worth it for an awesome Major, Togusa, and (usually) Batou.

  9. Billish
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I have a cat that looks like Muta from The Cat Returns. Thought I’d share.

  10. lmm
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Did you decide not to watch Secret of Cerulean Sand, or was there just not enough to write about it?

    • Scamp
      Posted April 27, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      I watched about 6 episodes. It’s all right, but really childish and the characters were too one-dimensional so I got bored pretty quickly

  11. gw_kimmy
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    i hate you ;______;!!! *runs away crying*

    /incorrect context
    /oh well

  12. justpassingby
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    you spelled azumanga daioh wrong

    • Scamp
      Posted April 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Again!?! Fuck that stupid show’s name

  13. Whamu
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Haibane Renmei: The most frightening, disturbing show I’ve ever watched. A completely purposeless world where there is no logic or reason. I would rather live a world of giant cannibal humans than to live in the setting of Haibane Renmei.

  14. Posted April 30, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    B-BUT

    THE TACHIKOMAS AND THEIR SACRIFICE! AND THE 4KOMAS AT THE END!!!!

    At least you put Haibane Renmei at #3 (I would have put it at #2 myself). I guess that makes up for it.

  15. Posted May 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see Haibane Renmei high up on the list. It was one of the first anime I ever watched and it’s always been one of my favourites. I liked that there were no clear answers, leaving us to interpret it ourselves. Plus the music is amazing. I still play those songs on the piano regularly (especially Refrain of Memory).

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