Looking back, it’s some sort of miracle that I was still an anime fan after weathering 2005’s output. I wasn’t totally up on the fansub scene at the time. I was still catching up with things from the previous couple of years as fans snagged fansubs and as things got released on DVD. So 2005 itself wasn’t that bad. And by the time 2006 rolled around I was watching more stuff as it aired (or close enough), so there was always something around to keep me from wandering off completely. But yeah, 2005 was pretty damn dreary, anime-wise.
I don’t think I’m gonna bother with a list for this year. As I was going through the things I had seen from 2005, I found only one series that I genuinely enjoyed without any real caveats: Speed Grapher. I like its Eyes Wide Shut-style secret sex cults mixed with monster of the week villains. It was a fun little series. Then there’s Mars of Destruction. Yeah, Mars of Destruction. Yep. That thing. A thing I consider the second best anime of 2005.
And the thing is, neither of these series even come close to my Top 50 list. Almost every year since 2000 has at least one anime on my list. I usually find at least one new series a year that really grabs me and makes me say “Yeah, this is the shit that makes me love anime.” Neither Speed Grapher nor Mars of Destruction gets to that level, and they’re the only two bits of anime from 2005 I really consider worthwhile. Yeah.
2005 also saw a few other interesting things released. That Final Fantasy VII movie, Advent Children, came out that year. It’s a boring mess for the first half of the movie, but god damn is that final 30 minutes or so of pure action some kind of beautiful kinetic masterpiece. But is a movie composed of CG animation based on a video game something we’d normally call “anime?” Yeah, it’s animation from Japan, but it’s also a commercial product from the video game industry. The animation used in the movie is more in line with the cutscenes from the Final Fantasy movies. It’s a project born out of video games, and in my mind it doesn’t get lumped in with all the TV series and such that get the “anime” label.
Basically, despite it being a pretty interesting movie overall, it’s quality has no real impact on my impression of the anime output of its year of release. The same goes for that little indie monster movie animation thing Negadon. It’s a decent little throwback to old school Toho monster movies, but it didn’t really “feel” like anime.
Yeah, I’m probably being some kind of nitpicky asshole saying all of that, but this is my damn Best Of list thing. I can make whatever damn rules I want.
So I can say a few nice things about 2005. The catch is, most of the really popular output of that year consists of things that really grated on me. Fand0m-ending levels of irritation.
Euerka Seven represents a certain sort of anime that I really kinda despise. It’s in the same vein as RahXephon, Wolf’s Rain, and a few other similar series. It has a decent high concept scenario, but it ultimately chooses to piss it all away for a bunch of dull ” character development” that doesn’t really develop anything. These series ignore everything that’s fascinating about their worlds and choose to focus upon poorly-conceived character drama that takes far too long to go anywhere (or in the case of Eureka Seven, never goes anywhere at all). In a lot of ways, that sequence of similar series in the early to mid 00s dealt a serious blow to my anime enjoyment, because they sucked all the fun out of potentially enjoyable concepts. I’m genuinely baffled as to how those three series have generated any lasting interest.
2005 also all but killed horror/monster anime for me with the three hit combo of Hell Girl, Blood +, and Trinity Blood. Much like Eureka Seven, all of those series sucked any sort of fun out of their vampire/demon/whatever set-ups. Blood + took far too long getting anywhere, telling a 13 episode story in, what, 50+? It spent way too much time focusing on the least interesting aspects of the story and not enough time on what actually drew me to the series to begin with. Trinity Blood pretty much emphasized all of the things I hated about Trigun without adding in all of the things I loved about Trigun. It was literally the withered, reanimated corpse of Vash the Stampede in so many ways. And Hell Girl? Dull. Really, really dull. Barf.
I tried to watch Mushishi for the purposes of this would-be list, and it put me to sleep. I had heard so many good things about it, and the idea of an episodic, non-serialized story really appealed to me. Mushishi really did sound like something I’d kinda like. It put me to sleep. Literally. I fell asleep in the second episode and had to finish it later. There was nothing particularly compelling about either of the episodes I watched, and I saw no signs of anything coming up that would change my opinion.
So yeah, almost all of the major anime releases from 2005 turned me off big time. Had I been a devoted fansub follower at that time, where my fandom was consumed with the “new hotness” or whatever, I very well may have given up on anime. To make me happy, all I need is one or two new shows a season that appeal to me in some way. People talk about how awful the Summer of 2010 was, but the mere fact that Occult Academy was airing that season made it pretty damn enjoyable for me. That’s all I expect out of a given anime season– one enjoyable series. Had I followed 2005 the way I’ve followed anime since 2006/7, I wouldn’t have even had that much to get me by most seasons.
Yeah. 2005 is truly a year where anime sucked. Thankfully every year since has been vastly superior.
And flip to the next page to see Updatedude’s take on 2005.