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.

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.

 

7. Yet the Town Keeps Going

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru is crazy. My kind of crazy. It starts off like your typical Shaft comedy– some quirky jokes and stylized camera angles. Then it starts to descend into speculative madness. The Soredemo world ain’t the same as any other high school comedy. Those worlds are either completely normal and banal in nature, or the abnormal and supernatural is normal in some way. Soredemo’s world is filled with dark, horrific secrets. No one but the main characters seem to be even remotely aware of this, and even then the main characters only have fleeting encounters with these oddities. Hotori runs into aliens and ghosts, but it’s always in an X-Files like manner. It’s there, but it’s all behind the scenes. And it’s all played for laughs. But Soredemo reaches its highest point in the final episode where Hotori dies, goes to heaven, and sees that it’s more like the afterlife from Beetlejuice than anything else. All of this from what most peeps labeled as yet another monotonous slice of life anime. It isn’t like Milky Holmes, though. It isn’t turning everything into a criticism of its genre. It’s just using the structure to do something completely different.

6. Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail

It’s probably the weakest of the Black Lagoon stories to be animated, but Blood Trail is still a pretty awesome homage to when action movies were good. It takes Roberta’s character to its logical conclusion: a one-woman murdering machine bent on taking down an entire city and coming pretty damn close to doing so. Blood Trail also shows Rock managing to straddle the line between amoral monster and righteous do-gooder by calculating a convoluted scheme that might just take down all of the subhuman obstacles in his path while using the very same tricks they utilize. Those parts might be a little too “talky” for a series like Black Lagoon, but the idea behind it all is pretty damn awesome. Rock is a cool character in that regard. He has a lot of the same sensibilities as your typical generic anime lead character, but he’s fully capable of adapting to and taking advantage of his violent, alien surroundings. We need more fucking Black Lagoon.

5. The Legend of Koizumi

World leaders solve world issues through assassination and mahjong. It’s the most relevant political anime ever made. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

 

4. Tantei Opera Milky Holmes

I stand by my assertion that Milky Holmes is the Evangelion of the moe genre. It takes all of the tropes and beloved aspects of the “cute girls doing cute things” genre and turns them into wholly negative traits. When the Milky Holmes girls do something that’d get absurd amounts of “daws” and “hnnnnnggggggggs” or whatever other unintelligible sounds from anime fans, it always turns against them. The Milky Holmes girls are failures just like how Shinji is a failure, and both highlight the failures of everyone involved and everyone watching. It’s great stuff.

3: The Tatami Galaxy

It’s a genuinely touching coming of age story about friendship and romance and quantum physics and parallel dimensions and youkai. I think that description alone should explain just how awesome it is.

 

 

2: Occult Academy

Take all of the criticism you’ve heard about this series, reverse it, and you get my feelings on Occult Academy. Nothing but filler? Nope. All those episodes were ways of exploring the world and the fucked up speculative shit that takes place. It’s called “world building,” not “filler,” and it’s a different way to tell a complete story.  The way the series dodged the so-called “main plot” was purely intentional, especially since the main villain outright admits to leading the main characters astray, trying to do her best to keep them from unraveling her plot. And then we find out that her plot wasn’t even the reason why the world ends, but it’s a completely different event that causes the alien invasion. The series didn’t waste its time on unnecessary things because the plot elements everyone focused upon were just a big, fat red herring to lead viewers astray. All of the craziness from the last three episodes didn’t turn me off in the least. In fact, I think Occult Academy has the single best climax to ever take place in an anime series. No exaggeration there. I fucking love this series.

1: Cobra the Animation

The franchise as a whole is my all-time favorite anime series. JET PIRANHAS! was my top moment of the year. I’ve been ranting and fanboying about this all year long. If you thought a different anime was gonna be on the top of my list, this must be your first visit to my blog.

Secret Santa: Transhuman Rubber Hose

 My Blog  Comments Off on Secret Santa: Transhuman Rubber Hose
Dec 252010
 

Santa’s going all stealthy rogue on me this year or something, and he gave me a choice of three anime series to watch and review as a part of some global anime conspiracy to induce a sense of communistic good will amongst anime bloggers. Or something like that. The red man allowed me to choose one of three anime series to report on to the public: Kaiba, Heroic Age, and Gundam 00. I neglected to report the fact that I had already watched some of Heroic Age to MyAnimeList, but I was granted a reprieve from being sent to the work camps due to my prior service in the great Anime Army. With one anime off of my list, my decision came down to Kaiba and Gundam 00. The decision was easy for me, being a closet anti-Gundam guerilla who cares not for the series outside of the rebel faction G Gundam.

So my choice was made. On this most holy of days, I would report to you, my comrades, on the anime known as Kaiba.

I liked Kaiba. It’s good stuff. But a lot of my affection for the series boils down to its visuals. The director’s other series, Tatami Galaxy and Kemonozume, go for a sort of stylized realism. While the designs are simplified and stark at times, which I assume was done to allow for more ease in animating action sequences and the like just as much as it was a purely aesthetic choice, Kaiba tosses that out completely in favor of something decidedly more “cartoonish.” Most people seem to compare Kaiba’s style to the likes of Astro Boy and other old school anime and manga, but what it reminded me the most of was the sort of cartoon shit you saw pre-Looney Tunes.

Kaiba feels more like a rubber hose cartoon more than it does any anime I can think of. Characters look more like Betty Boop’s fuckbuddy Bimbo moreso than traditional characters, with their childish bodies and abandonment of anything resembling human-like anatomy. Combining that style with the director’s penchant for impressive, flowing action sequences and you have a damn good-looking anime.

And I can’t help that this style was chosen deliberately, and not just for shock value reasons. Yeah, there’s definitely a “What the fuck” vibe when you see these more-cartoonish-than-usual characters killing and fucking and contorting bodies and the like. It adds to the alien-like feel that’s innate to the sort of Transhuman shit the series is tackling.

Going with the whole “rubber hose” look nails home the idea that if humanity went down this path where bodies can be freely swapped and created artificially, while the human “soul” becomes effectively immortal, would we really be the same as we are now? Once you get that freedom from the limitations of the human form, will we not branch out and alter our appearances in ways that would make us look like something completely different? If the possibility of humanity diverging so far exists, why not adopt an art style that emphasizes that fact? That’s why I think Kaiba went with its cartoonish look, and it makes the whole thing feel far more distant and alien. Good stuff there.

The series is something of a two-sided coin. The first half of the series is basically a big exercise in world-building. It feels more like Galaxy Express 999 or the novel The Little Prince, in that we follow Kaiba/Warp as he travels to different planets and encounters the strange world born out of humanity’s “evolution.” We get to see just how fucked up things can get when you can extract someone’s memories and the power people hold when said memories can be cast aside like they’re nothing but trash. We get tidbits of the overarching plot, but for the most part the first half of the series exists so that the second half’s plotline has that much more of an impact.

And that’s where the series kinda gets away from itself. It’s dealing with all sorts of bizarre stuff, but in the end it ends up boiling down to very basic and banal points. Everything builds up to a climax. People betray each other for various reasons. Identities are revealed, people die, and the very existence of the world is at risk with the appearance of a planet-sized plant that eats the memories of humans. Will everyone join in unison and allow themselves to be devoured by the Kaiba plant, thus attaining the equality and unity many of them desire? Will everyone revolt against such notions and fight for their individuality? There’s a lot of self vs group shit playing out in the last few episodes, and it seems like the series couldn’t quite tackle such abstract concepts. Rather, the climax boils down to simple mommy issues.

And that’s the only thing that irks me about Kaiba. There’s an awesome world. We get to see it in action and we get all sorts of crazy shit going on, and the resolution boils down to “No, Warp/Kaiba/whatever your name is, your mother did love you. Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? That’s good. The End.”

After everything that happened up to that point, the ending feels like a massive cop-out. I will say this, though. I like that the ending ends with a simple smile between Warp and his gal pal. No speech. No confession. They just look at each other, and their expressions say everything. It’s a beautiful moment, but it’s a shame that it comes about during such a mediocre climax.

Despite the lousy ending, I still like Kaiba quite a lot. Not as much as the director’s other series, but it’s quite good. It just doesn’t live up to its potential.

Mayhem of the Music Madams

 Batman, Batman: Brave and the Bold, Cartoons  Comments Off on Mayhem of the Music Madams
Dec 222010
 


An eh ep that was saved by this lil song and dance.

Also, notice the “What is love?” head bobbing at around 2:05?