Welcome to the Year 2000

One of the most frequent complaints we hear (please keep them coming, by the way, we find them absolutely delightful) is that we’re blinded by nostalgia, favoring older titles over newer ones of similar quality.

A hop through our archives will reveal some harsh reviews of 80s OVAs and plenty of praise for newer stuff. Yeah, we’ve never been coy about our love for lovingly-animated Oriental Video Animation about big ol’ robots, a genre that reached its apex while we were in diapers, blissfully unaware that a quarter century or so later, we’d be spending our free time seriously contemplating cartoons from another nation.

But we watch other stuff too, yo.

So for the remaining doubters out there, we’ve decided to tackle our greatest challenge yet: a theme week on the ’00s, a bitterly contentious decade in the history of Japanimation. We’ve mostly avoided writing about the real heavy hitters (the world probably doesn’t need another Spirited Away write-up), but we’ve taken a look at what we, much like the Library of Congress, have deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Plus, in true Colony Drop style, we also figured we’d stumble in to the decade-in-review party 11 months late, clutching a brown paper bag and mumbling incoherently. It’s how we do.

10 Comments

  1. It’s terrible to say, but most every anime I’ve liked in the post-2K world I have to qualify and be a bit wishy-washy on, because so much of the damn stuff ends up having a key flaw, usually by falling apart at the end.

    And then there’s Licensed By Royalty. God, to go back in time and rip the first volume out of my hand so as it would not become a burning horror pit in my brain of hatred. I should have known better, but I bought all 4 discs. AND WATCHED THEM.

    *sob*

  2. Off the top of my head, here’s five that had a pretty heavy effect on me:

    Texhnolyze (2003): The most absurdly, relentlessly, shamelessly, incoherently depressing anime of the decade, if not ever, so kudos for that.

    Kino no Tabi (2003): Lovely atmosphere, with a wonderfully bitter streak of irony running through the series.

    Kaiba (2008): Loopy, Philip K Dick meets Roland Topor thriller.

    Twelve Kingdoms (2002): Ruggedly animated, meandering, littered with loose ends, sprawling, and utterly engrossing story.

    Kemono no Souja Erin (2009): The definitive anime Bildungsroman. Completely satisfying in almost every way.

  3. The 2000’s do occasionally get a rather bad press from some quarters, but I can think of at least 50 good works from that decade without too much effort.

    Of course, the problem is that over 1500 (1519 I think) works were produced across the whole decade and most of them were bad.

    Anyway, I look forward to your retrospectives.

  4. @Jack: Agreed–there were quite a few great works in the 2000s (for instance, TEXHNOLYZE, previously mentioned by dotdash; ERGO PROXY; FLAG; SWORD OF THE SAMURAI, and AFRO SAMURAI–yes, I said it!). And let’s not forget Satoshi Kon’s three films and PARANOIA AGENT.

    I don’t know how someone can accuse CD of looking at older titles through rose-colored lenses–they’ve been harsh (but honest) on some older OVAs, and for good reason. Still, it will be interesting to see what happens with the look at the best of the 2000s…and the worst.

    Bring ’em on, guys!

  5. I don’t know if you want to touch it, but I’d like to at least mention Azumanga Daioh, and to a lesser but still notable degree Maria-sama ga Miteru. Both are solid-bordering-on-great shows of the earlier half of the decade, but the success of both hinge heavily on their (more or less incidental, at that point) moé appeal, a trend that pretty much took over anime later on – without any of these show’s subtleness and with all character depth replaced with shameless pandering. Azumanga Daioh in particular is kind of a sore spot for me, because despite it being quite good, I can’t help blaming it for much of the crap in its vein that followed.

    In fact, the wave of Eva clones (without the things that made Eva actually good) mentioned in the Escaflowne article had already subsided by the mid-00s, soon to be replaced by Azumanga Daioh clones (without all that made THAT show actually good).

  6. If you’re going to talk about Maria-sama ga Miteru, I think you’d have to first mention Aoi Hana. The cutesy voice acting doesn’t quite do justice to the pokerfaced emotional directness of Shimura Takako’s manga, but I’d say it’s pretty much the definitive treatment out there of that subgenre.

    (Also, CD admin, please punch your spam filter in the face on my behalf for the way it forced me to drop the hyphen from the word “pokerfaced”)

  7. dotdash: I think you’re missing the point. I didn’t mention Marimite because I think it’s a super awesome show that needs to be in any 00s list, (I don’t, even though I like it).

    In my opinion, Marimite is relevant to this in a way that Aoi Hana is not for a simple reason. It predates the massive moé boom, and considering the huge crossover audience and rabid fanbase it got without even trying makes me think that a lot of producers wanted a slice of that pie as well, noticed that you could throw in a bunch of otaku references instead of good characterization, and that leads us directly to where we are now. Azumanga Daioh is the far better example for what I’m getting at anyway, since it’s primarily a comedy like most of the latter day moé shows.

    So basically this isn’t about one show being better than the other, it’s about being more influential or at least of historical interest. Aoi Hana, being a ’09 (i.e. post-moé boom) show, loses almost by default there, regardless of how well done it is, and it also doesn’t have the massive following Marimite used to have back in the day. I don’t think this is supposed to be an article series on the VERY BEST 00s shows, and even if it were I suspect neither Marimite nor Aoi Hana would place high enough to get a spot.

  8. Are you taking the piss when you keep saying Oriental Video Animation?

    Fer christ sakes! OVA stands for Original Video Animation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OVA

    Are you not aware that saying Oriental Video Animation has a racist tinge? No one calls asian people Oriental anymore.

    Anyway… Looking forward to this feature – I for one am on the same page when it comes to Japanese anime – most of the great stuff was produced between the early 80’s and early 90’s so I’m very interested to get your opinions on what the noughties had to offer.

    IMO besides the OVA errs Colony Drop is still the best anime blog on the interwebs.

  9. Redpaper, if ‘oriental video animation’ tightens your jaw, I can’t even begin to imagine what ‘Japanimation’ and ‘japtoons’ does to your blood pressure.

    dudes know what they’re saying, you just have to tip to the gaff. It’s all good.

  10. >delta

    But I don’t think that’s what CD are aiming for with this series. If it was simply a matter of picking the popular and influential anime of the past decade, they would probably be picking on totally different kinds of shows (and I wouldn’t be reading this series of articles to begin with).

    My point about Aoi Hana isn’t just that it’s better than other works in the same genre (although it evidently is), but that it manages to come out with something that feels fresh and has a distinct authorial voice in a genre that’s usually quite bogged down in its own limitations. As you say, though, I’m coming at this from a different perspective.

    Azumanga Daioh I haven’t seen, but I gather it’s well-regarded round these parts.

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