The Top Ten Series – Best of 2010
So we’ve said goodbye to 2010 and are looking forward to what delights 2011. But before we get too far into 2011, tradition dictates that I take a look 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 2010, even if they started the previous year……yes its cheating slightly (and more cheating is follow) but that’s the way Cara’s head works!
I’ve decided to do a Top 10 TV shows and a Top 10 of the movies/OVAs/ONA 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 even if I’ve watched quite a lot, I haven’t seen everything!) and I have ranked by my own personal preference……..I think I have fabulous taste, many may disagree
10. Highschool of the Dead (Summer 2010)
May as well start with a bang (or bounce in this instance), I should not have enjoyed this series as much as I did. On paper the show has very little to offer outside of boobs, panties and gratuitous zombie related violence…..in actuality the show turned out to be a lot of fun and even had a bit of plot! The amount and variety of the fanservice on show really has to be applauded for sheer creativity – who would have thought we’d see gainaxing boobs in bullet time!? HOTD would have gotten very old very quick if it wasn’t for the superb direction though, the fact that it kept the action & fanservice interesting right up to the end was remarkable. In terms of characters, well they didn’t really get a whole lot of development, but they still were interesting to watch and there was a surprising amount of time spent on character interaction rather than it being all zombie slaying action and panty-shots all the time. It’s a touch unfortunate that the ending is left so open-ended, but that’s a very minor quibble, and if a sequel ever pops up I’d definitely watch it!
9. Nodame Cantabile Finale (Winter 2010)
Ah it was heartbreaking to have to finally bid Chiaki & Nodame goodbye this year, but they left us with some wonderful memories. Finale started off a bit rocky, since it was mainly focusing on the side characters and Chiaki & Nodame didn’t really get much time together, but the series ended on a fantastically strong note and Finale has some of the best Nodame x Chiaki moments in the entire franchise! Its been a joy to follow these two very different people throughout their relationship, Finale was a very fitting end to the journey.
8. The Tatami Galaxy (Spring 2010)
The Tatami Galaxy (Yojou-Han Shinwa Taikei) was a series that I originally found difficult to get into. The frantic pace and machine-gun fire speed of the dialogue in the initial episode had me reaching for the aspirin and ditching the show for a few weeks. However I really liked the idea and unique feel of the show so I tried again, and completely got sucked into the Tatami Galaxy. I really enjoyed the Groundhog Day type resets, and it was fascinating to see so many different versions of the same character – every reset showed us a different Watashi. However its the truly phenomenal ending that makes The Tatami Galaxy such a brilliant series – the whole series builds to this final moment of epiphany for Watashi and it is glorious. Highly recommended viewing.
7. Giant Killing (Spring 2010)
Now here’s the thing – I hate football. I mean I really, really hate it – its boring; however I loved every minute of Giant Killing! It’s the wonderful cast of characters that made Giant Killing such a great show – everyone has their own distinctive personality and even the minor characters making up the opposing teams/fans/journalists/support staff were given individual identities and character designs. Plus the actual games were exciting because I actually cared about the characters & ETU – I was swept up in the tide of enthusiasm, actually cheering or groaning along with the supporters! Giant Killing also has some of the best use of foreign language in anime I’ve ever encountered – the foreign coaches/players are actually given appropriate voices. Of course it’s not all good – the animation left a lot to be desired, clearly DEEN didn’t really have much of a budget, but they did a very good job with what they had. Overall Giant Killing is an excellent series that really needs more love (and a second season!).
6. Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (Autumn 2010)
Now here’s one of the more original series that aired this year – Panty & Stocking was a gamble by Gainax that really ended up being genius. It’s by no means perfect, at times the humour is a bit limp & repetitive and at some points the series goes a bit too far with its crudeness, but overall it’s a brilliant series. The animation was spectacular, there was never a dull moment in the show (even that episode that was just a static shot with Panty & Stocking talking was excellent) and I loved all the parodies & homage’s the show contained in its run. Panty & Stocking is not to everyone’s taste though as it is very off the wall and crass, but for those that love Gainax’s particular brand of madness, it was a very fun ride………now, wonder if that second series will ever happen?
5. Arakawa Under the Bridge/ x Bridge (Spring & Autumn 2010)
Cheating a wee bit by lumping both seasons of Arakawa together, but since they both aired in the same year it’s not too bad. SHAFT were back on top form with Arakawa – I liked it enough to blog it! The brilliance of Arakawa lies in the fact that underneath the stupidity and absurd characters, there is a lot of heart. It was wonderful to watch Ric slowly shed his up-tight, stressed persona and learn to accept himself and other people at face value, and his relationship with Nino was nicely portrayed too. It’s very subtlety done, but there’s quite a bit of depth to Arakawa. Of course even if you aren’t interested in the layers, there’s still great entertainment value to be had as the series is one of the best gag comedies I’ve watched. The colourful cast are brought to life by excellent voice actors and script with plenty of sparkle. Getting to visit Under the Bridge was without doubt one of my highlights of the year – hope there is a third season!
I wasn’t sure if I should put Katanagatari here or in the Movie/OVA/ONA list, but felt that it fit better in this one, as despite the fact it aired at a rate of one 50min episode every month, it feels much more like a TV series than an OVA series. Katanagatari was an ambitious project, but it was exceptionally well written and a wonderful journey – I spent the whole year writing about Katanagatari, its strange to have no more episodes to look forward to. Dialogue heavy and very character driven, the action was always secondary in this series, but the wit and intelligence that the script displayed made it a firm favourite. It’s by no means perfect – the plot didn’t really make a whole lot of sense, and sometimes the direction left much to be desired, but over all its a very well made, visually striking series (the unique artstyle was very eye-catching). It’s an investment to get into Katanagatari, but the journey is well worth it.
3. Durarara!! (Winter 2010)
I doubt anyone will be surprised to see Drrr!! sitting so high on my list – I loved this series, it gave me that ‘I need the next episode NOW!’ buzz that I crave from anime, and I completely fell in love with the characters. Brains Base did a great job on the production of the show – it looks & sounds fantastic and despite the fact the series is flawed (that 2nd half never did live up to the 1st) Drrr!! was really brilliantly written, making optimal use of its huge cast of colourful characters to bring Ikebukuro to life. The over lapping storylines, and the way the characters took turns to narrate the series meant that it was a lot of fun to try to unravel the mysteries in the show – I think a major part of why I loved Drrr!! so much was because I was blogging it. The other huge part of my enjoyment, stemmed from one character – Izaya Orihara. I loved watching Izaya, he was just entertaining no matter what he was doing, be it stomping on cell phones, getting whacked with flying bins or spinning round on an office chair laughing his head off – Izaya was just fun. Oh how much would I love a second series of this anime – there is a wealth of material left to cover from the novels, fingers crossed it happens at some point!
2. Shiki (Summer 2010)
Shiki, oh god Shiki – it stole my soul! Shiki is without a shadow of a doubt, the best anime to air entirely in 2010. It’s a slow burn for the first half, creating a stifling atmosphere and building the tension to a fever pitch, and then in the 2nd half all hell breaks lose and Shiki leaves you gasping for breath as you try to wrap your head around the carnage – it’s just an amazing series. There are very few anime in the horror genre that are truly horrific – but Shiki is definitely one. I can’t go into specifics of course since that would be spoilerific, but from episode 14 onwards, Shiki shows why its ‘horror’ tag is well deserved, containing scenes are genuinely chilling and nigh unforgettable. In terms of characters, Shiki has a huge cast but uses them well – the development that takes place is startling and much of my posts on the series tended to hinge on character actions & development – they were just endlessly fascinating to discuss. On the production front, Daume did a great job – unexpected since they are such a small studio. The character designs take a bit of getting used to (DAT HAIR!) but the direction, animation and sound production were flawless. Yes I am fangirling a bit here, but seriously if you haven’t tried Shiki (or if you tried it and got bored by the slow burning start) I’d urge you to pick it up again – it’s just that good.
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (Spring 2009)
If it wasn’t for the fact that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood ended its run in 2010, Shiki would have walked away with this place. However FMA:B is my #1 anime of the year (and all time) for a very well deserved reason – it’s as close to perfect as I’ve seen an anime series get. I have a lot of love for the anime original FMA, but I always loved the manga plotline more, and FMA:B follows the manga plotline extremely closely. The world is bigger, the cast larger, the stakes are higher and the action is more exhilarating – in every sense FMA:B is bigger than its anime original counterpart (except perhaps in character development, I feel the original has the edge there). BONES clearly poured money into this adaptation, because the animation is jaw droppingly gorgeous for the vast majority of the 63 episode run – its a very polished anime with the best of everything lavished on it and it shows. However in my book its the plot and characters that made FMA:B such a triumph – I’m weak to shounen series anyway, but I loved following Ed & Al along their journey, and was both sad and happy to see the series end. FMA:B is simply one of the best series I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch.
So there we have it, my personal top 10 TV anime of the past year, what where yours? It was actually surprisingly easy to compile this list – these were the series that stood head and shoulders about the rest for me. Honourable mentions go to House of Five Leaves, Cross Game, Kuragehime & Angel Beats.