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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Fall 2010 Anime Guide: A Musical

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

Fiddler on the Roof’s Sunrise, Sunset

Another season of anime has come and another set of season previews is upon us and we both try to find some new shows to watch and learn a few shows to avoid like the plague. This time around we spiced things up with some lyrical thoughts on each show before the main previews. As a reminder, we don’t review ongoing series, sequels, or anything that we are more than likely not going to like.

Iron Man

Nobody wants him
He just stares at the world
Planning his vengeance
That he will soon unfold

hisuiconSadly the Iron Man TV series is exactly the anime I suspected it would be and not the anime I had hoped it would be. A show that basically understands the Iron Man formula that made the movies so successful but is just off enough that it never clicks. It is sadly never mecha enough to be the Japanese Iron Man nor American enough to be the Marvel Iron Man. The show’s greatest sin is that the action scene are so quick that if you turn to talk you might miss them. Also Nanami, the Japanese reporter, seems utterly superfluous at this point and she does not even fulfill the eye candy position like a Bond girl. I never thought it was bad but I was also never gripped as well. I might watch more if it goes streaming but until then I am fine. Speaking of which I still don’t see why they are waiting for 2011 to play in on G4. This should have been simulcast on day one in Japan and the U.S.  I am curious to see how well the sales and ratings will be in the casual market despite the fact that it will be fully fan-subbed before  anyone can see episode 1 on American TV or buy the first DVD.

Oh Iron Man how I looked forward to you. This must have been my great downfall. This show felt weird from the get-go from the pacing to the character designs that seemed right out of 90’s man-ime. The best way to describe the feeling of this show is clunky. Iron Man kept fading to black after every scene, many of which were only a minute or two long, and then ending up not so far from where they already were. The best example is Tony asking the reporter for a ride while standing next to the car. After she says yes, the show fades to black, and then the next scene is them driving along. You couldn’t animate him getting in the car? Iron Man seems underserved both in story and animation so I can’t say I was intrigued enough to watch anymore.

Kuragehime (Jellyfish Princess)

So never judge a book by its cover
Or who you gonna love by your lover
Love put me wise to her love in disguise
She had the body of Venus
Lord imagine my surprise

Aerosmith’s Dude Looks Like A Lady

hisuiconIt would be easy to say that Kuragehime is another wonderful noitaminA show that you need to watch and leave it at that but that would be a shame because there is a lot of good things to talk about with this show. It is a show about a house of girl geeks that are well, actually geeky, and not just fetish fuel for the male viewers. The “nuns” of the all female Amamizukan apartment building are amusing and colorful and we see everything from a doll fanatic to a warring states fangirl. Tsukimi seems an awkward but likable and being a jellyfish otaku is definitely an unusual hobby. The stylish Kuranosuke Koibuchi is an interesting wild card added to the mix. I am curious to see where the show is going but I have confidence that it is going in a positive direction. It is further proof that there are some amazing Josei properties that could appeal to an older anime fan market if promoted correctly.

In honesty, I was a little on guard when I started this show. What with a recent slue of otaku series that are a lot more fetish than I’d like to see, I was cautious treading here. My fears quickly dissipated as the cast slowly revealed itself. This story is full of quirky characters, yet quirky in that relatable way even though their particular obsessions are unique, and the feeling of camaraderie was wonderful. Kuragehime is a geeky sitcom but it has a couple of mysteries in its midst and maybe even some romance later. And with a sweet opening, I am incredibly excited for this show.

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