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The Best of Anime 2009 »« The Best of Anime 2007

The Best of Anime 2008

Now that 2008 is over, here’s a look back at some of the best series the 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 opinions based on the shows that I saw in the past year (and in the case of Best Comedy, the shows that Divine has seen). For a show to even qualify for consideration, it had to have met the requirements outlined in the Reader’s Choice Poll. That means that series like Toradora! and Soul Eater are not up for awards this year – they’ll be saved for 2009.

This would be an easy choice if it were 2009 and I had the option of choosing Soul Eater because that has some of the best action I’ve seen all year, and it does so very consistently. Since these aren’t the 2009 awards though, the decision gets a bit harder. I watched plenty of shows with action this year, and given my tastes, that skewed heavily mecha. From an action point of view, I have to choose Gundam 00 because it had a variety of battles that kept you on the edge of your seat and showed that Gundams weren’t all-powerful (unlike, for example, certain Knightmares in Geass R2). It helps of course that Gundam 00 had some strong animation quality behind it for all those action scenes, though Macross Frontier deserves some recognition as well for its CG action.
Honorable Mentions: Macross Frontier, Kurozuka

Since Divine watched a lot more comedies this year than I did, he made this selection and wrote the following:
While one could argue that almost every series had a comedy side to it, only a handful come to mind when it comes to being heavily focused on humor. Out of those, Kannagi comes out on top for its often subtle and witty comedy, which was full of timely comedic pauses. Instead of simply going for “cheap laughs”, Kannagi had a unique way of doing it, much like Lucky Star and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. The other series that comes really close in this regard is Minami-ke ~Okawari~, but I felt that it didn’t quite have the comedic flair that the first season by Doumu did (…animation style aside). The first season really established all the character intricacies, but the second didn’t seem to make good on them very well. As such, Minami-ke ~Okawari~ gets an honorable mention, as does Hyakko and Special A. Hyakko was another strong candidate due to its similarity to Ichigo Mashimaro (which I thoroughly enjoyed), while Special A had glimpses of comedic brilliance throughout.
Honorable Mentions: Minami-ke ~Okawari~, Hyakko, Special A

There’s not a doubt in my mind that the best romance/drama series this year was true tears. This had the quintessential love triangle, but the writers kept you hooked until the very end over what was going to happen with some great characters (good voice work as well) and an intricate set of relationships. Add to that the fact that it was never implausible and they didn’t even need to use supernatural occurrences or murderous intent – there was just a lot of pure emotion and drama. Clannad was good as well, but I don’t think the romance aspect of it was nearly strong enough (that will probably change in After Story). In fact, between the end of true tears and this most recent season (which includes notably Toradora!), nothing even came close to being as good a romance/drama series as true tears.
Honorable Mentions: Clannad, Kimikiss, ef – a tale of melodies

This is a new category for this year in which I highlight a show that deserves more attention than it’s gotten. My selection this year, after watching this series on the recommendation of a friend, is Kaiba. The premise for the series is that people’s memories and their bodies are interchangeable, and it starts with the journey of a boy with no memories of who he is. It’s kind of like the Little Prince or Night on the Galactic Railroad in the beginning and has a surreal feel, but by the end there’s a very coherent story about love and betrayal. The animation style might seem strange at first, but it was easy to get used to and not bad at all. Now I wasn’t happy with the way the series ended, but I give it a lot of credit for presenting plenty of interesting themes like the meaning of life and death when memories can be transferred or altered, and this is a series I’d recommend you at least check out if you haven’t already.
Honorable Mentions: Allison & Lillia, Natsume Yuujin Chou

There were plenty of series with shocking plot twists this year, but I think the king of them all has to be Code Geass R2. Some characters would die suddenly, others who were supposed to be dead would make dramatic returns, still others would die one week and then show back up the next…and that’s only scratching the surface. From beginning to end, one of Geass’s fortes was delivering plot twists, and that made for a very entertaining series, if ultimately imperfect. I also have to give a special shout-out to the shocking first episode of the recent Ga-Rei Zero which ended up being a complete fake-out to the rest of the series.
Honorable Mentions: Ga-Rei -Zero-

There were a lot of very well animated series this year, and if I could choose entirely based on a single impressive instance, Macross Frontier would probably win for the impression it made on me with its premiere episode. And that’s not to say that the rest of Macross Frontier wasn’t well animated, because it was. Rather, I just think that Kara no Kyoukai deserves recognition for some of the most beautiful animation this year with great cinematography, fluid motions, the works. As I said last year when I chose Byousoku 5 Centimeter, I know it’s kind of unfair to select a movie or OVA where a budget doesn’t have to be stretched over a long period of time, but if you want to see a visually stunning title, go watch Kara no Kyoukai.
Honorable Mentions: Macross Frontier

If this were any other year, a soundtrack like the one true tears had would have clinched this. Kikuchi Hajime did a wonderful job creating an array of memorable pieces, especially the piano ones. But this was a year with a Macross series, and it’s hard to compete against both Kanno Youko composing all the instrumental tracks (Prologue F remains my favorite) along with dozens of vocal tracks by the very talented May’n and Nakajima Megumi. I can honestly say that there’s not a single track on there that I don’t like. Music is just such a integral part of Macross titles, and the Macross Frontier soundtrack delivers with flying colors, whether it’s with epic sounding instrumentals or emotional love songs.
Honorable Mentions: true tears, Nabari no Ou

Given how much I enjoyed the Macross Frontier soundtrack, I was very tempted to choose one of my many favorites off of it – specifically Diamond Crevasse – but in the end, I have to hand this to Gundam 00′s second ED, Friends by Stephanie. She has a very strong voice, and I love the lyrics about the bonds between friends. It’s a song that’s stuck with me for a long time, and I can listen to it over and over without it getting old.
Here’s a YouTube link if you haven’t heard the song yet.
Honorable Mentions: Diamond Crevasse by Sheryl Nome starring May’n

And finally…

Now before half of you burn me at the stake for this, let me say that this was an incredibly hard decision to make. Unlike last year, there’s no clear number one because all of my top choices were imperfect in some way. Among other things, Geass R2 got too convoluted and plot-twist-happy for its own good, Macross Frontier had a frustrating main character and ending, and both Gundam 00 and true tears started off rather slow for me. But the best isn’t about finding the perfect series, nor is it even about which series I will most fondly remembered five years down the road – it’s about what I enjoyed the most in 2008. In that light, Geass R2 was definitely the most entertaining, and despite all the problems that it had, I still enjoyed watching it immensely from beginning to end. Yes, the pacing and the script were pretty bad, but in terms of enjoyment, I just can’t justify anything else over Code Geass R2. Now flame away :P
Honorable Mentions: true tears, Macross Frontier

The Top 5:
CODE GEASS R2 – 662 votes (29%)
Gundam 00 – 275 votes (12%)
Macross Frontier – 187 votes (8%)
Clannad – 114 votes (5%)
Kannagi – 95 votes (4%)
Total Number of Votes – 2287
Here are the full results.
Despite the problems with the poll this year and having to end it earlier than expected, Geass R2 not surprisingly grabbed an early lead and never relinquished it. I was more interested in the fact that people rated the first Clannad series higher than true tears since I found the latter to be a better show (at least without After Story attached to Clannad).

2008 was an exciting year for anime, and despite some big stumbles, there were plenty of good series. One of the more positive developments this year is how some companies have started to release official streams and subtitles of certain shows, and I’m curious to see how many 2009 shows will get this treatment and how it will shift the role of the fan community. I’m also looking forward a number of 2009 shows like Senjou no Valkyria and the new Fullmetal Alchemist series, so it should be a fun year.

January 1, 2009 at 11:21 pm
  • December 5, 2009 at 2:05 pmTali

    CG2 deserves the award for best shocks, not sure i’ll agree with its choice as best anime of 08 though. Macross i couldn’t get into, i never did bother to finish watching it, it lost my interest. In general this choices seem reasonable ^^ though i think there are/were plenty of anime from this time frame which deserve as much as mention as some other titles listed.

  • December 27, 2009 at 8:19 pmNatsume

    i don’t know why some people don’t like Code Geass. It may have some flaws but it is really the most entertaining anime that I had watch this 2009. GO CG!!

  • January 5, 2010 at 5:58 amLelouch

    Code geass is the best anime ive ever known…
    nothing more to say…

  • February 15, 2010 at 3:33 amTHISGIRLDIEDOFRABIES

    Most of these anime Ive never heard of…i’ll have to check some of these out. Heh heh, I kno I camE in a LITTLE late, but I like to watch anime rlly fast so I just wait until the series is finished and watch it all at once:)

    I agree with the ones I DO know, though, exept for gundam, don’t care for that anime at all.

    BTW people why all the flames?!? Not every one hates code geass as much as u do, so get a life will ya?
    Geez I feel like I’m teaching a buncha preeschoolers a lesson lol

  • February 15, 2010 at 3:57 amTHISGIRLDIEDOFRABIES

    I feel so bad for u…I know I could never write a blog like this, and have to put up with all of the people sending flames. I’m surprised at how mean some people can be…over someone opinion! Even if they are a buncha idiots who are just upset that their anime didn’t beat code geass, it’s TERRIBLE what’s happening to people :(

  • March 4, 2010 at 8:06 amwhoOop!

    thank you i’m so happy..

  • February 20, 2011 at 11:19 amdxb_blackwolf

    Why is it that in the poll archive, bus gamer was voted the best anime of 2008. It was probably a different poll but code geass was ranked too low which surprised me.

  • March 15, 2011 at 11:33 pmend3rr

    True tears was a really well made anime. I do urge the PRO NOE people to watch it again and this time from Hiromi’s point of view!

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