Saturday, January 1, 2011

The best stuff I wrote about in 2010

These are some of the things I particularly enjoyed reading and watching this past year. You won't find everything I commented on favorably, these are just some of the things that stuck with me as being particularly good in some way. One thing that putting this post together has taught me is that I need to read more and better books in 2011 - it was a lot easier picking out good anime than it was to pick out good books.

I'm not going to link to any of my posts about any of these works, because they more than likely have spoilers. However, if you'd like to read the posts, it's not hard to find them. My list of tags is in alphabetical order. For books, look for the author's last name. For anime or live action TV, look for the title.

In no particular order, with a few non-spoilery comments:

Anime:
  1. Maria Watches Over Us, Season One (anime TV series) - This one took a bit to grow on me, but, even while I was still trying to figure out if I liked it, I gobbled it up. This melodramatic series focuses on the often close relationships between a bunch of girls at a Catholic all girls' school in Japan.
  2. Hetalia: Axis Powers (anime TV series) - Really entertaining, slightly educational, and the funniest comedic anime I've seen in a long time. Plus, with 5-minute long episodes, easy to watch or to stop and put aside for a while.
  3. Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit - Complete Collection (anime TV series) - This show didn't suck me in right away. In fact, at first I was convinced I had wasted my money. For a series that seems to promise fast-paced action, this is actually pretty slow-paced. I'm glad I persevered.
  4. The Story of Saiunkoku, Complete Season One (anime TV series) - I bought this expecting a romantic anime, and what I got instead was adventure and politics with a little bit of romance. I still haven't gotten the second season, but I do intend to.
  5. The Twelve Kingdoms, Complete Collection (anime TV series) - This could have been better, and, in some areas, the books this series was based on were better, but it's still a good series.
  6. Blood: The Last Vampire (anime movie) - Way, way better than the live action movie based on it. It's too bad this is too short to properly develop the characters or the world.
  7. Baccano! (anime TV series) - Considering the number of characters this series pushes to the forefront, it's amazing that it's is as good as it is. And it is good. It's also very gory, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to everyone.
  8. Big Windup! (anime TV series + OVA) - Like Maria Watches Over Us, this was a surprise favorite of mine. This show focuses on a high school baseball team, paying particular attention to the team's extremely sensitive pitcher and his catcher. I loved watching the characters' relationships develop and getting to see everyone on the team shine.
Books:
  1. Chalice (book) by Robin McKinley - A little confusing and exhausting, but good all the same. I would love to read more books set in this world.
  2. Maid to Match (book) by Deeanne Gist - The second book I've read by Gist, and the best of hers that I've read so far. It's Christian romance, but the Christian aspects didn't feel tacked on to me, and the romance itself was really, really good. Plus, how often do you find a book that features romance between a maid and a footman?
  3. Graceling (book) by Kristin Cashore - I put off reading this one for a while, because its premise sounded kind of dumb. Then I read it, and immediately reread it. When I was a teen, I was a huge fan of Tamora Pierce. If someone could have given this to teenaged me, I would have been a very happy girl.
  4. Men of the Otherworld (book, anthology) by Kelley Armstrong - Not a good read for someone who hasn't read Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld books, particularly the ones featuring her werewolves, but I'm betting everyone who has read and enjoyed them will love this anthology. As someone who didn't originally like Clay, one of the things I liked about this book is that it helped me understand him a lot better.
  5. Butterfly Swords (book) by Jeannie Lin - For a historical romance, the heroine and location are unusual. I know the "Chinese princess, blue-eyed barbarian" description put some people off a little. That's unfortunate, because Ryam wasn't a stereotypical "blue-eyed barbarian" - this guy came off as much more beta than alpha to me, and I appreciated it. So, while some aspects of the book could have been better, I count this as one of the books I enjoyed reading in 2010 and would recommend.
Live Action stuff:
  1. Coffee Prince (live action TV series) - Ok, so this is the first Korean TV I've ever watched from start to finish, and, yes, it had its rough spots. Still, I enjoyed this one enough to recommend it. It's a romantic series where the heroine doesn't fall in love with the guy just because he's hot (even though he is), and the hero doesn't fall in love with the heroine just because she's pretty (heck, he doesn't even know she's a she for most of the series).
  2. Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture (live action TV series) - Other than the unfortunate bit with the aphrodisiac, this was an entertaining show that managed to be a little bit educational. I haven't watched much Japanese live action stuff, but I imagine, even if I had, this would still rank fairly high.

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