My List of Top Anime of All Time: #5 – #1

The day has finally come to do my last Top Anime post. I am both excited and yet sad that my series is over – but seriously, I shouldn’t have taken so long to write this entire series of posts, especially when my Top Anime has remained unchanged for so long. I am still looking for new anime that has potential to squeeze itself into my top 10, but to be honest, such gems are getting more rare. There seems to be a diminishing marginal utility of some sort as I watch more anime because each series that I deem ‘good’ then never gets past the ultimate question of: ‘So, what makes this different from all the rest of the ‘good’ series?’ So, unless that series manages to distinguish itself from the rest, which gets increasingly harder as I get exposed to a larger variety of concepts that less things seem to pleasantly surprise me.

Having said that, I believe what has remained my Top 5 do have very good reasons for being there. And also since this is the Top 5, I will be elaborating on more of my feelings in experience, which may give a clue to why they are Top 5 instead of say, in the Top 20s or 30s.

~~~DRUM ROLL~~~

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My List of Top Anime of All Time: #10 – #6

It has been a while since my last Top Anime post. What with work and studying catching up to me I have felt it hard pressed to even come up here and comment on people’s posts or make my presence known, and I have barely managed to keep to my promise of one post a week. To balance it all out, it has been the longest period that I haven’t been watching anime, and yet not feeling anything much about it i.e. no sense of emptiness, or feeling unfulfilled. As will seen from my list eventually, there are actually very few extremely recent shows up on here, and I see that as a worrying trend about how anime as a medium to me is changing its significance, little by little. On the other hand, I am pretty sure I would be revved up again if I rewatch any of the anime on my list, so perhaps the quality of anime has been seriously dropping in terms of its ability to wow me in a way that’s novel and sets it apart from its renowned predecessors.

But no matter what, I will still continue the elusive search for jaw-dropping, adrenaline-inducing anime, and what better than to start with …

#10 Kuroko no Basket (Seasons 1 & 2)

Type: TV Series

Genres: Comedy, School, Shounen, Sports

Episodic Count: 25 + 25

Year: 2012, 2013-2014

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/11771/Kuroko_no_Basket

… the third season of Kuroko no Basket. I am a little slow to the end of this series, but it was really because I was hoarding it up and waiting patiently till it has ended so that I could marathon the entire series at one go. I am slightly more confident in the third season’s ability to bring me back into the world of Kuroko and surround me with sudden plot twists (my favourite kind of excitement), over-the-top supernatural abilities that evolve and change in a typical shounen way yet, and Kuroko-adorableness that makes me melt into a puddle – simply because it has consistently induced these emotions for the past two seasons.

Kuroko no Basket could easily been a hit-or-miss series for me, given the fact that I actually dislike too little realism and too much unexplained jumps in ability or ‘power-ups’, yet Kuroko no Basket had developed this uncanny ability to bring down the stone walls surrounding my heart and made itself a comfortable place in the Top Ten. I only knew that from the first episode, I was helplessly hooked. Thinking about it again, it must have been Kuroko. It really has been a long time since I saw a main protagonist in a shounen that isn’t hot-headed, way too energetic, and actually more close to normal-tempered. Kuroko is a fresh perspective because his deadpan expressions and yet innocent looks at times are way too tickle-inducing, and it blends in well with the comedic aspect of the entire series.

I realise I don’t have much to say about the plot and story of Kuroko no Basket because I was just overwhelmed with mini explosions in the pit of my stomach and fist-pumping moments throughout, and I couldn’t care less about the existence – if there is – of plotholes and the like because I was too busy melting into a puddle and keeping up with the amazing speed of Kagami and Aomine to even think about it.

#9. Angel Beats!

Type: TV series

Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, School, Supernatural

Episodic Count: 13

Year: 2010

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/6547/Angel_Beats!

The shortest series ever to grace the Top Ten, and the first series that enabled me to see the ‘light’ of an anime world apart from the more serious genres of politics, war, military and mecha, Angel Beats represents something very significant to me in my anime journey. Without it, I probably also will not spend so much time trying out 12 or 13 episodic series or exploring series more tailored towards drama, romance and school life. As such, I have Angel Beats to thank for opening my eyes to a world from which I have managed to discover a plethora of other gems and hence, prolonged my anime journey.

And yet, aside from my personal attachment to this series, Angel Beats is a series to behold, a judgment which most anime watchers would agree with. The setting of the afterlife may not be one totally unheard of, and yet the story that develops amongst the characters and the impression it leaves on viewers’ hearts is resounding, and painful. Its strength and perhaps fatal flaw lies in the length of the series, enabling it to be unable to really fully develop some of the main core cast of its characters. Yet, Angel Beats to me is a series that has managed to achieve the illusion of drawn out, adequate character development, by creating backstories that are executed in a way that makes the viewers remember them. Now, one does not require a genius to create a unique backstory, but to tell it at the most appropriate and emotion-inducing time is most crucial to the lasting impression it leaves. Otonashi and Yuri’s backstories respectively make my heart ache, and the closure that some of the characters are given remain the sole individual events to crush me, which I can think of. Having watched many good, excellent anime, I cannot emphasise how important that is, three years and 200 anime series down the road.

Angel Beats is also a stellar example of laughter and tears mixed into a whirlwind of emotions, which given the length of the series, also compresses time and makes its emotional impact more heavy a blow. The production team certainly used its length to their advantage, no matter how tightly packed the story was.

#8. Katekyo Hitman Reborn!

Type: TV Series

Genres: Action, Comedy, Shounen, Super Power

Episodic Count: 203

Year: 2006 – 2010

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/1604/Katekyo_Hitman_Reborn!

I never fail to look at this series fondly. It represents the better part of my first year of anime, and its glory of the 203 episodes that I have experienced with much joy and love will never be replicated. Its also one of the more unique longer series out of the ones I have tried (D. Grayman, Fairy Tail) and the ones I have never bothered, and will probably never because of the lesser and lesser amount of time I have left for anime as I ease into the life of an adult (i.e. the Big Four).

Admittedly, the first 20 episodes of this series were not easy. Those who have tried this series and have turned away before hitting, say, the 25th or 26th episode thereabouts would have been so bored out of tears by the exceedingly wimpy and gutless main character, Tsuna and slapstick humour which may not be to everybody’s liking at a first 20-ish episodic glance, especially when there are countless numbers of characters which have not been fully introduced. But as I realised, it really is hard for strong feelings to develop in, say, first 20-ish episodes of a long-running series like this, and KHR has managed to do it from episode 25 or so for me (and it took so much longer for Fairy Tail, ahem).

The one thing I love about KHR which other series has not managed to do is the presence of a combat system that is truly unique on its own. Its hard to describe as a general system, but its a mash of both magic and martial arts, making everything flow seamlessly and making evolution of powers and power-ups less of a deus ex machina or convenient plot device. No other combat system has managed to entrance me thus far, as I am really often bored by the overuse of a magic system without the rules explained (such as Fairy Tail and other shorter series), and the fact that the world of super powers here has been slowly unpeeled, demonstrated and explained through the eyes of Tsuna, a boy who was an utter failure in life and knew nothing about the existence of such things. I feel that as a viewer, I am slowly given an orientation of how things work, and from it I find my bearings and enjoyment of this series as well.

As much as I love this series, I can’t help but point out its most obvious flaws. For those looking for a character development focus, this series may not be for you, because character quirks for comedic purposes are overused, but we don’t get a sense of side characters’ motivations outside from the personalities they adorn in relation to their interactions with Tsuna, our main character. This has not managed to diminish the fun for me however, as the fact that there are plot twists and reasonably explained power-ups is a good enough source of entertainment. Also, the pacing is quite terrible somewhere in the middle of these 203 episodes, with plenty of filler and recaps in the front part and back part of episodes, leaving around only 8 minutes of new content, drawn out across 15 or so episodes and resulting in extremely prolonged fights, due to the usual issues of the anime catching up way too fast to the manga – needless to say, I still sat through everything extremely happily, though I doubt I would have the patience to do that nowadays, when I am more impatient and choosy in the quality of the anime I pick and watch, due to a lack of time in general unfortunately.

Despite the lack of character development, the cast here represents the most memorable cast of characters to me because of precisely the different characters, sporting entirely different personalities and bad tempers, fight all the time and yet have each other’s back in times of adversity or the presence of a common enemy. This differs from Fairy Tail because unlike the members of Fairy Tail, these characters don’t actually go on a monologue about how Fairy Tail is their family and how it is important to persevere because of their nakama (which can be inspiring, yet on the flipside, a tad irrational because you have even the most gruff of most members spouting such lines which can be inherently contradictory with their personality). Here, the characters don’t say mushy lines, and show their solidarity by action and perhaps a crazed desire to win and challenge somebody stronger than they are.

KHR may not be the best of its peers, and many would still gravitate to shows like Fairy Tail (which is undoubtedly better with its tighter pacing and quality fillers). But I strongly recommend those who haven’t to give this a try. You would be extremely surprised at how much you like it after 40 or so episodes, I daresay. Also, a shoutout to bishounen-lovers, this is a must watch for those who love bishounen in a shounen setting – seriously, just look at these swoon-worthy hotties! (I think this is probably the singular quality that has enabled me to love this series so unconditionally for so long)

#7 Zetsuen no Tempest

Type: TV series

Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy, Magic, Shounen, Psychological

Episodic Count: 24

Year: 2012 – 2013

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/14075/Zetsuen_no_Tempest

I move on to the top 7 series that have made such a long-lasting impression on me that my attachment to them is no longer just coloured by personal bias, but are also convincing as outstanding artistic works to make these series part of a burgeoning list of the top rated anime of all time for most people. And yet, I start with Blast of Tempest, a less well known series even during the time it was airing, and also highly underrated.

Blast of Tempest is a little of an oddball, and yet it is the juxtaposition of such starkly different elements that makes the entire series both a viewing and intellectually satisfying pleasure. The core of the plot is steeped in a mystery of a death that has already happened at the start of the series, and this soon spins a tale of intrigue including a family mystery, plausibly romantic incest, century-old legacies with hints of the supernatural with the unsheathing of the existence of magical powers, and a plot of world destruction. Even with such an ambitious outlook, Blast of Tempest does not fail in its execution, what with BONES’ excellent animation bringing out the best in action scenes, beautifully drawn characters, and mountains of quotes from Shakespeare works, especially from The Tempest , a work which the story of this series is symbolically modeled after.

Personally, I have never seen such a unique anime that has managed to combine elements of such contrast and weave a convincing and exciting story that manages to keep one on the edge of one’s seat with a slight tremor. There is simply no way of predicting what is going to happen next simply because this story is a novelty that is unlike most other anime and the paths that anime usually take. To top it off, the series features one of the most unique character casts brought together at the brim of tragedy. We have Fuwa Aika, one of my favourite female characters of all time, with her cool, snarky, confident and extremely feminine demeanour. Yoshino, as one of the main male protagonist, captures my heart with his quiet observance, stubbornness to certain principles, his undying love for Aika, and an intelligence which resembles Light Yagami. Mahiro and Hakaze are also lovable characters that stand by their own ideals, especially when it comes to the people they love.

Blast of Tempest is a real eye opener for anybody who is already more than a little bored and miffed by anime cliches, and it is a reminder of why I am still searching for hidden gems in anime even at this current state, when I have been growing increasingly disillusioned at the lack of a fresh approach to story telling or character development in recent anime I have tried.

#6 Fate Zero (both seasons)

Type: TV series

Genres: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural

Episodic Count: 13 + 13

Year: 2011, 2012

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/10087/Fate_Zero

The recently concluded Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (Second Season) was excellent, but Fate Zero will always be the masterpiece out of all Fate adaptations. Both are beautifully animated and there really is no saying which is better than the other in this aspect, except to say that of course, in 2014 and 2015 animation technology seems to have further improved yet again, as shown in the flawless, swift and smooth-cutting action scenes of UBW. And yet, Fate Zero will always remain unique due to its larger focus on all characters and the development of a multitude of thought-provoking themes that span wide and far, including views on how a good king should be, whether ends justifies the means, the effect of traumatic childhood experiences on behaviour and how such a bloody, inherently harsh competition whips away at one’s principles, plunging those who, consciously or not, chose to take part in the Holy Grail War into darkness.

Fate Zero is an inherently dark tale which outlines the Holy Grail War ten years before UBW. We see the story mainly through Kiritsugu, a man with a sense of ideals of justice that are slightly warped and different from the typical anime hero, and seeks to pursue destruction before creation in a way that makes people cheer for him. His coldness and ruthlessness blend in together with the traumatic experiences he had, making him one of the most pitiable characters of all time. And yet, not only Kiritsugu shines in this series. Other characters, whom did not appear to be most memorable in other adaptations, really outdid themselves in this series, including Gilgamesh and his otherworldly and badass principles, and also Saber, in all her struggle to best herself, her despair, and her motivation. Even one time characters like the Waver – Rider combination, strike a chord in my heart because Rider personifies the loud, gruff and yet brutally honest king and an ideal of a hero, with Waver, the ‘weakling’, and yet complementing each other to no end as seen from their interactions, which I recall fondly.

I admit that I am probably attracted to darkness in a story to choose Fate Zero over its more beautiful and upright counterpart, Unlimited Blade Works. But Fate Zero has a magnetic quality about it that I simply cannot overlook simply because of the tragedy inherent in the story from the start. Time and time again I think about Kiritsugu and my heart contracts, and the same reaction is caused in me whenever I watch the second OP of the series, with ‘to the beginning’ by Kalafina as its theme song. All I have to say is that Fate Zero is quite unbeatable unless the same set of characters are reproduced, which is probably an impossible feat.

I didn’t expect such a long post, but I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised given my tendency to ramble and proclaim my love for these series, which I had the freshest impressions about and have basically captured the essence of my love for anime but never got a chance to blog about. I apologise for the long post, but this is my favourite anime I am talking about, so I am sure anybody who has anime they are absolutely in love with at all times would be perfectly understanding of this. Till the next post, which is the last post in this series! 🙂 (For those who have missed the previous posts, they are at #25 – #21,  #20 – #16, and #15 – #11 respectively.) Hope you enjoyed reading this, and I look forward to knowing your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

My List of Top Anime of All Time: #15 – #11

Its time for #11-#15 of my Top Anime! Time flies by so fast that what I initially thought would take at least a few months to complete is now two more posts to completion. (For those who have yet to jump in on this series, see the previous posts of #25 – #21 and #20 – #16) Having said that, I think I could have easily catered for a Top 35-40 Anime List or even 50, now that I have narrowed down the number of Honourable Mentions on a list which never seems to end. I am currently thinking about how I would want to go about writing the Honourable Mentions post, it would probably be an even tougher feat than this Top 25.

But anyway, here goes nothing!

#15 Durarara!! (both seasons)

Type: TV Series

Genres: Action, Mystery, Supernatural

Episodic Count: 24 + 12

Year: 2010, 2015

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/6746/Durarara!!

DRRR!! is a refreshing urban tale whose ability to stand out amongst its peers lies in its uniquely disjoint narrative structure. Featuring a large yet distinct and highly individualistic cast of characters which only keep growing, the story arcs of DRRR!! are tightly woven around the activities, personalities and behaviour of this diverse range of personalities. The story is told in multiple perspectives at once, and it engages its audience by throwing hints, red herrings all around and getting its audience to locate and piece the plot puzzle together for themselves.

Set in the busy, vibrant district of Ikebukuro, where everything is connected and everybody is connected in a way to one another, the viewing experience associated with this series is nothing short of stepping your way through an entangled mess of an slightly tangled web of interpersonal relationships, seemingly disorganised but in actuality rather well-planned. I personally enjoyed the hunt of subtle hints that may be situated in the background in terms of buildings, or the significance of a seemingly mundane series of actions. Long-time die-hard otakus will also no doubt enjoy picking out anime references, lushly abundant in the form of signboards, big screens in the city backgrounds, and even as conversational topics between Erika and Walker, two extremely cool otakus whom we all surely identify with.

With topics spanning street gangs, the Japanese mafia, the Russian mafia, to the use of social media as a tool for amassing information and manipulation of large crowds, DRRR!! is the embodiment of the inter-connectivity of the modern world. As such, it presents a deeply realistic snapshot of a society situated in the bustling hubbub of a city, a factor that is close to my heart given that I live in one. The presentation also shines with characters talking over each other yet not unclear for the audience to figure out the various conversations. Interesting backstories in every arc and plot twists also give the series an addictive quality that one is hard pressed to find in too many other anime.

Of course, what anime is good enough without its characters? If there was any anime I actually want to live in, it would be in Ikebukuro with this crazy bunch of people because their lives are dangerously interesting and exciting. Most characters are not quite what they seem despite the facade of normality that they are thrown into at the start, especially with the high school main characters Mikado, Kida and Anri. We have characters whom have no doubt since become classic, like Shizuo and Izaya, the infamous duo perpetually at loggerheads and whose feuds rile up the entire city. There’s also Celty, the supernatural element thrown into the mix, and many others whom without their presence will take away an essential element of the melting pot of characters that this series is also known strongly for.

With such a potent combination, I strongly believe that DRRR!! deserves to be considered but any Top Anime list (or if you beg to differ, its historical counterpart Baccano!). If you haven’t seen this, you probably haven’t seen the extent of cray and creativity to which Japanese animation creators (and light novelists, since this was a LN adaptation) can go to in depicting highly urbanised societies, and with style, too.

(Also, can’t wait for the next season!)

#14 Monster

Type: TV Series

Genres: Mystery, Drama, Horror, Police, Psychological, Thriller, Seinen

Episodic Count: 74

Year: 2004-05

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/19/Monster

Monster is a masterful tale of mystery, suspense and thriller about a Japanese doctor who made a single mistake in his career, getting framed for a murder and then spending years trying to find the mastermind serial killer, supported by no one except his staunch personal belief in the eventual triumph of justice. A particularly haunting story which reveals the ugliest sides of human nature and the deepest, darkest recesses of the human mind, we see one man’s struggle with all the odds stacked up against him to reveal the truth of the matter, even while under the hot pursuit of the authorities, in a factual setting vaguely reminiscent of Jean Valjean and Javert in Les Miserables.

However, the similarity to Les Miserables actually pretty much ends there. Doctor Tenma’s quest is a long, drawn out one over 74 episodes, a daunting number which made me hesitate before starting this series. However, those who are patient enough to see the hidden potential of this series are definitely well rewarded. Though starting slow, the series picks up its pace at around episode 25 or thereabouts, and you would find that you simply cannot stop. I daresay one won’t rush through the entire series at a breckneck speed, but you would want to see what happens in the end. The slow revelation of one piece of information a time with the most impeccable timing also helps to curb boredom at any one point.

Monster also features one of the most brilliantly and beautifully crafted villains of all time whose ability to manipulate people and turn the situation to his favour is so otherworldly that I had to repeatedly check the genres stated for this series for the ‘supernatural’ tag because I was so sure he wasn’t human.

For lovers of mysteries and psychological thrillers, this series is a must watch, for it is heralded as one of the greatest masterpieces of anime of the thriller and mystery genre and I do not think this label is in the slightest bit exaggerated at all.

#13 Mobile Suit Gundam Seed and Destiny (both seasons)

Type: TV Series

Genres: Action, Drama, Mecha, Romance, Sci-fi, Space, Military

Episodic Count: 50 + 50

Year: 2002-03, 2004-05

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/93/Mobile_Suit_Gundam_Seed

Gundam Seed and Destiny are by far the only Gundam series that I am extremely enamoured with. Though my love for this series may have been due to the fact that I watched it quite early in my anime watching series, I have no doubt that it was a combination of mecha, war, military, and characters which behave with more caution and who are more emotionally attached to the significance of fighting in a war that has made the show a dealbreaker for me.

It is probably no coincidence that Kira Yamato, the protagonist of Seed, is also hailed as Kira “Jesus” Yamato in the online anime community (though it is questionable whether this was meant as a compliment or not), due to his overwhelming capacity for love of humanity and the people he cares for. This is unlike the other more brainless, hot-headed protagonists or those overwhelmed with blind hatred that have plagued most shounen shows and other spin-offs in the Gundam series. Kira is a manifestation of a more humane, realistic reaction to war. The fact that he has to fight against his best friend, Athrun, who is on the other side, causes him immense pain. Seed and Destiny are also known for their romantic pairings, and Cagalli and Lacus Clyne and strong female characters that hold their own and serve as great partners to the respective male protagonists.

Gundam Seed and Destiny represents my favourite genre combination of sci-fi, military, romance and drama and is a very good introduction into the non-purely-romance focused world of anime. I scarcely think I would have been able to move on from Code Geass and/or Death Note without the help of Gundam Seed. (However, I would have to say that Gundam Seed surpasses Destiny by miles. Shinn was a highly irritating protagonist and he was only more tolerable because everything else that made Seed awesome was still excellently retained in Destiny.)

#12 Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (Sunday Without God)

Type: TV series

Genres: Mystery, Fantasy

Episodic Count: 12

Year: 2013

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/16009/Kamisama_no_Inai_Nichiyoubi

A hidden gem lost and forgotten within the chaos of Summer 2013 anime, Sunday Without God’s lush and gorgeous setting in a world full of autumn and evening colours is highly deceiving. The warm tones and beautiful scenery conceal a harsh truth – that humanity was gradually descending into a state of non-humanity (or the Undead) instead of being able to truly die or reproduce. The only way that the dead’s souls can truly be put to rest is if a gravekeeper digs them a grave.

Ai, a twelve year old girl, is one of the gravekeepers tasked with the job of preparing graves of the people in the village she lives in. With such a solemn and ultimately depressing vocation, Ai’s optimistic spirit, even if said to be naive, presents a fresh perspective to the extremely dire world situation. Though Ai comes across as stubborn at times, she soon learns as she travels through the world, how people really are different and have different wants and needs. She quickly adapts, never failing to serve as a warm beacon of guiding light for those who souls are on the fringe of tumbling into darkness. I personally admire her ability, at such a tender age, to hold onto her inner strength despite encountering adversity and life-changing situations (which I shall not reveal for fear of spoilers), in being able to strike a balance between being able to make a positive difference to others’ lives and yet hold back from unnecessary struggle when there is no more to be done.

The story is  broken into arcs, with the first dealing with Ai’s past and identity, which also helped to entirely shift her future perspective and her mission in life. Later on the arcs are mostly told of new characters she meets while travelling the world and how the difference is made. Personally, I felt that this was no ordinary journey, because the little adventures she has are certainly unique plot-wise.

Sunday Without God encapsulates a closed in world where one can find breathtaking beauty in the midst of overwhelming darkness. It is hard to describe what a profound impact this series continues to hold on me despite leaving some questions of the world unanswered, being atypical of a long light novel crammed into a one- cour anime. However, tears are largely guaranteed, and up till now I don’t think I have quite fully recovered. (My avatar is actually Ai by the way, for those who have no idea where it originates from)

#11 M3: Sono Kuroki Kagane

Type: TV series

Genres: Action, Drama, Mecha, Sci-fi, Psychological

Episodic Count: 24

Year: 2014

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/23133/M3:_Sono_Kuroki_Hagane

M3: The Black Metal looks like any typical dark mecha anime at first glance, with yet another hopelessly depressing context where humanity is doomed to extinction. This here comes in the form of a Lightless Realm, a reality where the darkness literally swallows everything and aberrations prowl. As it slowly encroaches upon the space that the last of humanity can breathe in, it devours all things full of light and hope, leaving despair and darkness in its wake. Technology has scarcely developed at a pace sufficient enough to outrun the growth of the Realm, and it is only due to the special abilities or biological make-up of our protagonist, a rather sullen, angsty at first glance teenage boy where things start to at least look slightly better.

The premise outlined above probably will not be anything new to sci-fi, dystopian or even certain mecha fans. The entire series adopts a very dark, greyish colour palette which reflects this depressing reality in full, and it also takes no time in outlining right at the start how bleak the future of humanity is. We have the ‘group of friends fighting together’ premise here, except that they don’t actually start out as friends. As we all know, throwing eight frightened emotionally scarred teens, who were abandoned by one way or another by society together, give them giant metal robots and everything implodes, though not in the physically explosive sense. Yet, what separates this series from other mecha series is its heavy reliance on exploring and expounding the effects of childhood memories and scars on teenagehood.  In this series, the tag ‘action’ barely manages to hide the essence of what this series represents – whatever physical action that ensues is but a culmination and representation of a clash between warring emotions.

Putting the action aside, there are numerous plot twists which may seem outrageous to some assuming that this series follows any sort of a formulaic approach, but they served as fuel and ignition to my largely jaded mind. Each of the characters are a lot more twisted when they actually seem in the first place in various unexpected ways, further enabling it to be singled out amongst the commonality of the other more mediocre anime. I personally liked the romantic couplings here though I have found that few on the interwebs agree with me.

M3: The Black Metal appears to be appealing to few. In fact, I consider it highly underrated given its low rating of 6.78 on MAL for reasons that I cannot fathom. My guess is that M3 has presented a novel angle to the psychological-mecha anime mix that falls out of the both ends of the tolerance spectrum – with longstanding fans of fanservice-mecha-action anime versus the Neon Genesis Evangelion series on the other. However, given that I belong on neither end, its possibly why I am so comfortable with the way M3 dives into such themes without entirely removing the entertainment factor or being too cryptic for mere mortals like me to understand.

M3 will always also mean a lot more to me than to any other anime fan for a reason: for such a dark series, it ironically served as the flash of hope which I still cling to now at a time when I was completely convinced that (a) anime no longer presented any surprises to me, and (b) any series that falls below a 7/10 rating on MAL will surely not be a series I will be emotionally attached to. M3 has served to remind me that it is still possible to me to be excited enough to fully marathon a series from episode one (it has however, been the last series ever since) and that I should never judge a series by its rating, a trap I often fall into to maximise the utility of my anime time.

So that’s it for #11-#15! It seems that this post is full of the dark and dreary, but it represents an important cornerstone of what type of anime appeals to me the most, and it also shapes what I continue to choose to watch in the near future. I am pretty sure that the next five will probably contain titles that appeal to both female and male audiences alike, so look forward to the next Top Anime post, and hope you enjoyed reading this. Feel free to leave a like or comment on anything I have mentioned, and thank you for reading!

My List of Top Anime of All Time: #20 – #16

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!

Presenting ….

#20. Toradora!

Type: TV series

Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Slice of Life

Episodic Count: 25

Year: 2008-09

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!

#19 Psycho-Pass

Type: TV series

Genres: Action, Sci-fi, Police, Psychological

Episodic Count: 22

Year: 2012-13

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

Type: OVA

Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-fi, Space, Military

Episodic count: 26

Year: 2012-13

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

Year: 2013-14

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.*

My List of Top Anime of All Time: #25 – #21

After nearly 6 months on this blog, I decide that its finally time for my inaugural Top Anime (or Top anything, really) post. *puts up hands* I know, I know, I am sort of late. But I would like to give my followers and readers a little context as to what kind of anime I am more inclined towards and what exactly has drawn me to this genre out of everything else.

What I consider as good anime incorporates a combination of aspects of plot, characters, execution, and miscellaneous aspects like music, art and animation, though the latter three would only add positively to the score. Another aspect I look at is how thought-provoking and how deep an anime can probe into perennial issues and how much it leaves me thinking. This top anime list also incorporates a very important element – personal enjoyment, which holds a 30% weightage in determining its place on its list (or its absence).  Enjoyment is actually a pretty strange thing. An anime, show, or piece of literature may have excellent plot development, all-rounded characters and a strong underlying message, and yet not be enough to squeeze into my heart and remain there.

Yet, I think that what are my favourites are also exactly the best anime in my book (so far, objectively speaking), so whatever that’s not in the list and are relegated to Honourable Mentions are those that lack that personal enjoyment for me, but are very good pieces of art all the same.

Having said all that, I am pretty excited doing posts like these simply because I have never ranked my anime before; and this was …. real tough.

Without further ado, I present …. *drum rollllllllll* numbers #25 to #20!!

#25. Haikyuu!!

Type: TV series

Genres: Comedy, Drama, School, Shounen, Sports

Episodic count: 25

Year: 2014

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/20583/Haikyuu!!

With that fantastic finish and the absolute emotional roller coaster of the second cour, Haikyuu!! is rather deserving of a place on this list. However, the reason why it never got a higher rank for me is because of the slower-paced beginning. I note that this can be rather unfair to the creators of Haikyuu!! mainly because I was expecting something with a level of addiction and adrenaline rush closer to Kuroko No Basket, which effectively achieved this from the very first episode for me. I didn’t quite get what I expected here. Nevertheless, Haikyuu!!’s strength lies in well rounded characters and how they were presented as a team, such that you can’t ever go away thinking of them as distinctive individuals. To me, they will always be the Karasuno team, where its sum its worth so much more than its individual parts. See my previous post Haikyuu!!: the overwhelming intensity of emotions for more about what I think about it.

#24. Shugo Chara! (2 seasons)

Type: TV series

Genres: Comedy, Magic, School, Shoujo

Episodic Count: 51 + 51

Years: 2007-2009

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/2923/Shugo_Chara!

Despite the fluffy shoujo impression that one gets from this, I can’t deny that I loved every single moment of this series. While watching this, I felt like I was on a sugar rush or caffeine high, and everyday was filled with bubbles, rainbows, and positive vibes.

No seriously, I mean it. Yet, no matter how much it seemed to gear towards young girls, I could see the touch of realism behind the series that is really the main reason why this stood out to me so much, despite completing so many ‘girly’ shoujo series. Amu was a very real protagonist and I personally identify with the split between her ‘fake’ and ‘real’ personality – I believe I am exactly the same as well.

I also absolutely adored the characters, from Amu our main girl, to Ikuto (who remains one of my favourite bishounen characters ever, and I don’t even have many on that list), to secondary characters like Kukai, Kiseki and Yoru (the most adorable Guardian characters ever). I can’t remember any other mahou shoujo since where I loved such a large bunch of characters. I also can’t remember any other shoujo where there isn’t a single annoying character. (Now, that’s a big feat.) The romance between Amu and Ikuto is also one of my favourite part of the series – it was portrayed in a way that wasn’t too childish though Amu had some struggle in figuring out her feelings for Tadase and Ikuto, Ikuto being the bad boy who is actually very vulnerable, and he’s very sweet towards Amu …. *melts into a puddle*. I swear all my fangirl-ness is unleashed with this one. Of course, its rank can’t go any higher mainly because its fluffy shoujo, unfortunately. Nevertheless, it made it here because of the high enjoyment value it yielded for me. No other mahou shoujo has done this since.

#23 Chihayafuru (both seasons)

Type: TV series

Genres: Drama, Game, Shoujo, Josei, Sport, Romance

Episodic Count: 25 + 25

Years: 2011-2013

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/10800/Chihayafuru

What can I say? This has the most lovely combination of a female main character with the personality of the competitive, passionate, shounen sports protagonist, a well developed love triangle, and all the subtlety of atmospheric anime reminiscent of a scene in one of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies. In fact, everybody should try this, no matter whether you are a romance fan or a shounen action fan, because it contains elements that both types of fans would love. The portrayal of karuta as a sport is also beautifully artistic as much as it is competitive, and fans of Japanese culture and literature would find much to reap as well. The love triangle is one of the toughest love triangles I have ever encountered and I don’t actually know how to pick a side, though I lean towards Taichi. My previous post Chihayafuru: the seamless blend of shoujo, josei, and sports expounds on this a little further. Its a pity that this isn’t higher up for me but as I said, I have a hard time (I still do) due to my bias for grandiose plots which open up thought provoking questions like the state of humanity, what it means to be a leader, the ethics of war and so on.

#22 No Game No Life

Type: TV series

Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Game, Supernatural

Episodic count: 12

Year: 2014

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/19815/No_Game_No_Life

These 12 episodes are packed with stuff of high entertainment value. I regret not having a chance to blog this, because if one looks past the loli-ecchiness, there is actually a very good plot going on. NGNL already holds the first mover advantage of a unique setting, that in a world of games where everything is decided by playing games. Its also no wonder that since I love strategy and characters using brains to defeat people (rather than brawn), Sora and Shiro have been one of most interesting pairs to watch. My personal favourite scene is Sora’s speech in episode 4 about ruling, so much so that it gave me serious goosebumps. I personally liked the sibling bond between the two as well, and the colourful palate of the backgrounds and animation has left a very strong impression. I have no idea when the second season is, but I am definitely can’t wait for it!

#21 Darker Than Black (both seasons + OVA)

Type: TV series & OVA

Genres: Action, Mystery, Sci-fi, Superpower

Episodic count: 25 + 4 + 12

Years: 2007 & 2010 for both seasons respectively, 2010 for the OVA, but recommended to watch in the story’s chronological sequence.

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/2025/Darker_than_Black:_Kuro_no_Keiyakusha

I don’t think many people actually know of this series, but it is highly underrated even as it gets rather confusing in the second cour as the sci-fi part of the series is dug in the deepest. However, it had a really thought provoking and complex ending which I had to google the analysis of to understand what really happened and what it really meant.

I loved how this series started out episodic only to gradually reveal an underlying plot. Also, the dark, gritty tone of the show drew me to it, set in a futuristic urban environment. However, the real reason why its on this list though, despite seeing many dark, gritty shows that have failed to capture my heart as this one has, is the romance. This series contains my favourite canon couple ever to grace the anime screen for me, and I have watched close to 200 entries worth on MAL (based on the ‘completed’ column). I have never found another couple quite like that and its only the tip of the iceburg to say I think they complement each other as partners in this alternate reality of science fiction extremely well.

Also, I think Hei is probably the coolest character ever. I am entranced by the way he fights (I want to learn how to fight like him) – he has razor-sharp instincts, extremely quick reactions, and most importantly, he isn’t like your typical shounen loud, stubborn protagonist, he actually observes the situation and acts accordingly (he is a master at deceiving people through taking on different sorts of personas, when the situation calls for it). I also secretly love the way he’s a chick magnet in the show, even if he can’t actually be bothered about it. All these combined with his natural emotionless state makes him well … extremely cool.

Why isn’t this higher even while I am gushing about it in a barrage of words and emotions in a most unorganised manner? Because there’s more awesome stuff up there. This is exceedingly hard. *cries*

I would highly recommend Darker than Black to all action and sci-fi fans. This series is a true hidden gem, and those who love side romances (like me) will find it a pleasant surprise that it exists here in this series, even if it isn’t immediately apparent in the first cour of the series.

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That’s all from me today. Hope you enjoyed #25 to #20, and I really hope you check out these shows if you haven’t. They are highly recommended and worth anybody’s time. I After completing this list, I will also be doing an Honourable Mentions post to give a shoutout to the anime that almost made it to this list, but missed it for various reasons.

What do you think of the anime I’ve listed? Feel free to comment below if anything strikes your fancy or if you’ve watched these anime and have something to say about it. (:

*All images belong to their respective owners and do not belong to me. I do not take any credit for these images.*