Are you ready for the inevitable? The newest and largest pub argument amongst anime fans for the next year or so is on it’s way. While others can argue how anime has changed over the decade, most notably in the internet explosion, the average folk will slam their glass on the table and proclaim that ‘Code Geass will be forgotten in a few years’ or that ‘Monster is the most under-rated anime of them all’. So I’m going to try to shed some light upon this topic. Now I won’t be saying what my picks are, oh no. I’m going to be acting like a bookie, weighing up the odds for what will be voted top of the charts. For this I’m going to assume that the winners will be decided by a poll, much like the Animesource polls, where each voter gets 5 votes. Place your bets folks. What was the best anime of the 00’s?
Remember that in these polls, the critically acclaimed anime will not win. It is a effectively popularity contest. That does not make the eventual winner any less valid. In fact, the best anime should be the one that made the most impact and generated a whole plethora of copycats. Therefore do not expect something like Monster or Mushishi to win. However I would not be surprised to see Mushishi rank quite highly. It’s managed to achieve a (relatively) high level of popularity and yet somehow still keeps it’s slightly elitist aura. Basically, it has never been cool to hate Mushishi. A top 10 spot is probably beyond it but top 20 is certainly attainable, depending on what percentage of Narutards vote. Monster, on the other hand, will not rank. It has never quite achieved the level of exposure Mushishi has, plus it has never been licensed. I doubt it would even make the top 50.
Mushishi odds: 80:1 Monster odds: 500:1
If you were going to talk about popularity, then according to Myanimelist and ANN, these would be Death Note and Full Metal Alchemist. Surprise surpsie, they’re both Shounen hits. Shounen anime have always been hugely popular these two kept it themeselves short(er) and therefore kept their pace flowing. However I think FMA’s chances have been killed with the new season. While it may have convinced younger fans to go watch the original and generate a larger fanbase, what it appears has happened has split the fanbase completely. Fans of the original manga, who might have voted for the first season otherwise, will now vote for the more faithful adaptation while the a substantial amount of the original anime fans seem to scoff at the new season. Split fanbase = no chance, though a top 10 is still a possibility. Death Note, though, has to be one of the favourites. It’s ability to get fans from both shounen fanboys, yaoi fangirls and elitists while never getting too over-the-top to divide opinions the way Code Geass did was quite remarkable. Plus it’s getting my vote :)
FMA odds: 15:1 FMA:B odds: 50:1 Death Note odds: 5:2
You can’t ignore the long-running shounen series. Theoretically, if it was possible to get EVERY anime fan on the planet to vote, Naruto would probably top the charts. That though is nigh impossible. Plus I think Bleach has a far better chance of winning than Naruto has, mainly down to the two season split. The first season of Naruto had that ‘year of the fillers’ and the second season has been bogged down, moving at a pace a 1-legged tortoise would be ashamed of. Plus Bleach is higher rated than Naruto, which goes to show that many of the people who watch Naruto are really only doing so out of habit by this stage. Bleach has the legs to see off challenges of the likes of Inuyasha and D-Gray Man and One Piece isn’t even guaranteed to be allowed to enter since it began in 1999. Will Bleach win the contest overall? It all depends on who votes I suppose. There’s even a chance that it won’t finish in the top 20 if voters don’t show up. It’s the most unpredictable of the lot to be honest.
Bleach odds: 12:1 Naruto odds: 25:1 Naruto Shippuden odds: 50:1
Time to discuss the elephant in the room. There is no doubt that The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was the most influential anime of the decade. All you need to do is look at the alarming increase in moe since 2006. Haruhi’s big advantage is that her fanbase is (well, was) not split. Fans of moe may love Clannad, Aria and Higurashi but they are all in agreement that Haruhi is the queen of the genre. A lot of shounen fans have their votes spread, some of them abandoning Bleach and Naruto to vote for FMA, Geass or Death Note. Mecha fans are completely divided (unlike the 90’s when Evangelion was the undisputed champion). In a way Haruhi is the rightful successor to NGE, even managing to enrage it’s loyal fanbase. Yes, it’s tough to say what effect Endless Eight had. It may have lost a huge amount of fans through frustration or it may have solidified the first seasons in their hearts, safe in the knowledge that the first season will remain the untouched masterpiece they claim it is. Before Endless Eight I would have placed my bet on Haruhi but now I’m not so sure. It’s probably still favourite but the outcome is less clear than I originally thought it would be.
Haruhi Suzumiya odds: 2:1 Endless Eight odds: 15,532:1
The shojo fanbase are probably one of the less divided, if admittadly quieter, of the anime world. My sister’s Fruits Basket manga proudly proclaims itself to be the best selling shojo manga in America but I can’t see FB seriously challenge the top 10. Neither will Nodame Cantabile or Lovely Complex or even the apparant king of shojo, Honey and Clover. They just aren’t big enough. But Ouran High School Host Club is a different matter altogether. I heard somewhere that Ouran outsold Code Geass in America, which is quite incredible. Ouran reall is that big. That said, I can’t seriously see it winning. Top 10 is certainly attainable though. Top 5 if it has enough support?
Fruits Baskets odds: 250:1 Ouran Odds: 25:1
The mecha fanbase is a rather divided one, certainly for those who want something similar to Evangelion. RahXephon doesn’t stand a chance and neither does a Gundam or Macross. However Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann will indeed attract a mountain of votes. There are many people who believe TTGL to be far and away the greatest anime ever produced for it’s deliciously over-the-top manliness and epic battle on an inter-galactic scale. TTGL certainly stands the best chance Gainax have of winning the best anime of teh decade twice (yes, Evangelion was the best of the 90’s. It’s not my personal favourite, but nothing came even remotely close to the influence it had on future anime). The other mecha series is Code Geass, which is hardly true mecha. It’s still difficult to see how Geass will go down in anime history. However Geass attracts votes from absolutely every corner of the anime globe, such is it’s appeal. Sunrise really knew what they were doing with Geass and if you can get a large enough spread of fans voting, Geass stands a reasonable chance of topping the charts, although some votes will be split to it’s sequel.
TTGL odds: 15:1 Code Geass odds: 8:1
Now let me tell you some anime that won’t win. Ghost in the Shell, Samurai Champloo, FLCL, Eureka Seven, Eden of the East, Full Metal Panic, School Rumble, Black Lagoon, Azumanga Daoih. All big names sure enough but none of these are quite big enough to challenge any of the other names I’ve put forward so far. It’s also pointless to look at any moe anime when there’s Haruhi on the table, so goodbye Clannad and Lucky Star. I also can’t see a Ghibli topping the table either. However there is one popular anime that I think could be the dark horse in this competition. Elfen Lied has a huge and devoted fanbase. They are rather quite nowadays since the anime has long since ended but you’d be a fool to forget they are still around, still utterly convinced Elfen Lied is the greatest anime ever created. I really think Elfen Lied could be the shock hit of the tournament and a top 5 place beckons.
Elfen Lied odds: 15:1
And that’s about it. Several things could happen of course, like 4chan flood voting Queens Blade to top the table. That could be solved by not making the tourney open to the public and having it chosen by ‘a panel of expert judges’. Although I wouldn’t trust expert judges to pick the right anime as far as I could thrown them. It comes down to what’s the main factors of a top anime and I think popularity is hugely important. If you look at the anime I’ve mentioned, most of them are centered around 06 era. Asides from being arguably the best year for anime ever, it’s also perfectly placed to collect the most votes. Many of the youtube generation of anime fans won’t have seen tha many anime that aired before 03. Also 06 is old enough so it’s had time to stew in anime fandom for word of mouth to spread and most people to have watched it by now. I know there’s still another season of anime on it’s way but I can’t see any of them blowing people away.
So if I had to place a bet on the top 5 I would say Haruhi, Death Note, Code Geass, Elfen Lied and Gurren Lagann. As for the winner…well….I would have said Haruhi before the whole Endless Eight fiasco but now I’m not so sure. It looks like it will turn into a final battle between Death Note and Haruhi. Personally, I’m hoping for a Death Note victory but to be honest it’s too close to call. What do you think?