Archaeon’s Anime Awards 2010

Over the last year the anime industry has found itself stuck in the proverbial rut as studios tried, often in vain, to capture audiences with their usual offerings of high schools, romantic comedies, giant robots, power ups and fanservice. Sadly the majority of the shows released for general consumption during 2010 were nothing more than cash grabbing efforts that should have been consigned to the trash.

The last twelve months have seen the birth of diabolically hideous travesties like High School Of The Dead, Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls, Ladies Versus Butlers!, Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt (yes, there really is an anime called that, and no, like the rest of those I just mentioned it’s absolutely not for kids), and other anime that has no other purpose than to fulfil the vapid wet dreams of hormone crazed teenage fanboys, and unfortunately the trend is set to continue well into 2011.

So is there any hope for an industry that seems bound and determined to destroy its international credibility as a viable form of entertainment by continually producing shows that only appeal to people with more teeth than braincells?

Well, actually there is …

While the majority of anime released during 2010 made me want to find the person who decided to make it and repeatedly punch them in the face for every minute of my life I wasted on their shite, there were a few that managed to surprise me.

So without further ado. here’s my pick of the ten best anime of 2010.

10. Heroman


Producer: BONES

Aired: 1/4/2010 to 23/9/2010

Episodes: 26

Stan Lee gives Marvel and DC a lesson in how to crack the anime and manga markets of the East. This may not be the best example of the “boy and his robot” idea, but it’s noteworthy for not being a rehash of an existing character, and for being the first successful fusion of Eastern and Western comic mentalities.

The message to the Western comic producers is simple – stop wasting time and money trying to make adaptations and start working on totally new concepts and content.

(Read the full review here)

9. Arakawa Under The Bridge


Producer: SHAFT

Season 1

Aired: 4/4/2010 to 27/6/2010

Episodes: 13

Season 2

Aired: 4/10/2010 to 27/12/2010

Episodes: 13

The down and outs who live under a bridge in the Arakawa district of Tokyo are joined by a company heir whose ethos is to never be indebted to anyone.

And that’s about as much sanity as you’ll get from this series.

8. Saraiya Goyou (House Of Five Leaves)


Producer: Manglobe

Aired: 15/4/2010 to 1/7/2010

Episodes: 12

A samurai anime without the usual themes of strength, glory, revenge, and other stuff? Surely you jest!

Unsual artwork accompanies this unusual take on the samurai genre, and while it doesn’t have mass appeal, it does have something most of the other anime of 2010 forgot about – an actual story.

7. Shiki


Producer: Daume

Aired: 27/6/2010 to 30/12/2010

Episodes: 22

More vampire shenagians, but thankfully they decided to ditch the idea that humanoid leeches are somehow cool, interesting and romantic, and went back to the old stories where they look at humans as food.

Lots of blood (well duh!), and psychosis make this one of the more … interesting shows of the year.

(Read the full review here)

6. Shinryaku! Ika Musume


Producer: Diomedea

Aired: 5/10/2010 to 21/12/2010

Episodes: 12

A squid girl decides to conquer humanity as revenge for our pollution of the seas and oceans, but ends up as a waitress in a beach cafe after destroying a wall. This environmentally friendly message goes hand in hand with slapstick hijinks in one of the year’s better comedies, and it clinches the titles with the unforgettable Mini Ika Musume.

Oh, and every time she says “squid” she’s actually swearing.

(Read the full review here)

5. Katanagatari


Producer: White Fox

Aired: 25/1/2010 to 10/12/2010

Episodes: 12

Another samurai story, but this time with added ninjas. This anime is the epitome of “dialogue driven”, and may put people off because of its short fights and long conversations (which sounds an awful lot like arguing and making up with your girlfriend).

That said, it’s rather dry with its humour and has some very nice visuals.

(Read the full review here)

4. Sora no Woto (Sounds of the Skies)


Producer: A-1 Pictures

Aired: 4/1/2010 to 22/3/2010

Episodes: 12

Five girls guarding a remote fortress? It sounds as illogical as it is, yet despite its cute looks and picturesque settings, there’s a story in here about war and salvation that really could have been longer.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not simply K-On! in the military.

(Read the full review here)

3. Nodame Cantabile: Finale


Producer: J. C. Staff

Aired: 14/1/2010 to 25/3/2010

Episodes: 11

More classical music shenanigans abound in the final season. Will eccentric musical genius and complete otaku Noda Megumi (Nodame), finally reap the rewards of all her hard work (stalking), and effort (can’t cook and doesn’t do housework)? Will Chiaki be able to endure any more of Nodame’s insanity?

Romantic comedy doesn’t get much better, or funnier, than this.

2. Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya)


Producer: Kyoto Animation

Aired: 6/2/2010

Episodes: 1

Anyone who has anything to do with anime will have heard of the franchise at least. Thankfully this movie is nothing like either of the two previous seasons in that it’s a much more serious affair.

Easily the best anime movie of 2010.

(Read the full review here)

1. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood


Producer: BONES

Aired: 5/4/2009 to 4/7/2010

Episodes: 64

While I prefer the darker tones of the original adaptation, Brotherhood easily tops this list. Arakawa Hiromu’s hit manga finally gets the recognition it deserves in this faithful rendition of the original story. Lots of intrigue, action, people running around fighting/shooting/because everyone else is/looking cool.

If you like anime then you really should give this series a try.

(Read the full review here)

Okay, time for some some extra prizes!

Best Action – Tatakau Shishou (Armed Librarians): The Book of Bantorra

This just managed to edge Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood out of the running. While the latter is the more complete series, Tatakau Shishou has some truly excellent action set pieces, a very good plot and some great characterisations, all of which set it apart from almost every other action anime out there.

Honourable Mentions: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Trigun: Badlands Rumble, One Piece: Strong World

Best Comedy – Tentai Senshi (Astro Fighter) Sunred 2

This is probably one of the most unedrappreciated comedies of the last few years. It’s a parody of the “masked hero” stereotype, and the manner in which the series does this is superb. If you don’t love the bad guy by the end then you’re not human.

Honourable Mentions: Gintama, Gag Manga Biyori, Shinryaku Ika Musume, Kuragehime

Best Parody – Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish)

This was a close one between Sunred and Kuragehime as both are equally deserving of the title. Kuragehime just won out though, mainly because of the way it satirises the stereotypes about female otaku. The “Sisterhood” are funny, very, very eccentric, totally insane, and absolutely brilliant, and nothing can truly upset their ways except a crossdressing hipster.

Honourable Mentions: Tentai Senshi (Astro Fighter) Sunred 2, Gag Manga Biyori, Gintama

Best Slice of Life – Sora no Woto (Sound of the Skies)

2010 wasn’t really a good year for slice of life shows since the trend in anime is moving towards fanservice. Sora no Woto manages to fend off the likes of K-On!! by simply … not being as “twee”. Yes, the characters look similar, but Sora no Woto has a grace about it that belies the cuteness of its characters.

Honourable Mentions: Cross Game (finished in 2010, but still worth mentioning again), Hidamari Sketch x Hoshi Mittsu, K-On!!

Best Romance – Nodame Cantabile: Finale

Okay, so this one was pretty easy. The conclusion to the hit classical music rom-com hit all of the right notes with it’s blend of slapstick, satire and drama. The best thing about the franchise is that you don’t have to suffer through all the adolescent stuff that is common in the majority of relationship anime.

Honourable Mentions: Cross Game, Kobato, Kimi ni Todoke (all of these ended in 2010)

Best Horror/Supernatural – Shiki (Corpse Demon)

Blood, psychosis, and a return to the older tales make this one of the more intelligent takes on the vampire theme since Kurozuka.

To be honest, this was a bit of a struggle since the travesty that is High School of the Dead was so popular amongst people too afraid to look for pornography that studios turned down a number of better ideas in the hopes of cashing in.

Honourable Mentions: Kuroshitsuji II, Shinrei Tantei Yakumo

Best Science Fiction – Eve no Jikan (Time of Eve)

A sensitive look at the relationship between humans and robots that doesn’t involve fighting or war for a change. The original six episodes have been condensed into movie form, but the story hasn’t really lost anything from this process.

Sci-fi seems to be in decline in anime, and while there are the usual offerings from the Gundam and Macross stables, the a mainstay genre like this one really needs better representation.

Honourable Mentions: Heroman, Cobra: The Animation, Break Blade

Best Historical Fantasy – Senkou no Night Raid

Another one from the Anime no Chikara project (Sora no Woto was also born there), Night Raid delves into the murky relationship between Japan and China during the 1930s, and it manages to do this in an intelligent and serious manner. It also avoids provoking nationalistic sentiments, which given the subject matter was more than a little risky as both nations are quite sensitive about that particular time period.

Honourable Mentions: Hakouki Shinsengumi Kitan, Sengoku Basara II, Katanagatari, Saraiya Gouyou, Rainbow

Best Sports – Ookiku Furikabutte – Natsu no Takai Hen (Big Windup – The Summer Tournament Chapter)

Everyone knows the Japanese love their baseball almost as much as the Americans do, so when it comes to anime, one can usually expect good things, and this one delivers. While it’s a little on the short side, it manages to keep the competition at bay because of its humour and character development.

Honourable Mentions: Cross Game (again), Giant Killing, Major S6

And now for the last batch of awards for 2010

Best Animation – Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

2nd place – Tatakau Shishou: The Book of Bantorra
3rd place – Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu

Best Character Design – Katanagatari

2nd place – Shiki
3rd place – Saraiya Goyou

Best Background Art – Sora no Woto

2nd place – Katanagatari
3rd place – Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Best Music – Nodame Cantabile: Finale

2nd place – Sora no Woto
3rd place – Shiki

Best Story – Tatakau Shishou: The Book of Bantorra

2nd place – Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
3rd place – Senkou no Night Raid

Best Audio/Visual Choregraphy – Shiki

2nd place – Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
3rd place – Sora no Woto

2010 highlighted one thing above all else for the anime industry – the rot has already set in. Unless the studios change their habitual behaviours and start catering to the majority rather than the hardcore minority, then the decline in quality will continue.


Co-founder of The Geek Show Podcast Network. Chief Editor and Executive Producer of, and tangentially overburdened host/co-presenter of several shows on the network. When I'm not engaged in production, journalistic shenanigans or the quagmire that is media criticism I watch movies, interesting TV shows and anime, I also enjoy the arts (you know, classical music and stuff), write many, many things, play and collect a lot of video games, read lots of manga, comics and books, and generally enjoy wallowing in the mass of entertainment media like a hippo in mud. I can also cook.

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