There are few things more frustrating than loving an anime that has room to grow as a story, but never gets beyond one season of material. It’s arguably even more of an irritance when you know the second season would easily pay for itself. Fortunately, it’s very rare for popular anime to not get sequels (happens only about 20% of the time), and there are ways to predict which ones those will be. I like to think knowing softens the heartbreak.
You know the old saying; “Stats don’t lie, except when they do.” Using stats to argue point son anime is kind of tough, as any individual figure, be it Japanese sales, TV Ratings, merchandising fees paid, or online ranking site figures, only reveals a small part of the overall picture. Since I compiled a rather large database containing multiple stat lines for 95% of the anime to air over the past 8 years, I might as well use it to numerically classify true-blue-chippers.
Allow me to introduce a very exclusive society, the Hit-L-Double-Double (HLDD) Club. It’s the list of anime that have accomplished 4 feats, 3 of which are very difficult individually. Specifically, it’s the list of anime that have sold 10,000+ units per volume in Japan (megahit sales territory), been licensed overseas (international sales viability), and have myanimelist rankings and popularities in the top 100/double digits (esteem and popularity overseas).
This is a list of the unequivocal successes, the things that have amassed not only megahit status in Japan, but also a significant English-speaking fanbase and critical praise. These are numerically irrefutable successes, at least in theory. You could call it the “talk to anyone” list, because you could talk to anyone in the industry and they would agree with you that it was a rock-solid commodity. From 2005-2012, anyway (that’s the era I have all the data for). All the members from that period are listed below, along with their statlines. Sequels are excluded to keep it tidy, and because they’re rarely much different from s1 stats-wise.
This list is not meant to be very surprising. It’s just a slightly different way of thinking about blue-chip anime.
Full Disclosure: I like making lists. This particular list is the result of an afternoon of me sitting down and trying to list all the anime episode titles I remember. This correlates pretty well with my actual favorite anime episodes, because I’ve seen most of them enough times to remember their titles. When making this one, I set myself a limit at 60 and reached it fairly quickly. After making the list, I actually ranked them. So yeah, had a lot of fun with this one.
I got an email the other day (my first one, so thanks, anonymous reader Y!) asking why I’m blogging this show over Attack on Titan, which also airs on Saturday. There are two main reasons, which I want to briefly address that before moving into the meat of the episode.
First, good comedies are no less difficult to produce than good dramas. If you handed Astro Fighter Sunred, Panty and Stocking, or another comedy that relies on its particular sense of style (workplace-themed deadpan and rampant excess, respectively) to a replacement-level handler like Chiaki Kon or Yuu Kou, you’d almost certainly get something darn near forgettable. A comedy has to have real personality to work, which is something that’s not at all easy to do; just because they seem* to come along more often than dramas doesn’t mean a good laugh is worth any less than a good teardrop. Muromi-san specifically happens to be a *very* well-executed comedy, as it’s effectively mixing the high-energy of Angel Beats with the tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and subtly clever camera play of Joshiraku, and has a ceiling as a low-tier 10/10 on my ranking scale.
Second, while I like Titan quite a bit, it has a plot I’m very familiar with as a reader of the manga. It means that a) there’s less I can legitimately speculate on, b) I don’t want to spoil anything by accident, and c) I’d only be able to comment on the execution, which I find slow and less interesting than the wham-bam lightning rod pacing of the manga. It’s distinctly my third-favorite Saturday show at this point. Which is, if anything, a mark of how fun Saturdays this spring have been.
So a while ago I wrote about veteran Sound Director Katsuyoshi Kobayashi’s wizardly handling of Space Brothers’ audio. At the time, I had to look up his name on ann, but I didn’t check his specific creator page. The other day, I went back and finally did. It turns out this isn’t the only anime-of-the-decade candidate* he’s worked on with a director named Watanabe. In celebration of this individual who’s handled a number of sublime auditory anime experiences and yet has to date zero comments or favorites on his myanimelist page, I’m going to spend this column by talking about the musically crafted battle sequence to trump (almost) all others, the last 6 minutes of Cowboy Bebop.
(This post contains obvious ending spoilers for a 15-year-old show that you either have watched or will find yourself watching the moment you inform someone who has that you haven’t. So there.) Continue reading
I had a thought the other day about types of fantasy that I thought I’d hash out and share. This is a bit on settings that applies more to short-form stories than it does to franchises. Examples are largely anime because, well, me.