Tokyo Underground is more or less my baseline for a friendship-and-fighting shounen show. The characters are good enough, with nobody getting on my nerves. The world-building was kind of cool. I liked the well, underground Tokyo. The characters’ powers weren’t particularly original (it felt like half of them were in Gate Keepers), but they were internally consistent. However, it just stays at the baseline because it was lacking in particularly important area: at no point did I ever get super pumped during any of the fights.
That, possibly above anything, is what I need to call one of these series “good”. While it might sound like I’m denigrating other aspects of these shows, they actually are needed as a bit of a groundwork in order to get hella pumped. If there’s nothing internally consistent in the way that the characters’ powers work, for example it makes it harder for there to be any excitement when say, someone can pull some heretofore unknown move out of their ass and win. Similarly, you need good characters in order to generate the drama necessary to make the battle have a cathartic element.
But enough about Tokyo Underground. What really matters is that this was the 100th anime that I was forced to watch. Yes, this might only be #20, and there were 50 before, but there were a few proto-forced to watch shows, along with some titles being squished in with things like sequels and OVAs. Therefore, there will be a couple titles here that weren’t covered in the previous entries. Now without any further ado, here are the top and bottom 10 anime that I was forced to watch:
#1: Gate Keepers
Gate Keepers might even make my personal top 10 favorite anime list. It’s got two great aspects that play well together: a great sense of setting combined with lots of BURNING PASSION. In other words, it’s almost like Sakura Taisen, just replacing the Taisho capital M Modernity with Showa capital M modernity. Also, both periods are so fuckin’ optimistic about the limitless potential of the future that they can even snap a cold, cynical bore like me out of his blahness.
On a side note, I was not forced to watch Gate Keepers 21, but did watch it on my own. I liked it a lot less entirely because the replacement of the optimistic Showa capital M Modernity with the pessimistic Heisei postmodernity was such a downer. This did not make GK21 “worse” in any way, of course. It’s exactly the sort of mood that it should have for that time period.
#2: Cowboy Bebop
While there are lot more anime that I was forced to watch that I liked more than Cowboy Bebop, none are even remotely close when it comes to some kind of aesthetic quality. If someone prompts me with a top 10 anime evar list, I plop it in there. While I personally have no desire really to see it again, it’s the first anime that I recommend when a n00b asks me for a good starter anime.
#3: Jubei-chan 2
Jubei-chan was pretty good, and Jubei-chan 2 added a lot of incremental improvments. That’s not why this is #3, however. This is why this is #3:
I mean seriously, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? The difference between this and something like say, Sengoku Basara (other than the length of this) is that there is not a trace of silliness or irony here to temper the AWESOMENESS. And to top it off, this wasn’t even the part of the show that made me pop the biggest boner. That went to the scene where Jubei-chan catches the sword of the gi-normous ice monster and melts him with her BURNIGN PASSION. Also, the concept of a gar Hocchan was pretty awesome.
#4: Ayashi no Ceres
Ayashi no Ceres is hands down the least-shoujo-y shoujo show that I’ve ever seen. That’s not necessarily why I liked it, as there are plenty of normal shoujo shows that I’ve liked (like the next one!) That said, Ayashi no Ceres is one of the few times when I’ve really got into a dark, lurid anime. For some reason, they usually feel like they’re trying too hard, but this one managed to have the right balance necessary to make it dangerous rather than ridiculous.
#5: Fushigi Yuugi
Alright, I will admit that I might have liked Fushigi Yuugi for the wrong reason. I didn’t like it because it was fully of kawaii bishies that I wish would hold my hand. Rather, I loved the interplay between the world of the book and the real world nad how the two kept spilling over into each other. It’s like The Kugelmass Episode, but with a girly self-insert (literally!) rather than a New York Jew self-insert!
#6: Golden Boy
I quite liked GTO (the drama the most, then the manga, then the anime, although the anime was still good). Golden Boy was like GTO, but with even more camel toes, toilet jokes, and one of the more infamous lines in anime. One of the best in-jokes in Golden Boy is that the show is nominally a harem show, and Kintaro appears on the surface to be your standard worthless, irredeemable harem lead. Everyone notices this, but the joke is on us (and all the ladies) when it turns out that Kintaro is either a genius or an idiot savant when out of nowhere he does things like whip up a computer program overnight to replace the one that he accidentally destroyed. And, in a end that feels like a metaphorical one night stand, he always vanishes the next morning, much to the stunned (seXXXay) ladies’ disappointment.
It’s kind of sad how early Gonzo peaked. Vandread basically does everything that they wanted to do in later shows like Dragonaut, except a million times better. This even includes the CG, which despite being years more inferior, somehow manages to look better than some of the jarring crap in their more recent shows.
Best of all, Vandread came before Gonzo became famous for Gonzo endings!
I can’t really decide if Scryed wants you to wink at it or not. On the surface, it’s a fun, well-made friendship-and-fighting series that manages to avoid Sunrise’s tendency to cock up their endings. At the same time, I can’t help but laugh at names like “Straight Cougar”, or the ending. The ending is so perfect, yet at the same time incredibly silly. I can’t think of any better way than for the two main characters to start fighting in overly dramatic ways while yelling each others’ names for no reason at all, but at the same time, you can’t help but laugh.
Also, I believe in drastic my balls.
#9: To Heart
I hate bishoujo game anime. I’ll go into that more in the bottom section. To Heart may be the only one that I’ve seen where I can go past “respecting” it and say that I actually, genuinely enjoyed it. The key was that To Heart had a genuine warmth to it, rather than a series of cloying, manufactured, paint-by-numbers triggers to generate a moe response. For example, in just about every other show that I’ve seen, character traits get used like a shorthand. We get told that this one is say, the childhood friend, and then we mentally fill in the blanks for everything else about that character. To Heart, in contrast would then show the characters’ relationship, and the way that they interact with each other would then feel the way that childhood friends would interact, rather than just give you a mental checklist of things like “Will wake you up before school, will give you a bento, will eventually make a confession, etc.”
#10: Slayers Next
Much like the aforementioned Jubei-chan 2, if I had to make a list of the most improved anime sequels, Slayers Next would definitely be on there. The first season of Slayers was enjoyable, but it was still pretty slapdash. It fell victim to the common mediocre anime practice of having a series of 20 or so random episodes and then only in the last 4-6 trying to tie together some kind of multi-episode storyline. Not only does Slayers Next manage to avoid that pitfall (along with the other improvements you’d expect from an improved show, like being more funny/exciting/dramatic/developed) in its storyline, it’s even pretty good about weaving in filler without it appearing to be filler. You know what I’m talking about.
And now, the REAL good part: the bottom!
You know what’s sad? While a lot of commenters mentioned how absolutely vile Rizelmine was, I’ve seen at least 10 anime just in this series that are worse than Rizelmine. In fact, the only reason I put it in here was so I could say that.
#92: Wind: A Breath of Heart
Wind: A Breath of Heart was dull, but something in it just made me snap and start listing every single reason that I hated every character. For reference:
1: If you are sick or weak, I hate you
2: If you are shy, I hate you
3: If you are vulnerable, I hate you
4: If the main character is your older brother and you call him onii-chan all the time, I hate you
5: If you have any physical manifestations of illness/weakness (like a non-lovely eyepatch), I hate you
6: If you bring up a childhood marriage promise, I hate you
7: If you’re involved in magical realism, I hate you
8: If your entire character revolves around the main guy, I hate you
9: If you remind me of the first episode for last episodes of Da Crapo II in any way, I hate you
10: And the catch-all: if you in any way make me think that you as a character exist purely to feed some kind of moe fetish, I hate you.
#93: Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne had probably the most egregious filler that I’ve ever seen. The manga is only 7 volumes long, yet they needed to stretch this out to fill a whopping 44 episodes. Most of the time with filler (see the next one), it’s done in a way that it’s completely disposable. Here, the filler left gaping plot holes from episode to episode. Characters would do things like see through tricks one episode and then fall for the same trick later on. Or, they’d question their motivation sometimes but not other times, even with no prompting. They’ll think that something is stupid one episode and brilliant in another. They’ll lie about something (with the prompt that this is a lie) in one episode and say the same thing in another with the prompt that they’re telling the truth. This goes on and on.
#94: Mamotte Shugogetten
Like I said last week with Asagiri no Miko, Mamotte Shugoetten has the highest ratio I have ever seen of song catchiness to anime shittiness. See for yourself:
I try to sing this every time at karaoke, but always fail miserably.
(Also has a strong ratio: Green Green.)
#95: Sailor Moon SuperS
The Sailor Moon series varies quite a bit in terms of quality. S is definitely the best season. The first is a lot better than the others that came after. Stars is almost entirely redeemed by the presence of STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR GENTLE UUUUUUUUUUUUUTERUS! R, StrikerS, and the movies are all pretty bad, although I’d put StrikerS as the worst. They don’t even try to make the filler episodes non-stupid. In the other seasons, you could at least imagine that yeah, maaaaaaaaybe that random person had the mcguffin that the villains were searching for. In SuperS, however they are looking for the person that dreams of Pegasus. Now, which of these people do you think is more likely to dream of Pegasus:
a) A middle-aged woman who dreams of owning a restaurant
b) A shota who dreams of winning his school sports festival
c) A loli who dreams of being the Japanese national kendo champion
d) Sailor Mercury, who dreams about being a doctor when she grows up
e) Chibi Usa, who in every freaking episode that you fight her, says “Pegasus, protect our dreams!”
Exactly. And not only that, but it takes until a few episodes into Sailor Stars for the villain to finally recognize this!
#96: Violinist of Hamelin
As I said, it’s Powerpoint: The Anime.
#97: Naruto: Konoha Annual Sports Festival
While I was forced to watch Naruto, it honestly wasn’t terrible, with the Chuunin Exam arc being a standout. You just had to keep your finger on the fast forward button when it got into filler land. When you didn’t, you ended up with crap like this, which is quite possibly the worst filler episode I have ever seen. It is literally 20 minutes of Naruto shitting his pants.
#98: E’s Otherwise
E’s Otherwise is possibly the most badly mediocre anime that I have ever seen. There is well, almost nothing in it. There’s no tension or cohesion or well, any purpose whatsoever behind anything that happens in it. The characters don’t really do anything either, and you could cut just about all of them out and the show would lose nothing because they weren’t doing anything anyway. The show is best summed up by a scene in one of the last episodes where one of the heroes is trying to break into the enemy base. He is surrounded by guards, the music tepidly tries to swell, he uses his psychic powers to lift up a giant barrel and then he just…teleports away from them.
#99: Tenshi ni Narumon!
Tenshi ni Narumon is hands down the most grating show that I’ve ever seen. Basically, have someone shriek “YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSUKE-SAN!” in your ears in the highest pitched Japanese voice you can imagine for 20 minute, then repeat this 26 times. Or, if your shrieker can’t handle saying the same thing, feel free to toss in some brattily-said “IRANAI IRANAI!”s or “IYA!”s or any other kind of childish, petulant complaint you can think of.
#100: Sister Princess
This one was recent enough that I’ll just relink back to it. The comment thread took on a life of its own as everyone piled on. In short, Sister Princess is everything that’s wrong with anime.