Management: Vague character-arc spoilers for a few shows here – FLCL, Eva, Tatami Galaxy, Cowboy Bebop, Hyouka. Hyouka’s the only one I get particularly specific on.
Gonna share something a little different today! Recently I’ve been thinking about characters, which is probably because I am always thinking about characters. While a lot of my personal views on character writing have obviously come from reading and watching a whole lot of stories, a fair amount of my understanding has also come from writing characters. As a fiction writer, knowing how to write a fleshed-out human being is rarely optional – but even just as someone who just wants to poke more deeply at the things they consume, I think analyzing characters from a character-creation standpoint can be very enlightening. Characters are kind of like trees – though the individual branches of their actions may look strange and circuitous, generally everything winds its way back to the central trunk of their base nature and desires. And looking at characters trunk-first can do a whole lot of work to make sense of their wildly winding limbs.
So let’s get down to that trunk, to the absolute base nature of a character. There are a few ways to approach this, but personally I think the easiest way to consider character writing is to start with two key variables. The two often-conflicting desires that tend to define their choices, their conflicts, and their ultimate resolution: what they want and what they need.
Yep, I’ve finally put together a top shows list. As I hopefully made clear in part one and part two of my critical biases post, this is obviously my list – it represents the things I think are most valuable in stories in the way I think they’ve best been articulated. It’s also just a list of shows I enjoy – there’s no hard criteria here, so I wouldn’t stress the numbers too much. Also, it’s a bit front-loaded – I only started watching anime seasonally about two years ago, so the last couple years are disproportionately represented. Incidentally, I’m not including movies here either – I think direct comparisons between shows and films are a bit of a stretch, but if they were included, this list would certainly be somewhat different. And finally, I’m absolutely (and thankfully) certain this list will change over time – there are still piles of widely beloved shows I’ve never seen, so I’m sure the current rankings will be filled out in the years to come. So with that all said, let’s get to the list – Bobduh’s Top 30 Anime of All Time.
-edit- I have now created a Top Shows Addendum for shows that have either fallen off or just barely missed this list. Please enjoy these additional almost-top shows!
“Like a trash can fire in a prison cell,
Like the search lights in the parking lots of hell.
I will walk down to the end with you
If you will come all the way down with me.”
– The Mountain Goats, Old College Try
Set eleven thousand, nine hundred and ninety years after Gunbuster, Diebuster tells the story of a new hero – Lal’C Mellk Mal, who befriends the chipper robot Nono. Unlike Noriko, Lal’C begins our story a hero – not just one of the rare Topless, adolescents who pilot Buster Machines to defend the human race, she is the “curve breaker,” envy of her peers. A bright star, casting a light for all of humanity. And she’s proud of this – though she feigns indifference, in truth she exults in her position, cherishing the adulation she receives. Lal’C Mellk Mal exemplifies the power of youth, and in Diebuster, youth is not simply something to be coveted – it is a tangible power in this world.
Management: Just a mini-question today, since I found myself searching the archives for this and realized I’d never posted it in the first place. Organization!
Are shows starring adults meaningfully different from those starring teenagers? Are shows set in college meaningfully different from those set in middle or high school? I ask because I see this distinction made all the time, but generally it doesn’t seem meaningfully different outside of a setting/character-appearance sense.