My Top Ten Anime of All Time

To celebrate my 900th blog post, I decided to make my top ten anime of all time lists. When coming up with the top ten I focused on series that had the most impact on me. At the same time I also choose anime that can and have stood the test of time (even from an animation stand point), and I would recommend to anyone. I don’t think any of these series are going to be surprise anyone, as most are mainstream to an anime audience.

[Note] One Piece, Naruto and Bleach aren’t on the lists because I prefer(ed) the manga.


10. Dragon Ball Z

If this was a list of the series that I was the most nostalgic about Dragon Ball Z would be number one. Most of my childhood was centered on DBZ . The Cartoon Network would torture me by repeating the same arc’s over and over again. I must have watched the Radditz arc at least 50 times before they moved on to the saiyan arc. The series has come to define anime for many anime fans and non-anime fans. It’s hands down one of, if not the most popular anime series of all-time. Dragon Ball Z has been often mocked for it’s constant screaming and it’s “inaction sequences.” My mother would often comment “did they start fighting yet” as she would walk past the t.v. Despite it’s iconic status, DBZ as a series had a lot of problems. This is mostly due to running up against the manga. DBZ had many bad fillers, dragged out fights and at one point took ten episodes for planet Namek to explode. Even with this, the series had some of the most epic fights and has clearly left a mark on anime in general. Dragon Ball Z still remains an anime series that I consider a must see.


9. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

A mecha anime series by Gainax, Gurren Lagann focuses on mankind’s rise from a subterranean existence to the galactic exploration. Taking place in a future where Earth is ruled by the Spiral King, Lordgenome, a young digger named Simon and his “brother” Kamina dream of reaching the surface. As they and Team Gurren make their way to the skies, they engage in epic, over the top mecha battles. Gurren Lagann features high quality animation, surprising deaths, fanservice, theme music power ups and cool mecha designs. Gurren Lagann resulted in another anime classic for Gainax.


8. Made in Abyss

My favorite anime genre tends to be shonen, but Made in Abyss made me appreciate the seinen genre more. Made in Abyss plays with expectation, if you think the adorable characters are going to have a fun adventure, you are wrong. While only having one season under it’s belt, Made in Abyss had a profound impact on me. Exciting, ruthless, filled with body horror, tear jerking moments and has a intriguing mystery to discover. Made in Abyss is not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth the emotional scarring.


7. Hunter X Hunter

For some reason I kept avoiding Hunter X Hunter. After running into a little bit of an anime drought, I decided to give the series a try. I wasn’t disappointed. On the surface Hunter X Hunter feels like a typical shonen series, but it’s more than that. Gon Freecss, the main protagonists, is a prime example of the undermining of shonen tropes this series does. I loved it’s complicated power system (Nen), character development, action and the uses of a narrator. Narration seemed unnecessary at first but I think it is an amazing addition to the series that adds to it.


6. Mob Psycho 100

An anime from web-comic creator ONE, Mob Psycho 100, is about a 14 year old boy named Shigeo Kageyama. He aims to be ordinary despite the fact that he’s extraordinary with telekinesis. He is a complicated young man struggling with his emotions and fear of his power harming others. Mob Psycho 100 main moral lesson is that despite having an extraordinary abilities you still need work to improve yourself as a human. Mob in particular embodies this theme. Despite his psychic powers he doesn’t think he’s better than anyone. That said, Mob Psycho 100 is still a shonen series with fluid animation, bright colors, humor, funny characters and epic battles.


5. One Punch Man

The creator of Mob Psycho 100 is also the creator of One Punch Man. The title is to be taken literally, as the main protagonist, Saitama is capable of defeating most monsters with one punch. One Punch Man is a parody of the shonen superhero series. It makes fun of the over the top and somewhat silly nature of the typical shonen anime, that results in the main character always defeating the bad guy. It’s surprising how satisfying you find Saitama’s one hit victories. The series does have interesting action, usually it’s other less powerful characters are doing the fighting though. Despite this the series does manage to keep us wondering, which monster can make Saitama hit it more than once. The first season is considered perfect, the second one, not so much. Still, One Punch Man remains an important series for anime fans to watch.


4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

The story of the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse is a sad, tragic tale. Born into a world that practices alchemy, the brothers arrogance leads them to believe that they can break one of the most important rules of alchemy. Trying to resurrect their mother, Ed loses his right arm and left leg and his brother loses his entire body. The brothers go in search of the “philosopher stone,” so they can transmute without consequences. While maintaining a sense of humor, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, is full of themes like sacrifice, death, selfishness, what is truth, and the value of life. If you want to watch an anime series that balances dark themes, comedy and great action, FMA is it.


3. Attack on Titan

If you read this far it’s clear that I love anime series that manage to successfully combine dark, mature themes with great action and top animation. Attack on Titan is a series that lives up to those standards. What separates Attack on Titan from typical series is the level of dreariness. While the main characters are largely safe, you’ll never certain. Secondary characters and any other character are fair game. With characters that are constantly underdogs, failure is the most likely outcome. Often in anime you feel that everything will be fine, in Attack on Titan your surprised that half the squad is still alive. Attack on Titan has mystery, what are titans (weird giant humanoids) and why do they eat humans? Conspiracies, what is the government doing? As they fight for human survival, the scouts deal with trauma, lost and death.


2. Cowboy Bebop

For many Cowboy Bebop is the greatest anime ever. Considered to be a masterpiece, Shinichiro Watanabe blends elements of westerns with elements of film noir. The classic anime series Lupin the third was a visual influence and the three main characters of Cowboy Bebop are inspired by Lupin, Jigen and Fujiko from Lupin. The overall story is influence by Japanese cinema. Cowboy Bebop also uses a jazz heavy soundtrack that is iconic on it’s own, marking a major departure from the common use of J Pop. Cowboy Bebop focuses on mature themes like loneliness and difficulties escaping the past, it’s well animated, well (voice) acted and generally entertaining. Cowboy Bebop is considered a “gateway series” for anime, and I couldn’t agree more.


1. Neon Genesis Evangelion

When I first began watching Neon Genesis Evangelion it was for the epic and violent mecha battles. I couldn’t comprehend the more complex themes and imagery woven into the narrative. Evangelion is credited with revolutionizing anime as a medium. Set in the year 2000, a global cataclysm called the “Second Impact,” changes the world. Antarctica is destroyed and the planet’s axis shifts, causing flooding and a altered climate. After nuclear war, half the worlds population is wiped out. Teenagers, Shinji Ikari, Asuka Langley Soryu and Rei Ayanami pilot massive mecha called Eva’s. Their enemy are physic altering monsters dubbed Angels.

Evangelion explores complex themes like depression, human subjectivity, and child abuse. The series makes many references to philosophical, psychoanalytic concepts, as well as references to Kabbalah, Christian and Jewish religions. Evangelion even uses religious texts like the Book of Genesis within the series and the Angels share names found in religion like Sachiel. The series has been described as both a ” both a critique and deconstruction of the mecha genre.” On the surface, Neon Genesis Evangelion, is a mecha anime with distinctly designed robots that engage in brutal battles. However, the series has levels of deeper and more sophisticated themes that makes Evangelion one of the most well regarded series ever.

Advertisements

Attack On Titan Season 3, Episode 22: Recap & Review

Queen Historia

Episode 59, Beyond the Walls

The tone of this season finale left me with a somber feeling. It wasn’t that there weren’t any happy moments, but they were always tempered by a realization that left the characters sadden. This is typical for Attack on Titan. I didn’t expect for any more revelation in this episode and we didn’t really get it. This isn’t a complaint, just an observation. Regardless, I think it was a perfect ending to the season. During the Paradis government meeting. Historia decides that the people are to be informed the truth regarding the Titans and what’s beyond the walls. Unsurprisingly, some believe the story others not so much.

Floch telling Armin why he choose Erwin

Regardless of whether they believe the story, at least the people know. Hitch arrives at the ceremony to honor the fallen solders, Floch tells her that Marlo was a hero. Most importantly he raises the question that Erwin should have been chosen over Armin. It’s an odd that Floch feels it’s necessary to make sure Armin knows that he basically wanted him to die. It’s going to be awkward regardless but Floch went too far in my opinion. When Historia touches Eren hand he has a flashback of Fritz memory. After the attack on Trost District and the refugees are returned Wall Maria.

Eren seeing Grisha’s memories

The Scout’s finally get to see the wall where Grisha was transformed into a Titan. They finally get to see the ocean. This was a happy moment, as the Scouts played in the ocean. Everyone was having a good time until Eren became a buzzkill, reminding them that they won’t have any freedom until they kill all their enemies overseas. As I stated, I think this was a perfect ending. While, the joy was brief, they did get a moment of it. With Eren reminding the Scouts and us that trouble still remains. Overall, this season departed from what the previous one did. This was for the better I think. We got to see other characters (mainly Levi) become more 3 dimensional.

The Scouts frolicking in the ocean

Eren and his friends to a backseat. At the same the world of Attack on Titan got a major expansion. The amount of new details could be overwhelming but I think was necessary. While, I’m sure Titan fights won’t end, I think we now will see them as victims more than perpetrators. As forced weapons, resulting from the bigotry of “humans.” This doesn’t make them less dangerous, but it does make killing sadder. It seemed like when Eren accepted that he wasn’t alone and part of a larger group he was going to happier. However, realizing that “freedom” isn’t close has resulted in him becoming more dreary than before. As always, I look forward to the next season in 2020.

Attack On Titan Season 3, Episode 21: Recap & Review

Episode 58, Attack Titan

The Owl’s real name is Eren Kruger. Grisha question Eren on why he refused to transform sooner. As Eren collapses he confesses to “cutting off the fingers and turning thousands of subjects of Ymir into Titans.” He believed that this would help Eldia. He gives Grisha a mission to get the founding Titan’s power. He tells Grisha that he will “inherit” his Titan and the reason he can’t do it himself is that those “who inherit one of the Nine Titans dies thirteen years later.” This is called “Ymir’s curse,” meaning that Armin has thirteen years to live and Eren has less than eight.

Mikasa believes that this must be a lie, although she may be in doubt. Eren states that if a bearer dies without being eaten a baby will be born with the ability. Eren explains that all subjects of Ymir are connected by the Coordinate (Founding Titan). Grisha cowards in front of the new mission he’s expected to undertake. He’s feels too much guilt. Regardless, Eren is able to convince him to take up the mission. He reveals that each Titan has a name, and his Titan is called the Attack Titan. Levi and Hange arrive and release Eren and Mikasa. They are heading to meet Queen Historia.

Historia is reading the letter the Ymir wrote to her. In the letter Ymir suggest that she will be killed and that she wanted to marry Historia. When she touches the letter she sees what looks like Ymir’s entire life. The Scouts explain what happened at the Wall so the rest of the government are up to speed. Hange explains that while Eren has inherited the Founding Titan’s power he can’t use it because he’s not of royal blood. However, a royal descendant that inherits the Founding Titan wouldn’t be possessed by the King’s will preventing from acting against the world.

Eren realizes that he was able to use the power of the Founding Titan because he was touching Dina. He’s unsure what would happen to Historia if he revealed this as a possible reason. In the flashback, Eren tells Grisha he needs to “love” someone, otherwise “history will repeat itself.” He then says something strange. He tells Grisha if he ” wants to save Mikasa, Armin, and everyone else,” he must complete his mission. Grisha is unaware who he’s talking about. Eren seems to be unaware who’s memory he was tapping into. I’ll admit this part was so confusing or shocking that I though it might be a translation error.

We know that Grisha became a father figure to Mikasa after he parents death, did he assume that he had to protect her? What we also know is that memories can be past “along” the “path.” It was never stated that these memories could it only go from the past to the current Titan holder. What if it could go from the current to the past as well. Of course this is just a guess and it would be confusing if it worked that way. Regardless, the depth of storytelling and newly introduced mythos makes this series even more entertaining. The final episode will likely be a setup for the next season, but with Attack on Titan you just never know.

Attack On Titan Season 3, Episode 19 & 20 Recap & Review

The photo

Episode 56, The Basement

Armin awakens after having a nightmare of a crying Colossal Titan. He has no memory of what happened before. With only eight members of the Survey Corps remaining they explain what happened to Armin. Realizing that his life came at the expense of Erwin’s, Armin is devastated and doesn’t believe he sure have been chosen. Hange, Levi, Eren and Mikasa are left to investigate the basement. Eren, Levi and the others discovers a family photo of a man standing next to a women.

On the back of the photo is an explanation of what a photo is. In post credits, Eren starts reading Grisha’s book, which begins with Grisha recounting his tragic childhood. This episode largely is closing the last arc and opening the next one. As a result this episode wasn’t really that interesting. However, it has set up the next one.


Gross lying about what happened to Fay

Episode 57, That Day

We get the story that Grisha wrote in his book. A young Grisha drags his sister outside of the “Liberio Internment Zone.” They wanted to see the airship. They are caught by two guards, Kruger and Gross. As punishment, Grisha is offered a beating or hard labor. He chooses a beating for both his sister and himself. While taking his beating, Gross offers to take his sister, Fay home. However, she never makes it. Her corpse is found in the river. Grisha and his mother are devastated, but his father seems unmoved.

What really happened to Fay

Grisha begins to hate his father for his cowardly behavior. His father tells him the long history of the “Eldians and the Marley nation.” As Grisha grows older he’s told how his sister was killed by Gross (fled to dogs) and joins the Eldian Restorationists. The group was supported by an informant named “Owl.” Grisha marries Dina Fritz, the last member of the Eldian royal family. Together they have a child, Zeke(the Beast Titan). Attempting to raise Zeke as an infiltrator, however, he betray’s them to the authorities.

Zeke learning the history of Eldian

Captured, the resistance are tortured for information about the Owl. They are then taken to the perimeter wall to be forced into becoming mindless Titans. Both Kruger and Gross are present. Gross then turns Dina into the Titan that would later eat Eren’s mother. Gross proves to be an heartless monster, before getting what he deserves. It turns out that Kruger is “Owl,” and he’s also a Titan. He pushes Gross over the wall, leaving him to be eaten by a titan. His transformation appears to be similar to that of Eren’s, as he attacks the other members of the security squad.

Dina in Titan form

There’s a lot to digest in this episode. If you believe what the Marleyans do the Eldians were humans that could transform into Titan’s and used this power for world domination and oppression of other people. Or, according to the Eldians, they only wanted to give everyone to live peacefully in prosperity. Considering that this is Attack on Titan, I highly doubt that either side is really telling the whole truth. For Zeke to betray his parents as a child, would suggest that he believed the Eldians were wrong. The were also so many surprising reveals this episode.

The “Owl” pushes Gross

I thought Zeke had some relation to Eren in the previous episodes, I never predicted that they were brothers. Weirdly, Zeke does appear to be enacting the mission he turned his parents in for. I wonder what changed his mind? Another thing that’s interesting is that Eren and everyone living on that island didn’t know that they were Eldian’s. With only two episode remaining for this season I’m not sure what will get answered but I’m very excited for what happens next.

Kruger in Titan form

Attack On Titan Season 3, Episode 18 Recap & Review

Eren and Zeke meet

Episode 55, Midnight Sun

After last weeks action packed episode you would think that this one would get the blood pumping. It’s episodes like these that make Attack on Titan standout to me. The world of this series is dark and occasionally I forget how dire of an situation the scouts are in. This episode reminds us what’s at stake, humanity. I predicted the outcome of this episode in my previous review of episode 54. What I couldn’t predict is how we would get there. It was a heart wrenching conclusion.

Eren seems to accept that Armin has meet his death early in the episode. Zeke (The Beast Titan) arrives on the back of the Cart Titan, and recognizes Eren as the son of Grisha Jaeger. He claims that Eren “was brainwashed” by his father. Before he can elaborate he flees when Levi arrives. When he does he tells Eren that he will “save” him on day. My best hunch is that Zeke is related to both Eren and Grisha in some way. Levi lands and demands Eren give him his gear, then Armin gasp for air.

Armin eats Bertholdt

Meanwhile, Hange and the others try to no avail to interrogate Reiner. When Hange tries to cut the throat of Reiner, Jean tells her that because it’s “possible they might be able to steal his power.” Hange agrees and sends Mikasa to get the Titan injection. Of course when Mikasa arrives she sees Armin’s charred body. Eren quickly asks for the Titan injection to give Armin. Just as he does, Floch arrives with Erwin on his back. Erwin is still alive but barely, creating a conflict that was obvious but unexpected.

Erwin dies

Understandably, Mikasa and Eren are obviously on Armin’s “side,” whereas Levi and Floch are on Erwin’s. What follows is a tense exchange where both side argue which of the two have done more for humanity and which one would do more in the future. Erwin clearly has done more for humanity in part due to his age. This of course also work against him when taking about the future. Armin is much younger so he couldn’t have done more that Erwin, but he can do more in the future. Regardless, Armin is the one that’s saved. Armin in Titan form grabs Bertholdt and consumes him becoming the Colossal Titan, while Erwin dies.

It will be interesting to see how Armin handles his new power. He’s not a fighter like Eren stated, but then again you really can’t fight with the Colossal Titan the way you can with other Titan forms. Also, will there be any lingering animosity in the scouts or is everything fine now that Armin was saved. The scouts as always have lost a lot, but they gained a new intelligent titan, maybe the most intelligent.

Armin lives