Not much to say about this year as a whole, save for the fact that I could only really talk about nine of the ten series on this list with any real authority. I had to enlist the aid of Updatedude to talk about the series in the #10 slot, since he dug it a good deal more than I did. Yeah.
Updatedude here, stealing Landon’s Sunabouzu entry, like some vast predatory punk from the desert. Anyways, people often ask, “Why isn’t Death Note on Mecha Guignol’s Top Whatever Anime List? You Suck!”. Well, there’s a reason for that, and that reason is Sunabouzu, which is the Death Note/Attack on Titan/Code Geass of 2004. Here’s a show about a protagonist who when you get down to it, is an antagonist through and through. Sunabouzu even “crosses the line” and he’s got no redeeming qualities. He’s not even good-looking like the wannabes that follow him, nor does he get deus ex machina magic powers like a Death Note, Geass or turning into a Titan. Sunabouzu is like Trigun if Vash wasn’t a pussy; or Fist of the North Star if Kenshiro wasn’t a crybaby.
Hoihoi’s concept is pretty damn brilliant. Throwing around bug sprays isn’t really convenient when you’re living in cramped quarters, and lugging around a flyswatter or whatever isn’t gonna solve your roach problem. So what do you do? You make bug-killing robots. But how are you gonna market these things to unkempt anime-world otaku who aren’t exactly paying attention to growing roach hives in their walls? You make those bug-killing robots into dead-eyed little girls you can customize with all sorts of cute outfits and shit. It’s a perfect animeverse concept. And you know what makes this anime especially cool? It actually emphasizes this combat. Yeah, the robogirls are cute and all, but we actually get to see them hunt filthy insects and gun them down with comparatively big-ass guns. It’s fun stuff.
8. Panda Z
It’s a panda in a robot. He fights other animals in robots. The animals are also robots. You have robots inside robots. There’s no dialogue, only the occasional title card you’d see in a silent movie. It’s pure action and music. The robot animals eat batteries. It makes you want to eat batteries because they sound so good when they crunch in the animals’ mouths. I bet they’re like crispy ravioli or something. Battery acid is marinara.
I’ve written about this before, but here’s the gist of why I like this thing: It dispenses of everything that isn’t plot. It’s pure storytelling. Characters are irrelevant. Logic is irrelevant. Standard pacing is irrelevant. It’s stuff happening and nothing else, and it all comes off as some big exercise in minimalism. While I doubt it’s intentional, I want it to be intentional because it says a lot about how the things we like in various forms of fiction are pretty extraneous to the meat of things. It also has a puppet getting crucified, and that gives me all kinds of warm fuzzies.
6. Samurai Champloo
Samurai Champloo is good. Damn good. If you think otherwise you’re probably wrong. Despite that, it’s “only” sixth place on this list? Why is that? Yeah, let’s talk about what keeps Champloo from reaching the brilliance of its spiritual brother Cowboy Bebop. A lot of it comes down to the ending. It doesn’t have the same sort of inevitability you get from Bebop. Instead, the ending just sort of happens. This dude arrives. They fight him. Some other guys appear. Another fight. Oh, hey, we just happened to resolve those issues we mentioned in earlier episodes without any real impact. We won. Yep. There we go. That’s the vibe I got from those last couple of episodes. It just happens. I can appreciate how they just go their different ways in the end, since there’s no real reason for them to continue adventuring together, but everything’s so underwhelming. But yeah, it’s still an awesome series despite that. Hip Hop Samurais, yo.