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Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Top 100 Anime:

The long-awaited post has finally arrived! I'm going to stick my neck out and list the top 100 anime series in their proper order. There are many caveats that must be stated before I post the results, though. First, these are only from series I've watched. If a good series I haven't watched yet exists, I can't rate it until after I've seen it for myself to judge, after all. Second, some of these series are still in production, which means their relative ranks can still shift up or down, depending on where the series goes from where it is. Third, I haven't fully watched some of the series I'm ranking, which means their ranking might not be precise. Specifically, I haven't watched all of Pretty Cure, Diebuster (Gunbuster 2), or To Heart 2, even though I'm including them in my top 100 rankings.

These provisos don't matter much, though, because I can always write another post correcting my errors of judgment in this one, once I've gathered more data. (IE, watched more good anime.) Furthermore, the summer season of anime is beginning soon, which means if I want to give these top 100 anime a time to shine, it has to be now, before they're displaced by summer newcomers. I don't intend to expand my list of top 100 anime to top 110 anime until I've seen 330 anime, which will keep to my rule of only including the top 1/3 of whatever I've seen in the rankings. Currently, I've only watched, in whole or in part, 288 series/movies. (As you can see, 288 series/movies rounds to a top 100 list, not a top 90 list, because 300 is closer to 288 than 270. I'm following my rule!) So the summer anime season, instead of expanding my anime list to 110, will more likely just displace current entries in my well-deserving top 100 list. To preempt that, I should go ahead and post my results while the spring season is still ongoing, right?

The ranking criteria is simple but deep. I ask myself, "What would I have rather watched? The entirety of this series, or the entirety of this other series, or the entirety of this movie?" as the case may be. If I find that I'd rather have watched a single movie of one story over a 300 episode series, then I rank the movie ahead of the 300 episode series. If I find that the 300 episode series together is more valuable than the short length movie, I'll rank the 300 episode series higher.

This also creates quality/quantity clashes. If I find that the impact of one story, its incisiveness or originality or beauty, is extremely high, then it can beat other series no matter how long they get. Even if every episode of the lower ranking, longer series is good, it won't move them up in the rankings, because it can't surpass that special ingredient their betters had. More of the same generally doesn't improve your ranking, it just keeps you where you were ranked in the first place. Only something better than normal, some original brilliant plot development, can improve your rank to better than you were in the past. This isn't to say that a long series isn't improved by having more entertaining episodes along the same lines, it's just that this increase in value won't be reflected by my rankings, because quality trumps quantity. The reason long series tend to be better isn't their length per se, but simply the number of chances they have to impress me with some brilliant unique scene. A series that is full of hits and misses, if long enough, can create more 'hits' than a series of pure 'hits' of shorter length. This is the advantage of length.

I hope that clears up the system I am ranking my series along for this all important first ever top 100 anime ranking. Be advised that by putting these series in my ranking, I am also saying that anyone of good sense should watch all 100 of these series (most sensibly, in the order listed!), because all of them are good enough to merit watching. I wouldn't rank something I considered too bad to watch. I guarantee the quality of all 100 of these titles. So without further ado, here it goes:

1. Clannad
2. One Piece
3. Code Geass
4. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha
5. Seikai no Monshou/Senki/Danshou
6. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
7. K-On!
8. Naruto
9. Dragonball
10. Haruhi Suzumiya
11. Kanon
12. Pretty Cure
13. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
14. Fairy Tail
15. To Aru Majutsu no Index/Kagaku no Railgun
16. Katanagatari
17. Angel Beats
18. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
19. Da Capo
20. Kobato
21. Vandread
22. Full Metal Panic!
23. Working!
24. Toradora!
25. Record of Lodoss War
26. Bakuman
27. The World God Only Knows
28. Sora no Woto
29. Cowboy Bebop
30. Ef
31. Hayate no Gotoku
32. Inuyasha
33. Evangelion
34. Basilisk
35. Kiki's Delivery Service
36. Galaxy Angel
37. Saki
38. Uuchuu no Stellvia
39. Ranma 1/2
40. Samurai Champloo
41. Major
42. Air
43. Sailor Moon
44. Rurouni Kenshin
45. Prince of Tennis
46. Hanasaku Iroha
47. Ore no Immouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai
48. 12 Kingdoms
49. Utawarerumono
50. Kimi ni Todoke
51. Mononoke Hime
52. Summer Wars
53. Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu
54. Battle Athletes
55. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai
56. Zero no Tsukaima
57. Berserk
58. Claymore
59. Bastard!
60. Amagami SS
61. Valkyria Chronicles
62. Akaneiro no Somaru Saka
63. Negima! Magister Magi Negi
64. Macross Plus
65. Read or Die
66. Angelic Layer
67. Mahoromatic
68. Sora no Otoshimono
69. Bleach
70. Card Captor Sakura
71. Martian Successor Nadesico
72. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
73. Break Blade
74. Spice and Wolf
75. Alien Nine
76. Fatal Fury
77. Bakemonogatari
78. Iria: Zeiram the Animation
79. Guyver
80. Sora no Manimani
81. Saber Marionette
82. Shakugan no Shana
83. Gosick
84. Macross Frontier
85. Scrapped Princess
86. Lucky Star
87. Hunter x Hunter
88. Spirited Away
89. Grave of the Fireflies
90. Azumanga Daioh
91. Kanokon
92. To Heart
93. Ninja Scroll
94. High School of the Dead
95. Gunbuster
96. RG Veda
97. Shamanic Princess
98. Akira
99. Moshidora
100. Soul Eater

Intellectual Properties among the top 100 I know will have more episodes/movies released in the future:

One Piece
Code Geass
Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
Pretty Cure
Fairy Tail
The World God Only Knows
Hayate no Gotoku
Rurouni Kenshin
Prince of Tennis
Hanasaku Iroha
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu
Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai
Valkyria Chronicles
Negima! Magister Magi Negi
Sora no Otoshimono
Break Blade
Shakugan no Shana

As you can see, a full 1/4 of the top 100 anime series are being worked on as we speak. Many others will probably see some sort of sequel in the future, when the stars align, simply because they're too good intellectual properties to leave unused forever. For instance, it would be really strange if they didn't make a third Evangelion movie like Gainax has planned, but until they announce some sort of release date or update on their progress, I can't list Evangelion as an ongoing series. As a result, this ranking is only true at this very second. As the ongoing shows continuously update themselves, the rankings will have to be updated accordingly.

What's more exciting than how often I'll have to update my rankings is just the fact that so many good series are still in production. With these 25 series still ongoing, any anime fan can rest easy at heart, because there's so much to look forward to in the days and years ahead.

There are three series I haven't mentioned before in my rankings: Akira, Moshidora, and Soul Eater. Akira is the famous movie that came out in the 1980's. Since it had a dark, confusing and unpleasant theme full of ugly characters, I didn't feel it was worth ranking as highly as most people. But I will admit it was a trailblazer and had amazing art alongside gripping action sequences. For that, and its popularity and fame, I will allow it into the top 100. Moshidora only recently came out, an interesting extended metaphor of Peter Drucker's book, Management, in the form of a baseball team trying to reach the High School Nationals Tournament. Since it taught me about a very cool thinker, Peter Drucker, and had a good plot with good characters, it squeaks in at 99th place, even though it was only ten episodes long. Soul Eater comes in at 100th on the dot, because it has a lot of virtues and a lot of flaws. The virtues are original character designs, good art, good fighting scenes and good music. The vices are a bad plot, the filler second season that doesn't follow the manga, and the complete lack of anything important to say on any subject. It feels like the story actively tries to avoid relevancy on any moral issue. Even so, it's not like artists are obligated to make social commentary instead of just mindless entertainment. So long as the mindless entertainment is good, they can be forgiven for not trying to be more. When you balance all these features out, you're the 100th best anime ever, and still a 'must-see.'

Actually, to be clever, people new to anime should watch Soul Eater, Moshidora, and Akira first. That would allow them to see how deep the quality of anime runs. If you watch those three, and think to yourself, "these are 100, 99, and 98?" Then you'll start to have a grasp of how good 1-97 must be. The answer is really good. I encourage everyone to see for themselves.

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