Today we conclude with AoMM’s Best Anime Series of 2006. I don’t think it’s hard to guess which series won, but, first, some foreplay.
Breakthrough Seiyuu Performance of 2006
Winner: Aya Hirano
No seiyuu put themselves on the map quite like what Aya did with Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Just a completely tour de force performance from someone who hasn’t exactly had plum roles before. Besides the excellent voice acting job for Haruhi, she took it to the next level that’s generally reserved for the greats like Maaya Sakamoto and Megumi Hayashibara with great performances for Bouken Desho Desho and Hare Hare Yukai… and then just leveled the competition with God Knows. Nothing else comes close to Aya’s Google-like rise in the fanboy kingdom for 2006.
Best Episode of 2006
Winner: Live a Live, Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 12
Possibly one of the top twenty-five anime episodes ever made.
Runner Ups: Swan Song at Dawn, Black Lagoon 15; Deviant Waltz, Kanon 12; Keron Forces Arc, Keroro Gunso 101 and 102; Tabitha’s Secret, Zero no Tsukaima 8; Onikakushi-hen, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni 1 through 4; Haruhi in Wonderland, Ouran Host Club 13; Adventures of Mikuru Asahina 00, Melacholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 1
“Swan Song at Dawn” was chilling and was punctuated by Hansel and Gretel walking the bleach, dripping blood, instead of Revy’s usual walk. “Tabitha’s Secret” should really have been named “Meido Gone Wild!” “Haruhi in Wonderland” was the only episode where Haruhi was actually funny instead of being a straight-faced statue. Finally, considering that “A Goddess Comes to Japan” is Fumoffu 12 (though “Warcry of Excessiveness” 11 is still the greatest Fumoffu episode), I think we can make a case that KyoAni is not allowed to make anything other than episode twelves.
Best Meme of 2006
Winner: Churuya, “nyoro~!”
Something whimsical. Something cute. Something pathetic. All-rolled up into one and 1,000% more sparkling than Mesousa. Genius. Pure genius. I think because of Churuya alone, LOL FANG-TAN may even be more popular than one or two of the SOS Brigade girls. BTW, “Churuya” is actually a Guajiboan language.
Runner Ups: Killer lolis, “USO DA!”; LOL FANG-TAN, “nyoro~!”; Lolilaika, *snipe*
I have no idea how long these memes will last in the wild, but they’ve lasted longer than others. Scrapped as an award category was “Best Nonsensical Noise”… everything from “nyoro~” to “uguu~” would have it’s day then, but then I realized that nothing tops the ロコロコ theme. Game over.
Best Anime Series of 2006
Winner: Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Eh, what were you expecting here? I wrote more about the SOS Brigade than any other series in 2006.
Haruhi has it all: epic meido (Mikuru), epic crazy girl (Haruhi), epic crazier girl (Ryoko), epic Ayanami clone (Yuki), epic home side character (Itsuki), epic narrator (Kyon), epic LOL FANG-tan. Toss in instant classics like “Imouto-in-a-bag,” “costume-raping,” “Phoenix Wright,” “The Second Raid!,” and “ponytails,” we have what I consider the closest anime phenomenon to Evangelion since Evangelion. Unfortunately, Haruhi is turning into the New York Yankees of anime. One of those things where backlash starts forming just because, “Hey, other people like this so I have to hate it” type of things, which is fine, but let’s keep emotions and prejudices out of the conversation for a second:
Seiyuu performance? Aya Hirano pulled off an A+++ performance with no one else in the cast scoring lower than an A-. I can’t say this about any other series in 2006.
Music? Everything from the jpop of Hare Hare Yukai to the various classical melodies to the jrock of God Knows. Can you name one other series from 2006 that runs this gamut? No other series in 2006 can overtake the same amount of musical parodies as Haruhi on Youtube nor can any of them boast that they were a top 5 song on Hey! Hey! Hey!.
Animation quality? Discounting movies and OVAs like Solid State Society and Earthsea, no one does animation better than Kyoto Animation for 2006. Only Kanon stands with Haruhi in this department.
Story? Definitely subjective, but the setup is just so simple yet original yet compelling: Girl wishes that she were surrounded by aliens, espers, and time travelers… unfortunately, she doesn’t realize that it’s (a) true and (b) she’s God thus making it happen. It’s just one of those things that isn’t overly complicated, yet can be overly complicated, yet works… kinda like “Poor rapper from Philly moves into rich uncle’s mansion in Bel Air” or “Two FBI agents search for UFOs with palatable sexual tension between them.” Exploring the novels, there is actually a very rich and detailed nuances to Haruhi’s world that Kyoto managed to faithfully recreate as best as they could for TV (by comparison, Zero no Tsukaima‘s adaptation was nowhere as faithful as Haruhi‘s). To top it off, Haruhi manages to unite many different genres under one roof and do it well– harem? Action? Mystery? Comedy? Moe? Everything. Now with Bandai sponsorship, I’m guessing even giant mecha isn’t out of reach.
Wisdom of the Crowds? On AniDB, Haruhi is ranked in the top ten overall and is the highest ranked series out of all the 2006 series. ANN has it clocked in a “Masterpiece” (though they also give this distinction to Bartender…). AnimeNFO has Haruhi ranked as the highest rated series for 2005 and 2006 (though through 2003, only Elfen Lied tops it). Plus, I can’t think of another series this year where fans helped out in a guerrilla marketing campaign quite like it. Even if they’re getting “paid.”
Thin and Thick Slice? I don’t think any native English anime fan expected Haruhi, and I had no clue what the series was about. I still remember checking out the first episode, and I was watching it for the first minute thinking, “Hey, this fansubber’s encoder sucks…” until I realized what was really going on. By the time the episode was over, I was hooked. By the time the second episode was over, I needed my weekly fix as badly as a heroin junkie. For people who were following the show when it unfolded, it was a grand ol’ time. And it refreshed me as an anime fan; for someone who is concluding his fifth “Best of” yearly feature, it means that Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is worthy of Best Anime Series of 2006.
(As for 2007, I’d pencil in
Claymore Return of Ryoko Asakura as the favorite…)
Thanks everyone for your support for the past year. Let’s have fun in 2007.