December 28, 2010

Wonderduck's Favorite Anime Series Of All Time: Number One

What makes a favorite?  There should be something about it that keeps bringing you back to it, obviously.  The characters, the story, the drama or the comedy, something.  But lots of shows have great characters, or an outstanding storyline, funny jokes or gripping drama... what makes one series stand out above all others to become a favorite?  And what elevates a favorite to The Favorite?  Sometimes... rarely... the entire package is so outstanding that it's hard to point to one part and say "there, that right there makes it just that good."  And yet, that's the case of my Number One Favorite Anime Series Of All Time.  It's the rare situation where everything is so good that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts... and the parts are all excellent.

Even if it's a show about nothing.


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December 17, 2010

Wonderduck's Favorite Anime Series Of All Time: Number Two

A favorite show should be like an old friend... someone that you've known for a long time, and that you consider family.  In the case of an anime, it should be something that you could pop in the DVD player and sink back into your chair, pleased that you're watching it.  Maybe you've even got some routine surrounding the series, like you only watch it once or twice a year... but you know, deep inside, that you will watch it, no matter what else is going on.  Maybe you know the show well enough to not even need subtitles (assuming you don't know Japanese).  In short, it's a series that, just by watching, makes you happy and warm inside.

Even if it's about sad girls in snow.


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December 13, 2010

Wonderduck's Favorite Anime Series Of All Time: Number Three

A favorite show needs to transport you to a different place than your own reality.  That's one of the advantages of the art of animation in general and anime in particular.  Anything you can imagine, and most things that you couldn't, are not only possible, but easy to do.  Giant mecha striding confidently across flaming terrain.  Enormous battleships rising out of the ocean to do battle with massive alien fleets.  Martial artists that make Bruce Lee look like a newborn infant.  Magical energy blasts powerful enough to destroy skyscrapers, called forth by girls in elementary school.  Heroes and heroines of every shape and size, saving the world from the most evil of opponents.  All of these are entertaining, exciting... and commonplace in anime.  To be truly different, a show needs to be outstanding not only in plot and character, but in setting, and not be afraid to tell its story the way it needs to be told, no matter how unlikely it may sound.

Even if the story is that of female gondolieri on Mars.


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December 12, 2010

Wonderduck's Favorite Anime Series Of All Time: Number Four

A favorite show should be one of those things that fits like a good pair of shoes or well broken-in jeans... comfortable.  You should be able to put on any episode and immediately sink into the backstory like you'd watched everything up to that point in a marathon.  Perhaps it's a seminal moment in your fandom, or something that made the whole concept of what a good anime could do click for you.  In short, a favorite show should be part of you as an anime fan.  Coming in at Number Four on my list is an epically grand story involving secret societies, spans multiple continents, and the whole of the history of Western Civilization, yet at its heart is about nothing more than two young women.

Who happen to be assassins.


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December 11, 2010

Attention All Yotsuba Fans

That is all.

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December 10, 2010

Wonderduck's Favorite Anime Series Of All Time: The Honorable Mentions

What makes a favorite a favorite?  Ask that question to a dozen people and you'll likely get a dozen different answers.  But just as everybody who watches anime has favorite shows, they'll also have some series that fall just short of that lofty goal, and I'm hardly an exception to this rule.  So before I get into my true favorite series, it's time to look at those that just don't make the cut.  Understand, all of these shows are quite good but have a shortcoming or two that keep it from making it to the top of the heap: Wonderduck's Favorite Anime Series Of All Time.  Without further ado, in no particular order here's the slightly not-as-great shows!

(Image from Toshokan Sensou, which didn't even make the Honorable Mentions list)


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December 06, 2010

Megane no Kanojo OVA

In this day and age of anime otakudom, the internet gives you just about anything you could possibly want to ever want to know about every show that's running, has run, or is going to be coming down the pike.  It has also given us the chance to dislike shows even before we see them, and to tell everybody that the shows are awful weeks before they hit the air.  Every season it has become routine to hear the call of "worst season ever!"  These calls are never right.  There are always shows that come from out of nowhere that sound horrible but turn out to be decent, good, or occasionally even great.  It is therefore rare that something sneaks through the vast web of bloggers, websites and twitterfeeds until it is actually released.  I don't consider myself particularly plugged in to the Great Horde, but yet I still seem to know a little bit about just about everything that's coming out every season.

Which is why the Megane no Kanojo OVA has come as such a surprise to me, and I suspect quite a few others... I heard nothing about it prior to the day someone subbed it.  That's a shame, because in this time when cynicism about everything anime is de rigueur, this little show is quite a breath of fresh air.  The OVA consists of four unrelated short (around 10-12 minutes running time without the OP and ED) episodes about, as you may have guessed from the title, girls who wear glasses.  As of the time this is written, UTW has released two of the episodes.

The first one is about the Sempai of a high school Literature Club, and the boy who joins because he saw her without glasses once and thought she was cute.  Shocked and horrified by the fact that she wears glasses constantly, he then spends a year trying to get her to take them off, just once... until she discovers that his eyesight is horrible.  Hijinks ensue.

The second episode is about "Japan's most popular Idol."  In her time off, she puts on a pair of glasses, a different hairstyle, and a floppy cap as a disguise, then sits in a coffeehouse and relaxes... until the day that one of the waiters asks her out.  They go on a date, while she frets the entire time that he knows who she is... until she figures out that he really has no clue, then she frets about the fact that he doesn't know.

There's no way in the world that I'd claim that Megane no Kanojo is a great show.  The art isn't particularly good, the two stories so far aren't particularly deep (to be fair, there's only so much you can do in 10 minutes), the characters are basically stock, and on and on.  But yet, they're refreshing.  There's no pretensions towards great art here, just short stories that are entertaining, friendly and fun.  Ten minutes is about the right length for them; shorter and you won't get around to actually liking the characters, longer and the amount of story the plots can support would run out.  The production team clearly understood this and did the best they could under the constraints they had.  The results turned out pretty good.  Heck, I had a smile on my face after I watched each one, and what more could you hope for from a show like this?

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