I was getting bored of the format for my previous Yearly Reviews, mainly because I felt like I was giving out awards to anime I didn’t like. SoreMachi has the best opening and ending songs of the year but I don’t like the anime. Gundam Unicorn is clearly the best animated piece of the year, but is utterly incomprehensible. My favourite female character award for the past 3 years keep splitting themselves between Horo and Nodame. So instead I’m going to throw all that out of the window and stick to a simply list of what I liked.
The anime series I’m counting are anything that had most of their episodes air this year. So that means no Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood or Cross Game. I gave them their dues in last years post anyway. For top movies, it’s anything that this year was the first opportunity I had to watch it. In most cases this means the DVD release in Japan, except in one obvious case. You can also assume that it’s actually top 5 movies and OVA’s, except there were no great OVA’s this year.
TV Series #5: Nodame Catabile: Finale
It had both the best moments and dullest moments from the entire Nodame Cantabile franchise. The boring earlier episodes that focused on the side characters to the detriment of the main two were replaced halfway through by the greatest scenes I’ve ever seen Nodame and Chiaki together in. I love those two. Absolutely love them and as depressing as it is to say farewell to them, I’m delighted I got to see over 40 episodes of their relationship.
Movie #5: The Disappearence of Haruhi Suzumiya
Admittedly there’s a huge gap between the top 5 movies and anything else that came out this year, so Haruhi had rather little competition for 5th spot. That said, this was still a pretty darn good movie. Way longer than it needed to be, but the way it captured Kyons anxiety and the inherent feeling of wrongness he felt from his surrounding was carefully and expertly done. I felt as uncomfortable as Kyon did, even though he was doing nothing more than pacing around a table. Anything that can make drawn out paces around the town as absorbing as this movie did deserves a hell of a lot of credit.
TV Series #4: Tatami Galaxy
I’m not quite as infatuated by this anime as my fellow Yuasa-phile elitist buddies are. It has more unnecessary animation gimmicks than even anything Shinbo has produced. The speed talking is just frustrating and the plot goes off on random tangents that are unnecessary more often than not. But still, this anime is fantastic. The writing is god-tier in intelligence and, despite some of the gimmickry getting annoying, there were other moments that blew me away. Ozu manifesting himself out of the shadows in each episode. The end of episode 2 when I copped onto the painful reset message. But most of all, episode 10 and the discovery of the Tatami Galaxy.
Movie #4: Eden of the East: Paradise Lost
Still not quite as good as the TV series but a massive improvement on the first movie, Paradise Lost was the finale to the Eden of the East franchise. It’s also a movie I’m come to appreciate more over time as the messages and ideas thrown out by the movie have really made me think. It answered the questions it raised not with resounding optimism and blind faith but with mature possible conclusions. There is no obvious solution to the NEET problem in Japan, nor the dissatisfied youth. Paradise Lost gave us a possible solution through bizarre but strangely believable means that could only be achieved by the movies charismatic lead.
TV Series #3: Jellyfish Princess
This had second place until the last episode bumped it down a notch or two, but this was still such a fun little series. Yet another Josei series that impresses, a genre with painfully few additions, so thank you Noitamina for hosting the few that have aired over the past few years. Thank you Brains Base for making this awesome show. Thank you Prime Minister for being such a nutcase. Thank you Benz man and your disregard for everything bar your precious cars. Thank you Kuranouske for making me doubt my sexuality…urrm, well, maybe not much thanks for that….
Movie #3: Break Blade 1 and 2
It’s still rather baffling to me why these aren’t more popular. This is the goddam mecha anime we’ve been hankering for for the last 2-3 years! Maybe it’s for true mecha fans only. I wouldn’t have really considered myself a real mecha fan before Break Blade, but the golems in Break Blade make me drool. The way they clunk about like real machines, awkward and cumbersome. They take real damage, chunks get smashed out of their armour, pilots are uncomfortable argh man, I love them! Give me moar mecha~!
TV Series #2: Durarara!!
2010 was the year of Durarara. No other anime made quite as much an impact as it did. Shizuo’s flying vending machines, Izaya’s shot lived hobby of phone stomping, Celty’s moe pajamas, Shinra’s ability to induce love to hate amongs the viewers, it was such a good show.Yes, it was never as good as its spiritual predecessor, Baccano, but that’s like saying a blowdrob from Megan Fox isn’t as good as one from Scarlett Johanson. They’re still both damn awesome! Brains Base again; if it wasn’t for some nutters under a bridge, this year would have been all yours.
Movie #2: Redline
Cheating with this one, since the dvd doesn’t come out until next year. But this was the year I saw Redline in the cinema and hot damn was it ever an exhillerating experience. So colorful and energetic, I don’t think I’ve ever seen another anime do what it does and I doubt anything attempting to copy the style will ever match the levels this movie managed. It’s really an experience, it’s very difficult to put into words. Get ready to have your eyes orgasm when this comes out on dvd in 2011.
TV Series #1: Arakawa Under the Bridge
I know this is far from the most popular choice for anime of the year and will probably be a forgotten gem many years down the line. But I love Arakawa. Loved every part of it’s perfectly constructed story. It’s absurdist comedy at its best, but not because it was funny though. Yes it was funny, but that wasn’t what made it great. It used the absurdist comedy for a purpose. The absurdity had a reason. It broke down the main characters view of the world, leaving him baffled and empty at exactly the halfway mark, and rebuilt his mind in a different logic sphere, finishing off with one of the most perfectly rounded endings ever in anime. Just remember there isn’t a second season. Just a spin-off.
Movie #1: Lagann-hen
Nothing beats Lagann-hen though. Lagann-hen is everything that is good about Gurren Lagann. The poor parts are cut out so and the drawn out scenes are shortened into this perfect streamlined movie. Technically just a compilation movie, I’d go as far as to say this is better than the TV series ever managed to be. You shouldn’t leap into this straight after you watch the TV series though. Watch this 2-3 years after you’ve seen the TV series and reignite the passion all over again. Or create a new fan. Either is cool.