Top Shows Addendum

So I wrote my Top 30 Shows of All Time list, and that was great and super convenient for a while, until I came to a startling revelation – there are more than thirty good shows, and even worse than that, people keep making new ones. Clearly there’s no way I could have predicted this turn of events, but I’m doing my best to take it in stride. And in the spirit of promoting More Good Things, I’ve decided to create this Additional Top Shows supplement.

I don’t really want to cut off shows when they fall out of the thirty – I’d rather recommend more good stuff than less, and the number was initially envisioned more as a quality marker than a hard, arbitrary line. And so instead of having shows disappear and be gone forever, shows that drop out of the thirty, or that just barely don’t make it, will instead find their home here in the Top Shows Addendum. I hope you enjoy this jumbled list of Slightly Less Top But Still Pretty Great Shows!

46. Samurai Flamenco

Samurai Flamenco

Samurai Flamenco is a messy friggin’ show, but that’s actually part of its charm. It jumps from genre to genre, villain to villain, never content to simply tell one story and be done with it. Part super sentai parody, part subdued character drama, part societal critique, and all ridiculous, it somehow manages to hold itself together and make some grand overarching statements about the nature of heroes, justice, and how we view the world. Almost anything I say about Samurai Flamenco would ruin part of its charm, so all I’m going to say is: it’s pretty great. Uneven, yes. Flawed, for sure. But also brimming with energy, creativity, and NICE JUSTICE.

Here’s my essay on Samurai Flamenco.

Samurai Flamenco is not available outside of Japan.

45. Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain

I’m not really an atmosphere-focused guy, but Serial Experiments Lain is just so very good at atmosphere that it demands my respect regardless. Its soundtrack, visual design, and constantly unnerving direction promote a vivid sense of alienation, claustrophobia, and paranoia, all perfect for a show so focused on the strange, identity-stressing nature of the internet. Part mystery thriller, part surreal horror story, Lain builds an acute inner reality stressed by every element of its production, and all of its strengths contribute to the central questions of what creates or defines a reality or self.

Serial Experiments Lain is available at Right Stuf and Amazon.

44. Maoyuu Maou Yuusha

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha

Like all the other shows in this area, Maoyuu is not a perfect show – but it is certainly an ambitious one. Though somewhat weighed down by awkward pacing and mediocre romantic elements, it rises above itself in its attempts to chart the progression of history, human nature, and the pursuit of a just society. Its characters work as both human beings and ideals in a larger frame, its conflicts are tangible and relevant, and its peaks are just tremendous. Even if you consider the show no more than a justification for its central speech on the nature of humanity and the value of education, it’d still be worth a watch. And surround that speech with a fantasy drama this engaging and intelligent, and you’ve got a show well worth the price of entry.

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha is available at Right Stuff and Amazon.

43. Terror in Resonance

Terror in Resonance

Though it’s not quite as fully realized as Watanabe’s best work, Terror in Resonance certainly doesn’t lack for ambition. It tells a story of youth in revolt that touches on the meaning of terrorism, the alienation of modern society, culture clash across the post-war generations of Japan, and plenty else besides. It doesn’t fully explore all of these ideas, and its overt narrative is a messy thing, but at its best moments, it perfectly evokes a kind of hopeless optimism and yearning for escape that highlights both the beauty of youth and the various cages of adulthood. Plus, Terror in Resonance is one of few anime that looks legitimately filmic – its direction, use of lighting, and soundtrack all contribute to put it in an aesthetic bracket few shows can match. It’s a heart-on-sleeve production, and beautiful besides.

Here’s my essay on Terror in Resonance.

Terror in Resonance is not yet available outside of Japan.

42. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya + Disappearance

Haruhi Suzumiya

Haruhi is a strange one – a diverse muddle of genres and priorities that occasionally stumbles and ends up largely redeemed by its followup film. The actual show Haruhi is basically the archetypal light novel adaptation grandfather of so many modern shows – mysterious powers, wacky school shenanigans, lots of episodic adventures. All of that probably sounds kinda ho-hum at this point, but Haruhi elevates itself in all sorts of ways – the excellent production, the vast variety of genres it spans, and the way it only occasionally brushes at the darker implications of its premise all make it very satisfying episode-to-episode. And considering how popular Haruhi once was, it’s all the more impressive that at this point, people often say Disappearance “justifies” the series. That’s maybe a little hyperbolic, but it’s also kind of true – Disappearance is an absolutely fantastic piece of work.

Haruhi Suzumiya is available at Amazon.

41. Death Parade

Death Parade

Death Parade gives every appearance of being a schlocky, exploitation-focused production. The premise is tailor-made for melodrama, and there seems to be an inherent cynicism implied in its structure. Fortunately, the execution elevates this show to near-classic status. That starts with the direction and visuals, which are dynamic and beautiful, continues with the very classy soundtrack, and ends at the stellar writing. Death Parade has the unenviable task of making us feel sympathy for characters within half an episode of getting to know them, but the show nails its vignettes again and again, and the ultimate building story about the value of life itself comes together in a melancholy and deeply affecting final act. Not all episodes are equally good, but overall Death Parade is an equally rich and accessible drama.

Here’s my review of Death Parade.

Death Parade is not yet available.

40. Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

Sekai Seifuku

I know Sekai Seifuku probably looks terrible, but seriously. Well, not entirely seriously – Sekai Seifuku is in large part a comedy, and is powered partially by Looney Tunes absurdity, Community-style heart-on-sleeve character humor, and a sense of surreal whimsy all its own. But this show builds its ridiculous ingredients into something legitimately heartfelt – a quirky, occasionally bleak adventure focusing on the meaning and power of family in all its forms. It’s funny and endearing, inventive and earnest, and likes its protagonists themselves accomplishes far more than you’d ever expect. As with all comedies, Sekai Seifuku is bound to be hit or miss – but if its humor works for you, there is a lot to love here.

Here’s my essay on Sekai Seifuku.

Sekai Seifuku is not available outside of Japan.

39. The Flowers of Evil

The Flowers of Evil

The Flowers of Evil is a legitimately painful experience. It’s heavy, oppressive, and relentless – a hard show to watch that only gets more soul-crushing as it continues. Some shows are meant to be enjoyed, but Flowers of Evil is meant to be endured – its paranoid internal monologues, alienating soundtrack, and beautifully ruddy backgrounds all weave together to create a horrifying internal world. And yet, through that horror, it actually creates something intensely moving. It’s a work of tremendous atmospheric potency, a story that pulls no punches in evoking the anxieties of adolescent with every element of its production. And when the veil of anxiety lifts and the characters actually scream their emotions at each other, it erupts in moments of overwhelming catharsis. It’s beautifully painful, yes, but it’s also just beautiful.

Here’s my review of Flowers of Evil.

The Flowers of Evil is available at Right Stuf and Amazon.

38. Code Geass

Code Geass

Code Geass is dumb fun that is so confident in its own madness that you have to laugh along. It’s probably the best example of a tradition recently upheld by JoJo, where a show can be good, bad, and so bad it’s good all at the same time – its narrative is ludicrous and characters absurd, but it’s so sincere and so good at being entertaining that it sells you on everything by sheer force of personality. Popcorn is an art form, and Geass is a master of its craft – it does everything larger than life, and weaves a convoluted thriller/drama with such a sense of scale and fun that it’s impossible not to get carried along. The glorious, unapologetic summer blockbuster of the anime world.

Code Geass is available on Amazon.

37. Paranoia Agent

Paranoia Agent

Paranoia Agent is master director Satoshi Kon’s one and only TV anime series, and he certainly made the most of the opportunity. Horror is an incredibly difficult thing to get right in animation, but Paranoia Agent is nerve-wracking psychological horror through and through. Flawed and uncertain characters are hounded by the grinning Shounen Bat, and through their compelling personal stories Kon slowly paints a haunting portrait of a world in decline, full of haunted individuals unable to come to terms with their own lives. The show is also an audio-visual feast, evoking a strong sense of atmosphere and alternately coming off as traditionally filmic or wildly creative. Things get a little shaky in the show’s second half, but that doesn’t really diminish Paranoia Agent’s stature as one of the best horror-dramas out there.

Paranoia Agent is sadly out of print at the moment.

36. Baccano!


People have described Baccano as the anime version of a Tarantino movie, which to me seems like kind of an insult to Tarantino. Not because Baccano is bad, but because the things the two share – a penchant for non-linear structure and a love of ultraviolence – are basically the least interesting things about Tarantino movies. And Baccano itself is impressive in all sorts of other ways – ridiculous and fun and breathless and breezy, it juggles time periods, endless characters, and rampant subplots with an ease resembling controlled madness, coming off as a slight, entertaining crime caper in spite of all its ridiculous convolution. The end result is closer to Guy Ritchie than Tarantino, but Baccano is ultimately its own thing – an entertaining ride well worth the ticket.

Baccano is available at Amazon.

35. K-On!


Slice of life isn’t generally my scene, but K-On! is just too generally excellent at what it does not to highlight. Ostensibly a story about a high school band, the show is really just a derpy comedy that ends up doubling as a surprisingly affecting mood piece. And K-On!’s director, Naoka Yamada, is one of the best in the industry at both of those things. K-On! soars on the strength of consistent tiny gags and wondrous scene-setting, building up its characters through humor while simultaneously establishing their school as a truly living place through great composition and framing. It’s a very breezy show that’s generally easy to relax with, but it’s the last half of its second season where it becomes something more. Building on all its small pieces of character work and tonal drama, it offers an honest and heartfelt expression of the end of a beloved experience. The cast’s last months of high school go by in a rush of goodbyes and final performances and gifts to old friends, making for a surprisingly moving conclusion to the “girls goof around in their afterschool club” show.

Here’s my review of K-On!’s second season.

K-On! is available at Amazon.

34. Mawaru Penguindrum

Mawaru Penguindrum

Though I don’t find it as compelling as Utena, Penguindrum is still stuffed with all the brilliant Ikuhara-ness that makes that show shine. Vibrant characters, plentiful visual inventiveness, a rich mix of ideas (this time concerning family, childhood, the nature of society, fate, and all sorts of other stuff I’d rather not spoil)… Ikuhara shows are busy, but Penguindrum manages to tie all this substance to a fast-paced, compelling central drama. What would you do to save the people you love? What composes your identity, and what is your identity really worth? The show is wild and absurd, but it stays grounded by virtue of the resonant issues it grapples with, along with the passionate, flawed, endlessly endearing family at the center of its spin.

Penguindrum is available at Amazon.

33. Psycho-Pass


This show’s pretty textbook Urobuchi – one part compelling fantasy setting (a thoughtcrime-obsessed dystopian cyber-future), one part fun tweak on a classic genre (crime procedural by way of Bladerunner), and one part cynical yet optimistic attack on the inhumanity of utilitarianism, as well as the poignance of human nature. It’s fun as a straight crime drama, it works as a sharp-edged exploration of how society always creates friction with the individual, and its aesthetic is all kinds of stylish. Not Urobuchi’s best work, but standard Urobuchi is much better than most anime out there.

Psycho-Pass is available at Amazon.

32. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Gurren Lagann

Gurren Lagann is absolutely Not My Kind of Show, but it’s just so good at what it does that I have to love it anyway. The energy, the enthusiasm, the soundtrack, the fantastic visuals – it’s an exuberant love letter to mechs, hyperbole, and hot-blooded enthusiasm, and you’ll either absolutely hate it or end up swept away. It’s also pretty funny (though this is mixed with plenty of stuff that’s pretty not funny), has a broad and endearing cast, and even has one point of actual intelligence – Rossiu, whose arc and conflict possess a depth bizarrely out of whack with everything else the show is doing. Rossiu’s existence is probably the tipping point that knocks this show onto this list, but if you’re in the mood for pure, silly entertainment, Gurren Lagann is happy to entertain.

Gurren Lagann is available at Amazon.

31. Suisei no Gargantia


Gargantia is both the most complex exploration of Urobuchi’s ideas he’s yet attempted and likely the most deliberately personal story of any of his works. By tying his usual ideas about utilitarianism and human nature to the story of one young man finding purpose in a new, unfamiliar society, he turns Gargantia into both a positive story about the rewards of embracing adulthood and an exploration of the purpose of society in the first place. Gargantia’s also just an enjoyable show to spend time with – the world of Gargantia is rich and beautiful, and the way the show shifts between full genres throughout its run does a great service to both Ledo’s journey and the impact of Gargantia as a setting. It’s fun, pretty, and possibly the most unassumingly thoughtful of all of Urobuchi’s shows.

Here’s my review of Gargantia.

Gargantia is available at Amazon.

85 thoughts on “Top Shows Addendum

  1. Pingback: Top 30 Anime Series of All Time | Wrong Every Time

  2. I… didn’t like Maoyuu. I even wrote a post about how much I didn’t like it. Despite the praise I would have given to the show’s focus on economics and politics, the show made equal time and equal focus for comparatively inane things like the romance you mentioned and lots of other little things that slowly added up as the episodes passed by. Compile this with how the show ended and me reading the manga and all of a sudden this anime goes lower and lower in my eyes. I guess I didn’t get what I paid for when I went into this show.

    But hey, the music has its definite high points though. And there’s that one song that plays in episode 6 when they’re sewing the ice sheets together but I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

    • Yeah, it’s definitely a flawed show. I see it as a show of serious peaks and valleys, but for me, the peaks definitely justified the weaker material.

    • My only experience as an anime blogger was for Maoyuu, whose premise I had liked. The result was… less than satisfying.

      I was seriously disappointed by lots of stuff. I wasn’t immediately as turned off as eminor from MoeSucks was, for example, by the political content of the show (that’s still quite problematic), but the dullness of it all, the lack of characterization, and the extremely simplistic world view got to me. I don’t think it was absolutely bad, just absolutely forgettable.

    • Same here. Maoyu did not do anything much for me due to its very awkward pacing and romance.

      I do love its ambition though. Another point to love is its way in brushing off harem between the two leads. The music is meh but the story has got to be something.

      For me, it is more like Log Horizon with better visuals but with slower progression.

  3. Bringing up Maouyu, I’d like to take a moment and reflect on something male writers (or at least those light novel writers in Japan) have some difficulty doing: writing good female characters.

    Two things strike me in Maouyu: The Lady Knight or whatever her name is (because Maouyu insists on not actually using names) is written to be like a man in a woman’s body while Maou is a scholar who is for no apparent reason also enamored by the protagonist, as is the Lady Knight. For Lady Knight in particular, I feel like the author’s refusal to name his characters highlight this problem futher: Lady Knight is inherently defined by her name- female, knight, and subverted to the Yuusha, both status wise and romatically.

    With that out of the way, I want to expand the discussion to anime in general, particularly on how in popular animes, character love has become more of a commodity than a strong character interaction. For example, why does every female character present in the series need to like the (male) protagonist? Even Nagi no Asakura is guilty of this, where Chisaki, Manaka, and what’s-her-face have feelings for Hikari. Modern writers seem to feel deeply insecure about making the audience like the protagonist.

    So how does one write a ‘good’ female character? Several criticisms that often face female characters include being binary and objectified. Many characters are cookie cutters, like the classic tsundere or a Rei-archetype character. Because often times anime is aimed at teenage boys, these women often seem less like real people and more like a selection of girls for the male character, who takes the center stage, to select. Another criticism is the contrast between useless and stupid, to just being male. Characters like Elsi from The World God Only Knows are throwaway moe-moe characters that are there to promote sales, having little to no contribution to the plot. On the other hand, we also have tough as nails characters like Balalaika, who is arguably a traditional male character in a woman’s body. In that case, why is this character female when she’s actually male?

    Which brings me to the validity of the gender argument. Should we really care about whether we have a man in a woman’s body? As you brought up with the debate between high school characters and adults, an extension could be: should female characters reflect issues relevant to females and male characters reflect issues relevant to males? Personally, I think choosing the gender of your character should always be a meaningful one; the simple swap of a best friend from boy to girl suddenly creates (or negates, depending on sexual orientation) sexual tension between their male or female companion. But this doesn’t mean that a character should not have ‘traditional’ female issues.

    In the end, writing a good female character comes back to both narrative purpose and motivation. The first point about making a female character is that a good female character is much like a good male character- they have backstory, motivations, thoughts, and their own decisions. And that means that building character traits based on common aspects throughout literature is absolutely fine, but what’s not fine is stopping there. Female characters are often too bland in anime because they are not written with enough depth, or given those small traits that make just ‘people’ more human.

    Male writers already know what it is like to be a male, so maybe they need to do more research on what it is like to be a female?


    • Well yeah, female characters obviously need to be fully human individuals reflective of their experiences. I think you’re really abusing the “man in a woman’s body” complaint, though. A female character having some traditionally masculine elements to her personality does not make her a “man in a woman’s body,” and just dismissing characters like that is extremely reductive.

      • Before I start, I do want to note that you are taking my complaint farther than I mean it. Dismissing characters is different from criticising them. With that being said:

        Universally praising them is also not neccessarily the right course of action either. I did include a paragraph in there discussing the value of whether we should care about whether a female being a “man in a woman’s body” is even a valid complaint:

        “Which brings me to the validity of the gender argument. Should we really care about whether we have a man in a woman’s body? As you brought up with the debate between high school characters and adults, an extension could be: should female characters reflect issues relevant to females and male characters reflect issues relevant to males? Personally, I think choosing the gender of your character should always be a meaningful one; the simple swap of a best friend from boy to girl suddenly creates (or negates, depending on sexual orientation) sexual tension between their male or female companion. But this doesn’t mean that a character should not have ‘traditional’ female issues.”

        What I discuss here is that if you ONLY write a man and then swap the genders, I believe the author is inevitably going about the character creation process of a female character the wrong way (not to imply that author’s actually do this, but frequently, this occurs unconciously). In this paragraph, I note that it is important that authors remember to respect a character’s gender as they would an actual human being. A tomboy-ish character should not in every aspect be a boy, except she’s a girl. Why is her personality the way it is? What is important to her and how does that translate into the narrative world? Too many times, I see authors try to circumvent these issues through masculinity. Bella is hated for being too weak and feminine while Katniss is praised for being masculine- what I want to emphasize is that writing a character like Bella, who’s looking for love and got her own say in her relationship, is perfectly fine, while writing a character like Katniss, who doesn’t struggle with the feeling of taking a life and is out for blood, does not automatically justify her as a better character. That sort of thing.

      • Twilight’s Bella? She’s a toxic fantasy mesh of tropes involving the supposed innate female inclination for dependency and subjugation. Women aren’t all like that, and they shouldn’t be seen or encouraged to act like that accordingly. Hell, human beings shouldn’t be encouraged to live under a caressing heel.

        Sex is a biological thing. That’s just something innate to people, but gender… gender is a social construction, an arbitrary fabrication that’s been juxtaposed so closely with sex for so long that people don’t see the difference. People are defined by their gender, and the masculine and feminine associations of certain behaviors, qualities, or things so long as they believe it is. But people aren’t plainly divided on those lines. Many men like some traditionally things, and for women, visa-versa. It blurs artificial gender boundaries.

      • @zeroreq011

        In regards to Bella, I respect your interpretation, but I also know that there are a lot of sound arguments out there that, while they do not neccessarily praise her, note that Bella is not as much of a “female subjugation” symbol as people make her out to be. Bella is in her situation because the plot puts her in that situation, but based on the novels, which I shamefully admit to having all read, she makes her own choices about who she wants to love and she’s protected often because she must. There are plenty of other female characters in Twilight (not to say that Twlight is a good series, or that I like the series, but I do believe it has its own merits) who disprove that point as well, like Rosaline who struggles with her desire for her child and Alice, who moves as independently as independence is. In the last novel, once Bella does have her own power, she stands as an equal to everyone else. Edward may want Bella to do what he thinks is best for her, but remember that Bella more often than not does what she thinks is best for her. So just because she’s in love with her sparkly, chiseled vampire boyfriend doesn’t make her the paradigm of being dominated (once again, I do not like Twilight).

        I agree with much of what you say here, but I want to provide a counterargument from a different perspective.

        YES, you do not have to be defined by your gender, and no one should be! I can like plush dolls if I want to and my female friends can like guns if they want to! I completely agree with that part.

        On the other hand though, this does not change that my male friends are male, my female friends are female, and that their friends and I, or members of society in general, are sensitive about that. I am straight, and because of that, I can have those awkward gay moments with my male friends and laugh about that. But if I am with a female, I can’t just ignore that fact. I try to treat them the same way, but if you do that, you might miss some clues. In my attempts to treat one of my female friends the same way as I treat my male friends, I ended up completely missing subtle cues she tried to give me, as I would later find out when she told me directly.

        And in society, it’s hard to deny that there isn’t female inequality in the job market. Are there reasons for that? Maybe. Is it society’s attitude towards it? Maybe.

        So definitely, people are not defined by their genders, but I can’t help but think that most times, people associate their gender as part of their identity, and that has implications, no matter how ideal we would like gender boundaries in the modern world to be.

      • It could be a case of the narrative tailoring itself to Bella’s needs and desires, but you probably know more about Twilight than I do.

        Sure, life’s generally tougher for societal women, but I’m not going to assume that in a show unless it’s clear that the show makes a big deal about that. Fiction, especially anime, assumes certain premises to make focused points.

      • I don’t think that Bella’s desire to be dominated could transform an entire family into superhuman vampires that could crush skulls with the flick of a finger. That’s an inherrent, physical power issue more than it is an emotional power issue. Edward often gets his way because he’s a vampire that can do things humans can’t, but Bella manages to get her way nevertheless because she sticks to her guns and Edward respects that (once again, I do not like Twilight).

        A woman can be affected by society no matter the narrative as long as society exists. For example, a normal girl is exposed to media that advertises to her products targeted towards women, like skin care products. A girl caring about looks and a girl not caring are both equal, because oftentimes there are reasons for both.

        Especially with anime, I can respect that they want to limit the scope of their stories, but I think we should aim for a higher quality of female characters. In the anime world, women are objectified extremely often, be it in galges, harems, shounen power fantasies- etc. Little sister characters are composed of 100% onii-chan love and tsunderes spend all their time trying to think about how to not like the main character.


        Bad: “Why are you good at sports, a model, and smart Kirino?”
        “I love onii-chan but he didn’t want to play with me.”
        (disclaimer: Kirino does have some good points)

        Good: “Why do you love science Kurisu?”
        “When I was young, my father taught me all sorts of science, but when I tried to show him a paper I wrote about why I thought time machines were impossible, he screamed at me and I never saw him again. Since then, I’ve worked to be a genius scientist, etc.”
        (disclaimer: Kurisu isn’t perfect either)

      • Sure, I’m all gung-ho about that, but again, for me, that’s less a matter of making competently-written female characters as it is just making competently-written characters in general. If the show’s going to make female inequality in society an issue, then by all means, the show should go whole hog on making its case in oft reference to men. Otherwise, I’m going to stick to what the show thematically has in mind.

      • That’s perfectly fine, but before I pass out from exhaustion, a little food for thought:

        When someone asks me my favorite anime characters, I start thinking something along the lines of:

        Joseph Joestar

        In about that order. I don’t know how your list would go, but despite me liking a lot of female characters in anime, the male characters are always the ones I can think of first and usually find to be better.

        Why is it that in NGNL, Sora is the one who makes all the decisions while Shirou is pretty much the utility character? What if we swapped their genders? It suddenly becomes a lot less effective, because the viewer wants to see the moe anime girl get doted on. So then in this case, the little boy Sora would make the decisons WITH his onee-chan Shriou. The age difference negates the gender difference. Which I find to be a damn shame.

      • To each their own then. They are good explanations, and I can respect their choice, but I don’t necessarily have to like it (if you noticed, I am a partial subscriber to some feminist issues).

        Rather than the “Female Knight likes Hero” point, I find the whole “Hero is the paradigm of his name” thing to be more boring. And this is more of a personal issue, because people can take their own interpretations of romantic dynamics their own way, but I don’t think liking a character for X trait is usually a good way to write characters. For example, would this story really lose anything at all if Female Knight didn’t like Hero? They don’t have particularly powerful character dynamics, and the feelings of Female Knight for Hero aren’t especially important either. Maybe we could talk about true love vs infatuation, but that’s not really relevant to the core narrative either.

        But yes, female characters need to be written like humans, but what defines “writing a human” is also important, which is why I talked about several of the ways females are portrayed in anime. Most memorable, well written characters are male while many female characters are not given the love (the right kind of authorial love) they deserve.

        Maoyuu’s strengths are certainly grounded in its politics and economics, but the minimalist nature of everything else accentuates the fact that this was originally a light novel and light novels need to make money.

      • I don’t think the show would lose anything substance wise, but I don’t find it hurts the show that much either to have it. The romantic elements might leave more to be desired, but at the very least, they are an avenue to explore these characters and they provide the show with some pacing.

        You have to look beyond the surface and see what made them the way they are. You mentioned Katniss in another post. Katniss’ “masculine” martial prowess is justified by the fact she had to live a hard life in order to scrap enough subsistence for herself and her family, and one of those means was through hunting. Many people who’ve lived hard lives do what they have to in order to protect what they care about, and that means taking charge. Many sisters would want to save their other sibling’s lives, and many want to return back home with their lives intact.

        I mean, it’s a similar argument to how complain about movies that were otherwise fine because they lacked racial diversity. Criticize the movie industry, if you will, as a whole, but if movie’s narrative was inoffensive on matters of race and the actors did great jobs, then it’s contriving an agenda.

      • You’ve got a good point. Criticizing Maoyuu for its female characters when the issue of female characters isn’t really a valid complaint. On the other hand, I am criticizing it in the scope of “the anime industry” as a whole, so I just want to use Maoyuu as an example of some of the problems other animes suffer more heavily from.

        And you’re right with Katniss too. I don’t dismiss the points you make; those are undeniably good points. And I don’t dismiss her as a character either. But that doesn’t mean I have beefs with her. I can understand the motivations you outline in your post, but Katniss also is unfeeling in other respects. Killing someone is different from killing an animal, and that’s not something The Hunger Games addresses within Katniss. And she’s completely unfeeling and unreserved about her fake interactiong with Peeta. There are other issues that crop up later in the sequels as well. So I don’t think she’s undeserving as a character, but I do think that that definitely doesn’t make her a better character than Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind (which is an intentionally unfair comparison).

      • I don’t think she’s the most expertly crafted character ever either, but I think she’s full-bodied, all the same. Though I think a distinction can be made between hot and cold blooded murder, and most of her kills, at least, happened to be the former. People tend not to think about the former until they’ve allowed themselves given some time to destress, and even then, that’s less likely to happen if there’s something you’re absolutely focused on accomplishing.

    • The framework of this opening comment is a little weird. The complaint about all girls liking the protagonist is valid, but then you jump to the “man in woman’s body” thing, as well as a stylistic complaint about the character framing device in Maoyuu. These are all fairly independent points, each with their own network of issues. Of course the resulting conversation is going to be super disjointed.

      character love has become more of a commodity than a strong character interaction
      This is not so much of a problem with gender-writing as just the promulgation of certain notions of romance, where love comes first, and development after. See how Guinevere and Lancelot are commonly completely defined by their affair. Even E.B. White did it to them. Note how this can be independent of the anime-harem tendency. Lots of people get fed up with fanfiction and shoujo because they, too, are realms where the execution of lurve tends to have higher priority than character.

      As for the everyone-loves-the-protagonist thing, note that in such situations, the useless harem lead tends to be just as badly written as the haremettes. It’s not a zero sum game of quality. Yes, loving Yuusha did damage to Lady Knight’s character, but was Yuusha any better of a character for it, either? It was bad character-execution all around.

      Man-in-woman’s body: People bringing this up as a problem never fails to make me uneasy. As someone who has moved towards considering themselves agender, this argument feels a little like trying to rationalize backtracking. In American cinema alone, you’ve had your Ingrid Bergmans, your Katherine Hepburns, your Rosalind Russells, your Liza Minnellis, your Meryl Streeps. Now let me have my unabashed badasses and butches. There’s not enough of them in media, and certainly not enough of them to say that we’ve had too many of them and need to make them more feminine again, which is a troublingly nebulous concept to begin with, and reinforces traditional gender standards and roles. Sure, we can talk about how society reacts to tomboys because they’re still biologically female, but that is in no way the same as making them “more feminine” or a legitimate argument as to why man-in-woman’s body is bad. Think about the nonchalant gender-swap of Starbuck in the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, or Ripley in Alien. The short answer is: it’s all about context and execution.

      List of “best” characters: That’s more of a reflection of what you’ve seen, and perhaps an unconscious Female Character Blindspot keeping you focussed on male characters.
      I would argue that anime has unintentionally produced a wider variety of great female characters than in western media, which continues to be hampered by traditional beauty standards and gendered genre perceptions. That unintentionally precisely comes from ignoring more realistic worldbuilding and sometimes pandering to a desire to watch cute girls doing a variety of things, from tankery, to wielding Excalibur, to rocking that electric guitar solo, to saving the world. Sometimes the desire to watch cute girls doing things without those pesky boys intruding int produces some of the most unintentionally complex depictions of femininity, because in a cast of only females, some will take roles that would be male in another world, but are considered no less feminine for it. In the context of the anime industry, they can still be the product of otaku pandering, but taken outside of that context, they are examples of complex gender portrayals that you can’t really find in live action western media. Just look at Sailor Moon.

      • About character love:
        Shonen: Which girl to a pick?
        Shoujo: How do I get the guy?

        No matter which genre we want to pick here, it still revolves around “good looking guy, devoted heroine, and her half-baked rivals.” That’s the problem I have with the anime depiction of females and love.

        In anime harems, the main character is a male. We look through the world view of the male. The author tries his very best to make the male sympathetic. The male is the one with the problems we REALLY care about. So maybe there’s not a difference in character quality, but there is definitely a difference in character “value” according to the depiction. This is also why I find it harder to be focused on the female characters- because the stories make an attempt to make the protagonist stand out and memorable. It’s why I can think of Hikigaya and his hatred for the world instead of Yukino and her… kuudere-ness? Or Shinji and his cowardice instead of Asuka and her… tsundere-ness? And it goes on and on. This is a problem with Japanese Animation. They could learn something from Korea, where I find female leads to be much more effective and memorable becuase they have a higher priority and emphasis than in anime. In anime, often times the viewer just wants to see the male lead be a badass (Black Bullet, SAO, Mahouka, etc.).

        The “man in a woman’s body” is more of a cautionary tale than anything. It warns authors that their approach for writing female characters shouldn’t be “how can I negate as many percieved female stereotypes as possible?” So for me, it is a question of extremes. When someone writes a female character, there are times where they may think to themselves, “Am I making this character overly and stereotypically female?” For example, the childhood friend character who is good at cooking and wears fashionable clothes. One thing they may note is that this character may benefit, depending on context, from me introducing those little quirks that are traditionally masculine, like the “I can beat everybody up when I’m angry” aspect, but turning up that level higher and higher doesn’t neccessarily do the same thing. I’ve seen plenty of these characters who try to make up for character depth with “originality” through the introduction of masculine characteristics.

        And that might be what it comes down to- a vain pursuit of apparent originality in female characters in a time where writing male characters is comparatively easy. This argument is about warning writers that it’s okay to write both masculine females and traditional females, but refocuses the question to “How do these traits arise in the first place?” Questioning a character’s train of thought and their backstory is a better question than “What traits should I select for my female character?” and that is what I have been promoting this entire time. Both you and zeroreq011 have argued about the value of gender itself in a character but I stand by my stance that choosing to write a realistic and high quality female character means being aware of that character’s gender, or giving a good reason for why they ignore their gender- that could be a story in itself. A man who likes men is different from a man who likes women, who is different from a woman who likes men, who is different from a woman who likes women, who is different from etc. Any number of reasons can impact these differences, from sex life, to desires, to societal impact, to history, to etc.

        • Character love:
          As an aside, I find the fandom reaction to this interesting. Males seem to tend towards supporting harem set-ups, but females will tend towards homosexual shipping. In shounen, they’ll prefer to slash the male protagonist and his eternal male rival together, and I’m starting to see a tumblr trend of people preferring to drop the male harem lead in favor of shipping the girls with each other. This is somewhat the case even in western media.

          I think you’re addressing two different problems here: quality and representation.

          If you look at the promotional images for anime shows on Hulu, it’s really misleading. The images for harem and ecchi shows usually don’t feature the male lead at all, and make it seem like the show will be a cast of only females, and thus yuri fodder. And then you read the show description, and it’s “[male lead] was like this, but then the thing happened and now he’s in this wacky situation!” See also this. In the comments, someone notes that 70% of their favorite characters are female because it seems that the majority of anime male leads are dull. Now, as I said before, it’s not a zero-sum game of quality. This doesn’t make the female characters any better. But I have to disagree with your perception that “the stories make an attempt to make the protagonist stand out and memorable.”

          What this means is that there’s a general lack of good character writing in anime, regardless of gender. Even in popular power or sexual fantasy set-ups that appear to favor males, characters of both genders are written poorly. That’s a complaint of quality.

          What you’re getting at with the “all anime is good looking guy, devoted heroine, and her half-baked rivals” is a complaint not of quality, but of representation. You can have good characters in shoujo or shounen in this set-up. The problem is that there aren’t enough female characters that break this mold, regardless of their quality.

          So then things get weird when you jump back to the conversation about “apparent originality,” because that’s skipping the representation solution to go back to quality only. Suddenly, it’s not enough to have female character that break the mold, they also have to be written perfectly, even though there’s no pressure on their male counterparts to aspire to the same standards. As writers expand their variety, there will always be Sturgeon’s Law, so on the scope of the industry, it’s the variety that matters. If we worry too much only about the quality, we’ll end up with lots of well-developed females that are all in love with the protagonist, because there’s nothing inherently wrong with love stories, and there are characters with well thought out backstories and motivations that justifiably lead to the cliched set-ups, but the true problem is that there’s little else being presented.

          In addition, the easiest way to avoid “how can I negate as many perceived female stereotypes as possible?” is to simply write a good character, regardless of gender. It’s not the best method, as you’ve pointed out, but it’s a good first step, because not paying attention to what’s subversive or not is itself a form of breaking down gender roles. Furthermore, the context matters. If a story is set in another universe or another world, their current society might not have the same gender perceptions that we do. There is no obligation to make any certain world patriarchal just because it’s a medieval setting, which just reinforces such perceptions in real life. Agender characters are just as valid as cisgender characters.

          Personally, when watching Oregairu, I was more focused on Yukino and her sibling complex and Yui’s dilemma being an extrovert that can’t quite fit in. Hachiman was a good character, but my own mental configurations while watching didn’t find him that interesting without bouncing off of the rest of the cast.

          I’ll have to disagree with you on Kdrama vs. Anime, because of Sturgeon’s Law. Both have a small percentage of well-written females, and a sea of muck otherwise. If I had to tally all of the shoujo tropes popular in Kdrama, especially that damned wrist grab…Perhaps you’ve seen more of the well-written females in Kdrama than I have, and I’ve seen more of the well-written females in anime than you have. Perhaps Kdrama has higher quality females, (for a given measure of quality, see again my personal preference for agender) but I believe that anime has a wider variety of representation, because females in Kdrama do tend to fall back on shoujo tropes once romance inevitably gets involved, no matter what their characterization was like beforehand.

      • I’m just going to sum up my argument, because I don’t really want to write another essay: I think representation and quality are two things that are inseperable (because when you spend time with a character, they usually get better), female characters are well liked not for their personalities but for their moe-ness/breasts-durrrrr (this is why harem animes have only girls in their posters- because girls = sales, regardless of yuri or not), and that when we select the genders of our characters, it has impacts on the entirety of a story, because otherwise we can get away with introducing only girls with one male lead (see every light novel eveerrrrrrr, except some are pretty good).

        I also stand by my personal opinion that Hachiman stole the show because not only was he an outstanding character, but other characters became outstanding when they interacted with him (including the teacher, Yukino, Yui, Hayama, etc.). Not only was he personally fantastic, but he made the other characters shine when they bounced off each other.

        The First Shop of Coffee Prince was one K-Drama where I heavily favored the female protagonist.

        • A case of quality and representation being independent is the Disney Princesses. Looking at each movie individually, each princess, besides Snow White and Cinderella, are pretty well written insofar as females with their own motivations and actions. Yet they all fall in love with the bland male counterpart. (besides, Aladdin and maybe Shang) This is why Frozen, which individually may not be that special, is still notable for subverting those standards with Hans and the ultimate True Love moment. They all had quality, but not necessarily representation.

          otherwise we can get away with introducing only girls with one male lead
          Sorry, I know you don’t want to write another essay, but I don’t quite understand this chain of logic? I guess you mean by how roles that would traditionally be male, such as the male lead’s best friend, wingman, bro, rival, etc. get turned into female to up the T&A ratio and harem count? I can agree with that. But that does still only apply to the many-girls-one-boy set-up. I watch mostly all-girl or even-ratio casts, so I see more of the benefits than the disadvantages. Battlestar Galactica’s reboot actually did several gender swaps to turn it from generic space opera sausage-fest into progressive lady-celebrating SciFi. And while quality was the prime factor, ensuring the swapped characters were allso very well written, I can’t help but think about The Avengers or Lord of the Rings, who had outstanding female characters, and still fail Bechdel.
          That’s why I can’t get too angry at moeblob crap in Girls Und Panzer, or their intended audience in Japan, because GIRLS COMPETENTLY PILOTING TANKS AS SPORT. Where can you find that in even the most feminist western media!? Viva la Death of the Author.

      • I’m not sure how this example disproves my point, because I find Disney Princesses to generally receive more representation and development than in anime. And oftentimes, Disney Princesses are the protagonists, where the male is in a more supportive role (Mulan, The Little Mermaid, etc.). Frozen is an example where the relationship between the sisters is a bigger part of the narrative than any role the prince plays. And while we’re on the topic of Disney movies, I really liked Wreck-It Ralph and the interaction between Ralph and Vanellope, both of whom I loved equally throughout the movie.

        Your interpretation of my point is mostly correct. To elaborate, I believe that chossing your character’s gender is an important decision when writing, on account of several factors including audience, culture, interpersonal interactions, theme, etc. Unfortunately, I have never seen Battlestar Galactica’s reboot, so I can’t comment about that. In regards to this point as a whole, I don’t really feel like elaborating on it any further as I feel that we just have differing opinions on this subject.

      • I suppose I should also give a disclaimer. Choosing a gender for your character may not matter if it is a character that does not play a significant role in the story, or if the setting is inherently agender or devoid of sexual tension, the former requiring the story to address this in some way (you usually cannot assume this because most anime takes place in a country, i.e. Japan) and the latter usually being out of laziness. Otherwise, especially for a primary character, gender is extremely important. Imagine if Gwen Stacy was Ben Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man.

  4. No White Album 2? Aww… but glad Maoyuu’s up there, since its politics is pretty spot on from a liberalism sort of perspective. The romance leaves much to be desired, but at the same time, it grounds the series with some pacing.

  5. Both Zvezda and Maoyuu are in my favorite list. Glad you enjoy them too.

    Maoyuu is quite amusing one. Yes, it is amusing how modern man rewrite a pure version of his own history, where progression happened nicely and the actor of history did his job properly, where the individual totally disappeared and necessity reigned supremely. Maoyuu is just a filtered history so it is void of impurity, aside from fan-service =).

    Zvezda, well, is a funny one. Very funny and erratic. But behind every series of unreasonable thing, there must be a something reasonable, just as every reasonable thing must be expressed through a series of unreasonable. In my opinion, Zvezda is a very bold example of Anti-Machiavellianism and Kate can be viewed as an anti-thesis of “The Prince”.

    • Umm… Maoyuu chronicles the rise of liberalism. Liberalism is an age of reason, enlightenment thing. Reason in the context of enlightenment subscribes to modern political philosophy. Modern political philosophy champions the individual.

      The conceptual rise of the individual’s very important to Maoyuu.

      • Ah, of course the rise of capitalist is going along with the rise of liberalism. The individual becomes the center of our “modern philosophy”. But do you see the individual in Maoyuu?

        Instead of Luther, Calvin, Cromwell, Voltaire, Rousseau, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Roberspierre,… what we get are Demon King, Hero, Lady Knight, Head Maid, Merchant, Winter King,… They are nothing but the generalized version of real life individuals. Reason dictate their action.

        That why I say it is amusing. Amusing because the show is pretty excited in its retelling of history, but because its history is pure that it lost the vibrant color of the original. In that aspect, I dare to say that Madoka was realistic than Maoyuu.

      • There’s a thing called collective individualism, you know? The 18th century democracies and beyond were founded with those principles in mind, for the sake of positive freedom. Not all of them were successfully run by those principles, mind you, but they are things in the global zeitgeist.

        What do you mean by pure? The show’s expediently covering these historical developments because of time length, sure, but it wasn’t ever afraid to get bloody when it needed to.

      • @Anon

        That’s a damn good summary of how I feel about Maoyuu. I’ve read 4 different mangas of the same story, and found the 4-Koma where Maou is an imbecile to be the most lively.

    • I’m not quite sure about Zvezda being Anti-Machiavellian either. Kate’s pretty much a tyrant throughout the series. Benevolent tyrant, perhaps, but she brings down the literal hammer-hand thing when she things she needs to.

      • Well, maybe more accurately, Anti Oriental Machiavellian. The reason I made comparison stems from the Spring Autumn – Warring States period of Ancient China.

        Over 2500 years ago, China was fragmented into many tribes and soon-to-be kingdoms fighting each other. In that conditions, a big question arose, which was: How to conquer the world (China)? And there were two main schools of philosophy answered that question.

        The first school said that the best way to conquer the world was treat your subjects with goodness and pursue everyone to follow you (the King). That were exactly what Kate were doing, her hammer is the symbol of persuasion.

        The second school said that the most efficient way to conquer the world were doing anything to enrich your kingdom and using violence to force everyone to your will, no matter how ruthless the methods were.

  6. Well… Due to my hate for the Harem genre (I never get the point of it except creating false drama and making everyone feels miserable), that really tainted my opinion for Maoyuu (the romance part is absolutely atrocious).
    Then you had the part with the Merchatnt that were really great.
    I would have wished it made more with his premise who was really interresting. To me it’s more a negative point because of how disappointing it ended up being. (and for once we have a show that have godaawfull characterization).

    On another note I wanted to know your opinion on Lain, so that’s nice.

    About Code Geass, I was reading Mirai Nikki’s Author new manga, and I was thinking that if you want to make a mess, you should makes it really entertaining.

    • I actually didn’t really think the characterization was that bad in Maoyuu – the romance was bad, and so was the comedy, but the characters themselves were generally fine, and many of them developed very naturally. I liked the slow shift of the Winter King, for example, and obviously the Older Maid was the cornerstone of the story. But yeah, it was certainly a bumpy ride.

  7. To be honest I wasn’t so thrilled about Maoyuu at all and not just because the eye rolling romance completely cocked it up. The whole speech given by the maid that a lot of people liked was the most naive thing ever. Sure lets overthrow a deep conservative socio-economic order by some speech of the condemned. Medieval peasants would not of gave two shits most of the time and most would of went to the execution as entertainment. Also there was barely push-back from the nobles. Really? They’re going to let a their whole social order be overthrown!?!?! RANT RANT FROTH.

    Whew I’m ok. Yea I think it’s the history fan in me saying that’s a bunch of bull.

    Yes I am crazy for being overly dramatic about an anime not conforming to our distinct reality :p.

    • I agree that the maid’s speech sceen was naive, but that was the essence of what happen in real history. The peasants, merchants, artisans recognized that their oppression wasn’t just anymore and eventually, through the struggle between the oppressed and oppressor, the nobles lost their power and disappear from the stage of history. What Maoyuu had showed isn’t wrong, it is just a reduced version of real history.

      • I’m not sure what kind of history you are reading but that’s a high school level understanding of it. Most major European countries that transited peacefully occurred over a long period gradual (sometimes in spurts) change that consisted of top down power transfer where the existing power structure allowed reform to occur in response to social changes and political realities. Enlightenment era thinking or reactionary actions aimed to prevent what happened in countries where reforms happened violently drove the powerful to reform. The peasants and artists didn’t matter and wealthy merchants only wanted to join the power club (they certainly didn’t want to share power with the peasants). Violent change drove other countries as revolutions (or rebellions depending on your view) broke out over a wide variety of issues but few that started as grand as sweeping social reform. E.g. in France, the Estates-General was called in France when Louis XVI needed money to finance debt and few members from the 1st and 2nd Estate united to bring forth somewhat moderate (compared to the Revolution that happened afterwards) social and economic changes. Pretty much no “peasant, artist, or merchants” was the driving force for these changes. Of course the revolution got out of hand when charismatic radical liberals took control of it but France did have a reactionary whiplash to it (remember it went back to a monarchy before it finally settled as a republic).

        Now even this word blob is a short explanation and we haven’t even mentioned many non-European countries but let me assure you that if some non noble who-gives-a-fuck tried to give a speech to incite social change, at best they would be laughed at by the ignorant peasantry and scoffing nobility. At worst, they would burn them at the stake or some other horrible torturous end that happened to a wide variety of religious/social-political reformers at the time.

        • I agree that real history is messy but how could you deny the role of every classes in history? Peasants in Early Medieval may not give a fuck about social change but it was different in later periods. One of the example is the German Peasants’ War. History isn’t made by kings, princes, generals only, it is made by the actions of every individuals in society.

          I still stand by what I had said, that is the events of Maoyuu were a simple version of real history.

      • Come now, you’re letting your supposed erudition on history bias your read on that speech. The Crimson Scholar was known far and wide throughout the peasantry for improving their lives via agriculture. They know, and consequently cherish, or even close to worship, the hand that fed them.That much can be expected from people regardless of their socioeconomic status. Bellies satisfied and gratitude desiring to be expressed, the least they’ll do is listen to what Maid Ane (disguised as the Crimson Scholar) says, and even if they don’t comprehend concepts such as “freedom” enough in their entirety to follow them, it’s not beyond the realm of imagination that they’ll at least follow her.

        And it was a top-down revolution. Winter King and the others realized the waves that Maid Ane made in their territories, they put a systematic end to feudalistic practices. Much of the real Enlightenment was facilitated through top-down approaches, through individuals who happened to be the cream of society’s crop in terms of socioeconomic status. Without supposedly naive individuals such as these enduring the scourge for their ideals, for us who have yet to be born, modern liberal society, the society you and I currently live in, would never have been.

        The show’s not a by and by fantastical copy paste of history, but rather, a chronicling of the rise of liberalism, what conditions were needed in order for liberalism to take root. The show does a good job illuminating that.

      • Fair is fair. I’m just fan of history so I wouldn’t say erudite so much as a enthusiastic amateur but I don’t agree with that being an accurate depiction of liberalism. Now dealing the important fantastical parts of this, the Crimson Scholar is obviously an important aspect because she is an idealized fantasy figure. I will acknowledge as much but I don’t agree so much with the people’s reaction to her. The show’s depiction of people worshiping her strikes me unrealistic and I’m not sure where that ties into liberalism. The strength that the church had on the peasantry at that time was immense. The church served as the community hubs in that era and religious figures held immense clout. Even if she is depicted as a “goddess” (figuratively) I doubt that she subvert their clout. Only when the power of the church was diminished and replaced by the state did their influence wane. The depiction of the church in Maoyu was eye rolling as they seemed buffoonish and evil. Still the biggest problem I didn’t buy the people turning on the public execution. We must remember public hangings were to people at the time entertainment. People were eager to go there and see people be hung (or killed some other way). I can’t think of many situations where the people turned on the executioners. So yea this is my bias. I think in that the specific fantasy setting this could happen but I doubt it historically.

        In terms of the nobility buying into her I don’t agree with that at all. Without any real push back the nobility just gave into it? Not one clung on to the vestige of power they had? History is filled with tugs and pulls of revolution and counter-revolution and I found this too simple. I’m not sure where you’re going with the whole naive individuals enduring scourges thing because I don’t think many of the Enlightenment thinks were naive or martyrs. The only real problem I was addressing was the idea that “peasants, artists, and merchants” were catalysts for change. I agree that this wasn’t supposed to be a copy and paste and I admitted to individual bias getting in the way of me enjoying the show (that and the horrible romance stuff). Liberalism didn’t care about improvements in agriculture and was often implemented by regimes that had no interest in uplifting the peasantry politically (Napolean is the best example). Real liberalism is much more dirty and grinding, full of pushes and push backs.

      • Cool down, guys. Each of our saying had some truth in it, but let not carry this conversation any further. This is an anime blog, not history, right? =)

      • Oh about the German Peasants War thing I agree to an extent. Peasants care more about “closer to home” problems and if they’re starving and overtaxed, will rebel. But to rebel in service of a idea such as republicanism or the rights of man (as the initial cause) is improbable. I admit I was a little to zealous in the first reply about history and that’s the enthusiasm talking :D.

  8. You’re a better blogger than I am – I just don’t think I’d ever have the energy, patience, or motivation to keep adding shows to a page. Still, I think the fact that you’re doing so also speaks pretty well for the current state of anime – there ARE still amazing titles being produced every season, and I’ve gotta say it makes a really nice change from people beomoaning the “death of anime” or whatever.

    • Thank you! It’ll hopefully be easier from here on out, since I won’t ever have to add a bunch at one unless we have some insanely good season… which I would probably still be okay with.

  9. My hipster recommendation this time around is Kure-nai. It’s got the most naturalistic dialogue I’ve ever heard in anime, and reminds me a lot of Oregairu, as a Brains Base adaptation that cuts most of the LN database trope bullshit from the source material to make a show that has well-written females, relationships, and dialogue. And a chosen-family theme! So it should be your thing.
    It’s on Hulu.

  10. When you say Zevezda “probably looks terrible,” are you talking about its appearance on your list or the actual visual qualities of the show?

    Either way, it’s a disclaimer I disagree with because A) it’s your list, right? and B) I thought the visual aesthetics of the show were incredibly well-matched to the content and tone of the show.

    It’s also possible I have just totally misunderstood what you were saying.

  11. Not sure you have the time, especially since I don’t think they’d even make this list, but here’s a couple of anime romcoms I recently watched where the romance didn’t suck, imho:
    Zakuro (aka Otome Youkai Zakuro)

    The titular character of Zakuro is a tsundere. It was done in a way that didn’t hurt the romance most of the time, but yeah, she is very much a tsundere towards her partner.
    Sankarea’s initial episodes are really strong, then it meanders a bit in pacing in the middle, before finishing fairly well. It’s an ecchi show, so there’s liberal gainaxing. Some of the fanservice works as “hormonal teenage boy pov cinematography,” but not all of it. But the strength of the main couple outweighs this, and the male protagonist is definitely not an Araragi.

    Zakuro’s a bit fluffier thematically than Sankarea, but both are light watches, anyways. Zakuro has better budget than Sankarea, but Sankarea has better cinematography, especially those excellent initial episodes. 1 cour each.

  12. Yes flamenco!

    Maoyuu was pretty good at times but it’s focus on economics in a capitalist context didn’t interested me in the least. I would have prefered a more extreme/progressive change than just playing the game. Spice and Wolf especially season 2 (which is very meh) bored me in the same way. Also the harem humor was meh.

  13. I found you through your essay on the Hunter X Hunter Chimera Ant arc. First off, excellent essay on HxH and I really like the look of this list. Admittedly, I’m rather new to the anime genre outside of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies. I intend to use this list as a series checklist for myself.

    I just have one question: Why isn’t Death Note on this list? I’ve seen it from start to end, really enjoyed it, and would like to know your reasons for it not being on this list.

    • he hasn’t sen Death Note, but he has read and enjoyed the manga as pure entertainment. He has no interest in watching the Death Note anime because he dislikes the director’s style.

      • Actually, now that I think about it, Death Note was very entertaining – at least at its start. In my opinion, it got pretty bad after some point, I actually stopped watching because I was bored. About the director’s style, now that you mentioned it I didn’t like it either. It was so over-the-top that sometimes it was ridiculous. Namely, the line: “Then I’ll take a chip… and EAT IT!”

      • What is so good about Code Geass? I get that someone could like it, but why did people freak out when it wasn’t in his Top 30? I saw R1, I didn’t really like it. Now I’ve started R2, which actually looks better, but still not justifying the hype. I don’t find the characters really intriguing, its universe isn’t really immersive, its story not really anything special. Plus, I’m not a fan of its art style. Could someone please explain the craze?

  14. I don’t think I could ever watch Flowers of Evil again if I tried, but it was really cool while it was airing. I knew what would happen because I’d already read the manga, but I still had to keep coming back just to see how they would apply the show’s style to what was in the source.

  15. Recently watched Serial Experiments Lain on a whim and was really impressed. It just oozed out isolation from every angle it could hit you with.

    Glad to see you gave it some love, even if its not at the top.

  16. I don’t understand why people devalue Haruhi because of the proliferation of light novel adaptations that followed it. Are Matisse’s cut-outs any less beautiful or incredible because we now have elementary school children mimic them as art projects? Are Picasso’s contributions to cubism made worse by the subsequent proliferation of that style? I don’t get it.

    • Endless Eight, my friend. Endless Eight. Although it didn’t bother me that much since I skipped it after watching its first two episodes.

  17. Fuck, too many good suggestions.
    Dreading the prospect of a good anime season this year. Won’t be able to sleep at this rate. All these choices, and chances are most people won’t have the time to watch even a fraction of the recommendations, myself included. The story of my life.

    /the seriousness is lacking in this comment/

  18. Now that I am finally done watching Terror in Resonance, I cannot help thinking that it could be great if not for the disastrous last two episodes. The first nine episodes are great, “the top of animes” kinda great. The cat and mouse chase by Five and Nine are captivating. The Sphinx was cool. Their brand of terrorism is a fresh take in anime.

    My love for that show ended on a sour note because on how these are handled.

    Why did Nine kill herself?
    If I change Lisa to another nondescript character, would a thing change in this show?
    Why was Twelve killed first? Why Five died in a way as if it was pulled from a Magical hat?

    Arg. I am just frustrated. Same with No. 6, it was great until the last two episodes. Are these noitaminA based shows weakness?

  19. Um… I wouldn’t call Paranoia Agent a horror-drama at all. It’s literally the definitive psychological thriller in anime. I admit that many of the thriller elements could be interpreted as horror, but this series is quite obviously a psychological thriller. I guess I’d possibly label it as psychological horror (probably not), but I wouldn’t ever label it as a horror-drama. The entire series could be defined as people going into madness. Psychological trauma, insanity, split personalities, hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, suicide, obsession, and loss; these are all themes of the series and they all have little to do with horror. Calling it a drama is also a bit ridiculous. It satires things on occasion. I coincided Naoki Urasawa’s Monster to be the definitive psychological mystery, while I consider Paranoia Agent to be the definitive psychological thriller. Although, both series constantly demonstrate psychological, mystery, and thriller elements throughout their run. The closest thing to psychological horror that I’ve watched (and am currently in the middle of watching) is Requiem from the Darkness, also known as Hundred Stories. Neon Genesis Evangelion was a psychological deconstruction of the “mecha” genre, but after watching the End of Evangelion a few nights ago, I’d consider that movie to almost be psychological horror. Anyway, I was wondering if you’ve watched Boogiepop Phantom. If you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. I read your essay about the “Chimera Ant” arc of Hunter X Hunter, and I was very impressed. You’re clearly intelligent enough to fully comprehend a lot of complex series, such as Serial Experiments Lain. Anyway, I apologize for my own essay of a message. I hope that I can get a response from you, despite the age of this post.

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