Although I only had time to watch a small handful of all the anime that aired in 2008, I enjoyed pretty much all the ones I watched. But of course, while some simply came and went, there were a few that really stood out and reminded me why I like anime so much. So I decided to kick off the new year with a look back at the five 2008 anime that I liked the most…
As I mentioned, I only had time to watch a small chunk of all the anime that aired in 2008. But as of now, here is a list of all the ones I’ve seen (I count an anime as a 2008 series if it finished airing some time between January and December of 2008):
–finished airing from 2007
Hayate the Combat Butler
Shakugan no Shana Second
–finished airing from the winter ’08 season
–finished airing from the spring ’08 season
Allison and Lillia
Chi’s Sweet Home
Code Geass R2
–finished airing from the summer ’08 season
Gake no Ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea)
Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
Pokemon Movie 11
–finished airing from the fall ’08 season
Lucky Star OVA
Hakushaku to Yousei (Earl and Fairy)
Shikabane Hime: Aka
Vampire Knight Guilty
It was a bit difficult, but out of the above anime, I managed to narrow it down to five that I enjoyed the most (they’re in no particular order)…
Although Code Geass has been one of the most popular series of recent years, fans have mixed feelings about it. Some consider it a masterpiece while others consider it a train-wreck that, while it looks good on the outside, is really a mess underneath. But for me, both seasons of Code Geass have been absolutely enjoyable thrill rides. The series is filled with shameless, intense suspense and drama, the art and music are great, the characters are engaging, the main protagonist is definitely not typical of a mecha or most other anime series, and the unfolding of the storyline over the two seasons was never predictable and always kept me at the edge of my seat. Despite Sunrise being infamous for bad sequels, I actually think I liked R2 better than the first season because it seemed to have even more action, suspense, and character and plot development. Also, I agree with most other people I’ve talked to that despite all the loose ends and train-wrecking, R2 managed to pull off one of the best endings I’ve seen in any anime. Overall, I think the entire 50 episode Code Geass series is a masterpiece in its own right, with its sheer reckless plot developments, continuous suspense and action, and engrossing characters making up for any flaws it might have. Despite what some may think, I wouldn’t really want to see anymore Code Geass than perhaps some side story episodes. The two seasons told the story they needed to tell and went out with bang, and that was satisfying enough for me.
Yes, I know there is nothing intellectually stimulating or aesthetically notable about Chi’s Sweet Home. But rather than compare it to the kinds of series that most fans watch, if you judge it within its own genre and target audience, I would say that it excels. Of course my love of cats and my love of watching cute animals do cute things probably helped a lot in my enjoyment of the series, but it’s definitely not for everyone and I’m sure most fans would already know whether they would like a show like this without having to even watch it. But for someone like me who so far has not grown too old for children’s cartoons with talking animals, Chi’s Sweet Home is one of the cutest and charming I’ve seen. Each of the 104 short little episodes do an excellent job of having continuity but also enough flexibility that anyone watching any episode can still understand what’s going on. The portrayal of Chi’s cat-like behavior is amazingly accurate; the kinds of thoughts she has about the world around her are extremely realistic, if cats really could think like that =^.^= Each of Chi’s little misadventures is unique and entertaining, and Satomi Koorogi does a fantastic job with Chi’s distinctly cat-like voice (such as pronouncing “da” as “ra”). The Yamada family, landlady, and other human characters, while not deep in any sense, are very believable as well. For me, the light, cute, quick episodes of Chi’s Sweet Home have been a refreshing and fully entertaining break from the many intense, complicated anime I’m always watching. Another season of Chi would be most welcome ^^
Probably one of the more underrated series, I enjoyed ItaKiss not so much because of its storyline, which is pretty stereotypical of a slice-of-life shoujo series, but because it was able to take its overused plot and follow through with it exceedingly well. Its obviously old-school animation style and traditional story are a couple of its unique attributes among all the moe/harem anime being produced nowadays. But what I liked most about ItaKiss is that, in just 26 episodes, we’re able to follow the true-to-life events of the two main characters throughout their years of high school, college, early marriage, and finally childbirth without any of it seeming rushed – something that most anime take many seasons to get through. After just a few months, I felt like I’d been watching Kotoko, Irie, and the rest of the cast for years; that’s how intimate the show is with the lives of the characters and the many realistic phases they go through. The emotions evoked in ItaKiss are well played too; the drama is engrossing without being too angst-ridden, and the humor is funny without being too hyperbolic or disruptive. The characters are all believable, sympathetic, and likable enough, and some are even fairly well developed for such a light series. With its lack of pandering fan service and relaxing pace, ItaKiss was one of the most charming and memorable series I’ve seen in a while.
Kannagi became an unexpected hit with me. I started watching it a little late, when all but the last episode had already aired. Right from the first episode I found it addicting and could watch a bunch of episodes in a row (which is something I can’t do with most series). I’ve already written a long review of Kannagi so I’m not gonna go into detail here. Just to sum it up, the series has high quality animation, a refreshing sense of humor, fun characters, interesting supernatural elements, and an awesome opening sequence. What more could you ask for? XD This 13 episode series seemed like only an introduction to the characters and story without any real plot, so another season of Kannagi is a must! Looking forward to it =)
I loved the first season of Shana and this second season was good as well. Although Shana II was a bit slower than the first, it still had all the elements that make the Shana series in general so appealing; unique, complex fantasy, sympathetic, interesting characters, an engaging mix of romance/drama and action/fantasy, and a serious feel to it that’s never interrupted by out-of-place gags or overly emotional angst. I love all these things about the Shana series, but one of my favorite things is its gorgeous art and character designs, courtesy of well-known artist Noizi Ito (she also did the original character designs for the Haruhi Suzumiya series). Shana herself is also one of my favorite characters, with both the “cuteness” and “coolness” sides of her personality; her cute, insecure, schoolgirl side that has a crush on Yuuji (and a love for melon bread XD), as well as her powerful, intense, warrior side when she battles her enemies. I thoroughly enjoyed the second season of Shana simply because I love the Shana franchise in general. With Shana’s popularity and the openness with which this second season ended with, I’m pretty sure we’ll see more Shana sometime in the future.
Just so you know, these are simply my five favorite anime of ’08 and not necessarily the ones I would consider the best anime of ’08. So while I think all five are good, I’m judging them more on how much I personally enjoyed them rather than how their attributes stand out against other anime. For example, I would consider Gundam 00 an overall better quality show than Chi’s Sweet Home, but Chi’s Sweet Home simply has characteristics that I personally get more enjoyment from.
Close runner-ups on my list were Hayate the Combat Butler and True Tears. I love the characters in Hayate as well as the crazy, satirical humor and numerous parodies. Unlike a lot of lesser series, it stays true to being a comedy, so even when it gets sentimental it never tries to be too serious. However, its main fault is that there just weren’t enough consistently funny/good episodes in the 50 episode series. I’ve already written a review of True Tears, with its nice animation, gentle, realistic feel, and unusually slow but appropriate pacing. But even I can see that it’s a little too slow and not much really happens in the series as a whole.
Anyway, I really should have done something like this when I started the blog in ’06, and then in ’07, but I didn’t think of it until now =P Ah well. I’ll definitely try and do this again for 2009. I’m predicting that Toradora! and Soul Eater will be on my list of ’09 favorites but that could change XD