Thursday, January 22, 2009

Our Best of 2008 (we’re totally late)

So we’re kind of late. My apologies. It’s really my fault. It’s due to school, editing the podcast, watching anime, playing videogames, and well laziness. Oh well. Let’s get this thing rolling.


Best Animation:

Ryan: Clannad ~after story~

Animation is done by Kyoto Animation, the same people behind Lucky Star and Haruhi. I picked ~After Story~ because of the choice of colors and character designs themselves. I like the way things flow in the show.  Oh Nagisa, you're so moe!


Ging: Kurozuka

Looking at the anime of 2008, a lot of the anime did not have the best animation or art in the world. In fact, I would venture far enough to say that a good percentage of the animation of 2008 was subpar. There were, of course, many shows that had good animation. Kurozuka had beautiful animation. Compared to any other anime of 2008 I think that it is a reasonably clear choice.


Nam: Mouryou no Hako

Picking best animation was between Mouryou no Hako and Kurozuka, both produced by Madhouse. Like many Madhouse produced shows, both shows were made with constant care in terms of consistent character models and smooth animation. In the end I chose Mouryou no Hako because of its vibrant colors over Kurozuka’s dark, kind of mundane tones. SInce this was a horror/supernatural/suspense anime there weren’t any crazy shonen fighting animation. However, that doesn’t mean that the animation was poor. Mouryou no Hako’s character models were always sharp and crisp, and HD definitely made it look sexy. Lighting was taken into account throughout the show, whether it’s a lamp or sunset casting a yellow tint to the character faces. It makes the world seem very surreal and other worldly, which helps create the eerie tone of the show.


Character of the Year:

Ryan: Tomoya Okazaki (Clannad ~After Story~)

In most harem type shows, the main male lead is infamous for being a flat, boring, blank slate. Tomoya surprisingly did not fall victim to the fate of normal male character and surpassed them with his likable personality. I’ve been interested in his growth throughout the series thus far, and the cut of his jib in general. That's right, I said "cut of his jib". (Editor’s note: WTF does that mean?)


Ging: Maka Albarn (Soul Eater)

Maka Albarn from Soul Eater was my favorite character of the year. In particular, she did three things that impressed me. I like the fact that she is a female lead to a shonen fighting show and is not overly aggressive nor overly passive. Her personality and relationships with her friends make her a genuinely interesting. Finally, she is funny. I think humor is important to most shonen fighting shows, and Maka certainly brings humor to the show.


Nam: Sheryl Nome (Macross Frontier)

While there weren’t any characters that really drew me in, Sheryl Nome did convey more diverse emotions than most of the anime girls that I’ve seen this year. Sheryl was more than just a damsel in distress for the main character (Alto Saotome) to save. She showed how she could be independent and able to perform her tasks without the need of someone to help her all the time. The problem I had with the other singer in the show, Ranka Lee, was that she was so boring. Ranka seem like a character made up of different aspects of other moe characters. Ranka lacked courage, and she kept acting all sweet and nice. Sheryl Nome was different. She was a bitch, but she wasn’t a bitch just to be a bitch. Sheryl strived to be independent, and her flaw was that she didn’t like to get other people’s help. Her flaws make the show interesting, unless Ranka’s flaw which was that she was boring. I also like the songs by Sheryl (sung by May’n).


Best Opening:

Ryan: “Hatena de Wasshoi” by Asumi, Mizuhashi, Shintani, and Goto
(Hidamari Sketch x365) (hd)

I love this OP. It goes great with the happy and bright theme of the anime. All fun, all the time. Never a dull moment, and the eye-popping animation in the intro is a nice catcher too.


Ging: "SYSTEMATIC PEOPLE" by Wagdug Futuristic Unity with Maximum the Ryo of Maximum the Hormone (Kurozuka) (hd)

There were a couple openings that were very tempting choices, however I think because of Kurozuka's incredibly visually pleasing animation and beautiful song, it deserves the award more so than any other anime.


Nam: “Lion” by May'n & Megumi Nakajima (Macross Frontier) (hd)

Yoko Kanno produced and sung by the two singers of Macross Frontier. One of the things that drew me into Macross was the music. Music has always been a key element to the franchise, and whenever I hear the Macross Frontier openings I get pumped up.


Best Ending:

Ryan: “Torch” by Lia (Clannad ~After Story~)

It's hard for me to pick an ending, but in the end I decided to rock with ~After Story~. It's fun and light.


Ging: "Makeinutatsu no Requiem" by Hakuryuu (Kaiji)

I have to admit that when I first started thinking about what anime endings were great, I could only remember about three. Usually the ending songs are less memorable than the openings.  Even after I re-watched several of the possible anime endings, it became clear my best choices were of the three endings I remembered. I chose kaiji's ending because it captured a feeling that drew me in unlike any other ending. Honorable mentions to Kurozuka's ending though; it made the choice very difficult.


Nam: Diamond Crevasse (Macross Frontier)
Macross Frontier’s music is really great, and I really like the first ED. Talented singer and beautiful lyrics. Produced by Yoko Kanno. Music makes me feel melancholy before I even read the lyrics. If it can convey emotions that well without even knowing what she’s singing, it’s doing something right.


Biggest WTF Moment:

Ryan: I watched Code Geass R2?! 
OMGWTFBBQ?! Yeah, even though I hated the first season of Code Geass, I had to watch the second. I vowed and I swore "You'll never get me to watch that!" And look what happened to me…I lost. I blame Ging, or maybe I should blame myself. Whatever. Here's a written oath that I won't watch the next season of Code Geass. (editor’s note: he will when we review it)


Ging: Kaiji's Ending 
While I of course will not say what Kaiji’s ending is, I can say that it was unexpected. My only reason to give Kaiji's ending the Biggest WTF Moment Award is that it did something so out of the realm of normal and made twists that were completely unexpected. Oh, and I said "WTF?"


Nam: That's it!?

This might be considered a copout for my lack of ideas (or memory) but there’s seriously little if anything that surprised me. This year has been a fair disappointment. Nothing really made me too excited. Here’s to hoping 2009 will have more shows I’d like to see.


Best Moment:

Ryan: Code Geass R2

[spoiler! highlight to read]Lelouch FINALLY dies. [/spoiler]

YAY! I cried (laughed?) hysterically. I thought for sure this meant no more Code Geass...but with the recent rumors around...


Ging: Gurren Lagann Parallel Works

The best moment in anime goes to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann simply because it was the most ground-breaking thing to happen. It is uncommon to find anime that consist of 3-minute episodes and no dialogue, and it is also uncommon to have an anime released as an ONA (Original Net Animation). Because of its rare breed, I feel that Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Parallel Works was the best moment in anime for 2008.


Nam: Macross Frontier's Ending

The last two episodes of Macross Frontier was probably the best two episodes I’ve seen in 2008. It brought everything that I like about the Macross series. There were great music by Yoko Kanno, including a sort of singing battle between Sheryl Nome and Ranka Lee. The medley included not only Macross Frontier songs but also songs from past series. trademark Itano Circus appeared frequently as missiles flew sporadically and majestically. There was also a lot a part in which the giant Macross Quarter punched the side of an alien and the valkyries shot missiles inside. The ending didn’t even solve many questions in the show, but it didn’t matter. Explosions are awesome.


Favorite DVD purchase:

Ryan: Gurren Lagann dvds

Ryan: Gurren Lagann (The Sub-Only Special Edition)

I think it speaks for itself. Gurren Lagann equals epicness. I ordered it as soon as I had the chance and watched it the moment I got the DVDs. It still rocks my socks.


Ging: Millennium Actress

Ging: Millennium Actress

Basically I chose Satoshi Kon's masterpiece over all of the other DVDs I bought last year because it was the only DVD I bought that was.....well a masterpiece. For some odd reason I seemed to have bought a lot of good anime titles as opposed to great ones this year. Unfortunately the DVD came with a case and nothing else. Then was in the bargain bin at Hollywood video.


Nam: Gunbuster

Nam: Gunbuster

I got this DVD (origianlly $70) half off at FYE. It’s certainly the best dvd I bought in 2008. The package was made with incredible care and detail. The video crisp and clean. And the OVA series itself is certainly a masterpiece. It’s an anime that I will forever treasure. Price shouldn’t have kept me back for purchasing it, but the price cut certainly boosted my decision to get it.


Favorite Reviewed:

 Ryan: Wings of Honneamise 

Ryan: The Wings of Honneamise

It's definitely the best one we reviewed this year. GAINAX's first leap into the commercial world of anime is a masterpiece, something no one should miss. Beautiful art and well-developed characters, I'll be coming back to this time after time.


Ging & Nam: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Ging & Nam: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Throughout the podcast, we reviewed a plethora of shows ranging from Fist of the Northstar to Otaboku. There were a lot of good shows and a lot of bad. Out of all the reviewed shows Neon Genesis Evangelion wins 5 hundred times over the rest for being a brilliant work of art that is easily one of the greatest anime of all times.

Nam: Evangelion is certainly my favorite to review. It’s a series that made me obsessed in understanding it’s story and meaning. Evangelion is also the anime that got me back into watching anime. I enjoyed rewatching it, and I enjoyed having the discussion of the series.


Best Newly Discovered Treasure:

Ryan: Clannad

Clannad was the show I enjoyed finding out the most this year. Originally skeptical about the series, I finally delved in a few months ago and found myself pleasantly surprised. A skillfully executed slice-of-life drama show with moe girls. Naisu Job!


Ging: Silver Fang

Out of all the old shows I discovered throughout this year Silverfang is definitely the most memorable. I don't think I could ever forget an anime about dogs fighting a war against bears. Its pretty intense. This show is certainly a classic unlike any other.

 Nam: Macross: Do You Remember Love?

Macross: Do You Remember Love? is a beautiful movie made with so much love and care for the medium. Excellent animation, great songs, and interesting characters. It’s a film I’ve been wanting to see for a while and finally got around to it. Now I got to watch the rest of the Macross shows.


Most Disappointed:

Ryan: Michiko to Hatchin

I went into this show expecting lots of action and some intense story. My sights, however, were set too high. Michiko to Hatchin hasn't finished its run-through, but the show certainly isn’t making me want to finish it. None of the characters are really memorable. Instead the main character continuously bicker and argue amongst each other without much of the plot going anywhere. Not very appealing


Ging: Code Geass R2

The biggest disappointment this year was Code Geass R2. The first season of Code Geass was a great, solid anime. By episode 3 of R2, I could tell that I was not nearly as into it as I was watching the first season. R2 turned out to be pretty crappy in comparison to it's prequel. There was nothing “wow” about it. Instead I received a lot of reused content that could always be predicted in advance. I had high hopes for the series, and I felt that I was letdown big time.


Nam: Macross Frontier

What disappointed me with the show was that I had a lot of anticipation for a well-made show. For the most part, I got what I wanted. There were, however, many problems with the show. It seemed like a lot of the show was made to fit a certain formula in anime. Many characters, I felt, were too artificial. Their characteristics seem so slapped together. Ranka couldn’t help but act moe and helpless all the time. She was always in trouble and lacked self-confidence to do anything. And when she did have confident, it usually ends badly. Klan Klein was a big-breasted Zentradi that transformed into a loli-looking character, made specifically to get specific otakus. It just seemed like the creators were trying to aim for every kind of anime fan, and I don’t think it worked well. The storyline becomes less and less important. There were also pacing problems and way too many fillers. One episode that annoyed the hell out of me was the episode in which Sheryl lost her panties. Even the ending didn’t really tie everything together. It was just a mess.


Anime of the Year:

Ryan: Hidamari Sketch x365 
Hidamari Sketch x365 was my pick of the year simply because it was the anime I enjoyed the most this year. A simple, unique cast of characters in a colorful and fun backdrop make for one enjoyable slice of life. It's not the kind of show that makes you bust a gut laugh, but can put smiles on your face and make you chuckle at each individual characters’ little quirks.


Ging: Soul Eater 
There were a few that were better than Soul Eater in terms of production value and maybe even story. Despite this I still chose Soul Eater as the anime of the year because it has captured my attention over the other anime with it's original stylized fights and insane plot. Looking at all of the anime this year, I think Soul Eater has the potential to be the next big anime in the US.


Nam: Macross Frontier

Even though Macross Frontier is my most disappointed anime of the year, it’s still better than all of the other anime I’ve seen. The show has a lot of energy. The opening pumps me up. The overall music is great. I love Yoko Kanno’s music. Despite the flaws in the characters, I find Sheryl Nome interesting (more interesting than even the main character). The cg-rendered action scenes were great. What makes this show stand out is its ability to combine action scenes and music into an emotional thrill ride. From the opening to the ending song, I felt like the show was well composed, when it works. Sometimes a song is sung by one of the characters during an action scene, and the music keeps playing when the show fades into the credits roll. It’s these little touches that grabs my attention. The ending was also great. The show has many flaws, and the ending doesn’t solve many of the questions in the show. However, there are so many positives of the series which makes Macross Frontier my pick for anime of the year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My apologies in advance if I rant a little too much.

For me the best animation was Bounen no Xamdou, but admittedly I didn't watch that many new shows this year.

I suppose Sheryl is a valid choice for the best character, although I wasn't really attached to the Macross Frontier cast in general. Like you said, she was annoying but also interesting. A good character overall. I wouldn't call Kaiji complex but I did feel for him throughout all his struggles.

It's funny that I actually prefer the first Macross Frontier opening but here I'd also have to go with Xam'd as far as having the best OP goes. The Kaiji ending does stick to you while watching the show but...honestly, I'd have to listen to others before making a decision.

To tell you the truth, I wasn't really surprised by Kaiji's finale. Or more accurately, I was a little shocked by the methods involved, but the series had already shown it had a certain...inclination, for lack of a better term, so I didn't expect a field of roses.

You could still make more Code Geass with or without Lelouch (see: the Gundam franchise), although for whatever it matters the last episode was good by my standards. Macross Frontier's end was much better on the action front but...I dislike having to wait for a movie to hopefully wrap certain things up. Not just questions about the plot, the whole love triangle angle didn't really leave me satisfied.

I guess purchasing the first season of Ghost in the Shell TV was the highlight of my year. I'll eventually buy Gunbuster too but for now I'm irrationally clinging to my VHS tapes.

I didn't actually comment on its content, but as far as the reviews per se were concerned, I definitely liked your Evangelion review. I still think the show's great and very important to anime, but I don't know if the new movies will be worth it.

I'd say either Legend of Galactir Heroes, Giant Robo or Turn A Gundam rank as the best shows I discovered this year. Btw, the Silver Fang review was a small riot though I haven't checked that one out yet. Macross DYRL is always a fine choice though.

I was also disappointed by R2, but not to the extent Ging was. Probably not worth debating though. As said before, I also expected a little more from the ending to Macross Frontier.

It probably doesn't count, since I started watching it last year, but since the DVD only episodes came out in 2008...for me I'd say Baccano! was the show of the year. Or my year, at least.