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Shinmaru’s Top 30 Anime

The more anime you watch, the tougher it is to make a top 30 list. I have found this out the hard way. I could do this in my sleep before; now, I wonder how could have ever compared some of these anime to each other. The exercise seems utterly insane now. And, yet, here I am doing it. Perhaps I am insane. Regardless, these are 30 anime well worth watching.

30. Armored Trooper VOTOMS

armored-trooper-votoms-chirico

Armored Trooper VOTOMS is not much what I expected, and for the most part, this is a good thing. The grimness and dirty, grimy feel of the world are interesting, but more than that, I enjoy how the series offers such thoroughly different experiences with each arc while somehow keeping the overall plot coherent. Not an easy feat! The first arc is a solid gangster flick, the second is the Vietnam War (not a Vietnam War movie, mind — the Vietnam War itself), the third is part-post-apocalypse and part-PTSD nightmare, and the finale is 2001: A Space Odyssey except Dave Bowman has agency. How is this a coherent story? You got me. Its intensity and ferocity has few peers, however. It’s a striking experience!

29. Simoun

Simoun is a series that rewards the viewer greatly if they can get past the utter ridiculousness of the premise. Yes, the ships are powered by two female (but not female) pilots kissing. It’s justified in the series, but that doesn’t make it any less goofy. That said, Simoun boasts an incredibly detailed world with a rich history, politics and fascinating gender studies, and characters who are incredibly interesting and sympathetic. My favorite pilot would often switch by the episode as more was revealed about each. The plot perhaps grows a tad convoluted by the end, but it never loses its emotional punch. It’s a great ride from start to finish. (P.S. Paraietta and Mamina are the best pilots.)

28. Perfect Blue

Basically every movie Satoshi Kon directed after Perfect Blue is more polished; however, none strikes me as deeply as this. It’s basically a perfect psychological horror movie as far as I’m concerned. The way the film plays with perspective, the psychological degradation of Mima’s career as an actress and the sheer terror and darkness of the movie grabs me by the throat and doesn’t let go. It’s the type of horror I love: very personal, the type of horror that erodes the mind. It’s the sort of horror that allows creators to be at their most visually creative. Perfect Blue is definitely rough, and it’s difficult to watch (particularly for an intensely uncomfortable scene where Mima is metaphorically raped), but it is perhaps anime’s greatest example of horror.

27. SDF Macross

SDF Macross is a silly, ridiculous show. There is no getting around that. To deny that is to deny what makes Macross what it is. And what it is is a celebration of the dumbest, basest element of society: popular culture. Always loved that what connects humans and the alien Zentradi is not humanity’s greatest achievements, but its dumbest, most mass market garbage: pop idol songs and kung fu flicks. (And, if you want to go the dark route, you could view it as an example of cultural imperialism. Lots to think about!) Throw in some surprisingly dark turns to begin the series, some shockingly good flight animation (to balance out the numerous instances of terrible animation) and lots and lots of space battles, and you’ve got yourself a series!

26. Kaiji

Kaiji‘s first season is a masterpiece. Yes, it is ridiculously slow. Yes, it is WAY over the top. Yes, Kaiji cries at the drop of a hat. But, man, the way each arc is built (particularly the first) is pitch perfect. Kaiji has to jump through so many hoops just to stay alive (much less win the terrible games in which he is forced to participate) that it’s a wonder his mind doesn’t explode from frustration. Instead, he adapts. He clearly sees the rules and exploits them as best he can. Where the title character in sister series Akagi wins through sheer talent and brass balls, Kaiji prevails through sheer guile and wit under the greatest possible pressure. The second season isn’t quite as good (the final arc breaks much of the tension before trying to rebuild it at the end), but nevertheless, Kaiji is fantastic.

25. Dennou Coil

Dennou Coil is a rarity in anime — a smart show with an intelligently thought out world that feels as if it has been fully explored. By the end, it seemed to me that the show went through every possibility in this world of children with augmented reality glasses. I like the main story just fine — it is, at the very least, well plotted — but the main draw of this series are the episodes where it takes a clever idea and runs with it. As a plus, this is one of the best cast of kids in any story. They’re clever, funny and incredibly sympathetic. It’s a miracle when a story makes you not want to throttle a child; it’s something else entirely when a story makes you like them.

24. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Robots punch each other and go boom. This simple concept has led to endless hours of entertainment for yours truly and many other mecha fans. Real robot stuff is all well and good, but for me, super robot is where it’s at. Robots should run on guts, and the ‘bots in Gurren Lagann run on super duper guts. Throw in the wonderful style of director Hiroyuki Imaishi, and you’ve got yourself a fuckin’ series, people.

23. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

jojos-bizarre-adventure-joseph-caesar-posing

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is so good that it led me down the dark path of figure buying, which I had avoided for years. (Those commercials are just too enticing!) JoJo is basically everything I could want from a big, bold, mad shonen story. Phantom Blood offers a taste of the insanity that defines JoJo, but it’s Battle Tendency that sends the series into SUNLIGHT YELLOW OVERDRIVE. Joseph Joestar is the coolest motherfucker to bust down a bar window and blast a vampire with a Tommy gun in quite a while, and his story gets great visual style to match. The way David Production plays with color and visual space, and the way the sound and music go absolutely bonkers, is absolutely beautiful. What a show. I look forward to more JoJo in the future.

22. Shin Mazinger Z

You see that fellow up there? That is Zeus. Zeus teams up with pilot Kouji Kabuto and his giant robot, Mazinger Z, during the course of this series. If that does not immediately show how awesome Shin Mazinger Z is, I don’t know what does. I love director Yasuhiro Imagawa because the man does not think small. Shin Mazinger Z is one example of this: literally everything is on the line in this series. And everything is wrapped up in a conspiracy about as far-reaching as one can imagine. The way the characters evolved consistently astounded me, right until the conclusion, which is one of the very best anime has to offer. The courage, fire and spirit of the best super robot series combined with a smartly-written, labyrinthine plot? Sign me the fuck up! I hope one day that this is licensed in America — even on a limited run — so that I can own all of Imagawa’s robot anime.

21. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex + 2nd Gig

These two series are probably the best political thriller series anime will produce. They tackle complex issues and philosophies but never forget they have stories to tell and characters to shape. That’s what separates Ghost in the Shell from, say, Speed Grapher or something like that. Every character has such weight to them, and that adds more heft to every twist. But, really, the Major is all you need. It is pre-ordained that I fall for her.

20. Akira

For the longest time, I didn’t get Akira. I never doubted its technical chops for a second; however, I thought it was just a confusing mess. Age and experience have taught me otherwise. The overall story is shockingly coherent for something from a rather long manga, and the themes of director Katsuhiro Otomo’s original manga still shine through here. And, yes, this is one hell of a gorgeous movie — perhaps the best looking anime movie ever created. It deserves to be seen by every fan of animation (not simply anime) on that fact alone. Regardless of how it looks, though, this is a damn great anime.

19. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Hands down my favorite shonen anime. (Though if the Hunter x Hunter remake continues on its current course, it could at least pose a decent challenge.) To put the old argument to rest: Brotherhood is better than the original, because it doesn’t have a shitty final boss and doesn’t fall apart at the end. So there! The overall story is good, but when it comes to shonen, I am an easy man to please — I love this anime because the fights are all ridiculously awesome. BONES has the benefit of a few years of technological advances over the original FMA, and it also brings in some incredibly talented animators to work on the fights. I can still recall just about every detail of that first Wrath vs. Greed battle, and it has been ages since I’ve watched this series! It’s just that wonderful.

18. Baccano!

Baccano! is one of the few anime I can describe as truly larger than life. None of the characters is particularly deep, but they’re all memorable, and that’s just as important to me. They’re all distinct. Ladd Russo is an electrifying — and creepy as hell — villainous gangster. Firo is a smooth, plucky leader. Chane, despite having few lines throughout the series, communicates everything she needs to via her eyes and knives. Isaac and Miria are amazing. And on and on. The storytelling is as fervent and grandiose as the characters; it gets confusing at times, but it’s easy to get swept up in the plot because it’s so energetic but also completely under control. Also, it is super duper violent. Always a plus.

17. Azumanga Daioh

It’s just damn funny. Of all the girls, I definitely love Tomo the most — she’s such a wonderfully unapologetic asshole, the one girl who acts entirely in her own interests and could not give less of a shit. She acts in a way that most of us don’t due to common decency, but it’s funny to see that behavior play out in an alternate reality of sorts. When Tomo pushes over Chiyo while she wears that penguin costume, I laughed long and hard. Felt totally guilty afterward, but I laughed and laughed. Of course, that’s not to say the rest of the cast dogs it. Everyone knows Kimura and his frightening facial expressions. Yukari is amazing — she’s basically a grown-up Tomo. And who could forget Chiyo’s Dad? He wishes he were a bird.

16. Code Geass + R2

Completely melodramatic, often goofy as hell, doesn’t really hold up at all when even a modicum of logic is applied to it . . . but, fuck it, I liked it a lot when I first saw the series and liked it even more when I watched both seasons for a second time. I value entertainment as much as anything else, and Code Geass — fucking schizophrenic, goofball show that it is — is great entertainment.

15. Black Lagoon

Black Lagoon is the greatest ’80s action movie that could possibly be made. It has a sense of and flair for the ridiculous that was the hallmark of that wonderful decade for popcorn action nonsense. I was sold when the crew launched a boat into a helicopter. Yes. Just the right amount of crazy action. How could I hate a series with an arc as gleefully goofy as that first Roberta arc? But as ridiculous as Black Lagoon is, it never simply winks at the audience. It builds storylines that make the audience care. Pretty much everyone I know who has seen the second season of Black Lagoon talks about that arc with the twins with at least a certain level of reverence. The slow change in Rock from beginning to end is legitimately interesting to witness. Black Lagoon is often silly, but it’s often surprisingly smart, too.

14. Popee the Performer

Popee is everything I could hope for in a comedy. The humor is clever and twisted; sure, the punch line might be, say, a bullet exploding out of Popee’s ass and into Kedamono’s gaping mouth, but the execution is a million times smarter than anyone would think to give it credit. The show also never rests on its laurels. Yes, the early episodes trade in shock and violence (which makes for some of the best physical humor in anime, by the way), but as it goes on, Popee explores its world more thoroughly than most anime ever dream of. It takes pride in being a cartoon and full advantage of the anarchic spirit of the animated medium. Literally every time I thought Popee couldn’t possibly have something new for me to see, laugh at and appreciate it, the series proved me wrong. Its cleverness is vast, its imagination endless, its daring boundless. If you appreciate comedy at all, you should watch Popee the Performer.

13. Honey and Clover

I watched Honey and Clover during the perfect time in my life. When I graduated from college, I was unemployed for a year. During that stretch is when I saw this series. I like all the characters, but I couldn’t help but connect with Takemoto the most out of everyone. Many of his problems and fears were my own; and, hell, if I could have gone on a bike ride across my home state, you bet your ass I would have. Unfortunately, I was stuck sending out applications to shitty retail jobs. Anyway! I don’t like this series simply because I find much with which I can identify. The comedy is on target, the characters are sympathetic while still making their fair share of mistakes, and the drama is painful in the best way . . . though I concede less so in the second season, where I thought certain parts were totally unbelievable, and I was still at the point where I could take Jun Maeda seriously.

12. Kare Kano

Hands down my favorite romantic comedy in anime. The first half in particular bursts with energy and love. How anyone could not fall immediately in love with Yukino Miyazawa is beyond me, and though Arima has his lame moments, he is for the most part cool, as well. Kare Kano is that rare romance about the romance rather than the romancing — that makes it automatically more interesting than basically every other anime romantic comedy. And the story is viewed through the lens of Hideaki Anno, who brings a great touch to the series (at least until he was fired a bit more than halfway through). There’s so much joyful imagination put into the visuals that I can’t imagine that watching Kare Kano would ever make me unhappy.

11. Neon Genesis Evangelion + End of Evangelion

Of course, if I ever want to be unhappy, I could always pop this in! For the longest time, I didn’t know how I really felt about Evangelion. It was one of the earliest anime I’d seen, and I’d liked it a lot, but by the time I rewatched it for the first time in at least a decade, I’d seen many more anime. Would this be as impressive anymore? Would it still hold up? It does. It’s easy to forget this in light of the ending (I’m in the camp that likes it, btw), but the main plot of Evangelion is incredibly tense and thrilling, and littered with chilling moments. Gainax may not have had much of a budget to speak of, but they did everything they could with what they had. Who could forget Shinji’s first battle against an Angel? Eva 01 going berserk and eating an Angel? Asuka’s decline? Kaworu? Hell, DDR before it was even a thing? OK, that’s less chilling than hilarious, but still. There’s a reason people still pick Evangelion apart nearly 20 years after it first aired — it was created to bore its way into viewers’ minds and never leave. End of Evangelion is much the same. It’s not a movie I can watch often, because it’s so unbelievably depressing, but man alive is it ever an experience. It is at the very least worth seeing for that incredible scene where Asuka takes on a group of mass production Evangelions. It is glorious.

10. Planetes

Planetes is two series in one that somehow both work well. The first half is a workplace satire where the garbage crew of space fulfills its duties while being looked down upon by other departments and dealing with generally wacky situations. The humor is sharp and on point, the cast is quite engaging and it has plenty of memorable episodes — the one where Fee just wants to have a nice smoke is a masterpiece of anime comedy. The second half, though … now that’s interesting, too. It’s a much more intense, melancholy portion that sees one of its main characters turn into an asshole in the single-minded pursuit of his dream to become an astronaut. But his pursuit is utterly fascinating, and other weighty issues crop up that are just as interesting. It takes a lot of guts to turn such a silly show into something serious, and a lot of skill to make it not just good, but better.

9. Giant Robo

Every time I have ranked Giant Robo on one of these lists, I have determined later that I have ranked it too low. When I rewatch Giant Robo yet again in a year or so (I finished a rewatch recently as of this writing), I may once again come to believe I have underestimated this amazing OVA. Yasuhiro Imagawa has directed some of the greatest giant robot anime (G Gundam, Tetsujin 28 (2004), Shin Mazinger Z), but this is undoubtedly his magnum opus, the one time in his career he got a budget and ran wild with it. I wrote earlier that Imagawa does not think small. Giant Robo is the best example of this. The mooks are powerful enough to beat even the strongest enemies in other anime. The stakes start at perceived world domination and rise from there. Protagonist Daisaku Kusama has the greatest giant robot in the world not because he’s special, but because he needs it to be as special as everyone who surrounds him. Everyone — everyone! — is super powerful, and yet the drama never feels forced, the tragedy never feels false. It’s probably the best looking, best sounding OVA ever made. It’s a massive undertaking and a miracle that it was ever completed. Giant Robo feels like something that should not exist, and it is a testament to the imagination and to animation that it does.

8. Cowboy Bebop

I will always love Cowboy Bebop. It is the series that made me fall in love with anime, even though there really aren’t many anime like it. While I do love the hip-hop samurai film fusion of Samurai Champloo, the space age film noir style of Bebop is tops in my heart. Many of the episodes in this series are riffs on familiar themes and stories, but mashed up and remixed through the view of a different lens. What is “Black Dog Serenade” but an ode to film noir? What is “Mushroom Samba” but an ode to blaxploitation? But like with a Quentin Tarantino movie, there such fresh, vast energy with each story that they feel like more than a dedication. Plus, something that I think doesn’t get enough play in discussions of Cowboy Bebop is its wonderfully bizarre sense of humor. “Toys in the Attic,” for instance, is a perfect example of how to make movie references work as comedy. The aforementioned “Mushroom Samba” is amazing drug comedy. “Cowboy Funk” hilariously breaks down the archetype of Spike’s character. And on and on. Cowboy Bebop is an amazing series.

7. Rose of Versailles

Oscar Francois de Jarjayes is one of anime’s coolest protagonists. She’s strong, noble and proud. She comes off as flawless, but it’s important to understand that this isn’t true. Her biggest flaw for much of the series is her naivete. It just does not seem that way at first, because unlike many naive characters, Oscar is not stupid, nor does the series make her act stupid to show how naive she is. However, her upbringing colors her perceptions to the point where she trusts the nobility of France and their dedication to the nation’s poor far longer than she should. That’s probably the only way Rose of Versailles could work, since Oscar can’t actively mess with the history of the French Revolution, but it’s cool to see it play out all around her. The show also features director Osamu Dezaki working many of the traits that would make his works so recognizable and putting together one of the coolest shoujo anime ever. Also, I am just a sucker for historical fiction.

6. Gankutsuou

The Count of Monte Cristo is one of anime’s greatest characters with one of anime’s greatest performances from Jouji Nakata. There are good, effective stories built around the Count, but let’s be real, his quest for vengeance is the most engaging, fascinating story in this series. He’s just so damn cool, confident and commanding — there’s no way the viewer’s eye could be on anything but him when he’s on the screen, and that is a massive accomplishment in a series that gives the viewer so many amazing sights. Last time I checked, the intense art style of Gankutsuou was divisive, but I’m on the side that absolutely adores it. It’s a huge part of what makes this version of the story so different from the original Count of Monte Cristo novel by Alexandre Dumas. But perhaps what I love most is the sheer power of the drama when all the elements come together.

5. RahXephon

RahXephon has to be one of BONES’ most divisive series. Like many of that studio’s anime, it takes the “show, don’t tell” mantra to an extreme. Upon rewatch, it’s clear that most of the clues to unraveling the labyrinthine story are in plain sight — it’s just that they’re presented at times when the viewer lacks the information and context to make sense of them until the end. RahXephon doesn’t just trust the viewer to be smart enough to figure everything out; it forces the viewer to figure everything out. It’s not a storytelling style that appeals to many people (not because they’re stupid, I find, but because it plain wears people out), but I totally dug it. I also love Ayato’s story as someone who is torn between two identities and is being forced to choose among them. It’s probably simplistic, but as far as anime goes, I find it interesting. Haruka Shitow is also one of the coolest ladies in anime, though I think the ending lets her down a bit. And aesthetically, the show looks quite good during a transitional time when TV anime tended to look pretty shit, and the soundtrack is maybe my all-time favorite. There’s a lot to like in this series.

4. Kaleido Star

I like this for the greatest reason: It makes me happy. It’s one of the few “hard work and guts” type series where the hard work is emphasized as much as (if not more) than the guts. Protagonist Sora works her ass off to be a top performer in the circus. She is handed nothing and earns everything. It’s actually quite inspiring in its own simple way. Sora’s rivalry with star performer Layla Hamilton is also wonderful in that it doesn’t devolve into something where Layla is a petty, jealous villain. She’s simply someone whose respect must be earned and who doesn’t take it easy on people who won’t work as hard as she does. It’s a really beautiful moment when Layla finally accepts Sora as someone on her level and they give a knockout performance for the ages. Also, I really want to go to the Kaleido Stage. This circus is one of my all-time favorite settings. If I could see shows there for the rest of my life, I would know no greater joy.

3. Eureka Seven

Eureka Seven can be a frustrating experience. The whole first section of the series seems engineered to drive people away. Frankly, I agree with many that the show could be cut down a fair amount and still be just as effective. But, man, once this show gets going, it’s SO GOOD. The emotional highs are perhaps the highest I’ve experienced in any series — the kind that make me want to pump my fist upon recall (in fact, I had to pause in the middle of writing the previous sentence to pump my fist). The Beams Arc is fantastic storytelling that hits me in the gut whenever I think about it. Holland’s maturation is wonderful. And, fuck it, I even love the soccer episode. My one wish is that I will one day have a surfing giant robot of my own.

2. Monster

Monster is a weird anime because basically every reason it’s great is due to Naoki Urasawa. The writing is so meticulous and careful, sharply honed to the point where every emotional moment jabs sharp and strong. The characters are balanced so effectively that it’s one of the few works of fiction where I can say everyone is used as they should be. There’s always something fascinating going on, whether it’s Dr. Tenma’s moral struggles, Johan’s hellish backstory, Eva’s terrifying self-destruction, Lunge’s dogged pursuit of Tenma, and on and on and on. This series is never afraid to go to some truly dark places, but it never feels exploitative, either. It never peers into the void purely for the sake of peering — there’s always something interesting to behold, something to examine as each story plays out. And one of the most fascinating elements upon rewatch is seeing how deftly Urasawa’s story plays out, how everything ties together so neatly and yet rarely feels contrived because of how well the strings are manipulated. To watch Monster (or read the manga) is to see a master storyteller at work.

1. Revolutionary Girl Utena

I love everything about Utena. I love that it has something to say but rarely takes itself seriously. I love that it starts an exciting new arc and then almost immediately throws out a comedy episode — and it works because the episode is hilarious. In fact, I love all those Nanami comedy episodes. I love the ritual before the duels and the rituals of the duels themselves. I love that the show dumps a truckload of symbolism on the viewer. I love Miki’s inexplicable stopwatch, and I love that director Kunihiko Ikuhara goes out of his way to give nonsense answers when people ask about it. I love Nanami’s egg. I love the sheer otherworldly style of this school. I love Juri. I love Utena. I love Anthy. I love that somehow, some way, this show got made. It is everything I want anime to be — just different from anything else in any other medium. I love Revolutionary Girl Utena.

If you want our other writers’ individual lists:

Scamp’s Top 30Inushinde’s Top 30

Alternatively, you can read our joint Top 30.

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65 Comments

  1. luffyluffy
    Posted November 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    For the record I got so wrapped up in reading this I screwed up the food I was cooking. Arigato Shinmaru-chan.

    Also, I just realized you guys don’t have a female blogger here I nominate myself for the position.

    • Posted November 8, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      I hope your food was still good.

      • luffyluffy
        Posted November 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

        Don’t worry it was! I made beef soup with little macaronis in it, and the macaronis just got really big, that’s all.

  2. Posted November 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    I bought and watched Giant Robo after you informed me of its existence. Wasn’t terrible or anything, but none of it moved me. Not that I’m a fan of robot series or anything, but I was hoping it would be one of the “exceptions” to my taste like Code Geass and Evangelion. It wasn’t. Still worth it though considering I love to collect stuff.

    I need to get to updating my top list as well. I mostly put it out just to have one and whilst I like all the anime on it, I don’t think it’s entirely accurate.

    • Posted November 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Giant Robo is awesome.

      • Posted March 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        And what do you know. Giant Robo gets on my own top list after another watch.

    • The Big Guy
      Posted November 11, 2012 at 1:02 am | Permalink

      Giant Robo is amazing.

  3. Sarif
    Posted November 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    I was glad to see a lot of Overlap with my top 30. Especially #1!

    1. Revolutionary Girl Utena
    2. Kino’s Journey
    3. Madoka Magika
    4. Red Garden
    5. Nodame Cantabile
    6. Moribito: Guardia of the Sacred Spirit
    7. Kure-nai
    8. Naughty Kiss
    9. Paradise Kiss
    10. PlanetES
    11. Toward the Terra
    12. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
    13. Manwaru Penguindrum
    14. Dennou Coil
    15. Shiki
    16. Sailor Moon
    17. Soul Eater
    18. When They Cry
    19. Milky Holmes
    20. Monster
    21. Welcome to the NHK
    22. Usagi Drop
    23. Magical Lyrical Nanoha
    24. NANA
    25. Kanon
    26. Dear Brother…
    27. Samuri Champloo
    28. Escaflowne
    29. Gurren Laggan
    30. Lucky Star

    I did not include movies or OVA’s.
    What do you think?

    • Posted November 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      Obviously I agree with all the ones on my list. Haven’t seen Dear Brother, NANA, Nanoha (only the first movie), Milky Holmes, Toward the Terra, Naughty Kiss or Kino’s Journey. Don’t really like Lucky Star, Escaflowne (well, the second half, anyway) or Kanon, and I didn’t finish Soul Eater (though I liked what I saw). Everything else on your list I enjoy. Red Garden is an interesting choice for so high up. Any particular reason why? It must have had quite an impact on you!

      • Sarif
        Posted November 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

        Well Most people (including myself) love Madoka Magica for the fact that it really goes against the typical magical girl anime stereotypes. I think that Red Garden actually does a much better and more subtle version of this.
        The girls go through the real physical and emotional struggles of being given powers and responsibility against their will. All this while still trying to upkeep the persona of a regular teenage girl (Mmmm…lemons). Also the art, character design and the modern gothic tones are great foils to traditional magical girls.

        Josei is my favorite genre. I also love magical girls, and horror. Put them all together and you have Red Garden. I particularly like this director (Kure-nai also being on my list). I think he always uses his budget very well.

        Plus the OVA is hilarious (bejeweled fertility statue-esque mechas anyone?).

      • Posted November 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        Cool! :) Hope you don’t mind, but I shared your comment on Twitter on the off chance it might get people interested in watching Red Garden.

  4. Adamar
    Posted November 8, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    This list works a lot better for me than the collaborative one. Imagawa getting the love he deserves? Hell yes.

    Inushinde mentioned Aria and DMC as favs, so looking forward to that one as well.

    • Posted November 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      Yasuhiro Imagawa might be my favorite anime director. When your worst series is G Gundam (and it’s definitely a top 5 Gundam for me), you’re a pretty fucking good director!

      Detroit Metal City just missed my list. It’s a great comedy with some hilarious sitcom setups and logic.

  5. Posted November 8, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Want to know why I haven’t watched Popee the Performer? Because all I’ve ever seen from bloggers are the most unappealing screenshots in the universe. Why not use a pic like the one on MAL?

    • Posted November 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      Because I have no problem with how the series looks. If other people do, well … they’re still going to have that same problem if I trick them into watching the series.

  6. Billish
    Posted November 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed reading, and agree, with much of your list though there are inevitably some anime on here that I did not enjoy such as Gankutsuou (everyone seems to like this; i just… dont… understand!). I made it halfway through Utena with indifference but eventually I’ll give it another shot.

    Much of your list I haven’t seen but that will change since you’re responsible for giving me Popee, you sick bastard.

    Also, Hunter X Hunter 1999 is better than Brotherhood, just sayin.

    • Posted November 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      Is there anything in particular you don’t like about Gankutsuou? Always interested in opinions here! Also kind of baffled that Utena left you indifferent! Obviously you don’t have to like it, of course, but it seems like the type of show created specifically to provoke reactions from people, haha.

      I love the original Hunter x Hunter (I think my posts on the remake have shown that I hold it in high regard!), but it does take a bit too long to get going for my liking. Once it DOES go, though, it’s obviously awesome.

      • Billish
        Posted November 13, 2012 at 12:20 am | Permalink

        Sorry about the delayed response.

        One thing that comes to mind about G is the main character Albert’s utter uselessness to the plot and the telling of it. An example I remember off the top of my head was his sojourn into space near the end. The direction assumes that his being there hinders the Count’s plans in some way unknown to the watcher. When he returns, nothing changes: The Count gets his revenge (though falls short based on his own development), and the plot revolves overall. Maybe this usage of a journey or absence the writers used in order to develop Albert’s resolve. Instead, for me, the exposition just seemed lazy.

        I don’t understand the popularity of Gankutsuou (at least the relative popularity that I’ve encountered in the blog-sphere). What confuses me is that I feel like the only person that did not enjoy it.

        As a side note, I loved the art style of Gankutsuou.

        @ Utena, it came highly recommended and was just not to my tastes exactly. I dunno, I neither enjoyed or disliked it. Also I had watched few anime at that point. I’m looking forward to watching it again after the few series I’ve got going atm.

        @ HxH, ya I figured, was just jabbing there. I loved brotherhood as well. For me it was much superior over the original adaptation. As I’m reading your HxH posts now, I’d like to have read posts on Brotherhood while it was airing as well. Unfortunately, unfortunate.

        Personally I love HxH 1999 slow pacing, I still felt everything was absolutely worth the time given (Greed Island falters, as I’m afraid it might again within this portrayal).

        /longpost

      • Posted November 13, 2012 at 5:18 am | Permalink

        Hey, man, you’re not under any obligation to respond to me, but I’m glad you did. :)

        I think part of the problem with Greed Island (and the other Hunter x Hunter OVA) is that it was a totally different creative team working on it. I didn’t think the arc as a whole was that great, but the shift in style turned me off even more. At least here there will be consistency.

  7. Posted November 8, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Another interesting top 30. It astounds me, though, how people think the original FMA’s ending fell apart more than Brotherhood’s. At least it stuck true to its themes.

    Brotherhood’s ending felt to me like a trainwreck of last minute contrivance and cliche that leaves an unfortunate blotch on my (otherwise highly enjoyable) experience with it. The way Ed beats Pride is the single dumbest, ass-pull thing I’ve seen in a shounen. Ed’s final fist-fight with the last boss just make me laugh. Why? Because why wasn’t anybody else attacking? Simple, they were all incredibly genre savvy and knew that only the designated shounen hero could finish the last boss. Oh, and goddamn Bradley who just, wouldn’t, die. That was just absurd and frankly tiresome. Oh, and then after a whole series of espousing how no-one has to die, after fifty thousand last minute saves of peoples’ lives, they start killing people off for the noble cause, just to make it feel climactic with absolutely no regard for consistency of themes. You can’t have it both ways, Brotherhood. That’s without even going into all the silly, mishandled “God” stuff.

    Sorry, I got a little carried away there. Rant over. To clarify, I don’t think the original is better, though I would say it’s more mature. Brotherhood’s ending just severely disappointed me, and it astounds me how everyone seems to love it. I’d put the two series on par. They’re great for different reasons.

    • Posted November 8, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      I actually agree that, at their peaks, the original is more mature. I really dig the dark, weird direction the original goes in after the split, and I think the Ishval stuff is a lot more interesting in the original than Brotherhood.

  8. Posted November 8, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Honey and Clover isn’t in your top 10? WHAT KIND OF COLLEGE GRADUATE ARE YOU?!

    Jokes aside, I actually have a lot of overlaps with your list. I should really get into rewatching Eureka Seven. I first watched it when I was much, much younger, and I fell hard into the group of people turned off by the first arc that you described. Although I wasn’t exactly enthralled by my first watch, I’ll definitely give it a second chance in the near future.

    • Posted November 9, 2012 at 12:23 am | Permalink

      Haha, it was actually in my top 10 for a while until it got pushed out by other shows.

  9. matrixEXO
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    I was hoping that Hunter x Hunter (old) would be here. But I guess you didn’t manage to find a good site to download and watch the show.

    • Posted November 9, 2012 at 12:23 am | Permalink

      I’ve seen it, actually; it’s just outside my top 30 lol

  10. Posted November 9, 2012 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    Rahxephon?! Bro-fist! I thought I was the only one who didn’t think it was a poor-man’s Evangelion clone. I also like the presence of Simoun, of course.

    • Posted November 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      I also have a soft spot for RahXephon because it was one of the earlier mecha series I watched, but yeah, it’s a really good series.

  11. Posted November 9, 2012 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    Top 5! Eureka Seven I APPROVE! High five Shin, but overall impressive list ;D

  12. Lanf
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ve not watched half of these and currently watching a handful of them, which is actually somewhat shocking for me. I must watch these FOR GREAT HIPSTER POINTS.

    Utena though, I’m somewhat indifferent but leaning positive, I’m not entire sure if this is due to me marathoning all 39 in one sitting, drifting in and out of consciousness by the end, trying to tell what was symbolism and what was actually happening and then understanding what that symbolism was towards the end lost me sanity points.

    This reminds me to get back around to watching Gankutsouo, it’s amazed me from what I’ve seen, yet leaves me with no real desire to keep watching.

  13. Someone Else
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t really expect to see Kaleido star to be included in this list, made me happy

  14. Clo
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    But… how do you feel about Mushishi?

    • Posted November 9, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

      I have no opinion, because I haven’t seen it yet!

      • CLO
        Posted November 11, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink

        WELL GET ON THAT THEN KID.

      • Posted November 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        OK :(

  15. sandberm
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad Code Geass made your top 30. Lelouch vi Britannia even makes removing a contact lens look kick-ass. Thanks for the list. There’s a lot here I haven’t seen yet.

    • Posted November 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      I hope when you get around to watching stuff that you enjoy it!

  16. LelouchYagami
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I’m checking out Honey and Clover soon. Would you recommend I watch the 2nd season or not?

    • Posted November 11, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Yes. The second season is still good overall, even though the ending is too melodramatic and there are some weird elements.

  17. XXL
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Too many giant robots on here for my taste. Blech. Pretty much the only thing I agree with is Gankutsuou in number six. I also find it hilarious that Popee the Performer is in anybody’s top anime list.

    • Posted November 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Ahem, if anything, there aren’t ENOUGH giant robots on my list! My goal is to one day populate my top 30 with ALL GIANT ROBOT SHOWS!!

      Also Popee the Performer is the pinnacle of anime comedy and I will hear no different!

  18. Madu_Scientisto
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Kaiji… Oh god yes.

    Zawa…. Zawa…

    GAMBURU!
    DAGA…SHIKASHI!

    Okay, I’m done now *blush*

    • Madu_Scientisto
      Posted November 29, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      Also nice to see Monster on this list. :)

    • Posted November 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      I share your enthusiasm for Kaiji.

  19. Mecha_Yandere
    Posted December 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Hey man great list here-most of your points about these series are spot on!

    Mad props for putting Simoun up on a “best series” list-it is SORELY and TRAGICALLY under-appreciated. I agree absolutely that the wacky premise tends to turn otherwise would-be-fanboys/girls off :(. I feel that anyone with foresight and general anime enthusiasm would get hooked after a few episodes, however. Keep spreading the word-as it’s one of the best series I’ve EVER seen and I’ve seen a lot (hehe).

    *tips hat*

    • Posted December 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Thanks! I was floored by the series when I first saw it. I never expected it to reach the emotional heights it does, nor did I expect it to present the interesting world it does. I’ll sing Simoun’s praises until my throat gives out. :)

  20. Madu_Scientisto
    Posted January 19, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Started watching Utena because of it being listed here (currently on episode 13). Really loving it so far, for all the reasons you’ve listed, but also because it manages to be metaphorical and use lots of symbolism without coming off as pretentious.

  21. tf5f89
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    I should thank you; you made me aware of Giant Robo just when I was looking for a decent super robot anime. It was more than decent, and one of the series that can be accurately be described as epic.

    • Posted February 15, 2013 at 5:26 am | Permalink

      I’m happy you enjoyed it so much! Might I also suggest Shin Mazinger Z if you haven’t seen it yet? It’s cut of the same cloth, although it doesn’t look anywhere near as good as Giant Robo.

      • tf5f89
        Posted February 17, 2013 at 7:04 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I’ll totally check that out.

  22. CmdrAmarao
    Posted March 3, 2013 at 4:56 am | Permalink

    Have you seen Gunbuster? That is one seriously good super robot anime.

    • Posted March 20, 2013 at 4:18 am | Permalink

      I have in fact seen Gunbuster (and its spiritual successor, Diebuster), though it has been a while!

  23. tweekertxc
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    First of all, I have to say thank you guys for your compilation top 30. I am fairly new to anime and ya’ll have shown me a different (and better) side of it.

    I just finished Eureka Seven and figured I’d give my thoughts on it. Overall it’s a great anime. It is rather frustrating at first, but at least I went into it knowing that. I forced my way through it and what I got was a feel good, visually awesome anime with a great story. It has one of the best love stories I’ve seen in an anime without getting too corny. The plot ended up deeper than I originally expected and the fights look pretty awesome. I also liked that “show, don’t tell” feel. My biggest turn-offs to it were the crying (I hate crying kids!) and the vast amounts of blushing, but that’s about the only two things I didn’t like. I honestly like TTGL better, probably due to its sheer badassness and kickass lines (plus Kamina is my favorite anime character of all time), but E7 is still pretty awesome.

    You said before you like opinions so I figured I’d tell people my 2-cents. I plan on checking out Shin Mazinger Z, Giant Robo, or RahXephon next. Thanks for the great list, sorry for the long post.

    P.S. Giant Robots are awesome!

    • Posted March 20, 2013 at 4:29 am | Permalink

      Awesome, glad I could help! Only too happy to help people find shows to love. :)

      Ah, interesting that you bring up the “show, don’t tell” nature of Eureka Seven! That’s definitely a hallmark of RahXephon, as well; almost to a fault, if you ask many! Eureka Seven is probably a bit better at letting the details develop at a pace where the viewer can keep up, whereas RahXephon is all about showing the details in plain sight before you have the context to know what they mean. It really shocked me how much it lays out in the forefront when I watched it a second and third time! Whenever you end up watching that, I hope you dig it.

      I’d be lying if I said all the crying in E7 didn’t annoy me a bit, too, haha. E7 really does push it a bit by making many of the characters deliberately abrasive in the beginning. It does some interesting things with that, but it’s obviously a risk since it turns plenty of folks off.

      But, yeah, always happy to hear opinions, positive or negative! Feel free to share your thoughts here; I read every comment that comes through, and I try to reply when I have time! :)

  24. Posted April 23, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I was just mulling over this list when I read your segment on Popee The Performer and I suddenly “got it”, I love it when that happens, like when you’re eating a lump of poo so you hold your nose so that you don’t taste it, but then when you swallow it and you notice the aftertaste you realise it was chocolate fudge cake all along! Popee is such a great show.

  25. gedata
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    I started watching Kaleido Star on your recommendation, I’m glad I did, it makes me want to work harder at life, and it makes me happy too, it did that all in six episodes. I’m getting along fine with this series.

  26. Di-Dorval
    Posted October 11, 2013 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    My favorite list on this site.

    I’m glad Mazinger Z is on it. The thing was pretty amazing. Didnt knew that the same guy made Giant Robo. Ill watch it then.

    And I see Popee poping a lot on other blogs.. Watched a few and didnt find it really amazing.. might give it another try one day..

    • Di-Dorval
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 4:40 am | Permalink

      Ended up watching Rahxephon. It was good enough until the ending. So it was just a love story after all? mehh. Yea everything makes sense when you think about it but without smart symbolism everything feels pointless. I prefer the slap in the face ”we don’t care about our story we ran out of money so heres what it was about” ending of NGE to this.

      Also saw giant robo, the whole thing was pretty amazing, liked the simple ironic twist at the end.

      Still don’t like Popee. I appreciate what it tries to do but I just don’t find it funny enough to justify continuing.

  27. Wodes
    Posted October 26, 2013 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    Finally got around to watching Utena, and I have good feelings about it but I don’t think I understood any of it. The first arc had really good world building, the second arc was meh and the final arc I couldn’t concentrate on anything other than Akio’s body. Definitely one that should appreciate on a re-watch.

  28. Posted December 8, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for including Giant Robo. It gets far less credit than it deserves.

  29. Magicmew
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Why are there so many eyes?

  30. Lupin
    Posted July 1, 2014 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    Utena is your number 1?
    An anime being crazy and different could very much qualify it for a No.1, assuming it’s still good enough. like ‘Sexy commando’ in my case.
    But seriously, Utena? I didn’t see many bad shows, but Utena is on of those that doesn’t qualify for any ‘top Anime’ list.
    Even shoujo.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted July 1, 2014 at 5:44 am | Permalink

      Any particular reason you feel this way?

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