By: The Geekly Grind Staff
The year is 2010. The Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 are duking it out in the latest iteration of the “console war”, while the Wii offers up some unique gaming experiences. The anime world is reveling in the final season of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, with Gurren Lagann not too far off in their collective rearview mirror. Wizards of the Coast hosted summer events spotlighting D&D 3.5, still a number of years away from what would become their most popular edition: 5e.
From January 2010 to December 2019, the world of geekdom broadened in a number of surprising ways…from the resurgence of Nintendo’s place in the console wars, to the inexplicable explosion in the popularity of Dungeons and Dragons. As we move into 2020, we reflect on the media of the past decade that’s made the biggest impact. Take a look at The Geekly Grind’s “Picks of the Decade”!
Anime of the Decade –
Mithrandiel’s Pick – Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
I’ll be the first one to tell you I never expected a show like this to top my list. The decade has been loonnnggg when it comes to anime. Hell, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood had its 2nd season in the first part of 2010. Overcoming recency bias can be a challenge as well, especially with such stunning titles like Demon Slayer in recent seasons. However, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, henceforth referred to as Rakugo, told such an immensely impactful story, and focused me to reflect on the meta of a storytelling medium (anime) representing another storytelling medium (rakugo). What initially begins as a redemption story for a hapless criminal unfolds beautifully into a tale that covers decades. The narrative that unfolds over two seasons culminates in one of my favorite episodes of anime of all time – a penultimate episode that completely wrecked me. With spectacular animation that really highlights the pain of nostalgia and regret, Rakugo is a masterwork of anime, and will forever be etched in my heart and my mind as one of the greats.
Mithrandiel’s Honorable Mention – My Hero Academia
“You can become a hero.” With those 5 words, a new generation of anime fans was born. Kohei Horikoshi’s interpretation of a world of superheroes has been a powerhouse since it’s arrival in 2016, and doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon. With a varied cast of colorful characters, a narrative that runs the gamut from ridiculous comedy to devastating tragedy, and some of the craziest fight scenes we’ve seen in recent memory, My Hero Academia is sure to be a pillar of anime fandom for years to come.
TheJewphin’s Pick – Steins;Gate
There really is only one anime that I can think of as the anime of the decade. Steins;Gate is a slow burn with multiple episodes of build up that make you wonder if the show is worth watching. And then there are 12 episodes of payoff, almost all of which deliver strong emotional gut punches to set you up for a perfect ending. There is so much to love about this show, from the personal journeys of the individual characters to the meticulously setup story line where elements from the first few episodes are fully explained in the final ones.
Board Game of the Decade
Archmage’s Pick – Pandemic
Maybe it’s just me, but Outbreak scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. The thought of an unstoppable virus that could potentially lay waste to mankind’s advancements over the course of weeks and months gave me scientifically-grounded heebie-jeebies. Thankfully, the wild monkey hasn’t escaped and spelled certain doom for mankind, BUT, a board game with a similar premise has arguably served as a “gateway” that elevated the average gamers comfort level with more advanced mechanics. Released in late 2015, Pandemic challenges players to work together to cure various deadly strains of disease that threaten to wipe out mankind. This co-op challenge, followed up by expansions that introduced “legacy” gameplay, presented a more accessible game outside of the standard fare. Of course, the game is a blast on its own, but we would attribute part of the ever-increasing popularity of tabletop gaming with the average gamers comfort in more advanced play, and Pandemic helped to do just that.
Mithrandiel’s Pick – Terraforming Mars
Colonizing mars has long been a sci-fi dream for mankind. Thankfully, there’s a fantastic game that helps us get a taste for what that work would entail. Terraforming Mars is a terrific game with fantastic replay value that provides a unique and challenging experiences with every play through. While Scythe was definitely in the running, I have spent so much time playing Terraforming Mars over the last few years that I’m pretty sure I could have made some progress on actually making the red planet habitable.
Movie of the Decade –
Mithrandiel’s Pick – The King’s Speech
While not the first thing you might think of when you imagine geek culture, The King’s Speech central message of finding confidence in your voice likely resonates with those who may feel ostracized or alone.
When my wife and I went to see this movie in 2010, we were already expecting something of quality. Nearly 2 hours later, as we left the theater, we realized that we had watched something truly special. It tells the story of King George VI, a quiet, stuttering man who never expected he would be king. After his older brother steps down from the throne amid terrible scandal, he would go on to see Great Britain through World War II with the help of a speech therapist by the name of Lionel Logue. With tremendous lessons in the importance of self confidence and discovering your voice, complemented with Colin Firth’s Oscar-award winning performance, The King’s Speech is the most impactful film I had the pleasure of seeing in the 2010s.
Mithrandiel’s Honorable Mention – Your Name.
I know, I know, seems like cheating to include an anime movie in this category, but here it is! Being a longtime fan of Makoto Shinkai, I was delighted to see the world premiere of Your Name. At Anime Expo. While I expected the reception to be good, I never expected it would go on to become the highest grossing anime film of all time. A coming of age story with supernatural Freaky Friday elements, to say that Your Name has great animation would be akin to saying that Serena Williams is “pretty good” at that whole tennis thing. A magnificent story that’s sure to be in anime collections for years to come.
TheJewphin’s Pick – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
This is a completely subjective choice, but Scott Pilgrim vs. The World combines too many of my favorite things: Edgar Wright’s amazing film techniques, a ridiculous story-line steeped in metaphor, video games as both a framing device and central theme, and some of my favorite humor ever to be executed in film. I love the way Edgar Wright uses the shot/reverse-shot to create scene transitions. I love that some of the more subtle jokes don’t hit you until the second or third viewings, like the way Scott drops Knives’ coat on the floor after offering to take it for her. This is the perfect culmination of everything I love into one film and there is not a single film I can think of that could compete for its place as film of the decade in my mind.
Video Game of the Decade
Mithrandiel’s Pick – Bloodborne
While Dark Souls represented a new genre of gaming that would forever haunt gaming journalists, Bloodborne presented said formula in its perfect form. With a haunting, massive, Lovecraftian-inspired world of eldritch horror, and combat so sharp that it effectively ruins other action titles, Bloodborne is, without a doubt, the greatest game I played in the 2010s.
Mithrandiel’s Honorable Mention – Hyper Light Drifter
With the explosion of indie titles, so many games attempt to capture the magic of the 16-bit era…and countless entries fail. Hyper Light Drifter, however, sparks a memory of yesteryear, constructing an intriguing and vast world with no text or speaking whatsoever. The dash-and-slash gameplay is strikingly reminiscent of the legendary Zelda entry, Link to the Past, and the soundtrack is superb. This is undoubtedly the best indie title I played in the last decade.
TheJewphin’s Pick – Spec Ops: The Line
From a series of generic war shooters came a game about deconstructing generic war shootings disguised as a generic war shooter. This game did a wonderful job of ushering you from objective to objective so you can fight wave after wave of enemies before asking you the deep questions. Like why are you killing all of these people? Are you really the hero in this story because you are the most proficient at murder? And what do these games do for you as a player. This game provides a more nuanced deconstruction of the genre than most media and is just a wonderful example of how the unique medium of video games can make us think more deeply about an issue than other forms of media.