This anime fan forever looks back on 2007

Jesus, it’s the end of another year. I’ve had fun in 2007; being a part of the anime blogging community and writing for you, dear reader. I’m not sure I’d last long if it wasn’t for your comments, but here we are, almost two years on and still talking, ranting, in love with anime. Back during September, I was wondering if I’d ever just suddenly grow out of all this, stop blogging and disappear, but deep down, the truth has never been in doubt; I’m an anime fan forever and you’ll take this passion, these feelings, when you pry them from my cold dead fingers. This review of 2007 begins now.

Jesus, it’s the end of another year. I’ve had fun in 2007; being a part of the anime blogging community and writing for you, dear reader. I’m not sure I’d last long if it wasn’t for your comments, but here we are, almost two years on and still talking, ranting, in love with anime. Back during September, I was wondering if I’d ever just suddenly grow out of all this, stop blogging and disappear, but deep down, the truth has never been in doubt; I’m an anime fan forever and you’ll take this passion, these feelings, when you pry them from my cold dead fingers. This review of 2007 begins now.

bokurano.jpg13. Bokurano

For all my hyping of Bokurano, the anime adaptation ended up being woefully mediocre. Much like their similarly soulless treatment of other good horror manga like Gantz and Hellsing, Gonzo’s vision of Bokurano was poorly animated and depressing, almost completely lacking in the "beautiful tragedy", truth and innocence that permeates Mohiro Kitoh’s brilliant original story. For an anime studio capable of producing epic series like Gankutsuou and Last Exile, 2007 was an utter failure for Gonzo, but don’t worry, Afro Samurai 2 will be here soon; that’s going to be good, right?

claymore.jpg12. Claymore

Claymore is an inferior clone of Berserk. The Awakened Beings are Apostles, Isley looks a lot like Griffith and Rigardo is a replica of Zodd. That being said, I like dark fantasy and Claymore was good enough on a superficial level to entertain and occasionally capture my imagination. It was violent and harsh, but I rarely felt like I cared about the characters, and by the end, the rushed climax had further degenerated into a predictable sequence of grunts and power-ups. Berserk is amongst the finest anime of all time, this isn’t.

mononoke.jpg11. Mononoke

I really want to love Mononoke; it’s beautifully animated, artsy and daringly creative, but still, I find it somewhat elusive. I feel like it exists simply to be as elegant, surreal and weird as possible; 23 minutes later, the episode has finished and I’ll move on to something else. It’s a lot like Mushishi; episodic and few-to-none recurring characters, but where that’s magical, reflective and relaxed, Mononoke is an ultra-violet and ambiguous puzzle.

dtb.jpg10. Darker Than Black

Nothing’s worse than wasted potential. For Darker Than Black, Studio Bones reunited a lot of the staff involved in the mesmeric Wolf’s Rain, including maestro Yoko Kanno and director Tensai Okamura, but other than brief glimpses of former glory, this was just another "good" series which never really found it’s own identity. The story arcs would pointlessly leap between hard-boiled drama, stupid comedy and comic-book horror, but without any of the comradery or personality seen in the likes of Cowboy Bebop, it regularly came across as false and ultimately, a forgettable disappointment.

code-geass.jpg9. Code Geass

I’m a tad embarrassed to admit I enjoyed watching Code Geass. Let’s get something straight, it’s an utter mongrel of an anime series ripe with cliche fan-service, mecha and an anti-hero ripped straight out of Death Note. Hell, it’s even sponsored by Pizza Hut. With all that said, I won’t deny that this show had me riveted from start ’til end; much like watching a giant train wreck, I simply enjoy seeing it all go off the rails (that’s a metaphor, I don’t actually watch footage of train wrecks). No doubt, Code Geass is a sensational failure, but sensational none the less.

genshiken.jpg8. Genshiken 2

I’ve always liked Genshiken. It’s perceptive and funny, and certainly fits being labeled as "slice of life", as it’s also meandering and aimless. Its quality and its failing is that it’s a quite literal depiction of otaku life, and in general, life is aimless and meandering; there is no grand design we’re all following (if you haven’t guessed, I’m not especially religious), we simply are, and that’s it. Genshiken 2’s beauty is in depicting this transience, there is a palpable realization amongst the characters that they’re growing apart the way we all do; they are prepared for it, this parting of the ways, but it’s sad to see none the less. You won’t quit on me yet, guys?

sei-rei.jpg7. Seirei no Moribito

The third episode of Seirei no Moribito is probably the singe best episode of anime I’ve seen all year. The action, intensity, music and animation were all top notch, but gradually, everything slowed down and the story moved in a completely different direction. Within ten episodes, we had traveled (quite literally) from an utterly compelling sequence of cool action scenes to something more akin to an intimate family drama. Of course, Seirei no Moribito remains a beautifully animated fantasy, but it feels over-long and ultimately, strikes a slightly uneven balance between big explosions and quiet sentimentality.

shigurui.jpg6. Shigurui

The thought of violence in anime almost immediately conjures fountains of bright red blood and contorted screams, yet there is little in the way of genuine sadism. Step forward Shigurui; a series that takes pleasure in lingering on impact, ensuring we flinch with every punctured eye-ball and severed nipple. This is animation madly in love with the human body and almost sadomasochist in its intent to contort, scar and rip the flesh. Set in a time when traditions and morals were twisted and forced, it’s hard to recommend something as outright disturbing and serious as this, yet it’s so fascinating and meticulous; humanity at its basest level.

baccano.jpg5. Baccano!

Anime tends to specialize in characters and relationships, but the pleasure in watching Baccano! is simply in seeing a particularly intricate story gradually reveal its labyrinth of secrets. Every episode is consistently dense with mystery and intrigue as we are dragged back and forth in time to reveal untold depths of supernatural power and immortal betrayal. The rather slapstick humor is often at odds with surprising levels of cruelty and gore but best of all is an exciting sequence of action escalating on-top of a moving train.

death_note.jpg4. Death Note

I sat down with Death Note having carefully avoided the manga spoilers for what felt like an eternity and was rewarded with a thrilling and addictive story that’s constantly asking questions of its viewers. Between his infamous games of brinkmanship with L and the rest, we’re regularly questioning Light’s motives for using his Death Note. Though he’s striving for, and even getting close to world peace, does that justify his mass-murdering spree? Or rather, is he just another sly megalomaniac enjoying his pointless power trip? It’s a great feeling to discover a story like this, something that’s still capable of creating new ideas and playing with our concepts of justice and heroism without ever resorting to a tacked-on happy ending. Light is the main character, yet he is a villain; an insane bastard who’s playing with lives simply because he’s bored. He deserves his end, and yet, when everything inevitably crashes down, I feel pity, I don’t want him to die. I liked the second opening, too!

toward-the-terra.jpg3. Toward the Terra

I never really expected to like (let alone love) Toward the Terra. Though I’m always willing to give honest science fiction a fair crack, this didn’t have the best of starts. I stopped watching Heroic Age because it was stupid and boring, but around about the same time, my opinion of Toward the Terra was changing; perhaps it was the use of time-leaps — we see these heroes and villains grow over time, how they change from whiney children into strong and conflicted adults; with each passing episode, there is a sense that we know these characters, understand their grief and desires. Aside from some positively epic genocide (exploding planets), the heart of what’s great about Toward the Terra is this compelling battle of wills between Jomy and Keith, we’re constantly wondering whether or not Keith can cast aside everything he’s been taught and embrace the Mu for what they are, while Jomy continues to struggle with his thirst of revenge and perpetuating the cycle of violence. Toward the Terra has a lot to say about racism and discrimination, but it’s also exciting, action-packed and riddled with tragedy; a great story, set amongst the stars, that plays out over decades of time.

denno-coil.jpg2. Dennou Coil

Good animation goes a long way to attracting my interest in a series and what’s immediately apparent about Dennou Coil is that it’s vibrant and full of life. It’s like everything moves, everything is considered, and you’re watching someone literally imprint their thoughts and dreams onto a frame. At its best, that’s how it feels to watch Dennou Coil, it’s like someone’s vivid memories of childhood suddenly sprung to life, the neon colors and honest fun of those days, the half-formed hints of emotions fraying between friends and mingling with some pointless adventure. There is that sense of not really being able to express yourself, despite everything about you; the way you look and the way you sound, even the way you stand, making it seem so obvious how you feel.

gurren-lagann.jpg1. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

To be honest, it seems like everyone loves Gurren Lagann, and though I didn’t want this countdown to be that predictable, the truth is that, almost from the first episode, I was head over heels in love with this show too. No other series would so consistently leave me burning with passion after every episode; leave me feeling like I just had to write about it, as if it were my duty to report how I felt. All you need to see is that opening minute of the first episode, "so all the heavenly lights are the enemy?" This one moment encapsulates so much of what’s good about Gurren Lagann; the impossibly epic scale, the insurmountable odds facing the Gurren-dan and Simon’s brash, unbeatable confidence. It’s mind blowing, and just seeing that, I knew I’d love this series.

I’m desperately trying to keep this short, but there is still so much to say, like how "Libera me from Hell" is such a weird yet great song, or how the story delivers heart warming ideas of friendship, comradery, love and even sacrifice. It ends perfectly, too; bitter-sweet and sad, time having taken its toll on our heroes, yet it just feels right, like everything that needed to be said has been screamed from the highest mountain, and now it’s time to step back, stop fighting and embrace the future. Gurren Lagann is, by far and away, the best anime series of 2007.

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance. I live in Cambridge, England. That's not an excuse, by the way.

26 thoughts on “This anime fan forever looks back on 2007”

  1. Funny, I loved ‘Darker Than Black’ but hey each to their own. Still, you have a point about Gurren Lagann, it really was a fantastic series.

  2. I wouldn’t call Code Geass a “failure” at all, not in any sense of the word. I also enjoyed Claymore a lot, the ending wasn’t that bad.

    To conclude, I disagree with you on certain things!

    Can’t disagree with your choice for number 1, though!

  3. TTGL really is doing well, if you put together all the various ‘year review’ exercises in the otakusphere. But it deserves to.

    As a Geasstard I’m a little tired of the phrase ‘train wreck’, like a FPS gamer is tired of the phrase ‘school shooting’. Surely there are other metaphors out there, but perhaps ‘train wreck’ is too apt to discard.

  4. well this is a pretty in depth list, this is very hastily written comment

    13. never picked up bokurano. in all honesty watching little kids fight in slow mechas and die all the time isn’t my idea of a barrell of fun, which is what i was watching mostly this year

    12. couldn’t watch claymore past the first episode. I frequently refer to it as the bull-dyke show of the year just to piss my friend off(no hatred of lesbians on my side)

    11. i never watched ayakashi the first season so im putting it on “plan-to-watch”

    10.darker than black was a good watch but a lot of un-tapped potential. I agree with you there

    9. not that bad i guess…sort of like a clown. Either you love it or you get away from it quickly.

    8. I loved this show. I wouldve moved it up a few more spaces

    7. I have the episodes downloaded, but havent watched it yet

    6. I wouldve moved this one up more

    5 This wouldve been my 3 i think i loved it so much

    4.I read the manga first and therefore hated the anime in all honesty

    3. only watched one episode and it was ok…no opinion about this one yet

    2/1 since im running out of time till i have to be somewhere….heres a two-for-one! I loved both of these series so much. both made me feel something greater than most animes, whether i was screaming “fuck yeah” to the gurren-dan, or openly weeping when kyoko went to “other side” in denno coil These are certainly the best of 2007. still cant decide which one i like better though

    I’ll be posting my top 15 on my site pretty soon if you wanna check it out

  5. Well, can’t agree with you on Darker than Black, I thought it was excellent and developing the characters thematic stories, but to each it’s own. It seems to be one of those very polarizing series which people either love to death or are totally apathetic towards.

    All in all, an excellent summary, though. I know what you mean about Code Geass being a guilty pleasure. ;)

  6. Hmm…..I liked what I saw of Bokurano, but I still need to see more of it. Definitely agree with your number one, though I would have personally put Baccano! in second (although I haven’t seen Terra or Coil yet.)

  7. I was waiting for Gurren Lagann at the end of the list. I was honestly surprised that Darker Than Black was so low on the list, but, compared to stuff like Baccano!, Terra and Death Note, you’ve got a point. This is probably one of my favorite years, in general and in terms of anime, and of course, it’s all thanks to my fellow bloggers and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann! =D Happy New Years!

  8. I like how my #1 and #2 are your #10 and #13 respectively, but what Orion said. :D

    Also, love the new layout. Been away from anime blogs for some time, and catching up on 175+ entries is hard to do, ugh.

  9. I suppose the beauty of these lists is that everyone’s opinions are different. I treated this like an opportunity to strike a rule through several shows I never really felt inspired by.

    Of course, I can see why so many of you liked Darker Than Black but it never really felt like an authentic story for me, the characters and even the soundtrack were lacking in fundamental ways. You get the occasional person comparing it to Cowboy Bebop, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s an embarrassing and clear case of bad taste. Please go and watch “Pierrot le Fou” or “Mushroom Samba” again.

    Also, my top 5 would constantly swap positions (other than Gurren Lagann). I had Dennou Coil placed at 4/5 until I finished writing about it and realized how it had so clearly effected my emotions.

    Anyway, happy new year everyone. Hope you all have a most awesome 2008.

  10. I like lists, even if I disagree with them, because you can see what the author values. Anyway, regarding your choices:

    12: I don’t know that I would even call Claymore a poor-man’s Berserk. Berserk had real substance, while Claymore was more of a decently-executed, but typical, shounen series.

    9: I don’t think Code Geass was meant to inspire, and if it was meant merely to entertain I think it did it’s job. Not sure how this would qualify it as a failure, even if there were a few groan-worthy moments in the series.

    7: I liked the slower parts too, but Seirei no Moribito episode 3 definitely has to go down as one of the biggest teases ever in anime history.

    6: Shigirui is one of my favorite anime shows that I would never watch with another person in the room.

  11. No Byousoku 5cm? :(

    Lists like this just remind me about how, for every show I watch, there’s at least one I wish I’d had the time to see. Becanno is definitely one of those on my to-watch list, as were Mononoke and Towards the Terra. Gurren Lagann and Darker than Black were excellent as far as I can tell so I’ll definitely be finishing them off on DVD as and when.

    Oddly, I thought Bokurano turned out to be pretty good; that said, I did purposefully ignore the adaptation controversy and I gritted my teeth through the ‘meh’ middle section. With the decent ending taken into account too, it was by no means perfect but could have been much worse.

    There’s been quite a lot of good stuff in the past year but I think Dennou Coil just wins in my book – the imagination and characterisation was absolutely mindblowing.

  12. I’m not sure about Code Geass being only light entertainment, it gets pretty heavy at some points (especially the cringeworthy C.C montage in the last couple of episodes) but just when I think it’s getting good, an episode like the cat stealing Zero’s helmet turns up and makes a mockery of everything. Gurren Lagann is the ultimate in light entertainment and it could probably get away with a cat (or indeed, Boota) stealing Simon’s drill because the show is so cheesy and over the top, but I don’t really get that same feeling with Geass, it’s just too soap opera-ish with all that angst. Then again, I live in the Great Empire of Britannia, so may be Geass subconsciously offended my nationality with its shocking depiction of OUR GREAT NATION! ;)

    Anyway, I really wanted to include a few other things on this list but decided on some strict rules to avoid diluting my picks. I absolutely (seriously) adored the live action version of Nodame Cantabile (best Japanese TV drama evar!!), but I couldn’t really fit it in. I haven’t seen Byousoku 5cm yet (shocking, I know; the same goes for Paprika too!), but I definitely wanted to write about Tekkonkinkreet until I found out it premiered in Japan during late December 2006, thus ruling it out of my final selections by like 6 or 7 days. Same goes for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

  13. Code Geass may be not be a failure in marketing, but it’s definitely a complete creative failure I’d say. A bastardation of many concepts stripped down to their most insignificant core made to appeal to the lowest common denominator. To think, it’s from the same director as Infinite Ryvius and Planetes is mind boggling.

  14. I have to completely disagree on Claymore. Berserk is an amazing manga, but the anime was an utter disappointment. The Claymore anime on the other hand was extremely good as long as it stuck to the manga. The animation was on a whole different level than the Berkserk anime, and as neither anime captured the real plots of their respective sources, that is where their value lies.

  15. A huge thanks to you for writing this thing– I picked up Toward the Terra because of your review (I’d never heard of it before) and absolutely loved it. Thanks for the week of non-stop engrossment in the awesome show!

  16. Well I agree with you on some stuff but I disagree with you so much more so I kinda hate you etc, you say Claymore is a ripoff of berserk, and that’s like saying that every fantasy story is a LOTR ripoff or a merlin ripof. And bashing heroic age? I mean come on, go watch some Ai Yori Aoshi and be happy LOL.

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