The best N anime that I saw in 2010

January 13, 2011

This is my best N anime list, not other people's, and as traditional it is really a 'most enjoyable N anime' list except that that sounds much more wishy-washy. This covers things that I saw in calendar 2010, not necessarily things that were released then. It is definitely in order for the early entries, after which things get fuzzy.

  • Haibane Renmei: I finally saw this. Everything they say about how good it is is true. The climax of the last episode had me genuinely tense and terrified, which is not common.

  • Katanagatari: the nice thing about being a slow writer is that if I wait long enough, someone else will write what I want to say. So go read Don (via Author).

    Well, almost; I have a little bit to say. The initial few episodes of Katanagatari are pretty normal; well done, interesting, but not stunning. Then comes episode four, where Katanagatari shows us that it isn't afraid to be completely unconventional in the pursuit of good story. So if you're interested but not impressed, keep watching at least until then.

    (For those that have seen Katanagatari, the unconventional bit I'm thinking of is not the events of episode four but how the story was told. Katanagatari is not afraid to do unconventional storytelling, including that the whole show is deliberately framed as a story that we are being told, not reality that we are just seeing; the narrator tells us additional out-of-story information all the time.)

    I'm not entirely sure what I feel about the ending. It's appropriate, but it's a more Japanese ending than I was really expecting.

  • Star Driver: yes, I know, it's not done yet and the remaining half could totally destroy the show. But even if so, the 13 episodes I saw in 2010 would still earn it its place here.

    (It is on crack, but it is good crack.)

  • Sora no Woto: I would really like to praise this unreservedly, but sadly it lost significant class points with what is implied in the ending of episode 8. Apart from that one lapse, I love it. Unlike some people, I like the ending and think it fits well with the rest of the show, and the show has all sorts of little touches that I enjoy.

    The particular moment doesn't destroy the show for me personally (although it makes me wince, sigh, and roll my eyes at the anime industry and its occasional crass pandering), but it means that I can't recommend this to people I know without having to add caveats and cautions about a single moment in an otherwise great show. This makes me unusually grumpy because the rest of the show is so good and I would like people to see it.

    (Possibly I am overreacting to that one bit, but it strikes me as crass pandering of a particularly noxious and unnecessary sort.)

  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: in retrospect, I think that one reason I enjoyed P&S so much is that I am kind of bored with run of mill anime because I have seen so much of it. Even if P&S is crass and sometimes not successful, I would rather watch a show that's trying to do something different than, say, a competent but uninspiring execution of something I've seen many times before like Otome Yokai Zakuro. The latter is entertaining; the former is interesting.

    (Mere art for art's sake doesn't work, though; there are a number of such shows this year that I bounced off of.)

    I suspect that 13 episodes is about the right length for P&S. I certainly have no particular yearning for a second season.

Shows that I consider 'below the fold', things that were good but that I probably won't really remember in five years:

  • Seitokai Yakuindomo: this is memorable partly because I don't watch many comedies, especially comedies that are actually funny and interesting. I was pleased to see that it made no real move to develop any sort of romance subplot (well, not a serious one).

  • Marie & Gali: this is sadly being fansubbed very, very slowly, but it is totally worth your attention. See Steven Den Beste for one discussion of it. I would love this more if I could see more of it; as it is, I tend to neglect it even when new episodes come out.

  • Durarara!!: my opinion is somewhat coloured by the fact that I can't help comparing this to Baccano (it's the same author and the same kind of storytelling), and this is no Baccano. It's still pretty good, just not as interesting and complex. The change probably made Durarara!! more accessible (you really needed to watch Baccano at least twice), but it made it less interesting and striking and more ordinary. Also, Durarara!! is simply a lot less crazy than Baccano.

  • Cross Game: this is less about the sports than about the people, and Aoba totally deserves Evirus's best girl of the year award. If I normally went for this sort of show in general, I would rate Cross Game higher.

Honorable mentions from things that I saw in 2010:

  • Invasion! Squid Girl (aka Shinryaku! Ika Musume): I can believe the praise it's gotten and maybe I'll watch further episodes someday. See my discussion in Fall2010Brief.

  • Spice and Wolf II: not as good as the first series but still good, and I totally should have seen some of those twists coming.

    (I saw most of this in 2010 because I stalled out on watching it when it initially aired, for reasons that do not fit in the margins of this entry.)

  • Denpa Teki na Kanojo: I watched this because of Wonderduck, and it was totally worth my time. The second episode is not as strong as the first, partly because it is a bit repetitive.

    (I like how I still don't know if the heroine is deluded or not.)

  • Cat Shit One: utter crack for military fans. If you like this sort of stuff, pay attention to the fine details; you will be rewarded. (There were all sorts of things that I only found out by reading detailed discussions after seeing it; see at least this, via Author.)

I saw other shows that were entertaining, but they don't go in this entry.

Written on 13 January 2011.
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