Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Greatest Anime Ever (Mar 2013 Edition)


1. Clannad: After Story (2008-09, 24 episodes)
Here it is, the single greatest anime of all time; Clannad: After Story. Going beyond the happy ending which the original Clannad anime provided, this is an exercise in heartbreak which will often have you in tears. While writing this, I'm listening to the Dango song which is perhaps not the wisest of moves, because it is so sad and yet it's so, so happy. That's this series really. While you are sobbing because of the truly difficult developments that the series presents for it's characters (who you have grown to love over the duration of the first series), there's also that hope that things will get better. It's the most accurate and moving anime of all time and just thinking about it is enough to bring me to tears. It was the anime that made me cry, made me laugh and made me a better person. It is truly the greatest anime of all time. If you don't know why, you haven't seen it. Watch it now!
2. Fruits Basket (2001, 26 episodes)
Oh, Fruits Basket, why do you do this to me? Far and away one of the greatest anime that I have seen so far is also one of the most incredibly tragic. Despite being billed as a comedy, this show made me cry like nothing else I have ever seen. The series' premise revolves around members of the Sohma family who are cursed by the Zodiac and therefore turn into animals whenever they are hugged by a member of the opposite sex or come under considerable stress. However, that simple summary does not do this incredibly moving and incredibly beautiful series justice. Dealing with loss, being abondoned, bullying, grief, a lack of feeling that you are worthy of love as well as low self confidence are all combined into a concoction of emotions and love. The greatest downside with this series is it's open-ended conclusion, but, for me, this is nowhere near enough to remove it from being the truly beautiful anime that it is.
3. The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006, 2009, 28 episodes + 1 film)
God is a high-schooler! Possibly. One of the most popular anime series’ for very good reason, this series is truly amazing. Filled with a cast of characters that you can’t help but love (except for Koizomi. He’s a bit boring, actually, but sort of cute) and with many insane scenarios this is one of those series where you just can’t help but be swept up in it’s self-confidence and join in the fun. This was one of the only series that I watched gradually over quite a long period of time (one every night at 6:30) which helped immensely, allowing me to be pulled into these characters and their world. But to be honest the main reason to watch this is for Haruhi herself. Constantly changing hairstyles, bossy and just a little bit vulnerable, she is one of the greatest anime characters of all time. Her yellow headband is all that is needed for a person to be recognised as a Haruhi cosplayer, she’s that iconic. However, she’s not alone as an awesome character. Mitsuru, the time-traveller, who is always forced into Haruhi’s unusual cosplay ideas for her. The aforementioned Koizomi, an ESPer, who’s trying to save the Universe and Nagato. Oh, Nagato. She’s a character who hides in the background for most of the series, carefully ensuring that things don’t go wrong for the human race simply because Haruhi is having a bad hair day. And then we have the major character, Kyon, our viewpoint into this character and her strange, strange world. He’s always voicing his frustration but also clearly enjoying himself more than he would ever admit. And he’s the one tasked with ensuring that Haruhi doesn’t discover who the other members of the SOS Brigade (Haruhi’s club) really are. It’s filled with ingenious story arcs, save for one, the infamous Endless Eight, one story told eight times to represent the fact that they are all stuck in a timeloop. Okay, it’s annoying watching the same thing but the pay-off at the end is so, so rewarding. However, the truly greatest story of the series is told in the epic (just over 2 and a half hours) The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, which is worth watching the entire series for. It’s an exceptional story and truly one of the greatest of all anime films. And that is true of the series, one of the greatest and most enjoyable series of all time.
4. Ouran High School Host Club (2006-07, 26 episodes)
Ouran High School Host Club, I love ya! Deeply amusing, often laugh-out-loud funny and with a cast of regular characters that have depth and are immensely likeable, this anime has it all. Never too heavy or cruel with a gentle kindness and humour that is infectious, this series sweeps you up under it's spell and you just can't let go. The characters are a major part of the appeal. The awesome Haruhi is the major character who, despite seeming like nothing could phase her has quite a sad past regarding the loss of her mother. The premise of the series is that a high class school has a number of attractive men who are filthy rich, bored and with too much time on their hands who entertain bored women of the school for money, being a host for them. However, when female student Haruhi (a commoner) breaks an expensive vase, she is forced to work for the club, dressing in male attire to pay off the debt. Hilarity ensues. This is just an amazing series which features suggested twincest (not as horrible as it seems, actually quite moving in a way), transgenderism (Haruhi's father is one of the best characters here), a truly insane character who appears via a 'powerful motor' and some genuinely moving moments. However, the final two episodes show the heart that is truly key to the series. Never patronising and often hillarious, this is one for the ages. Also, the Alice In Wonderland episode is truly amazing.

5. When They Cry (2006, 26 episodes)
6. Clannad (2007-08, 23 episodes)
 7. Paranoia Agent (2004, 13 episodes)
 I had heard many great things about Paranoia Agent before I watched it. Initially, this reputation seemed to be very much deserved, looking at the effects that paranoia can have after a series of seemingly random assaults. This was particuarly true of the fantastic second episode which is one of the greatest episodes of any television show I've ever seen. However, as the series progressed, I found that it seemed to lull slightly, with it becoming more episodic and less exceptional than it probably could have been. That is not to say that I wasn't enjoying it. No, that is not the case. I still quite enjoyed the program particularly with some disturbing, yet incredibly brillaint twists. But then there was the unimaginatively titled The Final Episode. It became clear that the series had been building up to an astonishing climax that resulted in such an emotional rollercoaster that my heart beat quicker and my breathing stopped. It was brillaint and horrific and incredible. Quite simply, Paranoia Agent became one of my favourite animes in an instant. Goes to show you though that the final episode is very important. Also, watch this show now. It's an eye-opening and brillaint experience.
8. Spice & Wolf (2008, 13 episodes)
9. Black Butler (2008-09, 24 episodes)
10. Angel Beats! (2010, 13 episodes)
Angel Beats is one of the most emotional and affecting anime that I have seen so far. It’s also one of the strangest in terms of tone. It shifts constantly. One moment you’ll be laughing, the next you’ll be terrified and then you’ll cry your eyes out. Overall, it is that final emotion of sadness that is the most memorable. Set in a sort-of in-between Heaven and Earth which looks like a high school, this series features teenage characters who are already dead and with tragic pasts (most of which they can’t remember until it comes time for them to move on). This series is extremely short (many people find this a downside as some characters aren’t expanded and this is true, but what’s here is so, so good) but by God, you will be sobbing for much of it’s duration. The series seems to know how manipulative it is and so uses it to move the audience in ways that are almost impossible to explain (one of them involving a disaster is particularly sad). It also works as quite an unconventional romance, especially between the main male character and the white-haired angel-like figure and one other which to say here would spoil one of the series’ most special moments. This series has a number of endings (like the last four episodes could all be seen as the final episode), but the ending of the series, resulting in a truly beautiful graduation ceremony and an astonishing final twist, is the most joyous and simultaneously tragic ending because it feels so, so right. One of the best series’ I saw in quite a while and one of the most emotional ( I watched this before Clannad. It showed me that anime could be really emotional which was one of the main reasons I started. Fruits Basket was my first anime, by the way). A short but perfect series, this is one you simply must watch.
11. Dennou Coil (2007, 26 episodes)
12. K-On! (2009, 13 episodes)
13. Blue Exorcist (2011, 25 episodes)
 14. Rosario + Vampire (2008, 13 episodes)
15. Black Rock Shooter (2012, 8 episodes)
16. Eden Of The East (2009, 11 episodes)
17. The Melancholy Of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya (2009, 25 episodes)
18. Ga-Rei-Zero (2008, 12 episodes)
Ga-Rei-Zero is very good. I did a marathon viewing of the series (all 12 episodes) over a weekend and it is highly recommended. It nicely offsets the horrific violence (there is an abundance of blood) with some beautiful character moments (the bond between the two protagonists) which are actually genuinely moving. However, the greatest moments of the series are the first episode which has a shocking conclusion which literally feels like the rug has been pulled out from under you and it's conclusion. However, be warned. This series' conclusion is quite sad because... Well, let's not give too much away. Let's just say that this is one of those series where the casualties are going to be very high.
19. Gravitation: Lyrics Of Love (1999, 2 episodes)
20. Pet Shop Of Horrors (1999, 4 episodes)
To Be Added

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