As the year is coming to a close, I thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at some of the best anime that have come and gone in 2009. Just to make it clear though, when I talk about anime in 2009, I’m referring to series that have aired on Japanese tv, not manga, movies, OVA’s, or OAD’s. Before I go through what I think were the best anime of the year, I should mention that I have not seen every series that aired, but I have given most of them a chance by watching the first 1 or 2 episodes. I am also writing this from the point of view of a guy in his 20’s, so although anime like Pokemon and Naruto are hugely popular among younger viewers, they did not make it onto my list of the best anime. So now that I’ve clarified things a bit, here are my top 5 picks of the year:
Just barely making it onto my list is light-music club anime, K-ON. Anyone who watches anime will have been exposed to the moe-blob wave that has swept through anime communities online. With irresistibly cute characters and catchy new music, K-ON quickly gained a massive fan base. Those fans spawned dozens of MAD videos and what seems like thousands of pieces of K-ON art shortly after it first aired. If how good an anime is was measured by how much money’s made through related merchandise, then K-ON would probably take the cake for 2009. It’s not hard to believe that K-ON hit otaku wallets harder than other anime when you consider that people with no musical experience went out to buy guitars just because Mio and Yui had them, or that some K-ON merchandise sells out within minutes of going on sale. K-ON has also introduced the phrase “moe moe kyun” into the world of anime, something I think we’ll be seeing for quite a while.
4. Seitokai no Ichizon
In my eyes, Seitokai no Ichizon is an anime that has been overlooked too many times this year. What might have turned people away from this gem of an anime is that it looks like a harem anime when in fact it’s a parody harem anime. Being a parody harem anime, Seitokai no Ichizon is like a combination of the best of all worlds. Not only does it have a lot of bishoujo characters and fall-on-the-floor funny scenes, it also has a mix of action, horror, mystery, drama, and we can’t forget about the boys love (BL) moments for the ladies. Seitokai no Ichizon is also what I would call a “feel good” anime because it really makes you appreciate the friends you have and the time you spend with them. Although I was a bit disappointed to see the series end with only 12 episodes, I can now say that Seitokai no Ichizon is one of the few anime I’ve ever watched where I thoroughly every episode.
I don’t think there are many people who can say that Bakemonogatari doesn’t deserve to be one of the top anime of the year after watching it. There are several things that make it stand out over other anime. First off, the characters aren’t your typical anime stereotypes, there’s an added twist to each of them. For example, the “tsundere” character, Hitagi Senjougahara, is also a deadly stapler-wielding maniac who isn’t afraid to start a fight. The animation and music are something that I really enjoyed with Bakemonogatari. It’s not often that you’ll find an anime where realistic animations has been given up for backgrounds that seem to stretch forever, and colours that don’t really match what they should be, but that really sets the atmosphere for the anime. Like K-ON, the music is pretty catchy and is worth listening to unless you despise anime music.
Although Toradora actually started airing in 2008, it still ran on into the first 3 months of 2009. Starting out as a light-hearted comedy about a nice guy with scary-looking eyes, the anime quickly moves to become a rather serious drama. With seemingly almost every character trying to act as a matchmaker, it was only a matter of time before the love triangles showed up and friendships began to crumble. The amount of character development and growth made it clear that someone had spent a lot of time making a deep story that really draws you in. Any anime that brings tears to your eyes is definitely worth the watch.
1. Eden of the East
My number one pick for the best anime of 2009 is Eden of the East. There is no mixing and regurgitation of old anime here, so you won’t find the typical squeaky-voiced bishoujo characters or cute and catchy Japanese songs you’d expect in an anime. What you will find is a massive puzzle where answers often just lead to new questions, and a very blurred line between good and evil. With the viewers left wondering what is going on behind the scenes and what each of the characters will do to achieve their goals, it’s hard to not look forward to each episode. One of my favourite parts about this anime was how all the mysteries at the beginning of the series start to come together at the end to paint an almost complete picture. I’m certainly looking forward to the movies which will be coming out next year as they will wrap up the entire story.
So those are my picks for the best anime of 2009. I know there are a few other series that others would put on the list. If you think there’s an anime that really stood out this year, feel free to leave a comment explaining what you liked about it.