With the end of 2006 almost upon us, here’s a look back at some of the best series this year had to offer. Also included at the end are the final results to the Reader’s Choice Poll.
Disclaimer: These are purely my personal opinion based on the shows that I saw in the past year. For a show to qualify for consideration, it had to have met the requirements I outlined in the Reader’s Choice Poll. There is also a big spoiler for those of you who haven’t seen Canvas2 and still plan to do so, but hopefully that’s not many people.
|There definitely wasn’t a dearth of action shows this year, and there were several I had in mind when I started thinking about the best one. At first instinct, I chose ZEGAPAIN, but I realized I couldn’t justify that choice. Instead, the more I thought about it, the more it became clear that Blood+ was the best action series. Whether it was human against vampire or vampire against vampire, Saya and company’s globetrotting journey allowed us to see tons of sword fights, gun battles, and yes, plenty of blood.
Honorable Mentions: ZEGAPAIN, Fate/stay night, Shakugan no Shana
|Best Romance/Drama was a lot harder of a decision than I originally thought. H&C II was the early favorite because of how it concluded the stories of all the characters we know and love, but then Kanon made a strong push with its recent episodes. Perhaps given more time, Kanon could have pulled ahead, but for the year 2006, I went with Honey and Clover II. Whether it was Kaoru seeing his father favor his brother or Hagu wanting to open all the boxes in her mind or the panic Takemoto felt when he learned of what happened to Hagu, the complex relationships of this show presented such genuine emotions and moments that this deserves to be called the best romance/drama of the year.
Honorable Mentions: Kanon, NANA
|This was a pretty easy decision to make. Plenty of shows have funny or light-hearted episodes, but few shows are straight comedy. And even fewer succeed at creating constant laughs while still maintaining some sort of plot. And so, I can confidently say that Ouran High School Host Club was the funniest series for me this year. What surprised me even more was how much the series managed to make me laugh even though I knew some of the jokes that were coming because I’d read the manga. For me, that’s a rare thing because it means that the delivery of the jokes was simple that good (it is also the reason School Rumble is only getting an honorable mention).
Honorable Mention: School Rumble Ni Gakki
|Alright, I admit that I created this category just so that I could talk about Strawberry Panic again (and no, there’s not going to be a yaoi category). Yuri may not be for everyone, but this year had quite a selection of it. Strawberry Panic stuck out because of its characters and how it pushed the envelope with how far yuri could go with scenes like this and this. And while the series wasn’t without its flaws (it was slow to get started), the end left me wanting to see more.
Honorable Mentions: Simoun, Kashimashi
|I consider surprise hits to be series I wouldn’t have thought to be popular at first glance. Suzumiya Haruhi wasn’t even on my radar heading into the Spring 2006 season due largely to the fact that I hadn’t been able to dig up much information on it since the website was rather lacking at the time. I might not have even watched it if my friend moyism hadn’t asked me about it. Yet this series exploded in popularity almost overnight after a first episode that I thought to be genius, and it is now considered by many to be the show for the year 2006. You could also contend that this popularity helped put Hirano Aya on the map for many anime fans, as it did for me. With all of the attention Suzumiya Haruhi got (and is still getting), there’s not a doubt in my mind that it was the surprise hit of the year.
Honorable Mention: Strawberry Panic
|There were plenty of WTF moments this year, but the one that raised the bar was the finale of Canvas2. We were led to believe for the vast majority of the series that Hiroki would end up with childhood friend Kiri, but everything was turned completely upside down when he chose Elis instead in the final episode. It is because of this shock that the legacy of Canvas2 (at least to me) will be for the series to be forever cited as an example of a last-minute shocking reversal.
Honorable Mention: What Diva did to Riku in Episode 32 of Blood+
|This was a tough choice to make because I really liked Kyoto Animation’s work on Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, but I also thought very highly of BONES with Ouran High School Host Club. Suzumiya Haruhi, however, won out because of how the animation quality made several of the episodes truly memorable – Yuki vs. Ryoko or the space battle for example. As a result, Kyoto Animation remains my favorite studio.
Honorable Mention: Ouran High School Host Club
|There really is no contest in this category. If you’ve watched Blood+ and you’ve heard the soundtrack, then you know how amazing it is. Hans Zimmer and Mark Mancina crafted it to the quality of something you’d hear from a movie, and it gave Blood+ an incredibly epic feel.
Honorable Mention: Ouran High School Host Club Soundtrack
|With all the songs in any given year, you’d think that choosing just one would be a really hard decision. This year, however, it really wasn’t. In writing this up, I originally had separate categories for opening and ending songs, but then I realized that there wasn’t a single opening song that I had really liked. Generally, I choose my favorite(s) for the year based on how much the music stays with me over time. It may be that one particular song is really catchy at first and I’ll be listening to it over and over for a week, but I only consider it really good if that remains true months or years later. For me, the third ending song to Blood+, Angela Aki’s This Love, did just that and is thus my overall favorite song of the year. I still find myself listening to this (as I’m writing these words in fact), and it reminds me a lot of the heyday of watching Blood+.
Honorable Mentions: Suneohair – Split (Honey and Clover II ED)
|I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and every time I do, my mind keeps coming back to Mai-Otome. Certainly there were tons of good shows this year, and it’s easy to forget something that aired so many months ago, but I can still remember how much I anticipated watching each episode of Mai-Otome every week while it was airing. It’s much the same feeling I get from CODE GEASS right now. In fact, if this past year has taught me anything, it’s that I’ve got a huge preference for the team at Sunrise that worked on both these shows. They are so good at managing large casts of characters (Otome had all of HiME’s characters plus a flock of new ones) and keeping you addicted to the series with each week’s plot twists. As entertaining as Suzumiya Haruhi and Ouran High School Host Club were, they just didn’t have that same effect.
Honorable Mentions: Suzumiya Haruhi, Ouran High School Host Club, Blood+
|Given how extremely popular it was, I wasn’t really surprised that Suzumiya Haruhi became the Reader’s Choice for Favorite Anime of 2006. The general results were about what I had thought they’d be, though certain series proved to be more popular than expected (Mushishi and Shakugan no Shana for example). Here are the top 5 vote getters:
1. Suzumiya Haruhi: 712 Votes – 25.55%
2. Ouran High School Host Club: 415 Votes – 14.89%
3. Fate/stay night: 167 Votes – 5.99%
4. Blood+: 139 Votes – 4.99%
5. Honey and Clover II: 116 Votes – 4.16%
Total: 2787 Votes
See the Full List of Reader’s Choice Voting Results
2006 has been another great year with a ton of anime to choose from. My only regret is that I didn’t have time to watch more series since there were so many good ones. And if the current crop that is continuing into the new year is any indicator, then 2007 will be just as good, if not better.
Oh, and Merry Christmas 🙂