This is an open-intellectual debate/discussion regarding the greatest Anime’s of all time. It goes without saying that there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! I am not looking to filter out any provocative thoughts because I have included 16 annotations that decisively defend, argue and support my list and they are presented in the form of “side notes.” These side notes are numerous, for, there is a virtually endless amount of discussion to be had regarding something so supreme, sacred and unique as Japanese animation. I grew up on it. Anime and video games were wholeheartedly my ENTIRE childhood. I never played sports growing up. I was home-schooled until 9th grade. And I didn’t have many friends. This is my best attempt at sharing my personal opinion regarding some of the greatest anime’s of all time in my opinion (IMO) so I’ve given a lot of dialogue in support of this list. (I had to, some of these shows are associated with some of the best memories of my life. A better time. A time where I was young and free of any palpable form of pain, heartache, or even mistrust. Children need guidance, but never of the heart. I used to believe freely, and I’d allow the sword that was my heart to swing fiercely and freely wherever I would go. I was purely happy and I’m ecstatic to share a bit of the culture that brought me the purest joy of my life with you, the audience.
So, thank you so much for your time in advance, I hope that at least most of my words resonate and reach you well and that you give this list an objective and legitimate chance. Now with that being said, I again have stated that some of the best times in my life stemmed from the pure joy in which I had when watching some of these anime’s as a young boy, so it goes without saying that you may be skeptical that there is likely to be a high probability that I had succumbed to the dark-side that is nostalgic bias when constructing this list and I will even openly admit that it was originally constructed as merely my top 10 favorite anime shows where I was allowed all of the free-range nostalgic bias which I cared to let loose. However, I assure you and will openly attest to my pathos in saying, I am an EXTREMELY left-brained, logical, pathos-oriented creature by nature AND in practice. So, I wholeheartedly assure you that a distinct amount of thought, consideration and reconstruction was performed in the making of this list. It was heavily scrutinized, as I will openly admit that I am a perfectionist by heart. Oftentimes to the point that I am my own worst enemy. Meticulously sharpening and shining each corner and facet to attain maximal radiance. I solemnly vow that any bias (if any) has made it onto this list, it was 100% unbeknownst to me, as I must have not even realized the direct attachments in which I felt with these shows. Even now as I type these final sentences, my heart races in response with the anxiety my brain perceives as I legitimately have essays due in a few hours and I am here, procrastinating like I’ve never procrastinated before. I am again appealing to the pathos of myself the author when I say, this is an important list to me, because I am willing to risk a grade just to polish and publish this post and facilitate some cool anime discussion. Regardless if you agree with my points or not, please know that for me, I see these as some of my most well thought out argumentative points that I’ve made and I’m just enjoying the process of expression, creativity and the opportunity to share with you and whoever may be onlooking. It’s a special pleasure and as weird and even ridiculous that it might seem to some, this is an avenue in my life that makes life worth living. This is my special zone. I have been typing short-story fanfiction for as long as I can remember. As soon as I first learned how to type I was expressing myself creatively and for me, I could do this all day.
With that extensive forward, I won’t hold you up any longer, and instead want to simply thank you and welcome you to the inner workings of my mind. Here you’ll witness my inner thoughts, delivered in somewhat of an academic form and you can be the ultimate critique as to whether my arguments are sound or not.
I appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge my existence at the time of reading this.
It gives me life.
True, I figured that was the most immediate critique I’d have on my list. But there’s a very specific reason that I carefully selected these shows and that is because I know them inside and out, so I can make better arguments for them. Other shows, while perhaps popular, I could attest to the presentation, but I wouldn’t be able to attest with conviction any degrees of excellence in which the show might possess without knowing it well. Many of these shows I have watched multiple times and could break down what occurs in each almost episode by episode. I feel like if you can’t honestly offer that baseline credibility in knowledge-base, it’d be hard for anyone to heavily consider the critiquing.
But trust me, none of these shows are here due to hindsight bias. They may have made my list for any variety and/or combination of: plot, character development, script, voice-acting, pace of directing, impact on audience, relevance in media(just one factor, not the entire determining factor), cultural impacts(if any), consistency(particularly if the show was a long running series, then the more consistent shows gain more points the longer they were consistently engaging, and lose points for consistently airing subpar filler episodes. The reverse is also acknowledged. Short running anime’s that were able to accomplish a lot in a few episodes, platforms, media references, etc., gain points for captivating (FLCL), but will also be subject to lose some of those points particularly when matched against an anime series that was focused, consistent and did both for longer than the 6-episode span of FLCL. However, the latter places high on the list based upon other it is having a surplus of other qualifications IMO.
The reason why Cowboy bebop is a little lower is because even though it was a ground-breaking show, it was FF7 without the equivalent replay value. If you can say with integrity that you go back and re-watch random cowboy bebop episodes from time to time, then you have my acknowledgement
Side note #1
Idc that The Boondocks “is not an anime”
- It was also primarily drawn by South Korean artists that did an amazing job, but just because they’re not Japanese, it’s not in the radar of Japanese styles animation? It’s anime IMO.
- And nothing will recapture the awe-inspiring style of artists such as Hokusai. However, there will nonetheless inevitably be countless modulations of his work. Nothing will ever be another Hokusai, but it doesn’t mean that it was not Hokusai inspired.
You can draw anime styles works by mimicking the style and themes, just like you can an action or comedy.
Rick and Morty—> not an anime.
Family guy—> not an anime.
Super milk Chan—> anime?
Fine. But we could have better parameters than just that.
Boondocks visually looks just like Rurouni Kenshin. The kickball episode theme is dynamic and thought provoking. It was written by a black guy and he has Americanized tendencies in his work just like Tyler Perry does, but just because it's black themes doesn’t take away at all from what it works to attain. It’s just as much of an anime as Afro Samurai is.
Side note #2
Cowboy bebop was a great show. But also I can't just put it past InuYasha, because InuYasha was great for 10x as long ( please hear me out).
Same thing for Evangelion....although it's close to eva. You must give consistent long running programs credit for being good for that period of time. There are short and sweet works, for sure, but it's hard to be consistent for a long time. DBZ will never make the list unfortunately. InuYasha was great for most of the show IMO. It even got better towards the end with the Tessaiga transformations. I admittedly never watched final cut, but it's superior than other long running shows such as Pokémon, Naruto, dbz, one piece, etc.
It's the best out of the long runs.
Far as hiatus? The animation industry works people like dogs then lays them off after deadlines, those people are human and deserve breaks y’kno? (Not the technical reason for the Hutus, I get it, work with me here 🏽)
NO OFFENSE Dragon Ball Super, but InuYasha didn't need a Kai to be good, and honestly, it was good enough without the final cut.
Just like Eva was good without the end of Eva. They were running for a long time anyways. People can't just create 24/7 they need time off with their families. Family has taken breaks too. Yeah but InuYasha is more consistent than other long anime series. There was a reason there was a hiatus. It already had like 200+ episodes. Naruto and One Piece are long running as well, and while (you) will argue character development in both, the main characters never actually really change their cores, they’re not dynamic in slightest, are they? Traditional archetype just like Goku.
That brings me to side note #3.
I'll admit, that my biggest bias is how relatable are the characters and what has the show done to give them humanity. So, any shows like that automatically stick out to me. Case Closed lacks in that department admittedly.
Side note #4 (Dragon Ball Super fan service; oh, here we go...)
And dragon ball super has too much fan service IMO. And Air Gear is solid as a standalone franchise (no games, cards, promotion, just an all-around solid project without gimmicks).
You should be able to make an anime with trying to milk and cater a fan base so extensively.
Ah. It’s fan service. Not a bad thing at all. But it loses points competitively for that. It doesn't lose points as a standalone project. But competitively, that's not fair. It just has a lot of fan service in it. Don’t get me wrong, not the whole thing. What I've watched is good. Just a lot of fan service.
Kind of bugs me.
Like evangelion rebuild has no fan service.
It's objectively trying to do something. There wasn't any obvious deliberate character interaction for fans. There's a shit ton of that in dbz. The script has them tugging at nostalgia strings every episode. The way they have the characters act goofy, DBZ used to be serious to the point of being sometimes dull, so I’m not complaining about the update in cultural style, but...in old DBZ But the old dbz, Krillin’s lines would be generic like: "his power level is enormous. We can't fight a big guy like that!!”
Now you ready for it...
Common side bars are now:
"I guess vegeta finally decided to wear those blue boots bulma bought for bra's birthday" etc.
Idk, you have to be fair about stuff like that. Again, it doesn't bring the show down (for long time fans of it). But it's kind of divisive in the way that it appeals to its main fan base.
Trust me, I've played every single poke one generation game, I'm extremely familiar with developers cutting corners because they know that it will resonate with long time fans.
Now tell me:
Who is a relevant and strong character outside of Goku, vegeta, trunks, gohan? Gotenks??
And GT was trash, I don't even consider it to be a real concept of reality.
As a matter of fact I'm not even familiar with the words you just said. Pontiac GT? GTX? Some kind of car?
In the original, before Freiza fought Goku, support characters had major roles. Can you honestly say that any supporting characters (aside from trunks) had any major roles?
Anyways, I LOVE the Dragon Ball series and Dragon Ball Super: Broly was easily one of if not the best Dragon Ball movie. So, we can definitely have the discussion as to where to place Dragon Ball Super if necessary, there just needs to be SOME form of an argument for that to occur.
Side note #5
Avatar is so an anime.
It was completely inspired by anime style. Alright? Let’s just let it stay. It’s been good for the community.
Side note #6 (Attack on Titan)
I must concede that I have not seen the entire series.
But from what I saw, I didn't fall in love with the emo aspect.
Again, no offense whatsoever to the show, no offense, because it does have good pacing, plot, character development, etc., But those monsters are invincible, and the setting is so dystopian.
I’m going to go ahead and say that AOT has an argument for the list, if it exceptionally surpasses the other dystopian classic, Blue Gender. Blue Gender was an anime with some intense themes, and it was ahead of its time. So, for AOT to be above air Gear, or any other anime I’m sure you’d like to replace it with, it must be superior to blue gender (it’s main dystopian themed rival).
And it must surpass it in EVERY category. Just like the Olympics. You can’t go unless you at least place in nationals first.
Because if it can't beat an anime of another similar style, then it's not fit for competition outside its genre.
Side note #7
Mobile Suit Gundam is not actually in top 10 because I couldn't tell you the details of every single episode. So that’s my bad. I refuse to make a legitimate top 10 list unless I can consider myself at least somewhat of an expert of each project. I could tell you the details of every single episode of InuYasha IF you gave me the first few sentences from the episode summary. But I couldn’t say the same for Mobile Suit Gundam and that’s my bad, and it’s fine, it’s reality, I know that it’s good, but I have to hold myself to a high degree and objectively say that I’m really knowledgeable about the show, otherwise, for me, the ranking would be fun in light hearted convo, but illegitimate when it comes to aesthetic interpretation.
Side note #8 (InuYasha filler.)
Don't get me wrong, the filler episodes in InuYasha suck hard. but there's just barely enough canon fight scenes and character development that helps to get past the shitty episodes. No pass, no tolerance for fillers, that's the biggest strike it has against it. If there wasn't so much filler, I could see InuYasha being closer to death Note. Yeah, but there's still important details to note in the writing, script, pacing, character development, etc... I'm a natural creator, and I really dissect works of entertainment down in all aspects because I like to create as well.
So, you have to consider every facet when giving critique.
Well, honestly, it may not even be better than evangelion, but Eva has some solid strikes against it as well.
It's vague, and the plot comes off as needy in the way that it relies on more ethos than logos.
InuYasha uses a lot of ethos, but there's pathos there as well because they spend a shit load of time developing his background as an orphan with abandonment issues.
They do the same with Shinji, but the other characters fall short. Sango’s (InuYasha) background story > Asuka's background story anyway.
Side note #9 An often-forgotten qualifying factor. (the PATHOS 🏽)
For me, that's one of the hardest parts of persuasion, is speaking to your audience using pathos. It's very hard to do. Viewers and people in general are hypercritical of each other, so in order to utilize pathos, it has to be done very carefully, very well and if it's accomplished it deserves a decent amount of credit.
Eh, I'll take Heero's pathos argument over Amuro's personally...it's a little more compelling and relatable for me, (which is ironic because his upbringing isn't relatable). But that just speaks all the better of the anime, because, like FF7, they developed a demonstration of a pathos appeal without giving him the (Twilight Princess, BOTW) I'm one of you guy's spin to try and make them more relatable for viewers, yet both cloud and Heero are pretty honorable as soldiers.
Example) a legend of Zelda: a link to the past (link), ocarina of time (link), twilight princess link, and BOTW link are all country bumpkins right? Regular joes, right? Cool. Except when they transform into unstoppable Demi-gods over the span of hours, they lose their relatability and that pathos appeal to them, its dampened. As opposed to link in legend of Zelda: Minish cap, he's a knight, one of the top knights in Hyrule, and hails from a bloodline of knights who protect Zelda. This link is while at the same time not as relatable to the average joe, more realistic in terms of: "Oh, I see how you got there."
Even Yu Yu Hakusho takes away from the pathos appeal because he becomes too godly too fast and beats the shit out of everyone else and they attribute the reasoning behind "spirit energy" and eventually a royal demonic bloodline.
Plot twists like that are only fair if there was observable connection traceable to the early stages of the story arc(s), otherwise it looks like you're shitting out rationalization as you go along.
That's why J.K. Rowling and FF7 have such cult like followings, you still have people to this day trying to decrypt the messages and connections that were established early story arc that have great argument to be traced to later stages.
To be fair....
Side note #10
Total dues ex Machina at the end of Avatar, but well. I have absolutely no excuse for this one. I’ll just go ahead and say that.
So therefore, avatar can NOT be number 1. ️
But it has a lot of other really great aspects about it.
Side note #11 SPOILER WARNING!!!!!!!!
[Spoilers will be right after the ¬long-awaited list. I know that it’s unorthodox, but I decided to place the critiques directly before and directly after the list. Typically, authors usually place everything before or after, or consistently alongside the listed contenders…but I just wanted to try something different and see how it worked out!!
With that, here is the long-awaited list in which you scrolled though 12-pages of banter to find. xD
- Fullmetal Alchemist (original)
- Yu Yu Hakusho
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Samurai Champloo
- Death Note
- Case Closed
- The Boondocks-Air Gear(tie)
- Cowboy Bebop
The Big O
Dragon Ball Super
Attack on Titan
Mobile Suit Gundam
Okay, before you go ahead and grab your torches and your pitchforks, at least please allow me to complete my review. I spaced the rest of it to this point so that you wouldn’t feel bored out of your mind in getting here, and if you are truly enraged with the list I have provided, you have the option to turn back without spending any more time in review-al land.
With that, here are the rest of my critiques (please pay attention!!!!!)
(From where I left off right before the list…)
There's pacing, time, style, script, voice acting to consider. So, for example. So just because I read all FMA manga doesn't mean I'll judge brotherhood. If I watched brotherhood, it might easily be number 1. But I must be fair, even though I’m already aware of the ending and can attest that the manga was really, really good.
Side note #12
If I go back and re-watch the episodes of Cowboy Bebop I can't instantly remember, then it’d likely be higher on the list, but I have no sources to cite other than my hindsight at the time of crafting this educated list. I could better decide its allure and competitive traits.
But right now, all I have is hindsight.
Even Trigun I've watched many times over, but I could even benefit re-watching that.
FLCL I know that show inside and out. It's solid. Very solid.
Yu Yu Hakusho, same thing. It’s solid.
Full metal alchemist is solid, but it's not perfect. I have it above the others because it's really, really, hard to find another anime that is as well-rounded as it is in terms of action, comedy, plot, voice acting, animation, character development and pacing.
The only thing that the original full metal alchemist messes up on is the backstory as to "what the heck is going on in that show, how can people do alchemy, what does 'the gate' mean, etc.,"
It vaguely describes the backstory because there's not enough run time to expand upon it without dragging out the show and thus, messing up the pacing.
It's understandable, a little disappointing, but it's still understandable. And therefore, it's a really bomb anime.
Side note #13
My reasoning for FLCL are similar to the ones I cited earlier, in regard to character development, pacing, script, animation, action, comedy, romance, the way it captivates you in 6 episodes is unparalleled, and unlike any other animation in history.
You might argue it’s not comparable to full anime shows, but it’s comparable if you scale it to a ratio. Basically, if there's another anime that is as good as FLCL is in the first five episodes, then it wins. That's scaling it by ratio. Of course, it's not an easy comparison because other shows weren't meant to showcase in that short amount of time. But I'm just saying, if you wanted to argue it like that, you legitimately could. Mainly, I just try to give credit to what it did in a short amount of time. Same thing with big O. In 9 episodes it was a show that was more thought provoking than 400 episodes of dbz.
So, on a ratio of nine good episodes to 400 decent ones that ratio would be 9:400.
So, for every thought-provoking episode of big o, there's approximately 44.4 mediocre dbz episodes (original not super) to rot your brain.
It's kind of like comparing Tupac or biggie to drake. Their careers weren't as long.
But as standalone comparisons, they have punchlines, delivery, bravado, cadence, wordplay, pathos, etc., that is comparable to drake's.
And hey, that’s not the ONLY factor to look at though.
That's why a show like Trigun could say, hey, this shit was compelling for more than just 6 episodes.
And that's why you must consider the consistency of a piece of work as well.
For example, the video game portal.
It wasn't like a huge game.
But it blew up.
Portal one, Minecraft 0.
Then again, portal hasn't had any sequels after the first sequel.
Minecraft 1, portal 1.
So, different proportions, but it's all fair, long as everyone is willing to be negotiable and honest.
Now portal 3 IS currently in the works.
And it's still not going to compare to the monolithic fan base that Minecraft has.
But portal is in comparison, the FLCL to full metal alchemist.
Minecraft (full metal) has a huge fan base, and spawn’s extra works.
While portal (FLCL) got a lot done with a short amount to work with.
So, they’re both good. And yes, they might seem like two totally different shows, but...
Well you’ve got to scale things somehow, unless you'd want to just leave them stand alone forever, like Lebron is different from Jordan....but that's boring and people still find ways to compare them anyways, so you best just have your argument prepared.
It makes sense, in a few episodes, there's legitimate character development established, and it's all accomplished by the writing, script, but more so the director.
Well, cowboy bebop ends without telling you who the hell spike is.
You finish the show knowing more about Edward's upbringing (which still isn't much) than knowing about where the heck did spike come from.
Why relate to a guy with no story beyond what appears on stage? (Hypothetically speaking)
Again, even for cloud and link from minish cap, they started off as un-relatable generic soldiers (because who the hell can relate to a super soldier)? Lol but then you end up feeling like you can relate to them regardless which is the irony in that. Same with cash from Trigun, he demonstrates humanity, and you barely look at him as a plant more than as a human.
Spike fits the role of an assassin, but who can relate to assassins? He has a lust for Julia, and a selfless martyr complex...but why?
The overall character development of Cowboy Bebop is fine, yes. It's fine as a standalone...but if you must compare it to other works...it's going to lose points for not being risky...and therefore a little cheap in that end. (Don’t shoot.)
Spike was a martyr because he knew that his friends wanted to die with him.
So he disregarded their requests to make sure that they weren't involved.
Again, what mistakes, and why exactly should he change tune instead of enjoying his life with Faye?
There's no background development to even so much as hint as to why he may have done that. He wanted to make amends...I guess.
It’s fine with me, personally.
But I'm just saying a strong work of art is going to have support for every little thing that takes place.
Like okay, maybe he had a talk with his father as a child, etc.
My co-worker loves to read books.
Objectively he's a smart guy, and that's commendable.
If he opens to you, he'll tell you that his father was blind in Africa, and his father would love it when he would read books to his father.
So now my co-worker loves to read.
Character development. Real life example btw.
I took a science fiction & fantasy class. For 3 & 1/2 months this is exactly what we did in the class. We read novels and discussed and broke down the main components that determine the strength behind the works of fantasy literature. There are literally thousands of essays dedicated to the deciphering of works of art, etc.
Like so much could just be written off as "abstract" and "universally applicable" but critiques of art will know that this can only be demonstrated appropriately with structure, or at least build-up.
Not just aesthetic interpretation, because the script doesn't really matter how colorful the words are, it's got to make sense too.
Like the anime Paranoia Agent. It almost comes off as too random to justify an argument for the "left to interpretation" agenda. I personally don't think that the writers were being lazy with its direction, but I could at least acknowledge if someone wanted to make the argument that it's vague.
And critiques despise vagueness in romanticized literature.
Shoot, we hate ambiguity in the scientific world as well. So, everything's got to be measurable, or else it could be vulnerable to deconstruction and lose points.
Besides, look at the comment section for any major work of art, there's people dissecting the most minute of details left and right. Yeah nothing is going to be perfect, but you've got to have argue to protect yourself for every facet.
This is the main purpose of on-going critique.
If you just accepted everything in life as is, there'd never be improvement, so you've got to critique, and the more thorough the critique, the more improvements can be made, and the more bullet proof the next draft will become. That’s the cycle of science as well.
If that was legitimately the only standalone critique to be made of the show, then duh, it'd be basically flawless.
But I do not dislike cowboy bebop in the slightest, I'm honest about every ranking, but I not snubbing anything purposely at all.
Like I said, for me, it's not so much as finding flaws in cowboy bebop but finding flaws in everything else it stacks up against.
It's kind of like a modern sedan vs a sports car.
There's nothing objectively wrong with the modern sedan, so no need to evaluate it.
But if you want to make an argument that the sedan is in fact better instead of equal to the sports car, then you'll have to start disqualifying all the sports car's bells and whistles.
If you do that, you have an argument.
Otherwise, you just have a hyped-up sedan.
Which, btw is the go-to angle that people take when shitting on sports cars, is that they're expensive, bad on gas, unreliable, not convenient, expensive maintenance, etc.
And all of those are legitimate faults, and therefore, arguments to be made between the two.
But if you were to ignore those faults, it'd be hard to convince someone sedan over sports car just by hyping up the sedan alone.
Well, nonetheless I'm curious to see some other people's lists, and gauge their reliability beyond any favoritism, like if anyone might have academic arguments as to which project is better.
About the author:
I am a 27-year-old male living in Los Angeles, working as a Registered Nurse. Receiving 4+ years college education and to this day making academics a priority. In my spare time, I enjoy exercising, hiking, writing music, learning history, hanging out with friends, and conducting research on the latest in the healthcare and political worlds.
I just want to say thank you sincerely to anyone who took the time out of your day to drop in by here. I love the concept of constructive criticism, on any platform. I love debate. I love writing. I just love expression in general. I think that it is partially due to me being overly shy growing up, I never had much to say. Now I must let the world hear my voice!!!!
PS. All of this was
Sent from my iPhone