Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Year in Review

Its that time of year again, the best of the anime world for 2009.

I'm also finding it difficult to pick series when some span multiple years, and i don't like giving awards multiple times. If i continue this next year, expect the vetting process to change a bit.

For those of you who want to compare, here are my awards for 2008.

As a side note, Random Curiosity's Divine and Omni have released their 2009 awards. Looking at their list, i think I'm adding Bakemonogatari to my watch list.

Best Comedy: Seitokai no Ichizon
HM(Honorable Mentions): Toradora, Hayate no Gotoku!!

Here is the definition of pure comedy. The story of a boy who outright announces his goal is to turn his high school student council into his harem is the stuff of legend. However, this often gets criticized for being low-brow, no substance, with bad animation, and only doing shout-outs unrelated to the plot. However hiding beneath the surface are some well developed characters with some deep issues and even a nice plot that slowly starts to form. The comedy hooked me in immediately so luckily i stuck by to see it pass from the parody phase into the story phase. And while yes, the animation quality may slip from time to time, it certainly makes up for it in laughs.

So where did Hayate (which i praise at every turn) and Toradora fall short? well for one Hayate certainly set itself up more this season into the romance more than the comedy. That's no to say it wasn't there, it just wasn't quite tops.

Best Romance: Clannad After Story

HM: Toradora

Clannad came a bit short last year, but takes the cake this year. Great, touching story about love, life, family, and faith. For those of you who didn't watch Clannad, this series picks up where the first season left off. Tomoya and Nagisa are now dating and begin there next step in life after high school. When their friends around town turn to them for help, Tomoya learns a much deeper legend linked to the town and wishes. However tragedy strikes when Nagisa's illness returns. I'm not going to go too much more into this because it is such a great story, but check it out if you haven't. You really feel for what some of the characters go through. And even if you disagree with some of their choices, you get to see that none of these are easy choices at all, and you can understand why them choose to make them.

So what about my honorable mention Toradora? Well, personally i felt the story kinda collapses near the end. But even so Clannad is just a wonderfully crafted work of literary art even if the ending was better, it probably would have still lost.

Best Action: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.

HM: Gundam 00

Fullmetal alchemist, or FMA, gets its remake in the form of Fullmetal alchemist Brotherhood. The story is about two brothers, Ed and Al Elric, who try to use forbidden human transmutation to revive their mother. Their mistake cost them Al's body and Ed's arm and leg. Brotherhood is the remake which follows the manga plotline to a tee. It seems the original manga artist didn't give the makers of the first anime permission to follow the manga plot so that it could have a conclusion, and the manga could continue. However the general public wanted to see an anime that was more faithful to the original story, hence Brotherhood. The characters are nicely set up and the plot is nice.

So why does gundam fall short? Well for one it had a weak ending in my opinion. The second is that gundam 00 already won this award in 2008. I feel it belonged in that year more than this one, and brotherhood defiantly grabs the opportunity.

Most WTF: 11 eyes


I feel this award is almost moot, because unlike previous years there really isn't much of a WTF anime this year. 11 eyes tries to emulate that feel, but its nothing special.

Best Mecha: Gundam 00

For the second year in a row gundam 00 will take the prize for top mecha anime. However to be fair it went quite unopposed.

Best Soundtrack: K-ON
HM: FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood

If you read any of the K-ON episode summarys i posted, you know i loved their songs. "Don't say lazy" has become one of my favorite japanese songs. While its true the anime only gave us one OP, one ED and two insert songs, they were all fantastic and enjoyable. I still look foreword to more work from newcomer Yoko Hikasa "Mio". Her singing voice is just fantastic and her acting voice brings a distinct character that i feel would be hard to be replicated by another VA. I also got a chance to listen to some of their B stuff that didn't make the show. While not as good as what they kept, the other songs were also enjoyable.

Fullmetal alchemist did product some nice OP and EDs, but overall K-ON was the hands down best.

Best Fanservice: Kampfer
HM: Asu no Youichi, Princess Lover

Year 2009 was a light year in general, so my list of fanservice anime is very small this year. Between the three, Kampfer seemed to show the most promise of a story line. have an all female cast with the only guy turning into a girl the other all want doesn't hurt. It throws in action and comedy into the mix and the first few episodes were quite enjoyable. i do admit i didn't get to finish any of these series, but of the three Kampfer seemed the best.

Asu no Youichi plays the chivalrous pervert role nicely, but the girls didn't seem interesting and the plot was dull. Princess lover seemed unrealistic and more interested in increasing boob size than plot or character development. To its credit it had some funny skits and jokes, but so did Kampfer.

Best Visual: Clannad After Story.


Clannad wins again. The sequel continues to impress with its beautiful scenes, wonder character with big round eyes and the Imaginary World is as detailed as it has been from the first episode. Really no contest here at all. While most of the anime this year had nice visual, none quite stood out like Clannad.

Best Male: Tomoya Okazaki
HM: Ed Elric

Tomoya from Clannad takes the prize for best male this year. Instead of which character showed the most super powered colorful beam spam/super power, Tomoya shows us he's truly human, with vices, faults, and guilts. He doesn't always do the right thing, but he always seems to do what he thinks is best. He's a broken man and it shows. This makes him much more real and easier to imagine happening to one of us. It's hard to love him at first, but it becomes really hard to hate him by mid season. His change truly is a story about redemption, and finding whats important in life.

Edward in the new FMA shows us courage, and hope. The type of character we all root for, but in the end its the same old shonen, running around with super powers.

Best Female: Mio (AKA Moe Moe Kuyn) from K-ON
HM: Hinagiku (HNG), Misaka (To Aru no Kagaku no Railgun)

Mio from K-ON is winner of the best female this year. She's smart, cute, easily scared, and willing to put up with Ritsu and i just love her. But i think what really sold me on her character is the VA. Its a bit deeper than most anime girls, but still sweet. Its a hard voice to use properly, but as it shows when placed in the right character, and properly used it can be a weapon of mass Moe. Her singing voice is absolutely fantastic and i really hope to see her in the future. The second season got a green light so its nice to know she, and the rest of the k-on cast should be on my list next year as well.

Hinagiku doesn't win this solely because she won last year. If anything Hina got more and more adorable and lovable, but Mio is right behind her and with a newbie VA slightly edges her out. Misaka also puts in a strong showing, if only she showed her dere-dere side more. Makes me feel guilty for not watching Index.

Best Villian: Father (Fullmetal Alchemist)
HM:Kiyama, Harumi (to aru Kagaku no Railgun)

Father was missing from the first season of FMA, and now that i have seen what hes all about, he is sorely missed. Father is the leader and creator of the Homunculus, who themselves are said to be neigh invincible. Therefore it is no surprise he is quite the tough customer himself. But given he has the ability to stop alchemy, basically the only real weapon they have (guns are useless in this world), and is even more invincible than the Homunculus, he certainly sets up for a great baddie. He gives off the sense that he is toying with our protagonist, and seems to be able to back that up. The only homunculus they did manage to kill was revived in seconds. Basically a reverse superman. We'll just have to wait and see if he has his own kryptonite.

Kiyama is also a great baddie, with a generally good heart, but also some impressive powers. She seems much more stoppable than Father though so the prize is his.

Worse Character: Ryuuji (Toradora)
HM: Everyone from Gundam 00 i didn't like last year

Before people get uppity at me, remember my definition of "worst character" is one who is either terribly annoying and poorly written. Well Ryuuji may not have been truly annoying, he was, in my opinion, terribly written. The guy started out pretty normal, even until the end of the series he was alright. What doesn't make sense to me is his 180 backflip he does in the second last episode. In the span of half an episode hes mad at his mom for running his life, and abandons Minori for Taiga. While yes he showed bits and pieces of being interested in her, Ami was pretty correct in saying he treated her more like a daughter than a crush. Not to mention he was still in full force chasing Minori just half an episode before! With Taiga we saw a full out partial confession in the second episode, a full out dropping of Kitamura, and then, and only then, interest in Ryuuji. A transition. Is that so hard?

BEST ANIME OF 2008: Clannad After Story

Really, is this a surprise? Clannad was a perfect mix of story, visuals, emotion, excitement, and even some life lessons thrown in. If there is a small blemish on the otherwise perfect series is that the soundtrack is a bit weak. Neither the OP or ED really captured me. I would have also liked to see more Tomoyo this season, but that's personal preference. Overall no doubt the best series of 2009. a great ending and follow up to a great start. I'm sure all those dissatisfied by the ending of Clannad with enjoy After Story. Speaking of the ending, I'm not going to spoil it, but i know some people are very disappointed in the ending. All i will say is, that the ending is written like that for a reason. It sums up the series and all the hints alluded to from the beginning of the first season are used to set up this ending, and i truly loved it. My advice, watch it if you haven't, and watch it again if you have.

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