Normally when someone is doing a list of this sort it’s about anime that actually aired during the year. Unfortunately I can’t do a list like that because I generally don’t watch anime as it’s airing. I’ve just never been fond of having to wait a week between episodes. I prefer to watch at my own pace, so I tend to wait a while and watch something when the whole thing has been subbed or it’s out on DVD. While you’re all talking about your Oreimo and your K-ON!, I’m over in my little corner talking about Trigun. As such, my list won’t be top 5 anime that aired in 2010, but the top 5 anime I watched in 2010. The list is limited to shows I watched for the first time in 2010, and TV series only.
#5 – Princess Tutu
When a well-known writer died, he left behind an unfinished story about a prince and a raven. Now the story has started to spill over into the real world, causing its characters to come alive and finally bring about an end to the tale. One of the things that drew me to Princess Tutu was how silly the whole thing can be. It’s a series about a duck who changes into a girl named Duck, who then changes into Princess Tutu and solves whatever conflict has arisen through ballet. And her ballet teacher is a cat. It’s all so strange and odd, but when you take into the account that the series is supposed to be a fairy tale, it all strangely fits. The random talking animals, the duck changing into a girl; none of it is really that absurd for a fairy tale. It’s a cute, and sometimes emotional, little fairy tale and despite me being not even a little close to its intended audience I still found it entertaining.
#4 – Spice and Wolf
I’ve spoken at length about this one already. So go read that.
#3 – Welcome to the NHK
Welcome to the NHK tells the story of a shut-in named Satou, and his repeated failings to change his ways and live a normal life. He’s helped with his problems by a young girl named Misaki, who claims to want to help him as part of a “project”. Satou’s equally messed up high school friends also play a part in this whole ordeal. Welcome to the NHK manages to be depressing, uplifting, and hilarious all at the same time. While the series puts an emphasis on how sad Satou’s shut-in ways are, it also tends to play his habits for humour. It ranges from him amassing a porn collection so large that it fills his entire hard-drive, to him getting caught up in a group suicide because he doesn’t want to admit that he didn’t know what the group was planning. Another thing that I thought was interesting was the way Misaki was built up and handled. The beginning of the series builds her up as some perfect angel who will save Satou from his terrible life out of the goodness of her heart, when in actuality she’s just as messed up as everyone else in the series and has ulterior motives for getting close to Satou. It was a great series that could make you laugh at and feel sorry for its characters at the same time.
#2 – Baccano!
One of the most common things that anyone will tell you about Baccano! is that it can be really confusing at times. This comes from it attempting to tell three different, but related, stories at the same time, all of which take place in different years. It’s worth putting up with the confusion though, because Baccano! is easily one of the most entertaining series you’ll come across. It can be rather gory and violent, but the fervour and excitement it displays just sucks you in. Watching Ladd Russo dance in someone’s blood, and then shout at a corpse demanding that it tell him who killed it really becomes more entertaining than it should be. Isaac and Miria’s constant bumbling around is one of the highlights of the series. The two manage to pull off heists in get ups that make them stand out more than disguise them, and are generally so breathtakingly dumb in every scene they’re in that it’s impossible not to laugh at them. Baccano!‘s dub featured one of the first major roles of Bryan Massey, as the crazed murderer Ladd, who played the characters’ insanity perfectly and gave one of the best performances in the dub. Since then he’s gone on to play such prestigious roles as Oolong in Dragon Ball Z Kai… Anyway, Baccano! is a must-watch, so long as you don’t mind a little gore.
#1 – Berserk
It’s not exactly a secret that I love Berserk. It’s been brought up here a few times and I will, at the slightest provocation, tell you how awesome the manga is and why you should be reading it. Berserk tells the story of a mercenary named Guts, who is on a quest for revenge against the evil Griffith. But this quest for revenge isn’t really the focus of the story in the anime. Instead it focuses on how the situation came about. How Guts became the person he is, how he and Griffith became allies, and ultimately how they became enemies.
You could easily sell Berserk to someone based on the violence if that’s their thing, but there’s more to what makes this series great than just the blood and gore. What really makes this series great is its cast of characters. The story, at least in the anime, is mostly a basic plot of war and political struggle but it becomes something so much more as you watch these characters deal with everything that’s going on. Each one is very human and relatable, which makes the events towards the end really heartbreaking. I’m also a huge fantasy junkie, and Berserk is easily the best fantasy anime series I’ve seen. It also has an amazing soundtrack composed by Susumu Hirasawa, though one of the better songs only ever appears during the episode previews and is never properly used in the actual show.
I’d hardly consider Berserk perfect though. The animation really hasn’t aged well, and wasn’t even all that great compared to other things from its time. It’s always nice to look, as the artwork is beautiful, but when it moves it really isn’t impressive. That’s when it can even be bothered to move. The series makes frequent use of still shots and speed-lines. It almost seems like most of the budget went into the soundtrack. The other major problem, as anyone will point out, is that it doesn’t have a conclusion. The beginning sets up Guts’ quest for revenge, then tells us how things came to be that way, but never reaches the logical conclusion of Guts confronting Griffith. It just kind of stops, and if you wanted to see what happened next you had to read the manga.
Or you could maybe watch the new anime. Which is totally happening.