I have a growing love for anime and cartoons created in an anime style. They typically have well-written storylines, employ strategic use of action and comedy, all while (typically) being written at a higher level than most modern television shows.
My first introduction to anime almost turned me off to the entire genre completely. As a kid, my brother loved the widely-known anime Dragonball Z. While this series has many tropes and characteristics shared by other anime series, I absolutely hated the show as a kid, and don’t really care for it now. It’s almost too over the top that it makes it just…awful. Had it not been for the existence of the Pokemon anime, I might have turned away from anime before I ever had the opportunity to enjoy it.
Over the past few years, thanks in large part to my fiancee, there is a growing list of anime that I have seen and that I enjoy. Instead of doing a top five or ten list, I’ve decided to hand out completely arbitrary, totally subjective awards in order to talk about shows I like. As always when I talk about pop culture, your mileage may vary. Spoilers abound in this post.
Best Film/Series – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
I’ve been told by a few people that the original Fullmetal Alchemist series is superior to Brotherhood, but from what I’ve seen from the original, I’m not sure I agree. Sure, the original may stay closer to the manga((I’ve been told I had this fact backwards. Things make far more sense now that I know that.)), but Brotherhood tells a fantastic story in a very entertaining way. While Brotherhood isn’t quite as dark as some other animes I’ve seen, it does a nice job with the balance of its mood.
Runners Up: Sword Art Online, Soul Eater
Best (Read: Worst) Overdubbing – Speed Racer
Come on…you knew this was coming. I mean, just watch this.
Runners Up: Pretty much any Attack on Titan dubbing I’ve ever seen.
Best Lead Character – Weiss Schnee, RWBY
I strongly debated about putting Roy Mustang (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) and Tsubaki Nakatsukasa (Soul Eater) here, however I really appreciate character growth in a story. Weiss has easily shown the most growth and change in maturity of the four main RWBY characters through two seasons, plus she has one of the two coolest weapons in the RWBY series. Seems like a pretty easy choice here.
Runners Up: Mustang, Tsubaki, Yui (Sword Art Online)
Best Secondary Character – Excalibur, Soul Eater
The only debate here was whether or not this was Excalibur or Riza Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. For as much as I loved the way Riza was written, I didn’t look forward to her appearances quite like I did Excalibur.
Runners Up: Riza, Winry Rockbell (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), Mimi (Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne)
Worst Series Ending – Soul Eater
I mean come the fuck on. The world was saved through the power of…bravery? 50 of Soul Eater’s 51 episodes were great. The last one came across like a throwaway because the writers didn’t know how to end the show.
Runner Up: The end of season 2 of Sword Art Online (see Creepiest Moment)
Best Series Ending – Gurren Lagann
Apparently everyone hated how the show How I Met Your Mother ended. I thought it was a poetic ending to the show’s lengthy journey, and the perfect ending to the show. Similarly, a lot of people apparently aren’t fans of how Gurren Lagann ended, but how else can you really end the show other than Nia vanishing forever at her wedding to Simon?
Runner Up: The Pokemon Movie
Best Series Music – RWBY
Anime has some kickass music as a whole, but RWBY takes it to a whole other level. Jeff Williams/Casey Lee Williams’ song “This Will Be The Day” is easily the best anime intro song out there (apologies to the Pokemon theme), and most of the music in the rest of the series is stellar as well.
Runners Up: Soul Eater, Hetalia: Axis Powers
Best Show Intro Song – “Black Paper Moon” by Tommy Heavenly6 (Soul Eater, Seasons 2-3)
That said, if you just want to go with the single best intro song for a season of a show (since animes tend to change season to season), this is it. As much as I love Casey Lee Williams’ voice on “This Will Be the Day”, “Black Paper Moon” fits Soul Eater to the letter.
Runners Up: “This Will Be the Day” by Jeff Williams/Casey Lee Williams (RWBY), “Before My Body is Dry” by The Xcellence (Kill la Kill)
Best Anime Film – Howl’s Moving Castle
It’s a close battle between Howl’s Moving Castle and My Neighbor Tortoro, but really it comes down to the amount of the action in the film. Howl’s Moving Castle kept me constantly interested, and while My Neighbor Tortoro told a great story, it’s not an edge of your seat film.
Runners Up: My Neighbor Tortoro, Spirited Away
Creepiest Moment – The molestation scene in Sword Art Online
Without linking to the video, because creepy, one of SAO’s main character’s, Kirito, is attempting to save the other primary character, Asuna, from the series’ big bad guy, Oberon. When Kirito gets there, instead of fighting him, Oberon traps Kirito in heavy gravity and proceeds to molest Asuna for a good 30-40 seconds. Kirito overcomes the gravity and saves her, but not before you’re left wondering why that was needed in a show, especially one that had largely been pretty good up until that point.
There are no runners up here.
Worst Character and Worst Villain – Oberon, Sword Art Online
Runners Up: Asura The Kishin, Soul Eater
Best Villain – Medusa Gorgon, Soul Eater
I love a well-written evil villain and holy shit is Medusa evil. Using her son (daughter?) for science and alchemy experiments, betraying and nearly killing her own sister, and using love as a deception technique…Medusa has all the characteristics of a truly evil villain. Admittedly, possessing the body of a child to do her bidding after her own body is killed is a nice touch to Medusa’s evil. It’s too bad I can’t find a good video of her fights in English and without music, but she shows up in the video below around 12:35.
Runners Up: Cinder Fall (RWBY), Jessie and James (Pokemon)
Most Entertaining Character – Misty’s Psyduck, Pokemon
I could have put Derpy Hooves from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic here to the same effect. That said, MLP:FiM isn’t anime, Pokemon is. It’s essentially the same character though.
Runners up: Greed (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), Chii (Chobits)
Most Unexpectedly Good Anime – Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne
Full disclosure, Rin is easily going to be one of the weirdest fucking animes you ever watch, particularly episodes 4-6 (there’s only 6 total). But despite it’s completely ridiculous (and at times grotesque) storyline, it’s easy to follow and tells a unique story. Just be aware that the term “naked throne of creepy sex ladies” was used by both the fiancee and I when watching this anime.
Runners Up: Spirited Away, Soul Eater