The Top Ten Series – Best of 2010 (Movie/OVA/ONA)
So part two of my yearly review, this time dedicated to movies/OVAs/ONAs that were released throughout the past year. For the movies I’m counting if they got a DVD release & therefore subbed within 2010 rather than when their Japanese theatrical release was. I seemed to have watched many more movies & OVAs than I did last year, which is why the list is a full 10 this year!
10. Break Blade
I’m deviating from my usual pattern slightly by including still running series on this list – only two of the Break Blade movies are available at the moment. However I had to include this series because it’s so interesting! I mean the mecha actually behave like machines – they’re clunky and unwieldly, the pilot actually has to strain himself to move them and its a bumpy ride. This makes for a completely different type of mecha battle than the smooth, intricate aerial fights we’ve become accustomed to through exposure to Gundam & Macross – fights in Break Blade are cruder and arguably more visceral because the mecha is so difficult to maneuver. I also like the world setting for Break Blade, although there are some very overused tropes flying about as regards the plot & characters. Still Break Blade looks to be a promising franchise and I’m looking forward to more.
9. Eden of the East: The King of Eden/ Paradise Lost
These two films make up the finale of 2009’s excellent Eden of the East TV anime, but have a slightly different feel to them. The scale in the movies just goes to a whole new and unexpected level – Eden of the East started as quite an intimate little series, but it ballooned into a completely different kind of creature by the time the movies came rolling in. It was a really fun ride though, The King of Eden film was a bit disappointing as it was overlong and very confusing at times, but Paradise Lost made up for that with little difficulty. The end of the movie was just the perfect end to one of my favourite shows in recent years.
8. Cat Shit One
Its bunnies fighting camels. Bunnies fighting camels like they’re in Black Hawk Down or something! This entirely CGI OVA really impressed me as its hyper real warfare feel was really weirdly offset by the fact it was impossibly cute fluffy bunnies that are running about the place shooting the terrorist camels with deadly precision. I’m not the biggest fan of war movies/ games, but Cat Shit One really impressed me with how well put together it was and how varied the action could be in such a short space of time. Plus the bunnies looked so soft and huggable……..even when wielding machine guns like hardened war heroes!
7. Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: Lagann-Hen
Where Gurren-Hen was a more or less straight retelling of the 1st half of the TV series, Lagann-Hen takes a few more liberties with the plotline – tweaking it in order to make the climax of the series all the more epic. It keeps the vast majority of what TTGL’s final arc so jawdroppingly good, but adds in lots more OTT-ness making the movie just a feast of awesome. Sure it goes a touch too far in its quest to outdo itself (giving everyone their own TTGL was a touch much) but it’s still a riot. Of course being a movie the visuals are even more amazing than the TV anime – everything just feels like its been ramped up a gear! Really fun movie.
6. Gundam Unicorn
Again cheating a bit since there are only 2 OVAs available at the moment, but I couldn’t let this post go up without Unicorn on it. The Gundam franchise goes back to its Universal Century roots in this newest OVA series, but with full access to modern animation techniques, this is UC Gundam as we’ve never seen it – and it is gorgeous! I’d imagine that Unicorn would be utterly incomprehensible to anyone new to the UC timeline, as the show is jam-packed with references & homages to the older Gundam shows and standard tropes of the series. It’s a love letter to the franchise and I think its glorious – very much looking forward to the rest of the series.
5. xxxHOLiC: Rou
I’m a hopeless fangirl of xxxHOLiC, I just love the series to bits. The Rou OAD’s were bundled in with the manga, and so are targeted at fans like me even though much of the OAD is anime original – I can imagine anyone only following the anime releases to be extremely confused as there is no indication of what has happened or how much time has passed after the events of last years Shunmuki OAD. The time-skip lands us right into having Watanuki take over Yuuko’s mantle, and he’s become a much more intriguing character – of course elements of what made Watanuki so loveable in the original series remain, but Rou’s Watanuki is clearly different. I really enjoyed this OAD, looking forward to the next one!
4. Darker than BLACK: The Black Contractor Gaiden
Yes it was slow and confusing and didn’t really give us all the answers we were craving, but the OVA was still really interesting and did answer some of the burning questions we had about events between the two TV series. However what it mostly gave me was a viable reason to ship the hell out of Hei x Yin! 😆 Both receive more character development in these four OVA’s than they do in either of the TV shows, the action becomes a supplement to the character drama, and while that wasn’t what I was expecting, it turned out to be a very welcome change. I may just be a hopeless fan of Darker than BLACK, but I did like this OVA series and do hope that we get more from this franchise in the future.
3. Rebuild of Evangelion 2.22 You Can [Not] Advance
In this 2nd reboot of the Evangelion franchise the plot starts to deviate from the original TV series. There is an arguable loss of character development, but that’s more than made up for by the eye-popping visuals and fantastically well-directed action scenes – the entire movie is just a feast for the senses. EVA 2.22 is a new way to view the series, lots of the interesting introspection and wangst has been cut in favour of more action than you can shake a stick at, but it remains very EVA regardless. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the film and quite like the direction the movies are heading; massively looking forward to the 3rd film!
2. Macross Frontier: The False Songstress
A complete re-imagining of the Macross Frontier TV series, The False Songstress was an amazing movie that took the best bits, twisted them about and produced something even better! All the wishy-washiness is dispensed with and instead The False Songstress seems to have a much clearer idea of what it’s doing and where it wants to go. The movie retains much of what made the Macross Frontier anime so much fun to watch – the fantastic action scenes, catchy music and likeable characters, but since everything feels much tighter and better planned, the movie just feels like a more rewarding watch. Plus it has one of the best uses of credit I’ve ever seen! I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the 2nd film ‘Farewell Wings’ builds on this very solid start!
1. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Yeah, I’m a big Haruhi fan, and Disappearance is probably my favourite novel, so this should really not be a surprise to anyone. I loved this film – loved it! It’s a bit over long especially since so much of the movie focuses solely on Kyon’s internal struggle to discover what he really wants from life. But I loved every minute of it – Tomokazu Sugita’s performance as Kyon was nothing short of brilliant, he carried the entire film and really did a remarkable job. Yuki also got a lot of development, she did become a bit of moe blob for much of the film, but it was all part of her evolution as a character. But the thing that’s most remarkable about this film is the animation – its breathtaking! So much attention to detail, so smoothly done – there isn’t much action, but everything in this movie has been lavished with attention – it’s really stunning.
So that’s my Top 10 movies/OVAs/ONAs of 2010 – more movies than anything else really, there were a lot of fantastic films this year. Honourable mentions to King of Thorn, Tales of Vesperia and Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail.