Thursday, July 8, 2010

Top five anime of 2010 - Spring/Summer contenders

It is now near the end of the first full week of July and I find myself looking back on the anime I completed last year as well as the series and films I have finished thus far in 2010. I plan on posting a similar “anime - year in review” as I put up this January, come 2011, as a recap of all the series I covered this year and my thoughts on each one. While I still have a fair number of series and films I would like to complete before the end of the year, I thought I’d take a moment to list the contenders that have a strong shot at making my “top five” list, being the five anime series and/or films that I enjoyed watching the most and felt like I got the most out of. These will not be finalized until the end of December, are listed in no particular order, and do not necessarily reflect the number ratings I gave them.

- Ergo Proxy – The combination of a cyberpunk setting and art style with a deeply psycho-analytical story makes for a thought-provoking experience. There is plenty of action woven in and an interesting cast of characters who play off each other brilliantly. The series requires a fair amount of interpretation on the viewers’ part, but the end result is that Ergo Proxy is far more engaging than most other adult-themed anime.

- Turn A Gundam – Perhaps the most unorthodox of all Gundam series, Turn A Gundam combines early 20th century technology and lifestyle with the space-faring mecha Gundam fans have come to know and love. The story carries a hopeful focus and the characters are very well-rounded, feeling far more complex than those in series like Gundam Wing or Gundam SEED. The soundtrack is beautiful, the animation solid, and the story at perfect pacing and devoid of cliché solutions.

- Samurai Champloo – Following the style of Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo mixes Edo-period samurai traditions with hip-hop music and urban style. Jin, Mugen, and Fuu play off one another as a wildly entertaining lead cast who have very little in common from the start, and this only fuels the irony of the predicaments they often find themselves in. Though some episodes are better connected than others, the series comes to a satisfying conclusion. Viewers will likely find it difficult to find a similar series that can stack up to the entertaining story and well-written dialogue that Samurai Champloo has.

- Full Metal Alchemist – Easily one of the most popular anime of all time, Full Metal Alchemist follows brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric in their quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone and return their bodies to normal, following a botched attempt to bring their mother back from the grave. The variety of locales and broad cast of characters the Elric brothers come across keeps the story interesting, while their notably different personalities fuel the show’s humorous sequences. The story becomes darker and more complex as things progress, but the pacing is nearly perfect and only on a few rare instances do plot elements seem out of place.

- Axis Powers: Hetalia – Portraying each country as a single stereotype of its populous may offend some people, but Axis Powers: Hetalia is a no-holds barred anime that gives a unique comedic perspective on the events surrounding WWII. With an incredibly quirky cast and fantastic voice actors to boot, the series really stands out as one of the more impressive web-based series, as well as comedy anime, released to date.

- The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – A film that disguises itself as a more mainstream teen drama, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a surprisingly well-scripted and beautifully animated sci-fi adventure. The story centers around Makoto as she tries to help herself and her friends avoid mishaps and unfortunate events in life. Makoto soon realizes, however, that to achieve a better end result, a tradeoff must be made and others may wind up suffering as a result. The dialogue is largely aimed at the teen audience, but the story is something that viewers of almost any age can thoroughly enjoy.

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