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Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Top 140 Anime:

The summer season has shot my 'total series watched' total all the way up to 424.  Only 420 is necessary for the top 1/3 to move up from 130 to 140.  And as I've followed the policy of the top 1/3 of anime that I've watched to be part of an elite segment of extremely valuable anime that everyone should watch, it's now time to add another ten titles to my top anime rankings list.

Due to a cool gadget, my anime rankings are always available to the side of my daily posts, and will keep updated to their newest form at all times.  As a result, I won't have to constantly repost my rankings so often like I had to in the past.  However, this time is an exception.  When I moved up from 120 to 130, almost an entire year had passed, if I remember correctly.  The move from 130 to 140 took a more modest six months to complete, which means there's been more good anime coming out recently than there was in the past, or I've just been particularly zealous over the last six months to expand my repertoire.  So for just this special six month occasion, I'll list my anime rankings once again in the main post as well as edit my perma-post that's always available for viewing at the side.

Some additional notes before getting to the rankings -- 1) Gundam is always last in my rankings because Gundam is more there as an important historical note than for its actual worth.  Gundam is basically the beginning of anime and also one of the most popular, highest selling series of all time.  Obviously it's the longest running series of all time, having started in 1979 and continuing to this day with endless thousands of episodes.  It's impossible to be an anime fan and not cross paths with Gundam, which is referenced and mimicked everywhere.  Due to all that, and the fact that Gundam is indeed at least somewhat fun to watch, I decided to give it a ceremonial spot.

2)  My rankings try their best to be prophetic.  I don't go so far as to rank series that haven't even aired yet, but if a series that has aired has an announced sequel coming, I try to include the worth of the sequel in their current rankings.  This is because a series should be judged from the viewpoint of God, who is outside of time, and can see the whole franchise from beginning to end no matter where Earth's timeline currently stands.  We shouldn't give special privileges to older series just because they've had more time to air.  If it's clear that a series that will be expanded will be great if only given the time to do so, we should generously award that series the worth we expect it to someday have ahead of time, and let it compete evenly with the old pros.  Series with '+' signs denotes the fact that additional content to these franchises have indeed been planned.  Those plus signs are critical to where a series ranks and a huge advantage over series without '+' signs next to their name.  This also helps smooth out sudden shifts in the values of my listed series.  By planning for a series to improve ahead of time, there's less violent movement from year to year between series, and more of a solid ranking system people can trust will be true into the foreseeable future as well as today.

Without further ado, here are how the rankings stand now:

1. Pretty Cure (2004-2013+)
2. Clannad (2007-2009)
3. One Piece (1999-2013+)
4. Code Geass (2006-2013+)
5. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha (2004-2012+)
6. Fairy Tail (2009-2013+)
7. Naruto (2002-2013+)
8. K-On! (2009-2011)
9. Seikai no Monshou/Senki/Danshou (1999-2005)
10. Dragon Ball (1986-2013)
11. Higurashi/Umineko no Naku Koro Ni (2006-2013+)
12. Kanon (2002-2007)
13. Da Capo (2003-2013)
14. To Aru Majutsu no Index/Kagaku no Railgun (2008-2013+)
15. Katanagatari (2010)
16. Bakuman (2010-2013)
17. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011-2013+)
18. Angel Beats (2010)
19. Hayate no Gotoku (2007-2013)
20. Sword Art Online (2012)
21. Full Metal Panic! (2002-2006)
22. The World God Only Knows (2010-2013+)
23. Saki (2009-2013+)
24. Haruhi Suzumiya (2006-2010)
25. Working! (2010-2012)
26. The Idolm@ster (2007-2013+)
27. Record of Lodoss War (1990-1998)
28. Shinsekai Yori (2012-2013)
29. Kobato (2009-2012)
30. Toradora! (2008-2011)
31. Sora no Woto (2010)
32. Galaxy Angel (2001-2006)
33. Major (2004-2012)
34. Basilisk (2005)
35. Inuyasha (2000-2010)
36. Ranma 1/2 (1989-2008)
37. Sailor Moon (1992-2013+)
38. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007-2009)
39. Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai (2011-2013)
40. Ore no Immouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (2010-2013+)
41. Ef (2007-2008)
42. Hanasaku Iroha (2011-2013)
43. Air (2005)
44. Little Busters (2012-2013+)
45. Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (2010-2012)
46. Bake-(etc)-monogatari (2009-2013+)
47. Hunter x Hunter (1999-2013+)
48. Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai (2012-2013)
49. AKB0048 (2012-2013)
50. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
51. Love Live (2010-2013+)
52. Vandread (2000-2001)
53. Rurouni Kenshin (1996-2012)
54. Uuchuu no Stellvia (2003)
55. Utawarerumono (2006-2010)
56. Fate/Stay/Etc (2006-2013+)
57. Cowboy Bebop (1998-2001)
58. Angelic Layer (2001-2002)
59. Bleach (2004-2012)
60. Strike Witches (2007-2012)
61. 12 Kingdoms (2002-2003)
62. Summer Wars (2009)
63. Nichijou (2011-2012)
64. Girls und Panzer (2012-2013+)
65. Evangelion (1995-2013+)
66. Claymore (2007)
67. Macross (1982-2012)
68. Sora no Otoshimono (2009-2012+)
69. Card Captor Sakura/Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (1998-2009)
70. Mononoke Hime (1997)
71. Berserk (1997-2013)
72. Yuru Yuri (2011-2012)
73. Prince of Tennis (2001-2012)
74. Usagi Drop (2011-2012)
75. Shakugan no Shana (2005-2012)
76. Amagami SS (2010-2012)
77. Valkyria Chronicles (2009-2011)
78. Samurai Champloo (2004-2005)
79. Battle Athletes (1997-1998)
80. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (2011-2013+)
81. Martian Successor Nadesico (1996-1998)
82. Natsuiro Kiseki (2012)
83. Hyouka (2012-2013)
84. To Heart (1999-2012)
85. Shinryaku! Ika Musume (2010-2013)
86. Break Blade (2010-2011)
87. Akaneiro ni Somaru Saka (2008-2009)  
88. Azumanga Daioh (2002)
89. Scrapped Princess (2003)
90. Steins;Gate (2011-2013)
91. Hikaru no Go (2001-2004)
92. Chihayafuru (2011-2013+)
93. Tamayura (2010-2013+)
94. Baccano (2007)
95. High School of the Dead (2010-2011)
96. Guyver (1986-2006)
97. Death Note (2006-2008)
98. Lucky Star/Miyakawa-ke (2007-2013+)
99. Kimi ni Todoke (2009-2011)
100. Spice and Wolf (2008-2009)
101. Seitokai no Ichizon (2009-2013)
102. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
103. Spirited Away (2001)
104. Ginga E Kickoff (2012-2013)
105. Zero no Tsukaima (2006-2012)
106. Tari Tari (2012)
107. Flame of Recca (1997-1998)
108. Bastard! (1992)
109. Shamanic Princess (1996-1998)
110. Soul Eater (2008-2009)
111. Hataraku Maou-sama! (2013)
112. School Days (2007-2008)
113. Zettai Bouei Leviathan (2013)
114. History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi (2006-2012)
115. Ghost in the Shell (1995-2013+)
116. Moshidora (2011)
117. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
118. Gosick (2011)
119. Akira (1988)
120. Fatal Fury (1992-1994)
121. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (2009)
122. Alien Nine (2001-2002)
123. Vividred Operation (2013)
124. Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru!  (2013)
125. Gunbuster (1988-2012)
126. Happiness! (2006-2007)
127. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
128. RG Veda (1991-1992)
129. Tears to Tiara (2009)
130. To Love ru (2008-2013+)
131. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure (1993-2013+)
132. Valvrave the Liberator (2013+)
133. Ro-Kyu-Bu! (2011-2013+)
134. Mahoromatic (2001-2009)
135. Yu Yu Hakusho (1992-1996)
136. Trigun (1998-2010)
137. Kiniro Mosaic (2013+)
138. Cross Game (2009-2010)
139. Shingeki no Kyojin (2013+)
140. Gundam (1979-2013+)
Now to discuss the fascinating ten choices made above!  These choices shouldn't be too much of a surprise, because I previewed them a while back on June 6th.  Of those previewed, which I said would probably be in my next ten rankings, seven got in as expected.  So let's go through these series one by one and why they qualified, with special emphasis on the three surprises that sneaked in over the course of just the last month:
 130.  To Love ru had two strikes against it that has kept the series down for so long.  The first strike is that its first season was filler and thus worthless.  The second strike against it is the extreme ecchi content that this show is famous for.  It's hard to make a good story that is so centered around ecchi, to the point that the entire plot is centered around getting Yuuki Rito into more and more ecchi situations through comical 'accidents.'  However, given that this is the central premise of the story, 'show boobs at any price,' it's remarkable how well executed the theme is.  You could say this is the platonic ideal of ecchi series, the best you could ever do, and thus the show deserves a claim to fame in its own notorious way.  There's something so cute and lovable about Rito being so hapless, and yet finding a way to help so many people far more intelligent and powerful than he is.  The characters in the story are all good people and their relationships are warm and endearing.  I especially like the three Deviluke sisters, but really all the characters in the series are remarkable for how well they get along with each other and how much they care about each other.  Furthermore, the art and character design to this series is top notch, so if you want to make an entire story about naked girls, this was the perfect artist to work with.  The girls of To Love ru are positively gorgeous, and there are tons of them all running around and being forced to strut their stuff in front of Rito (and the audience).  I doubt fanservice can get any better than this, and they do it all without ever actually resorting to sex, which is a nice touch to keeping the series on the lighter side of romantic comedies.  For both the quality of the fanservice and the likability of the characters, To Love ru had to enter my rankings eventually.  I only wish the plot would move forward and we could get some resolution to the love triangle Rito's been in since the very first episode of the series.  It's doubtful the anime will ever get to that conclusive point, but there's always hope -- the most recent season sold extremely well and so a sequel isn't out of the question in the far future.
131.  Jojo's Bizarre Adventure had a lame beginning, but a strong ending.  A lot of people continuously assured me that the series gets better the later you get into the manga, and they proved to be right.  Wonderful characters like the stereotype defying Stroheim and Cesar's innovative bubble magic really got me excited about the series' ability to challenge existing norms.  Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is one of the most creative stories ever told, and with 108 volumes of manga to call upon, it isn't ending any time soon.  If this series were ever to be regularly animated like Fairy Tail, Naruto or the like, its value would be sure to shoot up, but for now we at least know the 3rd 'section' of the story will be told.  The good sales figures for the first two sections is promising, and it means Japan might just get behind a continuously running Jojo's that catches the anime up to the manga in one swift stroke.  The best part of this series is we haven't seen anything yet.  It only gets better from here as the author polishes his storytelling skills and makes ever more likable heroes and villains.  The extreme art style is fun and many other good anime series mention how much they love Jojo's, so it's hard not to cheer for this series.  I think it will be much more deserving of a ranking when the next season comes out, but for now it can rely on the power of prophecy.

132.  Valvrave the Liberator had a very questionable beginning.  So much kept happening out of the blue without explanation, only to be overthrown again the very next episode, that watching this series felt like riding a roller coaster.  However, as the series moved on, it began to show true emotional depth and strength, showing this wasn't just about thrilling the audience, but was actually a serious story with a lot to say about life, the universe, and everything.  The scene where Saki accepts and embraces the crazed-vampire-mode-Haruto was really touching, and also something no anime has ever dared to do before.  (Berserk also had a rape scene, but the rapist was a villain, not the protagonist hero.)  The last episode where a recluse struggles to go against all of her conditioning to go outside in order to save a friend from dying was simply beautiful, and one of the most moving moments in anime history.  After giving all her reasons for why she didn't want to go outside, and doing everything she possibly could to resolve the issue without going outside, she faced a situation where there was simply no other way out if she wanted to save her friend.  And at that critical juncture her feelings overcame all the barriers that had piled up throughout her life, blew away all of her previous arguments, and literally had her bursting out of her shell to run to her friend's rescue.  Which she did with dramatic fashion by suddenly piloting a mech to victory and miraculously saving the entire colony from certain death (as every other Valvrave by this point had already been defeated.)

The fantastic ending to the first season of Valvrave gives me an expectation that the second season will be just as good, and resolve all the plot threads that were left hanging this spring.  With the power of prophecy, I'm sure that Valvrave will have earned its spot in my rankings once the fall season airs and all the explanations for the surprise plot twists of the first season are laid bare.  Now I only wish the series could be a little longer.  It careens about at such a breakneck pace that I sometimes wish it would just stop and explain things for a few episodes about the various side characters and their motivations in life.  Oh well, an anime has to do what it can with the budget its been given.  Breakneck pacing or not, Valvrave is simply wonderful.

133.  Ro-Kyu-Bu! is another ecchi series, that focuses on elementary school girls as its forte.  However, to control for this yet more scandalous preference than To Love ru, it never actually exposes any girl or puts her in any actual sexual situations.  It just titillates and teases without outright saying or doing anything offensive.  In that sense, it's no different from the most recent episode of Fate/Kaleid Liner, which featured Ilya nude in a bathtub for virtually half the episode.  The girls of Ro-Kyu-Bu! really are cute, (as is Ilya for that matter), but the quality of the show isn't really about their bodies.  Beneath the distractions there's a really good story -- like how Maho tried out many things that were all too easy to engage her attention for long, until she found and fell in love with the endlessly difficult game of basketball.  Or how Tomoka decided to give up on basketball if she could no longer play it with her friends, even though it broke her heart to think about it and left her wailing and sobbing in the middle of the street.  Who wouldn't want to save such a girl?  Who wouldn't want to coach her team to victory so that they could continue their girls' basketball club and use the school facilities like before?  The basketball games themselves have a lot of drama and excitement to them, with a lot of back and forth and uncertainty over who will really win.  The music is great, and the romantic undertones are compelling.  (The coach is, after all, only four years older than the lolis.  When they've all grown up the age difference will be insignificantly small, which means if love does blossom then it won't have been in vain.  It could actually be a really touching love story by the end, depending on where the author chooses to take us.)  Basically, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  Ro-Kyu-Bu! is an ecchi series, yes, but it's a good series too.  This second season will basically double the worth of the series overall, which should be enough to finally justify a ranking, after missing out on one in 2011.

134.  Mahoromatic is another ecchi series.  You practically can't go an episode without tripping over Mahoro or that ugly old teacher's boobs.  But yet again, there's more going on than just ecchi in this series.  It has a serious question about life, which is, what are you really supposed to do if you know you'll die within a year?  This isn't like people who have terminal cancer, where the disease is so painful and enervating that you can't do much of anything except wait to die (or overdose on morphine and just get it over with.)  Mahoro is an android whose life expectancy is simply terminal, she was never built to last long and only has so much energy to work with.  She'll be happy and healthy and comfortable until the very last second.  Given that, with a year left to live, what should you live for?  In the end she decided to live for love, and as a result, she gave up even the short lifespan she had left in order to save the person she loved, punctuating her decision even more thoroughly than before.  The constant reminder of approaching death, and the sad knowledge that she'll never get to see 'another' Christmas or 'another' fireworks show, is really haunting throughout the series.  This isn't a perfect show, it has a lot of unnecessary characters and bad humor, but that death clock is still striking.  No other series has dared to do it, or even broached the topic, leaving Mahoromatic the unique 'owner' of the theme.  This is an old classic, but it can still keep up if the rankings are expanded large enough, so it's nice to see Mahoromatic back in.

135.  Yu Yu Hakusho is the wildly popular series done by Togashi before he switched over to Hunter x Hunter.  It's way worse than HxH, but its popularity can't be denied.  Yu Yu Hakusho also has some exciting action scenes, cool characters, and a deeply emotional first few episodes concerning Yuusuke's death and rebirth.  For a long shonen series with hundreds of episodes to work with, 135th is a pitiful showing, but I think it just barely squeaks in for now.

136.  Trigun.  I keep including this story and then knocking it back out of my rankings again.  The reason is Trigun had a death scene good enough to make me cry, but virtually nothing else.  The art is awful, the plot is nonsensical, and the 'no killing' morality is dumb.  Sometimes you have to kill, it's silly to think otherwise.  Even Kenshin realized this in his fight against the baby-killer Cho, but Vash the Stampede manages to avoid killing from start to finish.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  Still, it has a very touching death scene, and that deserves at least some credit.  Also, it's the only story about guns or the wild west, which again deserves credit.  Also, it's an extremely popular old classic, so that should weigh in the balance too, just like with Yu Yu Hakusho.  Overall I can spare it a low ranking like 136th, despite all its flaws.  If enough new good anime is made, I can always kick it out again.

137.  Kiniro Mosaic is the only series I have much faith in from the summer season.  The ridiculousness cuteness levels of the characters in Kiniro are truly breathtaking.  There's a serious chance of heart failure if people try to watch this series.  Every time Shinobu says "Hello" in English you want to squeal in delight and chew on a pillow to stifle your voice.  This is one of the most harmless, innocent, delightful shows I've ever seen.  The fact that it's also funny is another bonus, but Kitakubo is much funnier but didn't manage to rank, because it just lacks this amazing charm that Kiniro Mosaic continuously exudes.  Just to grasp how dangerously cute these girls are, here's a picture from the series:

Did anyone else picture her as a Titan from Shingeki no Kyojin come to devour our souls?  Because I know I did.  And this is the level of cuteness the series radiates thirty minutes a week!  It's irresistible.  This series deserves a ranking because, wow.  Just wow.

138.  Cross Game came out of left field (get the pun?  Get it?) because it only recently came to my attention as a possibly good series.  The story is touching in its simplicity, and basically asks how on Earth people are supposed to cope with the death of someone they loved?  This isn't a side tangent of the story or one element among many, it is the entire purpose and soul of the series.  It isn't just about one character who has to deal with his loss, it's about everyone who lost said beloved.  The siblings, the parents, the cousins, the admirers, the neighborhood. . .it's just this crushing feeling that leaves everyone with such complicated emotions, for the rest of their lives.  You never live down the loss of your child.  You never just forget it or get over it.  It's simply impossible.  The same is true for an older sister, or a younger sister, the time you spent with them is just too irreplaceable to pretend she never existed.  You are who you are because of the life you spent with your siblings, the lessons you learned from them.  How do you just move on?  That question simply haunts the story every minute of every episode.  It's like she's always a ghost who's haunting the scene, a third character in every dialogue, the unmentioned presence that pervades everything and everyone.

This is the good part of the story.  The bad part is the baseball.  The baseball shown is really uninspired.  The games aren't interesting, and the drama surrounding the baseball games is childish nonsense.  Compared to the gravity of the theme of loss, it almost feels inappropriate for the series to be worrying about 'evil coaches' or 'stuck up teenage girls' or any other subject at all.  Once you've lost your heart and soul, is there anything else the world can even take from you?  Is it even possible to feel pain anymore?  The enormous length of the series isn't an asset, it's a detraction, because most of the series drags on about stuff that doesn't matter, when what we really want to know, what really matters (How do you cope with loss?  Is it even possible?), remains unanswered until the very end.  Even so, I think it has such a solid central premise that it can't help but be good despite itself.  Enough, at least, to squeak in at 138th.

139.  Shingeki no Kyojin takes my last open slot at 139.  It would be cruel to mention Shingeki no Kyojin via Kiniro Mosaic, and not include the titular series itself.  I struggled for a while before deciding on this as my last inclusion, because I really dislike the irrationality of the characters and setting embedded in this story.  Even so, the art is so fantastic, the action scenes so riveting, and the character's speeches so inspiring, that it's hard to resist this series' charm.  As one of the most popular manga and anime of the modern age, I have to give some credit to this series' breakout performance.  Hopefully the remaining episodes of this series will go far to justifying my inclusion of this otherwise shaky performance, that I had almost decided to drop in the beginning it was so annoyingly despairing.  The faces of the titans throughout the series are the best part of this anime.  They're real studies in creepiness, and just show a fantastic aesthetic sense.

That concludes my explanation for the newest entrants to my top anime rankings list.  If people didn't feel like any of my endorsements were full throttle enough, well, that's to be expected when we're talking 130-140 in best anime ever.  If I thought the series had no flaws, it would be in my top 1-10.  Even so, these are excellent series, and to drive the point home, most of these series have millions of devoted fans that would swear they are the best anime ever.  They have long pedigrees of decades of success, are by authors of tremendous prestige, and so on.  I'm still discussing a very elite cross-section of the anime world.  To Love ru is so famous it's even mentioned in Bakuman right alongside Dragon Ball.  A lot of these series have sales above the 10,000 dvds/blu-rays per volume mark.  If I thought these series were so bad they weren't worth mentioning, I wouldn't have included them.  By including them, I'm saying that everyone in the whole world should watch them, and they would gain a lot by doing so.  That there's nothing better they could be doing with their time than watching these series.  I'm willing to vouch for every series on my list, warts and all, because they still have unique value and tend to stand out as the best in their field, in some manner or other.  Even Gundam is worth watching, if anyone ever had enough time.  And millions of people agree with this sentiment, so I'm hardly alone in saying so.

For further changes to my rankings, just tune in to the perma-post on my sidebar, as there won't be any additional main line posts about my rankings for months or years to come, when I announce the big top 150 anime series somewhere down the line.  150 is a pretty exciting round number, I can't wait to see what new series have joined the world by then, and how much has changed up and down the list.  Here's to 150, may the next ten be as worthy as the current ten!

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