Well, as the clock struck midnight and the ball dropped in Times Square we said goodbye to 2009 and welcomed in 2010. Whether you celebrated the changing of the years with a singing of Auld Lang Syne or stood outside a Buddhist temple and listened to the bells toll 108 times, purifying the sins of mankind, this is a time for reflection and contemplation. So, in keeping with the theme of reflection and contemplation I’m posting my top 10 anime of 2009 list along with giving a shout out to other favorites of mine. This year I’ve done something a little different by separating movies from the anime series because I don’t think it’s really a fair fight when you consider that a 90 minute movie could have 5x-10x the budget of a 26 episode series.
Before I get to my top 10anime of 2009 list I’d like to give a shout out to the anime that didn’t make the top 10 but I feel still deserve to get some praise. So, in no particular order, here’s the best of the rest; Cross Game, White Album II, Railgun, Eden of the East, Rideback, Guin Saga, Skip Beat, Spice & Wolf II, Ristorante Paradiso, and Casshern Sins.
Best Movies of 2009.*
Hey, what can I say other than I’m a sucker for the Miyazaki magic, and this film hit all the right notes. While watching this film I felt like I was a little kid again, and wanted to surf on those waves like Ponyo.
#2 The Sky Crawlers
#3 Eve no Jiken
*note, I would like to place Summer Wars on this list but I can’t properly evaluate the film until I get to see a version that doesn’t have shitty visuals, sound, and subtitles.
Most interesting characters & villains M/F
My most interesting female character and female villain is Beatrice from Umineko no Naka Koro ni. Beatrice’s malice and evil behavior was spectacular, and her behavior left me wanting to know a lot more about her.
My most interesting male character of 2009 was Yozo from the no longer human arc of the Aoi Bungaku anime series. If Yozo was a real life human I could have made a college career out doing physiological studies of him.
My most interesting male villain of 2009 is Touya from the White Album II series. While Touya might not be a villain in the traditional sense, Touya has to be one of the worst boyfriends in anime history. But, I have to give Touya props because he does something that few male harem leads ever do, he actually dips his wick in the love holes of several of the female harem members.
Best fan service of 2009
Well, I feel that the Kiss x Sis OAV episodes wins the fan service award hands down or maybe hands up, these OAVs are only a small step removed from a full blow hentai anime.
Now, my top 10 anime of 2009.
Call K-On! a moe series, or call K-On! a waste of time, but I just loved watching this series. I really don’t care if the series was just cute girls doing cute things because I loved every minute of the series, and I’m overjoyed that it’s getting a second season.
#9 Umi Monogatari ~Anata ga Ite Kureta Koto~ (Sea Story)
One of the best magic girl series that I’ve seen in a couple of years, Sea Story was a tale about growing up and learning to accept all the scary emotions that come along with being an adult. Kanon’s fear of being rejected, Marin’s fear of the darkness, and Urin’s fear of loneliness, we shouldn’t hide these emotions; we need to share them with others who care for us, and forgive the weakness inside our hearts.
#8 Umineko no Naku Koro ni
I feel that this was the best mystery/suspense anime series of the year. I loved watching Battler’s and Beatrice’s contest of wills, and the series kept me in suspense for its entire run.
I felt that Bakemonogatari had the freshest take on the harem genre I’ve seen in some time, plus Bakemonogatari was blessed with great writing, good direction, unique visuals, and an interesting main couple.
#6 Aoi Hana
I feel that this was a very rewarding and enjoyable romance with all the feelings portrayed in an understated but powerful manner, and this series never went into the over-the-top mode like so many other anime. Aoi Hana was a tremendous series, enjoyable, believable, loaded with powerful feelings and emotions, a must watch for fans of the yuri romance genre.
#5 Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a basically the story of three characters sharing a journey through a Tokyo devastated by a major earthquake with its streets filled with the presence of death and loss. When Mirai, Yuuki, and Mari began their journey together their first priority was one of survival and gradually their end goal became one of wanting to return home and reunite with their families. While TM 8.0 featured three main characters the true focus of the series was Mirai’s painful journey to emotional maturity.
#4 Aoi Bungaku
With only twelve episodes to tell six complete stories you would think that this series would feel rushed or too compressed, but Madhouse struck anime gold. Each story arc featured a different directorial and animation style, and while the styles changed the quality always stayed top notch. For the fans of quality anime storytelling, Aoi Bungaku is about as good as it gets.
While Toradora! has its faults, and has many of the tropes common for an anime of this genre those deficiencies are more than outweighed by its endearing characters, and well written story. I laughed, I cried, and I rooted for Ryuuji and Taiga to find happiness and felt quite contented with how the series ended. In short, Toradora! was one of the best high school romantic comedies I’ve watched in the past few years.
#2 Michiko to Hatchin
This series contained everything that I love in an anime, great action, quality animation, great characters, good storyline, and a very good soundtrack. Michiko to Hatchin is basically one long road trip with Michiko and Hana being chased by the cops while searching for the elusive Hiroshi, and at the end of the journey we find that the excitement of the trip was better than the satisfaction of reaching the goal. From the very first episode until the final episode, I loved every damn minute of this series.
#1 Clannad ~After Story~
I’m must be one of the biggest Clannad/Clannad ~AS~ supporters out there, and I’ve written tens of thousands of words praising this series, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. Clannad & Clannad ~AS~ are a combination of myth and fairy tale mixed with a large dose of the trials and tribulations of reality. But, Clannad/Clannad ~AS~ really is a story of journeys and cycles; the journey from the silly and carefree days of teenager-hood to mature adulthood with all its implied responsibilities and rewards, and it’s a story about the cycle of life where we need love and guidance to survive then we have to pay that back by loving and cherishing our children to continue the cycle of life.
While most anime of this type end at high school graduation, or end with the confession of love, Clannad ~AS~ shows us what happens after those carefree days are over. We watch Nagisa and Tomoya get married and live together as husband and wife, we follow them as they struggle to balance work and love, and we watch them become loving parents completing their epic journey from childhood to a fulfilled adult life.