Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Favorite Shows of 2009

BakemonogatariTo me, this has been an excellent year for anime. Here is a list of the shows I enjoyed most. I'm not saying these are the "best" shows of the year (whatever that means), just very good shows that are my favorites:

Bakemonogatari -- Director Shinbou Akiyuki has said he doesn't feel he added much to this, that it all came from the novels by NisiOisiN. I disagree. The look and pacing of the show add a lot. And Saitou Chiwa is beyond excellent as Senjougahara. But I do appreciate NisiOisiN's humor a lot more than the humor in other Shinbou shows.

Darker than Black 2 -- The first series was entertaining, but this one is emotionally deep. Hanazawa Kana gives her best performance ever, and raises herself a level in the seiyuu ranks, for me.

Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ -- Sharp, dark, moving. Great pace. Great seiyuu performances from Takagaki Ayahi and Sawashiro Miyuki, who is even able to foreshadow her character's development with subtle shadings of her voice.

Seitokai no Ichizon -- This instantly becomes one of my two favorite comedy animes of all time, along with Ichigo Mashimaro. No surprise that both are by the same director, Satou Takuya, whose brand of humane absurdity is just what I like. A Japanese moe version of Monty Python. Hanada Jukki proves he can write. And the almost all-unknown cast is fantastic.

Aoi Hana -- Delicate feelings delicately portrayed in front of delicate watercolor backgrounds. May be even better than Marimite. Actress/model Takabe Ai gives a strong, natural performance as the lead.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 -- Like no other anime I've seen. Realistic, to a point, and emotionally moving when it goes beyond that point. Hanamura Satomi does an excellent job as peevish thirteen-year-old Mirai.

Pandora Hearts -- Monsters turn me off, but they didn't in this show. Interesting world, good pacing, vivid characters, outstanding music by Kajiura Yuki.

White Album -- Very unusual story-telling, always leaving us in the dark about the characters' true histories, feelings and motivations, but creating deep and mysterious resonances. It helps that I don't mind soap opera.

Denpateki na Kanojo -- Came out of nowhere to give us two of the best anime episodes of the year. And Hirohashi Ryou as Ame gave one of the most memorable seiyuu performances.

Eden of the East -- Did not entirely live up to early promise, but was still a fascinating experience every week.

Marimite 4 -- This fourth Marimite series has not got a lot of love from anyone but me, but I thought it equaled the first two series, which were such landmarks of shoujo-ai. Yumi's development here was perfect.

Genji Sennenki -- It helps that I think The Tale of Genji is one of the world's greatest novels. No eleven-episode anime could ever do it justice, but this came close, with its artistic look and pacing, and its powerful but allusive way of telling the stories it included.

Hanasakeru Seishounen -- I had no intention of liking this show so much, but Endou Aya just captivated me with her portrayal of the compassionate, bold, innocent protagonist Kajika. And after the mid-point, this apparently simple reverse harem turned into a shoujo improvement on Code Geass, with adventure and royal intrigue.

Yurumates -- Almost no-one saw this one-episode comedy OVA, but I thought it was hilarious, the best recent rooming-house comedy.

Suzumiya Haruhi 2 -- The first new episode made me feel that the real Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu was back. But they frittered it away with Endless Eight, which should have lasted only two or three episodes. DVD sales, however, have Kadokawa laughing all the way to the bank.

Winter Sonata is just getting going, although it already has me emotionally involved. Aoi Bungaku is good literature, but I'm not sure it's good anime. I have to see more of it than three episodes to really judge. Kanamemo was fun, but doesn't quite make my list. Toradora, Eve no Jikan, and Kara no Kyoukai were on last year's list.

I know some people will find it strange that Cross Game isn't here, but I just don't enjoy its main characters and their development as much as other people seem to. Maybe it's all just too shounen for me. There are some nice moments, but the show seems glacially slow to me at every level. I don't even find the humor funny. But I have watched 26 episodes, anyway, lol, hoping to see what others praise so highly.


Serakah said...

I saw Yurumates and thought it was funny, made me miss Hidamari Sketch. The show I looked forward to most each week was Railgun and I was ecstatic when I found out there's more than 12 eps (animesuki = liars).

Bakemonogatari, DtB 2, K-On, and Seitokai no Ichizon rounds out my list, though I'm having a surprisingly good time with Fairy Tail.

Still watching Hanasakeru for some odd reason and the endless eight arc of Suzumiya 2 made me want to choke a bitch.

waiglo said...

I almost gave up on Aoi Bungaku after ep 4 or so. The first story just wasn't my cup of tea. But I kept watching and the 2nd story convinced me that this anime was indeed worth following. I really like how each of the stories all have a different theme.

bmk said...

It's funny how different people have different tastes. I couldn't manage to get through more than one episode of Aoi Hana, Pandora Hearts, Tokyo Magnitude, or Seitokai no Ichizon.

I also loved Bakemonogatari, Eden, and Phantom. K-on! and the second season of Hayate were also highlights for me.

The anime I ended following the most ended up being Kämpfer, which I somehow managed 42 posts on in AnimeSuki. My personal surprise anime of 2009.

Anyways, still a great list, Hashi. And I agree, I think 2009 was an excellent year for anime.

Yumeka said...

Bakemonogatari seems to be on everyone's list. It definitely gets plenty of love.

Glad someone else enjoyed Seitokai no Ichizon ^^ And nice seeing Phantom on here too.

hashi said...

@bmk -- Yeah, it's weird how tastes differ. I can imagine people having totally different tastes, but what I find amazing is how I can share half a list with someone and then not like the other half of their list. It makes me feel respect for people, somehow, and helps me not take my own opinions quite as seriously as I often do.

Spellfire said...

Love Bakemonogatari with all the Senjougahara fascination thing. But I find myself dragging through Darker than Black 2, maybe I was looking forward to more action than drama :p

Enjoyed Umineko, Seitokai and Sora no Otoshimono too. Suzumiya2 was quite a let down.

@Serakah - I too am enjoying Fairy Tail, the anime I am looking forward to nowadays.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah @ Marimite RE "Yumi's development", but that's probably why people didn't like it. Yumi maturing and learning how to become an "Onee-san" and not just staying the clingy "Sachiko-sama!!!" girl.

I loved Ichigo Mashimaro as one of my favorite comedies too. I hear Noto Mamiko's "Harro!" in my head all the time and I just burst out laughing. Not sure about ranking Seitokai with it though...!

HanaSei had a better art style in the manga, imo. They made her look kind of kiddy in the anime.

DtB2 was a surprise to me too with Suou's character development and plot twists. So different than the previous one.

Hmm . . . as for my list I think you listed everything that I liked this year.

Oh I'm surprised you didn't mention Spice & Wolf 2.

Anonymous said...

Oh and I just have to say that I still think that White Album is a chauvinistic anime that glorifies boys who act weak that emotionally abuse women and act like it's justified. I drop anime like that soo fast, even if it's 10-12 eps into the series. Shoujo manga and anime are so much more realistic than shows like W.A. anyways.

Yi said...

Glad to see that you enjoyed Aoi Hana and Marimite 4. I have love for Marimite 4 as well! I think it was an amazing series.