2008: A Year in Review

Happy year of the ox everyone. Thanks to Sankaku Complex for this awesome image. 2008 was a pretty good year for anime. We had some great shows, and a bunch of mediocre crap, but all in all, it was a good year. To set a standard for myself, I’ll consider shows that started in 2008 to be 2008 shows, even if they haven’t yet finished, so let’s get this list stated with my top three best.

Best Anime of 2008

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1. Detroit Metal City

DMC was pure awesome. It was crude, vile, and ammoral. It was the complete opposite of anime seen today. And this made it a blast to watch. The show focuses on Negishi, a young man from the rural parts of Japan who dreamed of becoming a trendy pop singer. Instead though, he becomes Krauser II, the lead singer and guitarist of Detroit Metal City, Tokyo’s hottest death metal band. Although he hates the music he creates as Krauser, he gets very into the role after putting on his makeup and uses this guise to take out his suppressed rage. How Negisihi’s dream got derailed is never explained, but frankly you never care. His misery is akin to that of a Shakespearean tragedy, but you laugh at him anyways. If you sit down and think about it, he probably has psychological problems, but DMC should never make you sit down and think. At 15 minutes an episode, and two stories per episode, the humor is quick and sharp like the music he makes. My only complaint was that this OVA was a bit on the short side, only 12 episodes, when there is already a large amount of material available in the manga. However, I find it likely that this will get a secon run. Watch DMC. It’s awesome.

2. ToraDora!

I’ve already written a lot about this show, so I’ll keep this one short. ToraDora is the first show to bring some originalilty to the romantic comedy genre in a long time. It delicately and beautifully balances the drama and comedy, keeping it consistently entertaining. The cast is well chosen, and the production quality is great. I look forward to how the series will develop over the next couple of months.

3. Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu

While not revolutionary or even that original, Nogizaka Haruka was a solid, entertaining romantic comedy, nothing more, nothing less. The story is about Yuuto, an average dude who goes to a rich private school whose idol is the seemingly perfect Nogizaka Haruka. One day, Yuuto accidentally discovers that Haruka is secretly a hardcore otaku, and promises to keep it a secret from the rest of the school. As the series continues, they fall in love and live happily ever after. Like I said, the series is in no way original. What made it stand out in my mind was that it did it well. The characters were all likeable, even if they were the same archetypes we’ve seen over and over again in anime. The romance never felt forced, and the love triangle they added in for no good reason disippated almost as soon as it was introduced. One problem was that near the end, they tried to force in drama to give a semblance of plot, which slowed down the pacing and made the ending almost agonizingly cliche, but ultimately felt rewarding. If I had to describe Nogizaka Haruka in a word, it would be charming. It brought nothing new to the table, but was enjoyable.

Top 3 Most Disappointing

By most disappointing, I don’t necessarily mean that the series was bad. I just mean that it came out different than what I expected, or that I felt unhappy with what I saw after finishing it. So here are the top 3 for that.

1. Lucky Star OVA

While the Lucky Star OVA wasn’t awful, it just didn’t feel like Lucky Star. I was a huge fan of the series. I loved the simplicity of much of its humor, and every time I rewatch it, I get more of the reference humor as my knowledge of anime grows. However, the OVA was missing everything I loved about the series. What I liked about the series was the normalcy of their life. They spent most episodes at school or home transitioning from one trivial or mundane subject to another. However, the OVA tried too hard to make things different and cram too many unrelated short stories inthe 45 minute time. Ultimately this caused the OVA to feel incohesive and messy. For example, they try to make an action scene out of the girls playing volleyball. The only times there were ever action in the series was when Anisawa Meito, the anime shop owner appeared. These scenes were initally unexpected, and so over the top that they were funny. Having the girls perform this level of action felt out of place. Also, at the end, why do the girls turn into frogs in the end? While the style in the pet shop scene was a nice reference to Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, it felt completely pointless. The one moment I enjoyed was Kagami’s dream sequence because it allowed for all kinds of fan pandering, and I admit that I was drawn into this. Despite enjoying this moment, it was not enough to excuse it in my mind. What confused me though, was the overwhelming positive reviews this has had. Can somebody explain this to me?

2. Michiko to Hatchin

I saw the first episode of this show, and it seemed interesting enough for me to keep watching. I then saw the second episode, and thought the series was fucking awesome. I moved on to the third and forth, and got bored with a dropped the series. I then realized that the reason I probably enjoyed the second episode so much was because I was rather drunk at the time. Michiko to Hatchin is probably one of the most visually unique series of the year. Unfortunately, I found the cast to be rather weak. Michiko is sassy and cool, but also a bit on the stupid side. Hatchin is just a whiny brat. Their dynamic wasn’t particularly good either, so the series didn’t keep my interest. Some may forgive this series as art and let its weaknesses slide. However, I can not stand a chacater drama with weak characters. I may start it back up again once it finishes and I hear some reviews. Then I’ll know if I need a handle of vodka to properly enjoy this series.

3. Kyouran Kazoku Nikki

I only started watching this show because I got very bored waiting for Code Geass R2 (which almost made it to my best show list) episodes to get released over the summer. However, it is one of the most inconsistent and misleading shows I have ever seen. The OP and first episode made me think: this show is silly! They have a jellyfish for a daughter lol! Then I kept watching, and the show, and we learn that a little girl was abused as part of a sadistic family ritual, a cyborg was forced to kill his best friend, and a crazed scientist made an army of albino gorillas with jetpacks in an attempt to create humans. I thought this series was supposed to be a comedy! Instead I get depressing backstories and melodrama. It still has its funny moments, but they’re so few and far between that they feel strange and foreign instead of welcome. Sometimes good, usually bad, don’t waste your time with it.

So that’s my lists. Hope you enjoyed reading them. Next I’ll gointo my most anticipated shows of 2009. Until then, stay classy.

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