2010 was a year of ups and downs. Granted there were more downs than there were ups, it was still able to produce several memorable titles. Now that we’ve got the best of the best out of the way, it’s time to stand back, take a deep breath, and look back at this past year. A year of many triumphs, and even more failures. A year that saw the passing of a legend. A year that gave us hope for the future. But nevertheless, a year primarily composed of Golgo 13 and and Kornheiser image macros. 2010, a year of “Sort of Want.”
Let’s start with something positive. 2010 was in many respects, a year of brotherhood. Who doesn’t enjoy hanging out with their bros? This year saw the simulataneous conclusion of both the Fullmetal Alchemist manga as well as the TV series. Edward and Alphonse Elric are bros of the year, all years, in my book. On the other side of the spectrum, 2010 introduced Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, where we got to meet the sisters Panty and Stocking as well as their equally popular arch rivals Scanty and Kneesocks. Well technically, we don’t know of they are actually sisters, but it is heavily implied. And lastly, while not technically bros, The Tatami Galaxy’s Ozu and Watashi are most definitely bros in spirit. Everytime Watashi relives his two years of college, Ozu is always along with him. Bros for life, literally.
Now let’s talk about shojo. 2010 was a year of bubbles, tsunderes, and not a lot happening to affect the status quo. This year had its fair share of titles ranging from high school romance hits Kimi ni Todoke and Kaichou wa Maid Sama, to the finale installment to the ever popular josei franchise, Nodame Cantible Final. Bubbles may or may have been involved. Although, since this is shojo, I’ll go ahead and say that the two former shows end how you would expect from a typical high school romance. It just takes roughly 5 seasons worth of episodes (combined) to get there. Nodame Cantible on the other hand is one of noitaminA’s best when it comes to drama. Definitely one of the better titles of 2010.
2010 was also the year of the Imouto. Perhaps the most popular example is summer’s Amagami SS, a dating sim adaptation which featured the main character dating various girls. Of course, one of the most popular characters was none other than Miya-chan herself (nishishi). Okay, the OVA didn’t really go THAT far. The truth of the matter is, it didn’t need to. Why? Because this year we got Yosuga no Sora and the Kiss x Sis OVA, which more than satisfied the Japanese otaku populace. On a serious note, we still have yet to see something as “real” as say Koi Kaze (and that’s not saying much). Kiss x Sis excuses the main character’s moral standing by lamp-shading the fact that “they are not blood related.” While Yosuga no Sora is more daring in its approach, focusing on the dramatic elements and moral ambiguity of incest, its ending remains ambiguous as to its overall message.
Continuing the downward slope caused by the Imouto fest, we come to the realization that 2010 was very much a year of shipfaggotry. The most guilty of this is perhaps the Fall series My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute otherwise known as Oreimo (which also falls under the Imouto category incidentally). I mean come on, at least in Index, everyone more or less agreed on Misaki, despite the author himself stating the ending would be Touma x Index. Even in Highschool of the Dead, the pairings were more or less agreed upon. At most, it was a squabble between Reifags and Saekofags. In Oreimo, you had Kirinofags hating on Kuronekofags hating on Manamifags hating on Ayasefags hating on Saorifags hating on Daisukefags.
In the Chinese zodiac, 2010 was the year the tiger. Of course, in Japanese terms, this roughly translates to “the year of the catgirl.” 2010 presented us with such FINE titles as Asobi ni Iku Yo, Mayoi Neko Overrun, and Nyan Koi, all of which revolve around some sort of feline fetish. This is not cool in my book, not cool man. The two former shows were pure fanservice harem, only with catgirls this time, how interesting. Nyan Koi was a little better, not by much. Eh who am I kidding, all of them sucked.
By the way, you can tell the quality of my writing scales inversely proportional to the amount of rage I’m feeling at any given time. And it’s only going to get worse from this point onward. Continuing the popular trend of moe, 2010 was a year not without its fair share of cute girls doing cute things, and not much else. Leading the pack we’ve got K-ON!!, the sequel to the highly popular Kyoto Animation franchise. A show where girls eat cake, drink tea, go shopping, and occasionally play music. Then there’s Working!!, another popular moe show where the setting is primarily a restaurant, hence the name. Better than K-ON!!, but worse than Soredemo in my opinion. I have to say that while I’m not the hugest fan of slice of life comedies, Soredemo by far had the best production values of the three.
To make matters worse, 2010 was the year where anime succeeded in bastardizing history to the point of no return. Well, perhaps I shouldn’t say no return. But seeing how impressionable young kids are these days (including myself to an extent), I’ve got to say, the thought of WWII fighter planes anthropomorphically portrayed as prepubescent girls in Strike Witches is worrisome. Also, the Yamato makes an appearance and much like the Leiji Matsumoto incarnation, starts flying. I’ve lost my mind by this point, but let’s continue onto Shin Koihime Musou and Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls. Apparently that was how the Romance of the Three Kingdoms really went down. Also, the Tokugawa Shogunate is run by an oppressive student council. Who would have guessed.
As if to flaunt it’s seemingly ultimate wisdom, 2010 was the year the falling sun. I am of course speaking of Studio Sunrise, who spent the entire year making OVAs and movies and not a single TV series (almost as if they could sense the fail). On the OVA front, fans of the Universal Century timeline of Gundam are, for the most part, content with Gundam Unicorn, a 6 part OVA series set after Char’s Counter Attack. Very well written and god-tier production values. On the movie front, the very obscure King of Thorn, based on the manga, was finally released on Blu Ray. Fans of Gundam 00 and Gintama were also granted their respective tie-in movies, Awakening of the Trailblazer and Shinyaku Benizakura-hen.
A Moment of Silence:
One of anime’s most prolific figures and one my personal favorite directors passed away this year. The legendary Satoshi Kon. His work really is legendary in my book, despite being one of the newer animators in the industry. This man headed Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika, Paranoia Agent, and was involved in Magnetic Rose. The real tragedy is the fact that his death comes at a time when anime needed him most. This is a man who had perhaps half his life left to make so many more great things. Yes, Perfect Blue, Paprika, and Paranoia Agent were great, but could they be considered his “life work”? Maybe, and then again maybe not, we will never know. I am eagerly awaiting the completion of Dream Machine, Satoshi Kon’s latest film which was left incomplete when he died. Word on the internet is that Studio Madhouse plans to complete it to the best of their ability to show their respect for a legend.
Looking Ahead, New Talent on the Rise:
With Satoshi Kon passing on, that puts that much more pressure on those remaining. As great as Miyazaki, Takahata, and Oshii are, they won’t be able to carry the industry as they once could have. Ghibli’s works have traditionally focused on a wide audience, and have thus made them one of the most successful animation studios today. However, when Miyazaki and Takahata pass on, the reigns will most likely fall to Goro Miyazaki. While Earthsea was indeed popular, it was incomparable to the likes of Cagliostro, Nausicaa, and Laputa, titles which his father made from the get-go. Goro Miyazaki has potential, but I’m still waiting for his first masterpiece to come.
I also would very much like to talk about perhaps my favorite director of all time, Shinichiro Watanabe, but the man has been awfully quiet as of late. Watanabe-san is the genius behind some of my favorite shows including Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. He co-directed one of my favorite OVAs, Macross Plus, and was involved in a number of other projects including the short films Baby Blue and Detective Story. I can only guess that Watanabe has been tied up with the Cowboy Bebop live action movie, which I’m still have mixed feelings about. Either way, I am eagerly awaiting the day Watanabe-san returns to anime. It will be a glorious year the year I watch something directed by Shinichiro Watanabe as it currently airs.
Last but not least, I think that Kenji Kamiyama deserves a mention. I’ve already talked about Masaaki Yuasa a great deal. The other director whom I feel has great potential is none other than the one who headed both seasons of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex as well as the movie sequel Solid State Society. He and Oshii have collaborated many times in the past including Patlabor and Jin-Roh. Much of Kamiyama’s style is in part influenced by Oshii himself. In a way, Kamiyama is a sort of “spiritual successor” to Mamoru Oshii and I can’t wait to see him in action. His recent works include Moribito and Eden of the East. Together with Yuasa, who is also part of the noitaminA circle, I have hope for the future of anime.