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 #040

Picked up Bride of the Water God volume one from Dark Horse. This is one of their manhwa releases. It is the story of a girl who is married off to the God of Water to prevent the village from further hardship because of a drought. When she arrives she runs into a little boy who ignores her when she speaks to him. He is of course the Water God. There is a large cast of other Gods as well as the Water God’s attendant who girl’s name mistakes for the God when she first arrives. Both girl’s name and the Water God have sad pasts that are more than hinted at. The artwork is very nice and that is probably the strongest thing about it. The story wasn’t bad but it wasn’t especially well done either. Most of the side characters are just thrown in her and there without real reasoning. It may have held my interest if girl’s name fell in love with attendant’s name rather than the Water God, but that isn’t the case.

Color of Water flows from the first book (Color of Earth) without missing a beat. Ehwa had two potential relationships that failed to bloom but soon finds herself falling for a young wrestler. Her mother continues her relationship with the traveling calligraphist. If the theme of the first volume was discovering love then the main theme in this volume seems to be waiting for relationships to develop and dealing with long distance relationships. The closeness of Ehwa and her mother grows a little more distant. As with any teenager, Ehwa needs to develop a little more away from her mother and she begins to keep much more to herself. The frank nature of discovering your sexuality continues into this book especially when it comes to masturbation. Overall the storytelling and artwork remain top notch.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #035

I think I will just talk about video games this week. We’ll start with Street Fighter IV. I had an interest in the game but since I don’t own an PS3 or 360 I had no real plans to buy it. Then everyone and there mom was talking about it. When I was on lunch break I even heard the manga cows in a bookstore talking about it. So I broke down and bought the game to play on my brother’s Xbox. Playing Street Fighter IV reinforced a valuable lesson. I am not very good at fighting games. I have enough knowledge to be above a button masher but not anywhere near enough skill or practice to be any sort of capable player. This is a well executed game with high level of technical finesse. It is also amazing that you cannot play arcade mode with the online challenge function on because you will get a request to fight every few seconds. I am not sure how long this amount of community will last but this is a good game to play if you like the idea of playing a fighting game online. I think Narutaki got a big kick of of it when he played it as well. Oh and for everyone who says easiest is to easy I stick my tongue at you.

I have started watching Zettai Shonen, I am four episodes in so far. It is an odd little show about a strange town in the country. Ayumu goes there to stay with his dad who he is clearly estranged from. In the midst of exploring the surrounding land and neighbors, weird things start happening and cloudy memories keep coming up. The towns folk are an odd lot that you just don’t know about them. They include a few kids around Ayumu’s age, a younger girl who seems to know a lot about what is going on, a news reporter, and a cat. The mystery of this town doesn’t seem to revolve around something horribly tragic and I am hoping it stays that way, but one never knows.

I am pretty much at the end of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings which has been quite enjoyable. I amusingly enough have yet to play Final Fantasy XII itself. I would have gotten more out of the game had I played the original but was still worth playing. When characters from the old game pop into the story it would have been cooler had I already know who they are. Vaan, Panelo, and friends are still going around being sky pirates. They find an air ship that takes them to a series of magically sealed floating islands. Using their newly gained ability to summons creatures, they go about stopping evil pirates and the evil powers that control the island. I was interested in seeing Square do a real-time strategy game. It is a rather simplistic, enjoyable RTS game but you cannot go in expecting the next Warcraft. The end game extra material seems significantly harder than anything that came before but that is Square Enix side material for you. If nothing else the game has piqued my interest in playing Final Fantasy XII just to see more of Panelo. She is super cute.

I watched more Raoh Gaiden, up through episode five. My favorite episode so far has been the one I named Raoh: Horse Whisperer. His first meeting with Kokuoh is epic. Since Kokuoh’s army of horses takes out a good number of Raoh’s minions, Raoh decides to meet this beast. As they stand face to face a tiger attacks which Raoh promptly rips in two and tells it to not interrupt a conversation between kings (which actually just consists of staring at each other). Also Kokuoh’s size varies in every scene after this. He ranges from being the same height at Raoh to being about 30 feet tall. This show is so entertaining I can’t stop watching. And for some unknown reason the fan-subbers have skipped the sixth installment, perhaps it was too powerful for them.

I also played My World, My Way. Princess Elise falls in love with a handsome adventurer but he correctly dismisses her as a spoiler brat. So she decides to become an adventurer to win his approval. The king assigns a poor guy to run around and set up monsters for you to beat and tasks to accomplish that are challenging while not being deadly. You also have the ability to change things about the game by being so selfish that the world changes just to shut you up. The idea is cute and the story can be funny at times, but it very quickly becomes the same thing again and again. You go to a town; they ask you to collect x number of items; and defeat y number of monsters. When you finish the missions you get the key to the next town and have to fight a boss on the way out. They sometimes throw a dungeon into the mix but it’s not that much different from wandering around the world map. You eventually get a little mimic slime to fight along side you. This mixes things up a little but does not radically change the game play. It feels much more like a 20 dollar game than a 30 dollar game.

I read the second volume of Mixed Vegetables. I was a little disappointed in the direction they decided to take it though I felt it righted itself a bit as the book went on. The relationship between our two main characters has really changed.

I must end with Panelo, so this is the pic of the week: