So I didn’t watch anything that aired this year, but I still consumed a massive amount of anime, way more manga than I ever had before, and did a lot of great otaku activities. Whereas 2008 was about coming into my own as an otaku and getting more extreme, 2009 was about perfecting and exploring my otakudom so that I could gain a greater understanding for the culture and for individual works. Here were my top anime, manga, and otaku moments of 2009.
Biggest Anime Moments
Chronologically by my seeing them, the moments of anime I saw this year that effected me a lot were: The endings of Aria the Natural episodes 2 and 5, several scenes rewatching Cowboy Bebop, realizing that I understood End of Evangelion, episodes 7 and 8 of Casshern Sins, the famous death scene from the first episode of Cross Game, the running-up-the-wall scene from Sengoku Basara (this has to win the overall best anime moment award), Vita’s famous emotional moment in Nanoha A’s, episode 9 of Clannad which made me cry like a bitch, all of FLCL as I blogged it, many moments from Toradora, famous moments from G Gundam and Encounters in Space, Akane’s lay of claim in Ranma 1/2, and the first minute of Sasameki Koto.
As you can see from the links, I have already posted about most of these moments throughout the year (which is how I remembered most of them) and even if we leave behind individual moments, I blogged about my powerful responses to things like rewatching Simoun or finishing Darker Than Black when they happened. So I’ll just have to talk about the things I didn’t already blog.
Sometime in September or October, I got really into Roger Ebert’s reviews and decided I wanted to write reviews myself, so I watched a bunch of OVAs and movies with the hopes of reviewing them in-depth. I watched some things like Assemble Insert and Full Metal Panic! that were delightful if not favorites, but two rewatches were particularly powerful – The Sky Crawlers and Rurouni Kenshin Tsuiokuhen, both of which I think are masterpieces in their own rights. The posts never got written because I realized I was a different kind of writer than Ebert, and I haven’t gotten around to re-tooling them.
Tsuiokuhen was a particularly powerful experience, to the extent that I watched it twice to make sure that I got everything. What struck me was that I had only seen this OVA twice, both times years before late at night while tired, and yet I still remembered every minute detail of the OVA – something I don’t find myself as able to do with anime anymore, not being as deprived of it as I was back then. It was astonishing to see moments like Hiko cutting a bandit into fourths, Kenshin slicing a ninja in half vertically, Kenshin living quietly with Tomoe, and the tragic ending that were all how I remembered but had become SO much more. I understood the subtext more, the real meaning, what was going on, the strength of the beautiful art and animation, the exhilarating music, the directing spruces that had me jizzing my pants. Six years after proclaiming it my favorite anime of all time for having the sickest fights I’d ever seen, I was now proclaiming it one of anime’s greatest masterpieces for so much more.
Biggest Manga Moments
In 2009 I probably read more manga than I had in the combined years past, and even then most of it was stationed towards the later half of the year. I basically discovered a joy in it I’d never seen before, and especially got into a few titles that I read the living hell out of. Berserk, Vagabond, Soul Eater, and Bleach were the biggest ones, each redefining my love for the medium. With my head finally really grasping what it was that made manga entertaining, I decided with my friend MetalSonic700 to open a blog that is mostly focused on manga reviews, Suspended Animation Dreams. But all of that excitement with changing perceptions and stuff pales in the face of what was easily the manga event of the year.
I’m talking, of course, about Onani Master Kurosawa, a 4-volume 2005 manga hat suddenly gained recognition this past summer and instantly took the anime blogosphere by FIRE. None denied that this was one of the greatest manga ever written and many emotional reactions were published, though I surprisingly never made a post about it. The truth is that I intend to do it as part of my Diary of an Anime Lived series which I have been doing in a chronological order, so it just hasn’t gone through the ringer yet. But believe me, I had an emotional reaction.
I was a just-graduated student when I read ONM and it tore me to shreds. I knew exactly what the main character had been through, having been through a lot of it myself, and I felt so angry at myself for never allowing y high school experience to become something good. I’m oh so glad to see my younger brother living a social life and having a girlfriend, going to dances, joining clubs, etc., because I’d be horrified to know that like me, he would be able to relate to ONM. I swore to myself that if I went to college I would turn around and make the friends and be open like I should have been all along (which didn’t happen because the first semester was like ZOMGWUT and then it was over) but it definitely gave me the confidence that I really was and could be a good person, and that I didn’t have to be the bad guy that people always make me out to be. I wanted to be friendly!
Biggest Otaku Moment
If 2009 was anything for me, it was the year of my otakudom. I did as much as I could this year to show my love: I blogged incredibly in-depth on my favorite shows, watched and got completely absorbed in otaku video culture, wrote about how anime related to my own life, performed several anime songs for the world, wrote a fanfic, drew a fanart, directed some fan videos, and even ran my first panel at an anime convention. However, none of that quite takes the cake as what felt like the biggest otaku moment of the year for me.
The big moment came from Otakon 2009 which had a lot of great moments in it’s own right, but nothing compares to the Q and A with Hidenori Matsubara, animation director of the new Evangelion movies. The panel was incredibly small – only 10 really, seriously hardcore fans showed up and we all pulled our chairs into a circle in the center of the room for an incredibly personal interview. However, the biggest moment was when Matsubara was looking at my T-shirt. It so happened I was wearing the ‘Lucky Eva’ shirt with Tsukasa and Kagami dressed in Asuka and Rei’s plugsuits. He was transfixed, just staring at it and said something that was just bewildered – he couldn’t seem o wrap his head around the connection of Evangelion and Lucky Star. It was a really interesting and cool moment, and one I’ll never forget.