I haven’t watched as many anime in 2010 as I probably should have, but I think it’s the first year I can truly say that I got a fairly good overall picture of the anime landscape. After reading a certain blog about the year in review and disagreeing on nearly every single point, I decided to create one of my own. So here are my superlatives for 2010 (included any series that aired at some point during 2010 i.e. also series that started in 2009 but carried over)
Animation: Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood. I only watched part of this amazing remake that was more faithful to the manga of one of my favorite franchises of all time. Not counting movies, I have not seen animation with more detail, fluidity, and exact tones than FMA:B. Bones triumphs once again in showing that unlike the American equivalents that are still aimed largely towards preteens and younger, 2D animation still has a long way to go. Honorable mention: Angel Beats
Story: Shiki. I’ll review this anime later, but the story in this work was more complex than any I’ve seen in recent years. Much of the narrative required careful attention to detail, where if missed, one would be totally lost. However, it wasn’t so complex that one needed to take a college level philosophy class to derive meaning from it either. It was intense and gripping, and that’s why it’s among my favorite anime of all time. Honorable mention: Kimi ni Todoke
Soundtrack: Angel Beats. This anime had it all, but I believe its stongest point was the music. I’ve played the insert songs countless times, and the OST was just stunning. There’s a good variety of music as well, ranging from slow guitar ballads to sweet piano pieces to rock and roll numbers. Honorable mention: K-on!!
OP and ED: My Soul Your Beats (Angel Beats OP) and No Thank You (K-on ED). These were songs I never skipped. My Soul Your Beats is Lia at her best with a well written piano accompaniment and awesome visuals. No Thank You showed why Youko HIKASA (Mio Akyama) was the best singer in Houkago Tea Time. Honorable Mention: Oratorio (The World Only God Knows OP) and Fallen Angel (Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt ED)
Song: One word. ANARCHY. Honorable mention: U&I (K-on insert song)
Character: Kanade Tachibana from Angel Beats. For this category I didn’t pick the most well rounded, realistic, best developed character, but simply went with my favorite. Kanade (a.k.a. Angel or Tenshi) is cute and yet has her awesome moments in battle. She’s clumsy but caring, usually cool and emotionless but truly loving. She embodies many characteristics I wish to see more in real life, as unrealistic as that may be. Honorable Mention: Toshio Ozaki from Shiki
Seiyuu: Ayana Taketatsu. Her performance as Azusa from K-on got me to like a character I had previously disliked, and the emotion that the role calls for is perfectly delivered. She also does a good job depicting the characteristics of Kirino Kousaka, although I didn’t particularly like the character.
THE FOLLOWING TWO SUPERLATIVES ARE SPOILERS
Plot Twist: The ending of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. If you watched it, you know. Honorable Mention: Shiki’s ending.
Death: Kanade from Angel Beats. While technically not a “death,” I grouped this in the category as it truly moved me to tears. Forced drama? Yes. Still emotional? Absolutely.
END OF SPOILERS
Action: FMA: Brotherhood. Does this even need explanation? Even in the little I saw, the action sequences surpassed even the high bar set by the previous series. Honorable Mention: Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt
Romance: Kimi ni Todoke. Sure it’s a holdover from last year but I’m counting it as this year was pretty poor for pure romances. This work was a down to earth depiction of love without all the flashy clichés. It’s refreshingly original and brings fresh blood to the genre of school life romances.
Drama: Even though I haven’t seen it, I’ll give it to Rainbow on word of mouth. Honorable Mention: FMA:B
Comedy: Vacant. I haven’t watched any good pure comedies this year. The best comedy was in Angel Beats, but it wasn’t really part of the genre. I don’t know enough about other anime in the genre to call this one.
Slice of Life: K-on. It’s the embodiment of slice of life. Enough said.
Fanservice: High School of the Dead. This anime was literally bleeding fanservice. I didn’t particularly like that aspect of it, but I’ll give credit where it’s due. Honorable mention: Yosuga no Sora.
Underappreciated: Shiki. It’s not even in the top 200 on this site, but I’d consider it one of the best of its genre. The story was subtle and intelligent and the characters were mostly well developed. There were far too many who missed out on a good anime because of impatience. I find that tragic.
Disappointment: Yosuga no Sora. The mistake here was having any expectations to begin with. I’ve already ranted about how bad this series is enough. Honorable mention: Ookami Kakushi
Exceeded expectations: Bakuman. After being less than impressed in my initial impressions, Bakuman has turned into one of my favorite anime of the season. Its strength is that it makes you care about the fate of the characters, which is key in any anime. The characters are good and the bits of comedy interspersed with drama are nicely executed.
Favorite: Angel Beats. As I mentioned earlier, this anime had everything. It had an enjoyable (albeit holey) story, likable (albeit somewhat cliché) characters, fluid animation, and awesome music. It’s tough to ask for more.
Movie: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. If I had grouped movies and series together, this would have taken many of the categories. I’d call it the perfect all round movie, but unless you’re a fan of the franchise, you wouldn’t understand it.
So feel free to disagree. I hope next year will bring just as much if not more quality anime.