And so it’s finally time to say goodbye to 2007. It’s been another great year, and what way to close it off better than with the obligatory end-of-the-year-rankings and -awards. Like mentioned before, this post has turned out a lot bigger than last year now that I’ve had multiple days to work on it. Oh, and if this is the first time you’ve visited my blog: yes, I do have an unusual taste. There are no awards for Lucky Star nor Gurren Lagann. In fact, I’m actually surprised that Death Note also didn’t get any mention…
Best Anime of 2007: 20-11
This year, I decided to go for a top-20, instead of the usual top-10. Here are the first ten, you can find the rest down below, after the individual awards for this year. Overall, I must say that 2007 has been an excellent year for anime, and even though less series have come out in comparison to 2006, it somehow feels that the overall quality was higher instead.
#20: Master of Epic
I was probably one of the few people who actually stuck with this series, but still I consider Master of Epic to be the best parody-series of the entire year. No other series had so many parodies that hit the spot. It’s also one of the very few comedy-series that knows it’s a comedy-series: there’s no forced drama at the end, and instead the laughs just came rolling. Master of Epic gave me a lot of laughs in the early months of 2007, and for that I decided to include it at #20.
#19: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto
While the finale was a bit too straightforward and predictable, this remains a memorable series. The animation and character-designs were excellent, and the soundtrack was smashing. One thing I realize now that I’m writing up this list is that the winter-season of the past year had a lot of shows with excellent historical backgrounds: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto, Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi, Chevalier and Les Miserables all provided great insights in the politics and culture of the Japan and France from a few ages ago.
#18: Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei
Of course, Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei can’t be omitted on this list. I’ve always liked Shinbo’s original style of direction, and this could quite possibly his best work up till now. But the real strength of this series is that it’s critical on just about anything. It makes a fool out of many taboos on modern-day society.
Gintama is still on-going, but that doesn’t stop me from adding this series to this list. It may have had a few episodes where it lost its spark a bit, but in the episodes in which it delivered it was absolutely hilarious. Gintama has a brilliant sense of humour that doesn’t seem to tire, even after forty episodes. Added to that comes the fact that it’s one of the few comedies that actually get improved when the occasional drama is added. This is one series that will have you cry manly tears, either because of laughter, or because of sadness.
#16: Otogi Juushi Akazukin
The finish was weak, but apart from that Otogi Juushi Akazukin has been an awesome fairy-tale experience with a lot of memorable characters. This series was incredibly cute, from start to finish, and the characters made sure to keep this one engaging.
#15: Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori
I can’t deny that Jigoku Shoujo is repetitive. Still, it’s the same as with Revolutionary Girl Utena: the repeated scenes and themes give the series some kind of ritualistic feeling. It also helped a lot that the storytelling for some of the stories was incredibly strong, and especially the best stories were truly memorable. An in-depth look into revenge and what causes people to throw their souls away, just to get rid of one person.
#14: El Cazador de la Bruja
Those who’ve been visiting my blog regularly probably know by now that I’m a Bee-Train fan. Their slow style of storytelling is easy to hate, but I couldn’t help but love the character-development between Ellis and Nadie. The two of them, along with the amazing talents of Kajiura Yuki turned El Cazador into a huge success for me.
It’s a real shame that the subs for the second season still haven’t come out. I watched the series raw, back in March, and it was even better than the first one. If you’re tired of all those idealistic and unrealistic war-stories, then this is the series you should check out. Never have I seen a war-anime that was as realistic as this one. The decision to make a bunch of photographers into the main characters was an excellent one. The only downfall you should be aware of is that it takes quite a long time to build up.
#12: Saiunkoku Monogatari
Saiunkoku Monogatari is definitely not a fast-paced series. Nearly seventy episodes have passed now, and the end of the series isn’t even in sight. But because of this, the characters have gotten a huge amount of attention, to the point where none of them feels two-dimensional. The writers spent a lot of time on them, to flesh out all of them. The result can be seen in the climaxes, which were absolutely amazing.
#11: Red Garden
This was basically one huge character-study of the four heroines, with all of them having their own problems. It was quite angsty, yes, but the second half really developed the characters into a memorable cast for me. For me, this was the first proof that Gonzo can be good if they want to. One thing I also found out after watching is that this series followed Mahou Shoujotai’s example of recording the voice-acting first, before producing the animation. This is the reason why the dialogue for this series felt so intense and genuine.
2007 Individual Awards:
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
At one point, this series had so much potential. But it ruined itself with its too many coincidences, and instead of political intrigue, it went towards a harem- and emo-fest. Things like these sell, yes. But they’re not my idea of good storytelling. The second place is the Hellsing OVA. The first and second episodes were nice, but with the third episode, I understood why Gonzo originally diverted from the manga at that point. Pure genocide isn’t exactly my definition of entertainment.
Shining Tears X Wind
Of course, I can’t speak for the series I didn’t finish. Goshushou-sama Ninomiya-kun would have had a fair chance to win this title as well, but on the other hand, even that series has to try really hard to surpass the pain that was Shining Tears Episode 12. I still recall how I fell off my chair out of agony when I watched it.
Worst First Episode:
While I of course didn’t have the chance to watch every series, I did get the chance to watch the first episode of the majority of series that aired this year. There was a lot of bad stuff among them, like Goshushou-Sama Ninomiya-kun or Koharu Biyori, which were just fanservice-fests. Still, the worst has to be that episode of the 2007-remake of Buzzer Beater. The main character was even more annoying than Makoto from School Days, for goodness’ sake!
Seriously… what happened? The OVA for Red Garden was supposed to come out in August, but no subs have come out at all. Did it really ruin the series so much?
Most Pleasant Surprise:
Le Chevalier d’Eon
Due to the slow subs, I was only leisurely watching the first half of this season. That’s probably why I never saw the huge increase in quality coming, once this series hit its second half, and after that, it remained one of my favourites of the time until the end.
Seirei no Mobirito
2007 was a very good year in terms of animation. Dennou Coil featured simple, but consistently detailed animation. FLAG was shown for its entirety through the lens of various cameras and photos, and Baccano!’s art, while incredibly messy, never gave off the feeling that any still frames were used. Still, none of them can compare to the amazing details of Seirei no Moribito.
2007 was also another excellent year in terms of comedies. From the more popular series as Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei to the obscure ones of Power Puff Girls Z and Master of Epic, a lot of them were hilarious. Of course, there were disappointments. Potemayo and Lucky star just didn’t cut it and got stale fast, but thankfully Gintama more than made up for this. It has along with the Law of Ueki and Excel Saga the most awesome sense of humour I’ve ever seen in a comedy, and cracked me up many times after each other. It may take a few episodes to get into, but Gintama is a perfect recommendation if you’re looking for laughs.
Uninstall – Bokura no
(Why yes, I was a bit too lazy to take screenshots)
Most opening themes look like each other, with the cheesy J-pop and J-rock and all. But there were some great songs this year among them. Especially the OVAs came with a great selection (especially Tales of Symphonia and FREEDOM) and Wellber no Monogatari, with its textless song formed an excellent introduction to the series. But still, Chiaki Ishikawa, member of See-saw delivered an excellent song, which combined with the excellent visuals for Bokura no to my favourite OP of the year.
Best Thought-Provoking Anime:
Especially when thinking back, the two series that stand out for me as the most thought-provoking of 2007 are Kaiji and Bokura no; both ask deep questions about human nature. Kaiji delves into the darkest corners of the human-mind, while Bokura no shows us how the different characters all deal with the dark situations that they’re put into, and especially how every characters reacts differently.
For me, there were four big animation-studios in 2007: Gonzo, Studio Deen, Madhouse and Production IG. All four of them delivered multiple excellent anime. Gonzo and Studio Deen, however, also were behind some of the crappiest series of the year, and with Madhouse you’ll never know when their series turn out excellent or just mediocre. Still, Production IG only messed up with Reideen. All their other series this year were of a huge quality. Seirei no Moribito and Chevalier were brilliant, Wellber no Monogatari was very entertaining and Ghost Hound is also shaping up to be an excellent series. Here’s to hoping that they’ll be able to continue this trend for 2008!
Kaze no Shoujo Emily
This was quite a hard award to give away, simply because most of the shows I watched could be considered drama in some sort of way. Still, in the end I decided to go for Kaze no Shoujo, as the interaction between Emily and the people around her is exactly what drama should be.
Best Movie 2006/2007:
This year premiered a lot of interesting movies, but for me the two best ones turned out to be Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo and Tekkon Kinkreet. Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo was exactly how a high-school drama should be and the lead character was really likable. Still, the clear winner for me was the sad tale of two orphans that grow up on the streets of Tekkon Kinkreet. Studio 4C has shown yet again that they know exactly what they’re doing.
El Cazador de la Bruja
This was an easy category for me. Yuki Kajiura shines with the work she’s done for El Cazador, and especially the main tune is among her best works yet. As for runner-ups: that honour belongs to Toward the Terra and Seirei no Moribito this year. Two soundtracks which fit the series they’re made for perfectly.
Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto
I won’t deny that Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann had good action; for me it takes up the third place in this department for 2007. On the second place comes Seirei no Moribito. It may not have had many action series, but the choreography of the ones that were there was amazing. Still, the swordfights from Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto did remain to be the best action-sequences. It had the combination of the quality of Seirei no Moribito with the quantity of Gurren Lagann, with very exciting results.
No question possible here. Ike Yoshihiro smashes all competition with the incredible song he composed here. The only others who can come close to the ending for this series are both the endings of Bokura no, yet again two excellent songs to close off the series.
Okay, romance indeed isn’t my preferred genre, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like it when it’s done well. The best of this year in terms of romance definitely comes from Saiunkoku Monogatari. Every single couple of the series is awesome and well-developed, so it’s an award well-earned. As runner-ups, there is the later half of El Cazador (which was yuri, though) and the final episodes of Kaze no Shoujo Emily.
Unlike with the Best Animation-award, I’m not looking for detail here. Things just have to look good. For me, Red Garden, Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, Toward the Terra and Wellber no Monogatari all looked gorgeous. Still, I decided to go with Bokura no. I really like Mohiro Kitoh’s character-designs. They’re simple, yet effective and they work perfectly when combined with Gonzo’s graphics.
Best Non-2006/2007 Movie:
Those who’ve been reading my blog for the past year know that I’ve been checking out all kinds of older movies for the past months. While I saw a lot of good stuff from Studio Ghibli, the best were two movies called Metropolis and Tokyo Godfathers, two productions which shined in nearly every department. Because Metropolis had a few predictability-issues, I decided to give the award to Tokyo Godfathers. The perfect Christmas-movie.
2007 has been a disappointing year for mystery when compared to 2006, something which I, as a mystery-fan, didn’t really like. Series like Darker than Black and Baccano may have been good in their own ways, but the mystery just wasn’t as good as some of the mystery-series that 2006 brought us. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni also stopped being a mystery-series with its second season, and that only leaves Dennou Coil to stand on the top, with definitely the best mystery of the entire year.
Best Old Series I happened to See This Year:
While the second half of 2007 kept me busy checking out different movies, in the first half I was watching various thirteen-episode series. The best of the bunch definitely were Figure 17 and Haibane Renmei; two fantastic character-studies. Haibane Renmei ended up winning because of the brilliant scriptwriting that was showcased in the final episodes.
It hardly comes as a surprise that Baccano! walks away with this award. Three timelines happen all at once, the cast of characters is enormous for a thirteen-episode series, and still everything comes together like a charm in the end, leaving every character with a well-defined role, fleshed out and at least with a tiny bit of development.
Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette
The two big series for this category are Toward the Terra and Les Miserables. Les Miserables managed to win because of the immense attention it put into both building-up and wrapping up its storyline. Here’s one series that makes perfect use of its 52 episodes.
Most Promising Studio:
There’s one reason why I give this award to Ufo-Table. Before 2007, they were just a measly studio with only the bad titles of Ninnin ga Shinobuden and Coyote Ragtime Show behind their name. Then they started the year with Manabi Straight, and continued on with Tales of Symphonia. While both may not be the best titles, they’re a huge improvement of what the studio showcased before, and they’re now also promising to do a great job for Kara no Kyoukai, which airs in 2008. These guys are really working to improve themselves, and it would be lovely if this could continue.
Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette
There are a lot of strong contenders for this year, which is why I decided to include this award. We have Chevalier with Durrant, Toward the Terra with Jomie and Keith and Red Garden with its four main characters. Still, the champion in the character-development for this year is Les Miserables, where the entire cast underwent some kind of memorable development, with the highlight being Eponine, who underwent so many changes from her initial spoiled brattiness.
Best Anime of 2007: 10-1
#10: Ooedo Rocket
A series that went mostly under the radar during the spring-season, which rather surprised me as it was being directed by the same guy who directed Full Metal Alchemist. Still, it featured a memorable cast of hilarious characters. It was so much fun to just see them interact with each other. I also admire the guts this series had for its final episodes, but I’d rather not spoil this.
#9: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
It took me a while to get used to the completely new pacing of the second season, when compared to the chaos of the first one. But still, the second season made Higurashi feel a lot more complete due to the huge amounts of attention it paid to the storyline and setting.
#8: Le Chevalier d’Eon
This was a real surprise for me. I was just casually watching this series, until it suddenly turned to much better than I could have imagined. I keep a list of rankings on this blog at the end of each month, and Chevalier was one of the only two series to be my favourite series for two consecutive months. The incredibly deep characters and the well-developed setting in France during the reign of Louis XV are the ones to thank for that.
#7: Seirei no Moribito
And with that, we come to another Production IG-series: Seirei no Moribito. No single series can even dream to come close to the amazing production-values of this series. Everything, absolutely everything has been incredibly detailed to perfection. This made for a few awkward and boring moments, but boy, did it deliver in the end!
#6: Dennou Coil
The spring-season had an incredibly strong line-up, and yet, Dennou Coil was my most anticipated series, and with a good reason. The setting has been incredibly imaginative. Mitsuo Iso went much further than just “creating a cyberspace that can be viewed with special glasses”. Dennou Coil has been an excellent example of science-fiction that’s different from all the space- and mecha-battles, and it was blessed with an incredibly strong cast.
I don’t think I can add anything to what has already been said about this series. Baccano came and delivered in 13 episodes something that takes ordinary series twice as much time. No single frame or scene was wasted. And even though there were a huge amount of stories going on at the same time, everything came together like a charm, resulting in one of the most well-written series of the year.
#4: Les Miserables – Shoujo Cosette
To be honest, the Top-4 of this year is incredibly close. Last year, I had no difficulties selecting the order for my top-series of the year. Mahou Shoujotai, Noein, The Third, Simoun and Mushishi all made some special impact on me, they clearly stood above the rest of the series for 2006, and ranking them was quite easy. Though with 2007, choosing my favourite series was incredibly difficult. I know that the series I ranked in my top-4 are the highlight of the year for me, but there’s hardly a difference in quality between them. They all were awesome in their own way. Les Miserables is the only series this year that can boast to have a better-developed storyline than Seirei no Moribito. On top of that, the characters have been amazing, and the entire series has been wrapped up very carefully. This is one series that deserves to get subbed.
#3: Toward the Terra
Space-operas at its best. You won’t find any cheesy giant robot-battles here. Toward the Terra is the story about the Myu, who are searching for just a place to live. The multiple time-skips made sure that this series featured some of the best character-development of the entire year. Outstanding in every way, Toward the Terra is my biggest recommendation for the series that aired in 2007.
#2: Kaze no Shoujo Emily
Without a doubt the most underrated series of the year, even when compared to Les Miserables. Kaze no Shoujo Emily had an amazing combination between slice-of-life and gut-wrenching drama, and seeing Emily and her friends grow up was a true delight. For me, this has been one of the most consistently good series of the year, hence the high placement. The feeling of working towards your dreams proved to be excellent material for this series to work with.
#1: Bokura no
The perfect example of why changing from the original manga can be a good thing at times. The concept for Bokura no already was amazing, and the director used this concept perfectly to provide an amazing storyline for the characters to work with. Bokura no wasn’t about the characters freaking out, but about how they all individually chose to deal with the situation that was forced upon them, despite a few coincidences in the storyline, but I couldn’t care less about those.