Friday, December 24, 2010

The Otaku's Best of 2010

So, 2010 is almost over, and I must say what a terrible year. That whole "market crash" thingie, all the scanlators, frickin' Quasar of Stigma! But, I digress. There were plenty of good things that happened this year, good things that did NOT, in fact, involve breast-feeding alchemists. Of course, no one actually read Quasar of Stigma, and I only read a chapter to sample and see if it fell into (almost wrote "feel into") the So Bad It's Good category. It did not. So anyway, I guess it wasn't THAT bad a year... oh HI, Hetalia! Whatever, here's what I enjoyed this year.


Haunting, beautiful, and charming, the short stories in A Drunken Dream feature many popular tropes of Shoujo manga, but are told quietly, with a short, wistful execution, like a melancholy dream. Highlights include the bitter-but-still-wistful "Girl on Porch with Puppy" published in the Tezuka-founded COM magazine, which also published Phoenix, and "The Willow Tree" a beautiful example of the power of visual storytelling.

Best New Anime EDEN OF THE EAST directed by Kenji Kamiyama

An incredible piece of speculative  fiction, Eden of the East tells the story of Akira Takizawa, an amnesiac man with nothing from his past except for a cellphone with 8.2 billion yen and a contact with a woman named Juiz, and a gun (this is literally all he has; when we first meet him, he is standing around in front of the White House naked with no clue what he is doing). The story also centers around Saki, a directionless college graduate who gives the story an emotional core in a manner alike to the "companions" in Doctor Who. Surprisingly warm-hearted, there is something in this for everyone. Bonus points for the film references.

Best Reprint CLOVER by CLAMP

Clover is CLAMP's most challenging work, a steampunk shoujo opera of doomed romance in three acts. The brand-new Dark Horse edition puts the entire epic together in a single volume, with high-quality images that do far better justice to CLAMP lead artist Mokona's high contrast experimetation.

Best Finale SCOTT PILGRIM by Brian Lee O'Malley

I probably don't have to tell you, but Scott Pilgrim is so epic. However, what many people have lost in the sea of internet memes is that SP has a genuine emotional core. This is a story about learning to live with yourself and live a happy life, an important moral for the often socially inept comics/animation/games world. Plus, there are epic fight scenes and great lines like "Ramona earned the Power of Love! The Power of Love heals all wounds!" So take another look at this book that you probably already own, and think about it for a good, long time.

Best Continuing Series One Piece by Eichiro Oda

As we approach (or reached already, if your Japanese) volume 60 with no sign of stopping, this is one commercial gargantuan where all I want to say to the artist is "Good for you!" and give him a HIGH FIVE!

Best Guilty Pleasure Demon Sacred by Natsumi Itsuki

That's right, freaks and geeks! I actually bought this goddamn thing! It may be cheap, disposable entertainment, but Tokyopop had a good idea for a change, and sold the first two volumes at a price point of $5.99 a volume, meaning I could enjoy this for what it was and not be distracted by my sudden lack of cold, crisp ca$h money.

Best Webcomic/Best Thing Ever AXE COP by Malichi (6) and Ethan (30) Nicholle

He is a cop. With an axe. And a dinosaur. Who can fly. And has Gatling guns for arms.What more do I have to say? Oh yes. Book edition now in print.

Best Dub Tales from Earthsea directed by Goro Miyazaki and dubbed by Disney

Now, most people agree that Earthsea kinda sucked. Goro Miyazaki's theatrical attempt at getting his famous father to notice him, the film has every element of a classic Ghibli except, well, the magic. However, I would argue that this is a fitting adaption of Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea Cycle (you know that old guy, Sparrowhawk? The first book chronicles his youth). Anyway, Disney has once again done a fabulous job with the dub, possibly improving the Japanese original. Willem DeFoe steals the show as Cobb.

Most Anticipated of 2011(Anime) EVANGELION 2.0 directed by Hideaki Anno and MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM directed by  Yoshiyuki Tomino

As readers of this blog may know (do you exist? Tell me in the comments PLZ!), I am an uber-fan of Eva, and, while disappointed that Anno doesn't want to do anything new, am really looking forward  to seeing how he can change things up a bit. Plus, it's showing in a theater where I live. Hooray!
Also, after watching five episodes or so dubbed on ANN, I am really psyched for the re-release of  the historic Mecha show Mobile Suit Gundam, with the Japanese included for the first time! (I still like the dub though)
Update: Anno is not the Director of 2.0, rather it is Kazuya Tsurumaki, co-director of most of the TV series. Anno is the supervising director, however, as well as the screenwriter.

Most Anticipated of 2011 (Manga) THE BOOK OF HUMAN INSECTS by Osamu Tezuka and ONWARD TOWARD OUR NOBLE DEATHS by Shigeru Mizuki

These are, of  course, very different selections. "Insects" is one of Tezuka's titles from his experimental period, and is being released, as always, by Vertical. Vertical has done a fantastic job with every Tezuka title they've published to date, and if the cover design is even close to the level of quality of Ayako, it will be a real treat.
I am also quite pleased to hear that Drawn and Quarterly has seen fit to publish Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, the first North American translation of a title by Gekiga and Youkai master Shigeru Mizuki.While it is too bad that his classic GeGeGe no Kitaro couldn't come out first (it is available in french, like every other manga I want to read), but I have been anticipating this ever since I read a description of it in Dreamland Japan.
Anyway, both of these (and Eva 2) are coming out in March, so I guess that will be a busy month for me.

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