Top Picks – Spring 2009 Anime, Part 2: Genre and Misfit Awards

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As I’m writing this, I’m half-surprised to see no one mention a certain show not gettingany awards and I’d be even more surprised after this part so I figured I should mention it’s lack of showing. The show in question is the Full Metal Alchemist remake. The reason why it hasn’t shown up and won’t today is that as a fan of the earlier adaptation (at least for the first 25 or so episodes) I appreciate that their trying to rush through the material that overlaps both series but the compression has made for a much weaker series. As a result, the show just can’t shine against the competition this season though next season might be a different story. So, while I won’t mind terribly if a reader still feels the need to post a comment saying that FMA deserved to win a category, know that I have watched the show and I find this remake inferior to the original at least for now. (Now if it has a good ending, I’ll be a very happy camper since I rather disliked how it ended the first time.)

With that out of the way, let’s head to the next batch of awards.


Best Action

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Winner:Sengoku Basara

Runner-up:Phantom ~ Requiem of Phantom ~

Both shows sported very good animation which always helps make the action scenes that much better but Sengoku Basara edges out Phantom because while Phantom has a lot of scenes involving guns, most of them are rather one-sided and the action scenes in Sengoku Basara are more balanced between the sides which makes for more interesting scenes. I also liked the over-the-top nature to Sengoku Basara because it helped make the fights more interesting and entertaining – if I had to describe the flavor of these battles I’d call them Gurren Lagann-esque (which is always a good show to be compared to). So being full of hot-blooded action, Sengoku Basara wins the award.


Best Fight

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Winner: Akira shooting down missiles with his finger from Eden of the East

One of the problems of relying on subs is that oftentimes a show gets strung out past the end of the season – which is perfectly understandable but last season that meant I missed naming the final fight of Birdy Season 2 as the best fight of the winter season and I’m worried that this season I’m missing a good fight from the last 2 episodes of Sengoku Basara because I haven’t seen them yet. However the fight I ended up picking was a pretty cool fight because it was so unique and is definitely worthy of this award. If you haven’t seen Eden of the East, you might be wondering how it’s possible to shoot down missiles with your finger. Easy, first you need a phone loaded with a 100 million dollars and second you need to be able to call Juiz (who I’m pretty sure is an AI) and she can figure out how to accomplish whatever you ask for and then debit the amount out of the 100 million. Like I said, easy. This fight also does a good job in explaining why it’s important for a country to have an anti-missile shield in place.


Best Comedy

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Winner:Melancholy of Haruhi-chan

Runner-up:Hetalia Axis Powers

Like I said earlier, this season was a bit light on quality comedy shows, there were a few but they weren’t able to surpass either of these super short series. Running under 5 minutes long doesn’t leave the show with a lot of time to leave it’s mark on the viewer but both of these shows have. Haruhi-chan had a better cast and better jokes most of the time but I did really enjoy the French and Canadian jokes that where in Hetalia – I really didn’t expect to see either in a Japanese show, American yes, but not Japanese. Haruhi-chan was also an example of why I think everyone loves omake material; namely, it allows the creators to put well-loved characters in situations and circumstances that are absurd without having to worry about story continuity. With a second season of Hetalia green-lit, there’s a good chance you’ll see this title show up again and hopefully they’ll make more Haruhi-chan as well.

Most Entertaining

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Winner:Sengoku Basara

Just saying the title puts a smile on my face. Sure it’s over-the-top and absurd at times – Date’s biker gang aesthetic and use of English phrases to name just two – but for all of it’s manliness and hot-blooded action, it doesn’t take itself overly seriously and as a result it’s a fun watch because you can tell the creators are having fun. Anime fans like to talk about which anime it was that drew them into watching anime and I think Sengoku Basara’s entertaining nature, good animation, and hot-blooded action could bring many new people to anime if it would ever air on American television during prime time hours.

Most Interesting Setting

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Winner: Shangri-La

Yes I’m giving an award to a show that I dropped after watching only a few episodes of and the award is for a most implausible setting to begin with but I think it fairly won this award. The setting is some decades in the future and global warming has turned Tokyo tropical and the world has set into place a global cap-n-trade system and the Japanese government has tried to rain in it’s carbon footprint by turning Tokyo into a gigantic forest. I say implausible because an honest look at the temperatures of the past 100,000 years (it’s been warmer in the past – without an industrialized society pumping CO2 into the air), learning about the deficiencies and bias in how we collect temperatures today (a substandard ground system along with having global warming activists in charge of collecting data), and reading about research studying the impact of natural forces on the environment (just recently we’ve discovered radiation blasts from outside the solar system frequently warm parts of Earth’s upper atmosphere) all but rule out the future shown in Shangri-La. I have no clue how the show proceeded after I stopped watching but even with the short time I watched it, I think I’d be wrong not to award this show for at least creating an interesting setting.

Best Plot

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Winner: Phantom ~ Requiem of Phantom ~

Runner-up:Eden of the East

Through most of the spring season, it would have felt wrong not to give Eden of the East this award but as the season wore on it started to feel like Eden was meandering a bit. Maybe it was because they needed enough material for the Eden of the East movies (though how much of the two movies will be new material I’m not sure) but in the end the show didn’t feel as tightly plotted as I think it could have been. It still had a good plot but this allowed another show, Phantom, to squeak past. Now that we’re at the halfway point of this show and after a plot twist that’s set up the rest of the series, it’s possible to look back and see how well this show was plotted. For example, I can’t think of any episodes or even parts of episodes that felt like filler – there was always a point in what the animators where showing us. I don’t know if Phantom will be able to finish as strongly as it’s going right now but for this season, which covers the first half of the show, no other show was better plotted then it.

Best Story

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Winner: Cross Game

Runner-up:Ristorante Paradiso

To make a good slice-of-life show, it’s important to create an interesting story with good characters to hook the viewer in because it can’t fall back on huge explosions, fight scenes, deep plots, or big mysteries to keep the viewer interested (if it did – it’s not really a slice-of-life show anymore). So, it’s not a big surprise that both Cross Game and Ristorante Paradiso are slice-of-life shows. What helped Cross Game push above Ristorante Paradiso was that it added a very important component – it has a pair of bad guys that are realistic, competent, and very hate-able. Not every show needs a bad guy but for Cross Game, it added a bit of dramatic tension of the story. I really hope the anime continues long enough that we get to see the true ending but since I think the manga is still being written, it probably won’t happen (at least for right now).

Best Villain

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Winner: Demon King from Sengoku Basara

Speaking of villains, this was one of the easiest awards to pick since the Demon King totally owns what it means to be a villain. Cruel, evil, intelligent, and ambitious – he has all the ingredients and he uses them to the maximum. Another trait that he shares with many of the great villains is that for all the evilness, viewers can’t help but like him as well. Maybe it’s a failing of humans but there’s just something about villains that makes them interesting characters.


Most in Need of a Sequel

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Winner:Hatsukoi Limited

A sequel probably won’t happen since I was reading that the manga was abruptly ended and the anime pretty much covered the manga totally which is a shame since there’s obviously still plenty of life left in this show with several pathways not totally explored or resolved. The recent string of good adaptations done by J.C. Staff makes me wonder if they could craft the sequel but that’s probably asking too much from them since they don’t have a good record in this area – maybe the success with the anime will help resolve whatever the problem surrounding the manga was and it can start up again.

That’s it for part 2, the next part is the VMA awards and then part 4 is my top 6 shows of the season.

Read part 1: Cast and Character Awards
Read part 3: VMA Awards
Read part 4: Top Seven Shows of the Spring Season

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4 thoughts on “Top Picks – Spring 2009 Anime, Part 2: Genre and Misfit Awards”

  1. i wanted to drop Shangri-La too, but thank goodness i didn’t. Ep 13’s fights just about redeems this Gonzo show (when Gonzo gets it right, they do good stuff).

    agree with Cross Game having the best story. Just goes to show you don’t need fantastic CG, flashy technology to tell a good growing up story

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  2. Gotta agree with your thoughts on Basara. It might not be on the highbrow list, but man, is it fun to watch as long as you take the silliness in stride. For a spring season that was somewhat on the dull side, that show managed to be pretty exciting in the Chinese epics sort of excitement.

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  3. There are probably only two fights in the last two episodes of Sengoku Basara that will be in the running for the Best Fight award, and the last battle maybe could be one since it was just so WTF. Still, Akira’s one is more unique indeed, and more realistic in a sense.

    Sengoku Basara also wins on many levels as well, got to agree with your choices on it.

    MIT~SU~HI~DE~~~

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  4. Yeah, Shangri-la isn’t a show that you want to disect and check for realism, because there’s plenty of stuff there that doesn’t make any sense once you start thinking about it, but at the same time it does so many other stuff right. And episode 13 indeed was an awesome one.

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