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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Brad helped found Japanator.com in 2006, and currently serves as an Associate Editor. He's covered all aspects of the industry, but has a particular preference for the business-end of things, and... full profile | More staff profiles
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