The Frontier of Taste 2010 (Picks of the Year)

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I don’t plan of making a habit for posts like these, but for now I’m just going to have fun with it since I want to document precisely how I see the shows I’ve seen that aired this 2010. I don’t read enough manga to make a comparable list, so I won’t include them.

Also, I probably watched (a lot) less shows from this year than some of you did, so don’t be surprised if I don’t account for many shows I’m less inclined to see.

Okay, here we go:

Fanboy Fulfillment

The show that got my fanboy rocks off the most, the show that isn’t even judged with the same means as other shows due to rampant fanboying.

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Macross Frontier: The False Songstress

Deep down, I probably don’t think this movie is that good at all. I keep thinking about it and other movie editions such as Macross Plus and Do You Remember Love? and still I’m not sure if it hangs with those. Nonetheless, it was a long-awaited wish fulfilled. I was able to blog a Macross show at the time it was accessible to the English speaking fandom. I felt I’ve fulfilled a personal mandate, and when I don’t think too hard, I enjoyed the hell out of watching the show.

Besides, there’s this crowning moment of awesome that endears the movie to me forever.

Most Satisfying

The show that fulfilled long pined-for expectations and wishes while making as few mistakes as possible. Still related to the first category, but extends to other things I like.

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Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn

At only two episodes out, it can still fall apart in a major way, but the two episodes I got to see this year did so much to address my long-standing (relative to the age of the franchise and its shows and not the length of time I’ve been watching Gundam which is not that long) complaints about how the shows in the Gundam franchise conduct themselves that I was so happy, and am now looking forward for much of the same.

All of the Gundam OVAs that I’ve enjoyed to a similar degree (avoiding many of the combat-related annoyances I’ve had for the franchise, and mecha anime as a whole) do not take into account the Newtype element, which to me is integral to the narrative of the Universal Century as a whole. Unicorn does not shy away from this and puts it at the very center of its story while matching (if not outright exceeding) the combat spectacle of Stardust Memory.

Just look at how the show rules robot battles this year, while presenting a good level of world exploration in terms of theme and history.

It’s personally worth noting how Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance doesn’t make it in the first two categories. It’s just the case that I am that much more of a Macross fanboy than an Eva one, despite how this particular installment of Rebuild made me rewatch the entire animated oeuvre (including ventures in Puchi Evangelion and Evangelion in School), and even rewatched Rahxephon as well.

As for the second category, I favor military style gunfights between robots and not only does Gundam Unicorn do this superbly, it indulges in sword duels as well which is a staple of Gundam. The combat is just that much better in my eyes, despite the movie budget that Rebuild enjoys.

Most Feel-Good

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K-On!!

I don’t think I’m going to be a fan of cute girls doing cute things as a subcategory of shows I like Aria, Manabi Straight, Lucky Star, Taisho Baseball Girls, but dropped Hidamari Sketch, Tamayura, won’t touch Sketchbook, Marimite, and don’t really care to find out what else is out there. But K-On!! I love this show. It doesn’t have the science fiction setting of Aria that contributed so much to its narrative force (yes, force) but it is almost every bit as immersive.

A big part of this is the superlative production values that made its first season look incredibly like a different show. It’s not quite as dramatic a difference as Aria: the Origination from Aria: the Natural, but that’s because Natural’s production values looked like crap (but the show remained remarkably beautiful). The production values went into putting in so many little touches that spoke volumes of content that the source manga is simply incapable of containing – not conveying – containing.

You can’t show Sawako Sensei leaning on the banister wistfully looking away, while she waits for Mio, Ritsu, Mugi, and Yui sing their song for Azusa; leaving them to have that moment just for them as perhaps she did during her own time with Death Devil when they were the Light Music Club. Yes, these are the touches that the show made, that let me in a world I have no desire to be part of, but enjoyed my stay in nonetheless.

The best moments in K-On!!

Double-take of the Year

The show that I dropped dismissively and picked up again and enjoyed immensely.

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Highschool of the Dead

This could’ve been Broken Blade but my initial disdain for HOTD was very strong. I must’ve watched less than 3 minutes of the first episode before dropping it… until one post on Superfanicom challenged me to re-evaluate my experience and pick the show up again.

What did I like about it? Everything I thought I hated about it: beyond the impossible boob jiggling, torpedo tits, senseless underwear exposure. But the thing is, not only did the show do those things, they did it with a superlative level of skill and chutzpah. There’s an awesomeness to excess and this show did it. I ended up reading all of the manga as well, and now look forward to more of this incredibly well-done gratuitous mayhem.

Best Thing I Saw All Year Damn It All to Hell

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Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt

GOD! MY! OH! It played me, it slayed me. I want more, a lot more, and I don’t even think I’m asking for the right things. Maybe if the sequel never comes, we’ll make one ourselves.

This show RRRRRUUURRRRREEES!

To wrap things up:

Recency bias be damned, my 2010 in anime kicked 2009’s ass.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in moments of 2010 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Frontier of Taste 2010 (Picks of the Year)

  1. Nicely done. While I think we disagree immensely on the quality of Highschool of the Dead (the storytelling at least), I have to agree with you that the show was entertaining as hell. It’s undeniably a success.

    Another thing we might disagree on is the whole movie/OVA category. I appreciated the OUTSTANDING combat and the incredible uptick in the quality of storytelling, but I was purely entertained front to back by that ridiculous, embarrassing spectacle that was False Songstress. I’m afraid Frontier is becoming my SEED of the Macross universe.

    And it would’ve stayed that way if I hadn’t been inspired by Shinmaru’s post to finally pick up Eva 2.0. My Eva fanboyism, like your Macross fanboyism trumps all others, even Gundam. Then again I’m not sure I would put Eva in the same category as those other series either, given how much we really know about an Evangelion.

    • Dude, you don’t have to apologize to me for liking Macross Frontier. I’ve put together almost all my thoughts regarding it over blogging the TV series for a year (and a full year after it aired), culminating in this post. Some of it may still go over your head, but I think you might get a lot out of it as you are now.

      The movie itself may have cut itself too many corners for someone like me who just happens to care way too much lol, but it’s undeniably spectacular.

      At this point you really want to go into the meat of the franchise and start watching either SDFM, or Macross Zer0. After you’ve seen Zer0, talk to me about outstanding combat.

  2. foshizzel says:

    I loved the Frontier movie! amazing visuals on everything! and great songs as always, even thou I don’t like Sheryl much compared to Ranka. That said the movie changed my view on Sheryl! I like her a bit more now, and of course the nice mecha battles always a plus.

    K-On!! – As much as I try to avoid the cute girls doing random things in anime, I enjoyed watching it even thou there is no real plot to be found. There are a few D’awww moments that make it not so bad to watch.

    HoTD- I enjoyed that series mostly due to my love for “zombie theme” in video games and movies. The fan service was a bit much even for me lol but guess this show is aimed for guys at least it appears to be, that or I am into no real plot anime or mindless entertainment.

    PnS- I feel the same about that show, at first I was going to avoid it forever until I watched the first episode and was like OMG AWESOME! mostly at the comedy every episode had something to laugh about, well most of the episodes anyway.

    2010 was great! lets hope 2011 is almost as good :D

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed The False Songstress. You gotta love the credit card scene, you just gotta.

      Also, K-On!! does have a plot! The club was losing 80% of its members and something had to be done so that Azusa won’t be alone. It was the focus from the get go, and became the emotional capstone of the series. The wistfulness for the time that has now passed is borne by all the girls, but more intensely by Azusa who will be left behind.

      I don’t think HOTD is mindless either. I’m not trying to elevate it beyond being a fanservice show, but it is a rich and very well-done fanservice show. It wouldn’t be as titillating if no thought went into it and it was just a lazy collection of tropes fired like a shotgun at too-easy-to-please fans. I am neither a zombie enthusiast, nor a harem fan. I’m not even into the giant breasts, nor the sneaky political undertones the show contains. I definitely think it takes thought to make a show that can have some measure of crossover appeal.

      That said, intelligence or depth are things a viewer brings into a show. I can completely tune out and mindlessly enjoy a great film like Cinema Paradiso as much as I can intellectualize Lucky Star or Yakitate! Japan.

      • foshizzel says:

        True about K-On!! there is a plot but it doesn’t appear till what the last 5 episodes? but I guess you can say that is true about them leaving Azusa alone near the end, still very fun anyway!

  3. Reid Gheith says:

    Highschool of the Dead was one awesome anime, and I really wish the show could have at the very least extended for another twelve episodes. You can find all the episodes here at Animeflavor.com

  4. vendredi says:

    2010 has definitely felt like a year where you can see the paradigm shift more markedly, compared to the first half of the 2000s.

    CG, and digital techniques in general, are much, much more seamlessly integrated in much more sophisticated and subtle ways in the whole animation process (compare Studio Gonzo’s early attempts in the early 2000s, with something like Gundam Unicorn or even K-ON’s second season opening – often a lot of techniques are now used to give the impression that you are still looking at drawn media). And it’s now everywhere too, not just in mecha anime.
    There’s also a lot more outsourcing of Korean studios – just look at all the Korean names in the credit reels of many shows now. Not only that, Korean outsourcing itself has been markedly up in quality too.
    And finally, shows broadcast in high-definition are now the norm as well. Just the general visual quality of most shows have gone up (in spite of the continually dismal pay grades and working conditions for most animators).

    Also, on this side of the Pacific pond at least, 2010 has started to see a lot of simulcasting style initiatives – and high quality, niche audience shows, no less, like Tatami Galaxy or Kuragehime.

    • These are good developments too!

      It’s interesting to note how action, and particularly robot anime still remains the pioneer of animation techniques in some way. It’s not that surprising because robot battles require the most complexity: moving parts, projectiles, beams, flying acrobatics. These requirements set the tone for far more mundane actions to animate (e.g. classroom concerts).

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