Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Year in Review: Anime

2011 is a mere day away, so I present my year in review of every anime series, OVA, and film I completed in 2010, as well as a brief summary of my thoughts on each and my ratings (out of a possible 10). There are some that I am still working on, and others where I have completed a season but not the entire series, and as such those series will not be included. Many of the series, OVAs, and films mentioned here already have reviews posted, so you can check those out at your leisure. For those that do not yet have reviews posted, expect them sometime early 2011.

- Ergo Proxy: A dystopian sci-fi series set in post-apocalyptic world, Ergo Proxy follows Re-L Mayer and Vincent Law in their search for the truth behind mysterious and incredibly powerful beings known as proxies. The animation quality is some of the best I've seen in any series, though the lighting effects can occasionally leave a scene darkened and difficult to see. Aside from two episodes that feel rather out-of-place, the story chugs along at a steady pace, blending action and plot to deliver a thoroughly entertaining and cleverly planned narrative. My rating: 9.0

- Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack: The final chapter in the struggle between Char Aznable and Amuro Ray sees Earth and its colonies thrust into a desperate struggle once again, and the return of a number of familiar faces. In terms of animation and the accompanying soundtrack, these are superb for a 1988 release. The plot, while interesting, seems a bit rushed, even with the film clocking in at over two hours in length, and might have benefitted from being formatted into a short OVA series instead of a standalone film. My rating: 8.0

- Spice and Wolf (seasons one and two): A seies that opts to play out its tense moments with quick thinking and cleverly planned out trades and transactions as opposed to violence, Spice and Wolf is an odd formula that ends up as a far superior series than it seems to aim for. Lawrence and Holo make a hillarious duo and the situations they find temselves in time and time again are as entertaining as they are gripping and suspenseful. With a phenomenal soundtrack and some high-end animation quality, this unorthodox series is defenitely worth checking out, even if math and economics aren't your strong suit. My rating: 8.5

- Turn A Gundam: With some of the most creative (and admittedly some of the strangest) mobile suit designs of any Gundam series and a story that focuses less on military combat than its brethren, Turn A Gundam is the black sheep of the franchise. With a complex series of relations that tie the many characters together as well as a deep and often thought-provoking plot, the series brings plenty new to the familiar Gundam story. Top that off with a beautiful soundtrack and some serious attention to detail in the animation, and the end result is arguably the single best alternate universe Gundam series to date. My rating: 9.75

- Castle in the Sky: Between their encounters with pirates and the military, Pazu and Sheeta find themselves caught up in a race to find the lost city of Laputa, a castle that floats high above the clouds. Combining sci-fi and fantasy motifs, the series is as creative as it is enjoyable. There is plenty of action and humor to keep younger viewers entertained, and Castle in the Sky caters to older viewers with one of the stronger stories of Miyazaki's films. My rating: 8.75

- Samurai Champloo: Laying a hip-hop soundtrack over a beautifully artful and action-packed series, Samurai Champloo is one of the stronger TV-MA anime released to date. While there is plenty of flash and flair presented, Fuu, Mugen, and Jin play off one another through a very amusing dynamic and meet a number of eccentric and quirky characters during their search for the samurai who smells of sunflowers. While most viewers will probably seek out Samurai Champloo with the intent of finding a quick action fix, the story is surprisingly strong and the art style and music make the series all the more fluid in its execution. My rating: 8.25

- Blue Submarine No. 6: While quite a major achievement for its time, the hybrid of traditional animation and CGI shows its age. The story, while creative, comes across as a bit preachy at times, but there is plenty of action and a few surprises to keep viewers entertained along the way. My rating: 7.0

- Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust: With a title that includes the word 'bloodlust', this film isn't particularly over-the-top in regards to the blood and gore portrayed therein. The story, while a bit slow in the beginning, is thoroughly entertaining and brings some new twists to a familiar formula. Couple that with a cast of diverse and overall well-rounded characters and you've got an entertaining and original dark fantasy film. My rating: 8.0

- MS Igloo: The Hidden One Year War: The crew of the Zeon vessel Jotunheim is tasked with overseeing the testing of various experimental equipment and mobile suits during the later days of the One Year War. Engineer Oliver May provides viewers with the necessary information on each piece of equipment at the start of an episode, and is then shown interacting with his fellow crew members, wherein viewers are given a look at the varying personalities that make up the Zeon forces (explored less often in the Gundam metaseries than those of the EFSF). Fully rendered with CGI, the series looks better and better with each episode and gives and intersting look into the desperate measures taken behind the scenes during the One Year War. My rating: 8.75

- Gundam SEED: The first Gundam series to be fully rendered through digital animation, Gundam SEED provided a sort of hybrid between the alternate universe and Universal Century series. While the animation and soundtrack are both solid, the characters are almost entirely 'hit or miss', and the story feels like it is dragging on at times. My rating: 7.25

- The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: Mixing teen drama and sci-fi genres isn't something that's always easy or successful, but this modern take on a high school girl who explores the possibilities of time travel is executed nearly flawlessly. It's by far one of the prettiest looking anime films released to date, with an equally solid story fueled by a small cast of quirky and entertaining characters - the strongest of these being lead character Makoto. My rating: 9.0

- Sgt. Frog (season one): A hillarious romp through pop-culture references and the zany situations which Keroro and his A.R.M.P.I.T. platoon find themselves in time after time makes for one of the funniest anime I've seen to date. Aside from one relatively weak episode, I found myself laughing the entire way throuh the series, which, while geniunely funny, doesn't seem to force its humor too much on viewers. My rating: 9.5

- Dragonball Z: Fusion Reborn: One of the Dragonball Z films tied less directly to the main storyline of the series, Fusion Reborn follows Goku and Vegeta as they fight a powerful evil entity known as Janemba and attempt to restore the natural rhythm of Earth and the Other World as the barriers between these have been broken. The story is rather basic in its premise and tries to dish out as much action as possible in less than an hour. While the conclusion is a bit abrupt, the pacing overall is decent and a few nods to the original Dragonball along the way mix things up a bit from the standard formula of most DBZ films. My rating: 7.25

- Axis Powers: Hetalia (seasons one and two): One of the most creative interpretations of the events surrounding World War II, Hetalia portrays each nation as a single person and stereotypes them based on national traditions and culture. The main character is Italy, and as such the majority of the first season spends more time focused on the Axis Powers, but the Allies get their fair share of screen time in season two. Each episode clocks in at roughly seven minutes, so the series is relatively short, but at the same time geniunely hillarious. My rating: 9.0

- Full Metal Alchemist (season one): One of the most popular and critically acclaimed anime series of all time, Full Metal Alchemist follows brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric as they search for the Philospher's Stone in order to try and restore their bodies, which they forfeited most of during a failed attempt to resurrect their dead mother. During their journey, the brothers deal with the state military, Ishbalan refugees, and Homunculi (creatures of a human nature, but still distinctly inhuman). The animation is some of the best for its time, and the story is sure to keep viewers drawn in all the way up to the season finale. My rating: 9.75

- Howl's Moving Castle: A young woman named Sophie finds herself caught up in the conflict between magician Howl and his ties to the state and military. Like many of Miyazaki's works, the story includes a lot of fantasy elements and can easily be enjoyed by viewers of all ages. However, a few loose-ended story elements and a clunky conclusion drag this film down a bit more than most of Miyazaki's other works. My rating: 7.75

- Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles: Part sequel, part resurrection of the Robotech series, The Shadow Chronicles is an intracite conspiracy that invloves the humans who want to regain control of Earth from the Invid, and the ever-watchful Haydonites. The story is entertaining, though a bit predictable during latter scenes. The characters play off one another interstingly enough, and the animation quality is fairly impressive for a 2006 release. While overall the film is good, some cheesy elements make it fall short of being great. My rating: 7.75

- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: As important a role as Gundam Wing played in introducing North American viewers to Bandai and Surise's wildly popular metaseries, the characters therein lack any apparent depth or believability. The animation is sub-par for 1996 and the soundtrack lacking creativity. It certainly had its place during the late 1990s, but in comparison to other series in the franchise, Gundam Wing hasn't aged particularly well. My rating: 6.75

- Dragonball Z: Bojack Unbound: In the midst of a major fighting tournament, Bojack and his minions - previously imprisoned by King Kai - arrive to try and spread chaos. Once again, the Z fighters are called into action to stop this threat. Unlike some of the other DBZ films, Bojack Unbound is quite closely tied to the events of the main series. Heavy on action, the film includes a fair amount of humor and doesn't try to take itself too seriously during lighter moments. My rating: 7.5

- Paprika: Following the theft of the DC Mini - a device capable of recording dreams and allowing others to enter a user's dream through simultaneous use - Paprika, alter ego to Dr. Chiba Atsuko, begins searching the dream realm for whoever stole the device and what they intend to with it. As the film progresses, the lines between reality and dreams begin to blur. With a creative soundtrack and a number of twists along the way, Paprika is one of the most brilliantly executed anime films released in years. My rating: 9.75

- 009-1: A sort of spiritual sequel to Cyborg 009, the plot and mood of 009-1 are darker and more mature, borrowing many inspirations from James Bond and other spy films/books of the 1960s and 1970s. More often than not, the characters of 009-1 fail to see their full potential achieved, as the story is almost exclusively focused on agent 009-1 (who, in turn, is very well-rounded by the series' finale). Each episode is a distinctly seperate narrative, though some attempts late in the series are made to tie subplots together with marginal success. All in all, the series is more about action with flash and flair than it is about a deep story, and it executes the former in a most dazzling manner. My rating: 7.5

- Azumanga Daioh: A slice-of-life comedy that follows a group of girls through their high school education, Azumanga Daioh caught me by surprise due to how genuinely funny it is without forcing too hard the delivery of said humor. The characters are all eccentric and quirky enough that they play off one another nicely, but hardly ever reach the point of being downright annoying. There isn't much that connects any of the episodes until late in the series, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as casual viewers can enjoy it just as much as more hardcore anime fans. My rating: 8.75

- Paranoia Agent: The first and only series helmed by Satoshi Kon, Paranoia Agent follows those affected (whether directly or indirectly) by a baseball-wielding assailant on rollerblades known as Lil' Slugger. As the series progresses, the question of who Lil' Slugger really is and what he is capable of becomes increasingly prominent. Part psychological thriller, part mystery series, Paranoia Agent proves once again the genius of Satoshi Kon through inventive plot twists, a colorful cast of characters, and narratives that viewers must piece together along the way. My rating: 9.5

- MS Igloo: Apocalypse 0079: Picking up shortly after The Hidden One Year War, Apocalypse 0079 shows how the Zeon forces became even more desperate and dependent on their experimental technology as the EFSF began dominating space battles. The characters are more believable this time around, and Monique Cadillac receives about as much screen time as Oliver May. With a phenomenal soundtrack that empasizes the series' desperate and tense mood, and CGI quality that surpasses its predecessor, Apocalypse 0079 is not only a fantastic Gundam OVA, but a great sci-fi OVA as well. My rating: 9.75

- Death Note: A constant battle of wits between high school student Light Yagami and master detective L serves as the premise for one of the most critically and popularly acclaimed anime series in years. With an interesting and believable cast of characters fueling the events that unfold, top-notch animation quality, and a powerful soundtrack, it's no wonder that the series recieved as much praise as it did. Even with some issues during the final third of the story, the pacing of Death Note is nearly perfect throughout. My rating: 8.5

- After War Gundam X: One of the stronger of the alternate universe series released in the late 1990s, Gundam X depicts a post-apocalyptic world in which scavengers known as 'vultures' roam the recovering wasteland of Earth. Garrod Ran serves as one of the youngest and most entertaining lead characters in any Gundam series, and the remainder of he cast is fleshed out via colorful and relatively believable characters. The animation is solid, but the series really shines through with arguably the best soundtrack from any series in the entire franchise. My rating: 8.5

- Mobile Suit Gundam F91: Originally planned to be a full series, then scaled down to a short OVA, and finally released as a two-hour movie, Gundam F91 works well as a bridge between the events of Char's Counterattack and Victory Gundam. The main characters a quite entertaining, though admitedly some of the secondary and tertiary characters come across as a bit flat. Despite its fast pacing, the story is quite solid and dishes out an excellent balance of action and plot while paying homage to older Gundam series. My rating: 8.25

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

FLCL: Complete Collection release date

It's been a while since my last post, and I apologize for the temporary hiatus. I hope to post more frequently after the first of the year. But, speaking of the new year, good news for fans of Gainax and Production IG's FLCL - the series has been picked up by Funimation, who will be releasing it as a complete collection on February 22, 2011 for the reasonable sum of $22.99 for DVD and $33.99 Blu-ray. The DVDs were previously available from Geneon, but have been out of print for over four years now. Ride on shooting star!

Trailer for the DVD/Blu-ray release:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...