Narutaki & Hisui VS. 2010

It is time for the most anticipated and respected anime awards show of the year! (De gustibus non est disputandum.) On the Speakeasy we looked back at the trends that defined anime and manga in 2010. This is an examination of the individual titles and characters that made the biggest impact on us this year. We discuss what made us laugh and cry (for the better and the worse.) Feel free to chime in with your picks as well. If you have a suggested category you would like us to use next year just leave us a comment and we will try to work it in next year.

I really enjoy doing this post. Yeah, everyone does one, but that is because they are fun! For good or ill I know what kind of year I’ve had when I do this post.

Best Anime of 2010 or the Junmai Daiginjo-shu of Anime

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn by Sunrise I know it seems impossible but Gundam Unicorn might actually be the one modern series that a majority of Gundam fans can get behind without their normal bickering. It incorporates the newest and flashiest technology while keeping true to the strength and spirit of the original Universal Century series. If you did not know better you would assume that Yoshiyuki Tomino played a part in the creation of this series for who seamlessly it works itself into the universe. The characters for the series harken back to the former archetypes set by its predecessors while not seeming like clones. Obviously a good deal of money and love was poured into this series because it consistently looks amazing. I look forward to learning the secrets of the Laplace Box and the RX-0.

Runner up: House of Five Leaves by Manglobe An absorbing and atmospheric character based historical drama. Based on seinen manga it is an adult work for both sexes that continues the tradition of great noitaminA anime.

Giant Killing by Studio DEEN When thinking this over, I had to ask myself what was I most anxious to watch each week? What did I want another season of (and thought it could sustain it)? I arrived at my answer pretty quickly. It was Giant Killing’s approach to characters that impressed me throughout the season. Never did the show bang you over the head with who these people were, instead we were shown through small actions, bits of conversations, and of course their approach to soccer. And best of all we got to see everyone involved when it comes to sports from the players to the fans, from the press to the managing staff. Everyone had a role but our main character was not a star or up and coming player, but rather the coach. Tatsumi makes this show and gives a new perspective for a sports anime. Perhaps Giant Killing isn’t the most thought-provoking showing of the year, but it did things just a little bit differently and it never faltered.

Runner up: Kuragehime by Brain’s Base (second mostly because I haven’t seen how it ends yet) This is a very absorbing comedy about a house full of girl geeks whose lives get turned upside down when cross-dressing Kurnosuke takes an interest in them. This is the most genuine depiction of geeky girls I’ve seen to date without being pandering. And it is also turning into a tender romance as well.

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2010: A Year of Great Openings

When looking back at this year, I was struck by how many great openings came to mind so I thought,”hey, let’s call that out in a post!” And the way I see, to have a good opening you need a good song, good animation, and both of them need to fit together distinctly. When watching an opening, I’m looking for a feeling, it should set a tone and a pace for what I’m about to watch. I think openings can have a lot of power so I have to give props when they are done well.

A good opening draws you and sets a tone for the anime. It can be the vanguard and frontman for a series giving you your first impression of what the show is about and what mood you should be feeling when you watch. Plus the animation on the opening usually at least one level higher quality than anything in the show itself so most openings are a joy to watch. There are some exceptions to this rule but we are not here to talk about them today. Today we will discuss some of the best openings of 2010 and why they stand out.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #097

hisuiconI finally saw the much-anticipated One Piece: Strong World movie. It was the first movie with a large amount of input from Eiichiro Oda so most people have been going in with very high expectations. There was even an official One Piece chapter zero comic made just to give back story to the movie and make everything canonical. Overall I found that I was hyping up Strong World in my mind better that it could ever have been. But it was still the most entertaining One Piece movie I have seen yet. The movie is a lavish affair even more so than the standard theatrical affair.  I noticed that they spend a good deal of attention to making Nami’s hair lavishly animated (as well as throwing her in the shortest of short shorts). In fact almost everyone goes through several changes of clothing which is surely done to sell tons of merchandise but I find it a welcome addition. Their best costumes  are when everyone is in suits as seen by the Portrait of Pirates figures. The plot is solid. While it never reaches the greatest highs on a normal One Piece storyline it never feels like a filler episode as well. Shiki is a decently memorable villain with a strong and unique power.  His subordinates were far less interesting. If you are a One Piece fan many of the movies are usually fun but utterly disposable but this is the one must see movie so far. I assume that Funimation is waiting for the DVDs to catch up to the point where Strong World takes place before licensing the movie which makes sense to me. I can’t wait to buy it whenever they pick it up.

Giant Killing is something I look forward to every week. And each episode pumps me up so much that it is kind of a crime they are only 22 or so minutes long. In the most recent installments the team is starting to take on bigger and bigger challengers, which is only natural. At this point, they are struggling again to regain their confidence but at the same time you can really see that the team is following Tatsumi, though doesn’t always blindly see his point of view. The Osaka Gunners are really out doing themselves rivaling ETU, especially because of the personality clashes on both sides. And I can see each side has some of the same types of people. Though I have to say, I find fake-Tsubaki utterly annoying and for the life of my I’m not sure why exactly. The coming episode maybe be the final part against Osaka and I truly don’t know which way the wind will blow. It is kind of amazing that Giant Killing is able to so readily keep you guessing about the outcome of games.

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