Top Picks – Fall 2008 Anime, Part 2

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Pushing this back a couple of days changed a couple of the winners and caused a few more categories to be added included one award that is my first award named after an anime – The Gurren Lagann Memorial Body-Count Award. I thought it was appropriate and I did make a comment a few weeks ago essentially promising to make this category.

Best Action

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Winner: Soul Eater

Runner-up: Kurozuka, Ga-Rei: Zero

One of the problems with us humans is that we take so many things for granted when we shouldn’t. It happens in real life and it happens with our entertainment; in this case, after two cour (seasons) of Soul Eater – I was taking Soul Eater for granted and I feel bad that I was. I’d become complacent about the show and it took episodes 35 and 36 of Soul Eater to remind me that even Kurozuka and Ga-Rei: Zero can’t match this show in terms of action.

Best Comedy

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Winner: Toradora

Runner-up: Clannad

The comedies of the season, like Kemeko DX and Kannagi, have not been nearly as funny as they should have been – Kemeko DX has been more weird then funny and Kannagi has suffered from the director’s desire to prove that he shouldn’t have been fired from doing Lucky Star. This allowed shows that aren’t true comedies like Toradora and Clannad, that only use comedy inside of a larger story, to sneak ahead. Of these two, Toradora’s humor has the slight edge because it’ll make me laugh when I least expect it and the humor has a broader range.

Best Story

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Winner: Chaos;Head

This is one category that the slower paced release of subs for Mouryou no Hako makes me worried that I’m passing it over for a lesser anime. From what I’ve seen of Mouryou no Hako (5 episodes worth) it’s has a very intriguing story that still seems to have many mysteries left for us to uncover. But I got to use what I got and the story of Chaos;Head has been a very good one as well. I like a show that can create and maintain a sense of suspense about itself as Chaos;Head has done. I also like the idea of being able to use some sort of electromagnetic wave to make people see things that aren’t there. Throw in a strange string of deaths, strange earthquakes, and a main character with only a vague hold on sanity and Chaos;Head has one of most interesting stories of the year.

Most Interesting Setting

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Winner: Michiko to Hatchin

Runner-up: Kurozuka

I’ve always been a fan of post-apocalyptic worlds for some reason but if you’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all. On the other hand Michiko to Hatchin takes place in a really unique and colorful place – Brazil. I’ve never had the chance to visit Brazil to know if the shows portrayal of the country is even close to reality but it does feel different from the standard Japanese setting. The colorful palette, the people that we’ve met, and the poverty and suffering that’s been seen all work to really set this world apart from other shows.

Best Seiyuu

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Male: Hikaru Midorikawa as Lord Edgar from Earl and Fairy

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Female: Yui Horie as Minorin and Rie Kugimiya as Taiga from Toradora

I was slightly surprised when I realized that I would give Hikaru Midorikawa best male seiyuu for his role as Lord Edgar from Earl and Fairy. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve it, he does, but what surprised me when I started trying to separate the voice from the character was that I realized that if he had done a poor job voicing Lord Edgar, then the show wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is. The entire show hinges on Edgar being royalty and Hikaru Midorikawa does a very good job convincing us of this. He also does Yusuke Yoshino’s voice, the electrician from Clannad that Tomoya works with.

The absolute hardest decision of all my picks was deciding between Yui Horie and Rie Kugimiya for best female seiyuu. On one hand, Rie Kugimiya has been one of my favorite voice actors and yet her work as Taiga has easily surpassed all of her other works. She has been able to make Taiga’s wide range of emotions all sound authentic and believable and is one of the reasons why the show has been as good as it’s been. Then on the other hand, Yui Horie has been nothing short of god-like as Minorin. Every moment she’s been onscreen literally makes makes me giddy with pleasure. In the end, I decided that I couldn’t really separate the two so I should just give them both the award.

Best OP

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Winner: Clannad

Runner-ups: Index, Michiko no Hatchin, Toradora

For all my liking of KyoAni’s adaptations of Key, I don’t normally like the OP/ED that much – AIR’s opening and Clannad’s first closing being the only ones I really liked. Imagine my surprise then as the opening for the second season of Clannad started and I found myself instantly liking it. The song is my favorite new opening song of the season and because I already know the characters, the animation has more impact for me. It beat out many other good openings including both shows from J.C. Staff (who almost always makes good OP/ED) and Michiko no Hatchin – who had the most visually interesting opening of the season.

Best ED

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Winner: Kannagi

Runner-ups: Soul Eater, Chaos;Head

I’ll be honest, I find it harder to enjoy a slower paced song in a language I don’t know then an upbeat one. As a result, I find myself likeing more openings then closings since many anime shows follow the format of having an upbeat opening and a more relaxing ending. Sometimes, though, I find myself instantly liking a slower paced song and that happened with Kannagi’s ending. For all the clamor over it’s opening, there was a something ethereal about the ending that I felt fit the show perfectly.

If Chaos;Head’s ending song had made a little more sense – maybe the Japanese won’t understand how nonsensical it sounds but I do – I would have given this award to it. I like many aspects of the song but the lyrics just kill it. I know the artist that sang it has talent, Seira Kagami, because she also did Kaiba’s opening and closing so I’m going to fault the record people on this one.

Best Overall Music

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You can’t hear the music but it was a very touching scene because of it.

Winner: Clannad

A show’s background music truly has to be spectacular for me to remember it. If it’s just mediocre, I probably won’t even remember it enough to think it was mediocre. In Clannad’s case, I remember the music clearly. It’s gotten to the point that for some songs all I need is to hear a few bars and I have to start fighting the tears back.

Best Animation

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Winner: Mouryou no Hako

Runner-ups: Clannad and Michiko no Hatchin

Like I said earlier, I’ve only seen the first 5 episodes of Mouryou no Hako but even if the animation quality dips later, it would feel wrong to name another show as having the best animation. This show is just drop-dead gorgeous to look at and it needed to be to beat the stiff competition from Clannad and Michiko no Hatchin.

Top Animation Studio

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Winner: Madhouse

This was one of the easiest awards to give out. Exhibit A is Mouryou no Hako, Exhibit B is Kurozuka, and Exhibit C is Chaos;Head – case closed.

The Gurren Lagann Memorial Body-Count Award

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Winner: Ga-Rei: Zero

I won’t spoil who exactly dies in Gurren Lagann but there was more then one of the main and side characters that die in it over the course of the show. When I decided to give Ga-Rei: Zero an award for the sheer number of characters that they’ve killed off, I wanted to convey that the people killed were not just nobodies – cannon fodder – but real characters so I had the idea to link the popular Gurren Lagann with the award. So, Ga-Rei: Zero is the first seasonal winner of this award and it’s most deserving of it. Even if the show was a dud, it would still be memorial for this aspect.

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Well, that’s it for now. I’m always interesting in comments so if you liked or disliked my picks, feel free to post your thoughts. In a week or two, I’ll be posting my top five shows of the fall season. My 2008 overall award posts will come out sometime in the middle to late January so I can have time to write my impression posts of the new season, catch a couple series I missed in 2008, and allow the slower sub releases to hopefully finish up the 2007 series so I can make an accurate list. (Any subbers reading this – I’m not complaining, I realize stuff happens that can slow you down – I just want to give my rationale for waiting since many blogs do theirs at the end of December.)

And to end on a sad note, the sheer number of anime blogs going on hiatus lately almost made me do a ‘Favorite Blog That’s Going on Hiatus Award’. You don’t have to worry about me but if I was paranoid, I might think some sort of conspiracy was afoot.

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6 thoughts on “Top Picks – Fall 2008 Anime, Part 2”

  1. I’m really interested in seeing Clannad, I’ve heard some of the soundtrack on AOL’s anime radio and it is spectacular. Good soundtrack usually equates to watch worthy. I like Berserk’s soundtrack alot right now.

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  2. I just posted my choices for Music 🙂

    I agree that Clannad OP looks great 🙂

    Michiko to Hatchin had nice settings, and it somewhat reminded me of Cowboy Bebop 🙂

    I like all your Seiyuu choices as well 🙂

    Yup, plenty of action in Soul Eater, and Toradora is a fun anime 🙂

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  3. @Sarah: You should hear the soundtrack to Somedays Dreamer’s Season 2 – one of the best I’ve ever heard.

    @Kitsune: Thanks, did I already mention that Cowboy Bebop is another anime I have to get to sometime?

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