Top 10 Anime Simulcasts of 2010 (Mania.com)
Date: Monday, December 27, 2010
Anime simulcasts grew again this year and we had over sixty new ones in addition to a number of shows added from various catalogs. Bring in some continuing series and there was an incredible amount of anime content available to fans in 2010 on a regular basis. While many fans for years waited for DVD releases, getting batches of episodes at once, we're now able to legally support near simultaneous airings of anime show and get to experience the hype and excitement directly. I watched a slew of shows this year as 2009 was when I started working on simulcasts more but I wasn't able to watch everything this year on top of all the DVD and Blu-ray releases. But of what I did watch, these are the top ten must see anime shows of 2010.
10: Chu-Bra (Crunchyroll)
There's always controversial shows out there and Chu-Bra fit the bill this year as it focused on a teenage girl who has a passion for bras and underwear in general. It is a bit much, though there is a reason for it as learned later in the series, but her wanting to start an underwear appreciation club in school causes problems and she has a hard time making friends. Friendship is a big part of the series but what drew me to it was the way it showed that so many kids do go through these difficult times with nobody able to talk about such simple things. You can view it easily as a fanservice grab with young girls and underwear, easily aimed at the creepy guys, but they infused the show with such a great message about being open in talking about things that so many have a problem with when they shouldn't. Though it goes over the line at times, it still retains a huge heart and the overall message is one that really hits home. Sometimes even the most simple thing as underwear can make people go crazy when the kids just need straight talk.
9: Occult Academy (Crunchyroll)
When time travel is involved in a story, color me interested and even more so when A-1 Pictures is involved. With a very distinct sense of style to it, Occult Academy tells the tale of a man sent back just before the world went to hell from an invasion in order to find the Nostradamus Key that will stave it off. The future time material is fairly minimal overall, but it gave a great 12 Monkeys feeling to it that few series can manage. When dealing in the past, the show had a really great balance in handling the comedy and serious material by introducing numerous occult stories that have to be disproved but often ended up being proved instead. Though it came across as a bit unfocused at one point, the show as a whole worked a really great kind of storytelling with fun characters that had to deal with time travel in a way that most series don't deal with.
8: Durarara!! (Crunchyroll)
If there was a series that I struggled with as to whether to include here, it is Durarara!! I absolutely fell in love with the show in its first half as it mixed a variety of characters and stories into a fascinating view of Ikebukuro alongside technology and the supernatural. The use of numerous storylines that extend to very surprising areas is something that worked very well for it, but the show lost a lot of steam going into the second half and never quite recovered from it. But what it did in that first half, especially with the use of social media for the characters to communicate with, took the show to a whole other level. The visual design of the show was very well done, especially as it worked with the modern day technology in making online text interactions engaging, but it also hit the nail on the head perfectly with the music and sound design overall. It's a show that reached far and grabbed on, but didn't hold on for the whole ride.
7: Naruto: Shippuden (Crunchyroll)
My experiences with Naruto have not been good. After really disliking the first few volumes of the manga and seeing more of the same in the anime, I stayed away until it got into the eighties for episodes. Then came a ton of filler. But with Shippuden, I got into the early episodes on DVD and picked up on the simulcasts as it worked through a truly large and epic storyline this year involving the destruction of the Hidden Leaf village. Few shows hit this kind of intensity and level of destruction that are ongoing like this and excite this much. This series really does struggle though because of its desire to deal with the filler material, but the core storyline episodes are what earned its place here as so much of what it did this summer and early fall was simply amazing.
6: Giant Killing (Crunchyroll)
Sports series were pretty light this year for what got simulcast deals but Giant Killing did it all just right with its soccer focus. Rather than deal with high school sports, it instead worked with a professional team that hasn't been doing well for awhile and looked to change things up with a new coach who used to be a player several years ago. By avoiding the teenage issue and going professional, the show has a much more interesting feel since they avoid romantic entanglements and all the other trappings of the high school life. The games sometimes run a little overlong, but the focus on how the new coach gets under their skin and pushes them to the next level is incredibly engaging, especially because of the fun cast of characters involved here.
5: High School of the Dead (The Anime Network)
2010 was all about zombies when it came to entertainment in general so I was really curious to see what Madhouse would bring to the table with their series dealing with the undead. Though it dealt largely with teenagers that find the city overrun with the undead, they avoided a number of the usual cliches by instead having them be proactive. They didn't run around with no plan, they instead figured out resources, killed the undead that came after them with little real thought and made the tough decisions against the living who were ready to make things worse for others still alive. With a high amount of intense action, lots of undead thrills and a very, very big dose of sexy fanservice, this series hit so many great points it made me giddy pretty much every episode.
4: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (FUNimation)
While a lot of it was aired in 2009, a good amount made it into 2010 as well and that obviously included the conclusion, which worked along the manga lines to excellent effect. After enjoying the original series a lot, this incarnation gave me so much more. The final arc of the series took it all to its logical conclusion and went so epic, so powerful with the characters and emotions involved, that it left a very strong impression on me. Revisiting the earlier episodes on Blu-ray already only reinforces my love for this show and the way it tells its tale. With the way it had to meet fans expectations based on the manga and what the original did, the team behind this had a big challenge ahead of them and I think they nailed it just about perfectly.
3: One Piece (FUNimation)
One Piece is like Dragon Ball Z for me in that I never thought I'd like it. Yet times do change and as I watch the show every week, seeing how it's run through the Impel Down prison break-in storyline and then on to attack the main Navy headquarters to free his brother, One Piece has consistently had me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. The show masterfully handles over ten years of episodes now with a huge cast and plenty of storylines in a way few can do. Bringing back characters who haven't been seen since the beginning and changing how we view them is a challenge and One Piece is more than up to it. While the filler episodes are a real drain, the overall brilliance of this series cannot be ignored.
2: Rainbow (FUNimation)
If there's a show on this list that isn't like the others at all, it's Rainbow. The story of a group of teenagers in 1950's Japan sent to a reformatory for various incidents is an unlikely series in general, never mind one that would make waves in the US. Yet it's exactly the kind of show that gives fans what's not the norm. The harsh life they faced in the reformatory was certainly brutal, but it's the bonds of friendship that survives as they all get out and find their way in life. A lot of historical things fit in here that gives it a darker edge, such as survivors of the atomic bombing, the abuses of the military and the way there are simply so many orphans out there. It's vile, vulgar and brutal in its unflinching look at what many likely went through. It may be hard to watch at times, but that's often where the best and most engaging shows come from.
1: Shiki (FUNimation)
Shiki had a real fight with Rainbow for claiming the top spot, but in the end it took it for several reasons. Supernatural thriller series are few and far between out there where things are dealt with seriously. Vampires in particular have suffered heavily this decade by becoming less threatening and instead the object of high school crushes. Shiki gave us a series where atmosphere and tension really came back in a big way and watching the kinds of ways it came up with to scare and creep out the viewer. With a strong sense of style about it as well, in a bit of a minimalist way, it knew how to scare without going for buckets of blood or other outlandish moments. Shiki is a real rarity in this field and every episode kept me on edge.