Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Best Anime of the Decade

Best Sci-fi: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
You just cant get any better than this masterpiece. It was a perfection of it’s era, painting a vivid and multi-layered world while juggling a complex array of stories and characters that came together to form a wonderful series. Everything from the writing, which was by Dai Sato, to the directing, provided by Kenji Kamiyama, was perfectly formed. The series was able to portray a whole new world to the viewer without being to blunt or apparent. It seemed to just instantly throw you into this complex new setting, but somehow, instead of turning away it encouraged people to keep watching. Some how the mystery of how this futuristic society worked seemed to make the viewer even more engrossed in the story. And when you finally get a grasp on the concept of this world you didn’t feel like you were watching a stereotypical futuristic world of plain robots and spaceships. Some how this world seemed like a real possibility of what could be to come; which made the stories that much more relevant and powerful. The characters in the series were masterly crafted as well. Not only showing depth and the ability to make fleshed out characters, they were even able to make icons. The Laughing Man has become an enduring figure to anyone who has watched the show and even became a bit of an internet icon. On top of all of this GITS also possessed the dub which many claim to be the best to date. Casting a long list of famous and highly skilled voice actors they were able to make a dub that even non-dub-fans had to enjoy.

Best Drama: Cowboy Bebop
This is an instant classic in my book. From start to finish this series created classic characters and stories that went on to become some of the best known and highly acclaimed of the decade. The characters and so fleshed out and likeable that while watching the series you find yourself becoming attached to them, which makes the emotional aspect of the stories that much more effective. From episode one it hits you with a power house collaboration of the all star staff which makes a notable impact on the psyche. And on top of the flawless action sense and powerful emotional aspects, it also has some of the best music ever used in an anime. This series mastered the art of using music to set the mood of the story in a way that few series have been able to match.

Best Fantasy: Mushi-shi
No matter how many times I watch this series it never fails to move me. The stories are so unique and powerful and the directing doesn't try to push action or anything. The series is a one of a kind that can never be replicated quite as good as it was. It puts you into this strange new world but you don’t feel lost in it, in fact you accept it. Each episode gives you an in depth look into the world in which mushi exist and the characters surrounding them. And the stories are quite modest but at the same time seem to hit you the hardest. The creatures that are called mushi throughout the series are some of the most imaginative and unique things I’ve ever heard of. Just the thought of them gives you the feeling of something magical that is unreal and yet surreal at the same time. It wins best fantasy hands down.

Best Mecha: Gurren Laggan
Its not just your run of the mill mecha series. There is always more to it beyond the jokingly stereotypical super robot story they hide a message of hope and encouragement. I think it's this message which gave the series life and made it such a big success. When you were done watching the series you were left with a feeling that if you try hard enough you can reach the starts. I think this spoke to allot of people and that’s why the catch phrases of the anime can all to often be heard shouted throughout the halls of any given anime con.

Best Comedy: Lucky Star
Sometimes this anime is seen as the bastard child of Kyoto Animation in between the two Haruhi seasons but in many ways I find Lucky Star to be better. The style of comedy is one that had never been seen in anime before and, I think, really broke the mold of your typical comedy anime. It's style of showing life-like events in a comedicly clumsy light makes it the type of comedy that makes you think "it's funny because it's true." And the use of everyday conversations gives it it's unique Seinfeld-esk feel. When your asking for best comedy there is really no other option, its Lucky Star hands down.

Best Adventure: Darker Than Black
Personally I found this series to be far superior to his companion Full Metal Alchemist for the main reason that it didn’t cheapen the drama or suspense. Darker Than Black was just an amazing show, period. I can think of few others that are able to balance drama, action, and a few cases of comedy in same way this adventure does. Sure they aren’t looking for treasure or something cliché like that but that doesn’t make this series any less of an adventure. The action scenes were very well done and the animation was a testament to how great Bones studio is. From start to finish this series kept me interested and watching as the plot thickened and the story unfolded. And you can bet that I have a back log of the new season just waiting to be watched. This series actually went above my expectations and blew its competitors out of the water.

Best Action: Samurai Champloo
Is it really that much of a surprise? When I first saw this series aired on Adult Swim I was blown away by the intensity and precision the action sequences were done. This anime mastered the genre in a way to no other has before, leaving the critics breathless. I find it hard to even fathom a discussion of anime action without Samurai Champloo quickly becoming a point of conversation. No other series can and, most likely, will be able to match the amazing fight scenes that were shown in this series. And on top of that it had some amazing music. Fallowing in the shoes of Watanaba’s previous works, this series incorporated music as a key aspect of the series. This was the first time most Americans had ever heard of the artist Nujabes and it definitely wouldn’t be the last.

Best Mystery: Ergo Proxy
Sure I would have liked to say Monster but I haven’t finished it yet so I don’t find that fair. And sure most people would say Death Note but I think I speak for everyone that half way through the series it has a major drop in quality of story. So there is only one real choice here today and that would be Ergo Proxy. This series was able to present a mystery that I think few can match. There are so many mysteries to solve in this series it’s enough to make your head spin. You basically start off completely in the dark about nearly everything, but as the story goes on you learn new things that make you see this world in a new light and bring you one step closer to solving everything. It’s the type of series that pulls you along taunting you to try and solve the riddle. And the setting is very interesting, a cyber punk/post-apocalyptic world that has a strong undertone of darkness.

Best Shonen: Soul Eater
Few shonen anime manage to entertain me but this one just blew me way. It had everything perfectly done great music, imaginative plot, unique setting, and some mind blowing action scenes. I honestly cant find anything to complain about with this series. Only a hand full of shonen series has managed to impress me but this one goes above and beyond and stole a special place in my heart. This is not only my favorite of the decade but my favorite shonen of all time. If you haven’t seen this series yet you should asap.

Best OVA: Now and Then, Here and There
This was a tough call for me to make, I love FLCL and Now and Then equally but I had to make a choice and it went to Now and Then. I figured enough people were already going to praise FLCL as it was and Now and Then need some love. This series is one of the best and most depressing things I have ever seen. In as few as 12 episodes it puts you through a whole story that is often enough to make you cry. It doesn’t let up from being depressing and power at the same time. It makes you get attached to the characters and you hate to see all the bad things they go through over the course of the series but some how that’s what is so great about it. It’s a beautiful masterpiece that everyone must watch.

Best Movie: Undecided
This was a category that I just couldn’t deice on. I was able to narrow it down to 5 choices though. I’d have to say that the 5 best movies this decade were Spirited Away, The Girl Who Lept Through Time, 5cm Per Second, Millennium Actress, and Paprika. These movies set the bar up higher than most creators can ever hope to reach and they’ve set the standard for excellence for years to come. I think few could argue with a list like this. Each of these movies mastered their craft and put forth their best effort in animation, story, characters, and entertainment. These will be the legends of this decade that future anime creators will strive to succeed.

Best of manga list still to come!

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