Dec 262009

2006 was a weird year for me as far as anime goes. I hadn’t abandoned the hobby or anything, but I was way too distracted by other stuff to really give a damn. I was trying to be a middle school teacher. I was way too occupied with grading papers, putting up with inter-teacher politics, and dealing with parents who wouldn’t believe their precious little kids were obnoxious little shits. It didn’t help that the biggest anime I had seen around that time was the awful Eureka Seven, which put a bit of a damper on my enthusiasm for the stuff.

Yeah. I kinda hate Eureka Seven. That’ll be the first of many sacrilegious comments in this top ten list.

So this wasn’t really a stellar year for my fandom, but soon after I gave up on trying to be a teacher, my free time rocketed and I was able to discover all the cool shit I missed out on. Turns out 2006 was busy being pretty damn cool while I was distracted.

It just ain’t cool for the expected reasons.

10. Ouran High School Host Club

Usually, when something manages to click with a lot of differing demographics or whatever, it means the thing in question is speaking to the lowest common denominator. Ouran seems to be one of those shows that attracts all sorts of peeps, but it’s far from being that LCD. Sure, the thing has all the pretty boys playing up the vaguely homoerotic thing. You got your fans that love that stuff. Then you have the reverse harem thing, where other fans can bask in the self-insertiness of a girl surrounded by hot dudes. Then you get peeps like me who dig the series for being funny. Ouran’s legitimately funny. It has awesome comedic timing. The characters play off of one another pretty well. It doesn’t always work, and it strays into seriousness a bit too much for this sort of thing, but as a whole it’s pretty good stuff.

9. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

I hate the Haruhi movie (sacrilege #2). I kinda like Endless Eight on a conceptual level (#3). But the original TV series is genius. It’s a matter of how the story is told as opposed to the actual content of the story. By rearranging the source material, the story creates a mystery where there wasn’t one. The series then progresses along and ends on a double whammy of a climax. Had things played out chronologically, we’d get one “ending” after the fifth episode and another an episode or two before the end of the season, leaving us with a dull, meaningless ending. Had this series aired chronologically from the get-go, it’d be generic at best– technically well-made but nothing special. It’s a shame the rest of the series just falls apart.

8. Genshiken OVA

I don’t like Ogiue (#4). Until the “next generation” manga currently playing out, she always came off as forced, as if they needed to get another female otaku perspective into the series but didn’t know how to go about it. And then her romance with Sasahara never really felt genuine. Again, it was as if they were going about things because they felt it had to happen. So the OVA is my least-favorite bit of the Genshiken series since it focuses upon her introduction. Still, it’s fucking Genshiken. Genshiken is awesome. Even with Ogiue wedged into the formula, that formula works.  It’s more of the same, not quite as great as either TV series, but solid stuff.

7. Hellsing Ultimate

I really like the original Hellsing TV series (#5). That second half isn’t nearly as bad as people claim. There’s one or two lame episodes in the latter half, but the actual showdown at the end is good stuff. Ultimate isn’t over quite yet, so I can’t make a final final assessment on the thing, but I’ve read the manga and know how it ends. Since the anime up to this point has been pretty damn loyal to the original manga, I can safely make a just-final assessment. I don’t like how things end. The final conflict between The Major and the Hellsing Organization just isn’t all that interesting. But damn are there some great moments before that lame ending that’ll inevitably get animated. I fucking love The Major’s war speech. It’s sublime ridiculousness and may be one of the greatest character moments in all of anime and manga. But when you get down to it, I just wish the OVA had the TV series’ soundtrack. That’d probably move it up on this list a few slots

6. Bartender

The series is nice. It’s about adults doing adultish stuff. It’s about booze. I don’t drink, but I can appreciate where the series is coming from as far as that stuff goes. If I forced myself to delve into that wicked realm of slice of life and iyashikei, I’d say this is my sort of thing because it is relaxing and comforting in that sense. But the main reason why I really like this series is the opening song. It’s easily in my top five all time anime openings, and I’d even dare say it’s my all-time favorite if not for another song from this very year that competes with it. Yeah man, it’s an upbeat jazz duet. If I had my say, every anime opening would be just that.