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Friday, July 6, 2012

The Top 120 Anime:

Now that the summer season has rolled in, I can finally release a technically qualified top 120 anime list.  It's taken months of waiting to get back to where I was supposed to have already been, but waiting is what makes the arrival so enjoyable, right?  Without further ado, here's the new top 120 rankings:

1. Clannad (2007-2009) 
2. Pretty Cure (2004-2012+)
3. One Piece (1999-2012+)
4. Code Geass (2006-2012+)
5. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha/Triangle Hearts (2000-2012)
6. Seikai no Monshou/Senki/Danshou (1999-2005)
7. Fairy Tail (2009-2012+)
8. Naruto (2002-2012+)
9. Dragonball (1986-2011+)
10. Higurashi/Umineko no Naku Koro Ni (2006-2012)
11. K-On! (2009-2011)
12. Kanon (2002-2007)
13. Haruhi Suzumiya (2006-2010)
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. The Idolm@ster (2011-2012+)
21. Full Metal Panic! (2002-2006)
22. Bakuman (2010-2012+)
23. Kobato (2009-2012)
24. Working! (2010-2012)
25. Record of Lodoss War (1990-1998)
26. The World God Only Knows (2010-2011+)
27. Hayate no Gotoku (2007-2012+)
28. Sora no Woto (2010)
29. Toradora! (2008-2011)
30. Basilisk (2005)
31. Galaxy Angel (2001-2006)
32. Saki (2009-2012+)
33. Major (2004-2012)
34. Vandread (2000-2001)
35. Inuyasha (2000-2010)
36. Ranma 1/2 (1989-2008)
37. Sailor Moon (1992-1997+)
38. Air (2005)
39. Evangelion (1995-2009+)
40. Prince of Tennis (2001-2012)
41. Hanasaku Iroha (2011+)
42. Usagi Drop (2011-2012)
43. Angelic Layer (2001)
44. Rurouni Kenshin (1996-2012+)
45. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
46. Ef (2007-2008)
47. Ore no Immouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (2010-2011+)
48. Uuchuu no Stellvia (2003)
49. Utawarerumono (2006-2010)
50. Summer Wars (2009)
51. Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (2010-2012)
52. Cowboy Bebop (1998-2001)
53. Battle Athletes (1997-1998)
54. Bleach (2004-2012)
55. Bake-(etc)-monogatari (2009-2012+)
56. Macross (1982-2011)
57. 12 Kingdoms (2002-2003)
58. Strike Witches (2007-2012)
59. Nichijou (2011-2012)
60. Hunter x Hunter (1999-2012+)
61. Fate/Stay/Etc (2006-2012+)
62. Claymore (2007)
63. Amagami SS (2010-2012)
64. Sora no Otoshimono (2009-2012+)
65. Card Captor Sakura/Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (1998-2009)
66. Shakugan no Shana (2005-2012)
67. Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai (2011+)
68. Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai (2012)
69. Mononoke Hime (1997)
70. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (2011)
71. Berserk (1997-2012+)
72. Valkyria Chronicles (2009-2011)
73. Negima! Magister Magi Negi (2004-2012)
74. Samurai Champloo (2004-2005)
75. Gundam (1979-2012+)
76. Martian Successor Nadesico (1996-1998)
77. Read or Die (2001-2004)
78. Break Blade (2010-2011)
79. Kimi ni Todoke (2009-2011)
80. Spice and Wolf (2008-2009)
81. To Heart (1999-2012)
82. Bastard! (1992)
83. Mahoromatic (2001-2009)
84. Akaneiro ni Somaru Saka (2008-2009)
85. Fatal Fury (1992-1994)
86. Azumanga Daioh (2002)
87. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
88. Scrapped Princess (2003)
89. Steins;Gate (2011-2012+)
90. Ghost in the Shell (1995-2011)
91. Flame of Recca (1997-1998)
92. Shinryaku! Ika Musume (2010-2011+)
93. Zero no Tsukaima (2006-2012)
94. AKB0048 (2012+)
95. Tamayura (2010-2012+)
96. Natsuiro Kiseki (2012)
97. Akira (1988)
98. Lucky Star (2007-2008)
99. High School of the Dead (2010-2011)
100. Hikaru no Go (2001-2004)
101. Gunbuster (1988-2012)
102. Shamanic Princess (1996-1998)
103. Soul Eater (2008-2009)
104. Moshidora (2011)
105. Gosick (2011)
106. Baccano/Durara (2007-2011)
107. Guyver (1986-2006)
108. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
109. Spirited Away (2001)
110. Iria: Zeiram the Animation (1994)
111. Alien Nine (2001-2002)
112. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (2009)
113. Death Note (2006-2008)
114. X (1996-2002)
115. Ninja Scroll (1993-2003+)
116. Sora no Manimani (2009)
117. Hyouka (2012+)
118. RG Veda (1991-1992)
119.  Tari Tari (2012+)
120. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

The rankings haven't shifted much since last time, just a little jostling in the bottom of the rankings, but naturally some things were forced to move via the entry of the new 2012 series that have seized a spot in the greatest series of all time list.  The winter season of 2012 brought us #68 Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai, this spring gave us #94 AKB0048, #96 Natsuiro Kiseki, and #117 Hyouka, and now the summer season has given us #119 Tari Tari.

In just one episode, I'm confident that Tari Tari is going to be spectacular.  I said the same of Hyouka, and it eventually proved me right by crawling into the bottom of the rankings via the production of quality episode after quality episode.  Tari Tari will do the same, the artwork is just too good to think otherwise (also true of Kyoto Animation's Hyouka.)  When AKB0048, Hyouka, and Tari Tari are done, instead of just beginning, I'm sure their spots on the list will adjust accordingly, but already they've earned their places for what they've done so far.

AKB0048 has an intriguing picture of life as an idol, great song and dance routines, great art, and a giant array of well fleshed-out characters, all of whom are extremely lovable, which I guess is to be expected given they're all idols.  It's weakness is the somewhat surreal setting it is all taking place in, and the continuous risk of falling into a rut where nothing new happens in an episode.  Sometimes the series just tends to flashback or foreshadow, and forgets that time happens in the present, and until something happens, nothing has happened, therefore nothing interesting can possibly happen.

Natsuiro Kiseki is already done, so its place will only move around based on my whimsical moods.  A series I had little hope for when I began grew better and better with each passing episode, until it reached a perfect finish in a miraculously short amount of time.  The magic in the series was so central and fundamental to what made the show so good.  Without the magic, various scenarios couldn't be explored, all of which allowed for deeper characterization of the cast, by putting them into unfamiliar circumstances they had to somehow get back out of again.  This is just great storytelling.  The characters drive the plot, and the plot develops the characters.  All the girls are attractive and unique, but you can clearly see why they'd want to hang out together as friends.  I just can't admire this show enough.  The only reason it can't rise higher is the narrow focus of the story, a rather harmless 'conflict' where one of the girls is moving away and won't be able to see the others as often anymore, which made for a readily overcomable obstacle which was naturally overcome rather quickly, hence the shortness of the series as a whole.  Compare this to Dragonball where the world is in peril of blowing up unless you risk life and limb fighting the tyrant of the universe -- you see?  The stories are just on two different planes of existence!

Hyouka is very good at what it does.  The story is laser-beam focused on creating petty mysteries that our high school detectives can quickly solve, and it solves them all masterfully.  No murders are needed for this mystery series, just vague shadows in the night which turn out to be drying yukatas, or school films that are acted out atrociously, and so on.  I really love the author's insistence on making the trivial important, instead of just taking the easy path and having our heroes solve a mystery that prevents the tyrant of the universe from blowing up the planet, etc.  Also, I loved Chitanda's speech about how no emotion was innately bad, only overdoing things, and not following the Aristotelian creed:  "Everything in moderation."  You can just tell you're reading the lines from a real author when you watch the dialogue of Hyouka.  This guy is extremely smart, and everything he has his characters say is at an extremely high level.  Whether they're debating morality or just trying to solve a case, you feel smart just watching them.

Even so, the story lacks soul, because it lacks heart.  Nobody really cares about anyone else, or anything else.  They solve mysteries because it's interesting, but there's no larger purpose.  The story is aimless and episodic.  There's still time for Hyouka to develop, but currently it's like a hollowed out golden sarcophagus.  Beautiful on the outside, but just a few rotten bones once you open it up.  It will never match Natsuiro Kiseki unless it changes fundamentally between now and the ending.

Astute observers will notice the + mark next to Sailor Moon, which means the series is still coming out.  But how can that be, Sailor Moon ended decades ago, right?  Wrong!  Today a few concerned parties have announced that a Sailor Moon remake is in the works, to begin airing summer of next year (2013).  This is one of the best pieces of anime news ever.  Hopefully this time, since the anime is being made long after the manga is finished, they can make Sailor Moon perfectly match and follow the manga, without any filler, any editing, or any deviance.  The original story really wasn't that long, and could easily be handled in say, 48 episodes.  If the remake is that efficient and true to the original, while also adopting all the new artistic techniques available in the modern world of HD, widescreen, CG 2012, just think how good it might be!

Meanwhile, it has been announced that the equally amazing Da Capo anime will return, this time animating the new Da Capo III visual novel, for the winter 2013 season.  The lineup for future anime is looking really strong now.  With this, we have 11 of the top 22 shows getting new content in the near future.  We've pretty much entered heaven.
Hayate no Gotoku's new season will be coming out in fall 2012, but it appears to be an entirely filler season, with no relation to the manga.  The author of the manga is involved in the production of the anime, so maybe it won't be entirely bad, but it's still a major disappointment.  There are hundreds of chapters of manga the anime could have adapted, never before seen, and they choose to make filler instead?  It's sheer madness.  A complete betrayal to all of Hayate's fans.  Let's hope the new Sailor Moon isn't some dumb trick like that.  Or a dumb, worse than nothing remake like the new Berserk or Rurouni Kenshin remakes have been.  Sigh.  There's just no telling until the show airs.

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