The characters in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure did always look like they were on their way to the local YMCA.
Thanks to doing my Favourite and Forgotten post series, I’ve filled out this list a little more comprehensively. However when I’m reduced to scanning the list of hentai aired in 2000 and thinking “at least one of these has to be better than Strange Dawn”, I think it’s safe to suggest that 2000 did not have a wide selection of high quality anime (it doesn’t look like 2001 did either, things didn’t really pick up until 2002, but more on that later). So here we are with my personal top 10 anime from 2000.
Niea_7 is an interesting mental experiment for me. I believe that you should be willing to discard, or at least be lenient with, your personal and political beliefs when watching entertainment and let each piece tell its own story how it wants. Their ability to challenge and present interesting defences of different ideas is one of entertainment’s great abilities, double the bonus if they can do that with a well-constructed story. Niea_7 does this. It has quite an interesting story and characters.
It just happens to be the most racist anime ever. Not even in the bafflingly ignorant way, where the only black people in the story are rapist thugs. The entire story in Niea_7 is built around the central concept that foreigners are a bunch of workshite lazy slackers who are doomed to never fit in and their attempts at opening business and forming community groups only serves to further demonstrate how useless they are to society. It’s alarmingly direct about this comparison too. The weird thing is that it’s far from a bad show. It can get a bit boring and plodding at times, but the characters are well-rounded and sympathetic with some charming interaction. So in a weird way, while I don’t like Niea_7, I have a certain amount of respect for it. Or maybe that’s the other way around.
9: Strange Dawn
Not exactly a stellar lineup of 2000 anime so far. Strange Dawn has an interesting idea behind it. Two schoolgirls get transported to a dimension of little people where they are treated as gods. The set up makes it sound like a kids anime, but in reality it’s an incredibly difficult transition for the two girls to make as they’re thrust into the middle of a war and the little people are dying and having dramatic romances and betrayals and everything. It’s a fascinating view of what a god must really feel about these people below them. The girls are far from heartless, but they ultimately only have a passing interest in the affairs of the little people and are concerned with how they’re going to get home.
The issue with Strange Dawn is that it didn’t seem to realise this part was the series strong point. Instead of taking this unique viewpoint of passive giants only mildly interesting in the trials and tribulations of the people below them, they instead got down on the ground with the frankly retarded story the little people were having. Asides from the stories surrounding the little people being the most insufferable melodramatic nonsense I’ve ever seen, it diminished the original intent of the story of the girls supposed to be feeling above the little people. It’s still an interesting series, with a unique take on a well-worn trope, but I still wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
8: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2000)
I’d seen the 1993 Jojo’s OVA back when I did my OVA splurge a few years ago and enjoyed it. Well, enjoyed the first 3 episodes. It was incredibly dumb, but the dumb set ups and writing did seem to hint to an undercurrent of intelligence and almost self-parody. Create this giant muscled Sylvester Stallone men who love to punch shit and yell, then first face them off against a puddle of water which gains power the more they yell at it. Even better, in episode 3 these body builder pecs-made-of-raw-steak men were put into a gambling match. Unfortunately it then returned to Plot for the next 3 episodes and involved characters yelling URA a lot and punching. Still, I liked it enough to try out the 2000 version.
Judging from both the recap of the complicated manga plot (which included the phrase “Vampire Jack the Ripper”) and what was actually adapted in these episodes, the 1993 OVA covered the least dumb part of the manga. My god, Jojo’s somehow managed to be several times dumber than ever before. It reminds me a lot of wrestling stories, where everything is super contrived and the dialogue the characters use to express their emotions is hilariously awful, but you have to accept that this is how they roll in their universe. It did keep me thoroughly entertained, I will give it that, even if that entertainment was drawn primarily from laughing at it.
7: Puppet Princess Movie
Still not quite onto anime I actually ‘like’ just yet, but almost there. Puppet Princess Movie was a random OVA I downloaded and told a fairly decent, if totally nonsensical story. In some distant past, a lone samurai ninja assassin dude meets up with a girl carrying a massive box on her back. The box holds massive puppet soldiers that she controls to do fighting for her, and she enlists him as a bodyguard to protect her body, which remains vulnerable to attack while the puppet does the actual fighting. They travel, they learn more about each other, each one of them slowly opens up to each other to reveal more about the pasts and motivations blah de blah you know the drill. It’s weirdly violent and the character designs pull some of the most demented looking faces, but it’s a well told story that was a decent way to spend 40-odd minutes. Not much more to say about it beyond that.
6: Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran
Slowly getting into stuff I actually like, Tsukikage Ran is the story of a wandering female samurai and her goofball sidekick Meow as they travel across the country in search of good sake and perhaps break up whatever local conflict is occurring where they visit. However that conflict is usually resolved more by accident as they try to get their hands on the sake, or perhaps some menial employment to earn themselves some money to buy more sake. Ultimately neither of them seem particularly noble or honourable people, which is a large part of the appeal for watching their adventures. They’re just chillin’, it’s not their fault dumb yazuka members keep accidentally hitting their faces against their swords.
As I said in my review, Tsukikage Ran is fluff, but well produced fluff. The stories are throwaway and forgettable, but the characters are not. They grow on you the more you watch and get to know their personalities, but you learn relatively little about what drives them and their backstories. Which is a shame, and I feel the show needed that extra layer to it to make the characters more memorable. But hey, for what it’s worth, it’s a decent 13 episode anime that you maybe shouldn’t actively seek out but also don’t run screaming from your anime club when someone suggests you should all watch it.
5: Blood: The Last Vampire
I saw Blood: The Last Vampire on the big screen, a bit before I was about to see Summer Wars. So it was a rather long time since it had originally come out, and I’d already seen Blood+, the angsty fangirl action bishie-fest. For an anime movie to spawn that series, I was expecting some kind of crowd pleasing violent action thriller. What I wasn’t expecting was a weirdly obtuse experimental arthouse film. A large part of my enjoyment may have come from not expecting something as unique as I got, but enjoy it I did nevertheless.
The story is about this enigmatic sullen Japanese schoolgirl Saya, on assignment in America with what appears to be the military, but we’re not quite sure for large portions of the movie. It’s a fine case of storytelling show-don’t-tell, and has that great little twist at the end that adds more depth to Saya’s character that enables you to appreciate the impact of everything the movie had shown you up until then. As a cool arthouse film, it’s quite a lot of fun. God only knows how it produced the two spin-offs it did, seeing as both have completely different tones. But kudos for trying something different with the franchise I guess.
4: Banner of the Stars
In my humble opinion, Banner of the Stars is the weakest of the three main Crest/Banner TV series. The two gay twins are incredibly boring and, no matter how sexy Spoor may be, her flirting sessions with her second in command aren’t particularly engaging either. Not sure whose idea it was to swap the focus away from Jinto and Lafiel was, but they deserve to spend the next week stubbing their toes in the dark.
Some of the changes Banner made though do work. The crew dynamics on Lafiel’s craft are pretty great because the characters have such varied personalities. Also Banner has some of the best space battles I’ve ever seen. Their aping of the submarine battle format for their pitched battles work surprisingly well and can be incredibly tense. They certainly make a mockery of LOGH’s big line of ships going pew pew pew. Ultimately though, this franchise has always depending on the relationship between Jinto and Lafiel, and it’s only when they take centre stage that the series truly shines.
3: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
Discovering this movie was great. I’m normally not a fan of Kawajiri either. I’ve found his works to be stylish but lacking in any substance and too pre-occupied with looking cool that, in the fickle way of coolness, resulted in them being uncool through trying too hard. Bloodlust broke through that tryhard barrier by just embracing its gothic setting so thoroughly that it was impossible not to appreciate and get sucked in. Not only that, but there’s actually some decent substance and a story with real emotions this time around. Fancy that, I didn’t think Kawajiri was even capable of emotions.
I saw Bloodlust before I rewatched FLCL, and originally had planned to place Bloodlust in second place instead. But rewatching FLCL gave me a whole new appreciation for it and its incredible method of storytelling. The way it embraces cartoon logic to tell its story, both plot-wise with the cross dimensional alien super pirate thing, and metaphorically with adolescence and sex and more sex and even more sex. Maybe the staff at Gainax were just incredibly horny after spending the past few years commissioning figurines of Asuka and Rei in various states of undress that they had to unleash that emotion somewhere. Basically what I’m saying is FLCL is Gainax’s jizz in animated form.
1: Love Hina
Just in case you were in any doubt that this was about my opinion and not some mythical objective rating of quality.
Love Hina was my gateway drug. It’s the reason why I’m here writing this blog in the first place instead of earning 50 bajillion moneys an hour and with my own personal harem who sleep on my bed of cash and success. I’m fully aware Love Hina isn’t as good as FLCL or Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (although I could make a pretty reasonable argument as to why it’s better than the rest of the stuff here). Nostalgia demands that I place it here. Actually it’s more than nostalgia. It’s also because, at the time, Love Hina was the greatest goddam thing ever, and I spent the first few month of my fandom chasing the feeling I got watching Love Hina.
During this post series, I’ll be returning to a lot of my old favourites to see if they still hold up. I might discover that Full Metal Panic is rubbish, or Chobits is dreadful, or Hare+Guu is unfunny, or Last Exile is boring, or Code Geass is dumb…well, actually I know Code Geass is dumb, but you get my point. I’ll have to slay more than a few sacred cows. But give me this one. Let me bask in my nostalgia for Love Hina for just a bit longer. Please?