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 #047

At first it seemed like Cross Game was more of the same from Mitsuru Adachi. Its initial similarities to Touch are quite easy to notice. They are both about boys who start with little interest in baseball and have a change of heart after the death of a loved one. After reading seeing a good deal of Cross Game they are very different shows. Tatsuya and Minami from Touch have a very different dynamic than Ko and Aoba on top of being very different characters overall. Cross Game shows that Adachi has not lost any magic as a manga-ka who blends dramatic romance with sports manga action. His characters are fun and play off each other well and he knows how to stage a scene for dramatic impact. So far we have not really seen anyone play a full game of baseball. Adachi is setting up the characters so that we care about Ko and his team winning before they play their first game. I like how Ko has become the secondary teams secret weapon. It leads to a good mixture of comedy and suspense as they try to keep his amazing pitching skill a secret. So far Cross Game is still on track as a good show to keep your eye on especially if you like shonen romance.

Vertical had mentioned the Shinjuku Shark books a couple of times at conventions and piqued my interest. After all, a detective story is what we have an affinity for around here! So the self-titled first book finally got a look see by both of us. The Shinjuku Shark strikes fear in all that know him and in many that don’t. He is somewhat of a rogue cop who the brass can’t stand. He has no partner to speak of as he prowls the streets of Shinjuku with little fear of the Yakuza and other gang types. While Samejima (The Shark) certainly has a hard-boiled feel, he is humanized through his relationships and by him actually having moments of fear when going up against the villains in these stories. Also after learning a little of his past in the force as well as the reason he has been permanently relegated to the Shinjuku streets he quickly becomes a character you want to follow. Some other notable people are Yabu the weapons expert on staff and Samejima’s boss Momoi who is nicknamed The Cadaver because of his stellar personality. Both of these guys help Samejima out once and a while, so you know not everyone is against him. They make a great team and certainly made me want to see them appear more. One of the things that struck me was some of the coincidences in this book. We aren’t looking at a small pool of suspects, we are talking about an entire city, but it is relatively obvious who is behind things about half way through. Also the final intended victim was rather convenient. However, if I accept these things the story has some well-paced and suspenseful moments.

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Spring Fever: Sping 2009 Anime Guide

As we get better at this we seem to add more and more shows that we review each season. I don’t think I would ever want to review more shows than we did this season. This season had a pretty good selection for all the major anime food groups. Some selections were rather lackluster but overall it was an enjoyable selection. Look back on Wednesday because I will be looking at some shows that Narutaki decided to avoid this season. Often times with good reason.

Alright, it is worth noting that we had to do this enormous review not once but twice! It is amazing that it is done at all. Anywho! This is becoming a standard when the new season starts up. However, I think this is the first time that there are way more shows that I want to keep up with than is humanly possible. It is shaping up to be a good season. I think these first episode reviews are worth doing, first impressions are important and it’s fun to see how right (and wrong!) we are when the dust has cleared.

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