Ladies and Gentleman,
The wait is over. The time is now. The moment you have all been waiting for. You didn’t even know you wanted it, that’s why it’s brilliant.
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The Top 10 Anime EVER (according to me)… for now. I must be frank with you, general readership. I love lists, but I do not enjoy rating, scoring or ranking things against one another. It’s not just a matter of favoritism. I sincerely believe there is a merit to just about every anime. Even if everybody save for one person thinks that an anime is complete garbage, as long as that one person enjoys watching it, that show has meaning/purpose/importance, however narrow it may be. Thus, by creating this top 10 list, I am going against one of my most strongly held beliefs.
Oh, whatever. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku
Let’s start dark, shall we? Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku was a show I watched early on in my anime-watching career (I think back in grade 11), and I would most certainly consider it one of the hardest things I’ve had the pleasure to watch. That may sound odd, and that’s because it is. At points, this show gets really dark. Nowadays, shows will resort to turning the color palette a few shades lower in order to warn of incoming tragedy. In some ways, that gives the viewer some sense of security, and they don’t need to waste any hope on the characters who are about the get slain or tortured. This show does nothing of the sort. It trusts that people will be able to read the situation and goes on about it’s business. However, without any hints provided, you can’t help but hold out hope that events might turn out in the favor of the protagonists. You hold out that hope until the last moment, when that hope is dashed across the rocks of reality, and the show has it’s way with you.
However, I’ve said it was a pleasure to watch this, and it was. In retrospect. This show is a testament to the horrible things that anime can do, and the conversations it can start. In my mind, this show discusses something that other anime, like Princess Mononoke and Cross Ange, have tried to discuss over the years (with varying degrees of success), and that’s the subject of the atrocities of war. Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku just does it so well, and without the slightest hint of holding back or sugar-coating. I both resent and respect it for that, and to make me feel that strongly, it deserves a place on this list.
Now, let’s go back to the lighter side for a bit. Master Keaton is one of the shows that got my parents into anime. I think if I retrace that conversation, you might get an understanding of why this anime is on here:
Me: So, I’ve got this anime-
Parental Unit: Oh? Are you still doing that? I thought you would’ve gotten over that phase by now…
Me: Hey! Anyways, I think you’d really like it. It’s got a lot of stuff that I think you might really like. It’s actually got stuff from everything that I know you like.
Parental Unit: Really? I was just watching Matlock and Columbo re-runs the other day-
Me: Yup! It’s got mysteries and a light-hearted, fearless and sharp protagonist who’s a tough nut to crack. See? It even sounds like all that old television you watch.
Parental Unit: Sure, sure. You’re probably just saying that to get me to watch it. Look, why don’t we watch the news instead? Have you heard about that insurance scandal-
Me: The main dude is actually an insurance investigator who finds a way to solve crimes, mitigate tensions between rioters, and settle disputes with hurting a fly!
Parental Unit: Okay, I get it. I might check it out. Oh, did you see what you’re dad got from the mall? The M*A*S*H DVD Collection was on sale-
Me: He’s an army veteran too!
Parental Unit: Alright! I’ll watch it, so just quit talking about it already. By the way, I get why I would like it, but why do you like it?
Me: Are you kidding? This guy is badass!
And there you have it. Taichi Keaton is badass, without being bad, or chasing… well, you know. The way the leading man used to be.
This is my token Ryogo Narita entry. It was toss-up between Baccano! and Durarara!!, as I watched both relatively early in my anime career (a statement you will see often on this list). Baccano! won out because the story it had to tell was simply too good. Three concurrent, interrelated storylines are told simultaneously in this hilariously bloody romp. Mass murderers, insane mobsters, well-intentioned thieves, deals with the Devil, and the elixir of immortality. If that’s not enough to at least get you interested, I will refer you to the internet, where heaps of other lists will tell you the same thing about this show. It’s a great story with great art and a spectacular cast of characters. Just go watch it already!
“What a cool show.”
That was honestly my first reaction to Cowboy Bebop. My reaction has not changed after multiple views. For me, this show is the definition of “cool”. What it lacks in plot balance, it more than makes up for in sheer atmosphere alone. Let’s not forget about the spectacular soundtrack by Yoko Kanno. Man, there is just so much I love about this show. It’s just a great example of a show that cares more about it’s attitude than it’s progression. It’s kinda like the James Dean of anime. Yeah, that’s actually a pretty decent comparison.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
This show touched me. I know that sounds more like a sexual harassment complaint than a justification for why this show is here, but just hear me out. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was actually the first show I watched based on a recommendation from a complete stranger on the internet. It would not be the first time I put my faith in the beliefs of some random people who may be millions of miles away. I’m so glad I did though, as I got the opportunity to venture into the strange world of Haruhi and Kyon. I felt a huge connection to Kyon right off the bat. He was, in many ways, my anime equivalent, in terms of personality. Uselessly analytical, over-thoughtful, and yet supremely lazy. At the end of the day, he’s the one to pick up the pieces and he’s the anchor that pulls everyone and everything back down to Earth and to the harsh reality that the world is as it is for a reason.
In many ways, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is the an anime about anime viewers, as it discusses one of the most prevalent attributes in the nerd community: escapism. Everyone is all ready to leave their world for a world somewhere else, but no one plans for the return trip. Haruhi follows the journey of people who aren’t quite ready to come back to Earth yet, and have therefore convinced themselves that that they’ve never left.
Code Geass (S1 and S2)
This was the first show I ever watching with full knowledge that it was anime. Up until that time, I had that typical upbringing of kids cartoons that just so happens to be peppered with dubbed titles from Japan, like Pokemon, Digimon, Yugioh and DBZ. I friend recommended that I check out Code Geass just as spring break was about to start. I planned and made a decent schedule so that I could download and watch the show during my free time.
However, my plans got messed up when I found out that I was moving into another house during spring break. After we moved in, it took a while to get a proper internet, so I was stuck downloading episodes one at a time from a very slow temporary internet connection. The thing that made this experience both better and worse was Code Geass. After episode 1, I was hooked, and I couldn’t wait to get a hold of the next episode. Needless to say, the powers that be were not on my side, and I had to wait longer and longer to get my next fix. However, Code Geass will forever be stamped in my memory as my first experience of getting hooked on anime, and I hope it won’t be the last.
Hajime no Ippo
Have you ever been in a dull mood? Do you ever need to get pumped up? Hajime no Ippo is my prescribed method to shake off the blues. It combines a few parts comedy, a few parts drama, many parts fighting and many parts inspiration to produce a Japanese equivalent to the Rocky franchise. It’s a great underdog story about overcoming one’s weaknesses in order to answer the question “What does it mean to be strong?”
Gauche the Cellist
This is my token Ghibli entry. I’m sure those ardent Ghibli fans out there have already realized that that isn’t technically an accurate statement, as Gauche is not technically a Ghibli anime. It was made by Isao Takahata back before he was at Ghibli, and so this is actually an Oh Production. However, it certainly stays true to one of the greatest aspects of Ghibli animation, which is it’s feeling. Gauche just feels like a Ghibli show. It has morals and a lesson, but it doesn’t push it on you. It has a story, but not necessarily a plot. It moves along, like life, with it’s own rhythm, with movement and action not pushed by commercial concerns or editorial pride, but by emotion and music. It’s what Ghibli does best and it’s what Disney has been trying to do for years. It’s all about animating a feeling.
There are few reasons I feel bad putting this on the list. First, it’s already on another list on this very site, Munto’s Top 10. Second, it’s actually not that great. Sure, it has a great first 20-ish episodes, but after that, it becomes a dark and depressing view of an anime crumpling upon it’s own lack of congruity. So, why did I put it here? I’m not actually sure.
Perhaps it’s the manufactured chemistry between Light and L. Perhaps it’s the Faustian tragedy of Light and Ryuk. Perhaps I’m a fan of Maximum the Hormone. Perhaps I like seeing completely useless Gothic loli models who serve no other purpose than eye-candy and misogynist fodder strut around ignorantly. Perhaps I just want to watch one man imagining the world burning around him. Perhaps I just want to watch that man slowly and painfully die before my eyes.
Or perhaps it’s all of those things. Or perhaps it’s none of them. Does it matter?
Serial Experiments Lain
It’s not often that I say this, but Serial Experiments Lain is a great show. It… well… it’s about us. It’s about people like us, who live lives dependent on technology. It’s about a world where the definitions we place on living become intertwined with the definitions of existing, and how technology starts to permeate in the interstices of our existence to eventually encompass us. It’s about how mass media will destroy us. It’s about how nothing will ever stay the same, as long as we want nothing to change. It’s about a girl who just wants a friend. It’s about life and death.
This show is great.
Well, that’s all folks! If you have any thoughts on this list, please feel to put them in the comments below. Have a great day!