Narutaki & Hisui VS. 2009 is in part an award show, in part an exercise in humor and snark, in part a challenge, and in part a love letter to everything great this year. We picked several categories and each of us picked titles, characters, and people who we felt best summed up our feelings on the year. Take a peek into what we thought on the anime and manga of 2009 and the people who bring it to us. Feel free to suggest new categories and challenge our picks.
Would also love to hear other people’s picks for some of these categories as well! By the way, some of this stuff happens to have come out in years gone by but we first watched/read/whatnot this year so that’s why they’re here, I’ll hear no guff about it! I really enjoy this part of the year, all the posts seem to be more fun and this one is no exception.
Best Anime of 2009 or Show that Infuriates You to No End When Someone on MAL says “If you like this show you will love Dance in the Vampire Bund.”
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
The noitaminA is your go to animation slot when you are looking for something that is simultaneously different, mature, well produced, and smart. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is no exception to this rule. An exceptional look at ordinary people involved in an extraordinary but still extremely feasible situation. It is a superb mixture of intense character study and survival drama. I know some people feel the end is weak but I thought it did well in capping off this powerful and thought provoking show.
Eden of the East
It is a little bit mystery, a little bit drama, and a little bit suspense wrapped around an intriguing concept. It’s a wonderful series to watch unfold and since Takizawa doesn’t remember what has happened there is a wonderful element of discovery that comes. Takizawa himself is a refreshing and mysterious guy but you always get the feeling, or I did, that he was a good guy even when things looked dubious. Also he loved dogs, can’t be bad. The game was able to engross and impress me from episode one and continued to do so throughout its broadcast.
Anime Man of the Year or You Must be Swift
as a Coursing River
Have you ever wished Phoenix Wright could be the star of his own supernatural murder mystery anime? Well if so then someone heard your prayers. In Umineko no Naku Koro ni we have Battler Ushiromiya who is a clear homage to Phoenix Wright with dramatic finger pointing, manly crying, and split between having to do detective work and acting like a lawyer. He may have his flaws but no matter what he keeps marching forward despite numerous set backs and tragedies. Plus he is just plain cool whenever he is on the counterattack. His casual charm and iron clad will set the tone for the anime as much as they do the games it was based on.
After thinking this over way too much, I finally decided on Guin for a few reasons. First being that after more than 100 books about his quest on the bestseller list, Guin finally got an anime. Adding to that is that Guin may arguably be the most manly character animated in 2009. If you watch just the first episode, this will become obvious. I also read about Guin in novel formthe first time this year myself. And finally, and sadly, Guin’s creator Kaoru Kurimoto passed away in 2009, a woman who was still writing about her most popular creation.
Anime Woman of the Year or I am Woman Hear Me Roar
Canaan is a competent kick arse girl with a gun. That is usually all that you need to sell me on a character. The fact that Canaan has her rather slick synesthesia ability which I thought was a very original superpower. She has a stoic and cool feel to her but it she still cares for the people she wishes to protect and gives her all to do so. I also think that her competence on the battlefield but her awkwardness in personal relationships gives her a good mixture of strength and weakness that make her a serious version of Sousuke Sagara. I also think makes her an interesting character to me.
Picking a woman of the year became a lot easier the more I watched Kimi ni Todoke. Sawako has a special strength of character that uplifts you, just as she does to the many characters around her. She is humorous and endearing and you never doubt that she will succeed and grow in each new scenario she encounters. Sawako’s positive attitude, even after endearing so much isolation is a true testament to the human spirit and the ability to change.
Favorite Classic Manga Release or Get Off My Lawn and
Read This Manga Instead You Whippersnappers
I bring up Astroboy for several reasons. The first is the releaseof the critically acclaimed manga Pluto in the U.S. which is based on one of the most famous Astroboy stories. While Naoki Urasawa makes the story his own, there is much to be gained from reading the original story. The second is the release of the Astoboy CG movie. It might be weak but it shows the lasting legacy of the Mighty Atom. The third is the fact that premier Tezuka scholar and Astroboy fan Frederik L. Schodt was an excellent guest at Otakon 2009. If any of these things interest you I suggest you pick up Astroboy and see where it all began.
Okay, so this didn’t just start in 2009 but the fact that it is still being released is something to celebrate. Swan continually wows me with its style, layout, and melodramatic storytelling exemplary of 70’s shojo.
Worst Thing I Watched or My Eyes! The Goggles Do Nothing!
Oh Queen’s Blade you are so bad that you are not even good at accomplishing the simple goal you set out to do. You want to be a dumb little fantasy adventure series with enough titillation to captivate an audience. You go far enough to be grossly excessive in your fan-service but pull back from being porn almost in a chicken sort of way. Also all the humor is rather misogynistic or bizarre. In fact much of the series is just utterly misogynistic. They decided to try to turn everything up to 11 including the breast size but they forgot not to turn the knob for bad up to 11 as well.
Akikan! has a lot more wrong with it than its stupid premise of soda drinks transforming into girls. All the characters are either annoying, creepy, losers, or all of these things in combination. The character designs are awful and the animation quality is way below sub-par. Akikan! is the type of show that makes you say “I didn’t know they made anime this bad anymore!”
Best Convention Guest or I Need to Get an Autograph
with a Haro On It.
As anyone who has read the blog for any amount of time has seen Narutaki and I have very similar tastes. But when it comes to what we are the most passionate about we tend to be very different. But there is one place where both of our passions are about equal and that is for mecha. And one of our favorite mecha directors is Yoshiyuki Tomino. It was amazing to be able to meet the man behind the real robot genre. He was as blunt and cranky as you expected him to be but he seemed to be genuinely appreciative of his fans which was nice to see. Seeing him was the highlight of the year.
Tomino Con 2009 was the highlight of many a fan’s year! Obviously we are no exception. What more is there to say other than there is a reason we both put him!
Thing I Wish People Would Stop Talking About
or SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!
I wish people would stop talking about Kyoto Animation fro two reasons. The first is the second season of Haruhi. Yes Endless Eight was a very silly idea that might have been one of the biggest missteps with an anime franchise we will ever see. If they stopped watching Kyoto Animation might have learned some sort of lesson. But it seemed like after a point people just started watching episodes just so they complain about it the day after. The second is K-On!. I wish people would just stop talking about K-On! because I did not think it was that good. Also because if I bring up K-On! we won’t hear Narutaki’s thoughts on K-On! and that would be less than pleasant believe me.
I am just tired of hearing the constant internet love letter to Studio Shaft. What little interest I had in them thanks to Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei has promptly been washed away by masses of people decreeing they can do no wrong. The fact that Dance of the Vampire Bund is coming out next month just compounds my disinterest.
Series I Unexpectedly Liked or Chili and Chocolate
Mirai Nikki is a much smarter and more entertaining manga than I first thought it would be. Mirai Nikki turns out to be the smart little thriller with a good mixture of action and psychological horror. The different diaries each had interesting powers and seeing how Yukiteru has to overcome them is fun an interesting because he has to out think his opponents and find the weakness in their diaries. Plus when the manga needs to turn the creepy factor on it does it quite well. It is a fast moving series I am am pretty sure the end is coming soon. I hope it ends as well as it has started and I look forward to Sakae Esuno’s next work. I will say that I am still a little scared by the huge Yuno Gasai fan-base who sort of scare me.
Taisho Baseball Girls
While I was saddened there were no more musical numbers after episode one, it was a wonderful little story of baseball and friendship with just a touch of romance in the mix. Koume is a great lead who is a warm girl on the edge of a modern age. And while Baseball Girls does explore some feminist themes, it does so with the right amount of force for these characters. This is a show I was happy to say was one of the best of 2009.
Favorite Opening or Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
Umineko no Naku Koro ni – Katayoku no Tori
The opening to Umineko no Naku Koro ni is just as epic as the opening to the game and that is no small feat. It has some great vocals with a mixture of Italian and Japanese by Akiko Shikata. The lyrics are a delightful insight into the story if you are paying attention. Also I love that after every arc you will notice that they have added something new to the opening. It keeps the introductions interesting without raising the budget significantly. I can’t wait to see the opening for whenever they make a Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru anime.
Eden of the East – Falling Down
Best opening has to go to Eden of the East for me because of its great combination of design and sound. What I loved most was the use of graphics more than animated sequences. And Oasis just rocks.
Best License Announcement or Time to Sell Some Blood
Fist of the North Star
It has been the common sentiment that Fist of the North Star is just one of those titles that would never sell in the U.S. after its previous failure and therefore would never be completed. Then it started streaming online which was mind blowing. Then Discotek Media picked it the DVD rights. For the longest time Fist of the North Star has been one of those series that is popular elsewhere in the world but not in the U.S. Now hopefully the small but dedicated fanbase will get what they have always hoped for.
Not only was I personally super excited that this series got licensed, but it is also a smart choice by Funimation. Crazy fighters and over-the-top characters in an insane interpretation of feudal Japan animated by Production I.G. That is basically a winning combination for me right there. Did I mentioned choreographed dancing samurai in the opening? Fun times all around!
Best Short Manga or Sometimes I Would Like to Read a Manga Series Under 30 Books Long
Tanpenshu is a short story collection in two books by Hiroki Endo the author of Eden: It’s an Endless World! The stories are often self-indulgent as Subatomic Brainfreeze said when he commented on the blog but I feel if you are going to be self-indulgent do it in short story form. It is a great collection that shows Endo’s range as an artist and storyteller. It is a good mixture of funny stories with dark stories but all of them are mature tales. It is a great read if you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary.
Palette of 12 Secret Colors
I have basically spent all year praising Nari Kusakawa up and down to anyone who would listen, this I will continue now. Palette of 12 Secret Colors features an exotic island where the birds and their “palette’s” (human partners) provide the colors of the world. Cello is training to be just that but with only middling success and a string of clumsy color accidents under her belt. As such see often talks with Dr. Guell and things go forward from there. These two have such a hilarious chemistry that it is infectious. It is lovely the way that romance and choosing a future are combined here with an emphasis on what loving someone means. With all of Nari Kurakawa’s series there are elements of magic combined with romance and humor topped with heaps of charm.
Most Horrible Piece of Merchandise or Things Too Tacky to Place Next to Your Big Mouth Billy Bass
1/8 Sheryl Nome NA Ver PVC Figure
I realize that one of Sheryl’s biggest appeals is that she has a smoking hot body. I don’t think anyone is going to disagree with that. So as expected you are going to get some rather risque figures of her. But this figure crosses the line from sexy to downright vulgar. Her outfit is a bit gratuitous but it’s nothing that is inappropriate for a sexy figure. The thing that makes this figure utterly reprehensible is Sheryl’s pose above that huge shell with the phrase Rise Up !! on the base of the figure. It is about as unsubtle as you can get. It just makes the figure so crass that I can’t see anyone but people who buy the figures with the clothing you can take off or the figures with the “real” breasts to buy one.
Char figures that you can put your own face on
I wish I was making this up. To be blunt, no one should want to see their own face in place of Char’s. NO ONE.
Funniest Series or The Best Medicine
I said it once and I will say it again. I really feel that Hyakko is an unappreciated series. It is an excellent school based comedy with wonderful characters, good comedic timing, and a lively sense of energy that can be all too lacking in slice of life series. Torako is a great energetic and spunky girl to interacts off the rest of the class quite well. These is also a good amount of male characters who get face time which are easily forgotten in certain shonen school comedies. Although the manga has not been licensed the anime is streaming for free.
Yes, it is unintentionally funny but funny nonetheless. They have card duels (which is pretty funny itself) on motorcycles! Everyone in prison (there is a prison arc) has decks of cards which are used to decide who is boss! I am ready to marathon this show!
Favorite Mecha Anime or The Char Aznable Award for Excellence
Shin Mazinger Shogeki! Z-Hen
As Narutaki joked if we did not include this series in the list several people we know would probably jump us and then force us to edit this list so it was included. Possibly multiple times and even in categories where it did not belong. But this is for a very good reason. This is Yasuhiro Imagawa firing on all cylinders. It is not just an excellent giant robot show it is an excellent show all together. It has great characters, a full structured plot that was mostly written out from the start with amazing twists and turns, more Go Nagai references than you can shake a stick at, and of course blood pumping robot fights. If you watch one hardcore mecha series this year it should be this one. I mean it has Rocket Punch! 100 Rapid Shots! and what more could you ask for?
Okay, yeah I am way behind on the Eureka Seven fan train, okay? I just watched it this year and it makes me wish I had done so much sooner! It was a wonderful combination of characters and their growing, changing relationships. Both the looks at love seen through Eureka and Renton plus Holland and Talho captured me almost instantly. And equally thrilling is the shows combination of mecha and surf culture, very fun and unique. To round it all out is a world of mysteries that are slowly, but surely, revealed. Eureka Seven had everything I wanted in spades.
If I Never See This Type of Character Again or Characters Who Will Be the First Against the Wall
When the Revolution Comes
Fake strong female characters
I am just sick in tired of female characters that are supposed to be strong but are anything but. I don’t need every female character to be strong but don’t sell me a false bill of goods. Don’t give me the strong swordsman who is just a princess waiting to be kidnapped with and armor and a sword instead of a dress. Also don’t give me weak women who pretend to be strong by being total monsters and they try to sell me on the being fine either. Made real strong female charaters or don’t make them all.
Teenage girl who has the brain capacity of an 6-year-old
I think that pretty much sums it up, but if I have to elaborate I will. I’m not saying every girl needs to be genius level intelligence or anything, but really could they atleast go an entire episode without falling down for no reason or perhaps talk at a level someone their age should? I see this more than should happen and really it leaves the worst taste in my mouth.