I took some time recently to look at my favorite anime and suss out a top 20. Always an enjoyable exercise. Also included some brief comments on each one, for anyone who’s curious about that sort of thing.
2014 was fun. It’s also just about over, which made for a fun excuse to go back through the year and rank what my favorite things in it were. My favorite OP/ED sequences, Episodes, Anime, and Manga, are presented without comment below; I tend to think that these sorts of things speak for themselves.
A week ago or so, I finished watching Master Keaton. It’s a 1998 series from smack in the middle of the golden age of late night, airing on Mondays after midnight on Nihon TV. The series is loosely based around a 30-something professional investigating insurance claims, doing historical research, combating terrorists, or occasionally just being in the general vicinity of someone doing something halfway important. And it’s pretty damn near perfect at it – aside from the 2-part finale, each episode basically starts from scratch in a completely different context and builds a story that is, at worst, unique and engaging. That’s a feat which isn’t too difficult to do once, but gets a lot harder when it has to happen 38 times in a row. I just wanted to spend a little more time thinking about it after finishing the whole thing, so I decided to rank the episodes of the show from 38th (still solid) to 1st (glorious):
In general, I tend to be skeptical of the contribution voice actors or actresses have to a given show. The reason for that is that enough seiyuu in Japan are good enough that even a lot of fairly flavorful takes on a role aren’t that much of a step up from what the next-best actor would be able to do, given the same character and script. Sometimes, though, that’s absolutely not the case, and the voice actor or actress kills a role in a way that’s near impossible to replicate. This is a list of individual seiyuu performances, in fairly rough order, that I think would have been impossible to trade down on.
This is, as much as anything, an attempt to pin down my own tastes a little. I try make lists like sports decide on their halls of fame – get a group of decent names together from memory, put the obvious greats on top, put the obvious bottoms down low, and sort out the tiers. This list was the best kind of fun to make that way.
A lot of what I consider my favorite characters don’t make the list because a) they’re manga only (Endo Kenji, Aizawa Akira), b) the anime performance was lackluster (Yoichi Hiruma, Harunobu Madarame), or c) any one of 2-3 other talents could have done that role when it was written/visually presented as well as it was (Takemoto Yuuta, Hachikuji Mayoi). This list, like most of the other ones under this heading, is purely personal preference. If it weren’t, Miyuki Sawashiro wouldn’t be on there three times. All names are as I remember them, so I apologize in advance for any screwy ordering.
I find anime episode titles lined up to be aesthetically pleasing. There’s an art to picking a good title that really speaks to the content of the episode. Here I tired to keep things simple, and limited myself to one episode per show to keep Gatchaman Crowds and the non-racist parts of Space Brothers from dominating the chart and keeping some other interesting ones out.
10. Change the World (Samurai Flamenco)
9. Autumn of Arts, Appetite, and Attack (GJ-bu)
8. Soccer… Soccer? (Outbreak Company)
7. Because It’s Fun (Yuyushiki)
6. Everyone has Close Calls. Learn from Them and Keep the Workplace Healthy. (Servant x Service)
5. Shocking No Breathing (Free)
4. Muromi-san and the Ryuuguuju (Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san)
3. Qualifications of a Hero (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure)
2. Excitement of My Youth (Space Brothers)
1. Crowds (Gatchaman Crowds)
If you read this blog on a regular basis, you’re probably aware that one of the things I enjoy doing is going through various available numbers (anime sales, manga sales, myanimelist rankings, and the like) related to the anime and manga industries and trying to use them to gain insights into particular trends in both the industry and the fanbases it serves. It’s not easy work, nor is it flawless. There are a bunch of questions that very quickly became difficult to address in the short term (involving either no apparent path to the answer or a very long, winding path to the answer) and got shelved. Here’s a peek into the short-term reject file of issues/technical concerns still bugging me that I’d love to be able to resolve and analyze now that I’m ditching my weekly by-episode anime blogging.
I haven’t been writing much on it lately, but I’m a firm believer on the power of a soundtrack (and good sound direction) to either give a show the last little push it needs to get to 10/10 quality or kneecap a show that could’ve been a contender. With that in mind, here are 10 tracks from 10 different 2013 anime I thought turned particular scenes into memorable standouts.
I thought it’d be a fun little exercise to try and pull out as many mangaka names as I could without relying on references. This is that list, written on lockdown mode and complete with the reasons why I remember them.
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.