2008 was undoubtedly a good year for Ani-Gamers. In the early spring, I applied a drastic makeover to the site's design, giving it a sleek new look for version 2.0. Around that time, staff applications started popping up from all over the country. Soon after, Ani-Gamers was hitting the con scene. Uncle Yo started performing all around the country, and I started meeting fellow bloggers and future friends like Scott VonSchilling, DJ Ranma S, Kuro Usagi, Hisui, and Narutaki. We have reached the end of 2008 with a podcast, hundreds of posts, and some great staff members. And I don't think that our momentum is gonna slow down anytime soon.
After the break, I've got links to the top 15 Ani-Gamers posts of this year, ranging from reviews to podcast episodes to feature articles and covering a wide range of topics. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!
Spiral (Hyb) • Evan "Vampt Vo" Minto
In this long, angry review, I poured my heart out about the 2003 anime Spiral. It's 26 episodes long, and there is only one consistent theme: black turtlenecks. This is by far my favorite of all the bad reviews that I have ever written, since I really wanted to get some entertainment out of Spiral after spending a grueling 8+ hours on it.
Kure-nai (Sub) • Karl "Uncle Yo" Custer
Karl took a look at the overlooked gem Kure-nai in August, and he wrote up a concise yet thoughtful review that touched upon a lot of the more subtle points about the show. This anime might have gone under the radar when it released, but Karl's review is a great reminder of what a lot of people missed out on.
The Skull Man (Sub) • Karl "Uncle Yo" Custer
Shotaro Ishinomori's Skull Man started as a 1970's manga series, but in its 2008 anime reversioning it received a fresh coat of paint black paint. Karl's in-depth look at the mystery and horror of the world of The Skull Man is only matched by the show's inclusion of "some werewolves and a small battalion of mechanized maniacal army clowns with flame-throwers and rocket-launchers."
The Sky Crawlers (Sub) • Karl "Uncle Yo" Custer
More recently, Karl has contributed a fascinating review of the early screening of Mamoru Oshii's The Sky Crawlers. While many fans might cringe at the slow pace of Oshii's philosophical piece, Karl takes it all in and provides a markedly intelligent commentary on the film.
Tokyo Godfathers (Sub) • Evan "Vampt Vo" Minto
I absolutely love Satoshi Kon's films, so being able to watch and review Tokyo Godfathers was an absolute treat. This review is gushing with all sorts of love for Kon's work. Of course that's natural for a movie that is gushing with so much raw emotion. This post is pretty much the antithesis to my angry Spiral review.
MW • Mitchell "MitchyD" Dyer
MitchyD joined our staff halfway through the year, and got right to work on reviewing manga. Even though he hadn't quite tried reviewing the medium before, he got off to a great start with this review of manga legend Osamu Tezuka's MW. Mitchy makes fascinating points about the sheer depravity and shock value of Tezuka's most grisly classic.
Fushigi Yuugi pt.1 • Evan "Vampt Vo" Minto
I guess I really like my bad reviews, because this is yet another one. Though many might think that Fushigi Yuugi is a classic among shojo manga (I'm looking at you, Jason Thompson), I really only found it to be an unoriginal story with no real character development or palpable drama.
Video Game Reviews
The World Ends with You (DS) • Maxwell "Pigeonflu" McGee
One of the best DS games in recent memory got what it deserved in Max's awesome review: 4 stars. Max raves for six paragraphs about the fascinating-yet-confusing plot, fantastic gameplay, and stylish presentation that make The World Ends with You one of the best games of the year. Oh, and he of course discusses his "two-player co-op mode."
Castle Crashers (XBLA) • Maxwell "Pigeonflu" McGee
Another Max-produced review, this one is about Castle Crashers, a game that made a big splash on the Xbox Live Arcade this past summer. If you haven't already downloaded this title, check out Max's fantastic review so you can be ashamed at your utter foolishness!
Left 4 Dead (360) • Mitchell "MitchyD" Dyer
Of course, Mitchy's Left 4 Dead review has to make the list, if only because Mitchy, a professional video game journalist, took time out to write his first and as of yet only video game review for Ani-Gamers. Luckily, Mitchy's honest, witty writeup is also a very entertaining look at the experience that is Left 4 Dead.
Ani-Gamers Podcast #001 - Andy Brick Interview
Every podcast has to have its beginnings, but fortunately ours wasn't quite the trainwreck that some first episodes are. This episode has a special place in my heart because it was actually my first ever interview, as well as my first ever podcast episode. Beyond that, it's actually a pretty interesting look at the musical composition that goes on in video game design.
Ani-Gamers Podcast #003 - Fansubbing Panel w. Greg Ayres
This is where I've got to pull Scott from the Anime Almanac back into the picture, since he and I both had an outpouring of comments due to our opinions on Mr. Ayres's controversial panel. I side with Greg and Scott in that I do not support fansubs, and so I decided to post my partial recording of Greg's "Fan Subbing" panel from AnimeNEXT 2008. This is one of the most intelligent and entertaining looks at fansubbing that you will ever hear.
Big Apple Anime Explosion: Anime Comes Back to NYC • Evan "Vampt Vo" Minto
StumbleUpon latched onto this article with a passion, and it literally became my defining piece, the one that drove Ani-Gamers hits through the roof. For those who still haven't checked it out, "Big Apple Anime Explosion" is all about the new opportunities for anime fans to get together and experience their hobby in New York City. I even got to speak to Kinokuniya manager John Fuller and NYAF organizer Peter Tatara in the course of my research.
See You Space Cowboy: The Legacy of Toonami • Evan "Vampt Vo" Minto
While this feature didn't receive quite as much publicity as my "Big Apple Anime Explosion" one, its still one of my favorites. A few weeks after the untimely death of Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block, I felt the need to write up a personal message, a sort of obituary for the childhood years spent watching the block. Colored with childhood experiences and stories from TOM voice actor Steve Blum, this is one of my most emotional posts.
Otakudemia: When is an anime not an anime? When it's a Gothic novel • "Ink"
Finally, this one is an article from our newest staff member: "Ink." He defined himself to Ani-Gamers readers with this groundbreaking piece that uses an academic style to examine the gothic leanings of Le Portrait de Petite Cossette.
Before I finish up, I naturally need to thank some people. First, I'd like to extend a heartfelt "Thank You" to everyone who has read this blog over the past year. Maybe you only read one article. Maybe you read all of them. Maybe you're just a podcast listener. Maybe you're one of our affiliates or blogroll members. Nevertheless, it is your support and dedication that motivates us to continue to write and record new content for you. Thank you so much for reading; rest assured we will do everything in our power to make 2009 an even better year for Ani-Gamers and its readers.
Finally, I cannot conclude this article without the most important "Thank You" of all: one that goes out to the diligent staff members at Ani-Gamers. You have been writers, podcasters, readers, and most importantly: friends. Our staff is made up of amazing people people who never stop working to make this site a better place and without them we would not have done nearly any of the amazing things that we did this year. So, whether you only wrote one article, or you stuck with us all year, I would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. Kevin A., Karl, Mitchy, "Ink," Max, Alex, Kevin O., and Jessa: here's to another great year!
Have A Very Happy 2009!