I made my top 30 anime post about 2 years ago. However, as I watched more anime, more started to enter the list, which inevitably caused others to drop out. Instead of losing what I wrote about them forever, I created a ‘those who just missed out‘ page, devoted to holding those that got kicked out of the top 30 in favour of newer, shinier stuff. But that list was starting to show its age itself. I was starting to watch anime that were not quite good enough to make my top 30, but better than those that had since dropped out. So to finally give those anime the credit they deserve, I decided the best method was to simply extend the top 30 further. So now you have this: 31-60.
Those that just missed out: Girls und Panzer (huge fun but shallow), Future Diary (totally my kind of show, but has too many poor episodes), Seto no Hanayome (Laughed myself silly, but don’t think it will hold up to a rewatch), Sexy Commando (hard to recommend because it’s mostly based off randomness), Bakemonogatari (the pedo stuff makes me uncomfortable to be seen in the same room as it), Memories (tough when one of the 3 pieces of it is bad), and Revelutionary Girl Utena (maybe if an entire third of the show wasn’t completely irrelevant).
60: Dominion Tank Police
There was a trend in the late 80’s and early 90’s of OVAs about a police force fighting cyborgs in a smoggy megacity set permanently during the night. Most of them are fairly forgettable, but Dominion Tank Police stands far above the rest. The adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s manga has an edge to it that makes it memorable. From the wild raunchy humour to the incredibly well-developed world setting, its biggest surprise is that it manages to combine both this goofy light-hearted tone while tackling some deep themes of searching for meaning in your existence. Oh, and it has anti-tank penis mines.
59: One Outs
One Outs is technically about baseball and how one mysterious American pitcher propelled a struggling Japanese baseball team to greater heights. What it’s actually about is Tokuchi Toua, the chain-smoking anorexic spawn of satan, mentally assaulting various muscled men until the collapse at his feet. Tokuchi carries this anime like no other. It’s his put-downs, his mental calculations, his terrifying stare, that keep you riveted throughout. It does have some pacing problems, and does lack any real depth, but makes up for it with Tokuchi fucking Toua.
58: Bunny Drop
I hate using words ‘charming’ and ‘lovely’ to describe anything, because it implies that the piece in question is so concerned with being sickly sweet that it has no bite to its message, which is absolutely not the case with Bunny Drop. The story is about parenting and how difficult and yet rewarding the experience is, tackling subjects from single parents to the difficulty in earning money to properly raise the child. It managed to single-handedly change my entire perspective on parenting, and it does all this while being, yes, charming. And maybe lovely too.
Un-Go is an anime with a grudge. I’ve never seen an anime so politically motivated and with an edge to grind as hard as it did. This can mean it gets a bit overly wordy and dense at times, but when things click it really is a fascinating and incredibly deep show. It’s very critical of nationalism and government security in times on conflict, as well as our relationship with technology and our desire to ignore truth in the face of a better story. The TV series alone wouldn’t have made this top 60, but with the addition of the episode 0 movie, Un-Go finally has the ideal starting place.
56: Tatami Galaxy
While I’m not quite as big on this as many of my fellow Yuasa-philes (screw you guys, Kaiba is better), Tatami Galaxy is still an incredibly clever story. Like Groundhog Day meets Honey and Clover, it’s the way it plays with its formula that makes it so good. The juxtaposition of each plot element with each episode, shedding new light on the incident each time, made for an incredibly rewarding experience. Sure it has more unnecessary animation quirks than anything even Shaft/Shinbo have put out, but it’s witty, sharp and has such a brilliantly constructed story that its positives far outweigh the negatives.
55: Dennou Coil
There’s a little fallacy in anime fandom that fillers are bad. Episodes that don’t advance the plot and serve only as contained stories are inherently bad thing. There is no greater example of how wrong this can be than Dennou Coil. Honestly speaking, I didn’t care much for the plot nor the characters, the world they inhabit is such an imaginative and well-invented place that I loved any episode that explored the possibilities in contained. This meant that the best episodes were the ones that acted as stand alones. Nuclear warfare beards. Pleiso the shadow serpent. The giant fish that ate the town. It really does have possibly the best realised settings in anime.
54: The Cat Returns
I tend to find Ghibli’s big sprawling fantasy epics a bit too silly and scatterbrained for me to take their stories seriously. Which is why it was so nice of them to realise this too with The Cat Returns and make a gloriously dopey silly movie that revels in its own ability to have fun. The Cat Returns is Ghibli’s funniest movie by quite a considerable distance, with so many neat little visual gags. Plus going as silly as it did didn’t prevent it from having a well told story about accepting yourself and being confident in who you are. It also helps that Disney knocked it out of the part with its English dub. A severely underrated Ghibli movie.
53: Casshern Sins
Madhouse are probably my favourite animation studio, because no other studio is willing to attempt the stuff they do. Robot Hunter Casshern was originally a generic superhero anime about a cyborg dude Casshern and his pet robot dog. Casshern Sins, on the other hand, is a post-apocalyptic depression fest in which our titular character wanders around a desolate landscape with his fabulous 70’s hairdo, meeting various people in states of disarray and generally doing a lot of angsting. What makes it special is how each episodic story surrounding these characters has a ray of hope to each of them. Highly ambitious and experimental, while also being a touch narm-y at times, it’s an anime that has a remarkable amount to say, and one that I’ve grown to appreciate more over time.
52: Haibane Remnei
I feel a bit mean sometimes for not rating Haibane Remnei higher than I do, because it really is a flawless piece. It has this wonderful old-fairy tale vibe to it. Not in the Disney sense, but in the Brothers Grimm way, in that the strange yet slightly frightening fantastic elements come together in this almost ethereal package. One of the things I loved about Haibane Remnei was there was this massive world out there to explore, parts of which were slowly told throughout the story, but we were only concerned with this small human story surrounding these two characters. I guess it didn’t quite give me the same thrill I want from my favourites, but for what it’s trying to do, it really is perfect.
51: Last Exile
This is why I miss Gonzo. They were capable of glorious creations like Last Exile. This was one of those perfect adventure anime in which everything seemed to be tailored to my tastes. Never stayed too long on a certain plot point, fantastic imagination to create that world of Anatoray and Disith, a fantastic opening song and CGI incorporated properly. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it now, plus the sequel Fam The Silver Wing rather lowered my opinion of the franchise overall, but in my memory it was a great example of an adventure story.
50: Time of Eve
Time of Eve is like one of those indie movies that do incredibly well on the movie festival circuits, throwing away modern conventions with a unique take on camerawork and dialogue delivery with some off-beat humour while still delivering ultimately the same story that makes it connect with people. It has this wonderful flow to it all. The lines run into each other and the swooping camera angles give this effect that there’s so much going on at once that you are only catching snippets of these characters lives. It made me a permanent fan of Yasuhiro Yoshiura and Studio Rikka and I can’t wait to see more from them.
49: Crest of the Stars
While all of the Banner of the Stars series are good too, the original is the best constructed of the lot, and the only one that remains completely focused on the true core that makes this series special. The story of how Jinto and Lafiel grow from merely travel companions to having to rely on each other when thrust into various life-threatening scenarios. What makes it stand above its peers is how well crafted it all is. It has a level of depth to the science-fiction world that rivals Star Trek, and actually uses this information to build up a more interesting relationship between the two lead characters rather than just for technobabble (OK, there’s a bit of pointless technobabble, but not much). For two such reserved personalities, Jinto and Lafiel stand above their peers as one of the best duos in anime due to how real their feelings and interactions feel.
48: Spice and Wolf
Speaking of fascination character duos, Spice and Wolf is Crest of the Stars except set in medieval Europe and with more sex appeal. While Jinto and Lafiel are reserved, Horo and Lawrence have this brilliant flirtatious back and forth, as though they’re trying to find the most roundabout way of getting the other to confess their feelings, complimenting each other without the other person realising it. It makes for endlessly entertaining banter, only occasionally broken up by obligatory plot and economics chat. The economics stuff isn’t bad, but it does feel like you sit through them just to give better settings for Horo and Lawrence to start flirting again.
Gintama is to anime what Simpson is to American television. A satire of a popular genre (Simpsons it’s the family sitcom, Gintama it’s shounen) that occasionally devolves into the very thing it’s supposed to be satirising, but when it doesn’t, it manages to be incredibly funny. Rife with mocking parody, probably their greatest strengths is how they managed to remain funny for so many episodes. I’ve only seen 100-odd episodes of Gintama, so maybe it too like the Simpsons starts to lose its comedic edge, but from what I’ve heard from those 250 episodes in, it’s still as funny as ever. I should probably catch up sometime…
46: Psycho Pass
Psycho Pass is Gen Urabochi’s very deliberate call back to classic cyberpunk stories, the kind of which anime kind of left by the wayside when they got over the 80’s/90’s dark OVA period. Unlike those old OVAs though, where the focus is primarily on how badass these cyber cops look, this is cyberpunk where the focus is on the ramifications these technological advances have on society. It’s grim, cynical, and angry with a real agenda on its hands that’s fascinating to watch unfold. Also not moe. Remember that guys. Definitely not moe.
Moyashimon’s bizarre and eccentric characters and take on college life is, counter-intuitively, probably one of the most accurate takes on how strange a small college life experience can be. The world is filled with young adults with attempting to create alcohol in their rooms, transgendered people trying to find themselves, covering themselves in dirt and grease for the sake of science. Oh, and bacteria floating around in the shapes of cutesy inch-high creature. Well OK, maybe that last point isn’t quite so realistic. Also don’t watch the sequel.
44: Pale Cocoon
As far as short movies go, Pale Cocoon is the best. No, shut up, I don’t want to hear. Pale Cocoon is better than that. It was the second short movie Yasuhiro Yoshiura made, after Aquatic Language, and told this amazing story about a civilisation that had given up hope, all while focusing on no more than 2 key characters. The ending revelation stands up there as the greatest single shot I’ve ever seen in anime. Yasuhiro went on after this to make Time of Eve, an improved version of Aquatic Language. If his new movie, Sakasama no Patema, is supposed to be the improved version of Pale Cocoon, then holy shit will it be something special.
I like anime with a suave style, a cast of characters with much larger stories than is told in the anime, and a focused story that centres on human emotions rather than grand plot elements. Durarara is all of that, to the point that you almost want to hate it for its own self-confidence, sashaying through character developments and plot twists, so assured of its own charm that you can’t help but be drawn along with it. It’s a shame that the arc they ended the first season on (and there WILL be a second season) was the poorest, because at its core, this is such a damn fine anime.
42: Nodame Cantabile
This is another one of those series that get by almost entirely on the strength of its main duo. What’s unique here is they work fantastically on their lonesome too. Chiaki is the uptight, devilishly handsome workaholic, whose harsh put-downs and persnickity attitude (always wanted to use that word) make him a hugely entertaining character in his own right. When paired together with the air-headed, dopey ball of moody energy that is Nodame, the two combine to create the ultimate entertainment pair. Gyabo!
One half sci-fi mystery, one half ball-busting time travel thriller, Steins;Gate was the anime that forced me to change my opinion that everything that came out of Visual Novel land that wasn’t either porn or melodramatic crap. The story builds up to certain key moments, cranking up the tension with each episode, while never losing the sense of humour at its core. And then there’s Okarin. Possibly the greatest main character in anime, his grandstanding and desire to be this great Mad Scientist drove this show, turning his whole world upside down, breaking him and eventually building up a man who became his own persona. El. Psy. Congroo
FLCL acts on some kind of crazy genius logic that mere mortals can only gawp in amazement at. There’s something truly special about how it conducts itself, in how its demented brand of logic comes together into this brilliant story, and anything you don’t understand you can’t help but think that its because you haven’t fully attuned yourself to its mindset yet. FLCL is basically the perfect example of what anime can do that no other medium can come even close to achieving. For that, it deserves all the praise it gets.
39: Daily Lives of Highschool Boys
I hate those permanently in the present, bunch of cute girls being insufferably nice to each other anime. I hate pretentious idealistic highschool romcoms cloaked in nostalgia as characters narrate their dull fucking lives and comment on the weather. I thought Daily Lives of Highschool Boys would be that. In fact, it turned out to be exact opposite, satirising the very thing I thought it was going to be. For that reason, it was a godsend. Anime needed this. I needed this.
Redline is an experience. It has a rather stark lack of depth, and the plot is nothing special, but it does have this incredible attention to detail with each little character and element. Each touch tells a story about each of these characters. Little asides that give this picture of a much larger world this character inhabits. You get the feeling that there’s a story behind each little scratch on JP’s car. That is what I love about Redline. Well that, and the fact that it’s a thrilling, exhilarating journey through thumping soundtracks, massive explosions and swearing aliens.
You know, they don’t make anime like they used to. Where is that level of violence and depth and dissectable features that was prevalent in anime back in the good old days? When is the last time we’ve seen a truly adult anime take the western world by storm. When was…what am I saying? I wasn’t even alive when that happened. So shut up you old fans, stop scaring away the newer anime fans and let them enjoy Akira for what it is.
36: Attack on Titan
Titan is a proper big action blockbuster title, the kind that gets your blood pumping with its big thrilling set pieces and massive stakes. It’s got actual depth behind its broad cast of characters, thought behind its world construction, and meaning to its story (even if that meaning can be interpreted as a having a nationalistic expansionist militaristic message). The show is a constant stream of short build up then massive payoffs. Plus it’s generally just damn cool to look at with its spiderman recon gear and derpy titans poking their heads over giant walls.
35: Kino’s Journey
Kino’s Journey is like Aesop’s Fables: The Anime. Each town and story that Kino visits and explores doesn’t make much sense on a surface, logical level. It’s the story beneath the surface meaning that’s important. How, through his probing questions and standoff approach, Kino draws out the thought process and belief system that created such a bizarre scenario as the one he had just visited. It’s one of those series you keep coming back to, realising how sharp it truly was, and how much of it applies to real-life serious issues. It’s unique in that sense; I’ve never seen anything else come even close to achieving what it did.
Ghibli have a few aspects to their movies that repeatedly bug me, but most of the time it comes down to how their magical worlds become too strained under the weight of what they’re trying to achieve and turn to dues ex machina and barmy town. Arrietty avoids this by keeping the focus tight and letting the directing, as good as Ghibli’s directing has ever been, tell the story. By doing this, it allows its magical elements and woven themes to shine all the brighter for it. What’s encouraging is that this was a directorial debut for Hiromasa Yonebayashi, proving that Ghibli has the talent behind it to survive beyond the days of Miyazaki.
33: Detroit Metal City
Detroit Metal City single-handedly ruined all music for me. Not just heavy metal music, with its tearing back of the jokes surrounding the desire to appear edgy and dangerous, but also in its mockery of other music types. The fallacy behind cheesy love songs. The ridiculousness of the myths told by over-enthusiastic fans. In one single stroke, I cannot take any music persona’s seriously anymore. I’m not sure whether to love it or hate it for that.
32: Full Metal Panic
Full Metal Panic is the rather unusual mix of cold war nonsense western military spy plots combined with goofy anime logic and hijinks, a formula that works far better than it has any right to do. Both sides actually do a fine job of supporting each other. The cold war plot is entertaining in its fuzzy science way, the schoolgirls leading paramilitary organisations somehow comes off as believable, the goofy comedy is genuinely funny, and the romance at the heart of it is actually charming. Plus it has giant robots headbutting each other inside submarines.
31: Black Lagoon: Second Barrage
Not that the first season wasn’t awesome or anything. It’s just it was totally swept away by the second. Everything the first did the second did better. A better focus of the true horrors of Roanapur, a greater cast of the true wildcards that inhabit that devil city. It had that Hansel and Gretal story that will haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life. OK, the first season managed the Rock/Revy relationship better, but Roanapur is the real reason to watch this anime. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.