The Top Anime of 2006

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2006 was the year Haruhi (which got kicked off the list due to it aging kind of poorly) exploded into popularity and took the anime world by storm. And a bunch of other cool stuff came out in this year as well. A bunch of them have lost a bunch of what made them appealing over time, but they’re still worth watching at least once. That’s all I have to say for this year, so let’s get on with this.

*****

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 5.32.08 PM10: Ouran Host Club

No, I do not buy the arguments that Ouran is a parody of the shoujo genre. I think it’s a straight-up shoujo that just happens to be really funny. And by god  does it make me laugh with its lovable cast and awesome comedic timing. The serious elements aren’t all that great, I’ll admit (thank god Bones toned it down from the actual manga). But on the whole it’s the only reverse harem I’ve ever enjoyed.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 5.31.58 PM9: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Let me make this clear first. The last 1/3 of this movie sucks balls. It takes all the pain and tribulations that Makoto goes through, tosses them away through bullshit time travel mechanics, and goes for a shitty love story resolution that was about as touching as an elementary school student finishing and turning in a one-page essay on their future dreams, two minutes before the deadline. But the first 2/3 is pretty fun. The story is a little contrived, but when the story is light-hearted with its concept, it’s pretty funny. Plus, the chemistry between the three leads and how their relationship pans out depending on Makoto’s decisions is legitimately touching and the visuals can be creative. Shame that when it goes all serious business on us, the whole thing falls apart.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 5.32.14 PM8: Paprika

You know that Tarsem movie, The Cell? Paprika is basically an anime version of that, as well as many other pieces of fiction that tackle the whole “enter a person’s mind” thing. Yeah, it’s not really doing all that new and exciting compared to Kon’s other stuff. But it’s still a great movie overall and whilst his last work doesn’t leave too much of an impact in the grand scheme of things, it shows just how great a figure Satoshi Kon was to the anime world.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 5.32.22 PM7: Genshiken OVA

This is my second favorite of the Genshiken iterations. Yes, the art shift is a little weird, but I maintain that the second episode of this thing is one of the best episodes of the series. A lot of people will probably remember this thing as when Ogiue is introduced, but I’m just kind of meh to her personally. But anyways, it’s more Genshiken in the end. And Genshiken is always awesome.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 5.33.38 PM6. Coyote Ragtime Show

The best way to describe Coyote Ragtime Show is that it’s thirteen episodes of “style as substance”. There is literally no reason for it to exist other than to be cool. Why are there ninja maids? Because it’s cool. Why are there a bunch of outlaws being pursued by a female police duo whilst they carry a little girl around? Because it’s cool. Why do the villains want to blow up a planet? I’m sure there’s an actual reason, but all I remember was “because it’s cool”. This thing know it’s shallow shit and revels in it in every cool way imaginable. If you’re looking for deep stories and character development and other elitist shit, you’ve come to the wrong anime.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 5.32.32 PM5: School Rumble Second Semester

It’s more School Rumble with all your favorite characters returning for more mayhem, including field trips in the Arctic, romantic misunderstandings that grow comedically bizarre, and the best school survival game to ever exist. I don’t need to say more, do I?

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 5.32.46 PM4: Kemonozume

Romeo and Juliet meets Bonnie and Clyde meets demon concept. Crazy art that can be a little too unrestrained at times. A simple love story that is a bajillion times more powerful than most other anime romances (and it’s not just because these characters drink and have sex, although that helps). What more do you need?

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 5.32.54 PM3: Tekkonkinkreet

Another simplistic description for this one because it’s one of those anime you have to see to believe. Two orphans protect their home of Treasure Town from gangsters, aliens, and bull demons through gravity-defying jumps and brutal violence powered by love for their town and for each other. If that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 5.33.01 PM2: Black Lagoon

It’s a perfect love letter to action junkies like me who get a kick out of cool explosions, insane characters, and pure concentrated adrenaline. But what really makes it work for me consists of two things. One of them is Rock. Despite being a normal guy thrown into a dangerous world, he adapts quickly without throwing away his morals (or at least he thinks that way) and knows how to handle himself without coming off as obnoxious or preachy. The other is the city of Roanapur itself. Oh god, I would never want to live there, but damn is it fun to watch that place eat outsiders alive. Hands down one of the best settings in anime ever.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 5.33.07 PM1: Welcome to the NHK!

Whilst Ikkoku was the anime that “got” me as I was busy trying to fill out job applications and obtain my degree, Welcome to the NHK is a pretty good representation of what I could have been. Well, I don’t know if I’d ever be like Sato personally, but that’s what all people who have it “all” say before they realize they fail at making something of themselves. Anyways, the reason I love it so much is because it offers a great insight into some disturbing social issues whilst focusing on this small group of charming yet unbalanced characters and their actions ranging from girlfriends to hentai games to pyramid schemes (my favorite part of the show). It never gets too heavy, yet it never pulls its punches, a rare combination to get when giving these sorts of issues the respect they deserve. Pretty damn perfect.

9 responses to “The Top Anime of 2006

  1. I’ve never really understood all of the love NHK gets. Sure, it’s funny in places, but the whole thing just reeks of absurd wish fulfillment. The next time I meet a shut-in who has a doting, beautiful, depressed girl trying to turn around his life and willing to accept an endless amount of abuse on his behalf, saving him from suicide cults and pyramid schemes, will be the first.

    I understand that a show like this needs a catalyst, but if it’s trying to convey the importance of engaging in the world, I don’t think I can really buy the lesson that there’s a pretty girl out there waiting to knock on every NEET’s door to get him to straighten up and fly right.

    It’s a decent show, sure. But it sure ain’t a great one.

    • What fiction doesn’t have wish fulfillment? That’s like saying you can’t love Genshiken because no nerd would ever be as beautiful as Kousaka and get a girlfriend as hot as Saki, despite the fact that it’s a great sight into otaku culture.

      • Well, I know you didn’t like it, but for starters, something like Watamote doesn’t have a bit of wish fulfillment in it. It’s dark, genuinely funny, but also a realistic (if dramatically over-the-top) insight into what being an otaku REALLY means.

        On the other hand, NHK glamorizes otaku culture in a completely unrealistic fashion. The main character is a lazy, paranoid shut-in. Yet, somehow, over the course of a few months, he gets involved in making a game, a suicide pact, and a pyramid scheme/cult. Oh, and a beautiful girl falls in love with him and ultimately straightens him out.

        There’s nothing realistic about it, but more importantly, there’s no real insight involved. It’s more like, “Disney Presents: An Otaku Story.”

        Who knew that being a hikikomori could be so darn cool!?

      • I prefer to look at it more as “Insight Into Disturbing Issues Whilst Being Fun”. A dude getting into all sorts of wacky adventures can be just as socially relevant as some boring documentary. I wouldn’t like NHK if it took itself as seriously as say, American History X, but we’ll just agree to disagree whether having a beautiful girl enter your life discredits what it accomplishes entirely.

  2. Well, the way I see it, if one assumes a mindset that can handle all the contrived methods employed by -for instance -Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure to move things along, it usually shouldn’t be too hard to deal with most of what happens in Code Geass. But yes, I guess the show may or may not hold up in your case depending on how much you still like Lelouch and, to some extent, the larger dynamics set up around him.

    • Thing is, Geass tries to accomplish a ton of stuff at once to the point that it doesn’t really accomplish much of anything in terms of plot. Plus, some of the contrivances like Lelouch geassing Euphemia are just too stupid for even me to handle nowadays. I don’t recall Jojo doing anything resembling that brand of stupidity.

      They both were obviously written on the fly, but Geass takes itself more seriously, so it’s harder to forgive.

      • I think there are lots of incredibly stupid things in Jojo under any sufficiently critical analysis, so it’s all a matter of personal pet-peeves related to the specifics rather than either show being particularly sophisticated or smart by itself.

        I’d also tend to question your claim of Code eass “taking itself more seriously” since the single most serious element shared by both productions is just the simple fact you’re expected to be feel sad at people dying even under the most crazy or ridiculous circumstances. But other than that, both of them heavily rely on posturing and theatrics, as well as rather juvenile humor and impossible tricks, which are best enjoyed in a laid-back fashion.

        Similarly, I do think the very basic plot did accomplish the minimum required. But I guess you don’t want to trade essays on this sort of stuff.