Only a month later then just about everyone else :) .
I thought 2008 was another very solid year of anime, with good shows to be found in most, if not all, major genre types. The fact that I became an anime blogger this year pushed me to watch more shows then I would have otherwise and I was rewarded in finding several quality shows.
Before getting to the countdown I wanted to clarify the status of a few shows. Last year, I decided to consider Kanon a 2007 show and the first season of Clannad as a 2008 show in the matter of ranking the show. The same reasoning will push the second season of Clannad to 2009 so for this countdown only the first season is eligible. Also pushed back are Xam’d: Lost Memories and Michiko to Hatchin because too much of the story was unresolved by the end of 2008. Toradora is getting split, the first 13 episodes will be considered for this countdown and the rest for the 2009 list. I did this because the show seems to have been structured in such a way that it could have been aired in 2 – 13 episode seasons.
Shounen series were what got me into anime and they still hold a special place in my heart. One of my favorites had been Bleach but it had finally struck out from the combination of poor filler, failing to excite even when they finally got back to the storyline, and the appearance of Soul Eater. Soul Eater oozed style and felt fresh when compared to the well-known shounen series so I could finally stop torturing myself with Bleach and watch a better shounen show.
It wasn’t quite smooth sailing at first though. Up until about episode 20, the show felt a little slow. The individual episodes where good but collectively they didn’t feel like they were really building towards anything. That changed at the episode 20 mark and since then the show has really been on a roll. So for 20 episodes of good anime, 16 episodes of great anime, a unique style, a likable cast, good animation, and for showing that a shounen show can still feel new, Soul Eater makes the top 10 at number 10. Now, I’m just hoping the final 15 episodes of Soul Eater won’t disappoint.
9Someday’s Dreamers Season 2
Count me in the small camp of people that actually liked the animation style of the series. It wasn’t perfect but I thought it worked with the subtle nature of the show because it helped deemphasize the individual characters. And the show was subtle which caused me on several occasions to rewatch a scene to make sure I saw what I think I saw.
This slice-of-life show had many excellent qualities: a diverse cast of characters that were likable, good vocal performances by the seiyuu, an interesting setting, an engaging story and memorable music. The one thing that prevented it from ranking higher was the ending. The ending itself isn’t the big problem but how abrupt the show shifts it’s tone to get to that ending. It could have been handled better; maybe if the series had been longer, they could have. I’d still recommend this show to anyone looking for a great slice-of-life show, just know that the ending will probably feel different then what would normally be expected.
8Wagaya no Oinari-sama
This was a show that I really only caught because I was blogging and thought for completeness-sake to catch an episode or two before droppingit for being generic and fan service laden. I was surprised when I found myself starting to like the characters, especially with Sakura’s appearance in episode 3, and not being subjected to mindless fan service in the place of real content. So it didn’t get dropped like I thought it would and my opinion even slowly creeped up with each passing episode.
At about episode 8, I fully realized why I liked this show. It was always entertaining, it focused on the characters and allowed the characters to drive the events of the show, the story never felt stale and it could make you laugh or suck you in with a bit of drama. The show also ascribed to the K.I.S.S. rule – Keep It Simple, Stupid. It never tried too hard or made itself overly complex; it never relied on the latest meme or character type to be funny and entertaining. I wish more shows would follow this show’s lead.
The show’s slightly absurd premise and short episode count only mildly marred my liking of this show because this show seems to have been created with me in mind. I loved the idea of libraries creating armies to defend themselves from the censorship proponents and their thugs.
A quick way to describe this show is to compare it to Planetes because they share a lot of similarities. The big difference is that at only 12 episodes, Library War wasn’t as able to explore the topics relevant to the setting as Planetes was so it focused more on the relationship of the two main characters. I hope we see more Library War in the future, it was too good of a show not to want more.
6Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
If you found this show’s warped sense of humor funny and odd visual style interesting then you’ll agree that the show belongs somewhere on this list. If you didn’t then you won’t and probably wonder what’s wrong with me.
I thought the first season tailed off at the end a bit too much but this season stayed more interesting throughout it’s run. I liked the introduction of more male characters during this season, it helped set up different possibilities with the show. Assuming there’s still plenty of source material, I would like to see a full third season in a year or two.
Read Part 0 – Introduction and Anti-awards here.
Read Part 1 – Character Awards here.
Read Part 2 – Cast and Assorted Awards here.
Read Part 3 – Genre Awards here.
Read Part 4 – Music, Voice, and Animation Awards here.
Read Part 5 – Memorable Moments and Favorite Episodes here.
Read Part 7 – Top 10 Anime of 2008: #5 – #1 here.