Anime Review: Top Shows of 2010 Part Two (#11 through #15)

(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, a quick link to Part One, where I revealed numbers 20 through 16:

  • #20: Kuragehime
  • #19: Kaichou wa Maid-sama
  • #18: Bungaku Shoujo
  • #17: Katanagatari
  • #16: Mobile Suit Gundam UC: Unicorn

And now, on to the Best of 2010, continuing on from fifteen place and working towards Number One!

#15 – Arakawa Under the Bridge, Season One

Arakawa Under the Bridge is a 13-part weekly television series broadcast during the Spring of 2010, based on the continuing manga series by Hiraku Nakamura. Kou Ishinomiya is on top of the world with a bright future ahead of him, until he has his pants stolen while crossing the Arakawa bridge. A strange homeless girl, Nino, rescues him after falling. Feeling indebted to her, Kou asks what he can do to repay her, and Nino asks that he fall in love with her. Thus begins his life under the bridge, as the only “sane” member of the small community. As a quick-fire gag comedy, I was originally worried that the rat-a-tat of jokes would get tiring pretty quickly. The good news, however, is that it turned out to also be a light romance between Kou and Nino, as he tries to change everyone else for the better ending up changing himself in the process. The bad news, on the other hand, is that during the second season in the Fall of 2010, it *does* start to drag and lose originality, and it is probably better left after the first season unless you’re a hard-core fan.

#14 – Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru a.k.a. “SoreMachi” a.k.a. “And Yet This Town Turns” is a 12-part weekly television series aired during the Fall of 2010, based on the ongoing manga series by Masakazu Ishiguro. Hotori Arashiyama is your average happy-go-lucky teenage girl who works at a struggling, out-of-place maid cafe in town. At first it seems like she is nothing but an annoyance and trouble; the arch-nemesis of her mathematics teacher, the most un-maid-like of maids, a pain-in-the-neck to the townsfolk, and completely clueless at love. But in the end, despite all her faults, she learns she is truly loved and cherished by those around her. Not a linear story, the anime show takes some of the best short comedy bits from the manga series and presents them as short tales, with more hits than misses. Hotori’s voice actor gives her a unique nasal, atonal delivery that only adds to the charm, strangely enough.

#13 – Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku

Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku a.k.a. “Reform with no Wasted Draws” a.k.a. “The Legend of Koizumi” is a one-shot original video animation special based on the continuing gag manga series by Hideki Ohwada. International disputes are settled at the mahjong table, as world leaders gather around in a high-stakes game of diplomacy through tiles. But Japan has an ace in the hole with former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, the baddest of the bad-asses! If you think a show about the sedate game of mahjong is going to be boring, think again, because they crank this one up to eleven with the most ridiculous of scenarios. Koizumi is portrayed as the most powerful man in the world (think of a Japanese version of Chuck Norris on steroids), and other world leaders are caricatured to the extreme. Bush Jr. is a feeble-minded baby that has to be looked over by his powerful father; the leaders of China are manipulative and sneaky, but cower under the resurrected soul of Mao. There’s also Kim Jong-il, and a later promise of Putin, Thatcher, the Pope, and more. It is absolutely INSANE and over the top, and you have to see it to believe it. There’s just the single video special, which is just as well because I seriously down they could maintain this level of brain-melting ridiculousness for an entire season. Maybe another special or two down the road would be nice.

#12 – Broken Blade

Broken Blade a.k.a. “Break Blade” is a six-part, fifty-minute original video animation show released approximately every two months, with two episodes in 2010, based on the action/fantasy by Yunosuke Yoshinaga. Set in a fantasy world where the only source of power is quartz, which is magically manipulated by individuals, Rygart is unique in his inability to control quartz. One day he is called to the capital by his old college friends, who are now the king and queen of the land. They have mysteriously uncovered a giant mechanical ‘golem’ from ancient times that does not use quartz power, and Rygart is the only one able to pilot it. And he gets his chance, as the kingdom’s enemies launch a surprise attack, forcing Rygart into action. Well, it’s a giant robot/mecha story, but a well-done one at that, with gorgeous artwork and a story that is character driven rather than relying on endless action sequences. The series only gets an “incomplete” grade for now, however, as it will finish up in mid-2011.

#11 – Highschool of the Dead

Highschool of the Dead a.k.a. “Academy Apocalypse” a.k.a. “HOTD” is a twelve-part weekly television series aired during the Summer of 2010, based on the wildly popular manga series by Daisuke and Shoji Saito. A pandemic quickly spreads across the world, turning everyone into fast-moving, undead, mindless zombies. A small group of high school students in Tokyo band together to survive, leaving the school behind in search of safety and their homes. On the surface it’s just another zombie flick, but as with all truly good zombie shows the real enemies are not the zombies themselves, but the societal breakdown among the survivors. At first I was really bugged by the “needless” over-the-top fanservice as all the girls got jiggly and bouncy and naked, including some of the most hilarious “bullet time” sequences you could imagine. But ultimately I came to understand and accept the gratuitous flesh show as a counterpart to the otherwise grim and excessively bloody reality they face; the show manages to weigh these two extremes on the scale successfully. The story itself barely gets started after twelve episodes, and as one of the best received and popular shows of 2010 I cannot imagine they wouldn’t produce a second season quickly.

Coming up next: The Top Anime Shows of 2010 Part Three: Numbers #10 to #6!

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