Tuesday, November 28, 2006

best of 2006: anime

Eventually I will get around to sharing the tale of my week in Florida, which included walking into the setup for the White Party (a huge gay party benefiting various charities), watching in horror as G's grandmother's 94-year-old beau tripped on a curb and went sprawling into the grass, winning the undying respect of G's nephews after they watched me kick his ass at a Star Wars video game, and monkeys. But since I am absolutely exhausted and have assloads of work to catch up on, these tales will have to wait, and for now you get this "Best Of" list, which needed only a bit of editing before I could deprivatize it.


WARNING: There are a couple of NSFW pictures in this entry. They aren't really all that bad, but since my idea of "not that bad" is probably much looser than that of the average boss, I thought I should mention it to be on the safe side.

This particular list will be of interest to only a few of you (sup, Amandear?) but I’m posting it anyway. It was a surprisingly blah year for anime, but these managed to keep me entertained. In no particular order, and with apologies for the disparity in picture size, here we go!

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Death Note

Based on the excellent manga, this is about a teenage boy who discovers a notebook with unusual powers: if you write someone's name in it, they die. At first, he uses the notebook to rid the world of criminals, but soon he has to begin covering his tracks, and his initial mission becomes far more sinister. The anime adaptation has excellent art and sticks closely to the storyline, and it earns bonus points for using Yamaguchi Kippei, one of my favorite voice actors, as L, the brilliant and bizarre detective with raccoon eyes and a killer sweet tooth.

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Another Lady Innocent

This has gorgeous art for any anime, much less hentai; I swear most hentai is one step above stick figures in a flip book. Not much of a plot, but when you've got sex scenes as sizzling as this, you don't really need one. A particularly nice bonus, and an unfortunate rarity in hentai, is that all of the sex is consensual. (Note: despite the DVD cover, it’s mostly hetero. I mention this not to mollify those of you who might be going "OMG TEH GHEY", but because if you buy this looking for nonstop sapphic action, you'll be disappointed by all the wang.)

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Kashimashi ~ Girl Meets Girl

A teenage boy is accidentally and irrevocably turned into a girl by aliens...so now what's the girl who's loved him since childhood supposed to do? Funny and surprisingly poignant.

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Hataraki Man

A woman juggles her love life and her journalism career while trying to stay sane. The art is a little odd, but the story is funny and realistic, and it has the best opening and ending themes (by Puffy and chatmonchy, respectively) of the year. It’s also nice to see an anime series aimed at adult women for a change.

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Howl’s Moving Castle

I get the feeling they omitted a lot of things from the book, because there were several plot points that either didn't make sense or were left hanging. However, I must include this film here because the animation was so unbelievably breathtaking.

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When the Cicadas Cry

A twisty anime about a small village plagued by gruesome deaths and mysterious disappearances. The art is pretty subpar, and some of the violence made my stomach churn, but the intriguing storyline and the superb voice acting (some of the best I've heard, actually) make up for it.

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High School Girls

If Porky's was made into an anime with teenage girls as the main characters, this would be it. Shamefully funny.

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Two young women, both named Nana, meet on a train and become immediate friends and, eventually, roommates. One of them is a sweet, not particularly bright woman who is constantly falling in and out of love; the other is an aspiring rock star who acts much tougher than she really is. Based on one of my favorite manga series, it's alternately funny and touching, and I highly recommend it.

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Ouran Koukou Host Club

A poor scholarship student at a ritzy private school accidentally stumbles into the meeting room of a campus host club, and she breaks an expensive vase. The president of the club says she can work off her debt by becoming a host herself, since she's androgynous and very few students realize she's actually a girl. A very funny and gorgeously animated show. (Explanatory note: Host clubs are very expensive clubs staffed by handsome men who are paid for their company. They're not the same as gigolos, although some hosts moonlight as such. They, and their female equivalents, are more like geisha: excellent conversationalists who know how to fawn and flatter, and provide the pleasant, unconditional attention that the customer may not be getting at home.)

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Red Garden

At first, the character design really turned me off, but then the story kicked in and I was hooked. It’s about a group of teenage girls who wake up in a fenced-off parking lot and are told by a strange woman that they’re actually dead, and now they’re living on borrowed time. In order to keep living in the “real” world, they must kill on her command…and then a werewolf-type creature jumps out and attacks them. The concept reminds me of Gantz, but I care a lot more about the characters. I’m curious to see where it goes next; hopefully, unlike most of Gonzo’s stuff, the plot doesn’t take a massive shit halfway through the series.