Since I haven’t been watching anime that long and I haven’t been finishing up my backlog as I should have, I can safely say that about 20 or less of the series on my MAL were made before 2000. That being said, some of those series are still my favourites (a few in my Top Ten) so it won’t really be my own top eleven list of all time. Don’t be surprised if a few of these series end up appearing in that list somewhere down the line though…
With that out of the way, let’s get down to business. I’ve been away from blogging for too long. And why top eleven? Because I couldn’t think of another series I wanted to cut from this list.
Oh snap, recency bias. The final episode of Trapeze happened to show up just as I was writing this post, and what great timing. The episode reminded me of just why I love the show so much: it’s simple and to the point while still being a complete trip to watch. I pretty much explain my reasons for loving it as much as I do here, but I will say that everyone should give it a chance. It’s most definitely not for everyone, but those who like it can’t seem to help but end up loving it.
10. Azumanga Daioh
Trying to explain why Azumanga Daioh is great is like trying to explain why Aria is great (even though I’ve never seen Aria). It’s hilarious, sure, its character’s are loveable, yes, but what really takes it to that next level? To be honest, I have no idea – I just love the show. A lot. It never fails to put a smile on my face – I can literally watch an episode and feel better within 5 minutes of pressing play. In my opinion, it’s the shows that affect me like this that I can truly call special and worthy of being on this list.
9. Zettai Karen Children
The reason ZKC makes it onto this list is because it had such high quality over it’s 52 episode run. Of course, there were points when it dragged (as with most year long series), but it had an element that kept me watching no matter what: it was good old fashioned fun. Crazy and off-the-wall things were happening constantly, the plot always kept me guessing and each episode had something odd and original going on. What’s weird is I can’t really pinpoint when this became one of my favourites but it definitely deserves to be here. Also, the music is awesome (big band ftw).
Baccano!’s strong point is its writing. The complexity of the plot and the huge cast of cahracters are intrinsic to the show, and if handled badly, it would end up being a jumbled mess. Thankfully, the writers of the show kept on top of things the entire time. The mixture of the supernatural elements with the setting of the show created something that felt suspenseful, nostalgic. smooth and stylish. It’s pretty hard for a series to capture that kind of tone, which is why it’s impressive that Baccano! does this from the get-go and carries it through to the end of the series.
The child-like animation and art of Kaiba do well to hide its deeper meaning and messages, but for anyone who gave the show a chance there was something really special to be found here. A mixture of episodic tales about the power of memories and what it means to be human mixed with a suspense-ridden overarching plot to create an excellent series. I think it’s that mixture which was the key to the show’s success: without the plot, the episodic tales could have gotten stale and without the episodic tales the plot could have lost some of its suspense. In any case, as I say in my review here, it’s one of the best and most original series I’ve seen to date and I don’t think there’s anything quite like it.
6. Natsume Yuujinchou
Ah, Natsume Yuujinchou. Since I haven’t seen Mushishi yet I don’t have a point of comparison, so this series feels very unique to me. It’s soft, light and calming tone is just so relaxing. It’s done in a way that even though the themes of loneliness and segregation are dealt with often, the drama doesn’t come off as heavy-handed, and each episode creates characters and circumstances that are easy to empathize with. Everytime an argument is resolved or a promise is fulfilled, when a positive conclusion is reached, it just feels me with a certain kind of warmth. Slow, but sublime.
5. Kino’s Journey
What really stands out about Kino’s Journey is the sad beauty of every country that Kino visits. No matter how good things may appear at first sight, there’s always something evil lurking beneath the surface. But even so, with all the irrationalities and tragedies that take place in the show, the more you look at the people and the traditions of each country the more you’re able to empathize with and understand what seemed ridiculous beforehand. It’s all about looking at things from a different perspective, no matter how good or bad they may seem. It’s rare that a series is so simple yet so complex, showing how human nature is so ugly yet so beautiful.
4. School Rumble
School Rumble is the funniest anime I have ever seen and remains unique in that no matter how many times I’ve seen it (well over 6 times through overall) I laugh just as much as the first time. If that isn’t the mark of great comedy, I don’t know what is. It just gets so many things right: the balance of comedy, drama and character development is top notch, as are the directing and music. Even with the low budget the show has it still manages to look great for the most part. My only problem with it was the conclusion. That completely inconclusive conclusion that made me want to hurt things. Cute and innocent things.
3. Kara No Kyoukai
Kara no Kyoukai just blew me away with its tone and cinematic feel. It’s dark, surreal, ethereal and mysterious. ufotable’s animation and direction never fails to impress and Yuki Kajiura’s haunting and beautiful music helps to bring out an eerie feeling – the feeling that these monsters and events exist in the disturbing underbelly of the regular world, out of the corner of the eye and just below the surface. It’s something I’ve never seen before (except for maybe in Boogiepop Phantom or Lain, but even these are tenuous comparisons) and I don’t think there’ll ever be anything like it again.
2. Eve no Jikan
Eve no Jikan almost brought me to tears the first time I watched it. Not because it was particularly sad, but just because I felt everything was done so coherently and so perfectly. It all just fit. I rarely write over a 1000 words for a post (terrible, I know) but I couldn’t help picking apart the first episode bit by bit and praising it to high heaven. I’m not often affected by a series that much, which shows how important Eve no Jikan is to me. But the funny thing is I still haven’t watched beyond episode 4 and I have no idea why. Maybe subconsciously I don’t want the show to end so I’m putting it off for as long as possible. In any case, Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s work always holds a special place in my heart and I look forward to finishing the show and seeing his future works.
1. Full Metal Alchemist
Wow, what more can I say about FMA that I haven’t already said. It seems I appreciate it the more I talk about it, watch it, or even think about it. I recently got my hands on the complete soundtrack and it just reminds me how outstanding the music was and how well-used it was throughout the series. Each track reminds me of a specific moment, be it something as simple as the Elric brothers lying on the grass, or something as epic as the final battle between Greed and Ed. The cahracters were some of the best I have ever seen in anime – each touched me in their own way. This show continues to be the standard I set for shounen and anything else even remotely similar to it. I’ll never get tired of it and I think it’s destined to remain at the top of my favourites list for some time.
So there it is. It wasn’t as difficult to narrow down the list as I thought it’d be. Hopefully the next decade will be as full of highs and lows as the last one, and who knows, maybe by the end of it all I’ll be doing another one of these.
For now all I’ll say is Happy New Year!