Here’s the usual “notables” list as the end of 2009 is just around the corner. A little something to look back and mention several anime series that I think are quite noteworthy to share.
Just a heads up, this is a rather subjective list as this was mainly based on my picks among the series I’ve seen which aired from January to December 2009 that I feel are notable.
* List order is chronological based on the season when it started airing (from Winter 2008/2009 to Fall 2009)
Without further ado, on to the list!
Second season of Natsume Yuujin-chou. Also known as Natsume’s Book of Friends
– I really liked its first season, so I was really looking forward to this one since I heard it’s been green lit for a second season. I mentioned this before in my 2008 Anime Notables post where the first season was included, but I’ll say it again briefly anyway: The premise of this series reminded me of Mushishi and Mokke, but character-wise, Natsume reminded me of Watanuki from xxxHolic mainly because they both can see spirits and the significance of names in the series.
I kinda missed the whole crew, especially Natsume and Nyanko-sensei. Upon watching the first episode, something seems to be different with the animation… I think it looks better than the first season, like the colors seem to be sharper this time around (unless my eyes are deceiving me). Also, for a second there, it reminded me of xxxHolic with the butterfly and the smoke (around 8:24 in the 1st episode).
What I like most about this series is how they’re able to blend in moments of laughter and silliness with heartwarming stories in an almost seamless manner. Even if we get to see just a few minutes of the youkai’s memory/backstory, it could certainly tug at your heartstrings. Kamiya Hiroshi and Kazuhiko Inoue did a great job in giving life to Natsume and Madara/Nyanko-sensei’s characters. I also thought this second season was just as good as, if not better, than the first season. ^^
– We meet Kou Kitamura and the Tsukishima family. He’s very close with Wakaba, the 2nd Tsukishima daughter, because they are the same age and were born on the same date. One summer day, tragedy strikes, and it’s after that life-changing moment when the main story starts along with much of the baseball element of the story. Even though Wakaba technically just shows up in the first episode, she’s still a central character in the lives of Kou, Aoba and the rest of the cast throughout the series.
The first episode was pretty good, although a bit heartbreaking. I checked out the manga so I knew what was going to happen, but it still made me cry. T_T I thought they did a good job of compressing part 1 of the manga into that single episode. The essentials were kept intact along with the humorous and tearful moments. Not just for the first episode, but also for the others. How the story flows and how the lines go feel so natural. I also like how they interweaved the flashbacks with the present (flashbacks were usually on separate chapters). To some extent, this series also kinda reminds me of Honey and Clover too (no wonder I love it so. ;)) Don’t get me wrong though… It doesn’t have an overly dramatic story, it’s actually fun and enjoyable, but does have a bit of sad moments (especially when it concerns Wakaba). I don’t think I’d ever get tired of re-reading the manga and re-watching the episodes anytime soon. I think the first episode was the most tearful one so far, but worry not, the following episodes are more lighthearted and the story just gets better and better. It does have some filler episodes about halfway through, but I think they managed to make those fillers tie up nicely with the overall plot.
To be honest, I was initially a bit hesitant on watching it because the character design didn’t really appeal to me, although it didn’t bother me that much (in fact, it somewhat reminds me of Ranma 1/2 – how nostalgic~!). Well, I’m really glad I decided to watch this. It’s actually one of my favorites now. I think Cross Game was the best series in the Spring 2009 lineup. I think it’s simply awesome. I love the dialogue and the flow of story. In fact, I don’t mind at all even if it’s slated to run for over 50 episodes. I’d happily watch and rewatch it. I even marathoned the manga (all 148 chapters in one sitting) right after seeing episode 1 and ended up sleeping at 4 am. xDD Adachi-sensei is really doing a great job in writing it. Yep, that’s how much I’m lovin’ it! ^^
Also known as Higashi no Eden
* In case you’re interested, I also wrote more about this series in a previous entry: Eden of the East – What mystery dost thou holdeth?
– Quoting a part of my first impression after watching episode 1:
(1) It’s Production I.G, so it’s kind of a given that the animation quality would be good. (2) Kenji Kamiyama directing the series – I haven’t seen GitS: SAC yet, but I found Seirei no Moribito totally awesome! (3) Umino Chika did the character design – I absolutely love, love, love Honey and Clover to bits. –> the 3 main reasons why I was eagerly anticipating this series. You could also throw in the fact that Kenji Kawai (who was also responsible for the awesome Moribito OST) is in charge of the music. Been looking forward to this one the most this season, and I wasn’t disappointed at all.
Although, I must admit, despite my fangirling over it, I kinda got stuck at episode 5 and I haven’t finished watching it yet myself (I’m planning to catch up with it this Winter season). Nonetheless, I think it’s quite an interesting story that’s worth checking out.
Oh, and in addition, there’ll be two theatrical film releases that I think will pick up from where the anime series left off. The first animated film, Eden of the East: The King of Eden, premiered on 11/28/2009. The second one, Eden of the East: Paradise Lost, will premiere on 01/09/2010.
Also known as Ghostory.
– Beware of retinal shock (re: colors, text flashes, etc). Lol~ Since SHAFT’s unique visual style is an acquired taste, it’s a series that is either a hit or a miss with the viewers (it‘s the same director as Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, so the visual presentation is pretty much similar).
– A used-to-be-a-vampire guy who seems to attract supernatural phenomenon, shadowless(?) girl, weightless girl, eccentric guy who knows about supernatural stuff, weight crab, cursed item that looks like a monkey’s paw, a snake-like curse, catgirl… and the list could go on. I liked its take on explaining the (possible) reasons behind the strange events that each heroine has experienced. An interesting presentation, I think. It also has a pretty sweet 12th episode, although the Tsubasa Cat arc actually doesn’t end there and extends on to 3 episodes/ONAs…
To further clarify, the anime has 12 episodes that will be broadcast on TV then 3 episodes will be ONAs that will be broadcast via streaming exclusively on its official website (see its Wiki page). So far, the 13th episode has already aired on its website, but the remaining 2 episodes are still unaired, and at the time of this entry, there’s no official word yet on when those will be broadcast.
Just because I want to, I’d like to say that this series has a very, very nice ED theme [“Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari” by supercell] which made the top spot in my list of Notable anime OP/ED themes of 2009. ^^
On a slightly different note, I’m still wishing and hoping that SHAFT would also animate Kizumonogatari, this series’ prequel light novel, which is about the Koyomi Vamp arc (and is my favorite story of the series). Oh, and remember that vivid pantsu shot during the beginning of the very first episode? It was an excerpt from this story. ;P
Spice and Wolf’s 2nd season. Also known as Ookami to Koshinryou.
– Despite the new production (used to be IMAGIN, now Brain’s Base) this time around, I didn’t really notice that big a difference from season 1’s animation. I think you won’t even notice it if you didn’t know or didn’t pay much attention to the animation details. It was also able to keep the same laidback and adventurous atmosphere in the previous season. Hmm, this could be because they kept most of the major creative staff members.
A word of caution though, this is mainly about a merchant and his travels with a wolf deity in the form of a girl, so there are quite a bit of economic ideas and terms thrown about here and there. I think I can say it’s a pretty laidback series with quite a lot of talk, so a bit of patience is required. Koshimizu Ami and Fukuyama Jun make a good tag team as seiyus of the lead characters, too.
Honestly, I haven’t finished watching the second season yet, but I mentioned it anyway because I thought Spice and Wolf is generally a series worth mentioning.
Sora no Manimani (Jul to Sep 2009)
More info – Official Site
– I really enjoyed watching it. The characters were fun and I loved the comedy aspect of it as well as the astronomy parts. I found it educational too. I learned quite a bit of astronomy trivia and it re-awakened the sleeping astronomy enthusiast in me that I even dragged a friend of mine to go with me and visit the planetarium. xD
Aside from being attracted to watch it because of the premise, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check it out because Maeno Tomoaki was voicing one of the main characters. :3 He was really awesome as Saku-chan. I love how he screams in worry and terror whenever the enthusiastic Mihoshi comes around. xD
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (Jul to Sep 2009)
More info – Official Site
– Well, from the title itself, I knew it was bound to be dramatic. I was almost in tears by the end of the first episode. Earthquakes and other disasters are really scary. >_<
I thought the pace of the storytelling was pretty good, considering it’s just 11 episodes long. It’s a Bones production, so the animation is done pretty well. The character design somewhat reminded me of Spirited Away.
I think it’s probably best to watch this in a marathon in to get a good flow of the story and the emotional intensity it brings (no pun intended ;P).
Kimi ni Todoke (Oct 2009 – ongoing at the time of entry)
More info – Official Site
Also known as From Me to You or Reaching You.
– It reminded me so much of the hilarity and the warm and fuzzy feelings I had while watching/reading Lovely Complex. I’ve been waiting for something like this ever since Love*Com ended its run. I’m glad I found it~ <3
Kazehaya is so cool, kind and nice. It’d be so great to meet a nice guy like him in real life. No wonder all the girls in school swoon over him! xD Though Sawako can be too naive for her own good sometimes, I think she can be quite adorable, and it’s her naivete and kind nature that brings in the story and the characters together. I love Yano, Yoshida and Ryuu…. They’re really good supporting characters that I think make this series even more awesome. ^^
Second season of Darker than Black. Also known as Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor
– Oh, and do keep watching until the ED song is done because the episode actually ends after it, along with the next episode preview. ;) I simpy love DtB and this is the one series that I’ve been most looking forward to the Fall 2009 season. Even though it hurts my brain sometimes, I still love speculating, anticipating, and attempting to connect all the events together! It’s the only series that I resumed blogging episode summaries for, despite my messed up busy schedule at work. ^^
Do keep in mind though, that even if it’s the second season, Hei takes a backseat as the lead character and the story is more focused on the new character named Suou. Even if the ending left many viewers hanging, I think say it was a fairly good series (though season 1 was better, imho). Hardcore Yin fans will probably be a bit disappointed too since she has very, very limited appearances this time around. But fret not, there’ll be a series of OVAs to be included in the DVDs which they say will bridge the gap between seasons 1 and 2…
According to wiki, DtB’s season 2 will be comprised of 12 episodes. In addition, there will be 4 OVAs that will be included in the DVDs. The timeline in the OVAs will be set between the events of season 1 and 2, and will be a side story of Hei and Yin. More details can be found on this page at the official site (it’s in Japanese) and season 2’s wiki page.
So yeah, this is what I ended up with for my 2009 anime “notables” list. I preferred using the term “notables” than “best of” since I wasn’t comfortable to call which ones are “the best.” 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 2008 and carried over to 2009, my quick picks would be:
–> both of which are included in my previous year’s list.
~ How about you? What are your anime picks for 2009 that you feel noteworthy and would like to recommend?
You might also want to check out my other related posts: