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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AnimeNEXT 2010: Kenji Kamiyama

A great guest elevates a convention. And a great guest at a smaller con is an opportunity not to be missed. Kenji Kamiyama is that type of guest. There is a level of intimacy present at AnimeNEXT between attendees and guests that you just can’t get with 20,000 more fans milling about the halls. With that in mind and a press badge to boot we got to hear a lot from Mr. Kamiyama over the weekend.

hisuiconThe multi-talented Kenji Kamiyama is a high caliber guest and I was extremely pleased to see him at the convention considering how much I have enjoyed his body of work. AnimeNEXT and Kenji Kamiyama were very accommodating in providing everyone an autograph and Q&A sessions on Friday and Saturday as well and a Press Conference. AnimeNEXT bent over backwards to make him as accessible, this is the real thrill of a well run mid-sized con; you still have the ability to interact with a Japanese guest.

Kenji Kamiyama has filled many roles in the animation industry from background artist to writer but he said the goal was always to direct. And direct he has. After studying under the famous Mamoru Oshii and still working with his mentor from time to time, he has created a modern, intelligent, and growing body of work which includes directing Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East. Production I.G’s great library, and place in my heart, is in no small part thanks to this man. I happily waited in line to wait for his autograph with a crowd that was content and dignified when they approached him. He acknowledged two people cosplaying Takizawa and Shiratori from Eden of the East happily and I saw him chuckle a bit when someone handed him a Tachikoma to sign (I then chastised myself for not doing the same). This open and light vibe was felt throughout the con.

hisuiconWhile he is most famous for his work on Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East, his directorial work on Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit, Mini Pato, plus his various other scriptwriting and assorted jobs in the animation industry are equally remarkable. He is someone who slowly but surely worked his way to the top. I am curious to know if any of our readers could spot how his various roles in the industry have influenced his directorial style. I too regret not bringing something better to sign as I own all of Stand Alone Complex, Moribito, and a Stand Alone Complex shirt. Like Narutaki I got him to sign my program guide which was still a treat.

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AnimeNEXT, You’re back on track!

hisuiconSince AnimeNEXT moved to Garden State Exhibit Center we decided to skip. While we enjoy our time at AnimeNEXT without a good Japanese guest it was not worth the travel time and hotel cost now that the convention was not within a simple commute from New York City. But then two good things aligned to give us the push to go. First is the ability to stay with our good friend Evan of Ani-Gamers during the duration of the convention. The second is Kenji Kamiyama is a guest at the convention. His work on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Eden of the East easily makes him someone worth traveling for. So we once again head to New Jersey as a pair of anime detectives. If anyone has any questions for any of the guests at the convention just drop us a line in the comments section or via email and I will do the best I can to get your questions answered and post them in the con report. Other than that if you see us hanging around feel free to say hello. We love to meet readers know what you think of the blog.

Ah, AnimeNEXT you heard my prayers, I didn’t want to abandon you! This small New Jersey con has always held sway over me but last year was a bit of a let down. However, with the nice guest line up this year things seems back on track. I’m looking forward most to Kenji Kamiyama (and he is really the #1 reason I have changed my mind about going) but I am also curious to see Stereopony. There is also a huge line up of panels this year, I don’t expect to be stuck with too much spare time! We will be in attendance all three days of the con, so if you can find us (good luck!) be sure to say howdy.

Big Bald Broadcast panel
How to Spot Bootleg Merchandise panel
Fandom & Criticism: Art of Active Viewing panel
Kimono: Alure, Fashion, and History panel
King of Fighters: Past to Present panel
History of Mecha panel
Anime/Manga Influence on the U.S. panel
The Science of Anime panel
Stereopony concert
Restricted Rock, Paper, Scissors game
These Are A Few Of My Favorite Scenes panel

Gundam: What Makes It Great panel
Stereopony Q&A
Anime Talk panel
Funimation industry panel
War Stories from the Conventions panel
Parapara Dance workshop
State of the Anime Industry and You panel
Legend of Galactic Heroes: Introduction panel
It Came from France!! panel
Kenji Kamiyama Q&A
The Changing Faces of Anime panel
Bad Anime, Bad!! panel
Random Anime Quiz Gameshow

Otaku: Perceptions and Misconceptions panel
Care & Feeding of Japanese Art panel
Funimation Sneak Peek screening
Legend of Galactic Heroes: Movie with Fan Commentary panel
Psychology of Anime II panel
AnimeNEXT Feedback panel