Posted by psgels on 30 December 2010 with categories: Yearly Summaries

I’ve noticed that usually when doing these end of the year lists, most people (myself very much included) tend to ignore the OVAs and movies that came out that year. So, here’s an entire post devoted to the OVAs and movies that came out in 2010, because it was a great year for both of them. I decided to make a top 10 for both of them separately, because they’re just too different to be properly compared.

I especially liked Sunrise and Production IG this year, and it’s interesting how both studios have been treating these mediums: Prodiction IG’s television series of 2010 were surprisingly mainstream. Instead they used the OVAs and movies to experiment with A TON of different concepts which covered the entire spectrum, from absolutely abysmal to incredibly good. Sunrise meanwhile completely put its attention to its OVAs and Movies this year, with its only new TV-series being that really cheesy Romance of the three Gundams, or whatever the title was.

Worst Production

Haiyoru Nyaru-Ani

Usually with these kinds of summary posts I try to hand out most awards in a positive way, but this time I feel that there are too few entries to really make it worthwhile without making me repeat myself. I’ve said everything I wanted to say about them already in the top 10s below. I however do want to say a few things about the bad stuff this year, because dear lord: the anime creators again turned out some crap here. Haiyoru Nyaruani goes in particular. I’m currently lumping both the OVA and the TV-series together because they were equally awful, but seriously: this could have been made by a bunch of 12 year old kids with the right equipment. And it still would have been better. Atrocious dialogue, dirt-poor animation. It only lasted a few minutes and it still was painful. Why was this made in the first place?

Biggest Waste of Great Visuals


This award is for OVAs that had gorgeous graphics, but left a lot to be desired in the other departments. Black Rock Shooter surprised many by hardly focusing on the Black Rock Shooter at all, despite the gorgeous graphics. There was one OVA however that did this even worse: Shoka. It really had some great animation and the visuals were quite imaginative. It’s all messy, but in a really good way. The rest though… shallow at best. The characters aren’t really characters but just stereotypes, everything is just there for the style.

Worst Commercial for a Manga


Even though I’m not the target audience, I like watching these one-shot OVAs that come bundled together with manga volumes in an attempt to reach a broader public. This can be done well (Azazel-san)… or not well at all. A huge example is that latest Kurenai OVA, or the awful Nougyou Musume. At least Kurenai was supposedly faithful to its manga, though. Toriko is apparently a manga that is really awesome, but by watching the OVA, I really had no idea why. Sure, it has nice monster designs, but that gimmick got old after five minutes. It’s full of people screaming and overacting to the slightest things and boring fights. If the TV-series is going to be like this, then I’m going to drop it very quickly.

Biggest Rip-off


Hiyokoi is pretty much a poor man’s Kimi ni Todoke: shy girl joins school, is alienated and suddenly the most popular guy in school falls in love with her. If that’s just the whole story, then I could have just forgotten about it, but after writing an entry about it, I suddenly discovered that it wasn’t produced by a cheap studio trying to cash in on Kimi ni Todoke’s success, but by Production IG itself. It also wasn’t directed by some random guy, but by Naganuma Norihiro, the assistant director of Kimi ni Todoke. What the hell? These are the kinds of cash-ins you’d expect from Toei or Sunrise, not Production IG…

Biggest Disappointment

Musashi – The Dream of the Last Samurai

It’s Mamoru Oshii, for god’s sake! A documentary about Miyamoto Musashi sounded really interesting on paper, but if I knew that it would be ninety minutes of a very poorly animated old man rambling incoherently about god knows what (I’ve forgotten most of it already at this point), then I would have passed it up. Another big disappointment was Loups Garous. Trans Arts is the production company that I really want to like: unlike just about every other company out there, instead of going towards safe and marketable moe or bishies, they continue to come up with potentially interesting and diverse premises…. only they don’t know how to execute them. Loups Garous was the same: a HUGE waste of potential due to poor writing and no opportunity given to flesh out the cast and setting.

Top 10 OVAs of 2010

#10: Kou, Koi wo Hajimemasu

Kyou, Koi wo Hajimemasu is a shoujo that very nicely takes advantage of its OVA format to deliver a compact yet touching little story about a couple. There’s nothing of the “will they won’t they” stuff that usually drags these shoujo series down, and instead it’s all about their relationship. It’s low budget, but the visuals are still quite nice, and I especially love the character designs for the lead female. It’s a bit cheesy, but I liked it.

#9: Hen Zemi

2010, especially its first half, showed a disturbing trend of a whole slew of series that tried to upstage each other in terms of controversy and risky topics like Chu Bra, Ladies Versus Butlers, Seikon no Qwaser KissXSis, etc. Most of them were forgettable or just abysmal. Then… Hen Zemi came along. I mean it’s far from the funniest comedy out there, but its dialogue unlike any other fanservice show this year really managed to get under my skin. It’s completely disgusting, vulgar and perverted and that combined with its energy pretty much took along with Panty and Stocking the cake in terms of disturbing comedies this year.

#8: Yondemasu, Azazel-San

Azazel-san is only ten minutes long, but it won me over with its very cute sense of humour. In fact, its length really works in its advantage here because that turned into such an easily accessible comedy here. It’s a real recommendation for someone looking for a bite-size chunk of comedy.

#7: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn

The thing with Gundam Unicorn is that I’m not much of its target audience: it’s pretty much a nostalgia trip for Zeta Gundam, and I didn’t really like that series. Nevertheless though, it’s still worth watching because of how ridiculously solid the overall production is. It’s absolutely clear that the creators spent a ton of time and money on it, and that makes it definitely at least worth watching.

#6: Black Lagoon – Roberta’s Blood Trail

2010 only showed the beginnings of Roberta’s Blood trail so it was mostly building up, but the way in which it was done caught my attention. It’s really well directed, with over the top action that at the same time tries to remain believable. Episode 2 actually had very little action, but the tension it built up was nail-biting.

#5: Tales of Symphonia

Tales of Symphonia turned out to be an excellent example of how to adapt a game by keeping a great balance between faithfulness and own input. The events are rearranged to get to the essence of the game and it worked really well. 2010 finally showed us the parts that I personally had been really looking forward to: the focus on the side-characters of Sheena, Presea and Regal and they really lived up to my expectations.

#4: Yozakura Quartet – Hoshi no Umi

This one is mainly this high on the list because it has a fantastic animation director as its director. The way he breathes life to all of the characters is just amazing, and the action scenes are great to look at. At this point only one episode has aired yet, so there’s not much to say about the story yet, but the characters are a quite interesting to watch in a way that makes me wonder how the TV-series managed to screw it up anyway?

#3: Darker than Black Gaiden

With this OVA, Darker than Black yet again proved what an incredibly diverse series it can be: the four-episode Gaiden OVA is again unlike anything I’ve seen so far of the franchise, detailing Yin and Hei together. The scenario is slow, but stunning, as it answers a ton of questions that the two series left behind.

#2: xxxHolic Rou

The Tsubasa Chronicle anime has turned into a bit of a mess of continuity issues and I’m not even sure how many manga chapters were skipped between the Shunmuki and Rou arcs of xxxHolic. It worked really well, though. The developments were really shocking and gave a total new spin to just about the entire cast.

#1: Armored Trooper Votoms – Phantom Arc

Like with Darker than Black: just about every part of Votoms is significantly different, only this universe is twice as big and has many different instalments. The Phantom Arc just came and tied everything together, working both as a nostalgia trip and an original story of its own. It had many things that made Ryousuke Takahashi into a unique director, like the down to earth battles and the focus on religions, but at the same time it also brought new topics into the franchise, like the children of God, and one of the oldest casts you can run into in an anime nowadays. Seriously, more than thirty years have passed at this point.

Top 10 Movies of 2010
This is a list of my favourite movies of 2010, and by “2010”, I mean the ones that got released on video this year and that I had the chance to check out, so no Redline or Space Show.

#10: Symphony in August

Nishizawa Akio is a criminally underrated movie director. His best work still is Furusato Japan, but Symphony in August is also a really interesting look and one of the few non-fiction anime out there. It’s a great portrayal of Kawashima Ai‘s rise to fame. It’s realistic and surprisingly touching. And it’s a shame that the entire ending that the movie was building up to was so cheesy. They were the crowning moments of awesome of Furusato Japan and Nitaboh, and if it was better executed I would have ranked this movie much higher on this list.

#9: Mai Mai Miracle

Mai Mai Miracle was another one of those movies that portray a young child growing up, filled with gentle slice of life only to get darker near the end. It’s a pretty uneventful movie for those standards and mostly just focused on portraying the life of a bunch of kids (who are portrayed very life-like by the way). It’s also well balanced: the quiet parts at the first half of the movie don’t feel like they’re just build-up, but everything is equally important. It wasn’t an ambitious movie at all, but what it did it did well.

#8: Eden of the East II – Paradise Lost

It’s a shame that pacing issues turned out to be the major flaw of Eden of the East: there was so much that it wanted to do, but it just didn’t mesh well together. Paradise Lost really felt like a rushed conclusion to the Eden of the East Saga, which could have been amazing if given the right time. It’s still a very good movie, though. It’s an action and plot twist packed finale with strong messages and ideas.

#7: Rebuild of Evangelion 2.22:You Can (Not) Advance

Evangelion may not be my favourite movie of 2010, but I do agree that it had without a doubt the best action of the entire year. The entire movie is pretty much a visual orgasm: incredibly imaginative and well directed. It’s just a shame that the characterization wasn’t nearly as good as compared to the TV-series.

#6: Eden of the East I – The King of Eden

The King of Eden is after the first two episodes of Eden of the East most likely the most solid instalment of the entire franchise, and the part that I enjoyed the most. Whereas Paradise Lost tried to stuff too much in its airtime, this one did not and felt perfectly paced if you ignore the pacing of the other instalments of the franchise. It’s slow but very down to earth that allowed the story to catch a breath after the really rushed finale of the TV-series.

#5: Macross Frontier – Itsuwari no Utahime

This was the biggest surprise of the year in terms of movies. I had many problems with the original Macross Frontier TV-series, and here this movie comes and actually avoids most of them. It’s much more tightly paced and doesn’t have the useless and annoying moments of the TV-series. The animation is either recycled or even better than ever, the love triangle is actually interesting. If you’re interested in Macross Frontier I really recommend this movie over the TV-series.

#4: Halo Legends

I love these compilation movies that consist out of several smaller, separately produced works. Halo Legends was very diverse and it sure had some hits and misses, but in the end the total is larger than the sum of its parts. There were a vast amount of different styles and stories on these shorts and the creators really made use of their creative liberties in order to portray the Halo franchise.

#3: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

This was without a doubt the best thing I’ve seen from the Haruhi Franchise. It’s a really long movie (two hours, forty minutes), but it’s amazingly told and packs a huge amount of character development for especially Yuki and Kyon. It’s excellent mystery and it’s almost scary how often the creators are able to create perfectly fluent animation here.

#2: Tales of Vesperia

Here is another one who caught me by surprise. It started out as your average fantasy story, but it packs a ton of character development throughout its airtime with great life-like characters and excellent yet down to earth action scenes. Most RPG adaptations go for these epic stories, but by taking the scale down a notch the creators were really able to focus on the characters themselves and this worked really well.

#1: King of Thorn

Now, I probably have some explaining to do here, as I did rate this series lower than Tales of Vesperia when I reviewed it. The reason why I’m considering this my favourite movie of 2010 is a very subjective one, and it all has to do with the effect the movie had on me. Seriously, I thought that along the middle it pulled a few too many twists and that the CG overuse was a little too glaring, but the ending and the movie itself haunted me for weeks. It’s that indescribable feeling you get when finishing something really impressive, that’s what hit me here. And of course, this movie has an absolutely fantastic opening. In the first twenty minutes, nothing really is happening and it’s simply counting down for the action to really being. The atmosphere during the prologue was just perfect and another reason why this was my favourite movie of 2010.

8 Responses

  1. Solaris says:

    The thing is I just forgot movies this year. I only saw Evangelion by accident, and it was really good. It’d start from your suggestions, skipping #1 as I don’t trust your #1s any more!!


  2. thomas says:

    It says Top 10 Movies of 2010 two times, including atop the list for OVA.

  3. bahutmut says:

    summer wars? or is that 2009’s?

  4. psgels psgels says:

    Bahutmut: Summer Wars was 2009, yeah.

    Thomas: oh, thanks for noticing. Fixed now.

  5. omo says:

    I just want to plug Mai Mai Miracle again. I think it’s actually very ambitious–tackling subjects like the whole inaka thing with a child-friendly protagonist setup is really bundling two narrative perspectives in one. In fact it’s quite more ambitious than Ghibli’s Only Yesterday in that regard.

    It’s definitely not a movie for most people reading this blog, and I’m just happy that it gets a nod here.

  6. m says:

    The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya was probably the best movie; it was technically fantastic. For second, I’d probably select The King of Eden. After that it’s a pretty big drop-off. Whereas its predecessor matched the series in whimsically weaving the childish romance and the thriller aspects, Paradise Lost was a tornado material that concluded mostly with an author tract. While I think King of Thorn cleaned up some of the mess that was the manga’s storyline, it still just wasn’t very good, and the CGI was pretty sloppy, which distracted from the otherwise solid work.

    For OVAs, I have to agree that Gundam Unicorn has good production values. I’m not a fan of mecha in general, dislike the Gundam franchise, and don’t really find the story interesting, but the videos still exude quality. When people that didn’t like the art style complained about its animation quality I thought that my head would explode.

    I’ll also mention the Kaibutsu Oujo videos, not because their quality is exceptional, but because they much more successfully captured the spirit of the manga than the series did, which I put over with Bee-Train’s skull-violating adaptation of Tsubasa in the Missing The Point.

  7. Dann says:

    Unfortunately I have not seen any of the movies you list, but I am looking forward to catching Eva & Summer Wars next year. For my money, I only saw Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 1st – and I loved it!

  8. Roy Mustang says:

    Just watched King of Thorn based on your ranking. *Cringe* Awful movie.

    Haruhi was hands down the best movie this year. Definitely the best anime movie I’ve ever seen. It actually made up for the debacle that was Endless Eight.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Oct 7. 2015 04:45 PM)
    If sakurako-san disappoints I am ignoring everything modern that is based on a light novel from now on. I’ve been hit by these adaptations far too often.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Oct 7. 2015 02:43 PM)
    ….Dear God…I have no words in which to describe hidan no aria AA, no words. The original I could take the piss out of. But this is a new low standard set for the light novel medium.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 09:02 PM)
    One-Punch Man’s pilot was almost adapted flawlessly. It straight up uses the manga panels as it’s main storyboard, but added just enough new touches to improve the action instead of ruining it. Now let’s see how they animate the mosquitos and all the lasers for the next episode.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:57 PM)
    And that’s why Madhouse is one of the few respectable studios left. I thought that they will be seriously diminished after Masao Maruyama took some of its key members and funded MAPPA, but One-Punch Man showed that they are still one of the best in the business.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:51 PM)
    @Kaiser The anime industry isn’t advanced enough in CG to make it look good, is all it is.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:51 PM)
    @K-off: Your not wrong, it certainly looks poor but some of the old gonzo animated stuff was far more woeful looking. Stellvia, which was done by xebec was another example of old anime cgi which was quite ugly to look at. Just as I prefer traditional effects in film I also prefer traditional animation techniques to cg.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:42 PM)
    Lately, the use of badly integrated cgi have been making my eyes sore,from the obviously cgi background characters in Asterisk to the overly fluid mech movements in Aldnoah. I still remember the shitty cgi piano hands in Kimi no Uso.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 12:04 AM)
    On the note of good balance between humor and drama- I think BoJack Horseman is an example of a show that executed that almost perfectly in both seasons. You are laughing one minute and amused by the hijinks and silliness and the next minute you are actually moved and shocked by the honest introspection. Too be honest BoJack is more a tragic character then a goofy one, and his struggles are deeper and more existential than they have any business being in a show with anthropomorphic animals.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:56 PM)
    The changes in the setting actually made me more excited for season 3 then what I felt the past few weeks, since now the plot needs to move forward from the cliffhanger and hopefully this translates to more cohesion and refocusing on what mad the show great in the first place. I’m pretty sure S3 will also be a blend of episodic and arch story elements tho. Overall a few ups and downs but still a great show.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:52 PM)
    The finale also had some of the most overall arch story elements featured in the season. Earth joining the Galactic Federation is a big deal story-wise from now on. Also the use of a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (not the Nine Inch Nails one clearly) was a nice fitting yet surprising touch. The throwback to Mr. PB after the credits was a good idea, but felt flat in it’s actual execution.

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