Another “notables” list as the end of 2008 nears. Just a little something to look back on the anime scene and mention several series that I think rather noteworthy to share.
Do keep in mind that this is a rather subjective list as this was solely based on my picks among the series I have seen that aired from January to December 2008 that I feel are notable.
* List order is chronological based on the season when it started airing (from Winter 2007/2008 to Fall 2008.)
– There are no coincidences. There is only fate.
I loved the first season, and I really liked this second season too. Yuuko’s enigmatic words enthrall me. xxxHolic’s mysterious world attracts me. The spider grudge arc (the first 3 episodes) was a great way to start off the 2nd season! I’m so proud of Watanuki. He has grown so much and was really impressive on this arc. Of course, his antics with Yuuko and Doumeki are still as funny as ever! The Watanuki x Zashiki-warashi moments were pure win! (can you guess which couple i’m shipping for? ;P).
On the otherhand, many people were quite disappointed with how the Kohane arc ended up. Although I was quite disappointed too, it didn’t disappoint me *that* much since I don’t really mind differences between anime and manga. I think I can understand a little how Kohane’s arc turned out like that, considering this season only had 13 episodes and the fact that Production IG is trying to steer clear from the TRC crossovers that’s everywhere in the xxxHolic manga.
Oh, don’t make me start rambling about the manga, just reading it gives me a headache. Don’t get me wrong though, I think the manga is awesome. It’s just that I’ve never read (and won’t ever read) TRC or CCS, so the crossovers in the xxxHolic manga are killing my brain cells and confusing the heck out of me. I started reading the manga because the spoiler spy in me couldn’t wait to know what happens next. Again, I’ve proven that curiosity kills the cat. It’s too late to back out now with reading it though, I know too much already and I’m in too deep, and I still want to know what happens next. Heh. Okay, enough of the rambling.
Anyway, the bottom line is: I think xxxHolic is really good. ^_^
Also known as Library War
– This was the series that I’ve been looking forward to the most during the Spring 2008 season! And I was not disappointed at all (other than the short 12-episode count). Awesome OP [“Atashi no Machi, Ashita no Machi” by Hitomi Takahashi] and ED themes [“Changes” by Base Ball Bear].
The introduction makes it look quite serious with the soldiers and all, but it’s really not. Well, not that much. There are some serious moments but also a bunch of LOL moments. It starts with a kind and mysterious savior who steps up to defend Kasahara from the evil clutches of the Media Betterment Squad! Basically, this knight in shining armor is Kasahara’s inspiration in joining the Library militia (she calls him her “prince charming”). Enter Doujou, her superior officer whom she just can’t seem to get along with.
I found Kasahara to be a bit impulsive and the acting-before-thinking sort of person, but this is most probably brought about by her strong sense of justice and her kind heart. I found Doujou to be quite quick-tempered and bossy, but despite this exterior he also has a good heart and good intentions for being that strict, I guess he just isn’t able to express it in a more gentle way. xD There are also several other supporting bishounens characters who give out support and advice to Kasahara (sometimes even Doujou). I simply love the love/hate sort of relationship and countless bickerings that Kasahara and Doujou have. I’m also rooting for Shibasaki x Tezuka.
I kinda think that fighting to protect books is a little weird, but I do understand their cause. Although, as much as I love books myself, I don’t think I have the guts to go as far as Kasahara and join the squad. ^^;;
The seiyuus did a great job, particularly Marina Inoue as Kasahara and Tomoaki Maeno as Doujou. The animation is also good – it’s Production IG, so you can’t expect anything less in that department. It has some action, a bit of drama, with a dash of romance and comedy… How can I resist? ^_^
Also known as Natsume’s Book of Friends
– The 1st episode starts with Natsume being chased by a couple of youkai. The premise of this series reminded me of Mushishi and Mokke, but character-wise, Natsume reminded me of Watanuki in xxxHolic.
We learn that Natsume has the same ability as his grandmother, Reiko, who went around challenging youkai when she was young, and if she beats them, she asks them to give her their names and makes them her “underlings.” Eventually, she compiles these names into what’s known as the “Yuujinchou” or “Book of Friends” (Ah, the significance of names, another similarity with xxxHolic). Natsume stumbles upon Madara, some sort of god who takes the appearance of a cat charm (which Natsume often brings up to annoy Madara). Madara wants the Book of Friends, but Natsume refuses to give it. They learn that there are basically two reasons why Natsume is being chased by youkai: Either they want their names back or they want the Book. Natsume enlists the help of Madara in returning the names and for protecting him against the ill-wishers, with the deal that in case Natsume dies, the book will become Madara’s property. And so, their adventures begin, meeting both nice and not-so-nice beings, and new friends along their journey.
There are silly stories, heartwarming stories as well as heartbreaking ones. This series was one of two titles that I looked forward to watching during the Summer 2008 season.
– I initially heard about this series because of its awesome OP song. When I learned that it was animated by BONES, it made me even more curious. I also learned that Kenji Hamada (who’s been a favorite seiyuu of mine ever since hearing him as Nomiya in Honey and Clover and Bou-san in Ghost Hunt) is voicing Ahm, one of the secondary characters. Being a BONES production, its animation also somewhat reminded me of Darker than Black (*sigh* I miss Hei).
It’s a mecha, futuristic, sci-fi sort of anime, which I’ve never really been fond of at all; but it looked nice so I gave it the benefit of the doubt and checked it out. Five episodes later, I still have no concrete idea what’s going on and a bunch of questions are swirling in my head, but somehow, I kept on watching. Have I mentioned that the OP song rocks? The ED song is pretty good too. It has a pretty solid animation and the character designs are quite good. I also find that it has nice music; the BGM complements certain scenes well. I guess I’ll just go with the flow and patiently wait for the answers as I watch the story unfold.
**In case you’re interested, I also wrote more about this series in a previous entry: First Impressions – Xam’d: Lost Memories
– The lead guy, Ryuuji has this mean look in his eyes which frightens others, but he’s actually a nice guy (and one of the sweetest anime guys ever, imho). He accidentally bumps into Taiga (notoriously known as the “plamtop tiger” in school) while he’s walking absentmindedly in school, which earns him a punch from her. He learns that Taiga is Minori’s bestfriend, and also his classmate. After much confusion and random attacks from Taiga, they eventually settle the misunderstanding about a love letter, and they both learn that Taiga likes Yusaku while Ryuuji likes Minori. They get into some sort of agreement to keep this secret and help each other with their respective crushes.
I haven’t read the Toradora manga, so I thought this was going to be your typical tsundere lead sort of series. Well, it wasn’t for the most part. It’s basically a story of friendship with a hint of love, and a bunch of LOL moments in every episode. I found this series to be nice and fun to watch.
– Kyoko annoyed me a little bit, but didn’t last too long. The annoyance transferred to Shou, who was quite an obnoxious prat (although, I admit that he can be a bit cute at times, like when he was happily eating the pudding) But then he got even more obnoxious later when he started talking about Kyoko in a very insulting and condescending manner. Luckily Kyoko overheard it and her desire to get revenge awakens. She does a total makeover and vows to get her revenge against Shou by getting equal or even better showbiz gigs than him as an idol. She auditions in the LME agency, one that rivals Shou’s. To her surprise, Ren (Shou’s biggest rival in the industry) is a talent at LME. We’ll follow Kyoko’s rise to fame as she tries to make Shou feel sorry that he ever looked down on her. As they say, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…
This series has a pretty strong seiyuu cast for the 3 lead characters (Marina Inoue as Kyoko, Miyano Mamoru as Shou, and Katsuyuki Konishi as Ren). Also, Kenji Hamada plays another secondary character (a bonus for me!). Honestly, the first episode didn’t really get my attention, but I’m glad I saw episode 2 right after because that was much more enjoyable to watch… and now I’m hooked. Stubborn me is still trying to resist reading the ongoing manga (even though I’m very much tempted to, much of which is due to my curiosity about Ren’s character), so I’m clueless about the details of what happens next (I’m spoiled through wiki though ;P).
It was a bit difficult to narrow it down to this much, and this is what I ended up with for my 2008 anime “notables” list. I preferred using the term “notables” than “best of” since I don’t think I’ve seen enough anime this year to actually say which is best (I haven’t even included the OVAs and movies – I’m sure there are several good ones that aired – plus I haven’t seen some of the other series).
With regard to those series that started airing during Fall 2007 and carried over to 2008, my quick picks would be:
–> these three are included in my previous year’s list.
~ How about you? What were your anime picks for 2008 that you feel noteworthy and would like to recommend?
You might also want to check out my other related posts: