No. This is not your typical post of Top 10 countdowns and quite frankly, I don’t think I am qualified to do that job because, and I admit it, I have not watch all the animes slated for this year. I am however feeling reflective as this year is coming to end, like anyone else before the coming of each and every new year. This is also my first year-round reflective post on everything anime since I began this blog nearly 3 years ago. I certainly hope I can make this an annual tradition for many years to come. I should not mull over this and saying out my points (honestly, I’m trying my best to avoid using the word “muse” that Scamp thought out to be pretentious, which is not what this post is all about). But first, I have to warn you: this is a very lengthy post. Not sure if it’s an interesting read but I do include my anime pick for 2009 at the end of the post.
To say that 2009 is a great year for anime would be an overstatement but that doesn’t mean that this year is short of good anime titles. Eden of the East, Hetalia: Axis Powers, K-ON! and Fairy Tail are among them. Truth be told, I certainly did not expect to see Hetalia to have such a huge fanbase with an solid production value. But who am I to judge? Until now, I have never watch a single episode of Hetalia despite of the many good write-ups from Scamp. Indeed, I have been missing out a lot. This past couple of years had never been kind to me; explains my evident absence from the aniblogging scene. I do, however, managed to cope with a decent number of animes to follow but I certainly chose the titles well. I simply could not accommodate the time for more anime titles like I used to during my early years of starting this blog (I mean, since I switched to an anime blog — this was my personal blog to begin with). So, it was during this selection process that I noticed something in particular to this year’s anime list compared to previous years. Deny me if you like but there seemed to be more sequels or comebacks this year than many years before. Perhaps I only began to notice this since I began to limit my anime list. I mean, there might be more sequels in previous years than this one but that does not change the obvious of more sequels this year, especially on the big titles.
Now why do I dare to claim this fact? Let us begin with the epic proportion of this year’s already released sequels. First, lets begin with my favourite: Darker than BLACK. Fans of this series had longed for this and got their prayers answered. BONES came up with a sequel for DTB: Kuro no Keiyakusha with DTB: Ryuusei no Gemini. We were warned; the writers never promised to have this sequel to tie up loose ends from season 1 of DTB. In fact, I was baffled that the writers are making an entire different story focusing on Suou, which in the end, managed to relate to Hei, the main protagonist from season 1. Lets face it, Suou is in the spotlight this time, not Hei. Though this is not confirmed, the way the story is leading up to the final episode (this week yo!) does not seem to put a definitive end to the main plot of DTB that was already set out since DTB: Kuro no Keiyakusha. What I’m saying is there should be a consideration and a good likelihood that there might be another DTB sequel. Call it a drag but I’m going to watch it anyway.
Another sequel I am following now is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Sequel is not the correct term for FMA though. From how I would like to put it, this FMA comeback is a re-make. A do-over from the previous FMA anime adaptation. While the previous FMA was less epic and at many points, preposterous, FMA Brotherhood is entirely based on manga. Plotting out exactly how Arakawa-sensei had planned for. And may I say this out loud: FMA Brotherhood is far more epic than the previous one. I mean, this is how FMA should started out in the beginning. I have managed to catch up the manga up to the latest chapter, and what I can tell for now is that the prospect of the anime is getting better as the story progresses. The FMA epic did not end there. While retaining most of the original staff from the previous FMA, this FMA re-make brought in a legendary music director, Senju Akira. None can come close to the orchestral wonder that is Senju Akira. I dare to say that only Hans Zimmer can come close to Senju’s wonderful musical scores. Okay, perhaps Joe Hisaishi can make the cut but that’s about it. Since I have already spoilt from my manga reading, my mood of watching the anime is a bit deterred but I kept watching because I am a fan.
The sequel that I certainly did not expect was InuYasha: The Final Act. This move by Sunrise however was not surprising. InuYasha has a huge fanbase and is one of the big anime titles to return as a sequel this year. It is a risk for the producers, considering that most of the fans are already grown up with the younger anime generation going for the latest anime and mostly mainstream ones. InuYasha was as popular as Ranma 1/2, Ayashi no Ceres, Slam Dunk, Dragon Ball, and all the old animes from that time. I’m saying the sequel did not come as surprising because the first InuYasha ended halfway through the manga. I wished BONES do the same for FMA but obviously, it did not turn out that way. I do have my concerns over whether or not the anime can finish all the up to the manga because as of now, the manga has not ended though it seems to have reach towards the end. Still, I can see there are some room for Arakawa-sensei to prolong the story but better put an end to things, isn’t it? Anyway, these new episodes of InuYasha will cover the rest of the remaining untold chapters of the manga and obviously, have the benefit of improved production quality in terms of animation rendering given the leap of improvement for animation over the years.
Another big anime sequel announced for 2009 release was Suzumiya Haruhi, and please, don’t let me begin with Endless Eight. Now, putting that aside, the entire plot of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu would be fantastic. I’m saying this in consideration for the highly imaginative characters and thought-provoking plot schemes, which certainly makes this anime a winner. Of course, many cried out that this series is way over-rated. There are some truths to their testament but that does not stop from millions of the fans worldwide to adore this quirky high schooler. I’ll be honest, my favouring perception for the series dropped significantly after the third episode of Endless Eight. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one begging for this deja-vu phenomenon to stop. Despite everything, fanfare of the series did not die out and proving once and for all that moe is resilient when it comes to anime.
The four anime titles I’ve mentioned are considered giants of the industry but let us not forget many other anime sequels (some are awesome, some are less interesting) that was released this year. These include Hayate the Combat Butler, Spice and Wolf, Natsume Yuujinchou, Hetalia: Axis Power, White Album, Natsu no Arashi (three of the aforementioned titles had their first seasons aired on the same year), Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, XxxHolic, Minami-ke, and Maria-sama ga Miteru. There, I think I’ve said all of them, if not, most of them. Coming up with sequels like this is good for the series or franchise fanfare but the producers are reaping their profits by this fact. Some sequels should be their last, some beg more questions *coughDTBcough* that suggest more sequels to come, and some sequels should have more simply because they’re awesome to watch. Whatever the writers intend to do the anime series, whether to end the story or add more sequels to it, the important thing is to keep the fans asking for more with promising plots and addictive characters *points at Haruhi*.
Before I end my lengthy post, there is another aspect of comeback I could not overlook. Comebacks do not refer to sequels alone. Again, it is a matter of perspective. A good example of this is Eden of the Eden and Fairy Tail. After watching the first episodes of these two anime shows, the first thing popped in most of our mind is “I swear I saw these character designs before”. In case you guys are unfamiliar with the manga artists, lets just refer Eden of the East to Honey and Clover, while Fairy Tail to Rave. Now, these are not sequels, obviously. But seeing such familiar faces could not ignore that sense of familiarity and giving us this false sense of comeback.
Now I have said it all: my final thoughts in anime of 2009. It has been an awesome, like previous years. Each with their own highlights. 2008 witnessed an epic end to Code Geass (and Gundam 00 though the finale was in 2009). 2007 had Gurren Lagaan. And 2006 marked the beginning of Haruhi madness. I can also go on and on with the years further back but that would be such a drag. What I am trying to point out is that each year, we have an outstanding anime that stood out as a star among the rest of the animes in that year. I wouldn’t say it is the best of the year but it certainly the most debatable anime of that year. In 2009, we have lots of awesome anime but when it comes to being the most outstanding, the year 2009 has to go to FMA. Manga readers (and FMA haters) may downplay this pick (including myself) but face it, it is one of the most popular anime of all time and the manga is a big hit among shounen fans.