Dec 292009
 

5. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

A big middle finger to society masquerading as a pseudo-harem anime. I love how the series takes a seemingly innocent, meaningless topic, takes it to its most extreme, horrifyingly pessimistic conclusion, and then warps said conclusion into something that’s gleefully, cheerfully nihilistic. Not only does Zetsubou Sensei think the world is fucked, it takes great joy in the fact.

 

4. Genshiken 2

Like I said in my 2006 post, I’m not much of a fan of Ogiue. The second season focuses on her a bit more than I’d prefer, but it leads to a particularly brilliant episode. The manga teased around with Ogiue’s fantasies where she would pair up the Genshiken guys in homosexual relationships. All we ever saw were a few sketches in her notebook. But the second season of Genshiken takes that and makes an entire episode based around said fantasies, and it’s pretty hilarious. The way she interprets each of the guys from the club and shoehorns them into yaoi stereotypes works perfectly, and the whole getting into Ogiue’s head makes her a far more interesting character than before. That one episode elevates the entire second season. It may be the best episode in the entire series.

3. Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone

It’s mostly a rehash of the first few episodes of the original TV series, but seeing those episodes reanimated with modern techniques makes the whole thing that much more beautiful. Not much else to say about the thing, since it isn’t presenting anything new. It’s Evangelion. If you don’t already have an opinion on it, even if you haven’t actually seen it yet, you’ve never watched anime in your life.

 

2. Darker than Black

When I saw X-Men First Class, I was all “Damn, I wanna see a whole thing with Magneto going all super spy on Nazis.” Then I realized I already got that very thing with Darker than Black. It’s all about Cold War espionage and super powers. It might not take place in that golden era of James Bond, but it has the same vibe to it with all these countries using covert super agents to wage a secret war to control the powers coming from portals to another world. The way the series is structures is pretty perfect: A series of two-episode stories that are self-contained but depict an overall picture of the world. There’s story bits that linger and build over time, but it isn’t bogged down with a linear story that covers the entire series. We need a third season more in the vein of this season and less like the cool but flawed second season.

1. Baccano!

Pretty damn perfect. 13 episodes of pure bliss. Fast-paced action that throws you into the mix and forces you to figure it out on your own. No hand holding. No unnecessary exposition. When things slow down it’s only to make the next wave of chaos all the more important. It’s the sort of shit Guy Richie wished he made, with its massive, eccentric cast of misfits fighting with one another. It’s up there with the likes of Cowboy Bebop and Redline in terms of anime we’re damn lucky to have received. This breed of action anime– the sort that doesn’t bother to concede to popular trends and plays by its own rules– rarely appears as it is, and with every day the odds of its ilk being made again dwindles. This is the sort of shit your cherish rather than dispose of like most other series.

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