Top Eight Anime of the Fall 2009 Season

Kobato is this season’s honorable mention.

The final part of my look at the surprisingly decent fall season is the countdown of the best titles of the season. This is always a difficult process since I enjoy so many different types of shows and there’s no clear-cut way of comparing a slice-of-life show to a shounen action show to a thought-provoking SF drama set in the near future but at the same time, it’s fun because it helps me focus on exactly why I like certain shows.

The first step in the process is to figure out how many places will this season’s top list include. The number changes from season-to-season based on the number of quality shows that I feel deserve to be mentioned. This narrowed the field down to eight shows and now the task turned to ranking these shows that I considered great shows of the season. Picking the number one spot was fairly easily but the rest of the list felt like pulling teeth so; whereas, I’ll argue that all eight of these shows belong on the list, I won’t argue to hard over the exact order.

And with that, let’s head to the countdown.

8 – Blue Literature

The use of classic modern Japanese literature as source material pretty much assured that Blue Literature was going to be this season’s most unique and thought-provoking anime. And because it was Madhouse animating this, Blue Literature also had this season’s best production values as well as high quality storytelling. So, with all that going for it, it might seem strange why this isn’t ranked higher; I’m even a bit shocked why I just couldn’t place this higher and believe me, I kept trying. In the end, I realized what stopped this from going even higher is that, while it’s obvious the stories picked are very well written, only one of the five stories used ended happily and it’s much harder to really get swept away by sad or depressing stories. I know that sounds shallow, and maybe it is, but I read plenty of depressing books and it’s not like current events have looked positive in a long time so is it so bad to gravitate towards those anime that make me laugh or feature characters that are just a bit better/heroic then the vast majority of people walking this planet, myself included.

7 – Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I continue to deeply love where the story of Full Metal goes; the conspiracies get deeper and more insidious, the dangers get more threatening, and the world of FMA gets more complex as new characters and their ambitions get introduced. The majority of this season, however, had the show in build-up mode with very little pay-off which explains why this didn’t get ranked higher; I expect next season to contain much more pay-off in the form of super-awesome confrontations/fights and resolutions to at least some of the plot threads that have been introduced and will probably rank much higher.

6 – Sasameki Koto

At first, I wasn’t expecting too much from Sasameki Koto but I was quickly won over by the quality of the characters and the show became one of my favorites that just happened to be a yuri show. The main character, Murasame Sumika, was dealt a very tough hand – she likes her best friend, Ushio, in that way and Ushio likes girls as well, just not tall athletic girls like Sumika so Sumika has to bite her tongue and be the caring best friend after Ushio gets rejected by the cute girls – and her struggle to do the right thing over what she wants to do help made Sasameki Koto a great show. Other memorable characters included the boy who fell for Sumika and started cross-dressing (and became a female model) because he knew she liked girls or the girl who always, and I mean always, had some sort of food in her hands. Sasameki Koto could have finished higher if the ending had been better.

5 – Sora No Otoshimono

The biggest surprise on this countdown is the presence of Sora no Otoshiomono on it; not because it’s a terrible show but because it wasn’t a terrible show. It should have been just like almost every other ecchi comedy series – generic and not very good or funny. Instead, Sora no Otoshiomono expertly cultivated an absurdist, over-the-top feel that repeatedly surprised and delighted.

4 – Cross Game

What can I say, Cross Game just continues to chug along making awesome look easy. The highlight of this season was to see how a new character shook the show and it’s characters up but that was hardly the only thing that made this cour of Cross Game good. We got a marriage proposal whose answer depends on if Kou’s team can make it to Koshien, new possible pairings like Azuma x Aoba, general Kou coolness, and new storylines like Aoba trying out for Japan’s national female baseball team.

3 – To Aru Kagaku no Railgun

After the second episode of Railgun I was ready to drop it because I was sure that the manga author had once again screwed up; this time focusing on shoe-horning as much Kuroko antics as possible into a manga and disregarding such important items as plot, characters, and story. Then a funny thing happened, the show started to actually work. The four main characters were fleshed out and developed a great chemistry between them, a deeper story was first hinted at and then expertly told, and let’s not forget how cool Misaka’s rail gun ability is (especially when J.C. Staff has the budget). I think I actually squealed in joy when I realized that Railgun was going to run past the fall season into the winter season.

2 – Astro Fighter Sunred Season 2

Okay, I admit to holding this list up so I could watch enough of this season of Sunred that I could place it on this list and feel justified in doing so. I just love this show to bits. I was a little worried that the second season would start to feel a little stale but each episode seems to offer a different reason why this show is so awesome. For example, one episode featured the leader of evil organization explain how they have to itemize all their expenses so the worldwide headquarters will reimburse them, another episode featured both the hero and evil leader attending the neighborhood meeting and the hero get called to task for not properly sorting his garbage like the evil leader, another episode featured a gadget the evil organization created that allowed them to pinpoint where the hero is but all this did was force them to attend a funeral, go to a very high-end restaurant, and almost receive a very serious beat down by two other heroes when they finally realized that they could just call the girlfriend of the hero (who has made friends with the evil organization) when they wanted to know where he was located. I’d go so far to say that once I get around to rewatching this show, I think there’s a good chance that Astro Fighter Sunred would earn a spot on my top 5 comedies list.

1 – Kemono no Souja Erin

And as much as I loved Sunred, it still didn’t get real close to unseating Erin from this season’s top spot. Once I realized how good this series was, I just knew that this last cour of episodes when all the various stories were threaded together would seriously rock and it did. What I didn’t expect was the little tease they did at the very end for the next two books of the source material that’s coming out this summer. It’s a great scene by itself but I’m already salivating over the idea of Kemono no Souja Erin getting a sequel. One of the ways this show really sets itself apart from a lot of other anime is the process in which the show’s hero is tried and tempered before stepping into the role as hero; it made her an especially memorable character and made her convictions that she fought for all that more real and worthy to fight for. I’ll say right now that Kemono no Souja Erin has better than a 50% chance of getting named my top anime of 2009 when I get to that list.


Links to the other parts of my Fall 2009 Season Awards

Part 1 – Cast and Character Awards
Part 2 – Genre and Misfit Awards
Part 3 – VMA Awards

So this fall season turned out better then I initially thought it would but I don’t see myself saying the same thing for the winter season. There’s a couple of good shows but it’s just a couple and I’m be talking about them soon.

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10 thoughts on “Top Eight Anime of the Fall 2009 Season”

  1. Erin was pretty dang cool. I didn’t expect that from a show that spends time inspecting “stools”. In my opinion the artwork was occasionally quite nice, but the ‘experimental’ (not sure that is the right word) sequences — often shown during violent scenes — didn’t really work for me.

    I wish Mook and and the other guy didn’t exist. I was really saddened that they got their own episode.

    Despite all of that, I can totally understand your ranking. The vision of the world was incredibly elaborate. The only show that really impressed me as much was Eden of the East.

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  2. I’m kinda surprised Kobato only got honorable mention, then again, I will concede that the second half is MUCH better then the first half.

    I keep thinking how winter season, imo, is better then fall, but I think part of it was what I choose to watch and the disappointing endings of those. I didn’t watch Soro No Shimono and To Ara Kagaku no Railgun.

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  3. I’m glad someone else placed Sunred and Erin so high on their lists – it’s nice to find people with taste.

    I’m just always surprised that people rate Railgun so highly.. there are a couple of quite good eps, but for the most part they’re mediocre – the show has all the subtlety of a jackhammer most of the time. I do enjoy it, but I’d easily place FMA over it.. I’ve never felt that “man I can’t wait for the next episode” feeling over Railgun, while I generally do with FMA.

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  4. Truthfully thus far I haven’t even seen half of the series listed but, I have to admit from the shows I have seen, You are right on the money with Cross Game. Truthfully I wish I would have started watching this series two seasons ago when it debuted. The other series I will have to catch up on.

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  5. @Bob (joojoobees): I too wish that Nuk and Mok didn’t exist but I think there presence and those stylized scenes during violent scenes are the result of the show being a kid’s show.

    @Janette: I have to agree with the second half being better then the first half. I think knowing that made me want to place Kobato in my top list less for this season but I do expect Kobato to do very well in my next seasonal awards.

    @Hogart: And it’s nice to find people with taste. 🙂

    I know that feeling of “man I can’t wait for the next episode” but, for me, I do get that feeling with Railgun which probably explains the difference in opinion. 🙂 I do think there will be a good chance when the current FMA and Railgun series end that I’ll be putting FMA above Railgun.

    @Kitsune: 🙂

    @Ray: I know that feeling and felt that same way about Astro Fighter Sunred; and speaking of Sunred, that along with Cross Game and Kemono no Souja Erin are the shows from 2009 that have my highest recommendation and my hope that every anime fan that likes good characters in their anime check out.

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  6. Watching Erin cause you mentioned it had the same source author as Seirei no Moribito. Since I rewatched Seirei and it was great again (except for the creepy foreshadowing parts that I already knew the end to).

    The only animes I give a 5/5 score to are the ones I initially label as great, which means they’re also good the second or third or fourth time around. There are a lot of details that are cleverly placed in series like Seirei. Like the story told to the blacksmith that can be interpreted 3 or even fourth different ways depending on who you are looking at: villain, neutral, kid, bodyguard.

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  7. @ymarsakar: hope you like Erin, I’ve been meaning to watch Seirei no Moribito again but couldn’t quite get myself to do so. Since you say it holds up well, maybe I’ll put it in my queue.

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