Well, that ended up taking longer than I thought. So much so that it’s three posts rather than two. And so much that I finish in February instead of January like I hoped. Ah well. :v
A 2000-2004 “anime retrospective” is here.
Gokujou Seitokai/Best Student Council (2005-04-06 to 2005-09-28): Another “wacky hijinks at an all-girls high school” show, but an enjoyable one nonetheless because of the many characters involved with more than just specific traits behind them (though it’s not hard to typecast them), as well as the interactions between all of those girls. And Pucchan remains one of my all-time favorite characters, despite being a puppet, because all you need is burning justice. And Yukari Tamura’s “crazy old lady” voice.
Futakoi Alternative (2005-04-07 to 2005-06-30): I still haven’t seen the original series (and I haven’t been wanting to anytime soon), but I’ve heard that this alternative storyline is miles above what happened in the original. It’s one of my favorite series regardless, with the best (IMO) first episode in anime that I’ve ever seen, and a solid coming-of-age story of a detective just trying to find out what it means to love something and what it means to be loved, be it his hometown, or the pair of twins who happen to be his assistants among other things. Plus, the action scenes (when there are some) are some of the most dynamic that I’ve ever seen in anime. It helps when a fire-breathing squid happens to be on the other side of the battle.
Honey and Clover (2005-04-14): I don’t know if I would have felt so strongly or related so much to this series if I had not been in college while this was going on, but I was and I do feel that strongly. Seeing a group of college students trying to find out where to go in life and in love (the latter often with many missteps along the way) reflected many of the concerns I had then and still had today, and I appreciated that most of the characters were able to at least start moving along in life, since in a way it meant that I could do it as well. Takemoto’s bike ride at the end of the first series was very indicative of the last point, and I cheered him on though he didn’t necessarily set out with any goal in mind but just going forward.
Pani Poni Dash! (2005-07-03 to 2005-12-25): If it wasn’t the ever changing fun OPs and EDs, it was the all of the random references fired at a breakneck pace (go go chalkboard) that I don’t think anyone besides the production staff had knowledge of all of them before them. If it wasn’t the constant jokes about the show taking place with a poor budget in show, it was the many random and crazy characters that populated the show (my favorites were Himeko and Serizawa by the way). It was a silly high school gag comedy that had no point and an 11-year-old bratty teacher who couldn’t say Massachusetts to say her life (and I actually say that endearingly), and it was still a blast to watch regardless.
ARIA The Animation (2005-10-05 to 2005-12-28): I already loved the manga, so I was hoping that the adaptation would at least make me maintain that love. It succeed beyond my expectations as voices, Choro Club and Takeshi Senoo’s music, animation and picturesque shots of Neo Venezia really made the story come to life, and thank you Junichi Sato for that. And I never got tired of Akari’s sappy phrases, though Aika seemed to do so all the time. I’ll have more to say when I get to ORIGINATION, I think so.
Pale Cocoon (2006-01-18): A 23-minute short by Yasuhiro Yoshiura that had a deliberately minimalist and monochrome setting which made all the discoveries and realization that much more powerful. That final scene was both breathtaking, and led me wondering what happened next, and it’s hard to grab me like that so quickly.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006-04-02 to 2006-07-02): Keep in mind that I still have not watched the second season. Regardless, the first season was a great watch, if not for the amusing characters that made up the SOS-Dan, then for things like the awesome animation that had the characters show more “liveliness” (more expressive actions, for example) that made moments like Live Alive only that much more special. And while it’s not in play as much as before, the ED dance is still something that I at least look back fondly on. The first episode is still one of the most brilliant single episodes that I’ve seen in anime (especially since I immediately got the point of the episode within the first two minutes of that episode), both in execution, and in grabbing the audience’s attention and not letting go to the point where people were ever hopeful for more Haruhi, and were overjoyed when it came out in 2009. Whether they stayed overjoyed is another situation entirely. 😛
Girl’s High (2006-04-03 to 2006-06-19): People constantly label this show as one of the worst that they’ve seen, but I believe it has some of the more “true to life” messages of any shows that you see (strange, yes). We were all idiots in high school and college (granted, we aren’t necessarily as idiotic as the main six girls here), but if we were lucky, all of us idiots stayed together through thick and thin. Many shows have tried to show this idea well, but I think Girl’s High might have been able succeed for me partly because of how “bad” the show could be. I don’t know.
Simoun (2006-04-03 to 2006-09-25): What starts off seeming like a war drama shows that it was a character drama all along, and it worked for me. The premise of a world in which everyone was born female and changed gender when older was a “superficial” hook that also actually was more than what people gave it credit for, and the mystery of what Simoun actually are, while not explicitly solved, drew me into the show as well. I watched the show later than during the run, and I feel like I might have gained more from the experience if I had been speculating with everyone else as the series went along, but hey.
Magipoka/Renkin 3-kyū Magical? Pokān (2006-04-04 to 2006-06-20): Most people don’t like bait-and-switch beginnings with the rest of the show, but I enjoy that stuff. Magipoka’s OP was a great example of this, hinting at something more serious, more horrific, more Halloweenish than the daily lives of 4 “monsters”, which the show ended up being about. And the show ended up being one of my favorite anime comedies period. Others might not agree, just as others might not agree that a punishment game tied to learning English and natto-flavored soda was one of the best half-episode segments ever.
Ouran High School Host Club (2006-04-04 to 2006-09-26): I wanted to keep this to shows (or at least seasons of shows) that I completed, but Ouran was still a blast to watch up to where I took a hiatus because of licensing (and haven’t gotten back to it since, sadly). While you could say that a lot of the storylines were formulaic, the willingness of the show to parody some of the more common clichés with romance while being one itself was something that I thought was great. And while this show’s Haruhi was overshadowed by Ms. Suzumiya, the former wins as the better of the two characters, in my opinion.
Black Lagoon (2006-04-08 to 2006-06-24, 2006-10-03 to 2006-12-19): Hollywood action movie combined with biting analysis of the human condition in some of the more underbelly areas of the world, and a powerful piece. From the high of seeing Rock flip the bird to his would be assailants at the start, to the crazy Terminator maid Roberta, to the chase for a paper counterfeiter which introduced the world to Rotten the Wizard, the work is populated with crazy awesome stories where I could sit back and enjoy the ride. But there were also moments such as the arc with the Romanian homicidal twin children Hansel and Gretel and the final arc in Japan which brought up hard philosophical cases about what the right thing to do is, even when on the side most people would consider as “bad”. On a sad note, I believe that an AMV of this show set to the Sinnerman Remix by Felix da Housecat would be one of the best things ever.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006-07-15): One of my all-time favorite movies, with it’s quirky premise and a thoughtful cheesy message wrapped into it. The fun of seeing Makoto begin to utilize her new time traveling skills, as well as the consequences of overusing them, was gripping throughout, and the character interactions, visuals and music were strong as well. A great start for director Mamoru Hosada, and while I haven’t watched Summer Days yet, it’s something that’s definitely on the back burner to watch in the future.
Negima!? (2006-10-04 to 2007-03-28): I still confuse the order of the punctuation in the title till now. SHAFT X Shinbo throwing the world of Negi Springfield and class into an alternate storyline was a fun idea, though the storyline got bogged down as I started to wonder what the point of the whole Star Crystal thing was near the end of the show. Regardless, I enjoyed the moves made during the show, how the duo of Motsu (most badass frog ever) and Shichimi (Miyukichi <3) grew on me, and the many “SHAFT being SHAFT” moments. And the OP sequence and song is still one of my favorite of all time.
Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! (2007-01-07 to 2007-03-25): For those who haven’t watched the show yet, why haven’t you? Currently my all-time favorite anime, I haven’t seen a show with as much strong subtle (and not so subtle) character development in a while, nor imagined that something like setting up a school festival could be compelling. I enjoyed the enthusiasm that the show infectiously spread to me, as well as the ever important message of continually moving straight ahead in life. A nice story of how something so simple can become something so grand is hidden here; don’t let the character designs or setting fool you. I’ve written much about the show already, so go forward from there as a start.
Hidamari Sketch (2007-01-11 start): Sure, you can write it off as “cute girls doing cute things”, and it’s not like I can disagree with you. But the chemistry between the main characters in the show is very fun to watch, despite “nothing happening” a lot of the time. It’s something about them, be it Yuno’s constant progression in self-confidence in herself, Miyako’s bubbly and knowing self, Sae’s battles with being honest, Hiro’s battles of a different kind, etc. that grabs me. And regardless of whatever happens in the show, knowing that the end of the day remains the same is calming and strangely also refreshing. SHAFT X Shinbo helps here as well. Another all-time fave.
5cm/s (2007-01-22): My favorite work of Makoto Shinkai’s, and really the only one that’s really affected me as an anime watcher. The story of loves that linger unconsummated grabbed me, even though I myself haven’t ever really been in love with someone before. Yet, I could understand the feelings of waiting to get somewhere important where it feels like everything is conspiring against you to prevent that from happening, and the longing even when you know the real distance between you and your target, and that things aren’t going to go your way. And while Shinkai has delved into these topics before, I feel like this movie really nailed these concepts as something that he wanted us to feel. Hopefully his next movie, which deals about how one can get over a lost love, can grab me like the falling of cherry blossoms did here.
Hitohira (2007-03-28 to 2007-06-13): In 2007, you kinda notice that in the patterns of shows that I’ve watched, among other things there’s more of a focus on the years of high school (well, that and the whole slice of life thing yeah). But while that’s true, it’s less of the setting that I relate to, but more the concepts that are expressed in the show. In Mugi(-choco), I can still see myself today in lacking confidence about what I’m doing to the point where I’d rather be someone who can’t do anything than to throw myself out onto a limb. But besides that, it also does a good job of showing how life goes on even when you don’t want to go along with it, and I don’t think that a lot of shows bother doing that. And good for Mugi that she had many people willing to help push her along, such as the awesome Nono.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007-04-01 to 2007-09-30): Row Row Fight The Powah indeed. The anime epic of Simon’s coming of age was compelling, bombastic and enjoyable, though I lost some of that excitement the later the series went as everything spiraled into bigger and better things. Some of the most emotional moments I’ve experienced in anime were from the show (from sadness to righteousness), and GAINAX went big with everything they had at their disposal. This, along with Taku Iwasaki’s equally epic music made this one of a kind. Kamina will forever be the man.
Hayate the Combat Butler (2007-04-01 to 2008-03-30): While this first season tended not to go into the black comedy that made the corresponding scenes from the manga that much more enjoyable, this comedy managed to keep me interested for 52 episodes. It’s not hard to see how wacky hijinks can get me to watch and stay watching a show, but it can be hard for me to stay continuously watching a show as it comes out, which is what this show was able to do for me. I was disappointed when the second season spent more time focusing on the “romantic” portion of the “romantic comedy”, since I feel like the show lost a large part of what made it special for me in the first go around. Well that, and the fact that Hayate has not crossplayed nearly enough.
Lucky Star (2007-04-08 to 2007-09-16): To be sure, part of what made the show memorable for me was the over-the-top response that people made when they realized that their initial expectations about how things would be (without knowing what the show was even about) were horribly wrong. I mean, kneejerk uninformed impressions based on promotional material could possibly have been thought out better than how they apparently were. Or that I misjudged how many anime fans judge books by their covers, and that I continually still see examples of that happening today. Either way, the sketch comedy only really hit it’s stride when the second main group of character came on to the show, and at the end of the show, I wanted more. Given the amount of source material out there, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more.
Dennou Coil (2007-05-12 to 2007-12-01): Story-wise, as the drama unfolded in the second half of the series, things started to get a little unhinged as well (not like I minded the ending anyways <3). But in the show’s animation, in the imaginative concept of wearable internets overlayed on reality and the adventures of children being children made this show a good watch. And Densuke is the dog. d(“d)
Shigurui (2007-07-01): For all the brutal violence and gore in the show, just the visceral atmosphere of everything is enough to make me recommend this show. It is not for everyone though (even the initial scene of the anime was enough to make me feel a little queasy), but it’s an interesting character study in an era that doesn’t get as “realistic” or “unglamorous” a usual representation like it does here. Being a samurai is serious business though.
Potemayo (2007-07-06 to 2007-09-21): For all the other (and possibly better) comedies that are out there anime-wise, this one is still one of my favorites. Maybe it’s because there are actually blobs of “moe” in the show that can get what comes to them. Or the slapstick that occurs to most characters that is very welcome. Or the random comedy (as in comedy that is random in concept and execution) that likes to rear it’s head every episode. Or how the tone change at the end works with no problems. Either way, it’s hard not to crack a smile or a laugh constantly during the show’s run, and not many comedies have worked for me like that.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (2007-07-07 to 2007-09-22): Ah, satire. And it only gets better. Too bad I haven’t finished catching up yet.
One more post to go.