It is the time to reflect back on the year that has passed with a look at some of the best Anime that came out in 2010. It was a solid year even though more and more predictions of Anime’s inevitable death because of the strength of the Moe fandom. But like all years some real creativity comes out of Japan and that is the reason that most people started watching anime in the first place. That one unique moment that came at an important time in one’s life can endear a person to the medium forever, or scare them away forever. I enjoy writing this list because it reminds me of those things that keep me attached to the genre even after a strong ten years of anime fandom, and it helps me forget some backward steps that Japan has thrown at us
Same as last year I only have one rule for this list: The anime must have finished airing or being released in Japan or United States in 2010. If I have already seen the show in fansubs it becomes ineligible for the list the year it gets an R1 release. In terms of films the year it is released on theaters or screen in the US for the first time, or failing that released on DVD, becomes the year where it qualifies.
On to the List:
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
I can’t make a best of the year list without mentioning Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. As someone who hasn’t seen the original I came into it without any bias from the original series. I was immediately hooked by the characters, concept, and intensely well-choreographed action sequences. The series ramped up well throughout and all the elements, plot threads, and massive cast of characters all came together in then end in a final epic battle. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood knew how to do Shōnen perfectly not only with action and characters but by developing a plot that steadily rams up and climaxes without dragging itself out and killing its own originality.
5. Squid Girl
If I were to time travel and hand this list to myself at the start of the fall season I wouldn’t believe it. Squid Girl was the complete shock of the year coming in with a quirky concept that is executed brilliantly. The jokes fly fast and the characters are endearing enough to suck you in, once caught the charm of Squid Girl alone is enough to keep you hooked. The adorable lead and her interactions with the interesting cast of characters is a joy to watch and the concept of a Squid being anthropomorphized is played straight no matter how odd from Squid Girl’s ability to produce ink to her bioluminescence. The jokes do get a little receptive and the art is uninspired standard Moe fair but the writing is enough to make Squid Girl an excellent little show.
4. Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
Like Squid Girl, SoreMachi is a gag anime that brings some unique concepts to the genre to create something new. But, unlike Squid Girl, SoreMachi has the benefit of the art of Shaft and the directing ability of Akiyuki Shinbou in order to take this gag show up another level. The structure of the show constantly shifts and its treatment of science fiction elements create a strange entry into the comedy genre but one that will leave a profound impact on those who watched it. The best part being the bizarre Science fiction elements mixed in and played as if they were just another piece of the slice of life drama. Rarely is there an anime that is so boldly odd.
I doubt one could find a “Best of 2010” list without Durarrara!! on it. It came out early with a force and captured the imaginations of the fandom with its style and excellent cast of characters on top of a storyline that speaks to the current generation in a profound way. The action and drama combined in a perfect blend to create a piece that drew the audience in and keep them excited with some epic moments. At its heart is the idea that all urban legends are true, which include everything from the strongest man in the district to a headless woman who rides a motorcycle (and calls it a horse!). I’m eagerly looking forward to more and desperately hope they animate the remainder of the light novels.
2. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
The latest chapter in the Haruhi franchise became the most anticipated piece of the story after the troll that KyoAni tossed at us with Endless Eight. Disappearance brings the Haruhi science fiction elements to all-time high as well as developing characters far beyond what they were in the series. We finally got to see Kyon step up and play the part of protagonist without being led by the nose by Kozume or overshadowed by the flamboyant personality of Haruhi. We also get to see Nagato as if she were a human girl, a vulnerable and touching version of the normally cold and distant character. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is a deep character study wrapped in a terrific science fiction story.
1. Tatami Galaxy
Tatami Galaxy succeeds on so many levels that it is difficult to list them. Thematically and visually It is beyond a masterpiece. While the narrative is geared towards students finishing or starting to finish their college career, which is why it spoke to me so profoundly, the message stands as a timeless reminder that little things we do may change our lives profoundly but the large opportunities will always be waiting for us to grab them. The art style is masterful; MadHouse and director Masaaki Yuasa create a cutout art style in 2D. The art was used effectively to visually highlight important aspects of the story and some creative pieces standout as bold attempts to delight the audience such as a seemingly random scene where Master Higuchi plays music to summon a massive golden fish from the ocean, what purpose that scene played in the narrative remains a mystery to me but it was entertaining as hell.