Anime Review: Top Shows of 2010 Part Three (#6 through #10)

(Originally formatted and published on 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 Suite Gundam UC: Unicorn)

And then a quick link to Part Two, where I covered numbers 15 through 11:

(#15 – Arakawa Under the Bridge Season 1; #14 – Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru; #13 – Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku; #12 – Broken Blade; #11 – Highschool of the Dead)

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

#10 – Yondemasuyo, Azazel-san

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-san is a twelve-minute short special, based on the continuing comedy manga series by Yasuhisa Kubo. Rinko is an amateur assistant to the supernatural detective Akutabe, and she has managed to summon the powerful demon Azazel, who arrives in a cute, harmless chibi form to do housework. But she also manages to summon another more powerful demon, and it’s up to Akutabe to come to the rescue. Even though it’s just a short anime special, the comedic timing on it is perfect, and I was laughing my ass off, wanting for more. And my wish has been granted, as a full season of episodes is due out in just a couple of weeks!

#9 – Occult Academy

Occult Academy, a.k.a. “Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin”, is a 13-episode weekly television series that aired through the Fall of 2010, an original series that aired during the Anime no Chikara time slot (now on hiatus), and in my opinion the most successful one at that. Set in 1999, Maya hates anything involving the occult with a passion, but when her father, the founder of Waldstein Academy (nicknamed “Occult Academy”) suddenly dies, she returns to take over the place. On her first day, she unexpectedly meets Fumiaki, who has arrived from the future to search for and destroy the Nostradamus Key and prevent Earth’s devastation, mere weeks away. Forced to team up with Fumiaki, a skeptical Maya must endure all sorts of supernatural events in search of the Key. The show started out quite strong, and at first I wondered whether this could be a contender for best show of the year. It was fun to watch the interaction between the uber-tsundere Maya run roughshod over the meek Fumiaki, and there were some great laugh-out-loud moments. But it started to fall apart a bit at the end as the show writers nuked the fridge with an over-the-top climax. But overall, it was a great, fun ride.

#8 – Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt

One of the most talked about shows of the year, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is a 13-episode weekly series aired during the fall of 2010, wrenched (wrenched!!) from the fevered mind of Gainax. Panty and Stocking are two fallen angels, kicked out of Heaven to the purgatory of Daten City where they must exorcise ghosts with their underwear-powered weapons, earning enough Heaven coins to return. But Panty is a foul-mouthed sex-fiend, and Stocking is a GothLoli with a sweet tooth, under the careful eye of sketchy priest Garterbelt, how will they ever manage? From the very beginning I knew this was either going to be an Epic Show for the Ages, or an Epic Failure of Gainax Proportions. And it started out really strong, blasting past the boundaries of good taste and All That Is Acceptable on Television, truly making its mark on the anime world. An explosion of color and action, it was like a visual representation of pan-galactic gargle blaster, a fury of sight and sound that left the view both exhausted and pumped after watching. But, alas, maintaining that adrenaline-infused explosion is not easy, and later episodes become increasingly rocky and uneven. When the show was on it was *ON*, Powerpuff Girls on Acid and all that shit; but half the time Panty and Stocking just fell flat. Oh, if they only had better writers this could have been the best show of the season! Perhaps the best way to watch this show for the uninitiated is for a friend who is familiar with the series to cull out the best bits (about six episodes worth) for you. And don’t miss out on the trolltastic mindfuck in the very final scene that will leave you screaming at the screen.

#7 – Time of Eve

Time of Eve a.k.a. “Eve no Jikan” was a six episode original net animation that was released in 2008 and 2009, then compiled into a feature-length film with additional material in 2010. In the near future of Japan, androids have become an everyday part of life, but the line between robots and humans remains strict and well defined. One day Rikuo discovers that his house android, Sammy, has been visiting a cafe known as “Time of Eve”. Upon investigating, he learns it is a secret place where humans and androids are treated equally. He meets several people, some human, some robot, some not-so-sure, and he begins to muse about what exactly it means to be human. While the original concept is and old one by science fiction terms, dating back to Asimov and beyond, it does provide an interesting twist on the story. What happens when the line between humans and robots is sufficiently blurred that you might not be able to tell one from the other? Ultimately, it’s not so much a story about robots as it is about ourselves, and we might not like what we see when we hold up that mirror. Also, Time of Eve manages to do what 95% of anime shows never even reach: It gets you to *think*.

#6 – Kowarekake no Orgel

Kowarekake no Orgel a.k.a. “Half-Broken Music Box” is a dojinshi original animated special produced for Comiket in late 2009, then expanded into a thirty-minute “movie” (plus an 8-minute side story) in late 2010. While walking home in the rain, Keiichiro comes across an abandoned, broken service android, which he takes home to repair, and then to discard. Late at night, the android begins functioning, awakening without memories. Keiichiro names her Flower, and together they spend the Summer months together as he teaches her about the world, as if she’s a little child. But she is a broken android after all, and their time together ends up way too short.

Rather interesting that I rank this show in sixth place, right alongside Time of Eve, which deals with some similar story concepts (totally coincidental, really). The title “Half-Broken Music Box” actually has two meanings. There’s the obvious analogy to Flower herself, a partially-functioning android; but as the story progresses it becomes clear what the true, hidden meaning is: the “Half-Broken Music Box” is Keiichiro, as he is forced to deal with the dark demons of his past before he can move forward. This really is a gem of a little show, it came to me totally out of the blue and I was really wanting more. There’s clearly the potential for a full-length television series, and it truly is a shame that we only get this little taste of the show.

Coming up next: The Top Anime Shows of 2010 Part Four, where I reveal my personal top five shows of the year! Can you guess what they are going to be? Then after that, sharpen the knives and turn up the snark, because I’m going to dredge up the worst 20 shows of 2010!

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