Soldiering on, this next set of awards cover some of the many different types of anime out there. I enjoy many of these types of anime and this sometimes leads to odd pairings; for example, I remember watching Kaiba and Maid Guy back-to-back on several occasions.There are a few categories you won’t see like best shounen or best shoujo because I just don’t watch enough to feel confident in those picks. Though I can say that in matters of shounen, Soul Eater is superior to Bleach and probably Naruto but I only watched the first 25 or so episodes of Naruto before I was bored of it – maybe it got better. As for shoujo, I liked Earl and Fairy and Skip Beat so maybe I should watch more.
Runner-up: Shana 2
Kurozuka is a bit of aberration for me because it never took the time to really do much character development and the story was only the barest of skeletons for most of the series; and yet, I didn’t mind because I was too busy enjoying the polished, pure action series that Kurozuka was. The fights where excellent and I loved when Kuro slipped into vampire bullet-time because I knew he was about to cleave a path of destruction through those around him.
Winner: The Sabrac fight from Shana 2
The best overall fight went to the Sabrac fight towards the end of Shana 2. Anytime a fight lasts for two episodes, it’s going to either feel epic or boring and drawn out; this fight was a stellar example of the first. The first reason is that all the characters where going all out, none of this “I’ll use 43.25 % of my full power” that artificially extends a fight. Another reason is that the good guys had to out-think and plan actual strategy to beat Sabrac and when they did get him, it wasn’t because Sabrac did something stupid to allow them to win. It also helped that by this point in Shana we’ve gotten to really like the good guys so it was like we we’re personally invested in the outcome. And the final thing that really made this an awesome fight was the way Shana and friends finally beat Sabrac, it was unexpected, theatrical, and just plain cool.
Runner-up: Soul Eater
Ga-Rei: Zero had one of the most diverse set of weapons I’ve ever seen. We had the standard sword and guns but we also had a guy wield two suitcases that shot small missiles, a guy that used a weapon that turned his hands into drills, a woman that had a Gatling gun for an artificial leg, a motorcycle that had anti-monster incantations in the tread of the tires – just to name a few. There was several more spare weapons that are shown like an iron that used holy water steam. And even some of the more standard weapons had their own twist like a sword that would use the recoil of discharging a bullet to speed up the user’s swing and also allow the wielder to change directions mid-swing very quickly.
Winner:Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Runner-up: Maid Guy
The year didn’t have many pure comedy shows that were genuinely funny but it did have many non-comedy shows like Clannad, Toradora, and Natsume Yuujinchou that used humor for great affect. Instead, many of the comedy shows like Kemeko DX and Kannagi tried too hard to either be different or be more then just a comedy show. Maid Guy was one show that did a good job remembering it was a comedy show and if the ending had been stronger, it could have won. Another show that never forgot it was a comedy and still found the time to comment on society and poke fun at people was this year’s best comedy, Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. I will admit that this comedy isn’t meant for everybody but it’s unique blend of comedy was something I just love.
Runner-up: Someday’s Dreamers Season 2
You really can’t go wrong with either show but I gave the slight edge to Natsume Yuujinchou, aka Natsume’s Book of Friends, because it gave me a better relaxed slice-of-life feeling and I like the ending more. Natsume excelled at those areas that you’d expect a slice-of-life show to do so such as: interesting characters that develop over time and a story that can make the viewer feel a wide range of emotions. One little thing I particularly enjoyed was how everyone had a different name for Nyanko-sensei.
Best Science Fiction
Kaiba is a really good example of what’s possible with science fiction. It extrapolated a future to tell a story that would be impossible using our current level of technology but at the same time it was able to make the story resonant with us, the viewers. Another reason I was impressed with Kaiba was that most SF shows can’t match print SF in terms of depth, intellectual complexity, and creativity but Kaiba was able to.
Runner-up: Wagaya no Oinari-sama
For any type of show to be successful, it needs to entertain on some level so I’m going to define “Most Entertaining” as the show that the best at making me feel good after watching it. Library War wins because I enjoyed the characters and how they interacted with each other. I also thoroughly enjoyed when the Library forces where able to beat the censorship thugs, if only it was so easy in real life.
Best Mind Trip
Watching Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is a rather unique experience.
Every aspect of the show seems designed to give the viewer a very surreal feeling. There’s the animation – at times it’s very standard looking and other times it’s hyperstylized or made using various other mediums. Add to that the amount of text we see. Some of it on signs in the background, telling jokes and making references that oftentimes has nothing to do with what’s going on in the foreground. Other text is conjured by the characters to prove a point and will often fly by so quick that it’s only possible to read by pausing individual frames. And let’s not forget the use of a real picture of some guy’s hairy face. (I know he’s connected to the manga but can’t quite remember how right now.) He pops up multiple times in an episode and in various locations; though, he is frequently used when they want to censor something. The show also has a touch of ADD to itself and can feel like the show’s creatorsare randomly switching channels in their minds. I do mean all this, in the best possible sense because I like the uniqueness of the show – as you’ll see when I get to my actual top ten shows of the year.
Runner-up: Xam’d: Lost Memories
The story of Kaiba accomplished a lot in the time it had. The first half of the show focused on the main character, Kaiba, as he tried to figure out who he was. A more complex question when a person can swap bodies and add/subtract memories from their mind. It also introduced to the viewers many of the problems that mind uploading would present to society. The second half of the show focuses on the efforts of a terrorist group to usurp the king and Kaiba’s effort to reconnect with the woman he loves after her memories have been altered to further the terrorist group’s agenda. One of the things that surprised me was that I had thought, based on the rather experimental animation, that the story would be too artsy for me but it turned out to be very accessible and down-to-earth.
Most Interesting Setting
The mix of the familiar with the alien that post-apocaleptic worlds often have is something that has greatly interested me since I was very young. In this case, the world of Kurozuka helped set the proper mood and make the show feel plausible instead of pure fantasy.I’m not saying Kurozuka was plausible; but, like how the recent Batman movies feel more realistic then the previous movies and series, the setting helped give the show a more realistic feel.
Read Part 0 – Introduction and Anti-awards here.
Read Part 1 – Character Awards here.
Read Part 2 – Cast and Assorted Awards here.
Read Part 4 – Music, Voice, and Animation Awards here.
Read Part 5 – Memorable Moments and Favorite Episodes here.
Read Part 6 – Top 10 Anime of 2008: #10 – #6 here.
Read Part 7 – Top 10 Anime of 2008: #5 – #1 here.