Top 10 Anime Openings of 2009

As I did last year, here is the list of what I thought the top 10 anime OPs of 2009 were. Enjoy!

10. “Aoi Hana” by Kukikodan – Sweet Blue Flowers OP

This is a nice little song to start off the countdown.

9. “Super Driver” by Aya Hirano – The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya OP2

While the ED was the good song from the first season, the OP was the good song from the second season of Haruhi.

8. “Kimi ni Todoke” by Tanizawa Tomofumi – Kimi ni Todoke OP

Another nice soft rock song that I think is pretty good and matches the show pretty well.

7. “Kimi Shinitamō Koto Nakare” by May’n – Shangri-la OP

I wasn’t too sure about this OP to start with, but it kind of grew on me after a while

6. “HANAJI” by Yu Kobayashi – Maria Holic OP

Rather ecchi, but how can one not like this OP?

5. “Karma” by KOKIA – Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom OP1

KOKIA once again makes the list, this time for her excellent, if not eerie, OP for Phantom.

4. “Parallel Hearts” by FictionJunction – Pandora Hearts OP

This OP just stuck on me from the very start.  I think it’s pretty good, anyway

3. “Oyasumi Paradox” by Etsuko Yakushimaru – Natsu no Arashi! Akinai-chū OP

I didn’t watch this show, but I love this OP.

2. “Falling Down” by Oasis – Eden of the East OP

One of the very best OPs of the year, if not for the past few years. And being sung in English (being that it’s sung by Oasis) probably doesn’t hurt either.

1. “kiseki” by NIRGILIS – Birdy the Mighty DECODE 02 OP

However, the #1 OP of the year goes to a show from all the way back in the winter season.  It was a tough choice between #1 and #2, but I thought this one just won out.

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Summer 2009 Mid-Season Report Card

We’re about halfway through the Summer 2009 season, so it’s time to see where all the series that I’m watching currently stand.  Number of episodes watched are in parenthesis:

1st Tier

1. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom (19)

Phantom has shot up to the top of my list as one of the best shows this year.  Good writing, acting, storytelling, music, animation, you name it.  It’s also been unpredictable, which is always nice for a series like this, where it can very easily fall in the trap of everyone knowing exactly what’s going to happen.  This show is finally headed into it’s final arc which will truly determine where on the scale it ultimately ends up.

2. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (5)

Pushing Phantom for the best show I’m currently watching, however, is Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.  It’s also an extremely well told story about what might happen in Tokyo if a magnitude 8.0 earthquake were to hit the region, and so far it hasn’t disappointed.  I think the main reason why I have it at #2 is that at times it seems slightly forced, and the animation quality isn’t as good, but it’s still a very good watch.

2nd Tier

3. Sweet Blue Flowers (7)

The second tier is headed by the new show I’m blogging: Sweet Blue Flowers, aka Aoi Hana.  The storytelling in this show has been pretty solid, if rather slow going.  It’s still a good watch if you’re a yuri fan, however, and while this series hasn’t been one for doing anything particularly explosive all at once, we could be headed towards some interesting times soon.

4. Fullmetal Alchemist (18)

The new Fullmetal Alchemist series is pretty much in the same place in the Summer report card as it was in the spring report card.  Unlike in the spring, we’ve now gotten into episodes which diverge from the first series, and that has made the series more interesting and has started to pull me into this series a bit more, and I”m looking forward to see how things turn out this time.

5. CANAAN (6)

I think the past couple of episodes have helped pushed CANAAN up in the list from where it was probably at to start with.  We’ve started to delve into some very good and interesting character development episodes, while at the same time we keep getting fed bits here and pieces that which will, presumably, all come together towards the end.  Oh, and the animation is also killer in this series.

6. Taisho Yakyuu Musume (6)

Taisho has kind of turned into my guilty pleasure and surprise show of this season.  I keep expecting this show to let me down, but thus far it hasn’t.  It has continued to charge along just fine, and I’ve been fairly interested in where it’s headed.  It certainly has the potential to move up this list even more if it keeps it up as well.

7. Shangri-la (19)

Shangri-la is close to the same place it was in the spring, as far as where it is in the list, though I have bumped it up from the 3rd to 2nd tier for the summer list.  Some of my worries from the spring about it being “too complex for it’s own good” have been alleviated, though I still think it’s still a partial problem for this show.  But I think the plot line and what’s been going on has become a lot more straight forward and easier to understand, which has greatly improved this series from where it was in the spring.

8. Pandora Hearts (19)

Pandora Hearts is yet another series which gets promoted from the 3rd tier to the 2nd tier from the spring to the summer.  While the improvements aren’t as pronounced as they are in Shangri-la, the trend of the seeming improvements in the episodes that I noted in the spring has continued, allowing this show to get it’s legs under it.  While it’s still somewhat a “muddled mess of confusion,” as I put it in the spring, it’s not nearly as bad.

9. Valkyria Chronicles (19)

Valkyria is really the only show from my spring list that has taken a dive once hit got into the summer.  It still remains at the bottom of the 2nd tier as it did in the spring, but it’s much lower in the rankings relative to other shows, compared to the spring.  While I think this series is holding it’s own well enough to keep it out of the third tier (so far), it really seems to have lost a lot of what made it good to begin with.

3rd Tier

10. Sora no Manimani (4)

Sora no Manimani is right on the border of the 2nd and 3rd tiers, but right now I’m sticking it into the 3rd tier of shows.  Some of the astronomy stuff in this show is pretty interesting, but I just haven’t been able to really get into it.  The characters all seem too one-dimensional and dull and the animation hasn’t seemed to be all that great in places either.  This show definitely has the potential to move up, but if it moves more into “romance mode,” as it is threatening to, it’ll probably stay low in the rankings.

4th Tier

11. Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Season 2 (9)

I’m skipping to the 4th tier for this show – a special tier I have reserved for those shows that deserve to be subjected to a special amount of beating.  I think we all know why this show is here.  Nine episodes have aired, but only 4 could really be considered “real” episodes (and that’s being generous).  We wait 3 years for the sequel, and what do we get? Eight episodes of Endless Eight.  This series will almost certainly move up into at least the 3rd tier by the time it’s done, just because we’re actually going to be hitting some new content again, but it’s already fallen into such a deep hole that it’s hard to see how it will end up being seen as anything other than mediocre by the time it’s finished, unless they’re going to give us a lot more than 14 new episodes.

Spring 2009 Mid-Season Report

Since hell month struck right at the start of the season, I wasn’t able to do my usual first impression posts for show that I was watching, so I decided to do a Mid-Season report once I caught up.  As a result, here it is!

Number of episodes watched are in parenthesis.

1st Tier

1. Eden of the East (6)

It’d be hard to rank anything above this at the time being.  This show has everything: music, animation, story, intrigue, you name it.  Eden of the East is definitely not your usual fare, and given that it appears to obviously in good hands as far as writing and production, it is shining brightly as a result.   While the last episode was a tad confusing on the first viewing, there is very little to find wrong with this show so far.

2. K-ON (7)

I believe K-ON was the 8th of 8 shows that I decided to watch at the start of the season, and I picked it for the sole reason that Kyoto Animation was producing it and I seem to like their stuff, even if the premise of this particular show didn’t appeal to me very much.  Well, I’ll say it right now:  Oh please forgive me KyoAni for ever doubting you!  K-ON is everything Lucky Star ever wished it was, and more.  Good music plus interesting and hilarious characters make this a fun show to watch.  And while the characters use most of the standard “moe” characteristics from many past KyoAni series, they seem to be mixed and matched differently, giving the characters some freshness.

2nd Tier

3. Requiem for the Phantom (5)

OK, yes, I know, I’m probably the only person in the anime blogosphere who doesn’t hate BEE TRAIN (though admittedly, I’ve only seen 2, maybe 3, of their shows total), but I’ve so far been digging Phantom.  This series seemed to take an animation quality dip come the 4th episode or so, but the storytelling seems to be rather solid to me.  Sure, there are some issues, but compared to many of the other shows on my watch list, this one is doing pretty good.

4. Fullmetal Alchemist (6)

I kind of have this and Phantom tied at 3rd right now, but I think overall I’ll put this at 4th right now.  One reason is that thus far the series is just going through stories which I’ve already seen before in the first series, which is to be expected.  It is going at a far brisker pace than the first series thus far, though, having gone through the material of about 16 episodes of the first season i only 6 in the second, though we’re only up through about chapter 8 of the manga or so I believe.  There are various other things which I think don’t make this as strong of a series as it could be, but it’s still pretty good so far.

5. Valkyria Chronicles (6)

I didn’t really know what to expect or how much I’d like a show like Valyria.  I have, after all, not really watch any show very much like it before (though I’m sure many have been produced).  However, I have been pleasantly surprised by it so far.  The “courseness” of the animation, while good in concept, could be pulled off better, however.  But as far as the story and characters are concerned, they seem to be well thought out and executed pretty well so far, and it’s one of the shows that I actually look quite forward to seeing more episodes of.

3rd Tier

6. Shangri-la (6)

Shangri-La starts the series of 3 bottom-feeder series for this season.  While I appreciate an anime series which has some (apparent) thought and depth to it, I’m almost wondering if it’s too complex for it’s own good.  We have jibber jabber about carbon markets and bubble economies and the like and after a while i’ts just kind of like “wut?”  Also, while I realize most shows aren’t exactly realistic, being able to create a bubble and burst it in a nation and forcing whole industries to go bankrupt in mere seconds is more than what I’m really able to believe.  I think this series still has some promise if it gets it’s act together, but it has a long way to go.

7. Pandora Hearts (6)

Pandora Hearts is not last for one reason:   The chracters.  I love the characers and I love the character designs.  It’s a pity that they couldn’t actually be featured in, you know, a good show.  The show has gotten a little bit better in the past couple of episodes, so maybe there is hope, but so far the episodes have largely been a muddle mess of confusion, where I don’t really understand what’s going on half the time.  Add to this the sub-sub-standard animation quality (I had read about XEBEC having crappy animation before, and now I know what they were talking about) and Pandora Hearts is quickly becoming a rather forgetable show.

8. Asura Cryin’ (5)

It pains me to put this last since I keep watching it hoping that it will get better, but I think drooling on my pillow while I sleep is better written than this show up until this point.  So we have three factions, which all run different student councils at this school, and they have these Asura things or whatever, and, well, hell if I know what’s going on after 5 episodes.  All I know is that banging Demons is bad and Natsume using his Asura thing might be hazardous for his ghost-girlfriend’s, er, health.  Perhaps the main good point to this story are (some) of it’s characters and what humor exists, but it all goes downhill once it starts getting serious.  And it’s animation isn’t all that stellar either.

Spring 2009 Blog and Watch List

Sorry for not posting in the last week.  That was a combination of the basketball tournament (which took up a good deal of my weekend) and getting into the homestretch of my class (which I usually do on the weekend, but got pushed to my weekday evenings…when I usually do my blogging, thus limited to no blogging for the past little while).

I was initially planning on blogging 2 series for the Spring 09 season, but I think given that I’m probably going to be somewhat slammed with my class for the next month (the final month + oral exit exam for classes I haven’t taken in 3 years), so I think I’m only going to pick up one show to blog.  In my preview, I had 3 shows on my “May blog” list: Eden of the East, Phantom, and Shangri-La.

Now, I’m one who sometimes likes venturing out onto paths that other bloggers sometimes don’t tread on (see: Shion no Ou, Nijuu-Mensou).  Two of the seemingly most highly expected series this season appear to be Eden of the East and Shangri-La which, I presume, will have bloggers falling over themselves to blog it.  As a result, I think I’m going to blog Phantom myself.  My only worry with this show is largely that the only two fansub groups listed as doing it I haven’t really downloaded anything from before, so I don’t know whether they’re of good quality or whether they get things out quickly or not.  So there you have it for my blogging list.

As for shows that I’ll watch, Eden of the East, Shangri-La, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Pandora Hearts were already on my “will watch” list, so I’ll probably grab about 3 shows from the “may watch” list to add to this list.  Out of that list, I guess the most appealing is K-ON, since it was really the only show that didn’t raise some question marks with me, and I guess when I get down to my “may” list, I go from picking shows that look good to picking shows that don’t look bad.  Next on my list is Asura Cryin’.  The preview I saw looked more serious than the “semi-serious” description of the show, and the arrival of what looked like a mecha-like thing put this show into question, but I think overall it looks good.  Finally on my list is Valkyria Chronicles.  This is somewhat iffy to me, but just not as iffy as Summer Storm (highly questionable animation to me) and Tears to Tiara (looks like a fantasy show that is taking itself way too seriously).

So, to roundup, this is what my blogging and watching slate for the Spring season will look like:

Blogging

  • Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

Watching

  • Asura Cryin’
  • Eden of the East
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • K-ON!
  • Pandora Hearts
  • Shangri-La
  • Valkyria Chronicles