Here we go, bros.
So, I’ve sort of caved. I say “sort of” because I’m not following to the letter the general precedents set forth for these types of series of post. I also say “sort of” since although there was a certain little birdy who attempted to cajole me into doing a Top Whatever thing, its that sort of concept that has bounced in and out of my skull throughout roughly the past, oh, ten years (for the record, I’m about to close out my thirteenth year of consecutive fandom). As a bored fourteen year old in algebra class all these years back, I used the brown paper bag covering on my math book to record all the series I could think of that I’d watched; the ones I liked best were starred. I think this may be the true original genesis of this post.
BUT! But, but! Now we get into caveats, because, as I said, I’m differing slightly from how these lists are typically done. My largest stumbling block to ever doing one “officially” previously is that I question the basic philosophy of it – perhaps the first few series have an obvious difference from the rest or each other in terms of one’s affection for it, but once you get further down the list, what honestly separates a #18 from a #19? (Spoiler alert: I don’t have nineteen listed.) I really loved Red Garden. I also really loved Mai-Otome. But how on earth would I quantify how much I loved each one, particularly as I loved them for largely different reasons? This is also part of why, if asked, I will say, “Some of my favorite series are…”, because it leaves a door open there – I’m only naming a few, its by no means exhaustive. If pushed, I can name my absolute favorite, yes, but I don’t like being pushed on that. These are a few of my favorite things; so it is.
So! I will name my top show here. And then I will list an additional three that I don’t rank individually, but do put above all my other favorites. And then, finally, I will tell tales of the “second-tier”, if you will, favorites, avoiding any numerical ranking by alphabetizing them. To wit:
- Revolutionary Girl Utena (J.C. Staff, 1997)
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam (Sunrise, 1994)
- Shiki (Daume, 2010)
- Outlaw Star (Sunrise, 1998)
- The Big O (Sunrise, 1999/2003)
- Digimon Tamers (Toei, 2001)
- Hyouka (Kyoto Animation, 2012)
- Jigoku Shoujo (Studio DEEN, 2005/2006/2008)
- Mai-Otome (Sunrise, 2005)
- Maria-sama ga Miteru (Studio DEEN, 2004/2006/2009)
- MAZE Megaburst Space TV (J.C. Staff, 1997)
- Princess Tutu (Hal Film Maker, 2002)
- Red Garden (GONZO, 2006)
- Samurai Champloo (Manglobe, 2005)
- Senkou no Night Raid (A-1 Pictures, 2010)
- Taisho Baseball Girls (J.C. Staff, 2009)
- UN-GO (BONES, 2011)
- Weiß Kreuz (J.C. Staff, 1998/1999)
Alright, now that you’ve got the list, a smattering of explanation. Firstly, with Hyouka not yet ended, I’m anticipating a few eyebrows raised over its inclusion; however, Hyouka only has one episode left, and has reached the point where it couldn’t, say, pull a Mai-HiME-type ending on us… or, y’know, put differently, it can’t really shit all over everything else that’s come before it at this point, because even if, say, Houtarou goes on a murder rampage, Hyouka’s format means that we can easily discount everything that happens after Kanya Fest if we so desire. In other words – Hyouka’s final episode isn’t going to be the linchpin of the series like Mai-HiME’s was.
(By the way, if anyone wants a Mai-HiME boxset, I don’t want mine anymore. Pay the shipping, and it’s yours. Its got the nifty box that came packaged in the limited volume seven release.)
Anyway, moving along – a few of the shows listed have multiple series that I haven’t bothered to sub-list. The ones I haven’t sub-listed are since the various seasons themselves are direct sequels to one another, and although I may dislike a component part (i.e. Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori’s second half), it gets too complicated in a simple listing to bother to get so into the weeds. That’s what the explication of the list will end up functioning for, ultimately.
Oh, also, I should note – on the year given for each show, that’s when it began airing. The ones with years divided by slashes are just to denote the years of the various seasons.
I also have an “honorable mentions” category for… well, which maybe doesn’t really fit with what I’m doing here, but either I thought they had a really good arc, think they mean a lot to my development as an anime fan, or think did try to do something new and different, and I can appreciate that, but I can’t claim that they’re a favorite of mine. Or, less charitably, its a catch-all category which permits me to blather on a bit more:
- Ghost Hunt (J.C. Staff, 2006)
- Haunted Junction (Studio DEEN, 1997)
- Mawaru Penguindrum (Brains Base, 2011)
- Sailor Moon (Toei, 1992)
- Tenchi Muyo (AIC, and, bros, if I tried to list all the years for this, I’d go mad and we’d probably get into fights about which particular portions of the Tenchiverse qualify as “Tenchi Muyo”, so let’s go with 1992, when the Ryo-Ohki! 1 OAVs first started to come out)
So how will I approach this? I will be honest and say that I’m not sure yet, because I don’t know how much I’ll end up writing for each show. I may have some posts which feature multiple shows; I may have some posts which only feature one. Honorable mentions will just be grouped together in one post, but the rest is fairly up in the air.
For those of you who were just curious about the shows that would appear on the list, you probably are just going to be bored with this next bit, as its just me crunching numbers for little reason.
I’ve joked before about Sunrise being my favorite studio, but was genuinely surprised to discover that it tied for top of the pile when measured by how many of its shows made my favorites list. Four of eighteen (22%) shows were Sunrise, ditto for J.C. Staff. Second place goes to Studio DEEN (no, really), with two of eighteen (11%). All other studios either did not appear (fuck you, P.A. Works!) or only had one (Daume, Toei, Hal Film Maker, to name a few). As J.C. Staff and DEEN are perennial pinatas in the opinion columns, I’m mildly amused by this.
I was also surprised to realize that no Madhouse shows make the list. In the past I’ve called them my favorite studio, and I do think that their output is generally of good quality (if we can overlook those wretched Marvel collaborations). However, while I find that they more consistently make me happy with what they do bring out, none of it quite cracks my favorites list, although some come close (Mouryou no Hako, for example).
I think Sunrise’s good showing probably boils down to the fact that while they may not always make “good” anime, they rarely make boring anime. Dullness is the cardinal sin an anime can commit.
I worried a bit about recency bias when doing this, and it is in the details in that I have no shows pre-1994 listed. If I was done with Rose of Versailles, there’s a pretty solid chance it would grace this list, but I haven’t. Other potential inclusions (Kaze to Ki no Uta, Oniisama E…) just didn’t rank highly enough; I like them, but I don’t like them as much as I like those I did include.
Breaking it out:
- Eight shows are 10+ years old (44.4%)
- Six shows are pre-2000 (33.3%)
- Five shows are 5-9 years old (27.8%)
- Five shows are less than 5 years old (” “)
- Four shows are from this decade, i.e. 2010 or later (22.2%)
Admittedly, these stats are slightly flawed, in that they only measure from the inception of the franchise – looking at inception only, you would think I didn’t have any favorite shows in 2008, which isn’t true; I loved Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae, which aired in 2008. But, well, I’m not inclined to get more detailed than looking at original appearance years, so…! I also am not sure it would be particularly useful to, as in the lone case where one particular incarnation was favored much more over its stablemates by myself (Digimon Tamers), I did list it separately and by its particular year (blows my mind that that damn thing is eleven years old!).
Alright, I’m done. Start anticipating posts… now. (Or not. Anyone want that Mai-HiME box?)