In just a few weeks, we'll celebrate 2010. But this first day of the year won't just mark a new year, it will also mark the beginning of a new decade.
And as decades go, the last ten years have been quite eventful in the anime world, to say the least. We've seen companies rise and fall, new trends in animation and of course, the long-overdue melding of anime and the digital world.
We said hello to new anime titles while saying goodbye to Toonami, once known as the quickest way to get new anime on TV.
In short, we've been busy, busy, busy.
So, in honor of the anime we love, the companies that make them and you, the die-hard fans, here's a look back at some of anime's most notable moments over the last decade.
Anime, Anime and More Anime
The last ten years have seen a huge surge in anime production with new series coming out faster than you can say "kamehameha!" This was due in part to the fierce competition among anime companies, particularly during the first half of the decade.
But in spite of their quick production, we still managed to see some real beauties emerge, giving us a whole new collection of must-haves for our DVD shelves.
Topping my list are notables such as Fullmetal Alchemist, Samurai Champloo, Full Metal Panic!, Afro Samurai and of course, Bleach and Death Note.
Many of these titles are responsible for the expanded interest in anime, pushing it off the sidelines and into mainstream entertainment. The result was a new surge of anime fans and ergo, an endless list of new anime to watch.
Just how mainstream did anime go? Well, when Hello Kitty turned 35 this November, pop star Lady Ga Ga was on hand for an exclusive photo shoot to celebrate the occasion.
As far as genres go, anime has always been as varied as Hollywood in its story lines but there are a few trends worth mentioning.
Mecha continued its reign in anime with a wide variety of new robot-oriented shows to relish. At the top of my list is of course, Escaflowne: The Movie (2000), Full Metal Panic! (2002) and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002). But that little list hardly scratches the surface of new anime in this genre. With so many great titles like Vandread (2000), Solty Rei (2005) and Code Geass (2006), it's easy to see why mecha continued to be a popular theme for new anime shows.
And although it wasn't until the last several years that our romance with vampires got some new life with the debut of Twilight and HBO's True Blood, anime has been playing in that genre all decade long. In fact, we kicked off the decade with Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and Blood: The Last Vampire, both of which were released in Japan in 2000 with a U.S. release following the next year.
And who could forget on of the most notable vamp animes -- Hellsing, which originally debuted in 2001 in Japan but didn't hit the states until 2006.
But perhaps the most popular trend in new anime was the move to live-action movie adaptations.
As I said, anime had really gone mainstream and it wasn't long before Hollywood finally figured out what all the fuss was about. Some of these new projects were fabulous -- the Transformers movies (1 & 2) had incredible numbers at the box-office and even the recent CGI version of Astro Boy turned out to be a delightful family movie and didn't do too badly in numbers either.
Unfortunately, not all of these ventures were done as well as they could have been -- think Speed Racer and the long-awaited Dragon Ball movie -- and as a result, many anime fans still cringe when they hear one of their beloved anime classics is going live-action.
Even so, this trend continues and at this writing, there's the third installment to the Transformers franchise slated for 2011, an American remake of the Japanese Death Note live-action is rumored and both Cowboy Bebop and Bubblegum Crisis live-action adaptations are in the works as well.
In 2006, we also saw a new trend of anime feature films. Not that full-length anime movies weren't already around -- they were. But until 2006, it wasn't too often that you could catch an anime movie at an actual movie theater. This new trend prompted anime companies to rethink some of their promotional strategies and new divisions were born, such as FUNimation Films, dedicated solely to bringing us anime on the big screen.
Of course, live-action movies weren't the only surprises we saw in the anime world.
This decade brought us quite a few new collaborations and partnerships as well, including one that resulted in the formation of VIZ Media, LLC. After VIZ and Sho Pro had successfully collaborated on the popular Inuyasha, the two decided to make the partnership permanent and in 2005, VIZ Media, LLC was born.
Production I.G. joined forces with Cartoon Network to create IGPX, a new racing anime that was an exclusive Toonami feature in late 2005. And speaking of Cartoon Network, they also joined forces with Toei Animation and Aniplex to take our favorite little PowerPuff Girls and turn them into anime stars.
And more recently, FUNimation cut a deal with Geneon to market and distribute a respectable number of their titles, leading to a re-release of many Geneon favorites like Escaflowne.