I love doing these seasonal awards but I have to admit to feeling a weight falling off my shoulders now that I’m about to finish. But let’s not terry, it’s time to countdown anime.
4 – Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
At the beginning of FMA:B there was no mention of it animating the whole manga (or that the manga was ending) so I kept wondering how Bones would finish the show without repeating the debacle that was the first Full Metal Alchemist. I figured there was a good chance at another poor ending since so many of their otherwise great shows end so terribly. Prior to the Spring season this wondering became worrying and started to intrude upon how much I enjoyed the show. I was relieved when it became known that the manga was ending and Bones was on-track to animate the ending.
I breathed a big sigh of relief; not only did I not have to worry about the ending, getting the manga ending promised to see Full Metal Alchemist go out with a bang.
Which ended up happening, gloriously so. And I even loved how they managed to make the ending completely satisfying while leaving themselves with an angle for a sequel (which I really, really hope they do).
3 – The Tatami Galaxy
When I found out about The Tatami Galaxy, I was giddy because it was being directed by Masaaki Yuasa who’s last series was Kaiba, my pick for the top anime of 2008. I tried to keep the giddiness in check since sky high expectations often only result in disappointment but I was only partially successfully. Good thing for me that The Tatami Galaxy was able to beat my high expectations. It had the interesting animation style that hid how well-animated it was animation that I expected. It had the intellectually interesting premise while not forgetting to have good characters, solid character development and an entertaining story that I expected as well. It had that unique quality to it that set it apart from everything else even while reminding me of so many other books and shows vibe that I expected from an accomplished master of storytelling like Masaaki Yuasa.
I also expected that The Tatami Galaxy would be largely unwatched by people like Kaiba was but that turned out not to be the case. It was shown (as many people know) on the TV block Noitamina in Japan which has earned a fan following around the globe for it’s consist high-quality anime programing. This pushed many people to give the show a shot and, in a not very shocking to me turn-of-events, they liked it. Now, I hope the popularity of The Tatami Galaxy will spill over to Masaaki Yuasa’s other works and get people watching them as well (hint, hint go watch Kaiba ).
2 – Rainbow – Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin
In the rush of trying to catch all the new shows at the start of a new season, invariably, there’s a few that I miss. During the spring season one of those shows that I intended to catch was Rainbow because Madhouse was animating but it somehow slipped through the cracks. Several weeks later, after the dust had settled some, I looked around at the various blogs to see which shows I missed and if t
hey were worth sampling. There wasn’t much coverage of Rainbow and most of what there was considered the show way too melodramatic to be any good. Star-Crossed had a more positive outlook about the show so I decided to give it a shot.
And I’m glad I did, Rainbow is an awesome show.
I had a moment of cognitive dissonance when I started watching Rainbow; I kept waiting for the absurd, over-the-top drama and waiting and thinking that surely I was watching some other show then everyone else. The moment passed and I realized that I was watching the same show but I got it. Granted, I was maybe more ready to watch Rainbow then some. I had just finished reading Samurai! and it touched on the brutal hardships faced by many after the war and how the war disrupted the basic fabric of Japanese society. Which fit well with what I learned of the time period from reading and from anime like Millennium Actress, Magical Arcade Abenobashi and Natsu no Arashi. I think the portrayal of the time period is accurate and anything less would be a fanciful fantasy that would paint over the despair and grittiness of the time period.
If I had to pick an anime to compare Rainbow to, I’d pick Gurren Lagann. The two share many of the same qualities that made Gurren Lagann more then just a dumb movie with giant robots. For starters there’s the single-mindedness of our main characters to overcome the perceived wrongs of their world with hard work and self-determination and the help of their friends. And let’s not forget that society is often a poor judge of people as both anime remind us as well as the hardships of trying to be a hero. Rainbow and Gurren Lagann also show the power, beauty, and majesty of a courageous person which always warms my heart to see.
It’s comes juuusst a bit short of the top spot but if it can continue on this same level over the summer season, it might just be snagging the top spot. Before moving on there’s another similarity the two anime shared that I want to mention. It was how both far surpassed what I imagined the end point of the anime to be. For Gurren Lagann, I thought it was going to end with the defeat of the Spiral King and for Rainbow, I thought it was going to end with the kids getting out of prison. I know I wasn’t the only person who thought this of Rainbow and it sounded like it might have kept some from giving Rainbow a chance which is why I wanted to mention it.
1 – Arakawa Under the Bridge
Inching ever so slightly ahead of everyone else this season is Arakawa Under the Bridge. When Shinbou and Shaft get it right, they really get it right; not only was this my top show of the season, it was the one I would most look forward to between episodes.
It’s perfect. That’s the only word that feels right when describing why this show deserves to place in front of so many other fine shows but it’s not terribly descriptive. It’s perfect in the same way that the perfect way to end the day is eating your favorite ice-cream, on the beach, listening to the waves lap at your feet, as you watch a spectacular sunset with family and friends. Which is still not very descriptive but will have to do.
So there it is. I finished the spring awards just in time to start considering the summer seasonal awards . I’d like to thank all the people that read my 5000+ word review of the Spring 2010 season; I hope you enjoyed it and maybe discovered an anime or two that you want to watch now.