Anime of the Decade

Japanator's Top 50 Anime of the Decade: #10 to #1

Jan 01 // Brad Rice
Honey and Clover is serious business. Tackling a lot of issues like the complication of relationships and the difficulty of changing from one lifestyle to another, Honey and Clover provides something that's deep and different. We watch characters of all different stages of life try to deal with what's going on around them, each bringing their own perspective to the show's plot.The way the show deals with everything -- with such aplomb and down-to-earth nature -- Honey and Clover comes across as something fundamentally different from just about every romance title that's out there. Characters don't have single-settings for their emotions: it's always a mix of fear, hope, humor and a half-dozen other things.Honey and Clover managed to mimic real life much better than we ever expected to see in anime, and that's why it's taken a spot in our top ten anime of the decade. The works of Satoshi Kon, in this decade, include Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paranoia Agent and Paprika. His specialty is blending the line between fantasy and reality, for both the viewer and the characters. Coming out of the school of Katsuhiro Otomo, Kon created works that were hauntingly beautiful, emotionally heart-rending and complex without being Evangelion.In a word, he was an illusionist. In his time working with the folks at Madhouse, Kon has produced four films and a TV series, in which we attempt to unravel a mystery: the life of a recluse actress or tracking down a dream-hacker, for example. Once we've entered Kon's story world, we get swept up in a blur of fantastical images -- delving into the past or into someone's dreamscape -- and are taken for a truly memorable ride. For me, Millennium Actress is the film that has me break down and cry. The pursual of that one true love -- the one that will never be -- and the end result: "The part I really loved was chasing him." The story was so beautiful, the plot so engaging, and the way he blended fantasy with reality as the aged actress was interviewed is just unbelievable.Satoshi Kon is a true genius of cinema, and he will provide some of our best anime films over the next couple of decades.Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex did what the movie could not, interestingly enough: they presented a clear, coherent story. Unbelievable, right? We watch as the GITS crew pursues the Laughing Man, a hacker terrorizing the population. All of the 19th century philosophy that was jam-packed into the original Ghost in the Shell movie was smoothed out and brought down to a much more reasonable level while still staying true to the original manga.Much like Rebuild of Evangelion, you may just consider this a "remake," but there's such a different feel, and the impact that it has separates it completely from its predecessor. For all of you who have watched Ghost in the Shell, you owe it to yourself to watch this. It will change how you view the entire cyberpunk world of GITS.In this decade, Studio Ghibli's works have included Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and Ponyo. Because of the near-universal love for Hayao Miyazaki and his works at Ghibli, I actually have a hard time describing the emotions I feel when watching his works.So, let me put it this way: He is the only director to recieve an Oscar for a commercial anime film. His films are the only ones that actually make it to theatres. If there is anyone to point to as a bridge between the Japanese animation world and the general American culture, Hayao Miyazaki is the man.His works are timeless, plain and simple. The greatest show we'll never see.Macross is a franchise that is spoken about in hushed voices by some of the older members of the staff. They love the franchise, bemoan that it'll never truly see the light of day here in America, and curse Harmony Gold. That whisper turned into a loud roar after Macross Frontier.Macross Frontier made so many waves because it was a quality introduction for another generation into the world of Macross. Coming 25 years after the original show, Macross Frontier sported a gigantic budget, top-notch voice actors, and a strong story that inspired people to love a franchise that they had never really known anything about.As such, people have fallen in love with the show. Petitions started anew to kill Harmony Gold. Macross Frontier showed that people really do remember love, once you breathe new life into a legendary franchise.As much as you might be sick of people doing the dance, cosplaying as the characters, or wearing their Haruhism badges with pride, you can't deny the impact that Haruhi has created. The show blew in suddenly, leaving a wake in its path that is still rippling out today.Kyoto Animation's incredibly strong budget, paired with Yamakan's vision as director, created something that was mind-boggling as we tried to figure out just what was going on in the show, and we pieced together the story from these out-of-order episodes.Debates still go on about Haruhi. The books, recently released here in the US, only fuel that discussion. And the marketing engine for it will churn, because they know that we can't get enough of the show's cast, especially the bickering between Kyon and Haruhi. Love it or hate it, this show is here to stay. You may as well start looking into it more deeply, because you know it'll be discussed as though it's this decade's Evangelion. Gurren Lagann, to me, is a flawless execution of storytelling. In terms of the actual structure of a story, how events should evolve, situation changes, and all the other things taught in screenwriting classes, happen in Gurren Lagann perfectly. That, in my mind, is why the show elicits such a strong response from people.What entranced me so greatly, and what had me cheering on the Gurren Brigade fight after fight was not getting to see giant robots fight each other, or hear them yell "Giga Drill Break" and blow someone to pieces. No, it was the pure joy and inspiration I got out of seeing these characters take on impossible odds, and through sheer will and determination, find a way to win out.These are the stories that we see in epic legends. Gurren Lagann captures that energy and emotion, and it proves itself as an escape from our own daily lives: office work, classes, chores. It allows us to slip into this other world, one where a near-infinite number of things are possible. Perhaps we can join in if we show a little bit more determination and guts in our daily lives.The show taught us how to row row fight the power. The works of Makoto Shinkai include Voices of A Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days and 5 Centimeters Per Second. For me, in this decade, there is no director who can match up to the works of Makoto Shinkai. Just by seeing his name, and forcing myself to confront the emotions I've felt while watching his films cause me to burst into tears.In a sense, "absolute despair" is the word I'd use to describe the feelings I have towards his work. The one that sticks closest with me is Voices of a Distant Star, where you watch a couple separated by light years grow and change, while they still try to hold onto their relationship. It's truly depressing.But, at the same time, what you feel watching his films are those of you coming alive. Shinkai's pieces have the most brilliant and evocative art in anime today. Bar none. He elicits such emotion through the poor plight of his characters that your heart goes out to them, and refuses to return to you. Watch his films. They will change you in profound ways. They will make you appreciate love in ways that you never realized before. They will make you a more complete person.You know, when compiling this list, I didn't expect Azumanga Daioh to top out at #2. It's certainly one of my favorite comedy shows, but I didn't vote it particularly high. Yet everyone on the staff, save for one or two, had it on their list somewhere. And the show steadily grew through the ranks.The show has a subtle power about it that's infected it's way into just about every otaku out there. Even people who aren't really that into anime have been exposed to Azumanga Daioh and loved it for its quirkiness, its random stories, and everyone has their favorite character.Sakaki is mine, so back off. Azumanga Daioh captures our #2 slot because of its universality. The show can appeal to so many groups without sacrificing a bit of its quality or humor, and that's pretty impressive. I'm sure we've all been in some of those situations in high school, or at least wish we had, and so we bought into it wholeheartedly. Azumanga Daioh rightfully holds the title of the most popular 4-koma ever.   Surely you didn't think I was serious, did you?This is the anime. The one that, for just about every single otaku, proved to be a turning point in their lives. The show opened them up to so many new ideas, showed them the glory that is The Pillows, and forever cast them into the world of the anime lover.I think what impacted so many people with this OVA was that it was a coming of age story. Gainax's titles usually are a story of this sort, but FLCL provided a different world: one without the same sort of gravitas and threat that was existent in Evangelion or Gurren Lagann. It also came out at a point when anime was on the rise, and people were looking for a show to grab onto as something more than the stock and standard fare.And so, here it is. The show filled a role, and has become cemented as the show that your friend is going to pass to you as that one you must watch, because it's going to change your life. For many of you, it has. What really makes a show important to each of us is how it changes our way of thinking. Amongst us here at Japanator, FLCL is undoubtedly the show that's affected us as a staff the most, and has affected you guys just as much.
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We're at the end of the line, folks. You've been riding with us all week as we counted down our picks for the top 50 anime of the last ten years. #50-#41, #40-#31, #30-#21 and #20-#11 are all done. You might have some complai...

Japanator's Top 50 Anime of the Decade: #20 to #11

Dec 31 // Brad Rice
It's hard to deny the power of Lucky Star. The show excelled in being funny because of its skill at parodying the otaku lifestyle. The obsession with collections and moe, relating real-life events to dating sims or other game types, and even nailing the American otaku square on the head with Patty Martin.Admit it, you felt guilty when she was called out about listening to only anime opening and closing songs.Lucky Star turns out to be a smart mash-up of Azumanga Daioh and Genshiken in its humor, and the effect it's had is clear: it's become a staple for just about every fan as a sort of gateway into the "true" otaku culture. Think about it: how many of you here have watched it? You all have your favorites, and more than a few of you own figures of the characters, have wallpapers of them, and probably keep that sailor fuku shirt that Bandai gave out in the back of your closet.As much as you may want to deny it, Lucky Star has had an undeniable impact on otaku culture in the last few years thanks to its biting and self-deprecating humor. Adaptations can cause a lot of controversy. Just look at Romeo x Juliet. The best one that Gonzo tackled, though, was undoubtedly Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo. The adaptation took some serious diversions from the original book, but the story told was still so strong and compelling that it stands on its own two feet.A myriad of colors and patterns, Gankutsuou provided one of the most awe-inspiring visual feats that I've seen in a long, long time. In an effort to celebrate Parisian society, the show went over the top, with every character peacocking in one way or another. It was, in a word, beautiful.The dub of Gankutsuou simply floored me. The folks at Geneon picked a cast so perfect for the characters and the mood, that when reading the book, these were the voices I heard.Simply put: you must watch this show. It's artful, sophisticated, and gives you a complex and satisfying story to digest.The cult of Fullmetal Alchemist is omnipresent. You see it everywhere when it comes to conventions and gatherings. If you're in a high school or college anime club, someone has a Fullmetal Alchemist bag or pin or something. It's brought so many people into the fold from its run on Cartoon Network that it's almost mind-boggling.And really, with good reason. The show sports some top-notch voice acting and animation to back up a well-crafted dark tale of two brothers as they try to fight the power. For being a shonen title, the show gets you really good at some points, pulling those heartstrings harder than you'd like (Hughes, anyone?).Fullmetal Alchemist has already carved its notch in the community, and it's set to become one of those shows that you just have to watch when you're first getting into anime.On the surface, Toradora appears to be nothing more than your stock-and-standard romantic comedy. The girl is short and abrasive, and turned a lot of people -- myself included -- off from this show for a while. Yet when you finally sit down to watch it, what you discover is a story with a lot more depth than you would have ever thought.Unlike most romantic comedies set in high school, all the characters are broken. They lead relatively normal lives, but when they decide to step out of their shells to pursue their heart -- or at least what they think they want -- all of the flaws, harsh memories, and realities of life start to sink in. That's when things get interesting.The show culminates in an ending that is one of the most satisfying I've ever seen in a series like this. The characters -- their wants and needs -- are real and different from just about every other series I've watched. By the end, the romance feels truly epic.Firing off at more than a lightning-fast pace, Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei has proven to be one of the funniest and sharply written shows in years. Taking pot-shots at current events, not only within Japan, but across the world, the show gains a whole new level of humor if you keep up on your news.With a wide cast of characters, the Zetsubou franchise never really managed to get stale, exploring not only the characters' backgrounds but watching the unruly classroom inhabitants interact with each other. It created a wonderful dynamic that guaranteed a good time.The show's utterly black humor and frequent puns on the Japanese language might make it hard to bring over here, but at least there's always Del Rey's release of the manga to enjoy.School Rumble is a fan favorite amongst the staff, probably because there's just not a pairing that you can't say no to with the show's giant web of interlacing romances. The over-the-top absurdity of some of the characters, Harima especially, had us rolling in the aisles when they were caught in nasty predicaments.Romance is a genre that's hard to break into, because so many stories have been done already. So you have to do something to make it special, and in the case of School Rumble, they decided to go big or go home. And it stayed. School Rumble tops our list as the highest-ranking romantic comedy. It's got so much to offer, and provides some of the best comedy that I've seen in a romantic comedy.One of my personal favorites, Gunslinger Girl is about the new lives given to these broken girls. Is it worth it? Probably not, but you watch them struggle as they try to walk the line between assassin and little girl. It's heartbreaking, especially when you see the range of treatment they get, from that of a tool to a daughter.With one of the most obscene animations budgets ever behind it, Madhouse went to town, producing some of the most stunning to consistently run in an anime. With a memorable score by Toshihiko Sahashi, every scene is compelling and draws you in.By no means is this a happy-go-lucky nor a particularly action-packed show, but that's the beauty of it. There's a lot of subtle drama going on within the characters as they try to walk in the twilight. Do yourself a favor and pick up this series right away.The term "healing" is not to be taken lightly here. What Kimi ni Todoke excels in, and the reason why it's made it this far into our list, is that through everything: the story, voice acting, animation and music, the characters bring a special warmth to your heart.More than any specific element, it's the feeling that the show produces, on just about everyone in the audience, that makes it so wonderful. There are so many moments when your heart feels as though it's going to burst, episode by episode, not out of love or sadness, but pure happiness.Kimi ni Todoke produces a rare effect of just making you feel better by watching it. All those worries you have in your life seem to melt away for the 22 minutes that you sit down to watch the show. And suddenly? The world seems like a better place. This show is one for music lovers. One of the best josei titles in years, Nodame Cantabile follows a girl trying to make it big in a music school -- something that is much more biased than you'd think -- and the talent she meets along the way. Featuring some of the most-rounded and well-developed characters in any shoujo or josei series, Nodame Cantabile simply shines.Two things make this series fantastic: its music and the knowledge the creator had. The score to this series, drawing from all the classical masters and using their music with great effectiveness. The creator's knowledge, or at least the ability to peer into the psyche, of the ambitious music students and truly understand their desires and their motivations created such rich characters.Truth be told, even if you're not a music lover, by the time you're done watching this series, you'll find yourself collecting some of the most classic works in existence, opening you up to a whole new world.Genshiken is the otaku show. Hands down. Nothing can supplant its position, and future titles will be hard-pressed to beat it. The show is an introduction to otaku life, as well as life in college, as we follow Sasahara as he discovers himself, delving into all aspects of otaku culture.While the show deals heavily with getting sucked into the inescapable black hole that is otaku culture, the show also tackles what it means to get serious about your own life; what it means to find love; and that love you know will never happen.You can point to every single character in the show and relate it to your own life. And here's the thing: it doesn't lambast the otaku, nor glorify their lifestyle. It simply shows the ups and downs, the camaraderie developed, and the pains of living the otaku life.
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This week, it will be the end of the first decade of the 21st century. To celebrate this milestone, we here at Japanator picked the best fifty anime of the last ten years (the best of the ’00s!). The only rule of this w...

Japanator's Top 50 Anime of the Decade: #30 to #21

Dec 30 // Brad Rice
Frankly, Ghost in the Shell 2 makes it onto our list because of the muscle-flexing Production I.G. put into its animation. The story isn't really important in this one, because I can guarantee you were too busy drooling to really pay attention to what anyone was saying.The film's plot gets extremely heavy, and a bit more entangled, making it somewhat hard to follow. We love and respect Ghost in the Shell 2 for pushing the boundaries of quality animation, and it deserves a place on your shelf if for no other reason than you'll need to watch this a number of times in order to disentangle all the plot elements. All those harem series that you've come to know and love? They wouldn't be anything without Love Hina. This show set the standard for one guy and multiple girls, and its influence is still there. The character archetypes, the story situations and just about everything in between has the mark of Love Hina on it.For many who got into anime back at the turn of the decade, Love Hina was one of the big gateway anime, dragging people along with the fantastic mix of romance and comedy. For many, our own Colette Bennett included, this show holds a special place in their hearts as the series that first made them fall in love with 2-D characters.Even today, the show still holds up, proving just how good of a piece it is. Have you ever felt utterly tiny when watching something? Creating that sort of experience -- a lone figure amongst towering machines -- is hard to do, but the effect is profound. Metropolis, based on one of Osamu Tezuka's first manga titles, explores the lives of robots before Astro Boy came about.One of the cool things about Metropolis is it's retro art style. You'd think the film came out much earlier than 2001 by the way things look, and yet it's still crisp and clean. Supporting this feeling is the film's jazz-inspired soundtrack, which adds a unique feel to this surprisingly touching Tezuka tale.I have a feeling many of you have passed over this one, but it's worth the watch. A bold concept not only in design but in distribution, Xam'd: Lost Memories was an anime title developed in Japan, but debuted in America across the PlayStation Network -- a handful of months before the Japanese got to watch it. A bold tale of a schoolboy caught in the middle of a war between rival nations, he has to not only deal with his newfound life but his new powers as well, after he's abducted by a band of outsiders.What really made Xam'd shine, beyond its story, was the animation. So much detail was given to the characters, they key scenes and the facial expressions that it carried the show through every single scene. The lush scenery and intricate designs in clothing and characters made this show a feast for the eyes, keeping you entranced episode after episode.Xam'd makes our list not only for a good story and fantastic animation, but also for challenging the mold of distribution for anime. The industry finally decided to pay more attention to America, their largest niche market.Naoki Urasawa has been producing some of the biggest seinen hits for a while now. Pluto, 20th Century Boys and of course his epic mystery thriller Monster. Both the manga and anime versions of this title shine like a brilliant star, providing one of the most satisfying shows in a long time.The show is a serious investment in time, but every minute you put in is rewarded with this show, as the twist and turns explore the concept of evil and the monster within us. To back that up, the show was fantastically animated by Madhouse, so you'll enjoy staring at it just as much as you will contemplating it. Ostensibly, Dennou Coil was developed as a children's show, airing on NHK Educational Channel, but proved to be something more than a flight-of-fancy show featuring augmented reality and Internet glasses. The show jumps back and forth between light-hearted children's play and something much more heavy and sinister.Jarring as though it may be, Dennou Coil provides an astounding "what-if" world that sets your mind a-wander. It's reminiscent of when you were a kid and you have this whole fantasy world at your disposal. The show features some wonderful character designs and a strikingly unique color palette that's deftly animated.Dennou Coil finds itself in a strange position, straddling the area between a show that kids could watch and something else, giving the story something of a unique atmosphere. Music can be extremely powerful. It moves you. Inspires you. Breaks you down. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad is about all of that and more. We follow Koyuki as he goes through those formative years as a teenager, discovering music beyond the generic pop that's pushed out and finding love as he works to create his own music.The show is marred by a shoestring animation budget which lead to numerous corners cut, but through all that, the show's soul speaks volumes. The Japanese dub was heartfelt and honest, and somehow FUNimation managed to improve upon the show's soundtrack, with one of the most amazing dubs I've ever heard, especially considering all the technical problems of re-dubbing songs.This show celebrates one of the glories of growing up, and the importance of never letting that sense of wonder go. It will inspire you.This is not simply an update of Neon Genesis Evangelion. The Rebuild of Evangelion project has taken the original Evangelion concept and played with it a lot. The story has been morphed, new characters introduced, and something sinister lies beneath the surface. While we won't know the scope in its entirety until the last two movies premiere in Japan, this has proved to be something different from the original TV anime.For longtime fans of the series, the Rebuild project brought the show into beautiful HD, smartly used CG, and utterly subverted your knowledge of Evangelion. When I first watched the film, there were points where my jaw went slack and I couldn't believe what happened. For those who have never watched Evangelion, this is an interesting way to hook in new viewers, as the films are totally approachable. Somehow, Gainax has managed to make one of the most important shows of the last decade relevant once again. Admit it, you're entranced by the Hypo-Penis. One of the breakout hits from the beginning of the year, it was no surprise that Eden of the East was licensed right away. One of the few original stories in anime, Eden of the East presents us with a grand mystery: a guy wakes up in Washington D.C. naked, holding a gun and a cellphone.It's a hell of a hook, you've got to admit. And from there, we watch as our protagonist, Saki, grows and evolves through the unraveling of the mysteries of the show, all while taking in commentary on modern Japanese society. The show feels oddly relevant, as though you're peering in on something going on right now.The show does a grand job of presenting something that's truly unique. Everything from the character designs to the infamous cellphones of the show ooze originality. You're not going to regret owning this title one bit.  Code Geass is one of those shows that just about every anime fan I know has watched, and they have a strong opinion on it. It's really taken the anime world by storm, mixing the character designs of CLAMP with mecha, plots for world domination and Pizza Hut.The show's greatest asset is its melodrama. The show gets so bombastic and over the top that you can't help but get swept up in its waves and dragged along for the ride. It's like G Gundam, to an extent. And so we find ourselves cheering on the characters, forgiving the overtly blatant Pizza Hut sponsorship and beg for more Spinzaku.Once you start watching this show, you'll find yourself begging for more episodes quickly. Be warned, it's addictive, like the delicious and affordable pizza from Pizza Hut.
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This week, it will be the end of the first decade of the 21st century. To celebrate this milestone, we here at Japanator picked the best fifty anime of the last ten years (the best of the ’00s!). The only rule of this w...

Yotsuba & Lists

Dec 30 // Ben Huber
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Japanator's Top 50 Anime of the Decade: #40 to #31

Dec 29 // Brad Rice
  Breathtakingly beautiful and utterly heartbreaking are the words I'd use to describe this film. A mix of upbeat comedy using time travel to your own advantage and seeing how things just can't be fixed to make your life perfect, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a story that's been made over several times in Japan, and with good reason.This may be the penultimate version, with Madhouse's superb animation and Kiyoshi Yoshida's fantastic soundtrack adding to the bittersweet feelings of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Finding a good, solid animated film is hard, but this is one that should be a no-brainer on your list of must-watch titles. What can I say? Josh loves it. And, from what he says, I can understand why. The show is both self-aware and intricate, with the character's nonchalance towards their encounters with the bizarre and occult a device to tell more involved personal narratives, to paraphrase Josh.If you're looking for a show to slyly break the fourth wall, then Bakemonogatari handles that well, too. Characters poke fun at archetypes within the genre, wordplay abounds, and even American memes are co-opted for added humor. In the 2010 con circuit, I fully expect this show to be licensed.You're not going to want to miss out on it. Seriously, I never stop hearing you guys talk about Darker than Black. Perhaps it's because of the show's complex layers, watching the organizations within the show fight back and forth, not just on the battlefield? Perhaps it's the character development you keep running into arc after arc?Or maybe it's because you like watching Hei as a drunkard and cheer him on when he beats women. Whatever your reason may be, this beautifully animated show by BONES is sure to please anyone looking for a dark and serious show. You're sure to be sucked in once you start watching it. What can I say? We here at Japanator love Gundam. Amongst the group, Gundam SEED managed to best out the others and find its way into our #37 slot. In what's been considered one of the best alternate universe plotlines in the Gundam franchise (even though G Gundam should hold that mantle), we see a youth once again thrust into the Gundam cockpit only to discover the horrors of war.The show beats its own path in the second half, branching out into a conflict amongst friends. What I see again and again when it comes to Gundam SEED is how impressed people were with the show's rich and lush colors, the strength of the voice cast, and the way that everything clicks. It set a new standard for the alternate universes that's hard to beat.Giants robots, complex plotlines, and deadly attacks on Tokyo. That's right, it's Neo--er, RahXephon, I mean. Want one of those shows that just shuts your brain down with a critical overload of information. Once again, the staff at Bones proves that they have some of the most skilled artists in the anime industry, producing something so visually stunning and providing great mecha designs that stick with you.While comparisons to Evangelion are inevitable, especially on the surface, RahXephon actually spins its own deep tale that will have you hooked if you can stick with the show's slow boil and can make it through the high barrier of entry. The first barrier is actually pronouncing the name properly. Taking Shakespeare and putting his most famous work in Sky City, Neo-Verona? Yeah, I laughed too. While I didn't intend to take the show seriously, I ended up with a copy of it and began to watch. And then I couldn't stop. Besides the show's excellent re-invention of the classic tale, FUNimation's dub was superb.Quotes from the book were used. The previews were in iambic pentameter. Gonzo dumped huge amounts of money into it's production. All of this paid off, producing a great adaptation of a classic work. This has a solid story with some novel twists, which will surely stick in your mind for a while to come. My God, the screams I heard when this show was licensed. Ouran High School Host Club is responsible for bringing a number of girls into the fold of anime, yet was still able to present something that very friendly to males. The poor honor student attending the rich private school is indebted to the Host Club after breaking their $80,000 vase, and thanks to this, we're introduced to one of the best satires of shoujo stereotypes and tropes.Packed with an all-star cast including Maaya Sakamoto and Mamoru Miyano, Ouran managed to pack in serious amounts of humor while gracefully teasing all sorts of different pairings for the fan as each guy had their moments with the heroine.The show has cultivated a strong following amongst men too, disproving their intolerance to the color pink once and for all. It's got such a wide-ranging appeal without sacrificing any quality that it's a must-watch for all. After leaving Kyoto Animation, Suzumiya Haruhi director Yutaka Yamamoto tackled Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens and made something that proved he was no "rookie director." We're lured into the show by the sudden arrival of a flat-chested goddess at our protagonist's house. We get hooked as the show parodies otaku culture and the rise of an idol.Then, we hit a romance. Things get much more complicated. What was originally going to be a fun comedy took a hard turn, and dragged along with it some serious character development. Yet it managed to keep true to its comedy roots. It took the standard romantic comedy that we've all been used to, executed it very well, and did so in only 13 episodes. Kannagi makes our list for doing things right and doing it without dragging on a story.Floating mold spores isn't exactly the most appetizing pitch for a show, now is it? Yet when you make all sorts of disease-causing bacteria, including E-Coli, cute, you manage to entice a lot more people. What makes Moyashimon great, and sets it apart from a number of other shows, is the college setting. When you deal with characters who have outgrown their puberty and aren't stuck in the same old tropes, suddenly all the jokes become much more refreshing.And Moyashimon certainly had no shortcomings in the writing department. Even without the spin of agriculture and educating the viewers about molds, the show tackles humor in a more mature fashion, which means that it's not all panty shots and accidental gropings. With some great animation, especially in the show's OP and ED, Moyashimon is something we'll see licensed soon, as the manga (published by Del Rey) is doing rather well in the US. It's rare to capture that noir vibe of an utterly corrupt city and the characters who are trying to uncover the truth, while walking the line between the light and dark. Speed Grapher manages to do so very well, escalating the complexity of the corruption with each episode, giving villains more multi-faceted ideals.The show is marred by outdated and somewhat choppy animation, but the story shines through well enough to ignore that. Gonzo took a little while to find its footing with this show, but once it picked up the pace, it really kicked things into gear.
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This week, it will be the end of the first decade of the 21st century. To celebrate this milestone, we here at Japanator picked the best fifty anime of the last ten years (the best of the ’00s!). The only rule of this w...

Japanator's Top 50 Anime of the Decade: #50 to #41

Dec 28 // Brad Rice
Freddie Mercury. A gorilla. A badass robot. This is the world of Cromartie High School, a world that has confused me personally but grabbed a huge multitude of viewers by storm. Following an utterly bizarre and non-sequitur plot, the mild-mannered Yamada ends up in the delinquent-infested school of Cromartie High, where's he's got to survive.What is it about the show that captured so many?I think it's the level of information overload that comes with each episode. Clocking in at only ten minutes a piece, Production I.G. threw everything and the kitchen sink at viewers in order to keep the jokes rolling. Each joke requires very little setup and because of the huge level of sight gags, it performed this effortlessly. Shows like Hetalia followed with a similar format, but haven't been able to capture the same mood.Who doesn't want an angel living with them? Ah! My Goddess has been one of the most successful romantic comedies coming out of Japan, with the manga still running since its debut in 1988. Naturally, the 2005 anime stuck close to the manga to much success, and produced big hits here in the US.What's struck the hearts of many about this series? The characters, while falling into some tropes, work so well together that you instantly fall in love with them. Plus, with a killer voice cast, how can you not enjoy this show? It's made itself one of the must-watch romantic comedies.Spice and Wolf hasn't had time to make that big of a splash here in America, but in Japan it's shown the power of moeconomics. It's proven that you can sell a show about armor futures and buying and selling crops if you put a cute wolf girl with a funny accent in it.It certainly wasn't the first show to exploit the moe genre, but it showed just how far the trend could go. And the thing is? It was still a good show. Strong animation, an easy-to-understand explanation of the plot and finances of the series, so that people still had a good time. Or, they were just staring at Holo's body and entranced by her accent so much that the staff voted her onto this list.Want to learn all about the strategy it takes to play baseball? Big Windup gives it to you in all its glory. One of the most entrancing baseball anime that I've ever watched, this beautifully animated story follows a local team as they aim for the top and try to beat out some of their bigger rivals with a spineless protagonist of a pitcher.You can read our review for praise of the series, but the takeaway here is that Big Windup manages to do what so many anime and manga try to do: take a subject that seems off-putting or complicated, and break it down within a narrative that you can really get behind.You can't believe how excited I am for this second season. Baccano is somewhat hard to explain. In what amounts to an amorphous story, we follow a brash group of heroes with the wit and fashion sense of the 1930s as we unravel a rather mysterious plot. The cast of characters are varied both in appearance and personality but also in the feel they give to the story. A single episode can flow between a Laurel and Hardy-esque comedy to a melancholic scene with ease.While there hasn't been a strong push behind the show since its release earlier in 2009, the fanbase behind it is strong and pushes the show on whoever they can get a hold of. It's popularity is sure to be a slow boil, so if you haven't seen it yet, now is the time to get in on it. If you're going to point to any Key show as the one to watch, Clannad is without question the one to watch. A romance of huge depth, according to the fans, Clannad proves to be a show that will make you weep uncontrollably. Coming after Kyoto Animation's success of Lucky Star, Clannad takes moe to new levels of exploitation.Why put it on our top series of the decade list?Simply put, you're not going to get a better story out of any of these Key titles, and with the way that this show moves your heart and pushes you to love these 2-D characters, there's no reason why you shouldn't have already watched it by now. Believe it! As much as you may hate the series, or think it's stupid, you know that at one point you were reading this like your life depended on it. You were engrossed in the wide cast of characters, Naruto's can-do attitude, and cheered on Hinata.Naruto has had a big impact, and continues to do so, on the anime and manga community because it draws in so many people. It's a gateway title that, whether you like to admit it or not, deserves to be celebrated as one of the biggest titles of the decade. An anime of Death Note? How is this going to work, I wondered. The manga was 80% thought bubbles. Yet somehow the geniuses at Madhouse made it work. With an expert cast in both English and Japanese, the show made huge waves on both sides of the shore, especially once it debuted on Adult Swim here in the U.S.The manga was already popular amongst youngsters here in the US, thanks to the well-planned marketing of Viz's Shonen Jump line, but the Adult Swim crowd suddenly took hold of the series, pushing it to a new level.With a much more complex plot than Naruto, Death Note gave Shonen Jump fans something deeper, although it's still a shonen title in the end. Nonetheless, I think we all enjoyed the ride. More than anything, Mushishi proved to be a bit of an escape. It takes things that we're familiar with: traditional Japan and nature, and flips them on their head. What we end up with is this otherworldly image of traditional Japan as we follow around Ginko as he cures medical and magical problems that are being caused by all different types of mushi.If you don't mind watching a slow-paced show with no over-arching plot, then you'll find yourself lost in the show's absolutely beautiful art and hauntingly good soundtrack.Mushishi deserves to be watched because of the beauty achieved in the animation. It will stay with you for a while to come. The manga shares a lot of the same artistic beauty, but seeing these things in motion is like peering into your own dreams. This is a show that's all about explosions, breasts, and one-liners. And not particularly in that order. More than a cheesy action story, Black Lagoon oozes American action flicks. With guns locked and loaded, we sit and watch the crew of the Black Lagoon raid Nazi ships, fight cross-dressing incestuous 12-year-old twins who are murderers and even see the Russian mob take on Japan.If you've got any bit of testosterone in your body, this show kicks it into overdrive. Superbly animated by the folks at Madhouse, and given one of the most appropriate dubs I've heard in ages by the folks at Geneon, this is one show that you simply must have in your collection.
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This week, it will be the end of the first decade of the 21st century. To celebrate this milestone, we here at Japanator picked the best fifty anime of the last ten years (the best of the ’00s!). The only rule of this w...







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