I know, everyone else did "best of" countdowns about a month ago, but my posting rate in 2009 was a little on the glacial side. So even though it's late, here's a stab at my favorites of 2009, and a late Happy New Year to all of my fellow anime fans!
I can't say enough good about Toradora - it has an awesome cast, a great story, comedy, drama, everything. I started re-watching it over the holidays and was just as impressed on second viewing. I remember the first couple episodes not thinking it was anything amazing, but the more you get to know the characters, and especially once Ami-chan shows up, the better it gets.
Runner-up: Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo (Leopard alone makes this worth watching for me)
K-ON seems to attract a lot of extreme opinions, where you either love it or think it's the anime equivalent of the Antichrist, but I guess that's a feature of opinion on the Internet in general now that I think about it. I wouldn't call K-ON! as good as Toradora, but I liked the cast and it had plenty of moments that put a smile on my face, so it gets the win.
Runners-up: Hatsukoi Limited (mainly for Enomoto, she's a walking tsundere stereotype but her and Kappa-face's interactions made me laugh regardless), Hayate no Gotoku 2nd season (I'd be happy if this was on the air forever, especially with the H-I-N-A-Hinagiku ED)
Favorite: Sora no Manimani
Mihoshi is so genki it's amazing she doesn't just burst into flames, but her and Saku are a fun couple to watch, Hime's reactions to just about everything make me laugh, and the supporting cast isn't bad either. Plus, I now recognize the Winter Triangle when I see it, and it's not that often anime is, well, educational.
Runners-up: Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou (mainly because of Yumiko and the Three Stooges-like washpans hitting people), Taishou Yakyuu Musume (cool setting, although I worry about what the cast is going to face when they're in their 30s), Hayate no Gotoku 2nd season (again), and Bakemonogatari (beware of staplers)
Favorite: To Aru Kagaku no Railgun
I loved the manga, so this was an easy win for me - although my favorite characters are Saten and Uiharu. Looking forward to the second cour because it'll finally take us beyond where I read in the manga so I won't know exactly what's going to happen.
Runners-up: Nyankoi (not a big nekomimi fan, but Kaede is undeniably cute), Sora no Otoshimono (flock of flying pantsu has to be one of the more epic anime moments of the year)
Looking back, 2009 was a great year for anime - it's amazing looking back on the start of the decade, when I was still watching anime on VHS (and getting VHS fansubs through the mail), and then look at where we are today, where I can watch new anime subtitled less than a day after it airs (just an hour after on Crunchyroll). Here's hoping 2010 will bring us more great anime, and that it'll be a great year for all of us anime fans in general.