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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Anime Top 10:

The ten greatest anime of all time, in my opinion, should be rated thusly:

1.   Clannad.
2.   One Piece.
3.   Code Geass.
4.   Naruto.
5.   Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
6.   K-On!
7.   Dragonball Kai
8.   Haruhi Suzimiya
9.   Maho Shojo Lyrical Nanoha
10. Crest of the Stars

When judging anime, I am looking for certain factors.  Length, emotional impact, replay value, memorable characters/quotes/scenes, aesthetic appeal, moral goodness and seriousness.  If an anime is extremely short, it doesn't matter how good it is because it will always have a far smaller yield of total utility than a longer series that provides more total entertainment.  This is why movies like Kiki's Delivery Service need not apply to this type of competition.

A fascinating aspect to this competition -- most of these series aren't done yet.  Clannad is probably done, but then it could also not be done.  (For instance, what about a Clannad After Story blu-ray box set?  What about Tomoyo After Story being included as a bonus in said set?).  One Piece isn't nearly finished.  Code Geass is still spawning spin-offs.  Naruto isn't done yet.  Higurashi is done.  K-On! will end this September (sigh.)  Dragonball Kai will take at least another year.  Haruhi is still ongoing -- surely more of the popular light novel series will be animated sooner or later.  There are plenty of hints that the Nanoha anime will continue sooner or later.  Crest of the Stars may be done, but then the author still says the story isn't over yet, so maybe some day the anime will also continue.  So that means out of the ten series, only one is definitely finished!  If we also consider that any of these anime series are better than all of the ancient 'classics,' what we have is a world in the midst of its greatest artistic renaissance of all time.  This is extremely exciting.  The obvious implication is that the best anime isn't behind us, it's still to come.

If all the best anime of all time is still in production, this means anime has not yet reached the limit of its potential -- it continues to surpass itself every year.  This has been made much easier by HD TVs, computer graphics, wide screens, blu-ray discs and players, graphic design computer programs, etc.  The artistic quality has been ramped up dramatically from the bad old days of, say, Disney movies.  But that isn't all.  You can also watch the evolution of a new morality, a new ideal, a new philosophy, growing out of the more recent anime.  Code Geass, Nanoha, Haruhi, Higurashi, all of these stories have a lot to say about right and wrong, and everything they say is so much more sophisticated, nuanced, empathetic, and wiser than anything anime said in the past.  These stories aren't just better looking, they were made by better thinkers and are geared towards a higher thinking audience.  Since many artists draw their inspiration from the artists around them, the anime they produce will be a sort of whimsical dialogue between all the various greats.  The author of Naruto openly admits he was inspired by Dragon Ball, and so on.  What if there are aspiring manga artists today who learned their lessons from all of these masters and synthesize their own new gimmick alongside everything they've learned?  This type of virtuous spiral is statistically proven in Murray's Human Accomplishment as an explanation for why human accomplishment seems to come in clustered bursts in space and time.  But in our instant communication, globalized world, one has to imagine that the effect is much stronger now than it was in the past.

This is a golden age.  The most peaceful era in human history, the richest, the longest-lived, the most artistic, the most scientific, the best ever.  The far right needs to wake up.  Their derision of the present doesn't lessen the value of the age, only the value of their judgment.

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