A little late, but better late than never right? Anyway, in my attempt to start using AnimeVice again, I'm going to post a blog listing the best of anime, 2010 edition. To clarify which anime are covered here, any series that ended its run in 2010 and have also aired the majority or (in the case of FMA: Brotherhood) a significant chunk of it's episodes in 2010 are eligible. Series that started in 2010 but have not concluded are not eligible for the awards that require an evaluation of the entire series (i.e. genre awards), but are eligible for some special awards. Of course, any series that I have not watched obviously will not be included (:P) Also, OVAs and movies are also generally not eligible except for a few very specific instances. So without further adieu, let's get started.
Best Animation Winner
: Angel Beats, FMA: Brotherhood, Star Driver
Winner: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
You can't beat the brotherhood...
: Angel Beats, Nodame Cantabile Finale, Durarara!!
Best Story Winner
: Occult Academy, Giant Killing, FMA: Brotherhood
Best Female Character Winner
: Ika Musume (Shinryaku! Ika Musume)
The squid girl...
: Hotori Arashiyama (Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru), Sohara Mitsuki (Sora no Otoshimono Forte), Misaki Ayuzawa (Kaichou wa Maid-sama!)
Best Male Character Winner
: Shizuo Heiwajima (Durarara!!)
A peaceful man?
: Kohta Hirano (HOTD), Keima Katsuragi (TWGOK), Izaya Orihara (Durarara!!)
Best OP Winner
: Durarara! ("Uragiri no Yuuyake" by Theatre Brook)
Full Version: TV Version: Runners up
"Uragiri no Yuuyake"
: HOTD ("HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD", by Kisida Kyodan & The Akebosi Rockets), TWGOK ("God Only Knows", by Oratorio The World God Only Knows), Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou ("REALOVE:REALIFE", by Sphere)
Best ED Winner
: FMA: Brotherhood ("Let it Out" by Miho Fukuhara)
"Let it Out"
TV Version: Runners up
: K-ON!! ("Listen", by HST), Durarara!! ("Trust Me", by Yuuya Matsushida), Nodame Cantabile Finale ("Kaze to Oka no Ballad" by Real Paradis with Nodame Orchestra)
: Kyoto Animation (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, K-ON!!)
: SHAFT (Arakawa Under the Bridge, Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru), Madhouse (Trigun: Badlands Rumble, Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail), BONES (FMA Brotherhood, Star Driver), Brain's Base (Durarara!!, Kuragehime)
Most Surprisingly Good Anime:Winner
: B Gata H Kei
B Gata H Kei
: Giant Killing, Seitokai Yakuindomo, Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou
Most Disappointing Anime:Winner?
: Eden of the East Paradise Lost
: Senkou no Night-Raid, Angel Beats, Heroman Best Adapted Genre Winner
: Comedies (especially 4-koma comedies)
As I think back at the anime series that I've enjoyed this year, comedies saturate that list (i.e. K-ON!!, B Gata H Kei, Working!!, Seitokai Yakuindomo, Oreimo, TWGOK). Also, while comedies in general were the top genre this year, out of those comedies, those based on 4-koma manga really surprised me (i.e. they were surprisingly good). Anime based on 4-koma, or 4-panel manga are nothing new. Lucky Star or Azumanga Daioh are good examples. But I don't think we've had a year where so many 4-koma manga have been adapted into anime series that are actually end up be funny, well-made, and enjoyable. Obviously, this type of anime isn't for everybody as there are those who despise slice-of-life comedies that don't have much narrative substance.
Most Wasted Potential
Densetsu no yuusha no densetsu
: Legend of Legendary Heroes
Dark fantasies aren't anything new in anime, and while LOLH
didn't present anything particularly innovative or original in terms of storytelling, its dark tone, penchant for blood and gore, and consistent comedic overtones gave it a lot of potential. However, it's uneven storytelling, poor pacing and overly protracted adaption of the light novel series is disappointing. It feels more like a prequel than anything else, which is a very unfortunate statement for a 24-episode long anime series. And while I did very much enjoy many parts of the series, at the end it just feels lacking in cohesion or purpose for that manner (despite the fact that the story definitely showed a lot of promise). If XEBEC had managed to adapt the story cohesively and paced the episodes evenly, this could have potentially been a great anime. Instead, it's sitting straight in the mediocre (abet enjoyable in spurts) bin.
Stan Lee Award for the Most Disappointing East-Meets-West Collaboration
Oh say can you see . . .
While I still have some hope for Wolverine
shows us that it's usually not a good idea to mix Japanese and American styles of animation/storytelling in a single series. While Heroman
wasn't bad, it had generic animation, generic storytelling, annoying color pallet (yes I understand America's flag is red, white, and blue, I get it, really) and overall just felt unnecessary. Hardly the best of two worlds. (Ironman
wasn't much better honestly, though at least somewhat more tolerable) While this is not to say that a combination of Japanese and American animation styles can't work, Heroman
is an example of how not to approach things. Let's hope Wolverine
Best Fake-out OP
And for reference, the original OP:
Winner: Ring My Bell: Tomoki's Version (Sora No Otoshimono Forte)
Pretty self-explanatory: just watch the video. I nearly fell off my chair when I first saw this.
Worst Use of Censorship Winner
: Seikon no Qwaser
If you were to watch the TV edit of Seikon no Qwaser
, it would be like watching Dexter on CBS rather than Dexter on Showtime. Not only are the "naughty" bits edited out, but the essential merits of the story are basically changed. For those who haven't watched the series, Seikon no Qwaser
is essentially a typical shounen series, except that the main character gets his power up from breast milk (i.e. "soma") rather than more traditional methods. The results? Well, watching the edited TV version, which basically edits out all the "soma-sucking" and replaces it with other scenes, is bound to leave the viewer confused and nonplussed at exactly what the hell is going on. This is not to imply that I think this is a good series (it isn't really, and no I don't suggest you go seek out the unedited version either) but that the use of censorship is such that it is essentially a different show after all the editing involved in the broadcast version.
One angry meido . . .
: Black Lagoon Roberta's Blood Trail Runners up
: Mobile Suit Gundam UC, Halo Legends, Darker Than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha Gaiden
I've always loved Black Lagoon
. It was an anime that succeeded both on the level of its action set-pieces as well as dramatic performances. In many ways, Roberta's Blood Trail
is more of the same as it is just as dark, just as violent, just as dramatically resonant as the TV series that came before it. But considering how good theBlack Lagoon
TV series was, more of the same isn't a bad thing at all, and formating the series in OVA form allows for tighter storytelling and of course much higher production values. So what it's lacking in originality it makes up for with it's splendid execution. Madhouse delivers once again.
Best Feature Film
Haruhi disappears...sort of anyway
: The Disappearance of Haruhi SuzumiyaRunners up
: Break Blade, Trigun: Badlands Rumble, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works, Gundam 00 The Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer
After making a rather large misstep in Endless Eight, KyoAni has redeemed themselves with perhaps it's best animated work to date. Melancholy
was light-hearted and quirky but never reached the type of emotional resonance and dramatic storytelling that Disappearance
has in spades. As a long time fan of the Haruhi franchise, Disappearance
is the ultimate payoff, yet also the ultimate teaser for what's yet to come in the future. Of course, I haven't even talked about how amazing the film looks: this could easily be the best looking anime of the year. Those who started to doubt KyoAni after the Endless Eight fiasco should find solace in this wonderful film. Easily the best anime feature film of 2010.
Best Action Series
Ed and Al take on Scar...
Winner: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Runners up
: Legend of Legendary Heroes, Strike Witches 2, Durarara!!
This wasn't a tough category as there weren't really many action series this year, not to mention that FMA: Brotherhood just set such a high bar that I doubt any other series could have topped it anyway. Given that I had already seen most of the action scenes depicted in the manga, I'm even more impressed by how much I still enjoyed the action sequences in the anime. This isn't just quality, however, it's also quantity. If you haven't noticed Brotherhood has 64 episodes, the majority of which contain a significant amount of action. The fact that they were able to keep the action sequences consistently high quality and also consistently enjoyable is no easy feat.
Best Comedy Series
Ika loves shrimp...
Winner: Shinryaku! Ika Musume Runners up
: Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru, Working!!, B Gata H Kei, Ore no Imouto
The best comedy series category is a much tougher fight this year due to the shear number of comedies that came out, whether they be traditional or slice-of-life comedies. Out of all those though, the one series that had me laughing week in and week out consistently was Shinryaku Ika Musume
. It's definitely does not have the most intelligent humor or necessarily even the most clever but its combination of slapstick, puns, and overall silliness/nonsensicalness edges out the competition. No doubt the comedy that I enjoyed the most this year.
Best Drama Series
Definitely an atypical anime series...
Winner: Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no ShichininRunners up
: Shiki, Yosuga no Sora, Giant Killing Rainbow
is far and away the best anime drama of 2010. For people who have been griping recently about how all anime has been reduced to moe nonsense and fanservice-fueled train-wrecks, Rainbow's here to punch them in the face, hard
. This is a dark and gritty drama filled with ruthlessness and hatred and yet also with surprising camaraderie and hope within such a bleak and depressing atmosphere. And while comparisons to the likes of the Shawshank Redemption
or Green Mile
may be somewhat of a stretch, Rainbow arguably at least approaches that level of dramatic and emotional resonance. It's a shame that most people probably overlooked this series as it's no doubt one of the best I've seen in years.
Best Romance Series
That's a lot of girls to choose from...
Winner: Amagami SS Runners up
: B Gata H Kei, Kaichou wa Maid-sama, Kimi ni Todoke
Though I'm not necessarily a big fan of romances, they can be enjoyable from time to time. Amagami SS
, while definitely having some frustrating moments (as all romances typically do) turned out much better than I thought it would, especially in how it handled each arc (i.e. each one being one possible path). Also, unlike many other anime romances, there aren't really any gimmicks or major contrivances here: it's mainly an anime about romance within a normal high school setting. The focus was also clearly on the girls, and their different reactions in varying situations. The variety is probably one of the major reasons why the series managed continue to be interesting. It's definitely not the most emotionally-involved or romantically charged series but it has just enough realism and believability which many anime in this genre seem to lack these days.
Just because a series doesn't make it into the best of genre categories doesn't mean they aren't worthy of mentioning. Aside from the winners and runner ups above, here are the anime that are definitely worth mentioning: Arakawa Under the Bridge
is a silly, nonsensical, wacky, and very fun to watch comedy that isn't for everyone but definitely delivered for me.Angel Beats!
ultimately did not satisfy but it was enjoyable enough to be worthwhile.Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls
was surprisingly good, despite a questionable premise. Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou
proves that ecchi series can be fun to watch, though you have to be willing to put up with its gratuitous fan-service and harem tropes.Katanagatari's
unique art style and once-a-month long episode format may put some people off, but there's a lot to like in this above average shounen series.K-ON!!
is still the standard when it comes to slice of life anime, despite a weaker showing than its predecessor. Kuragehime
really spoke to the NEET within all of us in a way that is both scary and yet strangely comforting.Nodame Cantabile Finale
is a great conclusion to arguably one of the best shoujo anime series in recent history. Occult Academy
finally delivered for me on the promise that Anime no Chikara made in 2009 and showed that original stories can be just as good as adapted ones.Seitokai Yakuindomo
would be a runner up in best comedy series if I wanted to make the list even longer
. Sora no Otoshimono Forte
somehow managed to be even more outlandish and nonsensical than the previous season, which is actually a big plus.The World God Only Knows
would have been given a nomination (do to no small part to Elsie's kawaiiness and Keima's epic speeches) if it only fit better into one of the above categories.
And finally . . .
Overall Best Anime of 2010
Truly the end of an era...
: Durarara!!, Ore no Imouto, Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin
This choice shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. While there have been some great anime series this year, none for me was as enjoyable, as remarkably consistent, as well crafted, or as well executed as Brotherhood
. It's not easy to create a 64-episode anime that manages to carry its momentum from the start all the way to the finish with a payoff that was not only incredibly satisfying but also just plain awesome to watch. From the great storytelling, memorable characters, great action set pieces, awesome villains, and superb production values, Brotherhood
is truly a complete package that is not only my favorite anime of 2010 but also the most worthy of being called the best anime of 2010.
That that about does it for the best anime of 2010. Like any other year 2010 definitely had it's ups and downs as well good trends and bad trends. But it was by no means a bad year for anime. Out of the 100 or titles that would have been eligible for these lists, I would say that at least a quarter of them are worthwhile watches, not bad for what's supposed to be a fledgling medium. Let's hope that 2011 will turn out to be yet another good year for anime.