(Yes, I know. No Mai Otome recap? For shame! And I’m more than a week behind! I’ll remedy this by Christmas, I assure you.)
The DVDtalk website has posted what can only be a blatant challenge to any anime fan with decent taste. Yes, it’s a year-end “top 10″ list of domestic release titles. Mind you, they cheat a bit by listing two Miyazaki films at #6, but what the heck. I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to razz and rave on their picks a bit…
- Samurai 7: I’ll grant you, this is a good series presented in a very nifty package. That said… what? Best series of the year over such fare as Fullmetal Alchemist? Over Samurai Champloo, even? I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. Yes, I know it’s a great homage to a classic film, but c’mon.
- Ghost in the Shell SAC (2nd gig): I haven’t seen it. No comment.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: With no qualms, I can easily say that this is the best series to come out of Japan’s anime studios in the last few years. No, really. It’s that good.
- Planetes: Interpersonal drama in near-future space. It’s often amusing, sometimes sad, generally well produced and acted, and definitely worth seeing at least once, especially if you’re a space buff like Yours Truly.
- Samurai Champloo: In case you didn’t already know, it’s Cowboy Bebop except with hip-hop instead of jazz and a feudal-era Japan instead of futuristic outer-space setting. And yet, it works amazingly well. This is one of those cutting-edge (pardon the pun) shows that may not be a general-purpose crowd-pleaser but delivers as a pinnacle of its art form.
- Porco Rosso & Nausicaa: I haven’t seen Porco Rosso, but picking up Nausicaa on DVD was one of the true fanboy highlights of my year. The new dub leaves something to be desired, like most dubs, but seeing the whole movie and hearing the original voice talents at long last was a true joy. It’s a classic, pure and simple.
- Appleseed: They made another one? Who knew? Apparently somebody did. I’ll see this eventually, I suppose.
- Gankutsuou (The Count of Monte Cristo): Gonzo seems to like doing two things intermittently. Either they make a show that’s entirely for-the-masses action-adventure fluff (paging Bakuretsu Tenshi!) or something like Gankutsuou. The visual style alone merits, even demands, special mention. It’s a jarring, daring thing that you’ll either hate on sight or get used to. You’ve been warned. That said, the show is an interesting take on a classic storyline.
- Gunslinger Girl: This is a good, if not great, take on the “girls with guns” motif. Its short run left me thinking that there must be another series coming along at some point, as I didn’t get a real sense of conclusion to the story. Also, the animation budget seems to decline quite a bit past the first few action-packed episodes. This doesn’t cut into the visual quality of the show, mind you, just the amount of action. One normally expects things to ramp up over the course of a series, but here it almost goes the other direction. Still, I recommend this to anyone who thought Noir was a neat concept but a bit slow and overwrought. (Which reminds me: I need to post a Noir review, don’t I? I just finished watching the boxed set…)
- Area 88: Wait, wasn’t this a show from the 80s? Sorry, I never watched any of its incarnations. Ah well.
And there you have it. If nothing else, this gave me an excuse to write something other than a Mai Otome recap… which, yes, I’ll get back to shortly. Honest.
Oh, one more thing. Below the “top 10″ list on that page I linked you’ll find some other disc reviews. Somewhere in there the reviewer mentions Daphne in the Brilliant Blue as “one of the better series of the year.” I humbly submit that said reviewer is on crack. That, or they’re only in it for the nigh-gratuitous scantily-clad babe factor. I like scantily-clad babes, but the show itself was so gratingly lacking in plot and good dialog that I gave it up after five episodes. Better series, my ass.