Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2010 Anime Report: The Best List

So I realize that I haven't really made my year-ender report for 2010 as per this blog's tradition in the past two years. I suppose I got busy. I'm also about to get busy but I still have at least one week before work will get the better of me. Therefore, allow me to milk these precious free moments to give you my humble list of best and not-so-best titles of anime for the year 2010. (BTW, for categories, I'm taking my cue from jute's previous year-ender posts.)

Most Highly Anticipated Series

I have to admit that this was a tough choice. What did I most look forward to? These two series came out in two different seasons and perhaps because of the gap in time, it's a little hard to compare the anticipation I felt for each one. So I'm afraid that my decision has largely something to do with the overall feeling of satisfaction I got from the series, and not necessarily with how I felt before I watched the first episode.

Best First Episode

For the most part, this was a no-brainer. Occult Academy did have a strong opening, which makes all the more ironic the extent to which it downgraded and eventually fell flat on its face. In hindsight, the series could have done better if it didn't have such a good first episode because then, expectations would not have been set high and I would have come off it a lot less disappointed.

Best Finale

Another no-brainer. What a revelation Katanagatari turned out to be. This is anime done right, and if I knew a word of Japanese, I'd go read the light novels right away. NisiOisin, you the man!

Best Randomly Picked Series

Hands-down. And just imagine that I never even paid attention to this series the first time I heard about it. I thought the art style was a little child illustration book material and it is, for the most part, but strangely enough, it works for this series. And the best thing about it is the story. Fantastic.

Favorite Title

Do I have to spell it out? And to think that I almost dropped this series, not because of anything lacking in the material itself, but because of its airing schedule. White Fox made it difficult with a once-a-month release, but in the end it was worth it.

Favorite Female Character
Busujima Saeko [High School of the Dead]
(Nino, Yasuri Nanami, Tsurugi Meisai, Kazumiya Rio)

Busujima-senpai  ~ Nuff said. Although Nanami and Meisai made the choice a little tough.

Favorite Male Character
Yasuri Shichika [Katanagatari]
(Watashi, Shizuo, Yaichi, Ichinomiya Kou)

I liked Yaichi mainly because of his sexy voice. Kou, despite the insanity surrounding him, developed nicely. Watashi is love but talks too fast. Shichika, on the other hand, had the luxury of a one-hour-long-episode-a-month-for-twelve-months time to develop from a complete toolbox to a human being. Watching it was superb.

Funniest Character
(Togame, Kuwashiro Maya, Hoshi, Maria, Sister)

No doubt about it. Arakawa Under the Bridge has the best cast that if the categories included one for best cast, it would surely win. As it is, if I were to chose between Hoshi and all the other eccentric characters from the series, I'd chose the former. Why? Watch the show.

Favorite Villain
Yasuri Nanami [Katanagatari]
(Yasuri Nanami, Tsurugi Meisai, Ozu, Izaya, zombies)

I loved Meisai. I thought she had an excellent story. But in terms of bad-assness, Nanami pwns them all.

Favorite Couple
Yasuri Shichika x Togame [Katanagatari]
(Yasuri Shichika x Togame, Watashi x Akashi, Susukihotaru x Riken, Ichinomiya Kou x Nino, Kurashita Tsukimi x Koibuchi Shu)

I couldn't take them seriously at first. Togame was obviously using Shichika for her own gain and Shichika was too quick to declare himself in love with Togame right after she asks him to that it was just too incredible. But as time went, the love story became real, made more poignant by its bittersweet ending. Who can't love this couple after all that?

Favorite Crack Couple
Maria x Sister [Arakawa Under the Bridge]
(Kuwashiro Maya x Uchida Fumiaki, Yaichi x Otake, Kazumiya Rio x Filicia Hiediman, Busujima Saeko x Komuro Takashi)

Talk about S & M. But the love story between Maria and Sister is pretty one-sided, and the violence that occurs whenever the two are together in one scene makes it doubly hilarious. Ah, love.

Favorite Slash Couple
Izaya Orihara x Shizuo [Durarara!!]
(Yaichi x Akitsu Masanosuke, Kazumiya Rio x Filicia Hiediman, Togame x Hitei-hime)

Simon pretty much confirmed it in the last episode, calling Izaya's constant picking on Shizuo as his "Shizuo complex." Besides, what's love without a little man-handling? (and vending machine throwing?)

Best Horror Series

The series started out very slow, so slow in fact that I could barely get through it. Add to that the very distracting character design and hair-do. But don't let appearances fool you because this series is creepy. No, I don't mean you're going to spend the entire time screaming pantsless at your monitor. The scary is more psychological here for the monsters aren't the only monsters in Shiki.

Best Comedy Series

When I came up to this point, I thought to myself: "Hm, which is funnier? A cross-dressing nun with an unhealthy regard for guns or a boob wall? But Arakawa Under the Bridge has the advantage of having an insane number of cast who, well, insane, so it wins by sheer number.

Best Drama Series

I think Shiki should win this category. But I have not yet finished watching the entire series so I can't really say. House of Five Leaves, however, turned out very well.

Best Action Series
(Durarara!!, Katanagatari, Star Driver Radiant Takuto, Heroman)

If there was a category for best fan service, the series would win it, too. Busujima-senpai  ~

Best Romance Series

I don't know if you can correctly classify this series as a romance. There certainly are some romantic elements in it. At the very least, there are unrequited crushes. But the show doesn't resolve any of the possible romantic entanglements so...eh. On the other hand, the runners-up aren't really about the romance either so there. Kuragehime wins this category because I actually was aware of the romantic tensions at first blush and primarily watched this show for that.

Best Production Value

Madhouse. Need I say more? With this title, they've saved themselves this year. Now, if only I could say the same thing for 2011. But perhaps, I'm saying too much too soon. After all, we have two whole anime seasons still coming up.

Best Opening Theme
"Maigoinu to Ame no Beat" by Asian Kung-Fu Generation (The Tatami Galaxy)

Best Ending Theme
"Kimi no Kirei ni Kizuite Okure" by Sambomaster (Kuragehime)

Best BGM

Kaijura Yuuki, baby. Also, Kalafina. (Keiko-san ~)

Best Voice Cast

I really, really liked Yaichi's voice. But I'm judging this based on the entire voice cast and Katanagatari has the best, IMHO. The Tatami Galaxy also came close because...Sakamoto Maaya (who is also in Arakawa Under the Bridge). 

Best Style

SHAFT / Shinbo did something amazing with Arakawa Under the Bridge. But stylistically, The Tatami Galaxy was pure insanity. Add to that the really messed up presentation and we have ourselves a winner.

Best Animation

Because I don't know. The whole series was just cute.

Best Background Art

Not much of a choice really. I thought High School of the Dead would win this one for sure but on second look, SHAFT did a pretty good job with the river scenery.

Best Character Designs

The designs fit the characters. Watashi looked generic enough as to be anonymous. Ozu certainly looks devious. And Akashi is seriously cute and fits the bill for the girl-next-door type only with more grrr.

Best Storytelling

NisiOisin. Nuff said.

Best Concept

Everything about it, even its title, screams: GENIUS. And the whole rewind bit confused the shit out of me at first but in the end, all I could say was BRILLIANT. And a main character named "Watashi?" Absolutely inspired!

Anime Series of the Year

As much as I loved The Tatami Galaxy (for its eclectic style) and thoroughly enjoyed Kuragehime, Katanagatari offers a more complete package. Style, it has it in spades. Cuteness, why, yes. See Togame and Nanami and Pengu. Story? Absolutely.