Dec 302012
 

2012 was a bit of a weird year for me as far as anime goes. Most years I can narrow down my top choices to 10 or so pretty easily. This year, I found myself struggling with my choices once I got past the first six entries. I only had four or so slots to go, but I had at least ten series I considered worthy. So I went ahead and made this thing a full 15 series long this year.

In the end, the best two series are something of an Alpha and Omega. One is here to destroy everything we hold dear while the other wishes to build anew and create something from the ashes of otakudom. Yeah.

15. Daily Lives of High School Boys

High School Boys was cathartic. It took the piss out of the “high school kids doing nothing of consequence” genre by showing said kids being the sort of mean-spirited, dumb jackoffs they are in real life. That capacity to be a mean-spirited, dumb jackoff was the only thing that made those awkward teenage years tolerable, so anime’s tendency to shove a gallon of bleach down adolescence’s throat and wash away all of that small-minded pettiness does youth a great injustice. Problem is, that’s about all High School Boys has going for it. It’s a great takedown of  modern anime trends, but it doesn’t quite have the same mad brilliance of something like Milky Holmes. They’re both doing the same thing, but Milky Holmes takes everything that much further. High School Boys throws a punch while Milky Holmes launches the proverbial tactical nuke. Still, High School Boys is a funny little show. Also, it has one of the most horrifying endings in all of anime.

14. Aquarion EVOL

If Aquarion EVOL was a Hollywood actor, it would be Nicolas Cage. It’s batshit insane, cranking up the melodrama and mega-acting in an attempt to turn a pretty damn mediocre story into something better. Blahblahblah robots blahblahblah kidnapping women to repopulate blahblahblah something about love and being positive and stop trying to make me barf with all these positive messages. Had EVOL played everything straight, with your stock mecha show characters, it’d probably be a yet another shiny piece of shit with a Yoko Kanno soundtrack. But then we get all this shit about donuts and digging/filling holes and murderous music and permanent opposite days and, yeah, a dull show is made pretty damn amusing in the process. It’s like how Nic Cage made Johnny Blaze like Red Hots and 70s monkey movies in Ghost Rider or any other little touch he adds to a lot of his roles that make otherwise crappy movies watchable. But Aquarion needed to be a bit crazier to make up for its faults. It’s more Ghost Rider 1 than Wicker Man.

13. Thermae Romae

More anime series need to be like Thermae Romae. It has its high concept: Roman bath architect magically travels to modern-day Japan and appropriates modern bath designs in the past using ancient technology. That concept’s absurd. It’s hilarious. It’s clever. It’s also a concept that doesn’t really need the usual ~12 episodes to get its point across. Thermae Romae works because it gets its jokes in and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s pretty damn elegant in its execution. Please use this as some sort of template, Dudes Who Make Anime Stuffs.

12. Hells

Elvis runs a school in Hell. A cute girl dies a meaningless death and is damned just because. Abel wants revenge for being the first being with a soul to die. Frankenstein is moe Jesus. Hells is insanely fun shit. Check out this post for more insanity.

 

 

 

11. Poyopoyo

Poyopoyo’s based on one of those comic strip manga things. Peeps like to call them 4-koma, but that’s just an otaku term for “something like a newspaper comic strip that always has four panels, so let’s give it a new name and pretend it’s something new.” The term kinda cheapens and limits stuff like Poyopoyo, so I won’t be using that term. Poyopoyo’s pretty much a direct translation of these things, slapping together a few gags in a three-minute time span. What makes Poyopoyo work is the rapid pace at which said gags are delivered. There’s no lingering here, much like how you’d read one of these gag strips and move on to the next. It replicates the process of actually reading this sort of thing in the newspaper of manga magazine or whatever. Poyopoyo also nails what it’s like to “own” a cat. You think they’re doing something all cute and shit when they’re actually doing something predatory and disgusting. “Aww, he’s playing around with somet… oh, he’s actually eating some bug and toying with it at the same time.” Fun stuff.

Dec 312010
 

Yep. Obligatory “Best of the Year” post. Hell, I churned out ten of these damn things last year so I could catch up on everything I hadn’t written about in the millions of years I spent not blogging, so I may as well churn out one for this year, right?

So yeah, Let’s Listage!

 

 

 

13. Heroman

I think I may be the only person that thinks Heroman is a legitimately good super hero story. It has an old school vibe to it, like the sort of stuff Marvel and DC used to churn out when they were marketing their shit mainly at kids. There’s an earnestness to it all that’s missing from most of today’s metatextual superhero stuff– modern stuff is superhero comics about superhero comics while Heroman is a superhero story. It isn’t quite as brilliant as Tiger and Bunny, but it’s definitely worthy of people’s attention. Y’know, so long as they don’t have some irrational bias against superhero shit.

12. Dance in the Vampire Bund

It was a mess. A ridiculously absurd mess that never really explained much of what was going on. And the whole “naked girl cavorting about while claiming she’s super-duper old” was kinda creepy. But damn, this series was a beautiful mess. I blame my digging of this series on my old World of Darkness fanboy tendencies, since Bund aped so many tropes from that RPG and other vampire shit. I also blame my love of plot hole ridden old school OAVs that forced you to fill in the holes with your own convoluted ideas. It’s trash, but it’s the sort of trash I like.

11. Shinryaku! Ika Musume!

10. Working!!

The problem with anime comedies isn’t that they tend to take place in schools or focus around harems or shit like that. What’s wrong with them is that they’re usually pretty shitty. Squid Girl and Working take the usual formulas and remember that comedies are supposed to be funny. They acknowledge current trends without forgetting that the most important things are comedic timing and the way characters play off of each other. Working does it a little better, since it’s more character-driven and less gimmick-driven, but there isn’t much differentiating these two series besides that.

9. Trigun: Badlands Rumble

I didn’t see the Trigun movie until after I made this list, but I did write a post about it here. It accentuates everything that was good about the TV series and cuts down on all the stuff that annoyed me. It’s the ideal anime TV-to-movie transition– the sort of thing all such movies should strive to be like. Not unlike, say, the Cowboy Bebop movie.

 

 

8. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt

Panty and Stocking is the bastard lovechild of Gainax’s hyperkinetic styling and 90′s western cartoons like Dexter’s Laboratory and Ren & Stimpy. It didn’t always work, or else it’d likely be in one of the top two or three slots, but when it was working it was damn brilliant stuff. And fucking funny. Fatherfucking funny shit. And the Chuck to the Future shorts were some of the best post-Looney Tunes cartoon shorts I’ve ever seen.