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.

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First Impressions – The Promised Neverland 001

Emma center during the happier times

The Promised Neverland (Yakusoku no Neverland) is a series that starts off happy and endearing, but quickly becomes heartbreaking and horrific. The fact that the anime involves children makes it even worst. Emma (a happy and energetic girl) awakens, she then wakes her “siblings,” and gets them ready for breakfast. We meet Norman and Ray as well. We are also introduced to the seemingly kind caretaker, “mom” (Isabella) as engages the children in prayer.

Numbered tattoo on the neck

The first thing you’ll notice is that the children have (what I’m assuming is tattoo’s or at least permanent ink) large numbers on there necks. It’s not made clear what the numbers are actually representing. The children are also subjected to testing, that requires the children to answer questions in 9 seconds. Regardless, Norman, Ray and Emma scored perfectly on them. Don seemingly jealous of Norman challenges him to a game of tag. The game seems to take on a significant importance in this series. The children even compare not getting caught to “surviving.” I might be reading too much into that though.

The clock motif was prominent in this episode

The game of tag is considered to be more complicated than just chasing after each other. Ray states that it’s “chess with your whole body.” Don challenges Norman again, this time he’s it. Everyone runs in search of Norman, Emma finds him at a short blue fence. Clearly curious as to why they were warned not to go “near” the fence, Emma considers touching it. She’s stopped by Ray. He’s skeptical of the “dangers” of the fence, calling it a “obvious lie.” Emma seems to believe anything Mom tells her, but Ray doesn’t.

The adorable Conny and her bunny

The siblings discuss why they haven’t received letters from the children that were adopted. The conversation is hopeful, with the children discussing what they wish to see when they “go outside.” Interestingly, Emma claims that she doesn’t want to leave at all. Conny says her farewell, but leaves her bunny behind. Emma and Norman run to return the bunny. The tension at this point in the episode increases dramatically. I spoiled myself on what happens hear, but wasn’t sure that they would show Conny’s body. They did, instead of being horrified though I was sad. She was so happy to be “adopted,” and adorable too.

Conny murdered

The animation at this point also becomes more dynamic. The camera zooms in on the faces of Emma and Norman as they discover the “monsters” and ease drop on them. The monster states that he wants the “top three” next. Emma and Norman leave Ray in the dark, they plan on rescuing all the children together. I really enjoyed this episode more that I anticipated. I would image that if I didn’t know the ending of this episode it would have more of an impact.

Are the aliens or monster?

The Promised Neverland series reminds me of Made in Abyss. Both feature orphan children yes, but it’s the contrast between the innocent children and the horrible environments they’re trapped in that connect the two the most. The adults aren’t doing what’s expected, which is protecting and tacking care of them. In fact they are neglectful at best. This results in the children having to grow up and take care of themselves. Would this series be similar to Made in Abyss I don’t know, but I loved what I’ve seen.

Mom looking menacing

The Salty Anime Challenge Day 21: An anime that you thought you’d hate (due to genre/tropes), but actually love.

The anime/manga genre that appeals to me the most is Shonen. So I was surprised that I loved Made in Abyss. On the surface Abyss looks like it’s going to be for kids, with it’s chibi like characters and bright color pallets. Abyss, a Seinen series is for my age group mind you but I generally don’t like the genre. What initial drew me to the series was what always draws me to a series is the high quality animation.

Made in Abyss is an impressive series that subvert the expectations of the viewer. The adults take a backseat to the children and cute bunny like characters. The background environment are often colorful, with bright sunlight even as they travel deeper in the abyss. This anime is a full on display of body horror. The effects of abyss on the human body and mind are brutal, “evisceration, hemorrhaging, swelling, parasitism.” Not to mention the abuse that adults inflicts on these children.

It also tugs at the heartstrings. I haven’t seen many anime that is as balanced as this one, while fighting isn’t it primary purpose, it has good action. The story is incredibly intriguing, the feeling you get from the characters is enthralling. It might be too dark for some, but I find that to be the reason I enjoy it.

Made in Abyss Season 1, Episode 13 Review

Bondrewd dark plan

Nanachi remembers her childhood when she meets the white whistle Bondrewd and he offers the orphans an opportunity to explore the Abyss. He sends the orphans to the fifth layer of the Abyss, the Sea of Corpses as it’s referred to. While being transported down below, Nanachi meets Mitty and they become partners. Both were outcast due to Nanachi being a smelly and dirty child and Mitty being “an idiot,” or simply excitable.

Bondrewd experiments

It was always implied that Bondrewd was an evil character considering what Ozen had previously stated regarding the other explorers. It is revealed that Bondrewd wasn’t interested into becoming a surrogate father to the orphans and instead intended to use them as experiments. Specifically, he wanted to test the effects of the Curse of the Abyss. Bondrewd sends the orphans down an elevator to the sixth layer. At this point viewers already know what’s going to happen, however, it’s still terrible to watch the inevitable.

Mitty and Nanachi

The transformation was horrible to witness as Mitty was being painfully ripped apart begging for death. This of course explains why Nanachi requested Reg kill Mitty for her. Mitty existence is a miserable one, an nearly immortal mass of flesh capable of experiencing pain. Reg unsurprisingly is hesitant ending Mitty suffering. However, he’s convinced by Nanachi that Mitty’s life isn’t worth living. He finally gives in, killing Mitty with his incinerator while teary eyed.

Riko awakens

Riko awakens without movement in her left hand. Riko quickly bonds with Nanachi and teaches her how to cook delicious food. Despite the traumatic first half of, Made in Abyss, the second was more comical. Riko, Reg and Nanachi have all overcome so much trauma. The three manage to work well together playing of each other. The second part of this episode is a stark departure from early, representing what makes this series so enjoyable. Made in Abyss does take great effort in examining the effects of harsh environments and now terrible explorers but does counter with happier moments.

Riko and Reg invite Nanachi to join them, they send a message to the surface. Finally, we see that Bondrewd is able to track the victims of his experiment through their energy signature. He states that he is eager to meet Nanachi again. Overall, this season and series has impressed me. I haven’t seen a series that manages to blend the innocence of children with the horrors of the environments so well, everything from the tone of the series to the art style creates a contrasting world and a endearing series.

 

Made in Abyss Season 1, Episode 11 Review

Getting to know Nanachi

As the title suggests we primarily focus on Nanachi in this episode. The episode strikes a lighter tone, relative to the previous one, however, the gruesome elements still remains. We see some remnants of Nanachi’s past, Nanachi appears to have work for, Bondrewd the Novel. We are also introduced to Mitty, a human the was transformed by the curse of the Sixth Layer. Mitty, unlike Nanachi wasn’t transformed into a cute rabbit creature, but into a tragic grotesque, hairy, one eyed flesh creature. Mitty has lost all her intelligence and is largely limited to making various moans and sounds. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for what Mitty has become, while at the same time feel repulsed by her appearance.

Nanachi saves Riko

Nanachi gives Reg a list of ingredient to help save Riko. Made in Abyss continues with it’s weirdly invasive interest into the bodies of the prepubescent characters, while largely non-sexually it’s seems to be a consistent theme in this series. In this episode, this focus is on Riko, instead of Reg, as Nanachi inserts a suppository into Riko’s rectum and constantly mentioning the fact that Riko urinated blood through her clothing and having Reg wash them. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but necessary to add to this series harrowing environment.

Reg’ memories

While washing Riko’s clothing, Reg has a flashback to a past memory. He hears a voice and remembers that he was once in present at a grave-site, marked by Lyza’s Blaze Reap. This scene adds to the future intrigue of the series, who created Reg and what’s his connection to Lyza? Clearly, Reg will get more of his memories as the series continues, creating anticipation for what they will reveal. Overall, the series continues to expand the it’s world, while reminding the audience that more dangers await.