Top Picks – Spring 2009 Anime, Part 1: Cast and Character Awards

yuki_sky

With the spring season winding down, it’s time to look back and reflect upon the great moments of the season.

Back at the beginning, I thought this was going to be a very weak overall season with only a few noteworthy series but it turned out to be a much stronger season. To help reach that point it took a few unconventional shows which reinforced my belief that a show shouldn’t be judged before watching it. I’d’ve missed good shows if I let generalities dictate what I watch. Even so, this season new shows were light in the comedy and slice-of-life genres and heavy with the medieval-esque fantasy setting. Next season seems to contain more shows of the comedy and slice-of-life feel so I’ll probably be complaining about something else next time.

Below is a listing of the shows that I watched this season and are the pool from which the picks for all the awards are coming from. There where a few continuing shows that should be listed since I watched them during the last season and fully intended to continue watching but for various reasons (time, releases suddenly slow, and apathy) they didn’t get watched. They’ll be included during the yearly awards, assuming I finish them up by the end of the year. 🙂 Also a reminder, I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum but there’ll be some because of how they’ll relate to specific awards.

Carry-over shows watched this season (3): Melancholy of Haruhi-chan, Nyoron Churuya-san, Hetalia Axis Powers

New shows watched this season (13): Sengoku Basara, Phantom, Ristorante Paradiso, Asura Cryin’, K-ON!, Eden of the East, Natsu no Arashi, Hayate Season 2, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Hatsukoi Limited, Cross Game, Pandora Hearts, Tears to Tiara

Shows that got dropped (7): Queen’s Blade, Tayutama, Hanasakera Seishounen, Saki, Shangri-La, Valkria Chronicles, Slap-Up Party -Arad Senki

Best Female Main Character

spring16760

Winner: Arashi from Natsu no Arashi

Runner-up: Saki from Eden of the East

This was a pretty tough award to pick because there was a wide range of good female main characters but I eventually picked Arashi. It’s probably a personal failing of mine but I like characters that can still be happy and optimistic when faced with plenty of reasons not to be. In Arashi’s case, she should be bitter and angry over being killed while she was still very young but she’s not – she enjoys the bits of life she still have and uses her time traveling powers to help save other people from dieing during the war. She beats out Saki because while I really like Saki’s character, not enough time was spent on the individual characters within Eden of the East, which is understandable for a show of this type but it does need to be taken into account.

Best Male Main Character

spring23533

Winner: Kou from Cross Game

In all reality, Kou had this award locked up by the end of the fifth episode of Cross Game and each episode after just further confirmed his worthiness. If I was being real general I’d call Kou one of the coolest guys I’ve watched in anime but just calling him cool doesn’t do him justice. There’s the way how he treats Momoji (the youngest sister); even though she’s just a neighbor, he dotes on her like a good big brother would. Or how he will stick up for his friends and how he’ll let people take the credit for things when they deserve it. Then there’s the fact that he’s very mature and not your standard perverted, hormonally driven teenage guy that plagues so many other anime; though, that’s probably tied back to how he still remembers and misses Waka – as evidenced by his keeping of her birthday list on his wall and his continued use of those two alarm clocks. I hope the anime will last long enough that we’ll get to see him reach his goal and Waka’s dream of him pitching in that national tournament.

Best Supporting Character

spring12204

Winner: Hina from Hayate the Combat Butler, Season 2

Runner-up: Ui from K-ON!

Another tough one to pick. On one side you have the super reliable younger sister Ui but on the other side you have an awesome side character that’s finally getting some real time onscreen. In the end I went with the awesome Hina, in part because of her ability nail singing one of the true classics in anime – Cruel Angel Thesis – especially when she hardly remembered the song in the first place. Hina also has the edge because she feels more like a complete character then Ui. If a little more time was taken to develop Ui as a person outside of just how great of a younger sister she is, she could have won.

Best Screen-grabber

spring21723

Winner:Demon King from Sengoku Basara

One of the coolest parts of Sengoku Basara is when the Demon King shows up on screen. In a show that’s pretty over-the-top all over, he’s able to be over-the-top and still manages to be a convincingly evil bad guy with enough smarts to be a formidable foe for our heroes. Of course, it greatly helps that Norio Wakamoto voices him. To be the top screen grabber, though, he needs more then just being a bad guy and what does it for me is how the Demon King clearly relishes his role as the Demon King. I should hate him but I can’t help but enjoy every second he’s in the show.

Best Couple

Venting some feelings
Venting some feelings

spring32202

Winner: Kusuda and Enomoto from Hatsukoi Limited

Runner-up: Saki and Akira from Eden of the East

When I pick the best couple, I try to pick the couple that most displays how each partner is perfect for the other. Last season I picked Tomoya and Nagisa because they’re were so perfect, sweet, and harmonious together; this season’s best couple (Kusuda and Enomoto) are definitely perfect for each other but they’re a whole lot less sweet and harmonious. They can’t seem to be together for longer then 30 seconds with a verbal sparing match occurring which would seem to preclude them from this award but watching Hatsukoi Limited, it’s apparent that there’s an underlying bond between the two that’s very strong.

Best Character Ability/Power

spring27886

Winner: Time travel from Natsu no Arashi

This season had a bunch of great character abilities and powers; for example, there was alchemy, the ability to create and control large mechs, to speed up reaction time and speed, and the ability to find yourself married to yet another person every other episode or so. However, the power that won was the time travel ability from Natsu no Arashi because there’s so many possibilities with time travel. There’s personal gain – go back in time and buy stock in a company you’ll know will make a ton of money. Or you could try you’re hand at making the world a better place by changing something in the past (though that never seems to work out well). Or maybe you want to catch a favorite movie in the theaters that you can’t anymore – have a hankering to see Casablanca, The Godfather, or the original Star Wars – watch it on the big screen. Or you could try to resolve the Grandfather paradox by attempting to kill one of your grandfathers before he met your grandmother and see what happens. The possibilities are endless so that’s way it wins the award.

Best Cast of Characters

spring03300

Winner: Ristorante Paradiso

Runner-up: Hatsukoi Limited

If you told me at the beginning of the season that the show with the best cast of characters of the season would involve a cast primarily made up of old men – I wouldn’t believe you and would seriously worry about your health because you would obviously be taking some sort of illegal, mind-altering drug. And if you haven’t watched Ristorante Paradiso then you’re probably think I’m on something right now but believe me, I’m not. The cast is primarily made up of old men but each one is so different and interesting that they had to win. My favorite is Luciano but that’s because from an early age I wanted to be a gruff old guy with a heart of gold and Luciano fits that to a T. They squeak past Hatsukoi Limited partly because the cast was so large for Hatsukoi Limited that it was hard to develop the characters to the same depth as with Ristorante Paradiso but J.C. Staff did a superb job in handling the characters of Hatsukoi Limited and made them likable and not cliché when it would have been easy to do so.

Best Character Development for Cast

spring33606

Winner:Cross Game

This series just oozes quality character development; at times I think it’s so good that I’m not giving the show it’s full due. Since not too many people read my Natsume Season 2 review, I can recycle an analogy I used there. The character development is kinda like how Omar Vizquel was the best shortstop in the past25 years (if not one of the top shortstops of all-time) but he was so good at it that many people didn’t realize how awesome he was because he made it look routine. And I’ll take the space to once again contrast this show’s emphasis on characters as opposed to the sport – we don’t get a baseball game in a baseball anime until episode 9 – to the more well-known sports anime of the season, Saki, where half of episode 1 was them playing Mahjong which would only interest those that happen to play Mahjong. I really prefer Cross Game’s approach since anyone can watch the show and enjoy it.

Best Character Development of a Single Character

spring01878

Winner:Zwei fromPhantom

Having never watched a Bee Train series, I wasn’t really sure what to expect with Phantom ~Requiem of Phantom~ . I was hoping the show would, at least, explain why they used the word phantom twice in a title. What I found was that after every episode, I was becoming more drawn into the show. Much of the series has revolved around Zwei; from training him to be able to be assassin and giving him the right mindset to kill to his attempt to leave being an assassin to his total acceptance of his role as an assassin and within the last couple of episodes, a possible path towards redemption and finding his humanity again (with the chance of having to make a very painful decision in the future). Zwei has turned into a very interesting character to watch and that helps the entire show become a more interesting show to watch. Watching this show makes me curious as to the other Bee Train series that I skipped, if they’ve as good as this show – I might have been missing out on a bunch of good shows.

That’s the end of part 1; I hope to have the second part up within a day. Comments and feedback are always appreciated – I’d love to see what others would pick.

Read part 2: Genre and Misfit Awards
Read part 3: VMA Awards
Read part 4: Top Seven Shows of the Spring Season

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Top Picks – Spring 2009 Anime, Part 1: Cast and Character Awards”

  1. Great write-up, even though I don’t agree with all your choices. I would just like to put a word in for Kajika in Hanasakeru Shounen as the best female character of the year. She is so pure and strong and innocent. I know of no other character like her. I love the way Endou Aya is doing her voice.

    On the other hand, I find the character development in Cross Game both slow and shallow. I can make a check-list of the characters’ attributes, but I can’t feel them or care about them, yet. Maybe it’s just me. I’m still watching, though.

    I agree about Zwei in Phantom, though. I had never watched a Bee Train show, either, but I think Phantom may be the best show of the season, even up against Eden, which I enjoyed a lot. I do wish they had given us more Saki and more Saki/Akira, though.

    By the way, referring to your previous post, I rank Someday’s Dreamers 2 as the best show of 2008, along with Eve no Jikan.

    Like

  2. That’s a nice write up with detailed elaboration on each choice 🙂 I might do this soon too 🙂

    As Hashi mentioned, I would also say that Kajika is the best female this season, but it is too early to say about the year (I would probably give best female of the year to Erin – do you watch this anime still?).

    Like

  3. really liked all the choices……i watched everything u did except ristorante and i wud have probably made the same choices myself……….i especially liked the fact that both kou and zwei got award cuz they are my favorite characters in any shows this season

    Like

  4. Thanks for the comments.

    I don’t see how you could consider Hina a main character when outside of the last couple of episodes she’s hardily ever in the show and she’s hardily integral to the overall plot of the show. There’s only 3 characters – Hayate, Nagi, and Maria that I consider to be the main characters. If Hina’s included there’s probably at least a dozen other characters that would be considered main characters as well.

    I wanted to give Hanasakeru Shounen a better shot before dropping it but I was so pressed for time this season – maybe if I can find some time in the future, I’ll watch it in the future. As for Kemono no Souja Erin, I haven’t dropped it but I’ve been letting a backlog pile up since I haven’t been finding the time to watch it and the subbers have been getting slower with releases.

    Like

  5. I’m disappointed that Cross Game didn’t win every category, including Best Character Ability/Power. But hey, at least you’re watching it, which is more than I can say for some people…

    Like

  6. cross game is a great show i hope u start doing wkly reviews again of the shows u are watching so that we can get a cross game post every wk………same goes for phantom

    Like

  7. I think it remiss on your part not to mention in this article that Cross Game is an excellent manga to begin with, and that the shows creators have only had to reproduced this.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s