This year has been a unique one for me when it comes to the world of anime. Usually there would be no need for me to have a legacy edition of a end-of-year blog post. Hell, I didn’t even have my own blog until this year (I’m whoring myself out at the Check-in Station, check it out). I have and always will be playing catch up, so I never made it a priority to keep up with currently airing series. This year has been very different. I’ve made an attempt to keep up with series all the way from the Winter season to the current Fall one. But I’ve not forgotten the series old and older that have already proven themselves and have a well worn reputation. This entry is for them. For the series I somehow still managed to grasp onto even though I’ve been carried away by the torrent of new and outstanding anime flooding in. Those other series will get their moment soon enough. For now, these are my favorite legacy anime moments of 2010.
Hajime no Ippo – “Sendo’s Comeback, Ippo’s Coronation” Episodes 74 & 75
This final battle (not a match, a battle) of the series was the culmination of everything in the series so far. Without giving too much away, Ippo was given a title shot at his old rival from the rookie tournament almost 2 years prior, Takeshi Sendo. A boxer who was every bit the beast Ippo was, their last encounter was without a doubt the most memorable and sobering of the series. I had a hard time imagining how that match could be topped.
The battle should have ended in episode 74 when Ippo looked to knockout Sendo with a powerful combination, but the sight of his blood and thought of his dreams once again being blown away by Ippo threw Sendo into what looked like a murderous rage. What happened after that was one of the most furious comebacks I’ve ever seen. I’m sure Ippo was unconscious after the second or third hit and fell luckily just before Sendo could break his face… further. Ippo got up soon after, but that was a mistake as he didn’t take enough time to recover and was down again after a right straight across his mouth, falling forward like a corpse. It was a little bittersweet for me since Sendo was my favorite character of the series. But it was a fitting and satisfying conclusion to a series that had spent the year watching.
Through the laws of shounen guts, Ippo survived and they reached a stalemate the next episode. What resulted was the culmination of every single match Ippo had fought so far. From the match against the Marine which had taught him how to effectively dodge, to the Dempsey Roll which was a product of his first defeat, to the feint which had some. Ippo unleashed pure hell on Sendo. The sound of a jet engine winding up as Ippo started the Dempsey Roll, Inner Fight playing as Ippo unleashed blow after blow; you could see it all coming. And it was glorious.
Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 – “War & Pieces” Episode 4
Up there with Ika Musume and Otome Youkai Zakuro as my surprises of the year, Gundam 0080 is THE gem in Gundam that seems to always be overlooked. People, like me even, don’t look past the undeserved rep and the pedobear jokes to see a true masterpiece. Like is the pattern of many a mecha series, or many serious anime series period, things tend to get serious past the halfway point. Very serious. This OVA is a clear demonstration of such a thing. You don’t have to wait 13 to 26 episodes to see the transformation.
Short of the opening scene for the first episode, the OVA has been rather peaceful. With some tense moments and one space battle/diversion that gave a slight hint as to how serious this series was about illuminating the truths of war, there wasn’t much besides plotting and ignorant kid moments. When you see the contrast between the peace of the colony early in the episode and the total carnage that unfolding as the mission went horribly, horribly wrong you couldn’t help but be disturbed.
It’s an unmistakable wake up moment. Especially in this relatively censored day and age, the violence is so stylized, blood is so off-colored that sometimes the characters appear more to have sprung a leak as opposed to being mortally wounded. Not here. People are shot and don’t move. People are bleeding and don’t have time for speeches, they’re too busy trying to stay alive, or save a buddy. This is the adult Gundam that I love and crave. And it had been right under my nose for years. Buried by AU continuity crap. I love the episode. I love the series. And the last half of episode 4 of Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 is just one of those great moments in the metaverse that everyone should see.
Ace wo Nerae! – “Coming Full Circle”
One of the things I enjoy when watching anime is seeing works that inspired other works. A great example would be the series Rose of Versailles, Revolutionary Girl Utena and Le Chevalier D’eon; there’s a certain elegance, taste, quality and history that links these series together forever. I found out that the same holds true for the studios Madhouse and Gainax. I’m sure there are many differnt ways to link different studios through works, staff and inspiration, but what makes this little game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” is that some of the greatest mecha ever created and foundation of Madhouse are connected.
When I watched TENGEN TOPPA GURREN LAGANN, I knew of some of the material that inspired it. In essence, Aim for the Top! Gunbuster was its spiritual successor in the Gainax anthology. I ate it up and saw it as a brilliant reflection of the ’80’s. What I didn’t realize was that much of the inspiration for that OVA came from the 70’s tennis anime movie Aim for the Ace! Seeing those training sequences, and the tennis coach Oka linked four decades of anime together for me. It was an incredibly satisfying feeling. In a way, it was as if I finally finished a gargantuan anime that took 4o years to fully produce.
Planetes – “My Moe is on the Moon” Episode 24
One of my biggest faults is my piss poor ability to finish stuff. Sometimes I slog through the most terrible things, but fail to muster the strength for a mere two or three episodes. Even worse is when it’s a masterpiece like Planetes. And what had I deprived myself of? One of the most intense moments in anime you will ever see. This series is full of them, but this one takes on a special air to it. Not only does it put the participants in danger, it tests a person’s core values with their life. Would you die for your own ideas, especially if you didn’t have to. Could you die that horrible and lonely a death?
Berserk – “Quadruple Balls”
Another absolutely famous scene that I hadn’t caught until this year. I don’t know what made me man up and finally dig into this series…. oh wait! I do remember! A coworker let me borrow the DVD’s and demanded I watch them that week. Think of it as a case of legacy anime forcing itself into my life. I was pleasantly surprised and engrossed in the series. Berserk was that rare show that didn’t bullsh*t me. It treated me like an adult and refused to hold my hand. It looked at me with the look of, “you know what you’re looking at, you damn well what’s going on.” I have immense respect for it and always will for the respect and maturity it showed its viewers.
There are many memorable scenes that could drawn from this series. From the young hated Guts fighting as a mere boy in his first war; the beautiful scene with Guts and Casca in front of the fountain; the moment where we realized just how Griffith was able to fund his mercenary band; to the showdown between him and Guts; they were all amazing moments. But no matter how beautiful, or disturbing the scene they were all trumped by that nightmare at the end of the series. Slaughter coupled with disbelief, rape coupled with rage, fear coupled with despair; I don’t think I’d seen a scene so absolutely mind numbingly intense and f*cked up since the ending of End of Evangelion. It’s one of the things I’ve come to learn to accept from anime. It doesn’t have to end well, often it doesn’t. But you’ll never forget that scene, and that’s what makes it and the series a success.
Osamu Tezuka shorts – “My Cat has dreams of a Mermaid’s Memories”
Old school, retro, legacy, classic…. it’s Osamu Tezuka, a god in this industry. And I wanted to do my homework and see some of his early works. The rarely seen today, rarely covered stuff. I found these short animations and was blown away. At first it was jarring, and a bit trippy to view these works. I didn’t have the fond reverence for them that I did with classic Disney movies or Looney Toons shorts, and his works certainly didn’t have their budget either. But what I saw was good story telling in every instance, in every form. Whether told with or without voice, in the dark, or on the beach; my mind sunk into the world he painted.
For everyone who has seen the wonderful segment at the end of Ika Musume episode 5, I want you to watch Tezuka’s short, Mermaid.
So if I had to choose a winner, a best legacy anime moment, who would it be?
THE WINNER IS…
This was one of the truly difficult choices I had to make this year. Sendo and Ippo’s fight was a perfect culmination of all the effort I put into watching that show this year. The fight for survival at the end of episode 24 of Planetes was one of the most intense moments in anime I’ve ever seen, coupled with a murderous cliffhanger. That horrible debacle at the end of episode 4 of 0080 was truly some memorable Gundam. And Mermaid is just an awesome, delightful and timeless piece of storytelling that anyone should watch. But Berserk is Berserk.
It’s a universal masterpiece and benchmark for many series that came after it. It stand shoulder to shoulder with Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion as perfect examples of why the 90’s were the greatest decade ever for quality anime. To deny that last scenes greatness is to deny the climax of Spike and Vicious’s battle, or to deny the Instrumentality’s horrid beauty. You watch that scene in context and you will never, ever forget it.
There were a couple of great moments that unfortunately didn’t fit into either the 2010 category or the legacy category. They were memorable nonetheless so I made a special spot for them at the end.
Higurashi – “Oh Jesus! What is she doing to herself?! Oh God! Oh God!!”
Apply that to any damn scene you think it applies to. For me it involves a little blue haired girl and a large knife.
One Piece – “Kuma Apocalypse” Episodes 400 – 405
It’s a shame that most of my One Piece moments don’t fit into either the new or old category necessarily because 2010 has definitely been my year for One Piece. A spot previously reserved for the now badly waning Hunter X Hunter was easily replaced by this show which have proven itself head and shoulders above anything else in its category (Fullmetal Alchemist being the exception).
The sinking of the Going Merry, Luffy vs Rob Lucci, the insane escape from Impel Down; all great moments. The one I keep coming back to and possibly the most entertaining is the chaos of Sabaody Archipelago. Everytime you see an Admiral in this show it’s an event. Unstoppable force, immovable object, god, whatever you wanna call these guys, they are the apex so far of One Piece. Put their appearance on top of the debut of the Pacifistas and the chaos of a bunch of pirates running for their lives and we have one of the most intense entertaining arcs I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely not for the new and ignorant to jump into, you’ll be confused as hell. But for anyone following One Piece up until that point, it is entertainment GOLD and a delicious sneak peek into the future of the series.
Ichigo Mashimaro – “The Ringtone”
Ichigo Mashimaro is product of one character’s genius, and that character is Miu. Sure this episode was full of hilarious moments. Like the “battle for the bed” (which should’ve never been a battle, I’m pretty sure it was Chika’s bed), or the scene that went on as Nobue slept, or even Ana’s pitiful attempts to translate the word Ginger Ale. But what really got me was Miu’s perfectly timed, perfectly set up prank on Nobue’s phone. I HAVE to do that to someone. I have to!