Narutaki & Hisui VS. 2009

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

Battler Ushiromiya
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.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #028

Crusher Joe randomly came up while looking for something else and I had the itch to watch it. I remembering seeing it for the first time at my introduction to anime cons, Big Apple Anime Fest. Though I don’t remember ever seeing the OVAs until now. And it is still highly entertaining. I especially love the disco scene in the movie. Between the woman who’s breast keeps randomly popping out of her shirt, the all out brawl, and Joe’s fantasmo fringe boots, what’s not to love? The show is great fun, it is by the guy who wrote Dirty Pair, so it is very much in that vein.

Akikan! seems about as inhumane as waterboarding if used on unwilling or unsuspecting audiences. Okay that is an exaggeration but it is still a putrid, pile of fecal matter molded poorly into an anime. We were originally not going to watch the show because it looked like a rather bland magical girlfriend show. Oh, and it is about a can of melon soda that comes to life and has to be given CO2 energy by way of making out was not helping. Then again Kannagi is about a wooden sculpture that comes to life and that was an entertaining show. The main problem is that Akikan! takes every cliche thing a harem anime has ever had and executes it in the worst possible manner. The main character, Kakeru Daichi, is alternatively a creepy sadist or wimpy loser. Melon is just a rampaging moron in the Akane Tendo vein but far, far worse. There are some other stock side characters such as the far less important male friend, the ignored pretty female childhood friend, the crazy lesbian, and others I am sure I have forgotten. The creepy predatory gay government official shows up for a few seconds mostly to be very creepy and then disappears without contributing anything to the plot. Also for a show designed to appeal to guys we see way too much naked Kakeru. I actually enjoyed this anime in small part for a reason completely unrelated to the show itself. It was actually fun to watch Narutaki’s facial reactions to the utter garbage on the screen. This is the new low water mark that other anime have to beat to disappoint me. Sorry Wild Cardz.

Started watching Fairy Musketeers thanks to Crunchyroll. So far have gotten through episode 4. It is a very cute, children’s magical girl show. All the characters are named after fairy tale characters, our heroine being Red Riding Hood. Her along with some others, including her wolf Val, are protecting the key which is in a little boy named Sota. It stays true to magical girl form with cute outfits, weekly monsters, and wacky hijinks. I also really love the evil minion Hansel who works for the Queen Cinderella (who is the villainess of the entire series). It doesn’t seem to offer anything new but it does its genre nicely. If it were dubbed I would recommend it for children!

Fairy Musketeers is for two major groups. The first is children. The second is older people who want a comfort food magical girl show with absolutely no otaku pandering. That means no panty shots and no innuendo. I assume that its simple nature will turn  hardcore fans away but so be it. It’s not for them. I do find it interesting that even the major villains are fairy tale heroes. Normally you would have fairy tale villains as the villains not other fairy tale heroes. I wonder if there is some story reason for this or is it just the way things are. Red Riding Hood is your standard genki girl but I was thrown off by the Snow White character design. I assumed she was going to be a shy bookish peacemaker girl. She turns out to be bookish but she actively fights with and speaks her mind to Red Riding Hood.

So I picked up a couple of trades of Grant Morrison since he is one of the guests of honor at New York Comic-Con. Batman and Son was an okay work, but I found the dialogue clunky and stiff. I also realized I only like Andy Kubert’s artwork about half the time, and that half is when he is drawing Batman. When he is drawing normal people they are constantly looking sinister even when I don’t think that is the intention. The story itself is interesting and the ending is crazy atleast but I think I prefer a more traditional Batman, what can I say. Also read Batman: Arkham Asylum with art by Dave McKean this work was really gripping and different but once again not my cup of tea. The dialogue is awkward, this really drives me crazy. The artwork is out of this world and even more so when you think that it was made pre-computer age. This work I understand its significance in the comic book world even if it wasn’t for me.

I went back to playing Mugen no Frontier: Super Robot Wars OG Saga. It may be all in Japanese but the general plot and gameplay is simple enough for me to not have to worry. I am sure I am missing some of the subtler details of gameplay but such is life. It has a technowestern feel. The main character is dressed in a full cowboy getup  but has an android partner and a transforming laser gun. The are also other Capcom characters including the main characters from Namco X Capcom and KOS-MOS from Xenosaga. The more I play the more I realize that the basic foundation of all Super Robot Wars games is fan-service. In the standard games it is robot porn. It’s hot cross show robot on robot action. In the gaiden game it is your more standard arse and boob service. I don’t mind such things but it’s worth mentioning that is is there. It is a fun little menu based RPG with some amount of action elements during attacks and defense so keep you interested.

Since I have been reading a lot of Batman lately, this is the pic of the week: