I probably should have been working on this for a while, but instead I've been furiously masturbating to Rule 34 of Avatar: The Last Airbender until I exhaust, and then crying myself to sleep with sharp, bitter sobs.
2011 is a year of promise. As in, the promise of remaining a twentysomething virgin who spends his time writing sappy poetry about female friends who have actual men in their lives and arguing the superiority of one cartoon voice over another while most people are having careers and lives. Having barely survived the robot apocalypse by beating them off (lol) with a sack full of magnets, I look forward to another 365 days of soul crushing disappointment punctuated by occasional moments of mild satisfaction, usually caused by the sweet release of my carb-filled bowel movements while I read the backs of DVD cases looking for spelling mistakes (note to reader: don't touch any of my anime DVD cases).
Are you still reading this? Well, if I haven't frightened you away yet, I doubt anything will, so we might as well get to the point of this little feature. That is, a look back at 2010, a year where I pissed off Sean Schemmel, Hollywood brought us the first movie Michael Cera is tolerable in, Fullmetal Alchemist and Lost ended, and Judd had to split his time between rough break ups and obsessively detailing his plastic robots.
Onto the best of 2010!
BEST NEW ANIME
Winner: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn
Runner(s) Up: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Let me be perfectly honest. I didn't watch many new anime this year. In fact, other than the rest of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, some Dragon Ball Kai, a few episodes of Occult Academy, and the first episode of Star Driver, the only other new anime I watched were the ones mentioned above. Because, to be honest, based on premise, none of the other anime that aired this year interested me in the slightest. I'll try to watch more in 2011, but let's face it, there's a lot of shit out there. Does anyone know of a good anime premiering in 2011, aside from more Gundam Unicorn?
Gundam Unicorn is fucking amazing. A return to classical Universal Century, with your Federation, your Zeon, your immediately-latching-onto-strange-girls main male protagonist with a haircut similar to Kamille Bidan's, and lunarian businessmen pulling the strings. But Unicorn does more than just retread the same UC tropes by playing with the very fabric of the Universal Century itself via the Leplace's Box element and Mineva Zabi's determination to stem the tide of the Zabi legacy. It has beautiful production values, great mechanical designs, some awesome action, and a pretty damn good story thus far, based on the two episodes released thus far. As a Gundam fan, what else could I ask for?
Aside from a Char Aznable body pillow. Er, I mean... yeah, no, I meant Char Aznable.
As for Haruhi, Haruhi is Haruhi. That stuff's always pretty good, save for that second season's "Endless Eight" bullshit. But the Disappearance movie is especially excellent, albeit a tad long. After all, rather than having several episodes to adapt a book, they did it all in one movie. I won't say much about the plot, because you'd need to have been a fan of the books/show to even get the premise of it. Let's just say, Kyon's earned his hot pot.
BEST R1 ANIME RELEASE
Winner: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Runner(s) Up: Gundam Unicorn
Likewise, I didn't buy a whole lot of anime in 2010, either. Must have something to do with not having a job, and therefore not a lot of money. Well, there wasn't a whole lot I was interested in, anyway, aside from a few items, which I mostly ended up getting one way or another. It's 2011 that's going to be a real bear, because tons of things are coming out in North America, like Rebuild of Evangelion 2.22, Turn A Gundam, The Vanishment of Haruhi Suzumiya, more Dragon Ball Z Dragon Boxes, and FLCL. It'll be a pain in the ass. Hm, maybe I'll get some work?
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which started in 2009 and ended in 2010, started being released on R1 DVDs and Blu-Rays. Brotherhood being my favorite anime since, well, the first FMA series, I was more than eager to get the Blu-Rays. And speaking of Blu-Rays, I was excited about getting my copies of Gundam Unicorn's first two episodes. These are actually my first few Blu-Rays ever. In the case of FMA: B, Funimation's Blu-Rays look amazing, with great packaging, inserts, and beautiful picture. My only complaint are the subtitles' lack of outline, making it a tad difficult to view them from a distance at times, and the terrible dub VA commentaries, but that's to be expected from Funimation.
Bandai Entertainment's Gundam Unicorn release was a strong runner-up, but for one, it was quite expensive. Forty-something dollars for sixty minutes an episode is a bit much, even at the quality you get them and the extras included. They even had the same subtitle problems that FMA: B's Blu-Rays did. However, an extremely strong English dubbed version by NYAV more than made up for it. I wasn't feeling too bad about shelling out all that money for the first two episodes of Unicorn and look forward to more of it in the future.
BEST NOSTALGIA BOMB
Winner: Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Runner(s) Up: Under the Cel Shading videos, Gundam Unicorn, Funimation's License Rescues
Nostalgia Bob-Omb. Sex Bob-Omb. Scott Pilgrim vs The World plays out like a 90s rock-hipster (and I use the word "hipster" loosely, so calm down... it's more like "rock-manchild") movie crossed with a celebration of 80s/90s video game nerdom, like if Nintendo Power made a movie that wasn't The Wizard. It's almost like if MTV when it was relevant had sex with the Angry Video Game Nerd and they had a deranged mutant baby that fell in love at first sight with anime. Or maybe it's just a Jackie Chan movie by way of Penny Arcade. Any movie that convinces Nintendo to use a Legend of Zelda tune because it's like "that generation's lullaby" and has an infectously adorable Chinese-Canadian girl swooning to garage band is all right with me. Especially with such a hilarious script, a great cast (overall), and some great fight scenes. More than that, the movie has heart and soul, and while not flawless, is on my favorites list somewhere.
A feature introduced this year to Otaku Revolution was "Under the Cel Shading", a series of videos where a jovial Hawaiian-shirt-wearing, ice-tea drinking magnificent bastard sends jolts of sarcasm and digust into us by introducing, or re-introducing, cartoons of years past that we all wish would stay in the past, but are nevertheless fun to poke fun at. It's probably the most thoughtful feature on the whole site, and therefore, gets few comments. I'm not even sure I've commented on any of them! Hey, I wonder if he can get ahold of those Filipino DBZ movie dubs. Oooh, or maybe do a feature on Doozy Bots. Didn't Creepy Crawlers have a cartoon at some point? And Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? I want to see a Street Sharks feature, too. Get on it, you out-of-focus giant eyebrowed douche!
For shows I do want to remember, there's Funimation's license rescues in the past year. Trigun's been re-released, and FLCL's coming out again in 2011. They're also going to get to Tenchi Muyo sometime soon, too, I believe. They redubbed the Dragon Ball movie, Curse of the Blood Rubies. They even snagged Bubblegum Crisis 2040 and Excel Saga (both of which I already have from ADV, but they're not bad acquisitions on Funimation's part). Rebuild of Evangelion 2.22 is coming out soon and I think they have the Trigun movie, as well. If only somebody would rescue me from being Funimation's bitch.
Winner: Sean Schemmel Strikes!: How I Pissed Off Goku
Runner(s) Up: Every Single Evangelion Discussion On The Internet
Oh, ranting, how I love thee. If ranting was a woman, it would be my lover. I lose my shit a lot, but I always try my best to articulate myself.
In 2010, a certain man who voices Goku in Dragon Ball Z had the utter nerve to accuse me of trolling him. If I were only a troll, oh god, that would be paradise. Unfortunately, I actually do give a shit about minute details like the voice of Goku in Dragon Ball Z, and I'd been extremely critical of his work in the role, which I felt was, frankly, shit. What especially set him off was my hatred of his singing "Dragon Soul" for Dragon Ball Kai.
For those of you not in the know, I've never really liked Sean Schemmel's Goku in Dragon Ball Z. The voice is too heavy and grainy and his delivery is so phony. He was just wrong for the role. People have a lot of fond memories of him as Goku when they grew up watching DBZ on Toonami, but by the time he took over, I'd already been exposed to the Japanese version via fansubs, and came to prefer that (though I did still watch it on Toonami pretty faithfully.)
Schemmel finally got tired of my criticism and whined to his Facebook fan club instead of coming right to me. As if the people on the Sean Schemmel Fan Club page are going to say, "Well, I think he's got a good point" or "Well, I disagree, but he's entitled to his opinion." They're a bunch of mindless sycophants (not like me, member of the Monica Rial and Colleen Clinkenbeard fan club pages... TOTALLY DIFFERENT, I SAY!). Anyway, eventually he signed up to the DaizenshuuEX forum to confront me, only to turn tail soon after and delete his Facebook posts about me.
This amused me greatly, thus my rant about him, wherein I expressed my concern for his mental health. Go on and read it, I'll wait. Great, huh?
But to be fair to Mr. Schemmel, his Goku in Dragon Ball Kai is pretty decent. He even does a great job in certain scenes. I just don't want to hear his version of "Dragon Soul" ever again. And perhaps a part of me is sorry I was so brutal. But only in that there are many other VAs more deserving of my ire.
Oh, and then there's that Evangelion rant. You could drink yourself stupid with the game in that feature. But then, if you're here, you're probably already drinking.
BEST ANIME VA OF THE YEAR (JAPANESE)
Winner: Romi Paku (as Edward Elric)
Runner(s) Up: Shuuichi Ikeda, Minami Takayama, Tomokazu Sugita
Who gives a stronger, hard-hitting, more emotional performance than Romi Paku? Nobody I can recall, if the role she's playing is Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which is why she wins this honor this year. Sure, FMA: B started last year, but some of the strongest parts of her performance didn't air until this year. She adds such a geniune emotional texture to the character that makes your eyes water now and then. This really is the voice of that character, I'm convinced.
The runners up are no slouches, though. Shuuichi Ikeda returns to Gundam with his distinct voice and charismatic delivery as the oddly-named Full Frontal in Unicorn. Minami Takayama plays a truly devious, sadistic homunculus Envy in FMA: B. Tomokazu Sugita launches us into Kyon's panic in The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya in a way that pulls the viewer into his building desperation.
BEST ANIME VA OF THE YEAR (ENGLISH)
Winner: Chris Ayres (as Freeza)
Runner(s) Up: Stephanie Young, Monica Rial, Colleen Clinkenbeard, Richard Epcar
The clear winner of this is Chris Ayres as Freeza in Dragon Ball (Z) Kai. Not only is he brilliant in the role, giving me chills with his angry screams, but he's restored the aristrocratic properness to the character and made him a serious villain again. No more smoker's voice, no more hacky jokes. Just what I'd call "casual properness" and brutality. Sure, the improved script is an element, but I can't imagine the previous voice for this character selling it as well as Ayres does. Apparently Theron Martin at Anime News Network agrees with me.
Competing with that performance is Stephanie Young's excellent Olivier Mira Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. She plays the hardened border guarding general with a fierceness that easily matches the Japanese VA. Monica Rial and Colleen Clinkenbeard deserve recognition as Bulma and Gohan, respectively, in Dragon Ball (Z) Kai. I also really enjoy Richard Epcar's strong Daguza Mackle in Gundam Unicorn.
BEST GUNPLA OF THE YEAR
Winner: MG Astray Red Frame
"Bandai's 2010 can be defined by one word: rehash. If a kit could be released in new colors, with extra armor, or a special finish, it was. Yet between the titanium finishes and clear parts there were some fine models. Gouf 2.0, Victory Ver. Ka, Kshatriya, and long awaited Wing kits pleased gunpla fans around the world. Yet two stand out as being the best: the MG Astray Red Frame.
A victim of Bandai's rehash spree the shared 90% of it's components with the MG Blue Frame released late 2009. Like it's older brother it featured amazing pose-ability and an impressive armament. Like Blue it wields an oversized sword but has been reconfigured to work as a bow & arrow or grappling claw. Even better it comes equipped with two chromed katanas any suit would be envious of. Even if you hate CE you'll love this kit. A must own for gunpla and toy fans alike."
MOST MISSED DYING CELEBRITY
Winner: Leslie Nielsen
Runner(s) Up: Satoshi Kon, Daisuke Gouri
Despite being Canadian, and thus handicapped, the multiple-wived Leslie Nielsen brought laughs to millions of people for years with his serious, dry delivery of absurdity. Nielsen's first big break in comedy was Dr. Barry Rumack in the Zucker brothers disaster movie spoof Airplane!. But most of us probably remember him best as Detective Frank Drebin from the Naked Gun series of movies based on the short-lived Police Squad TV series. It was a more innocent time, when O.J. Simpson hadn't murdered anyone yet and Ricardo Mantalban still drew audiences. The reason Neilsen wins this award is because the Naked Gun series of films are some of my favorite comedy movies of all time, and he was brilliant in them. Surely you can see that.
I must admit, outside of Perfect Blue and Paranoia Agent, I haven't seen any other Satoshi Kon work. But, I did like those two well enough, and even find myself interested in the film Kon was working on when he died, The Dream Machine. He was a director who loved the curious workings of the mind, was interested in societal pressures, and seemed good at rendering paranoia and wonder alike. In other words, he liked a good mindfuck, based on what I'd seen.
Daisuke Gouri, meanwhile, was a big player in the world of Dragon Ball. He was the voice of Muten Roshi's turtle Umigame, Chi-Chi's father Gyuumao, and the "word champion" Mr. Satan. He was also the brutal, bald, and goggled Bask Om in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and the gentle giant Hiromi Yamazaki in Patlabor. His distinctive deep and husky voice will be missed.
Maybe 2011 should be the year I chill out. The year I relax, and not let things bother me so much. After all, it's just an anime blog, right? Is it, in the long run, important who voices the main character in a cartoon? What sort of plot is used for a toy commercial show? Is it really important who licenses what show and who returns to play who? Why can't I mature a little? This year is a perfect time to become a classier blogger, less brutal, more tolerant. Maybe get myself a real job. Learn to be a responsible adult.
Ah, but who am I kidding? I'll be back to ranting about which the color of Lupin III's jacket is the best one (red), while watching poorly coded fansubs and listening to awful English dub VA commentaries to fulfill a sense of masochism only equaled by arguing with Stephanie Naldony fans on YouTube. I'll be pining away for women who, were I on fire, wouldn't so much as spit on me to put it out, and fattening myself on Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Dr. Pepper as I listen to another Howard Stern replay and surf the net for people who might have mentioned me months ago. In no time I'll be back to 2010, bitter, passive-aggressive, and so very alone.
I hate you all.
Stay linked, though, dears.
- Penguin Truth
(2011... YEAR OF SAMENESS)
(DISCLAIMER: I am slightly exaggerating my sad situation.)