I know I’m a bit late, but I’ll be taking this as a practice run for my upcoming Top 10 Anime of 2007.
There were plenty of great anime in 2006 and some I only watched early this year. I didn’t watch every single anime that were released, nor did I watch every single popular ones such as Code Geass (although I plan to start on that sometime soon), but here are my top 10 favourite anime of 2006. These are also rated based on episodes that were shown in 2006 and does not necessary represent the series as a whole if there were any episodes shown before or after 2006.
Before I go into the top 10, there are 2 anime which, although I really liked, did not make the cut for the top 10. The very least I could do is to mention them.
I was a fan of Digimon Adventures and Digimon 02. Tamers was nice, but it didn’t grab me as much and I stopped watching after that. Digimon Savers, however, got me hooked again although I still feel the original 2 were the best of the Digimon series.
Yakitate Japan was one of the funniest anime I’ve ever watched. It should have been in my Top 10 Funniest Anime list but it slipped my mind while I was writing that. Otherwise, it would be sitting at either the 7th or 8th position. The reason why Yakitate Japan didn’t make the list for my top 10 anime of 2006 is because only the Yakitate 9 arc was shown in 2006. And personally, the Yakitate 9 arc wasn’t nearly as good as the Rookie Tournament arc and the Monaco Cup arc.
Honey and Clover II
There’s less humor and more serious stuff in the second season of Honey and Clover. The number of episodes in HnC2 is less than half of the first season, which is probably why it didn’t feel as fulfilling. Still, it’s a great anime and should be noted as such.
TSUBASA RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE is currently my favourite manga, and because of that I love Tsubasa Chronicle (anime) as well. The artwork and OST are just awesome as well. While I love the manga and would not hesitate to put it in the top 10, the anime was not as nice (maybe because I’ve read the manga) and does not feel that it really belongs in the top 10.
Top 10 Anime of 2006
No.10 – xxxHolic
While I prefer TRC manga over xxxHolic, when it comes to the anime, xxxHolic wins. There’s something about Ichihara Yuuko that draws you in as she seems to know about anything and everything. Nothing surprises her, but it’s always the other way round with Watanuki Kimihiro. She, like Clow Reed, believes that there is no such thing as coincidence in this world, only the inevitable or hitsuzen.
Watanuki is able to see spirits and seems to have some strong power flowing in his blood. This attracts many evil spirits that chases him day and night relentlessly. Yuuko promises to grant him a wish – to stop the evil spirits from going after him. But there’s a catch. Yuuko believes in the rule of equivalent trade. In order to receive, something of equivalent value must first be given. Nothing less, nothing more. In order for Yuuko to grant his wish, he must first work out his payment at Yuuko’s shop.
You can read up more about this series in one of my earlier article, CLAMP Chronicle IV – Tsubasa Chronicle & xxxHolic.
No.9 – Utawarerumono
A H-Game turned anime, Utawarerumono has a great graphics and engaging storyline. The story started off simple enough, about a masked man who forgot who he really was and was nursed back to health by a medicine lady and her granddaughter. From protecting the village, to seeking vengance, to liberating the country and then to even play a part in a world war. It’s very rare to see such a smooth progression from one plot to another without making it looked rushed or weird. The entire transition felt so natural.
I would probably say it’s no exaggeration that Utawarerumono feels more like an epic story unfolding beautifully and gracefully in front of the viewers. The momentum and suspense builds up towards the end of the series and the climax just exploded.
No.8 – Fate/Stay Night
I think the biggest appeal of Fate/Stay Night other than great artwork and character designs (Saber *droolz*) would be the link between Servants and mythical heroes we all know and love. Truth be told, if I hadn’t known there was a King Arthur in the series, I might have guessed Saber was really Joan of Arc. She fitted the bill save for the invisible sword.
The fight scenes in Fate/Stay Night are among the best I’ve ever laid my eyes on. They were magnificently done. Three of my favourite fight scenes are Saber vs Assassin’s final confrontation, Archer vs Berserker and Saber vs Gilgamesh.
The storyline was very compelling as well, with each character having their own motives unseen by others, how friends turned to foe and foe turned to friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t really like how it ended, with Saber returning to her true place and time.
Fate/Stay Night is the highest ranking game-based anime for 2006 for me.
No.7 – Shakugan no Shana
I kinda hate Yuji actually, but I really liked Shana. Maybe it’s her tsundere chacteristics (here’s a definition of tsundere if you don’t know what it means). I also enjoyed how all the Flame Haze, Crimson Lords and Crimson Denizens have their own unique title that pretty much describes themselves. Although Shana’s title was inherited, it fits her perfectly once she transfroms and her hair starts to glow red as if on fire.
There were many questions left unanswered in the first season. I’m still waiting for the DVD release of the movie and the second season, Shakugan no Shana Second, will be airing soon – something I’m looking forward to very much.
No.6 – The Law of Ueki
I’ll admit that I did not like Ueki from the very beginning. An anime about a boy who could turn trash into trees did not seem at all interesting to me at first. It was only around the time when Robert appeared himself that the series started to grab my interest.
The first few battles were interesting, but lacked the hook to keep me interested. But when Robert’s Ten appeared, things got much more interesting. Ueki found out that he’s really a heavenly being and began to awaken his Jingi (sacred treasures) one after another, taking care of his opponents within the Robert’s Ten. Unfortunately, he was still weaker than Robert himself and would have perished if Kobasen had not appeared to stop the battle.
Even though Ueki discovered his level-2 Jingi ability, which is the ability to use more than one Jingi at the same time, his true potential did not show until the battle against Barou. That was when he had finally awakened his level-2 ability; reverse, the ability to reverse another user’s power back to its original form, rendering it useless.
Mediocre character design, but great animation especially when a power is used. It’s the storyline and Ueki’s progression through the tournament that makes The Law of Ueki nice.
No. 5 – Black Cat
The legendary assassin, Train Heartnet aka Number 13, Black Cat. Maybe it’s my fascination with cats and assassins but I really liked Black Cat a lot. I instantly liked it after the first episode. The cool, emotionless and sometimes clueless assassin who neither seemed evil nor good.
Saya recognized the good in Train and they became close friends despite Train’s initial rejection. It was due to her influence that Train decided to leave the Chronos Numbers to live as a free, stray cat. Saya’s death was totally unexpected to me (I’ve watched the anime first before reading the manga), and so was Train’s change in attitude and behaviour after that. The once cold assassin was no more.
That is, until Creed came back into the picture. There are plenty of comedy and action after the first arc as Train leaves his past behind him, but is then forced to face them once more as he hunts down Creed and the Apostles of The Stars.
I did a review on Black Cat a few weeks ago. You can check it out if you want to find out more about the series.
No.4 – Inuyasha
While most anime goes with cats (i.e. Loveless) Rumiko Takahashi took a different route and went with dogs instead. The result – Inuyasha.
I don’t think Inuyasha needs anymore introduction. I believe it’s one of the most popular anime around for the past few years, and rightly so. From a seemingly innocent journey of searching for the sacred jewel shards, mysterious enemies and plots started to unfold, revealing an evil that had engulfed Inuyasha since even before he was sealed by Kikyo.
I like how the story always seem to be able to throw something at Inuyasha without making it feel repetitive. Rumiko managed to attack Inuyasha from different angles, both internal and external. Not only does Inuyasha has to deal with enemies, but also his past. He can never seem to decide once and for all who he rather be with; Kikyo or Kagome.
Each arc in Inuyasha usually proves to be quite lengthy, but it doesn’t feel rushed or draggy either. And after each arc we are treated with some breaks in the story by having a couple of episodes with Kagome and Inuyasha in the present time. I always enjoy these episodes the most.
No.3 – Eureka 7
This is one of the few anime where I started off saying “The main character sucks! I don’t think I’ll enjoy this anime” and is the first one where I had to eat my words later on. Sure, Renton started off as an annoying country kid, but one of the main reason why I liked this anime is how each and every character develops from one stage to another. It is like watching an ugly caterpillar slowly going through the metamorphoses stages to become a beautiful butterfly in the end. That’s exactly what Eureka 7 is like.
As I’ve mentioned in my review of Eureka 7 before, the cast of characters are very varied yet at the same time lovable. They are what made Eureka 7 the great anime that it is. Not the mechas, not the soundtrack, not the design and animation and not the overall plot to save the planet from certain doom. Sure, those are important factors, but take the characters and their growth and you have a stale anime that is not unlike everything else being thrown around.
No.2 – The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi
One word – Haruhiism. This would have been number 1 if I hadn’t decided that I enjoyed the other choice more and watched it a lot more times than I did with Haruhi. The gap between Haruhi and the top spot is very marginal in my opinion.
This is also an anime that doesn’t really need any introduction. The Suzumiya Haruhi fever had never died even after the first season had ended over a year ago. Even without much promotion, any piece of Haruhi-worthy news would spread like wildfire. Take for example the Suzumiya Haruhi live action stunt video released almost quietly on Tanabata this year (07/07/07) that spread like mad throughout the online anime community. Not to mention the Hare Hare Yukai dance fever ever since the Suzumiya Haruhi no Gekiso live event.
Perhaps the reason why many are captivated by Suzumiya Haruhi is thanks to Kyon. Kyon is almost real and human just like us. We hear his thoughts, his contradictions and reaction of Suzumiya Haruhi almost like how we would have seen it if someone as absurd as Suzumiya Haruhi were to be placed right in front of us. This allows viewers to relate to Kyon directly and is probably how Haruhiism began to take over the world.
No. 1 – Ouran High School Host Club
When I was first introduced to Ouran High School Host Club, I would never had imagined it to become one of my top listed anime. It was fourth in my Top 10 Funniest Anime list, but here, it is King. And I’m not talking about Tamaki.
It’s just so easy for me to watch it over and over and over without feeling bored. The Hitachiin twins started off as being the pair I hate the most in the club, but ended up as my favourite because I find them the funniest and most interesting of the bunch. They are always up to no good which makes them fun to watch.
Each character is easily classified and is done so at the very beginning when Tamaki introduced everyone in the club to Haruhi. Every character also gets their turn to shine, even the quiet Mori-senpai despite the short season of only 26 episodes.
There is no major plot involved, just the daily lives of the host club members but it’s always entertaining to watch. Perhaps another reason why this anime had left such a big impression on me is due to the ending. Most anime have poor or sub-par ending, but Ouran High School Host Club has the best ending I’ve seen in a very long time. Not only that, it also leaves room for a possible sequel. While there are no news regarding a sequel, it is definitely a possibility since there are many more materials in the manga that has yet been animated.
Unless I forgot and left out some anime that should be on this list, since I’m quite forgetful, the list will probably stay this way and not change. But just in case, do let me know if you think there are other anime that should be on the list and I’ll re-consider the list. It is, after, all my personal list for top 10 anime for 2006.