Introduction and Top 11 Anime

Hello there anime blogging community! I am Sky and I will be your host here.  After reading the wonderful blog of gaguri (Which I would recommend to anybody who might somehow end up reading my blog) I was sort of inspired to make my own.  Basically my intention with this blog is to create something amusing while also being informative. Something a bit different from the typical seasonal review or just general review blog, though I may end up doing those. Basically I want to create unique articles about a subject which I truly love — anime.

So with that in mind, before I get started, I think what I’m gonna try to do is list out my top 11 anime before I post anything of substance because I want you all to get an idea of my taste before you start reading my blog and angrily disagreeing with every statement I make and totally not because I’m a pretentious douchebag who wants to flaunt his superior taste over yours.

Now for the disclaimer. This is entirely my list and the picks here are mine. They are, in fact, vastly superior to anything you could possibly conceive of. Indeed, your opinion may differ from mine and for that I expect numerous letters of apology. Get to it. But in all seriousness this is just my opinion. If you, you, my nonexistent audience, have a different opinion that’s cool. In fact, go ahead and discuss it in the comments. Just keep it civil.

With that out of the way, let’s begin.

11. Gurren Lagann

“Just who the hell do you think I am!?”

In a dystopian future where mankind, once mighty protectors of good in the universe, has been forced underground a young boy named Simon only knows one thing in his life. Digging. That is until one day he discovers a mysterious little mecha during his daily routine. A mecha that can only be started with a mysterious key-drill. When a monstrous face crashes through the ceiling of Simon’s underground home he, his older-brother figure Kamina, and the mysterious Fanservice McBoobs Yoko Littner are drawn into a war for freedom against the feral beastmen as Simon comes to terms with his own identity. Specifically, how much of a badass he is.

I have heard people call Gurren Lagann “intelligent,” and “well-written,” a praise to which I would definitely respond “what?” Don’t get me wrong, I love Gurren Lagann, but it is certainly not for its intelligence and well-crafted story structure. No, what surprises me the most about Gurren Lagann is how much it succeeds in the face of negative amounts of good. The conflict is silly, the writing is abysmal and laden with deus ex machina, but… Well, It made me feel like I could accomplish the impossible. Every second of Gurren Lagann is just full of this fun passion that, like a drill, just builds and builds until by the time when the finale hits and galaxies are being thrown around like ninja stars it’s nearly impossible to keep from whooping and hollering and GIGADRILLBREAKING everything in sight. It’s fun and unlike some other Gainax shows which will not be named -coughevangelioncough- it accomplishes what it sets out to do, making you believe in yourself.

10. MushiShi

“Do not allow yourself to be blinded by fear or anger. Everything is only as it is.”

There are many types of life. From plants to animals to bacteria, and their respective taxa, there are as many different kinds of life as there are stars in the sky. The most basic form of life are called “Mushi,” strange creatures who can only be seen by a select few, and understood by still fewer. Ginko, a Mushi Master, travels the land in search of Mushi and the humans they affect, both as a means to study the former and aid the latter. During his search he and those around him are repeatedly forced by the mysterious Mushi to come to new conclusions about the nature of nature and humanity’s place within it.

MushiShi is a lullaby for the senses. The dreamlike visuals, soothing sound direction and atmospheric soundtrack all combine to lull the viewer into a sort of sleepy daze where one can feel the crunch of snow underfoot and smell the freshness of a cool mountain breeze. Also there are definitely themes here about how to live one’s life and humanity’s place in the ah… Circle of life. You might not catch them the first time, and you won’t necessarily need to to enjoy the mesmerizing world here, but they only add to the beauty that is MushiShi. It looks pretty, is subtly deep, and really what more could you ask for in an anime?

9. When They Cry (Both Seasons)

Warning, due to the nature of the show, this entry may contain spoilers. I’m sorry.

“I’m the only one that can help you, Keiichi. I won’t allow you to transfer away”

Life is peaceful for Keiichi Maebara  in the rural mountain village of Hinamizawa. That is until he begins to unravel the secrets behind a string of murders that have been occurring for years on the night of the annual Cotton Drifting Festival. Soon he is forced to question the authorities, his friends, and his own psyche in an attempt to uncover the truth behind what’s happening every year in Hinamizawa. Not only that, but everytime he fails the mystery seems to start over. Why is that? What the hell is going on? As the characters repeatedly live out the disastrous Cotton Drifting Festival, each time ending in despair for one reason or another, the question truly arises, can there be a happy ending to this story?

When They Cry Season One is an almost perfect horror anime. I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that the scariest monsters are the ones you see sparingly, and When They Cry season one does an excellent job of building tension from seemingly normal events until they explode into something absolutely terrifying, lovingly accented with the cacophonous sound of the Cicada’s cry. That said, I think I may like the second season of When They Cry even more than the first. It takes the soul-crushing terror of the first season and turns it into something even more. The characters struggle to defy the fate bestowed upon them in a story of hope and friendship so inspiring that despite the nature of the show I have watched it… Three times. It’s a timeless tale of fear and hope and I love it to… Death. (And many a tomato was thrown that day)

8. Trigun

“This world is made of… LOVE AND PEACE!”

On the desert planet of gunsmoke humanity struggles to survive and make lives for themselves with limited resources. Amidst the wasteland wanders a mysterious gunman named Vash The Stampede, a purportedly dangerous fellow with a knack for causing destruction wherever he goes and a $$60,000,000 bounty on his head. Little do most people know that Vash is not the same man most people think he is. In fact, he’s a pacifist who flat-out refuses to kill but is plagued by the loads of people clamoring after his bounty. As the series goes on Vash’s motivations slowly unfold and his resolution not to kill is sorely tested as the enemies he faces become increasingly ruthless and his past comes back to haunt him.

Trigun is one of the most interesting analyses of pacifism in existence. See a lot of shows like to talk about pacifism and the struggles that come about with conflict, but very rarely do you encounter a series that analyzes pacifism, both its strengths and weaknesses, to the degree that Trigun does. Vash’s resolution is repeatedly tested and questioned throughout the series and really what it does in the end is show the guts it really takes to avoid killing, not just talk about it. It doesn’t hurt that it’s loads of fun. It’s a fun show with a surprising amount of depth, and I really had a blast watching it.

7. Code Geass: Lelouch Of The Rebellion (Both Seasons)

“Lelouch Vi Britannia commands you… All of you… Die!”

On August 10th of the year 2010 ATB the Holy Britannian Empire invaded the island of Japan. The small island nation had long held fast to its neutrality, but the Britannian use of the deadly Knightmare Frame weapon quickly ended Japanese resistance. The new principality formed came to be known only as Area 11.  Things seem hopeless for the Japanese, but a young Britannian prince named Lelouch, abandoned by his people and in the hopes of a better world for his sister Nunnally, takes up the role of Zero, a revolutionary hero who fights Britannia. Using his genius intellect, an insurgent army, and a strange power that allows him to take control of people’s mind he quickly becomes a force to be reckoned with. The war of revolution he fights quickly increases in scale, and the decisions he makes could have the the power to determine the fate of the world itself.

It’s funny, for most of these entries I have some sort of deep, pretentious explanation for why I like the show. Not so with Code Geass. It’s a bit embarrassing, but the main reason I love Code Geass was that… Well… It was my first. (And you always remember your first time) Code Geass, unlike many shows on here, is a show that runs entirely on entertainment value. With a twist per episode and a ridiculously fast pace it’s easy to see why people have dubbed it a beautiful trainwreck. What saves it is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It thrives on melodrama and revels in every ridiculous plot twist and out-of-nowhere character revelation and so despite its flaws I just can’t bring myself to dislike Code Geass. It’s a really fun show, I’d definitely recommend it. Unless you hate fun that is.

6. Princess Tutu

“May those who accept their fate find happiness; those who defy it, glory.”

Once upon a time, there was a man who died. This man’s work was the writing and telling of stories, but he could not defy death. The last story he was working on was about a handsome prince who vanquishes a crafty raven. After battling for aeons, the two come to tire of their struggle. The raven escaped from the pages of the story and the prince pursued the foul creature. In the end, the prince took out his own heart and sealed the raven away using a forbidden power. After the old man died, the characters escaped from the pages of the story and entered into a small town, the home of a naive young duck who is brought in to fill the role of the beautiful dancer Princess Tutu. Will she be able to avert the tragedy that the author intended or will the characters from the story be forced into despair for all of eternity? All you children who love stories, gather round.

In terms of children’s anime Princess Tutu is, no contest, undoubtedly the best. It takes classic fairy tale themes and turns them on their head into something truly fascinating, analyzing concepts of love and fate in a way that few other shows are really capable of. It then takes these ideas and portrays them in a way simple enough for children to understand but complex enough to make Tutu a really fascinating show for older viewers too, just stellar storytelling and execution. It does have a tendency to repeat itself just a little too often, but overall I think that Princess Tutu is a wonderful anime that really pushes the boundaries for what a children’s anime should be. Also Duck is adorable~

5. Cowboy Bebop

“Bang…”

In the not so distant future humanity has explored the Solar System. They’ve reached out into space and colonized most of the major bodies. Unfortunately, crime remains rampant, and to control it the various lawmakers have to resort to hiring bounty hunters. One group of bounty hunters aboard the transport ship Bebop must survive and make a living off of these bounties. Spike and Jet, the crew of the Bebop, encounter many colorful characters in their search for the almighty woolong, but when Spike’s past with a dangerous crime syndicate begins to surface the crew of the Bebop get far more than they bargained for.

Cowboy Bebop is a fun one. The standalone episodes are great and each one demonstrates an attention to style that most anime can’t even begin to match. It’s filmic and action-packed, but what really sticks out about Cowboy Bebop is the attention to subtle details. It’s a surprisingly human show. One doesn’t simply hear the rumbling thunder of the graveyard or feel the cool floor of the cathedral, the brilliant writing makes it so you feel every emotion connected with them with minimal dialogue. The intelligent execution is really what sets Cowboy Bebop apart from other anime and it comes as no surprise to me that it’s generally considered one of the greatest anime of all time.

4. Wolf’s Rain

“They say there’s no such place as paradise… But in spite of that, why am I so driven to find it? A voice inside of my calls to me. It says, ‘search for paradise.'”

There is a legend. A legend that one day wolves will lead the way to paradise. That legend seems to be nothing more than a myth, as the world slowly dies and the wolves are believed to be all but extinct. A select few live on, however. Taking the guise of humans that integrate themselves into human society, but it is a tepid relationship they have. One day, a mysterious white wolf named Kiba stumbles into a human city searching for paradise and there assembles a pack to help him on his quest. On their journey they meet many unique personalities, both human and animal, as they try to answer the questions that plague them. Is paradise real, and if so how on earth do you get there?

Wolf’s Rain is one of the most beautiful stories ever told, bar none. It’s a quiet epic, spanning hundreds of miles on a trek for the elusive paradise, something nobody is sure exists. Amidst this existential crisis there are strong Buddhist subtexts and every frame is just rich with meaning. The wolves, surprisingly enough, tell us a lot about people and our own desires and wants. They still remain very much wolves, though, in personality and in physique, which makes for an even more interesting contrast. I’m not sure entirely how to advertise Wolf’s Rain honestly, but it’s an amazing series that I’d highly recommend to someone looking for something more thoughtful. Definitely worth a look.

3. Now And Then, Here And There

“Because ten billion years’ time is so fragile, so ephemeral… It arouses such a bittersweet, almost heartbreaking fondness.”

Shu Matsutani is your average Japanese schoolboy. He’s energetic, naive, and his biggest problem seems to be that he’s… Notably deficient at Kendo. That is until he meets a beautiful girl named Lalaru taking in the sunset atop a smokestack. Soon he is dragged headlong into the miserable future, where water is scarce and young children are taken from their villages and forced to fight in miserable wars  by a mad king named Hamdo. As the series progresses Shu’s determination and positivity are challenged by the horrors of war and Hamdo’s oppressive regime.

Now And Then, Here And There is a viscerally painful series about the horrors of war. It’s an allegory about the use of child soldier’s in Africa, and it pulls no punches, seriously, this is a no-frills approach to a war drama. Everyone is disastrously affected by the brutal hand of King Hamdo and it’s just… Seriously one of the most depressing series of all time. But like with many depressing anime, there is hope. Despite the horrors around them the characters struggle for happiness, both for themselves and others. Despite great evil, there is also great good in these characters. It’s really a superbly written series that makes you feel and makes you think, and certainly deserving of its spot at number three.

2. Haibane Renmei

“One who recognizes their own sin, has no sin”

A town surrounded by insurmountable walls, people with wings and halos… These are the things that greet Rakka once she bursts out of her cocoon into a strange world with no memories but of a dream in which she falls through the sky. As she explores the world she finds herself in and interacts with the people there she begins to slowly unravel the mysteries behind herself, those around her, and the mysterious walls that surround them.

I’m not entirely sure how to build up Haibane Renmei, because honestly it’s a very simple purgatory story. Not a lot happens in Haibane Renmei, but the earthy atmosphere combined with the brilliant handling of the theme somehow make Haibane Renmei stand out over almost every other drama series out there. It poses a lot of questions about human nature and the nature of redemption, but without being obtuse about it at all. There’s a very earnest simplicity to Haibane Renmei, it feels very true to life even with all of the fantastical elements. Not all of the story is told outright either, there’s a lot of hidden symbolism that the series keeps close to its heart but again, the earnest simplicity of it all means that you don’t even have to understand all of the symbolism to really enjoy it. Very few series can pull that off, but Haibane Renmei does it without a hitch.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist

“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. In order to obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is alchemy’s first law of equivalent exhange.”

In a world parallel to our own Alchemy has taken the place of many of the sciences. It is a science, though, and operates on the principles of equivalent exchange. That is, to get something you must first give something of equal value. Two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, once sought to bring back their mother using alchemy using human transmutation, a grave taboo, but were ultimately unable to forge a human soul. In payment for their sin Edward lost his leg and Alphonse lost his entire body, only surviving by being attached to a suit of armor at the cost of his brother’s arm. The two now seek to get their bodies back to the way they were, and end up joining the state military in their quest. However, their quest quickly becomes about more than just themselves as they are drawn into a centuries old conflict which challenges their perceptions of the world and the people in it.

It’s difficult to count all of the ways in which Fullmetal Alchemist is great. It can be entertaining, it can be funny, it can be sad, it can be hopeful, and it can be each of them to great extents without feeling unnatural or hashed together. It succeeds beautifully in all of these aspects, but that’s not why it’s on this list at number one. It actually may be more flawed than some of the previous entries, but something about the characters just makes this series the most personally touching of any I’ve ever seen. They feel like real people who we’ve just never met before and by the end of the series’s run they begin to feel like old friends and it’s tragic to see them leave. You laugh with them, you cry with them, and so the message of the series really hits you at your core when it does hit you. It’s fun, it’s touching, and it’s my number one favorite anime of all time.

Anyway that concludes this incredibly pretentious and probably horribly written top ten list, but thanks for reading anyway. If you enjoyed it, well, I hope to be posting more soon. See you all then!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. My Homepage
    Aug 07, 2012 @ 07:33:23

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but soon after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… effectively I’m not writing all that more than once again. Regardless, just wanted to say amazing weblog! 495284

    Reply

    • Sky
      Aug 07, 2012 @ 23:59:20

      I have the blog set so that I have to approve messages before they go up. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I’d rather avoid spambots and such so I apologize for that. It seems your message wasn’t there anyway, oddly enough, but perhaps that has something to do with it.

      Anyway I’m glad you like it. ^^

      Reply

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