Best Anime Series of 2009 – Meta Ranking & Analysis

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Now that I have just over a month of free time before I start working again, I finally have some time to write a few more articles for my blog. Since we are still have a year away from a 2013 anime review, I am going back in time and catching up with earlier years, which brings us to 2009.  Here are the top ten anime series based on composite scores from different anime websites:


10. Eden of the East (東のエデン)

Eden2

No. of episodes: 11

Director: Kamiyama Kenji

Animation Studio: Production I.G

Watch if you like: Death Note, Durarara!!!

One-Line Synopsis: After getting into trouble with the police in the US, Saki Morimi is rescued by a young man who is completely naked save for a gun in one hand and an even stranger item in the other – a phone credited with 8 billion electronic yen and a female voice on the other end called Juiz who will fulfill his every wish. (Anime Planet)

Excerpts:

Its characters are equal parts intriguing and lovable, without ever slipping into two-dimensional clichés. Every part of the visual and aural experience builds an engrossing mood that you don’t want to leave. Shows like Eden of the East are rare and need to be treasured. (Anime Herald)

I recognise Eden of the East’s great achievements; brandishing an arsenal of treats, including an innovative mystery that doubles as social commentary and Akira’s magnetic characterisation, it will exceed expectations on first impressions. (Anime Planet)

Info: MAL, ANN, Anime Planet

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9. Bakemonogatari (化物語)
Bake2No. of episodes: 12

Director: Shinbo Akiyuki

Animation studio: Shaft

Watch if you like: Arakawa Under the Bridge, Katanagatari

One-Line Synopsis: The story centers on Koyomi Araragi, a third year high school student who has recently survived a vampire attack, and finds himself mixed up with all kinds of apparitions: gods, ghosts, myths, and spirits. (MAL)

Excerpts:

Bakemonogatari is a tour de force of storytelling and visual style. The character development is sublime, and the main narrative is captivating. (Nihon Review)

Info: MAL, ANN, Anime Planet

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8. Skip-Beat! (スキップ・ビート!)

Skip1

No. of episodes: 25

Director: Sayama Kiyoko

Animation studio: Hal Film Maker

Watch if you like: Ouran High School Host Club, Kaichou wa Maid-sama

One-Line Synopsis: A young girl named Kyouko went with her childhood friend, Shou, to Tokyo to pursue his dream of becoming an idol and vow to succeed in the entertainment world. (MAL)

Excerpts:

Skip-Beat is utterly irresistible and forces you to instantly fire up the next of each twenty-five episodes… Girls will love the sexy boys and gutsy female lead, whilst guys will enjoy much of the in-your-face comedy and realistic relationships. (Anime Planet)

Info: MAL, ANN, Anime Planet

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7. Toradora! (とらドラ!)

Tora2

No. of episodes: 25

Director: Nagai Tatsuyuki

Animation studio: J.C. Staff

Watch if you like: High-school relationship, Lovely Complex, Zero no Tsukaima, Clannad

One-Line Synopsis: In a new school year, Ryuuji and Taiga, despite their oil and water relationship, agree to mutually support each other in their quests to be with their crushes.

Excerpts:

A far above average outing that will leave a genuine mark in the heart. If I were to introduce someone to the genre of anime romance, told from the male perspective, this would be my first pick. (Anime Diet)

Info: MALANNAnime Planet

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6. Spice & Wolf II (狼と香辛料 II)

Spice_and_Wolf_II_thread

No. of episodes: 12

Director: Brains Base

Animation studio: Takahashi Tekeo

Watch if you like: Banner of the Star,

One-Line Synopsis: Kraft Lawrence and the proud wolf Holo the Wise continue their northward journey to Holo’s mountain homeland of Yoitsu. (Anime Planet)

Excerpts:

There is a good bit less action in the second season compared to the first, but the show makes up for that by throwing you into a festival of harvest taking place in the first story arc. Spice and Wolf has generally been a calm, if tensely so, show, and I don’t think that will necessarily change much in the future. Then again, that’s probably the reason why the show is as good as it is. (THEM Anime)

Info: MAL, ANN, Anime Planet

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5. Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou (続 夏目友人帳)

Zoku-Natsume-Yuujinchou

No. of episodes: 13

Director: Omori Takahiro

Animation studio: Brains Base

Watch if you like: Mushishi, Spirited Away

One-Line Synopsis: Natsume Takashi, a boy who has had the ability to see youkai since he was young, and his bodyguard youkai, Madara, nicknamed Nyanko-sensei, attempt to return names written in his Book of Friends, which he inherited from his grandmother Reiko, to youkai in his village, encountering friendly and hostile youkais along the way

Excerpts:

Over the course of the series, Natsume is shown to be a very sensitive character, and his friendship with Madara continues to strengthen. This is a series that’s full of heart; it’s compassionate, emotional, but still ultimately upbeat… much like its lead character. (Nihon Review)

Zoku Natsume Yuujin-chou is still a very enjoyable and relaxing slice of life series without any major flaws (Star-Crossed Anime)

Info: MAL, ANN, Anime Planet

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4. Cross Game (クロスゲーム)

cross_game_wallpaper_by_yurekka-other

No. of episodes: 50

Director: Sekita Osamu

Animation studio: SynergySP

Watch if you like: Baseball, Touch

One-Line Synopsis:  Koh Kitamura, with the aid of his friends and teammates, is on a quest to fulfill his girlfriend’s wish of him pitching at the legendary Koshien Stadium, site of the national high school championship finals.

Excerpts:

In terms of slice of life, you can hardly get any better than this. The seemingly endless amount of wit with which the writers spice up the daily lives is incredible. Cross Game…  is excellent and its execution is one of a kind. (Star-Crossed Anime)

Cross Game delivers gently rolling romantic drama spiced with baseball games that will send viewers flying from their seats – and all this driven by quaint and lovable characters. (Anime Planet)

Info: MAL, ANN, Anime Planet

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3. Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger (はじめの一歩 新シリーズ)

Hajime no Ippo New Challenger-wallpaper

No. of episodes: 26

Director: Shishido Jun

Animation studio: Madhouse

Watch if you like: Boxing, Sports competition

One-Line Synopsis: Ippo continues his career as a professional boxer, trying to live up to his role as the Japanese champion and fight with a new generation of boxers who looks up to him as both a role model and a target.

Excerpts:

Hajime no Ippo New Challenger is a worthy second series in the Hajime no Ippo legacy. (Anime Evo)

So yeah, Hajime no Ippo stands out in its simplicity; for every arc you know exactly what you’re going to get: an incredibly intense boxing match with sympathetic and strong characters and awesome graphics. And it never gets old. It’s the perfect series for if you want to blow off some steam. (Star-Crossed Anime)

Info: MAL, ANN, Anime Planet

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2. Clannad ~After Story~ (クラナド アフターストーリー)

Clannad1

No. of episodes: 24

Director: Ishihara Tatsuya

Animation studio: Kyoto Animation

Watch if you like: Air, Angel Beats, Kanon

One-Line Synopsis: After declaring his love to Nagisa, they begin to have a close relationship, but their life together will be faced with unexpected challenges, as the truth behind the illusionary world and the city’s legend come to light.

Excerpts:

This season bleeds you dry of every emotion you can think of as you watch the series… You won’t get the full experience of this story without watching both consecutively. This series is the deepest you can get for a slice of life anime without it feeling generic or contrived. (Simpleek)

Of all the romance anime I’ve crossed throughout the years, Clannad After Story easily ranks among the best. It manages to convey touching drama, beautiful romance, and hilarious-yet-fitting comedy all in one measure, building magnificently on its predecessor to end with a wonderful overture. (Anime Planet)

Info: MAL, ANN, Anime Planet

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1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (鋼の錬金術師)

FMAB 01

No. of episodes: 64

Director: Irie Yasuhiro

Animation Studio: Bones

Watch if you like: Baccano!, Hunter x Hunter, Fairy Tail, Code Geass

One-Line Synopsis: In a world where alchemy exists, two younger brothers are on a quest to regain what they have lost when the tabooed human transmutation they committed went wrong.

Excerpts:

It’s a definite recommendation if you’re looking for something epic. Despite being 64 episodes, Bones keep a surprisingly good animation quality throughout the series, especially the action-scenes themselves look gorgeous for such a long series. The soundtrack also fully captures the grant atmosphere of the story, and will make sure for a show that will keep you entertained. (Star-Crossed Anime)

While the show does have it’s violent and gruesome moments it plays it so masterfully that the show will never gross you out or put you off the story. In many ways FMA makes a great starter anime and if you’re looking to expose that loved one to the anime world FMA: Brotherhood just very well might be your best bet. (IGN)

Info: MAL, ANN, Anime Planet

Just missing the top 10 are:

11. Kimi ni Todoke

12. One Outs – Another good baseball series. That makes three sports series in the top 15.

13. Kemono no Souja Erin

14. Tentai Senshi Sunred 2 – Another sequel

15. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Quick comments on ranking (more to come in later post(s)

  • This is an unbelievable year for the top 1-2. FMA:B scores number one nearly across the board, posting an even more ridiculous clean sweep than Fate/Zero in 2012. Against competition in any other year, Clannad ~After Story~ would surely take the top spot
  • Even in the greater scheme of things, FMA:B and Clannad rank 2 and 1 respectively on all-time ANN list and 1 and 4 respectively on MAL all-time list.
  • Top 10 has 4 sequels (Clannad, Natsume, Spice & Wolf, Hajime) plus one remake. In comparison, the top 10s in 2010-12 only has one sequel in each year (K-ON!! In 2010, Kimi ni Todoke Second Season in 2011 and Fate/Zero in 2012).

Note

  • For this list, I have decided to change my inclusion criteria from previous list. Beforehand, Only anime that starts in a given year can be included. This unfortunately excludes a lot of animes towards the end of the year which are not yet finished so many reviewers do not include them in their yearly ranking. To remedy this, I will now include animes that finish in that year instead (for 2009, I will accommodate both criteria so I can include the likes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which should have been in 2010 list based on the new criteria but was not.)
  • I have finally learnt how to use Baysian estimates to take into accounts the number of votes. For more detail, see this Wikipedia site but the general idea is that it penalizes those titles that have high ratings but low number of votes (so a title with one 10 vote will not rank higher than a title with hundred 9 votes).
  • As a technical note aside, to calculate the final score before ranking, I have weighted all ratings of each series and website directly (rather than weight their ranks). This is because I do not have a lot of ranking sources (blogs, Something Aweful, Random Curiosity) to worry about.
  • I can’t really find that many ‘top 5 animes of 2009′ blog posts at all (found only about 5), hence why I did not actually include them in the list. It really seems like there are more of those in recent years.
  • There is no Something Aweful forum  on Best Anime of 2009 so I do not include it as well.
  • I’m kinda sad to see the level of non-updates anime academy has fallen to. It used to be one of my trusted sources when I first start browsing anime recommendation on the internet and now it does not even have any reviews of the top 20 in my 2009 list.
  • It just seems that when it comes to anime series, no review websites give comprehensive coverage of all anime series anymore… Understandable but what a shame.

Final Thoughts

Thus far, I have only seen Eden of the East and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Both are certainly a lot of fun. I am on the fence on Clannad but the amazing ratings everywhere I look tell me I should give it a try. I also have never heard a lot about Skip-Beat before so that is another one I need to check out at some point.

I am also excited to do a comparison between 2009 list and 2010-12 lists, now that I have about 4 years of data. Top ten lists for other years are also on their way!

Appexdix 1: Sources

Here is a list of sources that I use in coming up with the list above

MAL – Ratings as given in MyAnimeList.net

ANN – Ratings as given in Animenewsnetwork.com

AniP – Ratings as given in AnimePlanet.com

AniDB – Ratings as given in AniDB.net

Review sites – Collections of different review sites, including THEM Anime, AnimeNfo, Anime-Source and Nihon Anime

IMDB – Ratings as given in IMDB.com

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Appendix 2: Weights

The weighting again is loosely based on the number of voters/users/raters each source has:

Titles Weights
MAL 40%
AniP 24%
AniDB 12%
ANN 12%
IMDB 6%
Review sites 6%

11 Comments on “Best Anime Series of 2009 – Meta Ranking & Analysis”

  1. Taka says:

    Skip Beat is the greatest shoujo comedy that no one paid attention to when it aired so it never got a second season. I say shoujo because it had a girl protagonist and lots of romantic subplots plus typical shoujo designs, but the way they tackle her drive to become a mega-star is very shonenesque in execution and pacing. That being said I am super pleasantly surprised it made it onto the list.

    You need to watch Clannad first if you are going to watch Clannad AS.

    I’ve watched all these except Hajime no Ippo and FMA

    • Thank you as always for your comment:)

      I remember looking at Skip-Beat at first and thought it would be just another run-of-the-mill shoujo series but seeing how high it’s rated, I’m a bit shocked. It’s the only series of the top 15 I have not heard a single thing about being compiling this list, and that is a little sad for a series that highly rated (for it to be so obscure). More the reason for me to check it out!

      What is your favourites out of the 8 you have seen? I just finished FMA:Brotherhood recently (so much fun to marathon and there is a lot of episode that you won’t run out any time soon) and watching it makes me want to go and rewatch the 2003 version to see the difference between the two. Clannad is on the list of things I should watch but there is so many other animes out there that are in the genre I want to watch more! I will get to it one day though:)

      • Taka says:

        I’ve had FMA2003 downloaded for some time but never watched it. I started watching brotherhood right along with the rest but was turned off pretty quickly. I claim it was the short person jokes and that certainly was part of it but all previous experience I’d had with FMA was just late night Adult Swim binges with bad (imo) dubbing. I thought having one of my favorite seiyuu (Paku Romi) voicing the lead would make a difference but it didn’t. It could be I was just turned off by all the hype (this was one of the reasons I didn’t care for Madoka). It’s hard for me to fairly evaluate a series when it’s super over-hyped; and fairly evaluating is something I value.

        If I had to make a list: God that’s tough. Gonna go by my ratings on MAL but the order is also in order of preference.

        MALrating 10 – Clannad AS – there are certain debates about the manipulative nature of the content. Key productions tend to be engineered to make you cry. Some people feel the manipulation is so blatant that it takes you out of the story. I found that I didn’t care whether I was manipulated or not, it effectively evoked a strong emotional response from me. Regardless of how hard it was trying to do so; I still consider that an accomplishment.

        MALrating 9 – Skip Beat! – I put this ahead of the next one down because I remember gaining much more enjoyment out of the show in a very hot-blooded “FUCK YEAH!” kind of sense. I was also coming off the high of Marina Inoue as Yoko in Gurren Lagann and was exceptionally excited for her to get a lead role. Kyoko is…good girl at heart but motivated very strongly by revenge, but in a funny way, not a tragic way. This isn’t the story of excesses or hubris, it’s the story of how hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…again in a funny way.

        MALrating 9 – Bakemonogatari – Exceedingly clever show. Exceedingly fascinating female co-star. Has one of the best original episodes of anime ever. Can be a bit pervy but I personally have no problem with that. Bakemonogatari is full of talking heads, it is kind of inevitable based on how faithful Shinbo wants to be the original novels. However Shinbo uses lots of neat visuals to keep the show interesting. He’s probably one of only a handful of directors who could have done this content justice.

        Now it gets hard

        MALrating 8 -Toradora – Putting it here mainly because it’s a great compact, stand-alone story. It takes its 25 or so episodes and tells the story of how two people, whom initially seem to be diametrically opposed, eventually find love. It has some moments of great animation, great performances from seiyuu, is wonderfully written and ends (mostly) satisfyingly.

        MALrating 8 – Zoku Natsume Yuujin-cho – Gonna go with my gut on this one and say Natsume. Every season of Natsume is great and it constantly surprises me how the character can continue to grow and evolve even after 4 seasons. Generally Natsume is simply about individual stories of the Yokai he encounters and how each encounter effects Natsume’s views towards them and towards humans. It’s definitely a laid back, low key, watch at your own pace, whenever you feel like it anime, but it rarely fails to leave me satisfied.

        MALrating 8 – Spice and Wolf II – Again going with the sequel, the difference in this occasion is that I never actually finished season 1 of Spice and Wolf. I loved this season though. First of all it has one of my favorite opening themes of all time (by the great Arai Akino) and also a rather infectious little engrish ending theme by Rocky Chack. Beyond that it is another fairly low key anime but the main difference is the growth in the relationship between the characters carries over well from the first season and continues to grow. I can particularly think of one scene that blew me away in both strength of acting and emotional depth.

        MALrating 8 – Cross Game – This is really an anime that you have to stick with for a long time and be content with pretty much glacial pacing over the course of 52 (I think) episodes. The baseball matches often play second fiddle to the budding character relations but occasionally have quite the excitement (like when the main character pitches a no hitter). It happens to have one of the best 1st episodes of an anime I’ve seen in awhile for reasons I just won’t say. Lastly, the ending is pretty satisfying if I remember correctly. It takes a long time to get there, but if you can get into the pacing it is quite enjoyable.

        MALrating 8 – Eden of the East – I’m sure I loved Eden of the East when it aired. It was an intriguing noitamina show with all sorts of things going for it: interesting subtext, intrigue, romance, humor. None of which it capitalized on by giving a satisfactory conclusion. It left the results open-ended to be explained by 2 movies. By the time they had gone through the theaters, been released on DVD, and translated for the wider world, many of us had just lost interest or forgotten key details. I remember enjoying the movies but never regaining the same amount of engagement I had initially with the show which is ultimately a disappointment. Maybe if I marathoned it now with everything intact I would place it higher but as it stands, Eden of the East was the Blueballs of anime for me.

        I also quite liked Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 which I felt had a well-disguised and great emotional twist toward the end. It also told a complete story well.

        Lastly I’m fairly sure I’ve made known my feelings about Kimi ni Todoke on this blog before but let me reiterate: this anime is just infuriating and abuses a bunch of tropes like the whole “convenient misunderstanding” and “complete lack of communication between protagonists” for drama. I spend half the time watching it screaming at the screen demanding the main characters just fuck already sheesh.

      • Thanks for your opinion on all of those! FMA:Brotherhood was pretty good though truth be told, it took me about 20+ episodes in before I was really, really hooked. The short joke is also used a little bit too much like you said:) Maybe give it time.Regardless of how overhyped it is, it is still ranked very well across multiple ratings websites so it should be worth a shot down the line. Saying that, 64 episodes is quite a commitment!

        I have always been partial to the Clannad genre. I remembered watching Kimi ni Nozomu Eien a few years back and was not too impressed so have not really been watching anything similar since. Somehow, when I have a choice between this and a high-school comedy, action or fantasy series, I always gravitate towards the latter. One day, I’ll come around to watching it and let you know what I think!

        Skip-Beats!, the way you described it, sounds super-awesome! Can’t wait to get my hand on it and watch it soon. Bakemono also sounds pretty cool.

        Your middle-order seems to be dominated by character-driven stories. This year of anime sure seems to have a lot of that! I also really need to catch up with the earlier episodes of Natsume. I was talking with my older brother yesterday about how truly well-wrapped up Haibane Renmei is and a sequel would be so unnecessary. From the little I have heard of Natsume, I kinda lumped it in the same category (over-generalization mode in progress…) and am always curious if Natsume really ever needs a sequel. I guess the people behind it knows what they are doing.

        You are so right about Eden of the East. I remembered it being pretty awesome and was expecting a good conclusion to cap it off, only to get a cliff-hanger of an ending in the series. I still have not watched the movies yet.

        Interesting how the Kimi ni Todoke type drama still resonates with people (referring to how well it’s rated, including its sequel). I guess the promise of a happy ending once people actually talk to each other and realize is gratifying enough to stick with it…

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  3. Flawfinder says:

    My criticism of this top list:

    FMA Brotherhood- awesome
    Clannad AS- okay
    Hajime no Ippo- haven’t seen
    Cross Game- great
    Natsume- great
    Spice and Wolf II- okay
    Toradora- okay
    Skip Beat- what?
    Bakemonogatari- wretched
    Eden of the East- awesome

    • My exact same reaction on Skip Beat:) Obviously this list is a combined version of the a lot of English rating and reviewing websites so your own preference might mean your top animes are not exactly the same match as those on this list. So many people love Clannad AS but even I am not rushing out to check it out despite it ranking so well because it is not quite the genre I am a big fan of. I wish I could build a recommendation algorithm that perfectly takes into account people’s preference!

      What’s your favourites of that year?

      • Flawfinder says:

        My favorites are (including movies):

        1: Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance

        2: Redline

        3: Shin Mazinger Z

        4: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

        5: Eden of the East

        6: Astro Fighter Sunred 2

        7: Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor

        8: Summer Wars

        9: Detective Conan: The Raven Chaser

        10: Umineko

        Cross Game should probably be on there, but I haven’t seen much of it.

      • Thanks for sharing! Lots of movies in that list:) Redline is te one I have been meaning to watch for a while. Summer Wars is also probably my favourite non-Ghibli movie. What an amazing film.

  4. […] points. The year has so many amazing series and none of them truly outshines others. In comparison, 2009 has FMA: Brotherhood as the clear number 1 (it is 0.14 points higher than the second place); 2010 […]


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