My Top Anime for 2008: Final Version

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Happy New Year everyone!  This post was delayed because I was waiting for Mouryou no Hako’s last episode, and while waiting I was not in the mood to write any ‘thoughtful’ description about each anime on my list.  But now it’s finished, so enjoy!

So unlike in 2007, I feel perfectly fine now.  I don’t have headaches.  My room is a mess though, but blame it on the cold weather.  It creates the perfect mood for blogging because you become too lazy to do anything else like cleaning, organizing, washing–the mundane stuff.

Another more important difference from last year though, is the use of the watchlist and the matrix.  Before I had to research again on the shows that aired for that particular year, and it was such a bothersome task.  Clicking search result links like a zombie isn’t a fun way to be spending the last days of the year, right?  Another equally tedious task was how to rank the shows better, which got solved when one boring day at work the gods of anime gifted me with the matrix.  It’s not truly anything groundbreaking for me but it is a great help when sorting out what I think about each series.  Now the only thing left to solve is how the post writes itself lol.  Actually the description for each series is the only remaining problem now, because sometimes I forget what happened with a certain series.  2008 was a busy year for me–I had to study for JLPT 2, plow through my pile of books, try living a healthier lifestyle, think about my career, blah3x and other things in between.  So this could be my new challenge for 2009. 🙂

Now enough with the boring talk, and on with the list!

22.  Vampire Knight

This last ranking may imply that this is the worst series I’ve finished this year, but really it is not.  Bear in mind that anything not worth finishing to me I immediately drop.  That said, to me Vampire Knight lacks a certain kind of ‘edginess’ that will make me enjoy it more.  Perhaps it’s in the manga, but I don’t read it anyway.

21.  Special A

I thought I couldn’t finish this in time for the last rankings post, but I did!  It’s supposed to be a comedy, but the first time I watched it I was turned off–it wasn’t really that funny.  It seems to me it tries too hard.  Later on I realized some similarities with another comedy–Ouran High School Host Club (my anime of the year for 2006).  However Ouran is the superior show.  With Special A, you had to really stretch your suspension of disbelief, unlike Ouran.  I also don’t like the lead girl, Hikari.  The more likeable characters are Megumi and Akari though.

20.  Yakushiji Ryoko No Kaiki Jikenbo

It’s silly but Ryoko and her butler–er, underling Izumida, make a good pair.  And I also like funny and strong ladies. 😀

19.  Hayate no Gotoku

The jokes in the middle of the series weren’t really that funny, but it picked up in the latter half.  A major part of the appeal of HNG were the anime spoofs.  I enjoy spotting the references whenever I can.  For example, I really enjoyed the Utena spoof by Hinagiku.

18.  Kimikiss Pure Rouge

I usually don’t enjoy anime adapted from games but this series was acceptable to me.  It probably helped that the director was Ken’ichi Kasai–who has Honey and Clover and Nodame Cantabile to his name.  Maybe it had to do with his directing style?  But I also have Eriko as one of my fave characters in this anime.

17.  Kurozuka

Based on the manga of the same name, Kurozuka brought us another tale about vampires.  Though this series tended to focus more on fights and the two lovers and their strong bond rather than vampires/bloodsucking.  Not that I’m complaining about it.  But alas, the weakness of the source material also becomes the weakness of the anime.  With a not so conclusive ending in the manga, all that could be done in the anime was explain why Kuro has to find Kuromitsu, and why his memory is so messed up.  There’s probably a lot missing in between, but I think the anime adaptation was done well by Madhouse.

16.  Freedom

How did this rank higher than Kurozuka?  Well, better animation and a much clearer ending didn’t hurt the cause of Freedom.  I don’t have any favorite characters in this series, but still ends up with a high ranking on the strength of the story itself.  Only the first of the 2 sci-fi anime in this list.

15.  Antique Bakery

Ah, cakes galore!  This is probably the first shounen-ai series that I have finished.  As always the story draws me to it–it’s definitely got more meat, than some of the shows that aired in 2008.

14.  Gundam 00

I’m half-expecting some protests as I write this.  But for a series that takes itself too seriously, there has to be something that gives way.  From the hilarious names (Lockon?  Hallelujah?  Allelujiah!!), to the not-bad-but-not-really-excellent ending (hello, anybody remember that golden monstrosity?), something always comes up that annoys me.  In short, it hasn’t lived up to my expectations/standards.  (Here’s the long story though.)

13.  Shion no Ou

I don’t have any idea how shougi is played, its rules, etc.  But whenever I watch a game of shougi in this show, I am instantly drawn to it just by the expression, reaction of the players themselves.  I can definitely feel the competitive spirit, and even without the murder mystery it actually would have still been fine.  And the cross-dressing was thrilling for a while.  =p

12.  Nodame Cantabile Paris Chapter

The first few episodes were a bit too rushed for me, but thankfully NC recovered a little in the latter half of the show.  All I really wanted was to see how Nodame and Chiaki fared in Paris in animated form,and got what I wanted.  Although this sequel is clearly inferior to the first adaptation, it’s still like a good book that you just can’t help but finish. 🙂

11.  Armored Trooper Votoms Pailsen Files

Ugly mechs does not translate to ugly anime.  Ooops–there’s no girls?  No problem.  Chirico and his gang will entertain you with literally death-defying feats so much that you’ll forget about the lack of females in this one.  Still not interested?  Just stick to Geass then.

10.  Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto – Natsu no Sora [Best in Animation]

Well, well, what do we have here.  I managed to finish a few episodes of the previous series before I got totally bored and gave up.  However, this new (and unrelated) Mahou Tsukai series has the most gorgeous visuals I’ve ever seen this year.  Even if not much is happening the luscious backgrounds are there to take away your worries and all you can do is just enjoy.  Of course it helps that the almost real animation of the everyday objects here just reminds me of my time in Japan.  However the visuals alone can’t justify this ranking, right?  Stuffing in good music to go with the visuals ain’t bad at all too.  But what tops everything is the ending (if you’ve read my Christmas rant you’ll know about it).  Anyway, recommended for those who like those ‘slow’ type of shows.

sora

9.  Itazura na Kiss

While 2007 gave us Lovely Complex, 2008 gave us Itazura na Kiss.  This comedic tale of unrequited love–and how it was overcome, will be fondly remembered every now and then.

8.  Kaiba

If Kurenai weren’t around, this sci-fi anime would have been crowned surprise of the year.  Indeed one of turn-offs was the unique animation style.  In retrospect, this style was a good choice.  It would have been difficult pulling off some of the scenes (especially the notorious ones *wink*) if the anime was animated ‘normally’.

7.  Kurenai [Surprise of the Year]

The animation and musical ambitions of this series reflect 2007’s Red Garden, but thankfully it stops there.  If Red Garden gave as an all-female emo cast, Kurenai gave us the most entertaining loli of 2008 (from the shows I’ve seen), Murasaki.  And from the talking scenes, singing scenes, down to the fight scenes (girl fight on high heels!), every moment gives a lasting impression.

6.  Code Geass 2

The series that evokes strong feelings from what I’ve read in the blogosphere.  Although I admit that most of the time I’m just rolling my eyes in disbelief in whatever ludicrous thing that happens again and again (sample pet peeve: fanservice), I cannot deny Code Geass 2 has one of the most awesome endings I’ve seen in a mecha show.  If it weren’t for Macross Frontier, Code Geass would have been the mecha of the year for the 2nd time in a row.

5.  Xxxholic Kei

Seeing more of Watanuki really isn’t that bad, right?  Even better is the improved animation.  I approve of a third season.

4.  Mouryou no Hako

Yuri, incest, kidnapping, murder–in terms of subject matter, Mouryou no Hako will definitely trump every show in this list.  Showing us how the evil, the mouryou, in the hearts of people manifest themselves in extreme ways is indeed not the kind we see often in anime.  And tastefully done, I might add.  However, the disadvantage of this show is that it’s something I won’t be looking forward to watch again and again.  If you think about it deeply, it’s just too depressing.  But still, best adaptation by Madhouse for this year, I think.

3.  Natsume Yuujinchou

Surprise!  A boy and his fat cat/bodyguard manages to rise above the robots, the mouryous, the watanukis and the nodames and capture 3rd place.  With none of the fanfare, gore, or fights, it relies on the peaceful atmosphere that calms one down, that makes one forget about the outside world for a while.  It’s not probably going to be considered a classic, but right now what matters is that it gives the relaxing feeling that only a handful of shows can.

2.  Macross Frontier [Best in Entertainment Value, Best in Music, Best Fight Sequences, Best Mecha Show]

OMG!  Macross F is not number 1???!!  How is that possible??!!!  My inner Macross fangirl screams and cries out over and over again.  But I love this show very much, because it’s like a gift to us Macross fans, having had to endure with Gundam these past few years.  We have been gifted with a new goddess of music, in the form of Sheryl Norme.  We also have a semi-goddess, Alto-hime.  All hail Sheryl!  All hail Alto-hime!  SherylxAlto forever!!  Death to green-haired lolis!  All hail pink!

Incoherent ramblings aside, the mecha fight scenes are awesome.  They may not readily exhibit semblance of strategy like what Lelouch gives to Code Geass, but they’re just exhilarating.  Add music and it becomes heavenly.  (I can’t believe I’m writing this too ok?)  The updated Macross universe is just about right for attracting new fans too.  However, for me, it lacks a certain something, a something that the original series had.  I can’t put that something into words quite clearly right now.  But for the time being, let me describe it as making you feel genuinely sad and happy.  It’s not making sense, so let’s just move on to the next show.

1.  ARIA the Origination [Best Ending, Characters]

What can I say?  Or more precisely, is there any glaring fault with this series at all?  Because the main thing with ARIA O, the thing that separates this show from all the others in this list, is that there’s almost nothing I can complain about.  Of course if I had my way, Alicia would stay young forever and row forever. But alas, that cannot be.  Good animation, good music, great characters, good story, good conclusion–what else can you ask for?  Aside from this, the show makes me feel sadness and joy that I could not truly feel from the characters from Macross F.

Before we go the dropped shows list, let me say a few things about the ongoing shows in my watchlist that started in 2008.  Ranked in order, they are:

  • Xam’d – If it weren’t for Macross F, must have become best mecha show of the year.  Will it have stiff competition next year?  We’ll see.
  • Tora Dora – Too funny to drop.
  • Saiunkoku Monogatari 2 – Agonizing wait for subs is killing me.
  • Casshern SINS – Casshern…Casshern…
  • Tytania – Space tea and cakes rule!
  • Gundam 00 S2 – Gods of anime, help me finish this show.  Please.

On-hold/Reconsidering

1. Skip Beat! – Licensed.  Can’t say for sure if I can handle watching the raws.

Dropped [2008]

There’s lesser shows now, it means I’ve become more selective of what I watch more than ever.

1. Allison to Lilia
2. Birdy The Mighty Decode
3. Crystal Blaze
4. Ga-Rei Zero
5. Golgo 13
6. Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino
7. Hakaba Kitaro
8. Himitsu Top Secret
9. Hyakko
10. Junjou Romantica
11. Kuroshitsuji
12. Library Wars/Toshokan Sensou
13. Mnemosyne
14. Nabari no Ou
15. Nijou-mensou no Musume
16. Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
17. Persona Trinity Soul
18. Real Drive
19. Shikabane Hime Aka
20. Soul Eater
21. To Aru Majutsu no Index
22. True Tears
23. World Destruction

4 responses »

  1. As always, I’m humbled by the sheer volume of your drop list.

    Ga-Rei ended well. As far as Kannagi, it was fairly entertaining but not something I would re-watch.

    …also…I haven’t watched any Aria either…

  2. >>As always, I’m humbled by the sheer volume of your drop list.

    Don’t worry, it’s going to get smaller for 2009 (I hope). I want some of my life back! lol

    >>Ga-Rei ended well. As far as Kannagi, it was fairly entertaining but not something I would re-watch.

    Ga-Rei could be labeled as the ‘one that got away’. But picking it up again is that farthest thing on my mind right now. I’ve now entered my first quarter blues–that stage where I wonder what to do for the rest of the year. ^_^;

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