ANIME TOP 10: ‘Evangelion,’ ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ lead 2010’s best

Dec. 21, 2010 | 12:48 p.m.

Charles Solomon — the animation historian and critic as well as the author of numerous books in the field (among them this year’s “The Art of ‘Toy Story 3‘ “) will be writing more often for Hero Complex. Here, he weighs in on the best anime releases of 2010. Some of those releases “are either remakes or sequels,” Solomon notes, “but they improve on the originals, demonstrating the imagination and ongoing vitality of the Japanese animation industry.”

evangelion ANIME TOP 10: Evangelion, Fullmetal Alchemist lead 2010s best

"Evangelion: 1.11 You Are Not Alone."

1. “Evangelion: 1.11 You Are Not Alone”: Hideaki Anno’s watershed series “Neon Genesis Evangelion” mixed giant cyborgs, apocalyptic Christian symbols and Jungian psychology with unmatched  panache. Anno is “rebuilding” his epic as he initially envisioned it in four feature films, free of technological and budgetary constraints. When reluctant hero Shinji Ikari battles Ramiel, the geometric blue Angel, the combination of drawn and CG animation eclipses the earlier version. A must-have for anime fans.

2. “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”: Edward and Alphonse Elric violated the laws of alchemy when they tried to bring their mother back from the dead — and paid a terrible price: Ed lost his left leg; Al nearly died; Edward sacrificed his right arm to preserve his brother’s soul in an empty suit of armor. His robotic prostheses earned Ed the nickname “Fullmetal.” One of the biggest hits of the new century, “Fullmetal Alchemist” has been remade to follow to Hiromu Arakawa’s original manga more closely. Although the series has been expanded to 63 episodes from 51, many subplots have been trimmed or eliminated, and the results pack even more of an emotional and visual wallop than the much-loved original.

3. “Naruto: Shippuden”: One of the most eagerly anticipated releases of recent years, “Naruto: Shippuden” is the follow-up to the international hit “Naruto.” Two and a half years have passed since the first series ended. Ninja-in-training Naruto Uzumaki has learned new skills and matured a little, but he remains the exuberant, ramen-gulping knucklehead audiences love. He needs those skills to free his friend Sasuke from the Akatsuki, an evil cabal seeking to rule the Ninja world by controlling nine powerful demons.

4. “Eden of the East”: Akira Takizawa, the hero of  “Eden of the East,” wakes up in front of the White House, stripped of his memories and his clothes: All he has is a gun and a cel phone that delivers anything he requests. Writer-director Kenji Kamiyama blends adventure, mystery and comedy into an exciting, off-the-wall fantasy. Although it’s rollicking good fun, “Eden of the East” reflects the economic and psychological malaise of contemporary Japan.

eden of the east ANIME TOP 10: Evangelion, Fullmetal Alchemist lead 2010s best

"Eden of the East."

5. “Oh! Edo Rocket: Season 1,  Part 1″: Part Jules Verne-esque adventure and part knock-about farce, “Oh! Edo Rocket”  is  set in a fictionalized Tokyo whose inhabitants chafe at the Shogun’s restriction on popular amusements, including fireworks. Rambunctious young pyrotechnician Seikichi spends most of his time evading those laws — until he meets a mysterious young woman who asks him to build a skyrocket that can fly to the moon.

6. “Soul Eater: Part 1” : The dark comedy-fantasy “Soul Eater” takes place at the Death Weapon Meister Academy, a school run by the Grim Reaper to create pairs of fighters, one of whom transforms into a weapon wielded by his “Meister” partner. The striking geometrized designs lend visual excitement to the freewheeling silliness and supernatural adventures.

piano ANIME TOP 10: Evangelion, Fullmetal Alchemist lead 2010s best 7. “Trigun: The Complete Series Box Set”: Everyone’s pursuing Vash the Stampede, a.k.a “the humanoid typhoon,” but who and what is he? Bounty hunters want the 60,000,000,000 Double Dollars on his head. People in trouble want his help. Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson want to bring him under control: He’s a walking disaster who has cost the Bernardelli Insurance Society a fortune. One of the best-loved series of the ’90s, “Trigun” has lost none of its appeal in the intervening years.

8. “Dragon Ball Z Kai”: In a way, Akira Toriyama’s “Dragon Ball Z” has been the cartoon equivalent of a gateway drug — it’s hooked millions of boys on anime. But the adventures of Goku, Gohan and the Z-Fighters often ramble  aimlessly. For “Dragon Ball Z Kai,” the 291-episode saga has been re-cut to 99 episodes, eliminating subplots and streamlining the storyline. The visuals have been reformatted for wider screens, and the dialogue re-recorded in a better translation. The accelerated pace energizes “Kai,” making it funnier and more exciting than the original.

9. “Piano: Melody of a Young Girl’s Heart”: Unlike the snide heroines in many American cartoons, Miu Nomura is a shy junior high student whose life revolves around music. When she meets handsome track star Takahashi, her attraction to him brings new spirit to her playing. “Piano” suggests a sort of anime verité: small, realistic adventures aimed at a young female audience.

10.The Secret of Kells”: Dubbed “Irish anime” by some observers, “The Secret of Kells” offers stylized designs, sumptuous backgrounds and an exciting story that will appeal to anime fans. Twelve-year-old Brendan lives at the monastery of Kells, guarded by its walls and under the stern eye of Abbot Cellach. When Brother Aidan arrives bearing a wondrously beautiful but unfinished manuscript, Brendan realizes he wants to become an illuminator and complete it. His determination wins the friendship of Aisling, a silver-haired wood fairy, and enables him to defeat the  serpentine god, Crom Cruach.

— Charles Solomon



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24 Responses to ANIME TOP 10: ‘Evangelion,’ ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’ lead 2010’s best

  1. John Whorfin says:

    Two words:


    That's the best anime film of the year, hands down, and it's an egregious oversight to not include it on this list – esp. when (the wonderful) The Secret of Kells was released last year, and isn't even anime!

    • Thuan Dang says:

      yes, yes, and hell yes.

    • Kogepan says:

      Completely agree with everything said above. Replace Naruto with Summer Wars. Naruto has its good points, but Summer Wars completely would blow that out of the water. And I have no idea what Secret of Kells is doing on here, failing in two respects: 1) last year. 2) not anime. Animation, yes. Japanese animation, no.

  2. Kogepan says:

    Oh yeah, or probably Redline, which I haven't seen, but won LAAF.'s audience award.

  3. NinjaRobot says:

    SUMMER WARS was released 2009, not 2010, so it doesn't count.

    • Thuan Dang says:

      Summer Wars had a 2010 US release

    • Shaz says:

      I’m sorry, but even if that particular box set of Trigun came out this year, Trigun came out in Japan in 1998 and was released here by 2003. So I don’t think Summer Wars should be counted out just because only the US release was in 2010!

  4. J.K. says:

    Truly. How can Summer Wars not be included? Fail.

  5. Kogepan says:

    Actually this whole list is weird. You'd think it would be top 10 anime R1 DVD releases or top 10 anime in Japan or something consistent. Trigun came out in Japan in 1998, and had a full US Geneon box set by 2001. Funimation put out a new boxset this year, but the anime is far from new, it's just a rerelease. Piano came out in 2002, and had a full box set in 2006; it also had a cheap rerelease this year. As I stated before Secret of Kells isn't even anime. Naruto is an ongoing series and has a lot of high points but a whole lot of low points (low quality filler, uneven animation), so I don't even know how it made this list. This list would be better if it focused on first time US releases this year, instead of choosing series that are just being released as new cheap formats. Or do a list on affordable re-releases if that's what you want to highlight. Otherwise, this just looks like the writer doesn't know what he's talking about.

  6. mawnck says:

    Needs more Redline.

  7. John says:

    I'm not going to say that animated adaptions of popular Shonen manga are the best things out there but I would I easily replace Naruto with One Piece.

  8. Michael says:

    This list is an ode to good taste..the only title I would take out would be Naruto for obvious reasons..the anime is no match for the vastly superior manga..also I would add Summer Wars at number three.
    Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood should quite honestly be at number one..its simply a masterpiece that needs to be seen by everyone..Evangelion: 1.11 You Are Not Alone is a suitable number one tho..also Disney released Tales from Earthsea in america back in August of this year..really no reason why that isn't on the list as well.

  9. Michael says:

    This list is an ode to good taste..the only title I would take out would be Naruto for obvious reasons..the anime is no match for the vastly superior manga..also I would add Summer Wars at number three.

  10. kimaokoh says:

    fullmetal alchemist broterhood number 1 i love edward elric very much

  11. AskaLangly says:

    Of COURSE Evangelion…

  12. Mario_Yagami says:

    When i saw Naruto on third … just start to asking "Who can make such list?". I don't know what animes do you get this year on USA because i'm from Europe, but since i see anime everyday from Japan, if that is the best of the year over there, it's real a shame…

  13. pwnd says:

    naruto on third?! lame tsk
    FMAB should be on the 1st list :D

  14. Joseph says:

    Evagelion sucks, FMAB should be #1

  15. pocket sliding door says:

    I like Full Metal to be the top!
    pocket sliding door

  16. thomas sabo ringe says:

    Definitely imagine that that you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be at the internet the simplest thing to be mindful of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while folks think about issues that they just don’t recognize about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and defined out the entire thing with no need side-effects , other folks could take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thank you

  17. acerimmer says:

    No One Piece????

  18. Tyler says:

    You have absolutely awful taste in anime. You're the kind of person that likes flashy nonsense and loud sounds. The only good anime on here is FMA Brotherhood, and you probably only enjoyed that for the fights and not the pseudo-science. I saw your review of Mawaru Penguindrum and I can obviously tell you don't know how to see the message behind anything. All you saw what happened on the screen. Congratulations, you have eyes and know how to write down what you see. but if you're going to review things you need to see beyond just what you see.

  19. fullmetalpotatogirl says:

    Yeah! Where's One Piece?!?

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