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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Eureka Seven: Surfing, Robots, Surfing Robots, and Young Love

Guest Review by Lothos

I went in to Eureka Seven knowing next to nothing about it. All I really knew is that it had aired on Cartoon Network and had something to do with a young guy, some girl, robots, and something like surfing. I was pleasantly surprised by the series; it just got better the more I watched. It’s brought to us by Studio Bones, the same group who did Fullmetal Alchemist, Sword of the Stranger, Wolf’s Rain, and Darker than Black. Eureka Seven, like the other shows I mentioned, takes a bit of a dark streak towards the end, which I was not expecting given that the overall tone of the story is rather light.

I will say that it shared quite a few similarities with Neon Genesis Evangelion. From characters to themes, you can easily draw comparisons between the two. Renton can easily be compared to Shinji, though much more likeable. Eureka of course to Rei. Holland is kinda like Kaji without the spy part, but just being a badass and awesome in general. Talho is very similar to Misato. Then you have the bridge bunnies; Gidget, Matthieu, Hap, etc. filling the roles of Maya, Hyuga, and Aoba. Mischa is a bit less sinister version of Ritsuko. Anemone I feel is a pretty close analog of Asuka. Dewey is a slightly more demented version of Gendo. The Council of the Sages is Selee. The Scub Coral can also be compared to the angels. You also have giant robots, with the Nirvash being pretty comparable to unit 01. Characters aside, there are also quite a few similar thematic elements and styles between Eureka Seven and Evangelion. Without giving away too much, the Scub Coral really are much like the angels in terms of their purpose in the series. There are some times of trippy introspection and metaphoric symbolism thrown in. There is also the theme, though definitely not unique to Evangelion, of a boy having to save the world with his robot. Things seem to get more tragic as the series progresses as well, with some characters falling into periods of deep depression to the point of being suicidal and hating their existence in general.

Despite all of these similarities, I still fell Eureka Seven is its own series and wasn’t trying to make itself like Evangelion for the sake of being like Evangelion. One might be tempted to think of Eureka Seven as Evangelion-Lite, I know I was at the start, but this would be doing the series an injustice as it really is great on its own. I just wanted to go ahead and get the Evangelion comparison out of the way since if you’ve seen it, you’ll likely see the same similarities I saw. I also wanted to stress that despite on the surface it having so many similarities it is not trying to be another Evangelion.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #053

We had really been digging the Gundam Universal Century OAVs, the 08th MS Team and 0080 were excellent. They both had their flaws but overall they were really enjoyable. Then we came to Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, third time is obviously not the charm. This was a chore to get through. When the Federation creates a new Gundam prototype with nuclear capabilities an ace pilot from a Zeon remnant named Gato steals it. It is up to Kou to take the other Gundam prototype and capture Gato before he can unfurl a plan that merely begins with stealing a Gundam. It is not the most original Gundam plot but it is one that has worked  but this time it utterly failed. There was something generally wonky about the plot. I kept waiting for a  reveal that all the seemingly utterly horrible decisions made by the Federation were part of some elaborate plot but that is not the case. No one in this series makes anything close to normal human decisions. Kou and Nina Purpleton’s relationship was just so bizarre I could never even attempt to get into it. When you’re longing for the authentic relationships of Tomino you know something has gone horribly wrong. The worst part is this is the Gundam OAV that really ties into the main series since the events in Stardust Memory go on to majorly help create the Titans. This series has fans for two reasons that don’ really matter that much to me: great mobile suit designs and cameo appearance of some important Zeta Gundam players like Bask Om and Haman Karn. This was an utterly horrid Universal Century Gundam series and the sooner I moved on the better.

I like the opening for Stardust Memory, yup, I sure did like that opening. Oh right, now I have to talk about the rest of it. We start with a classic rivalry of rookie vs enemy ace, the robots are cool, the animation is pretty nice, but things just feel off. Why is there a faction of Zeon pirates? And where exactly did they get their uniforms? Cima is completely decked out with a cloak and tiger skinned rug on the floor while many of her henchmen wear shirts with no sleeves or completely open chested. And seeing them interact with regular officers is even more laughable as if they showed up for a costume party that no one knew about. Our female representative on the other side, Nina, is all kinds of contradictory and so ineffectual that one has to wonder how she got her job. Also the pilots on the side of Federation are super assholes minus Kou (but he gets no points because he likes Nina who is a dumb, dumb woman) and Keith (who also loses points for lamest helmet decal). Gato I guess is a pretty bad dude but even he isn’t very engaging. The entire cast is forgettable atleast in any good way. Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory doesn’t start off too badly, but it quickly goes down hill culminating in a nonsensical ending that had me saying “WHAT!? WAIT!” I suppose it should get a few props for really surprising me! I have heard mixed opinions of the series but mine is a definitive “poor.”

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