1. One Piece (1999-2014+)
2. Fairy Tail/Rave Master (2001-2014+)
3. Clannad (2007-2009)
4. Sword Art Online (2012-2014+)
5. Little Busters (2012-2014+)
6. Higurashi/Umineko no Naku Koro Ni (2006-2013)
7. Pretty Cure (2004-2014+)
8. Dragon Ball (1986-2014+)
9. To Aru Majutsu no Index/Kagaku no Railgun (2008-2014)
10. Bake-(etc)-monogatari (2009-2014+)
11. Da Capo (2003-2013)
12. Code Geass (2006-2014+)
13. Kanon (2002-2007)
14. K-On! (2009-2011)
15. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha/Triangle Hearts (2003-2014+)17. Bakuman (2010-2013)
16. Ef (2007-2008)
16. Ef (2007-2008)
18. Naruto (2002-2014+)
19. Shinsekai Yori (2012-2013)
20. Ore no Immouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (2010-2013)
The top 20 shows all either have an ending, or are likely to reach one eventually. High selling series like Sword Art Online and Railgun aren't just abandoned midway for no reason. So long as they bring in money to the production committee, there's no reason they would stop making more. The same applies to the Monogatari series, One Piece, Naruto, Fairy Tail, etc.
The reason why Full Metal Panic! and Haruhi Suzumiya were dumped, despite having high sales, is because Kyoto Animation is very uncooperative when it comes to long series. The other problem is that both of these series undergo a change in tone in the original light novels, so perhaps animators were leery of continuing a project when they were no longer certain how well it would translate onto the big screen. This is probably the reason why the more serious elements of Hayate no Gotoku were also left out of being anime adapted, because the fanbase had come to expect solely the comical portions. I don't really agree with the studio heads trusting fans so little, but at least it explains why seemingly popular series suddenly withered away and died. I don't think that will happen with the series in my top 20, because there's no large change of tone between one part of the series and another, and furthermore none of the remaining shows are being animated by the utterly unreliable Kyoto Animation studio. A-1 Pictures and J.C. Staff are infinitely more reliable when it comes to delivering all the way to the ending. Shakugan no Shana and Zero no Tsukaima both got endings, didn't they?
The next ten ranked series on my list are mainly the 'good but unfinished series.'
21. Seikai no Monshou/Senki/Danshou (1999-2005)
22. Hayate no Gotoku (2007-2014+)
23. The World God Only Knows (2010-2013)
24. Fate/Etc (2006-2014+)
25. Inuyasha (2000-2010)
26. Full Metal Panic! (2002-2006)
27. Haruhi Suzumiya (2006-2010+)
28. Saki (2009-2014)
29. Ranma 1/2 (1989-2008)
30. Katanagatari (2010)
No matter how pretty Lafiel is, leaving me stranded in the midst of an intergalactic war for the future of mankind isn't very appealing. The same for Hayate no Gotoku never solving the mystery of the king's jewel. The World God Only Knows is a complete joke for leaving out an enormous section of the story between seasons 2 and 3. Fate/Etc hasn't completed either Fate Kaleid Liner or Fate Stay Night, nor is there any proof they will do so, much less continue onwards to Hollow Ataraxia. Full Metal Panic! ends right when Teletha's brother Leonard announces he's going to get 'Serious' in opposing Mythril. Haruhi Suzumiya's godhood and capacity to destroy the world hasn't been solved in the slightest. Saki just reached the semifinals. The semifinals. Not even the finals. Ranma 1/2 still has a gaping hole of left out material, as my previous post just went over in detail. Mixed in with these aborted products is the well done and completed Inuyasha and Katanagatari, who lag behind for their own reasons (basically Inuyasha was too long and Katanagatari was too short).
What's sad bout these 8 incomplete series is that, were they to be completed, they may well be the best series ever. This is why it's so maddening to see series with such high potential be left adrift. And it's not just the 20-30 section. There's a great many series, which if they were just continued to completion, could compete with anybody in terms of quality:
40. Maria-sama ga Miteru
46. Strike Witches
50. Rurouni Kenshin
53. Sailor Moon (remake is currently only slated for 26 episodes, original is non-canon)
56. Baka to Test
59. Utawarerumono (how good would this be if they adapted the 2nd game as well?)
66. Outbreak Company
69. Yuru Yuri
75. 12 Kingdoms
113. Spice and Wolf
137. Shingeki no Kyojin
141. Gakuen Alice
154. Tears to Tiara (how good would this be if they adapted the 2nd game as well?)
These series aren't ranked low because they're not fundamentally good, but precisely because they cut off in the middle, leaving more questions than answers. It's impossible to verify how good these series are until the problems they've put forward are solved in a satisfactory manner. If they aren't solved at all, like is currently the case, obviously they can't be called great series. Furthermore, if they're solved in an unsatisfactory manner, obviously they can't compete with the best series, which have already been resolved in a satisfactory manner. But until I see a resolution, how can I possibly judge the quality of these series?
Here's 30 series that are seemingly low ranking, but could well be in the top 20 or top 10, if they'd just give me a blasted ending already. They all have the potential to shine brilliantly, and every single one of their lives was cut short by evil anime studios that didn't support them to the end. Now, some of these series haven't ended in their source material yet, so it would be difficult to provide them with an anime ending, but that excuse doesn't hold water for Kenshin, 12 Kingdoms, H2, Sailor Moon, Gakuen Alice, Tears to Tiara or Spice and Wolf. Baka to Test, Claymore, Bleach and Kenichi are all ending soon so there's no reason why they couldn't start adapting new material now, by the time they reach the ending the source material will have provided the ending they need. In addition, The World God Only Knows, Ranma 1/2, Fate/Etc and Full Metal Panic! were all finished long ago. That's already 15 series that, due to being truncated, are not able to compete for the top 20 spots they otherwise would have deserved at least a shot at. Or in other words, anime is about half as good as it should be, as a collective body of work, because half of the best anime franchises were never completed even when they could have been.
It's easy for a series to have a good hook. Kotoura-san had one of the best first episodes of any anime ever, and I didn't even bother finishing watching that series. What separates a great series from a bad one isn't the beginning, it's the ending. Without an ending, what's left? A bunch of unresolved questions that will simply nag you until the day you die. Whatever happened to those characters you fell in love with and worry about every day due to their cliffhanger plight? Who knows? La-di-da!
Until every good series has a good ending, from Ranma 1/2 to Index/Railgun to One Piece, the quality of anime will always be obscured by an eternal eclipse of disappointed expectations. How exactly can you even interest outsiders in a show which is guaranteed to leave them dangling with no way out to the exit? Is this entertainment or torture? Pick one! Whose side are these studios on anyway? Do they even want their art form to be recognized or rewarded anymore?
The inability to give good endings to good shows is the biggest problem with anime. The second biggest problem is that no one has adapted key's latest work, Rewrite, even though it's already been three years since it was completed and released on the market. But that's another story. . .