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2010: Anime Year in Review


“You only get one chance to make a first impression”… that’s one quote that can hold true for the beginning of this current decade…as 2010 provided many surprises. One of those surprises was the year in providing new anime. After last years great outing in summing up the 2009 decade, this year set great leeway for whatever is sure to come up. This is a look back in this years most talked about, most loved and most controversial anime.

But before you read up on this years best, be sure to check out last years picks in these videos...or check out the written form here.

Keep in mind that a majority of these anime selected for the “Main Picks” have been avoided being linked to continuations and second seasons. Originality and a debut anime premiere will have more coverage than ones in their multiple season…however, this doesn’t imply that animes adapted from manga and novels are considered off-limits. Also, any anime that debuted from before the First Quarter of 2010, to before beginning of the winter season in December is also off-limits [January 1st - November 30th]. Sorry, second season of Kimi ni Todoke…*sigh*…

Also, in addition to awarding my main picks, I included top picks for movies of the season, as well as honorable mentions…and some key awards at the end of the final video, where my pick of the year is selected. Some selections are Best Comedy, Best Opening Theme, and Worst Series, amongst many others.

So, I guess you're wanting to read my long ass list of anime titles that I reviewed. Each title is structured for each of the seasons that the shows premiered in. These are for the Opening Quarter (the latter part of Winter; January), Spring, Summer and Fall (ending in December). If you don't see your favorite in the top picks, don't worry: there's a chance that it will be shortly mentioned in the Honorable Mentions for the season, or given an award at the ending ceremonies...or maybe it just sucked really bad. Or, if it's a movie, then you can expect to see a review in the season it was released in theater for, or (if an especially good movie...and one I really wanted to review), when the DVD / Blu Ray release was.

Anyways, here's the beginning of my biggest time waster of the year: the 2010 Anime Year in Review. Seriously...grab some popcorn or something, and make sure you have 30-45 minutes free, becuause this is a doosy...

Released: Jan. 7th | Studio: Brain's Base

Here we go. Let's open up with a bang. This show, after the cult-hit, yet still-not-quite-good-in-Japan, Baccano!, put Brain's Base, and Durarara!! on the map...and on many "Greatest Yaoi Couples" list, as well.

This year needed to get off on the right foot. I mean, we're looking at the start of a new decade, here! Thankfully, Durarara!! did not disappoint. With a slightly noire and hopeless feel, tip-toed in fantasy setting with mythical creatures, Ikebukuro became just as synonymous as the characters that inhibited it. From the beginning, you can tell that Ikebukuro is a radically different city at night than it is in the day. Criminals, thugs, gangs and even people trying to get away from that lifestyle inhabit one of the most thoroughly and interesting setting in anime in a long, long while.

Perhaps more interesting than the setting is the development of the characters that live in Ikebukuro. Mikado, Kida and Anri; each with a different, yet very similar fate, provided some of the biggest twists this year with their estranged friendship and odd pasts. Celty has one of the most believable and heartbreaking story, and she doesn't even have a head. Shingen, Shinra's father, gives off more personality than the majority of other characters in anime this year alone, and he was only in a handful of episodes. Durarara!! kept giving and giving, never stopping the wonderful story, development and awesome atmosphere despite only needing so little.

One of the best moments of the year for me was catching up on the adventures for Durarara!! via one of my first (of many) sarcastic blogs on Japanator: DURARARA SUX!! As many people continue to claim how wrong I was at hating the show, all those blog series really gave me a chance to re-watch episodes; getting accustomed to the great and recognizable music, letting me in on all the details, giving me more reason to fall in love with this show.

*If you couldn't tell, I was being sarcastic. I really hate Durarara!! It's nothing compared to the classics like Bubblegum Crisis, or Video Girl Ai. NEW ANIME SUCKS HAHAHAHAHUdj',fdgfdsvn......./

*Love you, Durarara!!

Released: Jan. 10th | Studio: Gainax

Gainax is one of my favorite producers regarding anime, only behind Production I.G. So, imagine my surprise when I heard that their latest anime was a slice-of-life series. I was a bit skeptical, to say the least. However, I gave it a shot, and I got to say, I am willing to admit I was wrong having my doubts. Gainax went back to their roots with this one; Hanamaru Kindergarten is one of the best of the genre this year.

When Gainax announces a show that relates squarely back to their older works (Otaku no Video, His and Her Circumstances), it's normal to be a bit curious as to how it'll be. At first glance, Hanamaru Kindergarten seems experimental at best, something that Gainax has been doing a lot as of lately. Of course, while it's not revolutionary, it does serve its purpose in being a cute, funny show that doesn't seem like an obligated shot of moe, but rather a nice way to spend 10-20 minutes on an episode or two.

As stated before, the animation style is completely washed away with other similar looking shows that have aired recently, so saying that it's appealing is a general overtone to many other anime as well. The colors are bright, and smoothed out fairly nice. The character models of the adults are normal and pleasant enough, but the deformed looking models of the kindergartners could take some getting use to. Seriously though; the heads are huge…like, Rugrats huge...

You'll find that the characters are all great and satisfyingly familiar. Koume is incredibly shy, Hiiragi is unfathomably intelligent, and Anzu is energetic and undeniably cute. These three get themselves into some humorous situations, and the only usual case of conflict comes from an everyday problem of getting lost around the school, or getting picked on by those goddamn second graders! What a bunch of dicks! Those stoopid second years always ruin everyone's fun! >:|

On the voice acting, each character is appropriately given a tone all their own. The monotone Hiiragi is a favorite, as well as the clueless and high-pitched Yamamoto. Each character is given a typecast voice all-too-familiar to fans of the genre, but that's not to say that it's still not a great effort on the actors' part, as each character is still enjoyable in their respected roles. In fact, without giving away too much shock value towards Anzu's mother, I must admit that the back-story for her is quite interesting and surprisingly deep and mature for a series like this. It also seems to give off some overtones and hidden messages as well, seeing as though her child is virtually copying the same thing she herself has done, albeit in a more childish and lightly way.

Hanamaru Kindergarten is incredibly endearing and never feels like a waste of time to watch an episode or two. While a valiant effort by the great Gainax, when it comes to the year 2020, I would be happy to be seen listed as an honorable mention in a "Greatest of the Decade" discussion, but nothing more.

Released: Jan 5th | Studio: A-1 Pictures (Not stake sause)

Remember the K-On!! craze, where anything on any forum was either "K-ON! SO SUPAH KAWAII", or "K-ON!! SO SUPAH KAWAII"? Yeah, me neither. But apparently, there were anime released during that phase. Whether or not it was intended to cash in on that craze or if it was just unfortunate coincidence set aside, So-Ra-No-Wo-To actually had plenty of merit to its name...enough to earn a spot on this list, at least.

So-Ra-No-Wo-To gives plenty of slice-of-life shows a run for its money. It's as if the show forgot it was set during the time of a war, and then suddenly remembered in time to send drama its way. At times, it showed how innocent girls spent their free time trying to forget the horrors of war, and other times, it's like "LOL SHE'S NOT GOOD AT PLAYING THE TRUMPET!". Somehow, though, this series brings a lot to the table when it matters. Even though the pace can be worked on a little bit, it's still great to see that it somehow all works in the end. it really brings an interesting topic to mind for me that's probably a little serious for this review...but here it goes anyway: even though one thing particularly appears to act like something it's not, there's so much depth and intrigue about it that when you look into the deepest, darkest parts of it, you--AIJOU YUUJOU OMOI KASANETE TAISETSU O KANADEYOU!!!!!!

Released: March 3rd [Home Video] | Studio: Madhouse

I loved Digimon. Sure, it only marginally relates to Summer Wars, but in addition to Digimon, I loved Digimon: The Movie. So much. So, damn much, in fact, that friends and I, who found their childhood VHS copy of the film broken, held a funeral for the tape. It was probably the saddest day of my life.

Anyway, one of the many reasons I loved the film was the animation. Mamoru Hosoda, the director of Summer Wars (as well as The Girl Who Leap Through Time), was also director of Digimon: The Movie. I had that speculation when I first saw screenshots of the film, but once I heard that, and it was officially cleared, I really wanted to see this movie.

It really akins back to Digimon Adventures in some regards, and I love that it has that same feel of friendship and family into the overall theme like Digimon did, as well. On top of quality animation by (you guessed it) Madhouse, it boasts some of the coolest choreography in its action-packed scenes sprinkled throughout the movie that I've seen in a while.

You owe it to yourselves to see this, yet again by Hosoda, modern masterpiece... both in terms of because it's a great movie and in HD. 1080p does this movie great justice.


Released: Feb. 16th | Studios: Studio 4°C, Production I.G, Casio Entertainment, Toei Animation, Bones

The fact that this film, or collections of short films rather, was made is pretty cool. That's neither for or against the fact that it's because it's based upon the Halo franchise, but because whenever collaborations between American and Japanese companies bring about new anime, it seems to bring cool concepts and ideas (but on the other hand, I'll get Iron Man shortly). To me, IGPX, Witchblade and the Animatrix brought about some memorable moments and original ideas that benefited fans like greatly.

Liking or not liking the Halo franchise has nothing to do with it; Halo Legends is a great idea, with some neat original stories and an even greater step forward in launching anime towards a more mainstream audience.


Now that Shaft has made a name for itself following last years Bakemonogatari, Maria Holic and the continuation for Sayanara Zetsubou Sensei, it seems like it can try something new, yet again. Even though Katanagatari has the neat idea of a monthly episode spanning the entire year, it seems like every episode could use a little more zing to help fill in that void between each episode. The majority of the early episodes revolved around simple dialogue and little action, and in an hour long show that the audience must patiently wait for, it's a little too demanding on us. However, if you can get through that, the pay-off, at least towards the episode before the finale, is worth it.

Qwazer of Stigmata

Every season, to me, has a show that helps "fill in" time between the two or three shows I'm really excited to get back to every week. For the beginning of this year, it was Quazer. There's something about shows that seem common in themes, yet can be different in its own regard that really give me this pseudo-joy for watching. However, I never feel like they could be all they can be. Something might be off, like the plot, one of the characters, or even more simply, the opening theme. Stuff like that offset my mood for watching the show, and ultimately, as with the case with Qwazer, I never feel like I can fully enjoy it.

Dance in the Vampires Bund

That lotion, man...

There were plenty of people not particularly fond of Dance in the Vampires Bund. Me? I was content with it. It surely wasn't the worst ever, yet at the same time, it could have been so much more. I loved that it set itself apart throughout with its loli overtones, yet the rest of the show could have been so much more better had the story been set up to par as much as its controversy had. That first episode, though, was something else...

Released: Apr. 3rd | Studio: P.A. Works

Angel Beats! proved to be one of my favorite anime in the past few years...but exactly how? Man...that's tough to answer...

I think I can answer that by reflecting on other anime in general. When an anime is deemed as being bad in its first episodes, one of the main solutions that people recommend to make it better is to "mix it up", to change up the formula and throw a curve ball. But anime regularly do; they have a plan laid out and stick to it...maybe occasionally throwing in a cool sequence late in the game...when it's too late.

I think Angel Beats! set out to change that. It had the same problem: a cool premise, but not enough substance. Characters that are too much like stereotypes. I mean, it had a Haruhi-clone for gosh sake! At least, that was the mentality. Then, it pretty much moved at a hyperspeed, something that is the opposite of the norm! Typically, a show is too slow to stick with, but Angel Beats! moved at a super-fast pace, as if to slap other shows in the face and say "Quit treating your fans like slow idiots!". And if something didn't work, then change it up! There was more variety in Angel Beats! than any anime I've seen. Even Durarara!! had its boring parts, but Angel Beats! seemed to end so fast, then come back with something new the next week, and none of it seemed like it was too unbelievable or tacked on.

"Okay, here's a band called GirlDeMo that help out with the power of rock! Oh, look, now the lead singer is gone, looks like we need to recruit...oh, hey, now we're going to make the main goal of the series to fight this girl. Oops, turns out she's just misunderstood and is good. OH NO, a new evil bad guy is now the School President! Oh, now he's helping the cast with their goal...what is their goal? Oh, it's to avoid disappearing. Nevermind, now their goal is to TRY and disappear...Hey look, a random character is DANCING!", and all of this happens within the span of 13 episodes.

For some reason, it does all of this so flawlessly, giving and letting go of things literally in the span of 1-2 episodes, which benefited the show greatly no matter what it was. Angel Beats!! was a game changer. And the way it placed humor in each episode so naturally was uncanny: It has my exact kind of humor...abstract, yet subtle, and a chance to parody things without explicitly spelling it out for the viewer. On top of that, despite the plot-hole many people are criticizing the series on, the story the show gives towards the end really gets you going on emotions when you see the fate of each character, one by one, and even hearing their back stories, that tread along the humor and overall feel-goodness of the show works really well at changing moods.

So...why did I enjoy Angel Beats! as much as I did? If I had to pick, it's be its sense of being effortless when it comes to how the pacing works, how people interact, and how it knows what its fans want. It's almost unexplainable, but that's at least my attempt.

Released: Apr. 4th (Season 1), Oct. 3rd (Season 2) | Studio: Shaft

While on the topic of things being effortless, there's something about Shaft that hits a note with its fans. I personally did not consider myself a fan, mainly because I'm a sourpuss on the whole Bakemonogatari thing that happened last year. I couldn't stand Bakemono last year... The excitement and hype that was put into that show disappeared after about the 5th episode for me. Mainly, it wasn't Shafts fault; it was the fact that people were praising it as highly as they did. The fact that a huge portion of the humor relied on Japanese wordplay and mythological knowledge, and people who only have fansubs to count on thought it was the funniest thing in the world made me mad. No offense to people who actually understood most of the themes and factos of the show...but at the same time, people were also calling the "animation" flawless. Bakemonogatari barely had any animation. 90% of it was still frames and motion tweening synching lip flaps. (Check out last years review for the full story)

Anyway, since then, I've been cautious of Shaft; I wouldn't say I hated it (I just got done loving Maria Holic and SZS), but rather, I wouldn't expect too much effort, experimental-wise, from them. When Arakawa Under the Bridge came out, and I watched the first episode, I literally could not believe how quickly I fell back in love with Shaft.

Granted that some of the same things I complained about Bakemonogatari are present in Arakawa (some obscure references, some lack of animation), none of it was at all felt as wrong as it did with Bakemono...there was so much more to this show's humor, its overall theme, its love, than I could have imagined. The best part is that none of it is forced onto you. As the same with Angel Beats!, Arakawa doesn't treat its viewers like idiots. They have the weird sense of abstract humor only, I guess, Shaft can have.

On top of the humor, there's a real sense of mystery and romance going on, and it's all naturally flowed underneath the core story. It makes you wonder what Recruit really feels for Nino, who Nino really is, and why some characters are there...in fact, what's the overall purpose of everyone being there? Do they all have something in common? Some dark past? Something they regret from their childhood? Are there really aliens in the show?! IS SPACE JUST A GIANT METAPHOR?!?!

So, so, so many things are going on in the back of your head, you just have to turn them off to appreciate the clever and witty dialogue between everybody, and only remember these themes when a character sneaks up on you and says something with more deep meaning that what appears.

Ric plays the role of the audience member, someone who's still not accustomed to the wild antics of the crew under the bridge, and when you realize something, he realizes it as well, almost in a psychic, uncanny way. You feel his love for Nino, and his dis-contempt for Stella... yet at the same time, you wonder if he really has underlying motives and an agenda...

If you haven't seen Arakawa Under the Bridge yet, I encourage you to do so, more than any other series on this list. That's not to say I have or haven't chosen it as my favorite anime of the year (read to the end to see...), but it breaks more ground for its genre since anime from long ago.

Released:Apr. 7th (Season 2) Jul. 6th (Season 3) | Studio: Kyoto Animation

So, here it is. One of the saddest departures from anime as we know it. Sure, there's a movie and college to look forward to, but...it just won't be the same...

Of course, I am talking about the final two seasons of every Japanator-ites (?) guilty pleasure: K-On!! From Fan Clubs to ED Themes, to the worst, possible idea for a Monthly Musing topic, the final seasons of K-ON!! proved to be an even more bigger test of patience than the first. You'd think that a show would get better with age, but for whatever charm was left in the first season somehow got swept away with the new.

Yui is dead to me. Simple as that; she's the equivalent of a brain-dead onion. Where did her charm go? Instead of being an unfortunate ditsy person, she developed into Sloth from The Goonies overnight! But I'm just preaching to the choir...because, as far as I knew, everyone knew about this change, and people were divided. To me, K-ON!! was still a guilty pleasure, not because of Yui, who was the obvious star of the first season, but because of all the other characters, who have been background noise until then. Suddenly, Mio and Ritsu are respectable characters, and really have a dynamic between them, and Mugi...well, Mugi's still uninteresting, but Azu-Nyan (...y-yeah..., I call her Azu-Nyan...) is surprisingly deep, and stepping up her damn game!

For a while, I saw K-ON!! as harmless (well, maybe it's harmful to me for watching it) fun...that is until I saw a certain C-Blog made by Handy..."The Subtle Brilliance of K-On!!" [Yes, I realize it was a joke]. First off, bravo for writing that, because it brought a weird sort of perspective into the K-ON!! mindset: one of deep character analysis. The more I thought about it, the more I saw the act of downplaying Yui as a benefit such a great move, and exactly how much of a conniving bitch Mugi was. I saw how much Mio and Ritsu relied on each other, etc, etc.

Perhaps none of the stuff, as Handy puts it, was ever intended, but either way, it made watching the show that much more enjoyable with that added dimension.

Released: Apr. 22nd | Studio: Madhouse

From the first 10 seconds alone, I get into the mind and personality of the protagonist quicker than any other character in any sort of media of The Tatami Galaxy...and he doesn't even have a name.

One of the coolest things about TTG is that the assault of fast-talking, witty, detailed compulsive thoughts going through the main characters head get you directly into his explicitly quick paced mindset, having you also to deal with the mass dump of information going through his mind in such a matter-of-fact way, all while keeping eyes on the subtitles and the gorgeous artwork on screen. And even though you retrace your steps with the series countless times, perhaps hearing and seeing the same thing as a previous episode, with each branching plot-line, more and more is learned about the characters naturally, as they adapt and show how they would act under different scenarios.

It's a gutsy chance to air this show, as it just screams that it's not for casual anime fans. Before anything develops in the series, the viewer is left in the dark, and a similar feeling that I once felt long ago from watching Higurashi no Naku koro ni (not because they're similar in tone) comes across me, letting me know that anything can be expected in this wonderfully vibrant, stylized world of The Tatami Galaxy.

Released: May 21st | Studio: Kyoto Animation

I loved Endless Eights. Yeah, I loved it...no joke. I thought it was one of the ballsiest things for KyoAni, one of the biggest studios at the time, to pull...probably the longest and most expensive troll at such a mass level like that. Okay, well, I hated it at first. i really did. And then, at about the 3rd go around of the loop, something clicked, and I began loving it. I think laughing at the people raging over it was the funniest part, but I genuinely was on the edge of my seat at the end of each episode, yelling at Kyon: "YOU FREAKING IDIOT GO UP THERE AND DO SOMETHING! PUNCH HER! YELL AT HER! GODDAMN IT, GRAB MIKURU'S TITS...SOMETHING?!?!"

That said, I was kinda sad not to see the Disappearance arc in the show; arguably one of my favorites. Thankfully, KyoAni made a movie, and it did not disappoint. It...pretty much is everything you'd imagine a movie adaptation to be: Pretty animation and colors, a moving soundtrack and more time for development. It's a really good movie, but it's also just the norm and exactly what you'd expect a large-budget anime movie to be. Still, if you haven't seen it, by all means, I encourage it.

Released: May 26th [Home Release] | Studio: Gainax / Studio K-hara

I had the great opportunity to first watch this with my friends in stunning HD [Source of Obtaining Film Withheld], and right after a marathon session of Evangelion 1.11. The introduction of Mari brings probably the biggest game-changer: I mean, an EVA character who can actually...fight? Sure, she's bat-shit crazy, but damn, was it an awesome decision to have her included in the film for the unfortunate small amount of screen time she had.

On the same spectrum, Asuka had waaaaaay too little screen time. Seriously?! THE Asuka Langley Soryu (or...Shikinami, as it is in the new film...I don't know...) gets only about 10-20 minutes total?! She might as well not have even been there...which is my biggest gripe of all. EVA 1.11 has, to me, a lot of replay-value, while 2.22, still a great film, serves better for only special occasions, only for the fact that you need not to overindulge yourself in the huge set-pieces, large-scale battles, and the small little twists they throw in at the end. Deviating largely from the series in this one, I can't help but wonder what's in store for the final two films...

Released: Apr. 2nd | Studio: Madhouse

One of the high points of my life involve this movie. Okay, storytime...

A fan of the original series, I nearly shat myself when I heard that at the 2010 anime convention Sakura Con, something I was planning on going to anyway, was going to hold the WORLD PREMIERE of the film. So, I'm hanging out at the con, talking with friends and stuff, when I realize that it was 4:00 PM, one hour until the first showing. He hurry to the theater room, and see a line that wrapped around the entire floor almost twice. They were showing the movie all night long, but only the first showing had a Q&A with director Nishimura.

As we were walking around to see how long the line was, and also giving up hope to enter, I suddenly see a friend, one I hadn't seen in years. I walk up to him, and grace all the Gods, he was happy to see me again after all these years! He was probably the 50th person in line. We lucked out.

The theater opened, and only 150-200 people could fit in. There was close to 1000+ people who couldn't get in. And I still wonder what it must have been like for those unfortunate 5 last people who lost their spots because of us...

Anyway, we get in, and much to everyone but our disapproval, they hold the Q&A first, which in some regards, was cooler than seeing the movie. However, when they did show the movie, which was not subbed because, Jesus, it hadn't even aired in Japan yet (NOTE: The people there that day said that the finished film we watched was literally days old), it seemed like, no matter how zany and awesome the animation was, I was missing something. Then suddenly, I hear a girl behind me, translating and telling her friend what the characters were saying. In a few minutes, me and some friends gathered around her as she quietly whispers the words in character. She was the shit.

Oh, what did I think of the movie? Yeah, it was alright.


Well, as said on the Halo Legends blurb, it's always nice to see collaborations between companies in making anime; as was the case with Marvel Comics and Studio Bones in making Heroman. Problem was, it wasn't good.

...that is to say, in the beginning. In what could be one of the most satisfying turn-arounds this year, Heroman not only stopped being a mediocre anime, but turned into a great one. There's not really too much I can say without spoiling why, but if you were at all on the fence about Heroman, I'd say go for it!

House of Five Leaves

Another retelling of the story that we've all heard before (most of us, without even knowing it), this turns out to be quite an enjoyable one, nonetheless. This also marks one of the first times I'm counting on FUNimation on their new streaming site. I couldn't help but feel a sense of helping when watching on their site. The anime itself has its moments, and brings the story and the feeling moreso to light with the art direction and moving soundtrack...so, if you're not at all tired of this story, or if you're extremely in love with it (It's still quite a good story, that's true), then here's your latest flavor.

Kaichō wa Maid-sama!

There's plenty about Kaicho wa Maid-sama! (which I'll gladly, and simply, call Maid Sama!) that kinda mixes up the romance genre, and also brings new perspectives to main couples. Sure, there are cases when "Hey! The two love birds aren't a fit to each other at all! So wacky!" happens, but when a main male character, such as Takumi, can actually make the viewer cringe at his sometimes over-the-top cruelty to strong female lead Misaki, then you know it's refreshing when a missed-matched couple can bring that to the audience. Even better, however, is the fact that unlike any other strong-willed female leads, you don't feel like Misaki deserves too harsh of abuse. She's simply speaking her mind, and brings up valid points and articulates words in ways that don't make her sound like a foolish, hot-headed tsundere. In fact, she's not really a tsundere at all...or any dere for that matter. She is simply just a quality, very well liked female character. The only sad thing about that is that I ask myself why I even need to make an announcement like that in the first place in order to prove that point for female characters...

Rainbow: Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin

Put six juvenile men into prison, who all are only held onto each other by the tough times and emotionally close troubles they've been through, have them go through a struggle to keep the tight bond they once share together...and then assign them all a color of the rainbow related to they're spirits. No, it's not an emotional magical-shonen series; it's a hardcore, manly drama about the tough time, before, after AND during these times in prison. Seriously though, this is probably one of the more underrated shows this year. There was no punches pulled with the drama, and no sugar-coating. If you feel like you're in need for a drama, but are sick of romances (and want to increase your ab strength by a bit), then check no further than the unfortunately named Rainbow

Released: Jul 24th | Studio: Ordet

I don't even know what to think of Black Rock Shooter...I mean, it really was fairly average, both story- and action-wise. However, it's short length and large scope on what was possible in the two dimensions presented surely left it open for the inevitable sequel.

It perhaps is also one of the best examples of the community of anime coming together to create something out of nothing, even if it's just simply a concept drawing. And even for how underwhelming, compared to the hype, that Black Rock Shooter was, it still was entertaining all the same. It creates leeway for both casual fans of anime, and hardcore Vocaloid nuts alike. Even for someone like me, who can't even begin to spout out a name for whoever originally drew the character Black Rock Shoot, let alone even name any other Vocaloid products / synths, I can still enjoy this OVA in it's neat, well animated and occasionally alright paced state.

Released: Jul. 5th | Studio:

Holy crap, you cannot have a more perfect show for a specific audience. Everyone anticipating this show knew exactly what to expect, and boy did it deliver. You knew exactly what was in store, and if you expected anything else, then shame on you!

There were four things everyone expected from the High School of the Dead anime adaption: Blood, Boobs, Zombies, Mediocre Drama. That's it. There's the show in a nutshell...pretty much. The best part was that, as far as I could tell, those who weren't looking forward to those specific things, or something to set itself too far apart from the manga, were the only ones disappointed. When I talk with friends who didn't like it, all I hear is: "There could have been more drama", or "It wasn't too realistic", or "There's too many breast-shots", which is fine. It's completely missing the point, but it's a fine argument. In fact, on the subject of valid arguments that don't make sense, why did the film Inception have to use the word "Dreams" so much?!

Released: Oct. 9th | Studio:

Other than it's incredibly uncanny sense of not being easy to be viewed stateside, there's no reason to NOT watch Redline. Unlike a majority of you poor saps, I also got to watch this film during its premiere while fortunately being in San Fransisco the week it was showing (Oct. 10th, to be exact...okay, it was first shown in Texas in September, but FUCK IT). Two national premieres in one year? Sounds fishy, eh? Nope...that's just the sounds of you being jealous.

Anyway, about the movie: Holy. Shit. Alright, so imagine the film Scott Pilgrim VS. The World...okay, but imagine it was actually good...and THEN...times the hyper-extensive flashing colors, jizz-tastic feeling on eyeballs and overall tone-deaf screeching of burning rubber by 1000-fold! And there you have the opening sequence to Redline.

Perhaps one of the more visually-driven films in a long while, this movie really...REALLY wants you to fall off the edge of your seat.


Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know...not too many people stuck through Mitsudomoe. To me, it seemed like a more immature Hanamaru Kindergarten, which is ironic because the main characters are technically more older. But then again, the more I thought about it, it seemed more faithful to truth that elementary kids react more to sex and sexual drives than kindergarten students. At least at elementary, some kids have a vague idea of sex, compared to the non-existent idea presented in Hanamaru, which proves more endearing rather than curious. That said, it doesn't make the constant sex jokes any less repetitive and annoying. So, consider Mitsudomoe the lowest to expect on an honorable mention, simply for that fact alone.....don't judge me...


No, I don't have a sister-complex...I simply...umm...well, I don't know, but KissxSis was decently better than I had ever imagined it would...in fact, any SisCon show that came out this year exceeded any expectations...by a lot...maybe it was the real sense of competition going on in KxS, and the annoyance said brother was going through. Either way,perhaps you could learn a little something about yourself with this title...

Sengoku Basara 2

PUT YOU--aw, screw it, I lost all your respect with those words anyway...

Released: Oct. 1st | Studio: Gainax

There's so much I can say, and so little that needs to be said, about Panty and Stocking. Ahem-hem...

Gainax popularity is either 50% love or 50% hate when it comes to fans of anime. Considering that Hanamaru Kindergarten got done being an innocent punching bag, people jumped onto the hype wagon for this one. Let's talk about that:

Perhaps the first thing to be said is this huge hype that's been surrounding it at its premiere

Yeah. There was a lot of hype...

And then, probably the second major thing about it is the controversy of the whole series, and how the sexualization of female character, as opposed to male characters, brings a sense of care to the perspective of the female image, and how males and females share a lot of very common traits, despite what the social norm for females (attaining an elegant, mature stance in the role of the supporter, rather than the provider), that brings it all down to equality, and at what point it starts to become too exploitive?

Yeah. It had sex jokes.

Or how about we talk about the distinct humor of the show?

Yeah, it has poop jokes.

If it were a crime to promote a piece of work with such simplicity and withdrawal the hidden elements of a work that really makes it stand out, it would be this show. Surely, it has immature and childish humor at times...a lot of times...but in a way, it pushes a lot of cliche concepts and conventions out the window. It strafes to be as morbid and repulsive as can be...that's its concept...and honestly, I can't think of an anime recently, in the past few years, maybe even longer, that's main objective to to be as disgusting as possible. But the main reason that the grotesque works so well is that buried underneath all the filth, there's meaning behind it all. A majority of the themes presented in PASWG are the interactions between vices considered normal in society and what's repulsed from it. From poop, to picking your nose, to drinking and vomiting, to porn, to gambling, to acting like a stuck-up, popular bitch, and even to disobeying the rules.

In a way, I think Gainax has something huge planned for what's in store in Panty and Stocking as a way for some sort of social commentary...it's just that not everyone is going to enjoy it through all the references to sex and poop.

Released: Oct. 6th | Studio: Manglobe

Truth be told, I don't read too many manga. Occasionally, I do...and I don't avoid it like a plague or anything. I just really don't get too into it that often, is all. However, I know about all the big ones, as I'm constantly recommended by some. A while ago, I was recommended The World Only God Knows, and while I never read the manga, it's one I've heard about non-stop since then. Now that the anime is out, I can finally not feel too guilty on missing out.

The concept itself is interesting in the sense that it's just a set-up for funny antics and plot arcs. I don't much care about where Elsee comes from, or what Hell is like...the simple stories and basic setting is good enough for me (changing tones like that is what really killed Bleach for me...). While, for some lingering thought in the back of my head, I don't doubt that TWOGK will attempt to do that and therefore ruin what I love about it, for now, I'm happy where it is, and that's a where a geeky boy woo's women with his gal-game charm. At this point, and as far as I'm concerned, I'm a-okay with spending a mere 20 minutes a week on this fun series.

Released: Oct. 2nd | Studio: J.C. Staff

It's a cool concept, and J.C. Staff is bringing it all out for Bakuman. As I said, I don't read much manga, but learning about the process is still pretty cool. You can tell that the original mangaka's that made the original really poured their hearts into this.

But this anime, man... It's so...blah. Blah music, blah voices, blah a lot of things. Art-wise, it works great. Character design-wise, I really don't like for some reason. It's not anyone's fault, really...I just hate that permanent smile and pointy jaw look...it creeps me out. And Azuki's mom has fuck ugly hair. Then, the process of actually watching the show is an odd one. I hate to sound like I dislike the show, because it's nothing but good up until now.

It's just...when I'm mentally asking myself: "What anime should I catch up on today", when I come around to "Bakuman?", I roll my eyes and smile, every time. When it comes to the little things that matter...the things that keep my interest...Bakuman doesn't really do it for me. I can't get into too many references at the Jump manga that's talked about...and I surely can't get into the show with that god-awful opening theme song. When I'm not really concerned about manga, it makes since that I just can't get too excited about an anime revolving around the making of one.

Released: Oct. 3rd | Studio: Bones

My, my, my...I'm going to be a downer in two consecutive reviews.

I do not believe Star Driver to be as good of an anime as it can be. In fact, the assets it treats the best is, to me, the worst it has to offer: fighting scene, and vice-versa for the best it has to offer: an interesting story. Star Driver has a sense of plot progression from the beginning; to Tasuko's mysterious arrival to the island, to his frequent mentioning of his Grandfather; it seems that there's a lot to unravel in Star Drivers fabulous, fantasy / sci-fi driven world. However, the thing is is that it is overshadowed, and often given little fluff in each episodes, leading me to believe that it may rush all important plot at the end, or even worse, not explain enough to hold out on a movie sequel.

This leads me to the cause of this lack of progress: the elaborate fight scenes. The scenes are amazing, and really show how colorful and downright crazy Bones can be with it's animation staff. It's crazy how much we can see how little animation is pushed to the limits in most anime today thanks to the out of control Star Driver. That said, a majority of the episodes, a large majority, are cut short on plot thanks to a revisit to the all-too-familiar Zero-Time space, compiling everything down to a simple fight between two estranged parties. It seems, with all the crazy topics and areas in the world to explore, each episode is just a build-up to show off a giant fight between Cybodies. It's basically turned into a Monster-of-the-Week affair to me, something that I am not looking forward to when it comes to mecha shows by Bones. As I said to Aquagaze once (and I'm sorry I'm hating on Star Driver here, bra...) "I expected Eureka Seven. I got Sailor Moon."

The flamboyance and overall fabulousness of the show are huge pluses, and I never stopped watching all of the new episodes. At times, I'm surprised at some of the twists pulled, and it does sometimes go into the mythology of the world around them. But other than that, I keep telling myself throughout the series: "If only they spent at least one episode where no one has to fight, and then everyone can just admire the story for once in a while"...

Released: Oct. 15th | Studio: Brain's Base

Okay, that's it for me with negative reviews...now to finish off on a positive note: Kuragehime! Yaaayyy! Since I've been jonesing for a Kini ni Todoke fix since way earlier this year, the feel-good emotions that oozed from that show and into Kuragehime made me feel things I shouldn't feel until my first child is born.

It suffers from the same case as Kimi ni Todoke; take a cliche concept (ugly girl is actually beautiful on the inside), add in lovable side characters as friends, and an opening song to set you on the right foot of happiness and carefree with a hint of romance, and there you have surprisingly by-the-numbers show that still stimulates more from you than the lastest drama. A good feeling for a solid half-hour is nothing to complain about, and certainly is hard to deny. So when it comes down to how predictable the story is, or how still animation can be, it doesn't really matter for those lovely 30 minutes.

My Little Sister Can’t Be this Cute!


...okay, I liked it, so what?!

Iron Man

Heheheh, okay, I seriously just put this here just for a reminder for you to check out the awards portion of this review, that way, you can read up more on Iron Man. Oh, and here's my only chance for this pic I found:

Alright, now for the best of the best, and the less of the rest, let's get into the Top Awards for this year in review. Most awards come with runner-ups and honorable mentions, which I can't really justify all for...especially the really close contenders, such as the top picks for Best Comedy. But anyway, without further adue, here are the top accolades for this year:

“Sunset of Betrayal"—Theatre Brook [Durarara!!]
[Runner-Up: Arakawa Under the Bridge— "Venus & Jesus" ; Working! "Someone Else"]

Alright, at first, I wasn’t too sure about how Durarara!! would fare in its first episode, and after reading the series description…I had my doubts. Then, as I loaded up the first episode… those damn drums kick in. Holy shit…As soon as that happened, I knew I was in for one of the best rides of the year… I mean, sure, the first season of Arakawa Under the Bridge has probably the catchiest theme from any other show this year…and it does have an over 100 view count on my MP3 player…but the way that “Sunset of Betrayal” both got you into the mood for Durarara, and how it flowed smoothly into the “Last Time on Durarara” sections just…well…it’s just common sense to pick it, even over the valiant effort the second season OP had...even if it still came up pretty short.

And it will ALWAYS be “Roar out Louder” to me! Always!

[Season 1]
[Runner-Up: The World Only God Knows, Season 1 ; Tamaki Galaxy]

Speaking of Arakawa Under the Bridge, it seems that Shaft has a knack for making memorable opening titles to anime. As much as I disliked Bakemonogatari for it’s complete lack of animation last year, I commemorate Maria Holic and now Arakawa Under the Bridge for its amazing use pastel colors and experimentation. While I love The World Only God Knows for its opening that very strongly resembles last years Eden of the East (and it almost made the top spot), there’s no way I can get the opening animation for Arakawa's first season out of my head.

"Brave Song"—Aoi Tada [Angel Beats!]
[Runner-Up: Panty and Stocking— "Fallen Angel"; Kuregehime— "Realize You Are Beautiful"
Complain all you want, this ending theme always gets to me. Forget for a minute that the segment itself is just one still frame, and just listen to the song. Angel Beats as a whole surprised me…I mean, it had all of these clichés and two dimensional characters, right? Well…then, why doesn’t it feel that way? Why do I find all of this interesting? Anything that becomes stale in Angel Beats! gets dropped the next episode, and nothing ever stays the same…and I suddenly become attached to these characters. So when this song plays, nothing but tragedy for these people comes to mind, and it just always gets me… excuse me for a moment...

[Multiple ED]
[Runner-Up: MM! "More-More Lovers!"]

Whoa, it got serious all of a sudden…let’s change that by adding hilarious, child antics to this video! Each ending for Hanamaru Kindergarten was, to some, considered the best part of the show. To me, it shows exactly what the creators were getting at when asked to capture the mind of a child…and that’s exactly what each of these endings do. From imagining an old celluloid film to parodying deep space anime, and even Gainax itself, shows in their adorable endings, Hanamaru Kindergarten may have lacked praise, critically-wise, but it sure as hell brought smiles on my face each week.

^My favorite one...

[Close Runner-Up: Panty and Stocking]
[Honorable Mentions: Angel Beats!, Durarara!!, The World Only God Knows]

Definitely one of the most obvious choices this year.

Now, I'm not one to follow the crowd...I pick favorites based upon what I personally like...not what everyone else does, and I like to show off that I'm different in viewpoints than everyone else. It's lame, I know, but I digress. Anyway, when I thought about how I should put something else as Best Comedy, I considered Angel Beats! dark and stoic humor that, to me, had the show start off on a great foot. Then I thought about the same thing with Durarara!!, and how the humor was intertwined with the plot seamlessly, in a pure Tarentino-esque feel. Then, I even considered Panty and Stocking, because of the opposite reason: It seems that almost everyone HATES the humor, and so that in turn would be different. Now, while I applaud PASWG for it's later episodes that mix the toilet and frat-boy humor with more meaningful and experimental stories and animation, I went back to Arakawa Under the Bridge. I skipped that a while ago, mainly, as I said, for being too obvious, but when I really went through it... there's a reason it was obvious: because it was the damn truth that this was the funniest show of the year!

[Runner-Up: High School of the Dead]
[Honorable Mentions: Evangelion 2.22, Sengoku Basara, Redline]

How easy is it for me to describe the awesome anime that Star Driver is?

[Runner-Up: Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya]
[Honorable Mentions: Strike Witches 2, Evangelion 2.22, Arakawa Under the Bridge x2]
I love the movie Mulan. It's a great Disney movie, and clearly underrated. I hate the fact that people constantly claim that it's about Japanese History, and that common, yet irritable, connection between Japan and China's history is unbearable... especially when you take into account that this animated film, following the Disney method of making films based on classical myths and legends, follows the story of Hua Mulan, a woman who dressed up as a male warrior in her elderly fathers place. The historical accuracy of the film in the Han Dynasty Era of China is unprecedented, and shows how much effort Disney put into the film.

In conclusion, Mulan is a pretty great film from Disney, and, while not quite as well known as Sleeping Beauty or The Little Mermai--

Oh, wait... what was I talking about?

[Runner-Up: Recruit—Arakawa Under the Bridge]
[Honorable Mention: Mikado—Durarara!!]

No, there is nothing wrong with this choice, and no, you may not suggest another character. You think that Takuto from Star Driver is a better character?! Please! Or that Joey or Heroman deserve this spot?! Get out of here!

You think that all of the sarcastic phrases that Kyon from The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya says can hold a candle to a man wearing a bartenders vest?! Man, you're silly! You actually want me to believe that Shichika from Katanagatari can talk his way out of being less cooler than Shizuo? Ha! Next, you'll be telling me that Izaya is a better male character-- IZAYA?! WHERE?!?! WHERE IS HE??!!?

[Arakawa Under the Bridge]
[Runner-Up: Ayuzawa Misaki—Maid-Sama!]
[Honorable Mention--Saeko Busujima—High School of the Dead]

I had no trouble with this one. If you can't love Nino the first episode you see her, then you must be a very good lair. Nino not only puts mystery into her character to make her more interesting to all of us, but she's the most lovable ditzy "non-ditzy" girl in anything I've ever loved. It was also kinda tough to not have Kou Ichinomiya ("Ric") as Best Male Character, since they make such a goddamn great couple, but the more I thought about it, it was more about the antics Nino pulled (or made Ric pull) that made this relationship so memorable and fantastic. I regret not having Ayuzawa Misaki up here, since she's actually a pretty refreshing female character in Maid-Sama (as explained a more professional way in this blog), and even more so not having Saeko Busujima from High School of the Dead, simply because of that pitch-perfect delivery of "I'm Wet!", but in the end, I'm a-okay with Nino being the top dog...or Venusian...

[Angel Beats!]
[No Runner-Up’s]

"Just Wild Heaven"

[Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt]
[Runner-Up: "Put on some Lotion"-- Dance in the Vampires Bund]
Okay, seriously, I was sure that the lotion scene in Dance in the Vampires Bund would be a SHOE-IN for this award...but then it was eclipsed by possibly the moment that I fell in love with GAINAX again. Let me start from the beginning:

Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is, arguably one of the more anticipated animes this year...so when the first episode rolled along, everyone was wondering what GAINAX was up too. When I was watching it, it seemed to be exactly what I expected it to be: scatological humor with sex jokes, and I was slowly becoming disappointed. Halfway through the episode, I was feeling like there was no hope.

And then this happened.

When that scene played, I immediately sat up in my seat. I thought to my self: "Son of a bitch, GAINAX...son of a bitch...". Add in an above average second half to the episode, and you have a very memorable opening episode in my book.

[Runner-Up: Scanty & Kneesocks-- Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt]
I have the same feeling with Izaya that I do with Aizen in Bleach...no matter what happens, or what kind of shit goes down, it was all apart of his goddamn plan...and I hate that. Give me an antagonist who is imperfect and makes mistakes over some grand-scheming genius any day. However, that said, there's something about Izaya that makes this persona just...work. Maybe it's the fact that the series threads along the fact that there seems to be unknown powers he holds, and has you wondering if that's even true or not. But most importantly, maybe it's the fact that you can't ever really take his word as true...even though he's one of the main people giving out crucial plot detail in the series, and that he could just be lying about so many things. Either way, if there ever was a way to do the "Brilliant Evil Mastermind" thing, it would be the Izaya-way.

Oh, and he's also a dick for teasing Shizuo too much.

[Runner-Up: Rainbow: Nisha Rokubo no Shichinin]

Even though it was (shortly) covered in Annotated Anime Weekly, the more people I talk to, the more I realize that Asobi ni iku yo! was never watched by many. Sure, the interest factor of "Cat-girl-show-that's-more-about-awesome-plot-than-actual-cat-girls" may have declined since the amazing first episode, but I digress; this show ended up exceeding my literally non-existent expectations so much, and was probably better than most shows around the time it aired.

And RAINBOW...I can't believe no one saw that shit! That was an acceptable show! How dare you?!

[Runner-Up: Iron Man (?)]

Before I get to Sleeping with Hinako, let just explain that it really does win by default. I couldn't think of a worse concept and waste of time than that, yet in the "So-Bad-it's-Good" sense.

HOWEVER, I must note that, on a personal level, I fucking HATE the new Iron Man anime. I liked the new Iron Man movies, and they prove to be mindless entertainment...but there's a reason that it had the success it had: The personality of Tony Stark. I think that what makes the new, modern Iron Man so well loved is the funny quips and wit of Stark.

Now, say what you will, but whenever I get a chance, I pretty much always enjoy an anime more in an English dub...especially when I need to get a feel for a characters personallity. Now, can anyone truthfully tell me, that after watching either of the Hollywood Iron Man movies, that listening to a deadpan, JAPANESE-SPEAKING Tony Stark isn't weird or unsettling at all? To me, it's so much to the point that it ruins the entire series. I couldn't give two shits about secondary characters or plot, so when G4 actually airs this (and the other Marvel Animes) sometime next year, then I will gladly give it another shot listening to a Robert Downey Jr. impersonator...but for now? *sigh*

Oh, yeah, that's right...Sleeping with Hinako: It's only TECHNICALLY worse than Iron Man...

Well, with so many great shows and reccomendations throughout this year, you must be asking yourself: "Kindaaloser, you handsome prick, out of all of these great titles do you believe to be the universally best one from this year?"

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About MARCone of us since 8:21 PM on 11.16.2009

don't even bother calling me out, I go by OxKing now cuz he's the ickest & sickest