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The best of Japanator's Top 50 of the decade (#11-#50) ***


Yes, it's a list of the best parts of another list. I'm crazy.

After reading Japanator's Top 50 feature, I suddenly started twitching and turning uncontrollably. I fell off my chair due to muscle spasms, foaming at the mouth while my bowels forced me to deficate uncontrollably until I nearly lost conciousness due to the horrible state I was in. The unbearable stench of vomit and fecies became too much and I went into a serene dream-like state wherein I saw a vision.

An angel came to me and said: "It's not what you're thinking, you're not going to give birth to a baby Jesus." I asked the angelic messenger why she had come before me. She replied "I bring you a message from Yaweh. You must go to Bethlehem. You must see a psychiatrist there, because this blog is pretty fucked up and you have mental problems."

Thus, I started my journey and visited a psychiatrist, who told me to let it all out and ventilate my problems with the Japanator Top 50 list.
As I stated in the Japanator feature article: It's very hard though to make a top list out of 10 years of anime. Anime has exploded in popularity (outside Japan) throughout the 90s, resulting in alot of different shows in the 00s to choose from.
Also, I can imagine that this list is more like an all-time best list for alot of younger or newer anime fans.

The problem with Japanator's list is that it has to pander to alot of different readers, who are all stubborn idiots like me that insist on having an own opinion. Due to this, alot of anime series simply have to be represented in the list because they're popular, not because they're good. It can't be helped. However, at the very least allow me to adjust the list to my liking in this cblog.

I'd like to stress that I in no way mean to discredit the Japanator list. I can see the reasoning behind every pick, I just respectfully disagree on some titles.

I will remove the exact ranking from the equasion and simply be judging which show would or would not be in my personal list. My list will be much smaller, but every anime included in it should be a must-watch.

If Azumanga Daioh is the mother of all modern comedy anime, then Cromartie High School is certainly the father. I'm willing to go through DNA testing to prove it. Throughout the 90s, comedy-centered anime series went through an experimental phase nurtured by LSD and other psychedelic drugs. Dragon Half and Excel Saga were so over-the-top in their random comedy elements that it became painful and confusing to watch. Luckily, Azumanga Daioh brought the focus back to the comedy genre, giving each gag the attention it deserved instead of blindly firing thousands of obscure references and parodies at the viewer per minute.

Cromartie is distinctly different from Azumanga Daioh because it offers a more self aware, satirical view on comedy. Cromartie makes it very obvious it's a parody, but still remains serious in it's approach.

At first I had a hard time recalling the exact plotline and story archs of Ah! My Goddess. This is not to the detriment of the series, but because of the avalanche of romance anime that followed after its original OVA release. Luckily, when I read a couple short plot summaries I remembered everything vividly.

Certainly, the 1993 OVA was very impressive and infulential. However, this list is about the top anime of this decade. While I do recommend the original OVA and the Ah! My Goddess movie, I wouldn't bother with the TV series. It starts out lovely but it's spiralling downward at an exponential rate into a never ending pit of doom. It may be popular, but that won't excuse it.

The great thing about Ah! My Goddess is/was how it avoided giving in too much to the fanservice. Sadly, Love Hina and every romantic comedy since has always leaned much too heavily on fanservice as the one and only source of comedy.

Spice and Wolf is about economics and trading. Not especially something that's easy to sell to anime viewers. Throw a mystical fox lady into the mix and stir gently for 24 minutes. What you end up with is a delicious steaming heap of originality.

Just when you think the fantasy genre is getting stale, with all the swordfighting and magic users, this anime proves you wrong. There's much more to the middle ages than what we're normally spoonfed, so it seems. No need to romanticize either. Instead of the usual bravery and heroism, we get the inner monologues of a merchant obsessed with profit. Weirdly enough, it works. It's charming and quaint.

While I've really enjoyed this series and am estatic about the new season being announced, I don't think it holds up in a "best anime of the decade" kind of way.

It's a good baseball series, it's really enjoyable to watch. I would wholeheartedly recommend this series to anyone, but I wouldn't say it's very influential, original or groundbreaking.

Ever since Touch, no one seems to have bothered with the baseball genre. Now, enough time has passed to see some new series come to fruition. Big Windup tried to be a polar opposite of Touch, in order to avoid any comparisons, Cross Game tries to immitate Touch very closely, in order to immitate its success. There has yet to be an anime which builds upon Touch but also plots out an own course, becoming the new standard within this sub-genre.

This series as seamlessly connected japanese anime with western influences. With the completely crazy cast (akin to Guy Richie movies) and the schitzophrenic non-linear way the story unfolds (Quentin Tarantino) it's a modern masterpiece that absolutely deserves to be on this list.

There has been no anime like this before its release. It's very unconventional in many ways. For example, the first episode completely lays it focus on two characters who are unsure how the story should be told. Where does anything end and begin? It's a very difficult question to answer, especially in the context of this anime.

This anime seems to have made the list because the Japanator Staff insisted on adding one Key show to the list. I say screw the rules, long live anarchy, all Key shows can burn in the hottest fire of hell.

My doctor has advised me to cut my rantings about Key anime short here, in order to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

This is a difficult show to judge, as it has brought alot of attention (good and bad) to anime in general. Many people grow into anime by watching naruto and shows just like it. If you're going to sum up this decade in a list, then you will begrudgingly have to make a mention of it somewhere. At the same time, I wouldn't reccomend this series. I don't think it's particularly good in any aspect at all.

Japanator readers come to this site for a reason - because they are very interested in anime. They like to explore the world of anime further, not just observe the surface. Therefor, I would not include Naruto on the list.

I am not a big Death Note fan myself, but I can see the series' merits. It's unique as a shoujo anime. No fights, just endless plotting and scheming. Death Note brings darker themes to the shoujo genre and manages to pack some moral baggage because of it. It's very much a stepping stone from Naruto to everything else that anime has to offer and I commend the series for it.

That being said, I don't think it's a masterpiece made by God himself. It deserves its place on the list, but only barely.

Mushishi is mainly about nature. Rather than taking the obvious path (which was already downtrodden by Miyazaki and every movie he ever made before Spirited Away) and convey the standard "Nature vs. Humans" message, wherein nature always wins the fight and mops up the bad guys, Mushishi refuses to take sides. It's just about some guy who happens to be able to see certain lifeforms that normally stay hidden. No, he doesn't use his powers to save the world or impress pretty ladies. He just travels around a bit.

It's very surreal yet down-to-earth. The series perfectly portrays one of anime's strengths, the vivid imagination behind it.

I've never seen this series in its entirety, so I'll refrain from being judgemental. The first five-or-so episodes didn't really captivate me at the time of airing, but I'll inevitably come back to the series sooner or later. Especially since Japanator put it on their list.

This is slowly becoming the biggest c-blog in existence. Hopefully it won't create a black hole within Japanator's server rack and suck the world into oblivion.

The Girl Who Leapt through time is a near-perfect anime. I can't think of any proper critique to offer it. The subject of time travel is handled with relative charm (it never turns becomes cheesy or banal like an anime version of Groundhog Day) and the movie manages to stay engaging without offering many action scenes.

Just one thing: Paprika, which is also based on a Yasutaka Tsutsui novel, is even better. I have faith in Japanator and assume it's simply way higher in the top 50.

I've dropped this series during its original airing. Sometimes the hype around a series overshadows the work itself and can make it more difficult to enjoy something for what it is.

The couple episodes that I've watched really piqued my interest though. It's clearly experimental and headstrong and intentionally so. I could do without the fanservice though.

Darker Than Black is an amazing action series. It doesn't explore any unknown territory or break the action mold in any way, but it's very enjoyable none the less. At the same time, we've seen many action series like it this decade and the decade before it. We'll see plenty of series like it in the decade to come.

Additionally, Darker Than Black haphazardly switches perspective from main character to side character throughout the series, while the side characters are mostly uninteresting. This also affects the pacing badly. The sudden leaps from action scenes to comedy relief make for very uneasy transitions. I'm looking at you, cat detective story arch. Why? Why!

Gundam is great, isn't it? It deserves to be in almost every anime list, doesn't it? Not quite.

Top 50 anime of the 70s? Gundam for the win.
Top 50 anime of the 80s? Gundam is represented.
Top 50 anime of the 90s? Gundam has been a good boy.
Top 50 anime of the 00s? NO! BAD BOY! Get your act together, Gundam.

While it may be true that Gundam dropped the ball, it's not that simple to create a mecha anime series that holds its own in the ring.

Besides, the ideas behind RahXephon are not from this decade. RahXephon originated in 1995. You might have heard of it, they called it "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and it was better than RahXephon in practically every way imaginable.

I hate Gonzo with a passion. They always manage to make the first couple episodes of a show very interesting. After that, 90% of the time they manage to screw it up one way or another. As far as I'm concerned, Gonzo has never made a true masterpiece and only moved further away from making anything good as this decade progressed.

The great thing about Romeo x Juliet is that Gonzo doesn't have too much creative freedom. Shakespeare wrote the script, so what can possibly go wrong? Gonzo, that's what can go wrong. Changing the ending of the Shakespeare play is a sin, Gonzo goes ahead with it anyway and what we're left with is an anime with decent animation and a good musical score, but without any of the power, weight and tragedy that the original story held. For shame Gonzo, for shame.

Ouran manages to pack alot of homoerotic content without alienating viewers who don't swing that way. That's quite an accomplishment, as far as I'm concerned.
Thankfully, it completely lays its focus on the comedy. This puts it a notch above Fruits Basket, in my eyes.

Hey, it's a harem anime! Haha, the main character is such a meritless idiot. They all want his cock! That is so funny! She's a sort of goddess and she falls in love with him. Where have we heard this before?

I can see why it made Japanator's list though. It doesn't drag on. While it borrows 100% of the content from its predecessors, the story is packaged and executed quite well.

Moyashimon is good, I just think Mushishi is based on relatively similar ideas and executed much more interestingly. The cute microbiology creatures are an easy commercial sell, while Mushishi attempts to add more depth and introspective to its mythology, making the show less commercially viable but more deserving of critical acclaim.

Another Gonzo show...
I haven't seen it, so I don't know what to make of it..I'm not that keen on trying it either (see my Romeo x Juliet criticism to know why) unless someone in the comments manages to convince me ;)

Moving right along...

Ghost In The Shell is an outstanding show dealing with contemporary issues. While the original movie belongs to the last decade, the additions to the series since then have all been top-notch. You could list Innocence here, you could just as well list SAC. Point made, two thumbs up!

Much like Naruto, you begrudgingly have to mention this show when you sum up this decade. Without Love Hina, harem shows wouldn't have been what they are today. Each season since its release we see half a dozen of imitations which are invariably shit, due to the original being so shit to begin with.

When the show dives into some romance, it can be bearable and perhaps even enjoyable. Sadly, it hardly ever does that. It's very easy to sum up my feelings for this show: You simply have to repeat carefully what you see on the screen.
Does Keitaro accidentally grab a girl's boobs and get slapped in the face? Try groping your hottest classmate/colleague and getting slapped in the face. It feels somewhat nice when you're in the moment, but afterwards you realise how dirty and degraded you truly feel. You'd really like to take a shower to wash off that filth. Suddenly you realise how this show has killed something inside you and has shat all over your favorite pasttime. You may try to remove it vigorously, but the stench of Love Hina's excrement will never go away. Trust me, I've tried everything.

An extraordinary science-fiction spectacle with outstanding visuals that are faithful to Tezuka's style. Certainly one of this decade's finest (though it nostalgically longs for a time long before now)

I have not seen this show. In fact, it has wooshed right past me. Perhaps because of that, I find it hard to believe it has had a huge impact.
But hey, maybe I'm human. Maybe I'm wrong.

The only thing this picture instantly tells me is: Eureka Seven.
Does this show overshadow Eureka Seven completely by offering something new and original, or does it just build on existing ideas?

Deserving of not only its place in this decade's list. Monster would certainly be on a "best anime of all time" list.

The storytelling and pacing throughout the 74 episodes is simply excellent. Characters are complex and memorable and the visuals are befitting, making the story all the more interesting. When all these elements come together, you realise Monster is in a league of its own.

I'm surprised how picky and critical I can still be, even as we're getting to the top half of this list. Mostly this show is a treat to watch, The mystery is fun and exciting, but I could do without the drama and filler episodes. With its severe pacing issues, I wouldn't dream of calling it the decade's finest.

Do yourself a favor and instead of watching this show, dust off My Neighbor Totoro. At a couple of moments, Denno Coil clearly pays homage to this classic. While such flattery is lovely, it makes you long for the original.

I have a hard time calling this a good show while maintaining a straight face. BECK's story is an uninspired heap of clich├ęs, the animation is sub-par and the engrish in this show has haunted me for years. Furthermore the story tends to drag on.

The cast of characters is somewhat realistic, but infuriatingly so. I don't escape to anime to see bloated egos and slutty women. I watch anime to get away from all that. It's not a documentary, so some creative direction would be nice.

If you haven't seen this show yet, spoilers: A total loser learns to play guitar and becomes famous. Hey-oh, you've just seen BECK. Move along, nothing to see here.

I absolutely love this, I just don't think it's a seperate entity in such a way that it's deserving of its place on this list.

As far as I'm concerned, this is a show from 1995. A more definitive version perhaps, but certainly not enough of an addition to see it as such a huge improvement over the original that it merits a place on this list.

This show is still very much ongoing and until it reaches an acceptable conclusion I have a hard time putting it on this list. There are certainly some interesting ideas here, but it's not exactly a game-changing show that elevates anime to a new level or innovates and excels at a particular aspect of the medium.

This was a difficult one for me, as it's one of my favorite shows from recent history. I've watched it more than once and initially I wanted to give it a pass, but upon examining my motivation I realised it wasn't really deserving of such an honor.

Code Geass tries to be the Death Note among mecha series, with each side constantly one-upping the other. It's an ellaborate game of chess. 50 episodes of chess. 50 episodes of people considering certain moves, anticipating their impact and so on.
One of the chess players can cheat due to his magical puppy eyes, but otherwise it's just chess. Certain plot and character developments do add to the series, but ultimately it still falls flat on its face.

Code Geass is after all really no different than any Gundam anime. Childhood friends fight on opposing sides, certain people dear to them are caught in the middle, it's a ballad of cliches. A lovely ballad, I should say, but regardless these ideas aren't exactly fresh.

Happy new year! Like a true otaku I spend these first moments of 2010 in my room, blabbing on and on about anime.

The comedy genre is becoming more and more overpopulated. While Lucky Star is culturally influential, the foundations for this anime were established years before it with Azumanga Daioh and Genshiken. Lucky Star is a cute foster child, but ultimately still the accumulation of accomplishments from other series.

I'll bow forward, pick up the soap and take one for the team. I don't like Gonzo one bit, as we've established. If you truly must nominate a Gonzo show however, make it this one. Unlike Romeo x Juliet, the source material is tastefully adapted in this show. The visuals are excentric without venturing into unknown territory and the ending wraps it all up in an acceptable manner.

Either Gonzo has learned from past mistakes, or they've accidentally struck gold after swinging the pickaxe countless times.

This was the first non-localised (dubbed) anime show I ever watched. This alone grants it a special place in my heart. It's the show that got me into anime. The slapstick comedy in FMA is a bore (hearing jokes about Ed's height becomes dull quickly) but otherwise the show is alot of fun to watch all the way through. The ending and subsequent movie leave much to be desired, but I'm willing rule in favor of the show due to the many memorable moments throughout.

Sorry, guys. Toradora started out quite interesting, but in the end it's just like any other romance. There are plenty of fish in that sea. It may be one of this year's best shows, but I can think of a handful of better romantic comedies once we broaden the time period to a decade.

Never before have I seen such an outstanding mix of serious messages and comedy. This series packs some interesting social commentary, especially throughout the second season, while consistently keeping the entertainment value satisfactory. The fact that both seasons are so consistent in quality is an impressive feat.

An exciting comedy about high schoolers in love!
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To be fair, season one has its moments. I've really enjoyed this series, as it's a competent comedy show. However, the joke-machine breaks down pretty quickly and School Rumble moved further and further down the ladder as the series progressed.
It's certainly not a contender for best comedy of the decade.

There's something iffy about this series. It always bothered me.
In short, it's all about child soldiers. That's a pretty heavy theme right there. You could really deliver something special if the subject is handled with care and concern. Sadly, Gunslinger Girl isn't about delivering a thought provoking message. It's just about the glorification of violence and the spectacle that comes forth from the setting. By putting extra effort into fleshing out the relationships this show only manages to underline how morally absurd it truly is.

Jolly good fun, but not even close to reaching a conclusion. It's much too early to be evaluating this show.

Outstanding characters and an original setting. One of the few romance shows this decade that manages to alternate between comedic relief and serious plot development in a flawless manner. The drama always takes the front seat.

Sadly, the second season is nowhere near the first, quality-wise. Fingers crossed for season 3.

The definitive otaku show. Don't bother with it if you're not that into anime, but if you are an otaku then this is show is made for you.
Alternatively, if you're not that into anime but are keen to explore the otaku culture, this is an excellent handbook.
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About Mandrilone of us since 5:56 PM on 10.20.2009