So here we are. One year since my first post and because it's the anniversary of me starting this bog, I've decided to put together a list of categories to highlight the best stuff I've seen in the last year. I should stress that this includes TV shows and films that pre-date 2010. It's more a reflection of my viewing habits than of the current state of the industry, but I figured there are plenty of awards that already do that.
Life Special Investigation Team
Ueno Juri no Itsutsu no Kaban
Ashita no, Kita Yoshio
Atami no Sousakan
That is one hell of a line-up, even if I do say so myself. Trying to pick one flawless gem out of this pile of treasure is almost impossible. I'd have to give it to Ashita no, Kita Yoshio. The gorgeous soundtrack, the slow unfurling of the storyline, the humour, the pathos. I think it's the most complete drama series I've seen this year.
This one's tough. Moteki is probably the weakest, and Akihabara@Deep is more about the energy and craziness than sharp dialogue. Which leaves Jikou Keisatsu and Unubore Deka. In the end I have to go for Jilou Keisatsu. While I love both to bits, Jikou Keisatsu just edges it with it's mystery elements. And Fuse Eri, of course.
Best entertainment show
Dasshutsu Game Dero
Game Centre CX
Gaki no Tsukai
I know I haven't written about Gaki no Tsukai before, and I really should, but I couldn't leave it out just because of that. Meanwhile, the winner is Dasshutsu Game Dero. Game Centre CX ran it close, especially since I found more episodes on Youku (alas, without subs) but Dero wins simply in terms of putting famous people in uncomfortable situations and making them solve puzzles. Easy to get the hang of, and there are a fair few questions that an English speaker could have an attempt at.
Veltpunch “The Black Album”
Yui “Holidays in the Sun”
Gomez the Hitman “Ripple”
Ellegarden “Eleven Fire Crackers”
No real competition here. Veltpunch's Black Album isn't just the best Japanese album I've heard this year: it's the best album, full stop. Loud guitars and catchy choruses are married to an indie/experimental sensibility so it never grows stale. Yui's album is full of bright, summery tunes and the other two are a little old (both from 2005) but I never pretended to be up to date. Gomez the Hitman's “Ripple” is a laid back, folky/bluesy pop album while Ellegarden's grunge is all about 100mph choruses crashing into each other.
Uhm Ki Joon (Life Special Investigation Team)
Katagiri Jin (Quiz Show)
Kohinata Fumiyo (Ashita no, Kita Yoshio)
Quite a varied bunch. Between ARATA's understated menace and Katagiri's slow descent into madness, I think we have all bases covered. It makes this a bit tricky, but I've decided on Kohinata Fumiyo. Without his sympathetic portrayal of the suicidal loser, that series would've had a very different feel to it.
Wakana Sakai (Koi no Mon)
Aso Kumiko (Chase, etc)
Shinohara Ryoko (Tsuki no Koibito)
Ueno Juri (Ueno Juri no Itsutsu no Kaban)
Aso Kumiko takes the plaudits, not just because of Chase, but also for Oto-Na-Ri, Instant Swamp and Jikou Keisatsu. It's hard to find a flaw in any of her performances, nor a point where she's anything less than convincing.
Time of Eve
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
I don't really watch that much anime at all. But out of what I saw: Time of Eve wins it. Easily. The Endless Eight episodes in Haruhi's second series were very brave, and Deathnote's convoluted storyline had you guessing to the end but Time of Eve had a depth and style that's often lacking in any story these days, live action or animated.
Castaway on the moon
One Million Yen Girl
Both Castaway and Departures made me do a tiny cry, so it's between them, really. I can barely chose, but I think for being slightly less melodramatic it has to go to Castaway On The Moon. Certainly, after I saw it I immediately wanted to watch it again, which is always a good sign.
Best soundtrack (TV and Film)
Ashita no, Kita Yoshio
Linda, Linda, Linda
Time of Eve
James Iha's haunting soundtrack for Linda, Linda, Linda is the winner here. The ambient guitar work that almost seems to hang in the air makes for a great contrast with Paranmaum's punk cover versions.
The “Safe pair of hands” award
This award goes to the actor who always seems to chose good dramas to be in. And it goes to Ikuta Toma, thanks to Unubore Deka, Akihabara@Deep, and Majo Saiban. And that's not including things I haven't written about, like Voice. If he's in a drama, you can feel pretty secure that it'll be worth watching. Clever man.
And that's it! Well done to all concerned, thanks to those sites I took pictures from when I couldn't be bothered to get a new screengrab.