The Top Ten Series – Best of 2009
So 2009 is drawing to a close. So as tradition dictates, its time to take a gander back at the year that was and pick out shows that I loved most. Now I’m an awkward child so I take into consideration all shows that finished their run in 2009, even if they started in another year……yes its cheating slightly (and more cheating is follow) but thats the way Cara’s head works
I’ve decided to do a Top 10 TV shows and a Top 5 of the movies/OVAs/Web releases so that everything gets covered (I’ll put those in a separate post though).
Usual disclaimer applies – I’ve only taken into consideration stuff I’ve seen and I have ranked by my own personal preference……..I think I have fabulous taste, many may disagree
10. Trapeze (Kuuchuu Buranko) – Autumn
It may have been formulaic and the colour scheme was headache inducing, but I still enjoyed Trapeze. It was refreshing to see a show attempt something a bit different with its delivery. The effect was very striking and made Trapeze stand out from the crowd – of course the structure got a bit bogged down and predictable, but the subtle way each story was tied into the other made for a satisfying watch. Flawed, but deserving of a place in the best of the year if only for its original execution.
9. Sengoku Basara – Spring
Ah this was just fun. Completely over the top and overblown, it had motorbike-horses and more GAR than is advisable for your health! Again no one can say this was the best show ever, but I just didn’t care and enjoyed every minute of its madness! If I’m honest I didn’t pay much attention to the plot, more or less emersing myself in the riot of colour and noise that each episode contained. The soundtrack and voice acting were nothing short of brilliant, the animation a visual feast – Sengoku Basara turned out to be pure entertainment and I’m really looking forward to another dose when season 2 rolls on in!
8. Guin Saga – Spring
Ah this was a treat. A slow burner Guin Saga slipped under the radar for a lot of people. The source material is vast and these 26 episodes only covered a small fraction of that – a second season would be very welcome! A very consistent and well paced series bursting with character development, I anticipated every episode and got completely sucked into the journey the characters undertook. Animation quality was some of the best I’ve seen this year, and the voice acting was understated and solid throughout. In fact everything about this show is solid, nothing is done poorly (except maybe the ending that demands a 2nd series!). More of these kinds of shows please!
7. Darker than BLACK: Ryuusei no Gemini – Autumn
This is how to do a sequel – the ending may have gone a bit ‘lolwut’ but the rest of the series was exceptionally well put together. By taking established facts from series 1 and building on them this 2nd series managed to solidly produce its own identity. I have issues with the way they ended things – a 3rd series looks to be a possibility, also not many questions from that odd ending in S1 were answered (hopefully the upcoming OVAs will do that though); but overall S2 of Darker than BLACK was a great watch. Excellent production values and a fantastic soundtrack all made for a great viewing experience.
6. Casshern SINS – Autumn 08
Ah here we go, 1st bit of cheating Casshern SINS may have started airing in Autumn 2008, but it didn’t end until the start of Spring 2009 which is why it’s included here. Casshern was a series I wasn’t overly keen on to start with, but it really grew on me week by week and by the finale I was completely hooked by the series. Stunning visually, the dark dreary landscape is contrasted sharply by the sharp styling of the character designs – the use of colour in this series was just gorgeous. Dialogue was kept to a minimum throughout, the soundtrack and visuals doing most of the storytelling, but the little voice acting there was was brilliantly acted. Casshern SINS is a series I wouldn’t recommend marathoning – its episodic nature is better suited to more sporadic viewing really – however it is a series I highly rate and would happily recommend to anyone.
5. Bakemonogatari – Summer
Ah I’m cheating again. Technically Bakemonogatari isn’t finished, as the final two web release episodes of Tsubasa Cat havent been released yet, but the TV broadcast is complete so I’m including it on this list.
Bakemonogatari wasn’t to everyones taste due to the meandering dialogue and quirky animation, but I loved it. I really enjoyed Araragi and Senjougohara’s banter – the script just sparkled in this show! Of course the eyecatching unusual animation also helped my enjoyment massively – scenes that were just basically talking were made several times more interesting because of the animation – Araragi and Senjougohara talking in the playground stands out in my mind as one of the best episodes of the year! Its a strange show, but I like it……now if only SHAFT would finish it all would be perfect!
4. Phantom~Requiem for the Phantom~ – Spring
This came as a surprise to me. I don’t like BeeTrain normally, and thought Phantom would be a rip off of Noir – however I ended up loving this series. The character development over the run was remarkable, the stylish animation impressive and the soundtrack was glorious (we’ll ignore the hideous ALI PROJECT – I like to pretend that didn’t happen ). The very end may have made me rage, but I now accept that that was a very memorable way to end the show. Phantom was a very well plotted multi-layered series and I was very impressed by it.
3. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – Summer
A wonderful show and a complete breath of fresh air. I really like series that try to do something a little bit different, and this is just one such show. Going down the realistic documentary type road, Tokyo Magnitude turned into a show that I couldn’t wait to watch every week. Watching how the (very normal) characters coped with their situation as they attempt to make their way home was very simple, but the execution was flawless. Some felt that the major spoiler incident towards the later quarter was a bit overdone, but I quite liked the way BONES dealt with it - even though I had figured out the big reveal before hand I still felt the emotional punch of the finale. Great show – needs to be more shows willing to dedicate this amount of research to their concepts.
2. Eden of the East – Spring
A joy to watch – thats what Eden of the East was to me. I loved it from the very first episode and its definitely one of the high points of the past year for me. Again I’m cheating slightly as the story is only half told (the two theatrical films will complete the story) but since the TV broadcast and ‘Part One’ are complete I’m including it in the list.
Everything about Eden of the East appealed to me, from the Oasis OP with its impressive kinetic typography to the papermation ED I was captivated. The characters were fun to watch, the script was intelligent and witty, the soundtrack solid, the animation wonderfully detailed and the plot was intriguing. Things started to get a bit all over the place towards the end of the series as the plot started to freewheel, but nothing disastrous happened and I can forgive a few faults. I’m massively looking forward to the conclusion of this series – definitely deserving of my #2 position.
1. Aoi Bungaku – Autumn
And so we reach my top pick of 2009, and what a series it is! Six different pieces of critically acclaimed literature in 12 episodes, each arc handled by a different director employing differing animation – it was an ambitious project, but my god did MADHOUSE ever pull it off! Each arc was so utterly different, yet I adored each and every one of them – my ranking of the arcs ended up being:
1. No Longer Human
2. Run, Melos!
4. Hell Screen
5. In the Woods, Under the Cherry Blossoms in Full Bloom
6. The Spider’s Thread
but not one of the arcs was bad – an impressive feat! The animation was flawless for each arc, completely different in them all yet beautifully rendered in each. I could probably wax lyrical about this series for ages, but instead I’ll just settle for saying I loved Aoi Bungaku, and would urge anyone who has yet to experience it to do so ASAP!
So thats my Top 10 of 2009 – whats yours?