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Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Top 100 Anime: Roundup Version

The summer anime season is coming to an end. What does this mean? The 24-26 episode series that started in the spring are all going away, like Hanasaku Iroha, Nichijou and Steins;Gate. Plus the 11-13 episode series that started in the summer are going away, like Usagi Drop, Baka to Test 2, Nurarihyon 2, Ikoku Meiro, Yuru Yuri, and Ro-Kyu-Bu. Thankfully, Idolm@ster will continue into the fall! In doing so, it promises to become one of the best series ever. I'm going to miss this season, which surprised me with how many good series it had after I had predicted this season would be a total desert, but I still think the Fall season is slated to be even better, so I don't mind too much.

This fall, a lot of good anime series are resuming, like Bakuman, Shakugan no Shana, Tamayura and Working. Hunter x Hunter is being remade entirely, which should be fun to see. Add to this all of the 'breakout' new series that I don't know are good yet because I haven't seen them yet to judge things by, and I'm confident the 2011 fall anime season will be amazing, just like the winter, spring, and summer seasons have been.

With the changing of the guard, there's an opportunity to recalibrate our rankings again.

I haven't seen the new Sora no Otoshimono, Hayate, or Negima movies, so obviously they can't impact my judgment of their quality. They'll be released to places outside Japan a year from now, at which point I can learn the value of their contribution. For now my rankings will just have to be inaccurate concerning them.

Unbelievably, Yui, the protagonist from K-On!, who won 2nd place in the Saimoe 2009 contest, lost in the first round of the Saimoe 2011 contest. So did Azusa, Saimoe's 2010 winner! Boo on both counts. K-On has the cutest girls ever, everyone knows it, and anyone who votes otherwise is just living in denial. I realize people enjoy change and seeing fresh faces, but really! Last I checked the Mona Lisa was still featured prominently in the Louvre. Sometimes girls are cute enough to warrant attention for more than a single year.

This Top 100 anime has a new inclusion, Strike Witches, which bounced all the way up to 72. Strike Witches is a very controversial pick. It's so full of nudity and erotic scenes that generally you'd just discard it out of hand as not suited for the viewing public. But I can't say that about Strike Witches, because it's also a great anime. When something is great, it's great, regardless of what prudes complain about. Strike Witches isn't even great despite its eroticism, it benefited from it by going so far to make sure every girl was extremely fetching and every episode extremely memorable. There's a reason Strike Witches has 11 girls in the Saimoe contest, the second highest of any series this year. But no series can be good solely due to erotic content, even when it isn't a detraction. So what else do I like about Strike Witches?

Three things: 1. An innovative idea, "What if World War II had been preempted by an alien invasion and only magical girls from all the nations of the world working together could stop it? Wouldn't that have been such a happier timeline than our own?"

2. Friendship. The bonds between the characters give them heart and life. They care for each other, and so you end up caring about them. Because of their bonds, Strike Witches can make you truly cheer and mourn as their fortunes wax and wane.

3. Detail. Creating eleven distinct witches who all share a stage with each other reminds me a lot of Idolmaster. It takes amazing talent to keep all of them different enough for viewers to keep them all separate and distinct in their head. Not only do the characters vary in a realistic and charming fashion based on their nationality, they also vary from their national stereotypes in equally charming ways, in their magical specialties, their combat capacity, maturity, goals, and everything else. They also go so far as to include lots of different endings, which is a lovely attention to detail (again, a lot like Idolmaster.) In one episode a fight occurs in space, and the entire time they're outside the atmosphere the anime is silent. That's an amazing tribute to reality and gives an unearthly and wondrous feel to the entire battle. Little details like that, that Strike Witches nails over and over, lets you see how much the series really cares about getting it 'right.'

Strike Witches certainly isn't for everyone, but I can't in good conscience ignore how good it is now that I've seen it, so 72 it is. Here's hoping the future Strike Witches movie will continue its proud legacy into the future.

As the fall anime season begins, these rankings will soon become obsolete and need further adjustments and inclusions. To give a little heads up concerning that, I have '+' signs for series with planned future content or are currently airing. If there's a plus sign before the year 2011, it means there hasn't been any new material for years, but new material is currently in production. Once that in production material is released, the series will properly be shown as extending to 2011, or 2012, or whatever, as the case may be.

1. Clannad (2007-2009)
2. Pretty Cure (2004-2011+)
3. One Piece (1999-2011+)
4. Code Geass (2006-2009+)
5. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha (2004-2010+)
6. Seikai no Monshou/Senki/Danshou (1999-2005)
7. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (2006-2011+)
8. K-On! (2009-2011+)
9. Naruto (2002-2011+)
10. Dragonball (1986-2011)
11. Haruhi Suzumiya (2006-2010)
12. Kanon (2002-2007)
13. Fairy Tail (2009-2011+)
14. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007-2009)
15. To Aru Majutsu no Index/Kagaku no Railgun (2008-2011)
16. Angel Beats (2010)
17. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)
18. Da Capo (2003-2011)
19. Katanagatari (2010)
20. Kobato (2009-2010)
21. Vandread (2000-2001)
22. Full Metal Panic! (2002-2005)
23. Working! (2010-2011+)
24. Toradora! (2008-2009)
25. Record of Lodoss War (1990-1998)
26. The World God Only Knows (2010-2011+)
27. Bakuman (2010-2011+)
28. Sora no Woto (2010)
29. Hayate no Gotoku (2007-2011+)
30. Evangelion (1995-2009+)
31. Basilisk (2005)
32. Galaxy Angel (2001-2006)
33. Saki (2009+)
34. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
35. Idolm@ster (2011+)
36. Major (2004-2010)
37. Sailor Moon (1992-1997)
38. Air (2005)
39. Angelic Layer (2001)
40. Rurouni Kenshin (1996-2001+)
41. Prince of Tennis (2001-2011+)
42. Hanasaku Iroha (2011+)
43. Usagi Drop (2011+)
44. Inuyasha (2000-2010)
45. Ranma 1/2 (1989-1996)
46. Ore no Immouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (2010-2011)
47. Ef (2007-2008)
48. 12 Kingdoms (2002-2003)
49. Uuchuu no Stellvia (2003)
50. Utawarerumono (2006-2009)
51. Summer Wars (2009)
52. Mononoke Hime (1997)
53. Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (2010-2011+)
54. Cowboy Bebop (1998-2001)
55. Battle Athletes (1997-1998)
56. Samurai Champloo (2004-2005)
57. Amagami SS (2010-2011+)
58. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (2011)
59. Zero no Tsukaima (2006-2008+)
60. Berserk (1997-1998+)
61. Claymore (2007)
62. Valkyria Chronicles (2009-2011)
63. Negima! Magister Magi Negi (2004-2011)
64. Macross Plus (1994-1995)
65. Read or Die (2001-2004)
66. Sora no Otoshimono (2009-2011)
67. Bleach (2004-2011+)
68. Card Captor Sakura (1998-2000)
69. Martian Successor Nadesico (1996-1998)
70. Shakugan no Shana (2005-2010+)
71. Nichijou (2011+)
72. Strike Witches (2007-2010+)
73. Break Blade (2010-2011)
74. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
75. Kimi ni Todoke (2009-2011)
76. Spice and Wolf (2008-2009)
77. Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka (2008-2009)
78. Bastard! (1992)
79. Mahoromatic (2001-2009)
80. Alien Nine (2001-2002)
81. Fatal Fury (1992-1994)
82. Bakemonogatari (2009-2010+)
83. Iria: Zeiram the Animation (1994)
84. Guyver (1986-2006)
85. Macross Frontier (2008-2011)
86. Lucky Star (2007-2008)
87. Hunter x Hunter (1999-2004+)
88. Azumanga Daioh (2002)
89. To Heart (1999-2010)
90. Spirited Away (2001)
91. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
92. Sora no Manimani (2009)
93. Scrapped Princess (2003)
94. Gosick (2011)
95. Gunbuster (1988-2006)
96. RG Veda (1991-1992)
97. Shamanic Princess (1996-1998)
98. Akira (1988)
99. Moshidora (2011)
100. Soul Eater (2008-2009)

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