2008 in Review: Picks of 2008

2008 in Review

Another year passes. Man, it’s hard to believe I’m already in to my 9th year of being an otaku as well as my 4th year of blogging. Time sure flies. I’m now well over 1500 posts with nearly 16k comments, and it’s thanks to everyone’s support that I’ve gotten so far.

This year was marked by an increased number of good shows, but surprisingly, it wasn’t as “happening” as last year. To put it in another way, while the average increased, the top end of the bell curve wasn’t as high as last year. Nevertheless, this year still had its moments.

My choices here aren’t particularly graded using a strict measure, it’s more of an overall rating of shows of this year that I greatly enjoyed in one way or another, so please view it as that rather than a solid indicator of quality.

Of course, being a mere mortal with a real life outside of the Internet, I will inevitably miss a few gems here and there, so feel free to voice up any other shows that you, my dear reader, believe I should have watched and not missed for this year.

With that said, here’s the list.

14. Spice and Wolf

Spice and Wolf

Mmm… economics animu. Well, actually calling “fox god animu” would suit it better because, seriously, everyone only watched it for the bundle of furriness that is Horo.

13. Lucky Star OVA

Lucky Star OVA

Kagamiku! Tsunderella! Cherry-dog! Christmas-cake Nanako! Kagamiku! Oh wait, already said that.

Anyways, the Lucky Star OVA was awesome because we all missed the cast of Lucky Star so badly, especially in this KeyAni-dominated year. Not to say that’s a bad thing but we all missed the light-heartedness. Here’s to hoping for another extension or a spiritual successor of the awesomeness that was Lucky Star.

12. Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu

Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu

Honestly, Noto-sama as a closet otaku ojou-sama? I’m sold.

While NHnH seemed like it’ll be a one-trick pony, it had a surprisingly coherent plot and good character development, characterized by a few choice episodes. That, and Mika is fucking jailbait.

11. Itazura na Kiss

Itazura na Kiss

The Nana Mizuki show of the year. Honestly after last year’s Tokyo Marble Chocolate, I realize Nana’s niche is the slightly naive yet earnest young adult women where she really can be her character. (I suspect it’s because she seems to draw it from her own experiences)

Itazura na Kiss was mainly enjoyable because of that and we even got a full season of Nana Mizuki from it. I realize a lot of people didn’t like the show’s pacing, but it was quite fine to me considering how they were putting in nearly 10 years of story in to 25 episodes.

10. Natsume Yuujinchou

Natsume Yuujinchou

Natsume Yuujinchou wasn’t really in my fielding range until someone IRL recommended it enthusiastically and I tried it out. Oh boy I sure got hooked on it. With tinges of Mushishi and a very likable cast (moe moe fox shouta!) I just couldn’t stop watching it. So glad to hear there’s a second season to it too, premiering next month.

9. Detroit Metal City

Detroit Metal City

GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC! GO TO DMC!

8. Kurenai

Kurenai

kurenai, characterized by the moe-moe bundle that is Murasaki and the tight writing and direction by Kou Matsuo, really deserves mention for this year. The ending was kinda unexpected, but it only served to enhance the “deep”-ness of the story.

7. Strike Witches

Strike Witches

One of the surprises this year, I initially balked at the premise of SW’s no-pantsu flying mecha musume. I mean, for god’s sake, the fanservice is just so fucking blatant. Despite that, and to my own pride, I finally watched it in a batch once it was finished and I was so hooked I finished it in two sittings.

SW’s appeal, once you get over the lack of proper lower body wear, lies in the light-heartedness and optimism of the characters. Gonzo also managed to give equal exposure to every one in the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, and the pacing meant that the show wasn’t too “draggy” unlike the other mecha musume anime Sky Girls (still struggling to finish it). The infamous pantsu-stealing episode also nearly killed me from all the laughing I did.

So, despite my initial hatred of the series, it’s really surprising how things can change, and now SW’s in my Pick of 2008 list. Well, if you can’t win ‘em, join ‘em. :P

6. CLANNAD

CLANNAD

Gym-shorts Kyou! Killer violin Kotomi! Tomoyo Raptor Kick! “Why can’t I call you onii-san, onii-san?” Mei! Sanae Rainbow Bread! Dictionary attack! Starfish girl! Nagisa x Ryou!

Yeah, I could probably go on and on, but suffice to say, CLANNAD was pretty damn enjoyable despite being the third KeyAni outing in the past 4 years.

5. Code Geass R2

Code Geass R2

Despite the illogical plot, despite all the mindfucking, despite all the copying from Evangelion, it’s undeniable that Code Geass R2 was the most entertaining show this year, singlehandedly. Being surprised after every mind-fucking episode and subsequently reading the reactions from other fans really drew out the worst from me. Never had I had so much fun with post titles, ha ha.

Despite all that, the ending was surprisingly epic and half redeemed the series for me. Lelouch BAWWWWWWW!!!! Still, I don’t think I can rewatch the series again if for the lack of Geass Sundays. That was practically 75% of the reason I persevered on till the end.

4. Ga Rei Zero

Ga-Rei Zero

Can’t mention this year w/o talking about the yuri croquette that is Ga-Rei Zero. First, it rickrolled us all by presenting a totally unrelated cast for the promos and the first episode, only to kill ‘em all by the end of it. Only then it went for the real deal, the untold past story of Kagura and Yomi from the original manga, justifying the “Zero” part of its name. It also gave me another reason to like Pocky, XD.

Ga-Rei Zero is also notable for the crazy inventory of weapons, ranging from the gun-katanas, an iron, a boiler and the bloody weaponized wheelchair. Oh and not to forget the bike-fu from Natsuki in episode 1 too. That was awesome.

3. Kannagi

Kannagi

Kannagi oh Kannagi. This quirky comedy show about a bunch of crazy shrine maidens by the much-talked about Yamamoto Yutaka sure delivered the laughs. The karaoke episode also made its mark on me. Oh god Takako made me shat bricks.

While the show was generally light-hearted, Kannagi veered in to serious “self-existential” drama for its final arc, proving Yamakan’s directing chops isn’t limited just making people laugh. This is one show I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future.

2. Macross Frontier

Macross Frontier

Ah, Macross Frontier, my first foray in to the world of Intergalactic Song Wars and Variable Fighters. The show started off a strong note, but really tapered down towards the end, ending with an non-ending kind of ending.

Despite that, the love triangle was still pretty epic towards the end, and the songs of the show are inevitably the best I’ve heard this year. The songs were the biggest redeeming factor for the show as things went rather downhill. God bless Yoko Kanno \o/. I still wish there was a solid ending though…

1. true tears

true tears

The only show this year that was so good that I made a rare and passionate opinion post about it. P.A. Works first independent work, it was initially expected to be another eroge adaptation, but quickly turned out to be something much more different.

true tears took everyone by surprise by the clean, crisp visuals, leading P.A. Works to be given the moniker of the second KyoAni. Director Junji Nishimura also kept the story and character development really engaging, coupled with how he kept everyone guessing about the final resolution until the very end, provided weeks of debates amongst fans as to who would end up with whom.

Movie of the year: Evangelion 1.01 You are (not) alone

Evangelion 1.0

It was technically released last year, but Evangelion 1.01 is more of a 2008 show for me since the DVD (which I proudly bought) came out this year and even made it in to local shores, which was a real surprise for me.

While many critized it for being another attempt by Gainax to cash in on the franchise, it’s undeniable the show has gotten a much needed facelift from it’s original 1995 incarnation. The action cinematography culminating in the sniping of Angel Ramiel was simply awesome.

Sure it might be another milking of the fans, but Anno Hideaki is delivering the goods here too. Looking forward to 2.0 in 2009. Asuka \o/!

And that wraps up my first 2008 in Review post. There’s another one coming up after this, where I’ll be talking about the other noteworthy things that happened this year.

33 Comments

  1. Stripey Said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 1:05 pm

    True tears is worthy indeed. Myself it’s a toss-up between Ga-Rei and True Tears for top spot.

  2. Alvin Lim Said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 1:08 pm

    I personally love Natsume, Gai Rei, Code Geass and Kannagi here but must admit I didn’t watch the others. Quite interested in True Tears and Clannad but didn’t really watch it due to …er..I was afraid the animes can be a bit slow for me. Good post anyway!

  3. midenz Said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

    ^_^ nice list, i agree on most of em, especially Natsume ! i cannot wait for 2nd season. I thought Aria the Origination was an one a great one and surprised it wasn’t one of your picks! XD ~ anyways theres also Shigofumi, Telepathy Shoujo Ran, Mouryou no Hako, CHAOS;HEAD and Kara no Kyoukai :]

  4. Komidol Said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 1:50 pm

    Year’s not over yet! You missed the Touhou Anime!

    http://komidol.wordpress.com/2008/12/29/touhou-anime-torrent/
    http://komidol.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/touhou-anime-review/

    Subs included ;)

  5. lotuskonoha Said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

    o.O macross as second? i really didnt think it was that good other than the sound track. I think code geass or kannagi would make a much better runner up since they entertained me consistently. With that said, your choices are still fully respected ^^

  6. pheranchis Said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 2:52 pm

    am with u about strike witches. the show’s premise didn’t pique my interest until i saw sanya…lol

    btw, where’s the 1st image from? seems familiar but can’t seem to place it.

  7. Setsukyie Said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

    Code Geass R2 is on top of my list ^_^

    But still, True Tears is amazing..
    The animation is great (amazing background) and so is the music.
    Even though the story is not something amazing, but I love it for some reason..

  8. shaolinx Said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

    I duno…

    True tears was interesting but not that entertaining for me…

  9. Sheba Said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

    Sorry, but I was more impressed by KAra no Kyoukai than Evangelion movie. That’s my opinion.

  10. Westlo Said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 5:31 pm

    I personally thought Stranger was the best flick of the year, but it was a weak year for movies imo, nothing close to the Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

    That in defense of Hiromi post was rather timely coming just before episode 6, Hiromi ftw XD

    As for the year overall.. hmm I think 07 was better in every season apart from Winter… but Winter 08 is probably the best Winter season by far, going by the ones up on fansubwiki anyway. True Tears, Spice and Wolf, Shigofumi, last season of Aria, ZSZS.

  11. Cokematic Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 1:22 am

    TT and Pantsu Wiitches up there almost made me spit out my coke. No really.

  12. Gee Gee Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 1:27 am

    The xmas-ey pics you used for the post header…they look so familiar, yet I can’t recall where they’re from.

    Sauce please?

  13. Syaoran Li Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 2:37 am

    This was a good year, maybe not the greatest of all times, but had its good share of good shows.

    Just four series on your top fifteen were out of my reach (for different reasons), but I agree with the other eleven; with Code Geass R2, True Tears and Macross F on my top three. Damn it, I can’t think clearly right now, I know how much I liked these series, still I’m quite sure about it.

    Oh well, another years has come to an end. Wish everyone the best.

    Keep reading you next year.

    Akemashitte Omedetto Gozaimasu.
    Yoroshiku Onegai Shimazu.

  14. jjjjooooeeeyyy Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 2:50 am

    true tears was great. liked it a lot.

    but what is with the whole brother/sister love thing in animes these days? akane iro was freaking me out how everyone didn’t care that they were siblings except for ayanokouji. even tho it is hinted that they aren’t actually related, none of them even knew it.

  15. Michan Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 6:53 am

    GA-REI again….I must watch this!

  16. arigatou Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

    Arigatou’s Top Ten This Year (animes that finished airing)

    1. True Tears – I still disappointed with the way it ended. Hiromi’s 180 degree flat. Cockroach hymn song, Trap Towel Suprise Kiss, Almost incest good thing it is not true. Lots of thing to say but this one is the best this year.

    2. Itazura No Kiss – Finally the mangaka’s dream came true and it ended happily. At first, I’m not that interested until everything finally resolve by episode 14. Still this show deserves no.2 spot

    3. Kannagi – Will miss this one a lot. Jin should be bolder than before the next time I see him (probably won’t happen since the manga is on hiatus please correct me if it continued again) Goodwork Mr.Yamakan

    3.5 Kurenai – The 7yr old steals a kiss. The 7yr old learns the old fashioned hardaway. Oh the episode musical really stands out. I still pity that the maid served her died.

    4. Code Geass R2 – It’s not over yet with rumors of R3…But I hope there won’t be another sequel since the fans have enough. WTF Ending. The 108 Girls to date is still on my mind.

    4.5 Gundam OO – I am Gundam.

    5. Clannad (season 1) – I miss Starfish Girl and her sudden appearance in each episodes after episode 9. The Kyou Scene where Tomoya and Kyou stuck together is the epic part there.

    6. Macross Frontier – NYAN NYAN we will miss you. Ranka Lee : )

    7. Spice and Wolf – although it gets boring every second, we love our fox diety. (This doesn’t include KANOKON)

    7.5 Natsume Yuujinchou – This show gives me the relaxing feeling of watching it.

    8. Kamen No Maid Guy – the comedy antics of extreme level of this anime still the best this year. An OVA next year Kogarashi will surely be missed.

    9. Seto No Hanayome OVA – My favorite comedy anime last year returned with a new character. It seems Nagasumi still the best.

    9.5 Lucky Star OVA – You’re a tsundere. (This anime seems on the right time when SAIMOE 2008 took place that makes the TWINS win it bagging 1st and 2nd)

    10 Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu – The Otaku Closet Queen indeed. But not that well to be remembered and rewatch. Otaku’s shouldn’t be discriminated (at least not all)

    This year’s SHEEP is The Daughter of Two Faces – good at start but started to wind down where I can’t reach it anymore. Too bad for Aya Hirano’s effort.

    Next year what would be a gem since this year it is TRUE TEARS.

  17. Lehq Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 12:32 pm

    hmm… I agree with most of the list, except for Nogizaka, didnt enjoy it as much. That aside, yeah, code geass was phenomenal

  18. aloe, dream » Blog Archive » Dreams of the Year Behind: 2008 Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 12:50 pm

    [...] The weak season of Summer came in standard, but carried with it surprising and anticipated premiers of Detroit Metal City and Xam’d. Xam’d will finish airing in 2009, but there has been decent momentum in among bloggers, and even though it is aired on the PS3 network, it’s becoming an essential. Another mentionable, but less appreciated series of the Summer would have to be Natsume Yuujinchou, which seemingly hit low on the blog radar, but did make it to Kuro’s hotlist1. [...]

  19. Lehq Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

    I havent watched True Tears yet. Seeing as how so many people were praising it, guess I’ll give it a try.

  20. usagijen Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 2:39 pm

    Awesome True Tears is awesome, though I’m not too sure if I’ll place it in the top spot, hmm. Kure-nai was great, and reading the novel makes the whole experience all the more EPIC.

    Nogizaka Haruka was memorable and enjoyable in its own right, and I’d rather think the series ended at episode 7…

  21. The Hordesman Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

    Will we have a top let downers, top characters and top scenes threads up soon too? ;3

  22. Lehq Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 5:21 pm

    Nogizaka didnt score well in my list.
    Chaos;Head was the only thing that scored lower than Nogizaka for me.

  23. Eien Said,

    January 1, 2009 @ 1:01 am

    kuro, no mention abt Hirano Aya being in Malaysia?

  24. hagges01 Said,

    January 1, 2009 @ 9:41 am

    I fail to guess the #1, but ur damn right there

  25. Man0warr Said,

    January 1, 2009 @ 11:29 am

    No love for Michiko to Hatchin, my favorite show this season.

  26. pheranchis Said,

    January 2, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

    hmm…I would guess first pic’s from Twinkle Crusaders?

  27. True Tears - WTF I can’t believe I missed such a great show | Kaphillca Said,

    January 3, 2009 @ 5:38 am

    [...] reading Kurogane’s blog  about his top 14 anime series of 2008. I was really surprise what he put as his [...]

  28. Gotank Said,

    January 22, 2009 @ 7:32 pm

    Hmm, I really can’t agree with Macross getting that high on the list. While I agree the songs are excellent (esp. Lion and Diamond Crevasse IMO), the plot as a whole was disjointed and confusing; even after finishing, I can’t understand a lot of the details and some motives behind the main antagonists (or relationship between the antagonists). One of the biggest facets of Macross F (the love triangle) was not resolved at all at the end.

    Macross as a whole felt like an attempt at remaking TTGL, except it tries to incorporate some deep themes and ultimately fail. While TTGL had a coherent and simple plot, Macross in turn had a giant blob of mess with lots of insert songs.

    Other than that, I felt Clannad and Code Geass could be placed somewhat higher. Clannad was thoroughly entertaining and probably the most fun I’ve ever had watching anime, and Geass had by far the most epic ending of 2008 (followed by the ridiculous yet redeeming ending of H2O IMO) and a great OST to boot. In retrospect and in light of the ending, only about half the wtf plotwists in R2 that were ridiculed actually deserved to be ridiculed.

    I watched True Tears in very disconnected segments (putting off the last 2 episodes for about 2 months for various reason =.=), so some of the metaphors inevitably escaped me. I won’t count that against the series though. If anyone would like to clarify on what Raigomaru’s flight actually symbolizes, I’m all ears, as all my theories seem to run into contradictions at some point.

    Kannagi was entertaining (and great OP!), and Ga-rei Zero had a surprisingly good ending, but I don’t think either of them should be placed above Geass and Clannad. But meh, that’s just my opinion.

    I tried to watch Strike Witches, but was immediately turned off by the fanservice saturated opening sequence… Seems like it’s getting a whole bunch of good reviews now that it’s over. I may have a second look at it.

  29. Kurogane Shiroikaze Said,

    January 23, 2009 @ 12:34 am

    >>Macross as a whole felt like an attempt at remaking TTGL, except it tries to incorporate some deep themes and ultimately fail. While TTGL had a coherent and simple plot, Macross in turn had a giant blob of mess with lots of insert songs.

    What?! What?! What?!

  30. xXSaSsyKaSsiXx Said,

    January 30, 2009 @ 11:41 pm

    I’m big fan of True Tears but I must say that I’m disappointed with ending. I don’t know why but i don’t like Hiromi. Noe is awesome and i don’t understand why Shinichiro chosen Hiromi. Still, when I look at his photo, speech: ‘Do not love Hiromi, love Noe!’. I know that it is stupid, but I can not reconcile with this! I agree with the fact that the anime is located to the first place. It touched me… It moved every molecule of my heart. But I am still mad on Shinichiro!!!
    :)

  31. RyuMizuchi Said,

    February 5, 2009 @ 7:47 am

    True Tears was the first romance-type anime ive thoroughly enjoyed from the bottom of my heart till the very end. The cast is simply perfect and likeable, and the storywriting was almost perfect as well, so it kept me hooked totally.

    I didnt exactly liked the ending… I think it isnt exactly suited for a show of this scope.

  32. A???? Said,

    May 1, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

    OH well!, I Guess I had to look up for them, I believe I had missed great animes last year…

    You know, I’ll miss that death by violin(was there?) scene by Kotomi in CLANNAD, and The Starfish Girl Fuko also in CLANNAD. do they had any Rainbow made by Sanae?

    In short, I’ll miss CLANNAD and Their comic acts.

    You know, I’m a huge fan of it.

  33. Anime Diet » Strike Witches: The Evil Without Said,

    May 14, 2009 @ 3:18 am

    [...] to see just what is good about this show.  And so, with both eyes open – fully cognizant of the anti-intellectual properties of the show – let us try to find some spark of creativity [...]

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