Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 in Review -- Eleven Favorite Anime

House of Five Leaves
The year isn't quite over, so some shows haven't quite ended, but I feel like taking stock, as other bloggers have been doing.

Was this a good year? Not particularly. But I still have eleven shows in my list of favorites. And one of them may be a masterpiece.

That would be House of Five Leaves (Saraiya Goyou), Mochizuki Tomomi's latest work. He's the man who wrote and directed Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou and Zettai Shounen; wrote Touka Gettan and Yami to Boshi to Hon no Tabibito; and directed Shinigami no Ballad and Porfy no Nagai Tabi.

Here's my full list, not necessarily in order, beyond the first two:

House of Five Leaves (Saraiya Goyou) -- Five Leaves has an unusual but beautiful look, vivid and consistent characters, great voices, strong story, very real-feeling Edo-era setting. And good music, including the best OP of the year.

Shiki -- A well-developed story, with slow horror and sudden violence, strongly drawn characters, and strange, dark ways of thought.

Yosuga no Sora -- A series of erotic romances, quickly and subtly drawn, and culminating in graphic incest. Vivid characters well voiced. Dense with feeling, and well-designed. 

Kuragehime -- More good characters, feelings, and relationships, and an unusual story told well. This, Five Leaves, and Shiki, are all part of part of Fuji TV's noitaminA series.

Dance in the Vampire Bund -- Beautifully orchestrated, with image, sound, and pacing creating a unique atmosphere.

Seitokai Yakuindomo -- Hilarious, with excellent seiyuu work, particularly from Hikasa Youko, Yahagi Sayuri, and Omigawa Chiaki.

Working -- Absurdities among the staff of a family restaurant, as portrayed by a strong ensemble cast.

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru -- Subtler than it appears, and getting better as it goes along. More hilarious seiyuu work from Omigawa Chiaki.

Giant Killing -- Hidden gem of a sports anime, lovingly following the psychology of the players and the manipulations of their coach, as well as bringing us close to the opponents, management and supporters who define their world.

Yutori-chan -- Another hidden gem. Low-key slapstick and absurdity in a series of 25 three-minute episodes starring Yuuki Aoi as an unpredictable young part-time worker in a toy company head office.

I've only just watched The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi, but I think it may be among my favorite shows of the year, as well. Sugita Tomokazu and Hirano Aya are both wonderful in it, and Chihara Minori has improved since the original, too.

I notice that Yuuki Aoi appears in four of my ten favorite shows: Shiki, Vampire Bund, SoreMachi, and Yutori-chan. Hmmm. Do you think I'm biased? Or is my taste just consistent? Lol.

I also notice that director Shinbou Akiyuki has two shows in my top ten -- Vampire Bund and SoreMachi -- but he also has one in the list of shows that I don't like as much as others do:

popular, but not my favorites: 

K-On -- Lovely, but enough, already.

Durarara -- Clearly excellent, but missing something, for me. I couldn't feel the characters' interior lives. Things seemed to happen at the surface.

Tatami Galaxy -- Visually even more excellent, but I need more human emotion.

Panty and Stocking -- Visually entertaining, but otherwise feels like a kids' cartoon with sex added.

Angel Beats -- I didn't get this show. They somehow drained the humanity out of it, for me, so that I didn't care about the characters.

Arakawa Bridge -- I never got this one, either, even though it is by Shinbou. If I don't care about the protagonists, there's no point watching. Too complex? Not unified enough? Not a sense of humor I share?


lvlln said...

Well, Disappearance isn't a TV show, but I would definitely easily place it as one of the best anime works this year.

Arakawa Under the Bridge was one I didn't really get either. It was fun enough, but not that great, certainly not as much as some seem to regard it.

Anonymous said...

"but enough, already".


Your list has some overlap with mine (Working and... okay that's it, since Shoushitsu isn't a TV series). But ergh, how did Yosuga get on there? Also passed on SoreDemo because Omigawa makes me want to hurt myself.

Most of the others are decent shows, and I'd put Saraiya Goyou as the best of the ones you mentioned.

noitaminA shows tend to be hit or miss for me, rarely coming across as the materpieces everyone else (or a specific segment of the fanbase anyway) automatically declares them to be. But about half of the time I'd say they end up decent shows. Saraiya is probably my favorite show to come out of the block. I don't think it'll be a top 10 of 2010 for me though.

Kamon said...

The plural of "anime" is "anime."

hashi said...

@Kamon -- Thank you, but.... The plural of "anime" in Japanese may be "anime," but in English we have a choice. In this case (and usually), I prefer your approach, to be honest, since there is no chance of mistaking whether it is singular or plural. But sometimes it is clearer to add an "s," which is not forbidden.

hashi said...

@anonymous -- Lol. It appears our taste this year does not overlap much. "But ergh, how did Yosuga get on there? Also passed on SoreDemo because Omigawa makes me want to hurt myself." If one objects to incest, fine, but Yosuga no Sora is a real romance, with real human emotion, excellent voice-acting, perfect music, good drawing, and a story very well told. As for Omigawa, I used to hate her voice, but the more I listen, the more I like her as a comedienne.