And now we reach the conclusion, my Top Ten Anime of all time. There are going to be some fairly obvious choices on this list, a few that are probably going to surprise you, but I don't know if any of these entries are going to be at all controversial. Not much else to say here, so on to the list!
I am kind of surprised that two anime on this list came out in this year, it's kind of nice to have some affirmation to myself that I'm not just some old fogey who thinks everything from when I was younger is clearly the best it's ever going to get.
Since I very recently did a top ten of last year, with Dororo being my number one on that list, I would just be re-hashing what I just said about this show a week ago. This entry is just me telling you all that I'm not that over the hill yet.
9.) Azumanga Daioh
I don't even know how to describe this one. There is no overarching plot or even a plot focused on for an entire episode. You are just kind of following around high school girls doing things, and there is nothing supernatural in the show. At the same time, it turns out to be one of the most bizarre anime that has ever been made.
At one point half of an episode is just trying to cure Osaka of her hiccups and she gets rid of them buy.... giving them to someone else. So all the stuff they did to Osaka they do to the little girl, including punching her in the solar plexus. It was like a ten minute long set up for a joke, and the punchline was punching a ten-year-old girl in the solar plexus.
I don't know what else to tell you. I can't discuss a plot that doesn't exist, though there is a lot of great character growth, so all I would be doing is trying to explain jokes in a way that would make no sense. All the characters are high school girls (the ten-year-old was moved up a few grades) and there is a random hemorrhoid joke. Go watch it, it's great.
Also Fun Fact: I totally had a crush on Osaka and Sakaki when I was younger. Two weirdest characters in that show.
8.) Ouran High School Host Club
This was a bit of a hard call to place this above Azumanga, but in the end, it won out because I would put in in part with Azumanga in terms of how funny it is, while also having some good stories to tell. Due to a variety of circumstances, Haruhi shows up to the rich person school looking like a boy. Being mistaken for one, and accidentally breaking a really expensive vase (even though it wasn't her fault) she is kind of forced to join the Host Club and act s a boy for the guests.
Everyone in the host club fills an archetype when flirting with their guests. When not performing their host club duties, they are quite different in a lot of ways, though much of their host persona's are their normal personalities ramped up.
While the story is largely focused on everyone's relationships with Haruhi, you do get a lot more than just that, I adore the bits where you see the hosts interacting with their fans because it is just so over the top and outrageous. This is a prime example of an anime poking fun at its fans, in the case of this show it's poking a lot of fun at fangirls specifically, but you never get the feeling it's coming from a disdain for its fans, but just them having a bit of fun with them.
7.) Psycho-Pass (Seasons 1 and 2)
Up until the most recent season, each season told it's own self-contained story, so I feel justified including this even though the series is still ongoing. It's a show I watched while I wasn't doing much anime, but it stood out to me in a big way.
Firstly I loved Detective Akane, a major character in season one and lead character in the second season (and arguably the end of season one). The whole theme of Psycho-Pass is that Big Brother has won, and the society is okay with that due to the state of the rest of the world. Akane is kind of the lynch-pin of the entire show, her own beliefs, and faith in humanity is found to be at odds with Sybil, the system that runs modern society. At the same time, she realizes a sudden paradigm shift could end up being extremely devastating, so she is constantly at odds with her ideals and the practicality of them.
It's really hard to find shows with themes like that which also treat them so well. It never feels like the show cops out, and there are so many things from both seasons that ask a lot of interesting questions regarding the society under Sybil, and the nature of the Sybil system itself.
6.) The Big O
Yeah, it was a bit frustrating when the second season came around and the change in art style and animation was an overall downgrade, but aside from that I loved The Big O. Coming in full force with the most inappropriate theme song for a show I have ever heard, The Big O is a kind of Noir style show where the lead character also pilots a giant robot, the titular Big O.
In a world where no one has memories of the time before the Cataclysm, most people only have one or two memories of the world before. Roger, our main character, works as a negotiator and gets sucked into a lot of other people's grand plans, and inevitably comes closer to the reason behind the worldwide amnesia, and why he has memories of how to pilot The Big O.
It's hard to say much about the plot, as all the best bit's are spoilers, but among all the Noir are just some damn fine giant Robot fights. The main draw of the show may be the dark atmosphere and themes, but I get hyped as fuck every time the words 'Cast in the Name of God, Ye Not Guilty' roll across the Big O's Dashboard.
5.) Terror in Resonance
Even when I wasn't active in anime, this show is one I wanted to see because of the people behind it. What I ended up getting exceeded all expectations, and does show that longer is not always better, only clocking in twelve episodes for the entire series. Following around the Sphynx Twins, two terrorists who always ensure their actions never harm anyone despite causing massive and noticeable explosions, the crux of the plot is centered around a message they are trying to deliver to the public.
On the other side, we have Detective Shibazaki, who seems to be one of the only people smart enough to decipher the riddles Sphynx leaves behind. The story becomes a fascinating partnership between the two, despite them being antagonistic on the surface.
Even with the plot surrounding one of the shows antagonist, whose name is five, feeling a bit out of place most of the time (I mean the show kind of needed a villain, as Sphynx and Shibazaki aren't exactly at odds with each other), the visuals and ideas behind the show are more than enough to elevate past what is honestly a pretty big flaw.
Vash is among the greatest protagonists of all time, regardless of the medium you are discussing. A perpetual goofball in a world full of famine, crime, and countless other Tragedies, Vash is a kind of beacon of morality in a world where it is very naive to act as such.
He isn't like Kenshin, someone who knew violence in his past and is trying to reform, Vash has always been this way. He is trying hard to maintain his morals and saving everyone he can in every situation regardless of the cost to himself. The show does a fantastic job at showing this when you finally see what he looks like underneath his coat.
What's more, is that Vash doesn't always succeed. It's clear that his views are naive, but he does everything in his power to hold on to them regardless, something that is pushed to its very limits at one point in the show. I won't spoil what happens for those who haven't seen it, but the show seriously does a great job of showing the cost of Vash's actions and testing how much one man can truly hold to his convictions.
3.) Paranoia Agent
This show is a masterful blend of fantasy, paranoia, and mystery. You have a kid named 'Lil Slugger' that shows up whenever a person is on the edge of a breakdown and strikes them with his bat. The show is constantly asking whether or not there is an element of the supernatural, how much of what is going on is real or imagined, and telling it all through a variety of different characters. Despite each episode having a new main character, twelve in total, there is one plot being told and built up throughout.
The visuals of the show are fantastic, the twists the plot takes are wonderful to behold, and the show's atmosphere constantly has you feeling uneasy. Nothing about what's going on ever feels quite right. Except for one episode that feels a bit redundant to the plot at large (The one with the gossiping women), I'm having a really hard time finding flaws with this show. It's about as close to perfect as a show can ever expect to be. Defiantly give it a watch.
2.) Cowboy Bebop
This show has been talked about to death, and I don't have anything else to add to this. Cowboy Bebop is just a superb show. If there is something I don't think gets brought up enough is how great the team dynamic is among the Bebop crew. While the relation between Jet and Spike doesn't really change, as they have been together since prior to the shows start, the way those two interact with Faye and Edward changes as the show progresses. It feels like a group that came together knowing nothing about each other, and as time goes on the relationship naturally changes.
Beyond that, it's just fantastic. If you haven't watched it, know it's an all-time classic for a reason.
This was a really hard choice, but in the end, Monster wins out as my favorite anime. With nothing supernatural about the plot, it's one of the darker shows out there in all of anime. The tension of the show comes with how based in reality everything horrible that happens is. What things do happen that could be outside the realm of reason can be easily overlooked with how easily the show sucks you in.
I remember when I first saw the library scene, and I was wondering how the show could top it. At the halfway point we had one of the greatest scenes in anime, yet the show got better with the introduction of Wolfgang Grimmer, who I would argue is possibly the most tragic character in all of anime. I can't even hint at why without revealing one of anime's best reveals, but the arc he is introduced is almost like it's building up to a single line of dialogue, and that moment damn near broke my heart. I don't think any other anime has ever so effectively set up a moment that changes everything you had known about a character so well.
The character motivations are some of anime's best, the characters themselves are all fantastic, no one ever feels like they overstayed their welcome, and it has possibly the greatest finale of anime with the stakes, tension, and all emotions ramped up. I don't know if it is possible to have a more satisfying ending then this, edging out even Bebop for me.
And that is my list. It was fun to be able to talk about some anime titles that I've yet to discuss.