I am back for the next Top Anime post! Its always fun writing these posts because it helps me to do mini reviews for series I have watched some time ago. I can’t recall enough details to do full reviews of these series to my satisfaction, so I just settle with this and hopefully one day I’ll have the time to revisit them and write a post to do them justice. You can check out my last Top Anime post at My List of Top Anime of All Time: #25 – #21 if you haven’t!
Type: TV series
Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Slice of Life
Episodic Count: 25
More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/4224/Toradora!
I remember watching this as my first romcom experience, after almost a year of focusing on series with heavier, darker themes. I thought I wouldn’t actually like it because I had already found out that I disliked female tsunderes, generally, but I was wrong thanks to Toradora. This series does not have any intriguing premise even for a romantic comedy, the characters don’t actually come with much baggage, and it really plays the characters off against each other just for laughs. However, I found the characters the strength of the story as they were well developed. It was here where I also first discovered my bias for underdog female characters. Dramatic at the right moments, Toradora portrayed a cast of characters experiencing emotional struggles in finding out their feelings, in a light-hearted way which is never afraid to take the plunge into the heart-wrenching during the second cour of the series.
We have Ryuuji, the perfect husband material – knowing how to cook, to sew bra pads for Taiga (that was one epic scene that has left such an indelible impression in my mind, two years and many anime on). Though he is far from good-looking, and possibly designed precisely to emphasise that, he is one of the few male MCs in a romcom where, as a girl, I can understand how and why the girls are so in love with him. This surely does not happen often. Taiga, though irritating and loud-mouthed to some, conceals her vulnerability behind a katana stick and a bitchy-resting face. I suspect that the only reason I am able to tolerate her is her small stature which I personally identify with, and also because she really did try very hard to be selfless, which touched me. Minori on the other hand, was great as a ‘weird’ girl whose thoughts jump seemingly randomly from one thing to another but who is always dreamy in her own way. And yet, her sensitivity to others’ feelings reaches unexpected depths as the series progresses. The rest of the characters (Ami and Kitamura) also have their own character faults which were explored thoroughly and resolved.
I never expected I would write so much about this, but there you go; it isn’t one of the most top rated romantic comedies for nothing!
Type: TV series
Genres: Action, Sci-fi, Police, Psychological
Episodic Count: 22
More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/13601/Psycho-Pass
I usually jump into dark, sci-fi series with a cynical attitude. More often than not, the world building is done well but very rarely do I identify with such a series so much that it still remains outstanding to me after many, and till now. The premise is an interesting one that actually lives up to its potential under the masterful hand of Gen Urobochi, renowned and well known as ‘Urobutcher’, and rightly so. The concept of the criminal tendency factor explored here in crime enforcement throws up many questions on how appropriate it is a factor to measure one’s inclinations to give in to the deeper recesses on one’s mind, whether it is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the morality of using technology, statistics and the mathematics of probability to label and pigeonhole people and subsequently being determinative of the type of action taken against them by authorities. All these are very interesting and the story is developed in a way with explores this thoroughly.
However, what really makes this series shine is presence of character development. Shinya Kogami is a very cool protagonist on his own, and his principles when presented as polar opposite (or maybe just a mere flipside of the same coin) to his stark nemesis Shogo Makishima, carving him into the back of my mind as an individual who makes choices that aren’t too conventional. Then we have Akane, the female protagonist through whom we see events unfold. She also undergoes tremendous character development, as she goes from a doe-eyed greenhorn, easily unhinged in when caught unawares, to someone who is able to draw from her inner strength, find out which principles she sticks by, and stand unwavering in the face of the enemy. Makishima’s worldview is extremely interesting as a villain and I feel that inspiration may have been drawn from Light Yagami, but that may be just me.
Fans of the psychological genres will be missing out on a more modern gem if you haven’t seen this!
#18. Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199
Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-fi, Space, Military
Episodic count: 26
More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/12029/Uchuu_Senkan_Yamato_2199
A rare gem that hasn’t been discovered by most, I accidentally stumbled across this when I was browsing through one of those Anichart lists. Having always been intrigued by the space genre as part of an extension of my love for mecha series, I was determined to try this once I saw the art, which looked good enough, and its relatively high score on MAL. In fact, this was also made into a live action movie starring Takuya Kimura, which actually means something since he is most likely one of the most renowned veteran actors in the Japanese domestic drama industry.
Uchuu Senkan Yamato tells the story of a space adventure set in a futuristic world where Earth is predictably running out of resources and is doomed to be extinct in a year’s time as its environment becomes increasingly inhabitable due to meteor attacks by aliens. Hope comes in the form of a message received from a planet, Iskandar, who offers them a solution. Hence, the Space Battleship Yamato is dispatched to travel 148,000 light years to reach Iskandar and bring whatever help they offer back to Earth.
The tone of this series probably bears more similarity to a movie like Interstellar rather than an anime series. Serious, gripping and slightly thoughtful, the story covers the adventure of the spaceship and its crew on board in all its glory. There is close to no fanservice and no sudden superpowers descending upon the protagonists to pull them out of a tough situation. All this series relies on is good old battle tactics, by the true hero of the series, Captain Okita, who happens to be an old man in his 70s unlike the genius young boys we are always used to seeing. *cough*#throwback #AZ*cough*
The strength in this series definitely lies in its world-building. People who love adventure and are not adverse to watching a space opera would love this as much as I did. Though fret not, romance fans, there is romance in this series and its probably the reason why its on #18 and not in the #20s, and nope, its not about the old guy. :>
#17 Hachimitsu no Clover (both seasons)
Type: TV Series
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Josei, Romance
Episodic Count: 24 + 12
Year: 2005 & 2006
More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/16/Hachimitsu_to_Clover
Not everybody will appreciate this series. What I mean by this is actually that even people who love watching anime about school life, romance and friendship may not find it in themselves to appreciate this series, especially if you care too much about pairings or ships. Because this really isn’t your typical school romance.
In fact, I consider this a cross between a josei, shounen and shoujo. The group-of-friends premise has probably in fact been overused to the point that it is no longer novel nor remotely interesting at first glance. It will suffice to say that this anime precedes the entire string of such anime, since it is made at a time when anime was – possibly – in midst of a lull period.
This anime is more than the romance, even if it may touch on it substantially almost every episode. It is a tale of a group of friends meeting each other, growing up, realising what they want to do, and eventually – this shouldn’t be a spoiler – going their separate ways. In the process, they learn to live and let live, have tremendous amounts of fun, love and pursue love, break their own hearts, try again and again, find themselves, face the effort versus talent conundrum. In fact, it essentially sums up college life. Those who have faced bitterness in these days will probably find something close to heart here.
Needless to say, the characters are memorable as individuals and a collective group. Even throughout the trials and tribulations of their college life (love triangles, pentagons, of which I am generally a great fan of here), what actually saddened me the most was their parting. It kind of reminds me of good friends having to leave their school life behind to continue on in life …. and I am not even done with school yet. I am 22 and yet my soul feels like its already 40 at times.
#16 Nagi No Asukara
Type: TV series
Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Episodic Count: 26
More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/16067/Nagi_no_Asukara
It will always remain an enigma as to why this series has managed to squeezed itself into the top 20 and stay there. Almost similarly to Honey & Clover, this also starts with the premise of a group of (childhood) friends. However, this series is more heavily focused on romance than anything else, as the potential romantic entanglements are heavily hinted and pretty much laid out at the end of the first episode. And if that isn’t confusing enough, there were also more to come as the series progressed.
I admit, though, there isn’t much very deep about this series at first glance except to say that it is extremely enjoyable for fans of drama and romance. Even so, it is astounding that a bunch of kids can actually be so mature about the way they handle their feelings and relationships and even more so than plenty of other high-school romantic series. What makes this series stand out is also the way it throws plot twists in your face in this shockingly exhilarating way which leaves you regretting about not thinking further into that nagging feeling of premonition that you have sensed for the past few episodes. And then the series leads into such depths that you wouldn’t have seen coming if you thought it was just another show. Depressing depths, I can promise you. I literally marathoned episode after episode praying that things can end well because it gets really bleak. I however, really adored the way the romance ended, for every single character. Its the best resolution I have seen for any love pentagon, ever.
Another point of note is the beautiful and absolutely gorgeous scenery and animation, which is very characteristic of P.A. Works. It makes me want to go live in that town. Maybe as a vacation home. Or a retirement home (no idea why I am planning so far in the future, but yeah.)
Annnnnd that’s all for now (: Have you watched these series? If not, are you likely to watch it now or in the near future after being (hopefully) convinced? :> Feel free to leave a like or comment on anything I have mentioned, and thank you for reading!
*All images in this post belong to their respective owners and do not belong to me.*