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 week-long series is that each title was released between 2000 and today.
Now that we've tackled the tail-end of our top 50 list, it's time to start heading towards its midsection, with those titles that have been pretty darn amazing over the last ten years. We've certainly got your gears going thus far, so be sure to continue the discussion. I'm really enjoying hearing your thoughts.
The way things worked in our list is each member of the staff voted for their top ten titles of the decade. Each of those items were assigned points, and then we ranked them all. I did some re-arranging and placement, but the order of the list is the general consensus of the staff here at Japanator. Some shows made it high because a lot of the members of the staff thought it was moderately important. Others made it because a writer or two put it at the top of their list.
So, that's how things work here. Let's get into the next part of the list!
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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