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

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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 week-long series is that each title was released between 2000 and today.

We're getting down to the wire here. After counting down #50-#41, #40-#31 and #30-#21, we're entering life-or-death territory here. Surely there will be a horse head in my bed tomorrow morning because X series wasn't at X place. But, that's what happens.

The shows we have here, ranked from #20 down to #11, are important to watch in your career as an anime fan. A lot of what we have here are shows that will touch your heart, move you, and cause you to cry uncontrollably. That sort of emotion is what we look for when we want something truly satisfying.

I hope you enjoy the list we've got down below, and I look forward to revealing our top ten titles from the last ten years tomorrow, as we step into 2010. Thanks for sticking with us this far!

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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Brad Rice
Brad RiceFounder   gamer profile

Brad helped found in 2006, and currently serves as an Associate He's covered all aspects of the industry, but has a particular preference for the business-end of things, more + disclosures


 



Filed under... #anime #Anime of the Decade #Japanator Original #top stories

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