Seven anime Christmas favorites to watch with a cup of hot cocoa.
Forum - View topic2007 R1 releases "My Top 50"
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Location: A block away from Golden Gate Park
There were so many good DVDs released in 2007 that I don't know where to begin. Anyone who doesn't think that good anime is being released in the States either is really picky or not looking hard enough. For me it was a constant struggle to watch most of the new releases each week.
I spent the last week trying to finish off most of the DVDs released this year, but still have a pile of IATV DVDs to get through along with all 12 Kodocha volumes. Narrowing my favorite series to a mere 50 titles was quite a task. You can see how I tend to shy away from shonen based manga. There are actually a good number of titles which I enjoyed that didn't make this cut and I considered going to 75, but thought that this was already enough work.
50. My-Hime 6-7: I had a hard time picking a title for 50 since there are so many titles that didn't make the cut with fans out there like Kasimasi, Tsubasa, Hell Girl, Bleach, Black Cat, etc. Although only the last two volumes were released in 2007 I found this series superior to My Otome in both design and writing.
49. Coyote Ragtime Show 1-3: While not a masterpiece I found this series entertaining and not worthy of the Japanese Kuso Award for worst series of the year. I love the reflective DVD cover and swear the font used for the title is "borrowed" from Battlestar Galactica.
48. Jinki Extend 3: This along with Diamond Daydreams and This Ugly yet Beautiful world were the only new series from ADV in 2006 (sorry, but hated Nerima Daikon) that I actually enjoyed. Volume 3 of this somewhat confusing series is packed with a ton of extras including Angela performing their amazing ED theme song live. ADV did so much better in 2007.
47. Tactics 3-4: Despite the awful dubtitles and long wait between volumes I find this series more charming than the in hiatus Shonen Onmyouji. Yoko is endearing and the main character's publishing agent is fun. I also love shows that pull historical figures like Minamoto into the present.
46. Karin 1-3: This is that rare shounen romance series with an awkward teenage girl as the main protagonist. Granted her main love interest is more like a typical shounen hero compared to the standard pretty boy we see in shoujo series. I still admire the fact that the story revolves around Karin, and the focus didn't shift (as of DVD 3) to a male lead.
45. Gundam Seed Destiny 6-11: I didn't find the 11th disc as bad as the 10th, but I will agree that the series doesn't look good as far as the final disc is concerned. I actually enjoyed the Meer episodes on the most recent disc compared to the everyone get a new MS volume before it. There are however several great moments in the 6th through 8th DVDs and I do have a weakness for Gundam. I'm pretty sure volume 12 will not be in the top 50 of 2008.
44. Tekkon Kinkreet: I feel bad about ranking this DVD so low. I really wanted to like this film more but just couldn't get into the script. The animation is gorgeous and looks great in HD. I also love the interview with the director who speaks Japanese amazingly well.
43. Full Metal Panic TSR 2-4: By far the best of the Full Metal Panic series. The bonus episode is cute and made me like many other fans out there want more. I wish that this series was spread out to 3 volumes since 3 episodes per DVD is low by todays standards. The footage the staff took in Hong Kong seemed like a waste of time. Were those slip cases only available for first pressing? One of my DVDs (I think second) came without it.
42. Welcome to the NHK 1-2: This is yet another series which I feel a bit bad about ranking so low. I enjoyed the second volume more than the first especially the last episode, and wouldn't be surprised if I end up really liking this series by the end. Part of this might be due to all the hype this series got before it's release. I'll stick with this series which should hold me over until more Genshiken is released here.
41. Guns Sword 5-7: I almost gave up on this series after the first volume, but decided (thanks to Tony) to buy the rest of the series when Geneon went out of print. I didn't think the focus would shift towards the super robot side in the series. Gun Sword is welcomed in this era of so few good super robot series. The Gun Sword-san extras are actually very funny.
40. Blade of the Phantom Master: I'm a bit surprised at how well this film is received by the fans here. The film felt like it fell into an awkward script length. There is just too much material for a one shot, resulting in a movie which feels like two or three television episodes. I love how Romi Paku plays such a different role compared to Edward Elric.
39. Basilisk 4-6: The second half of this series is even cooler than the first. Sadly there is something about this release that creates a very low picture quality on my setup. Amongst all the blurry Funimation DVDs from 2007 this series is the worst. Those voice actor round tables seem like a waste of space and I ended up watching them at 4X speed.
38. Zegapain 1-2: I initially had a poor impression of the first DVD, but the second really heightens the drama and raises the stakes for this series. The series fails to give us a good reason to care about the characters success until the second DVD which can be a fatal flaw for the impatient.
37. Origin: There are several remarkable visual moments in this film that I can't get out of my head. The settings are gorgeous for this film. The theme song is also very catchy.
36. Simoun 1: Despite the high episode count I still am not sure how I feel about Simoun with only the first volume released. My initial impression is a fairly good one compared to other girl pilot shows like Divergence Eve, or even Stellvia. I have seen people here give it high praise so I will follow it for now.
35. Tide-Line Blue 1-4: This one seemed to go under most peoples radar. I really enjoyed this series which is reminiscent of both Nadia and Yasuhiko action series. I wish Bandai would have released this series on three $30 volumes instead of stretching it out to four $25. The tighter release schedule and fewer disc count are at least as important as the price.
34. The Third 1-3: Like most people I found the narration rather annoying for this otherwise excellent series. Something about this series execution feels very theatrical to me. Perhaps its the long shots, or the slow pace that creates this atmosphere. I also like how Right Stuf plays the original broadcast ED in Japanese followed by an English credits over the OP song much like ADV's Macross from last year. This is the best way to handle credits since I'm sure it doesn't cost much more.
33. School Rumble 1-4: This series is the funniest title since Azumanga. Oddly enough some of the cultural jokes and anime references are presented without explanation. I am impressed with the ever growing number of magnets that I'm accumulating from this series. I wish the chapter mark would have been placed a little before the ending of the OP credits since the credits scene and a little teaser are missed if you skip the OP credits. Then again there are some DVDs like Tokko that only have one chapter per episode so I shouldn't complain.
32. Pumpkin Scissors 1-2: Why is this series ranked so low on the ANN rankings? I enjoy the post war setting since there are so many series about war, but rarely do we see the consequences. The ending credits for this series is hilarious.
31. Speed Grapher 5-6: The ending for this series which seems to be a hit or miss here worked well for me. Despite the less than stellar animation I really got into the characters for this title. I suppose cynical older single characters resonate better with me than plucky teenagers. I'm just a bit surprised at how much Zak and Theron hated this series.
30. Witchblade 1-3: It felt as though Gonzo has been targeting older audiences based off of the titles that were brought over here this year. Masane is another character who has then mundane worries of paying rent and having child custody fights. There are a few issues that I have with the subs translation (the first line of the OP song I believe should be "Short Circuit" not "Before the Shot") but they are not as bad as the ones for Suzuka. The slip cases are nice, but the DVDs under them look like bootlegs since they are so sparse.
29. Hellsing 2-3: If I had to bet on any one Geneon title being picked up it would be Hellsing. By then there should be more volumes available in Japan, so we won't be stuck with one episode releases. I wish more titles would have a LE and a bare bones version to appease more fans. I love the huge book that came with volume 2.
28. Zipang 3-7: Despite the inconclusive ending this series was a nice complex and mature entry into 2007. I love the CG effects and how smoothly they are integrated into the series.
27. Story of Saiunkoku 1-2: The second volume of this series really shows promise. I actually prefer the characters in this series to those in Fushigi Yugi or 12 Kingdoms. This series has a good chunk of my favorite voice actors of which the lead is played by Houko Kuwashima. I'm not expecting this series to be saved by another company anytime soon.
26. Trinity Blood 4-6: I love the digipack releases for the Funimation Gonzo titles and am a bit sad that they stopped releasing LE versions. The case for this box was a little gimicky, but still fun. It was a bit annoying waiting for the DVDs after Adult Swim had already finished it's broadcast for this series.
25. Melancholy of Haruhi 1-4: I feel as though I should like this series better than I did. I think part of this is due to the rather weak third volume and last episode. I wish that the culture festival episode was the last episode, but then again everyone seems to have a different viewing order for this series. I love the science fiction element of the series which seemed so important at certain points, but seem almost forgotten at others. The ASOS extras are actually quite entertaining.
24. Gunbuster: This long awaited DVD has really stood the test of time. I remember thinking how this release seemed expensive when announced, but now consider it inexpensive compared to BVUSA's more recent releases. I didn't expect that the lack of an English track would also become a standard practice for them. I finally broke down and bought the three volumes of Gunbuster 2, but didn't have time to watch them before the years end.
23. Black Lagoon 1-3: Black Lagoon is one of those series where I sat through both language tracks. I'm pretty sure that someone will rescue this series from limbo, especially since it seems as though the second series already has been dubbed.
22. Flag 1-2: This series is a must for Ryousuke "Gasaraki/Votoms" Takahashi fans. Although, like most of his shows this is a bit hard to get into at first. The characters are a tad more starched compared to his Blue Gender characters. The animation is very slick.
21. Shana 3-6: I had low expectations when I began this series. I'm glad there was a shift in the second half of the series from the rather bland Yuji to Shana. The flashback episodes alone prove that she could carry the series without a teenage male "viewer" crutch. I feel this is the main reason why I prefer Shana to Bleach who has turned Rukia into a "powerless damsel in distress" as of the seventh DVD. I also find the scenes between Shana and Yuji's mother very cute.
20. Fate/Stay 2-6: Yet another series about a girl from another dimension who comes and bestows powers on a teenager in Japan DVD which debut in late 2006. I love the designs for Fate/Stay Night and awaited this series release having previously enjoyed Type Moon's Tsukihime. The controversial end also sat well with me, although I wish that they would have gone into more detail since the game is so epic. Then again, much like Lord of the Rings, knowing that the series is only a fraction of a much larger work is part of the charm. I also really love the OP and ED songs for this series. The first of Geneons DVDs to disappear from all retailers is Fate/Stay Night volume 5 with other volumes running low.
19. Le Chevalier D'Eon 1-6: This series has an amazing ending. I haven't seen a finale this intense since the last (not counting epilogue) episode of Gankutsuou. This is one of those series that makes you want to rewatch it from the start once you finish the series. I still think that the voice actor cross dressing extra wins for weirdest extra on a DVD.
18. Solty Rei 1-6: While I was a bit skeptic from the first 6 episodes Solty Rei quickly grew on me. This is yet another Gonzo show which feels targeted to grouchy single old men (as opposed to lonely, angsty young teens) like me. I enjoyed how everything comes together in the last episode, and found the "bonus" long episode really charming. The relation between Miranda and Kasha reminds me of Witchblade's Masane and her daughter.
17. Rumbling Hearts 2-3: The best thing about this series is how the fans are split between the two girls. I had no idea what this series was about and was surprised by the events in it. If you haven't seen this series yet you might want to avoid threads concerning it since most of them will give away the ending, even with spoiler tags.
16. Paradise Kiss 2-3: This unconventional series didn't click with me at first since I've got little interest in the fashion industry. The overall series structure in this coming of age series is so strong that it had won me over by the end. Nice plotting, pacing and character development all come together in the final episode which has one of the most memorable endings. This series made me reread the To-Y manga which it reminded me of. This series is pretty much sold out at TRSI, and I wouldn't be surprised if the other retailers run out soon.
15. When They Cry 1-3: Out of all the Geneon titles to disappear, When They Cry is the one I will miss the most. This is another series where I benefited by not knowing anything about upon first viewing. I wish that the intro before the first episode's credits wasn't there since it clues you in at just how bad things will get. I skipped this scene when I showed the first four episodes to my roommate at the risk of him walking out (a couple of times) in the first two episodes. The impact of the fourth episode was that much harder once we reached it.
14. Paprika: I'm a huge fan of Satoshi Kon and would have ranked this one higher if it weren't for the fact that he has become a bit repetitive. The DVD looks fantastic in HD and the extras are really long. I think this would have been a contender for first place had I not already have seen all the other Kon films. I love how the theme song sounds like it is out of Berserk.
13. Karas 2: I will agree with the popular opinion that the second volume isn't as good as the first. Karas 2 still has some of the most amazing CG that was released in 2007. Despite the long wait between DVDs I'm glad that they packed this OVA onto two discs, unlike Yukikaze or Hellsing.
12. Air 1-4: This series had some series structuring issues. I almost gave up on the series by the end of the first DVD. I love all the flashback footage and wish they were integrated more into the overall plot. There is such a strong emphasis in all the girls in the first DVD making it feel like a dating sim, yet this theme is dropped for the third DVD in favor of a traditional character drama. It feels as though the creators couldn't make up their mind on the series focus.
11. Death Note 1-2: I'm really impressed that such a dark series was originally serialized in Jump. Madhouse does an excellent job animating this series. Watching this series after a Hell Girl DVD makes me wonder about how frustrated and repressed the youth of Japan are these days.
10. GITS movies 1-3: I wish that these DVDs were released in chronological order since I just finished the Individual Eleven disc and am ready to watch SSS again. The last moments of 2nd Gig still are my favorite moments in the franchise. These discs have some impressive extras.
9. Freedom 1-3: I find this series very catchy and addicting which is bad since it is expensive, and there are no release dates for the other three episodes. Much like the intense music Freedom never slows down it's pace. The 30 minute episodes end up feeling like half their length leaving me wondering why these three episodes cost me $120.
8. Eureka Seven 6-10: The 2007 DVDs for Eureka Seven were even cooler than the 2006. I love how the characters evolve throughout the series. I think that some of the credit goes to Dai Sato (wrote most of the key episodes) considering that I get similar vibes from Ergo Proxy which also had him in charge of the series composition. I wish Bandai would go to a monthly release for these longer series, or at least do better than every other.
7. Wings of Honneamise: While not really a new release for 2007 this DVD did see HD for the first time this year. It's hard to believe this series is around 20 years old since the animation still looks fantastic. Why did BVUSA include a standard definition disc. I wonder if anyone actually paid $80 for the non-HD disc?
6. Mushishi 1-4: This series is so well executed. Mushishi has the brilliant knack of rolling the credits right when the final punch of the episode is delivered. I love the various ED instrumental themes that reflect the series atmosphere. There are so many haunting moments in the series. I love how the series teases you about Ginko's past up to the point of the amazing back story episode on the fourth disc.
5. Utawarerumono 1-6: At first I thought that the series reminded me of the Guin Saga novels, and couldn't understand how it was based off an ero-game. My opinion shifted with each new DVD. The characters for this series are all so charming. The bonus clips are so funny. I really want to play the game that this series is based off of. ADV's packaging for these DVDs are also really shinny. I think this would be another series where fans would be split on which girl (or twin boys) is their favorite.
4. Ergo Proxy 2-6: Although the series doesn't live up to the first volume I love the characters and setting for Ergo Proxy. The three main protagonist play off each other very well. There are a few points in the center like the game show episode that prevents this series from being my favorite this year. The overall ambiance and design work for this series is top notch.
3. Noein 2-5: Kazuki Akane is one of my favorite directors. There are so many similar themes between Noein, Heat Guy J, and Geneshaft, yet they all have such different aesthetics. This series gets my vote for best music for 2007. There are so many amazing full motion animation moments in Noein. Satelight has always done amazing CG integration. I also love the footage of Kazuki Akane and Haruka's voice actor (her name is also Haruka) in Hakodate. Akane seems like such a nice person from these interviews.
2. Kurau 1-5: Although I enjoy Fullmetal Alchemist and Eureka Seven, I miss the old Bones. There is something poetic in their older titles like Wolf's Rain and Kurau which seems missing in there newer higher energy shows. Too many shows seem focused around how much power you can accumulate since the person with more power will win a fight. Kurau is one of the strongest female protagonists I can think of who retains her femininity. All too often "tough" girls are just guys who are drawn as women. The insert song is just brilliant.
1. Beck 1-5: This series is so good that it beat out all of my favorite science fiction series that dominate most of my top ten. Although the main character seems to be following a typical sports anime structure there is something very fresh about the series. Part of it is due to the excellent music which covers a nice range of rock. Central to the series is how the characters interact with each other. There are so many adorable moments like Koyuki and Maho singing together in the middle of the night that remind me of the better episodes of Orange Road. I can't wait for the last DVD.
I really like everything that I listed here and I would have to go a decent amount further until I started hitting titles that I regret buying. Then again I did spend $6,327 (about $1500 more than 2006) at TRSI in 2007 which mainly consisted of 35%-50% off preordered new releases. I do realize that I didn't list many popular titles (mainly Viz titles) but since I'm not a fan, I'll let other people suggest them. Overall I believe 2007 had the best selection of R1 titles so far.
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Location: In the garage, beneath a 1970 MGB GT.
Randall, I have to hand it to you, this is actually pretty handy. Sad thing is that aside from Ghost in the Shell and Wings of Honneamise, I haven't watched a thing on that list!
Well, my usual partner in crime strapped me down for the first disc of Higurashi/When They Cry, but honestly I just plain didn't get it and thought it was pretty forgettable. "Oooh, I know, let's produce a couple episodes of schoolkids arguing with each other and walking to school, then have them kill each other in grisly ways!"
Few too many cocktails at the production meetings if you ask me.
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Location: Midwest US
The combo pack is what stops me from getting a copy - it'll be a while before I upconvert, so I only want the SD disc, which I haven't found sold separately yet. Fortunately, I was able to watch a rental VHS copy some years back, so I can wait. Or maybe I'll add it to my list of things to look for on ebay.
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Location: New York City
Wow - hats off, Randall. This really looks like a labor of love.
I watched Noein on TV and liked the story very much. I really, really did; and some of the CG was absolutely stunning. But I felt like some of the character designs just didn't fit in, as if the characters had just dropped in from another series. There's often an incidental character or two like that in some series, but this time it was several semi-regulars and I couldn't quite get past it although I desperately wanted to. Unfortunately, that keeps it off the buy list for me.
Ergo Proxy I liked very much (watched it on the Fuse marathons). I agree about the game show episode - that alone knocked it a peg down for me - but much of the rest of the series was very good indeed, including the sci-fi atmosphere and riveting relationships between the main characters. Under normal circumstances I would have bought the inevitable thinpack when it came out, but considering the Geneon situation I'm debating whether to shell out (and more to the point find ever dwindling shelf space) for the individual volumes before it's too late in case it isn't in fact picked up by someone else.
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