Anime Review: Top Shows of 2010 Part One (#16 through #20)

(originally published and formatted for Livejournal on 3/25/11)


It may be a couple months late, but I’m finally ready to reveal my list of the Top Anime Shows for 2010! Over the past several months, I have sampled EVERY SINGLE ANIME SHOW that was produced between December 22, 2009 and December 21, 2010, and was subtitled into English. I only excluded blatant pornography and hard-core yaoi shows; in total, it added up to over 150 television series, movies, specials, one-shots and OVAs. And now, the results are in!

First, let’s start out with a few honorable mentions. These are shows that didn’t make it into the Top Twenty, but are still worth checking out. In no particular order:

  • Angel Beats – 13 episode weekly television series
  • Cat Shit One – single original net animation episode
  • Darker than Black: Gaiden – four-part original video animation side story
  • Detective Conan: Lost Ship in the Sky – the 14th feature-length film
  • Hen Zemi – single original video animation episode
  • Lupin: The Last Job – feature-length film
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha First Movie – feature-length film
  • My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute – 12 episode weekly television series
  • To Aru Kagaku no Railgun Special – original video animation one-shot sequel
  • Working! – 13 episode weekly television series
  • Yozakura Quartet: Hoshi no Umi – first episode of a re-telling or the original story

…and that’s pretty much it. If it’s not listed above, or not listed in the “Top 20” list below, then it’s not really worth seeking out. Sorry, but that’s just how it goes, when 80% of the anime produced is simply not worth watching. There’s a lot more crap than quality.

And now, on to the Best of 2010, starting with twentieth place and working towards Number One!

#20 – Kuragehime

Kuragehime a.k.a. “Jellyfish Princess”, is an 11-part weekly television series that aired during the Fall 2010, based on the shoujo manga series by Akiko Higashimura. Tsukimi is a shy girl with an obsession for jellyfish, who has moved in to a building filled with other fujoshi women who have one inviolable rule: No Men Allowed. But when Tsukimi is befriended by a Kuranosuke, a rich, cross-dressing hipster, all hell breaks loose. At first I was worried it would be all about the cross-dressing and the ever-present threat as to when Kuranosuke’s true identity would be revealed. But no…it’s a wacky comedy involving the culture clash as the unsocialized girls confront the real world, and it’s also a complicated love quadrangle as well. Alas, the anime series ends abruptly as the story reaches its halfway point; hopefully a second series is in the future.

#19 – Kaichou wa Maid-sama

Kaichou wa Maid-sama a.k.a. “The President is a Maid” is a 26-episode weekly television series that aired during Spring and Summer of 2010, based on the still-running shoujo manga series by Hiro Fujiwara. Misaki has worked hard to become the class president at Seika High School, which until recently was a male-only campus. But she also has a secret: Misaki also works at a maid cafe, and if word got out her reputation would be completely ruined. So what happens when Takumi, one of the most popular and attractive guys at school, discovers her secret? It’s a slow, steady tale of a blossoming romance between complete opposites — and it’s also proof that I can watch a girls’ romance anime series without having my brain melt out of my skull. The charm in the show lies in the hardcore tsundere personality of Misaki, and the slow-but-steady taming of her by Takumi. The one thing I could do without, however, is the irrelevant and insipid omake episodes, often involving the insufferable Moron Trio. And despite running a full two cours, there’s still room for another season as a rival appears on the scene at the very end, unwilling to give up on Misaki.

#18 – Bungaku Shoujo

Bungaku Shoujo a.k.a. “Literature Girl” was originally a long-running light novel series by Mizuku Nomura. There was an original video animation, “First Love”, in December 2009, followed by a feature-length theatrical film in May 2010. In addition, three “Memoir” original video animations were released to introduce the back-story of the three main characters in the film. The concept centers around Tohka, who must literally consume literature to survive. She finds a compatriot in Konoha, who joins the literature club and writes daily “snacks” for her.

The movie, however, is another story entirely. Tohka is not the main focus of the movie, and her odd paper-consuming habit is barely mentioned. Instead, Konoha must deal with the obsession of his childhood friend, Miu, as she desperately clings to him in a Fatal Attraction sort of way. A very emotionally charged movie, extremely bittersweet. I would recommend skipping the inconsequential “First Love” special; instead, watch the first “Memoir” special about Tohka to get a feel for her character, then jump right in to the feature-length movie. Avoid the second “Memoir” special before watching the movie, or it might lessen the emotional impact; and the third “Memoir” special is pretty much meaningless.

#17 – Katanagatari

Katanagatari a.k.a. “Sword Story”, is a twelve-part 50-minute anime series that aired once per month throughout all of 2010, based on the light novel series written by Nisio Isin. Shichika has spent his entire life on an isolated island, honing his inherited “swordless” fighting style. One day, Togame the Strategian arrives to recruit him for a formidable task: help her collect the twelve deviant blades, legendary swords with supernatural powers. More than just a martial arts slug-fest, this actually turned into an interesting story of character growth between both Shichika and Togame with a twist at the end that I won’t reveal, by that time you will be torn to shreds. It is also one of the most visually appealing shows of the season.

#16 – Mobile Suit Gundam UC: Unicorn

Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn is a six-part hour-long original video animation series, of which only two episodes aired in 2010 (in March and in October). Set in the long-storied Gundam universe, this story takes place in the Universal Century (U.C.) timeline, three years following Char’s Counter Attack. Banagher Links is a seemingly normal teenage boy living on the Side 4 Colony, until he rescues the enigmatic Audrey Burne. He soon learns that she has arrived at the colony in secret to try and prevent a Pandoran object known only as “LaPlace’s Box” from being turned over to the Neo Zeon forces. During the bloody melee that ensues, Banagher discovers his birthright as the pilot of the powerful Gundam Unicorn. Despite my innate dislike of most anything Gundam (I never understood the appeal of giant robots), the huge Gundam universe is large enough that even I can find stuff that I like. I have more of an affinity towards the Universal Century-related stories (War in the Pocket is my favorite Gundam series), and I also have a penchant for Yasuhiko’s retro-esque character designs. And of course I’m in love with the ingenue, Audrey Burne. Still, this series receives an “incomplete” grade, because it won’t wrap up until sometime in 2012.

Coming up next: The Top Anime Shows of 2010 Part Two: Numbers #15 to #11!

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