2014 Awards

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Hi Wow it’s been a long time since my last post. Time is scarce these days, but fortunately I can write this post in near-keyword form. So here it is: My Vanihm 2014 Anime Awards list:

(Note – I’m going with APR’s method an only ranking shows that ended in 2014 – Sorry Shirobako)

Best Action: Kill La Kill Killlakill Honerable mention: Rage of the Bahaumut: Genesis

Best Drama: Ping Pong (No I don’t have a sports category ‘cos I don’t watch them very much)

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Honerable mention: Space Brothers (I’ll miss you!), Mushisi 2

Best Comedy: Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun Gekkan_Shoujo_Nozaki-kun_full_1749020 Honerable mention: Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun, Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun, Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun (Well, I really liked this one!)

Seriously, this is the first time I have laughed so hard since Ouran High School Host Club. Too bad that drama club arc got old too quickly.

Orson Welles peaking-too-early award: Rage of the Bahamut: Genesis

I don’t know why, but the last half just couldn’t live up to the first at all. This is another example of a 12 episode series that feels like it should have been 24 episodes. I thought we had enough of those last year (Garganie, Kyousogiga…)

Hamster-on-wheel award for going nowhere: One Week Friends

Serously, what happened in those 12 episodes?

Bernard Montgomery award for most overrated: One Week Friends (note: I was wondering whether I should call this the Ang Lee award or perhaps the Vo Nguyen Giap award…)

That show reminded me af that episode of the Simpsons where they try to do a non-violent Itchy & Scratchy episode and all that happens is they sit around and drink lemonade and give each other gifts. Or that black&white town in Pleasantville. I dont’t mind nostalgia, but this show was so naive it was almost chauvinistic. I was hoping the guy would eventually choke on all those bentos that she made for him. Did he ever do anything for her? Seriously, she even did his homework for him. If that is the relationship most Japanese guys want then no wonder Japenese women don’t want to get married anymore.

Most underrated: Kill la Kill

I bet you were expecting something less well known there huh? No, I picked this because I have rarely seen a show so popular during it’s run get slammed so hard in retrospect. “Oh, its popular so let’s try to look really sophisticated by saying it’s lame”. Feminists (or wanabee feminists) criticised the themes and the fanservice without noticing all the nude men in the show. Some of the criticism was based mainly on people not getting the irony or the humour. I remember how Sam Raimi’s Spiderman films (particularly the third) got a lot of heat in the states for being silly or mixing humour and action. I (and many other Europeans) loved the third one and felt the comedy fit in perfectly with the source without taking anything away from the suspense. I know the opinions about Kill la Kill aren’t confined to Americans, but it seems people in the US like to have “pure” comedy or “pure” drama while the Japanese excel in taking a completely ridicculous premise and still making it work on an emotional level. This show was silly, yes. It had fanservice, yes. But it was aware of it’s own sillyness and still gave us a plot and characters we cared about while keeping the action going in spectacualar fashion. What more can you ask for?

Coundn’t be bothered: Anything about games (sorry SAO, Log Horizon & No game, No life), everything JoJO (like the first few episodes, but the sheer scale of the frachise is daunting…),Your lie in April (proabably should have watched it but never got around to it), Hunter x Hunter (I’m still working through the 2011 season!), Every feature length anime (man, I’m behind on that one!)

Will probably watch: Barakamon, Silver Spoon 

Best character: Rita, Rage of the Bahamut: Genesis. rita Oh, Zombie Girl. *Sigh*. Were you but 200 years younger and looked 10 years older….

Biggest screw up *WARNING SPOILERS* : Entire cast of Aldnoah: Zero.

Honerable mention: Kana, Parasyte: The Maxim, Tarou, Shirobako

Yes, Slaine really screwed up, but at least he DID something useful in this show unlike Mrs. “I-need-to-yell-“NO”-every-time-Inaho-does-something-even-though-he-has-no-other-choice” or Mr “I-am-angry-I-was-tricked-into-hating-Terrans-and-therefore-I-am-waging-war-on-them”. Or Mrs. “I-have-PTSD-so-I-think-I’ll-just-kill-the-one-person-who-I-can-most-identify-with”? And Slaine wouldn’t even be around to screw up if Inaho (also known as Mr “I-trust-the-psycho-redhead-but-not-the-guy-who-saved-our-ass”) hadn’t left him in the water for the martians to pick up instead of taking him prisoner or killing him. And why didn’t anyone ask what the heck happened to the Martian that just saved their butts? Writing FAIL. Also, Damn Kana (AKA puppy loving, stalking, gangbanger girl) you should have died earlier and rid everyone else of your stupidity.

Drum roll please….

Best Anime: Kill La Kill

Close runner ups: Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun, Ping Pong

Damn this was a close one. Frankly I feel Kill La Kill needs some love since it seems most people have forgotten it actually aired in 2014. Nozaki kun could have taken the top spot if it wasn’t for the abusive actress-drama club president relationship (which I didn’t dislike because of the violence toward women but simply because it wasn’t very funny). Ping Pong was great as well, but I felt Peco stole the show a little bit too much in the end. Season overall: It’s been hard to find a favorite in the last three seasons but this year at least it was because there were too many stand out shows. In 2012-13 there were plenty of decent shows but nothing that truly stood out. This year we have had a little bit for everyone in spite of the fact that there was a certain lack of non high-school related shows – perhaps next year? Seriously, the fanbase is getting older – they can’t ALL be living in the past!

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What happened to horror anime?

I nostalgically remember the late nights when I would turn on the TV, open a bottle of Morgan, switch on the PS3, open a bottle of Havanna Club, bring out the Bacardi Gold
and settle down in my couch to marathon some Higurashi or Ghost Hunt. Maybe not masterpeices, but good, solid creepy mystery/horror that scare and intrigue without trying too hard to gross us out. How much has changed since then. First off, I have passed my rum phase and moved on to bourbon, my supposedly clinical depression turned out to be no more than a vitamin d deficiency (truly a lesson to all basement dwellers out there) and I’m no longer a recluse. More significantly, there are absolotely NO decent horror
anime being made anymore.
I’m not talking about “Vampire Wolf Brigade EX III – Raid on the demon womb, extra blood and guts edition” style fare, but genuine old fashioned thrillers.
The closest we came recently was Another which, despite having a cast so stupid you’d think it was evolution killing them off, was still sufficiently creepy and atmospheric
to satisfy my needs. For a while. But these days even Hollywood is skimping on the horror – remeber when Horror films were decent, had large budgets and top name actors? Now it’s mostly assembly line stuff intended solely for the video market or for 15 year olds who don’t know what else to watch on their dates. The fact that Another got made into a Manga,an Anime AND a live-action film in spite of it’s logic-defying plot just shows how big the dearth of good horror is these days.

If someone doesn’t get going again soon I might have to create some horror of my own… Townsfolk beware!

The Japanese/Chinese anime paradox

Normally, growing up tends to diminish one’s consumption of anime, but not for me. In fact, being in a shotgun marriage (immigration rules really do help bring back traditional family values) to a Chinese woman probably increased my anime consumption tenfold. Why Chinese you ask? Wouldn’t Japanese women be a better choice for an anime fan? Well, not really. Being from Denmark, If I met someone from abroad who said they loved listening to Aqua might make me feel sorry for you but it would still leave at least a small tingling of national pride in my chest. If one is to mention to a Japanese person (or a Japanese American – like this guy http://bitterasianmen.com) that you love anime a common reaction would be more in the vein of “Oh, well f*** you too!”.

You see, anime is seen as a subculture for the uncool in Japan, and Japanese people who I have met often point out how westerners fail to see the negative rep anime culture has. By contrast, China has quite an interest for Japanese anime (and everything else that can be pirated), but are currently still about a generation away from universally adopting the western understanding of being “cool”. After all many of them are still in the stage in which they find academic success and material wealth more important than showing off your sexappeal at next weekend’s booze-fest. Hopefully the Japanese will once again find the appeal of the animation medium to tell stories interesting again (even when they aren’t made by Studio Ghibli). Otherwise I wonder if the Chinese might take over that industry as well (if the Koreans don’t get there first).