It isn’t hatred that tears us apart. It’s love. Dororn Enma-kun knows the truth and warns us of love’s destructive forces. If the world is united under the banner of love, all will be torn to shreds in the resulting orgy.
Embrace hatred. It’s our only hope against that loving blight.
It’s that special time of the year again, where everyone gathers around the warm glow of the computer monitor and rants and raves about how their arbitrarily ranked list of Japanese cartoon shit is superior to everyone else’s. Some do it passive-aggressively by saying it’s “just their opinion,” while others are brazen and proclaim their will is God’s will and that their God is a better otaku than yours. It’s a true holiday miracle and the reason for the season.
So here’s the only top whatever list you need to read. Because, yeah, my God’s dojin collection is bigger than your God’s.
12. Shinryaku!? Ika Musume
The second season of Squid girl is more of the same. That ain’t a bad thing, since it has the same comedic timing and excellent exploitation of its gimmick. It has the same mixture of awesome gags and middling ones, just like the first season. It’s all about consistency and comfort. It makes for a good sitcom, but it’s lucky to be on this list because I decided to extend it to 12 instead of the traditional 10 for various reasons. I’ll gladly accept another season of Squid Girl come Fall 2012, but hopefully they mix things up a bit next time.
Easily the best of the four Madhouse Marvel series. Iron Man was alright, X-Men was atrocious, and I didn’t bother with Blade because X-Men was so horrible I threw my arms up in the air and shouted a stream of obscenities that could probably be heard from Madhouse’s animation studios. But Wolverine was genuinely cool. I talked about it here, but the gist of it is this: it takes the classic 1980’s Wolverine miniseries, expands upon it, adds in some anime conceits, and manages to improve upon the story for the most part. If only they could have done a similar thing with the X-Men anime.
Last year, Working was essentially tied with Squid Girl in terms of quality. They both ran with their setting and pulled off some good jokes. The difference this time around is that Working managed to expand upon its premise. We’re seeing the characters change. It might not be drastic change, but it’s a hell of a lot more character development than most similar series. Relationships are maturing, both in terms of characters accepting their feelings and in terms of their dysfunctional nature. All of these relationships feel natural and “realistic,” but at the same time they’re pretty screwed up and worthy of our derision and laughter. It’s that growth that differentiates between a decent sitcom and a genuinely good one. It isn’t on the level of, say, Maison Ikkoku or whatever, but it’s good stuff.
9. Mazinkaiser SKL
Mazinkaiser SLK is trash. Pure exploitative trash. It’s the sort of mecha anime I like– absurd machines smashing against each other in an illogical, chaotic symphony. No pretenses of reflecting upon society like most Gundam series. No romantic undertones like Macross. It’s robots hitting robots– violence begetting violence. It’s the perfect sort of OVA. It sets up the carnage, plays out the ordeal, and gets it all over with in three episodes. Much like my favorite anime from 2011, it’s the sort of shit that made me a fan of anime to begin with, and it’s good to get a few doses of this senseless beauty every year.
The best fighting anime since Air Master. It doesn’t quite reach the same blissful levels, since the fights aren’t nearly as well-choreographed and it isn’t coming together as well, but it’s still damn good for the genre. It has the same sort of ridiculous premise that every other fighting anime has (Really, is “fighting for half price food” any sillier than “superpowered ninjas living in themed villages” or “the exact same story as Superman except everyone is named after food and underwear?”) but it revels in its nature rather than try to make you take it seriously. At the same time, it isn’t a parody or anything like that. It just accepts what it is and plays it as straight as it can be, all while having its sense of humor take a more sarcastic nature. And it cracks me up to see how they integrate the characters’ Sega Saturn obsession into the series.
Un-Go is everything that the likes of Code Geass, Guilty Crown, Dance in the Vampire Bund, Eden of the East, and whatever other politically minded series are out there wanted to be. Not that all of the above series are bad, but none of them pull off the modern political angst with as much style and wit as Un-Go. It mainly comes down to how Un-Go is far more willing to play around the issue rather than beat you over the head with lingering fears of western imperialism, the existential threat of terrorism, and the breaking down of “traditional” values in favor of almost alien-like trends and values (the fear of AIs, cults, and so on). It gives you the pieces of Japan’s turmoil and lets you piece them together, and that’s the true mystery of the series. It isn’t about the individual cases in each story– it’s the overarching “what in the hell is the overall picture here” that’s at the heart of this series. It’s all about the big picture rather than the minutia, and I love that.
The two best series from the past season were all about how demons and damnation are awesome and how God is a prick.
I’m going to hell.
Let’s talk about the “lesser” of these two series in this post: Enma-kun.
I haven’t blogged about the series since barely mentioning it in my initial season post. I wasn’t expecting much from it at first. I’m not much on Brain’s Base (Baccano being the only series of theirs I’ve cared for.), and Go Nagai shit isn’t my go-to genre or whatever, so I figured it’d be silly, fluffy fun at most. As far as I thought, it’d just be Nichijou with more dick jokes.
Well, it certainly wasn’t Nichijou, but that’s because it didn’t suck like Nichijou. Instead of being innocuous and pointless, Enma-kun ended up being an awesome comedy. It reveled in its absurd, blasphemous, raunchy style. It had some of the best background music and insert songs I’ve heard in an anime since Ranma 1/2. But what makes it “better than a mere comedy,” if we gotta go down the “let’s intellectually justify our tastes” road, is the way it plays off of nostalgia.
The way Enma-kun works is much like how Giant Robo works. It takes the basics of the original material and tosses us into the mix, overwhelming us with the best bits of the series that everyone remembers. Where Giant Robo is all about the grandstanding and badass action scenes and all that shit, Enma’s all about the raunch. It takes the perversion inherent to so much of Go Nagai’s stuff to religious levels, and all of that apexes with the final episode.
The conclusion of Enma isn’t a big battle between the forces of good and evil. Yeah, we get a Dragonball-styled tournament leading up to this point (Which is preceded by a brilliant Wacky Racers rift.), but the climax of the entire series is literally a climax. The power of Enma’s circlet is tapped into, and the whole world is induced into an apocalyptic orgy. People all across the world, regardless of age, sex, species, or state of matter, all get it on in with one another– and all of this is working up to an orgasm that’ll make Ragnarok look like two kids smashing their G I Joes against one another.
This grotesque sex scene goes into 2001 proportions, becoming little more than impressionistic motions and blurs on the screen. And while it’s a little disappointing that it all ends with Enma’s parents coming along and saving the day, the sheer balls to end everything with a murderous love scene pretty much epitomizes that side of Go Nagai shtick. It’s to his perverted side as that first fucking awesome episode of Mazinger was to his giant robots.
Even if the rest of the series is little more than goofy fun, that finale makes everything so much better in context.