Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Anime Insider: Best Anime Ever

With the arrival of Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (2013) and its aspirations to pay homage to the world of anime and kaiju, while delivering a wholly original film of his own, there's no better time to step back and offer up some anime-related material worthy of your precious time, but probably only if you're open to animation.

For those looking into what the best anime has to offer maybe this short list will give you some ideas. This is The Sci-FI Fanatic's edited take of the Best 108 Anime Ever as extracted from the now defunct Anime Insider #11.  I'll offer some brief assessments.

Best of Anime Romance:
5. Love Hina.
4. Marmalade Boy.
3. Sailor Moon.
2. Kimagure Orange Road.
1. His And Her Circumstances.

The number one His And Her Circumstances (1998-1999) is a Gainax coming-of-age classic. It's perfect for the teen set, incredibly funny and poignant.

Best of Giant Robots:
10. Macross Plus.
9. Mobile Suit Gundam.
8. Rahxephon.
7. Vision Of Escalowne.
6. The Big O.
5. Super Dimensional Fortress Macross.
4. Gundam Seed.
3. Patlabor.
2. Gundam Wing.
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion.

The number one Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-1996), also by Gainax, is highly influential, but even beyond that it is highly entertaining as a series in its own right.  There are indeed elements of Pacific Rim lifted from series like Neon Genesis Evangelion.  What are you waiting for?  The hand drawn animation is exquisite and the Platinum edition looks amazing, but where is that Blu-ray already?

Best Of Action-Adventure:
10. Nadia: The Secret Of Blue Water.
9. Ninja Scroll.
8. Read Or Die.
7. Dragon Ball.
6. Lupin The 3rd.
5. Trigun.
4. Dragon Ball Z.
3. Rurouni Kenshin.
2. Yu Yu Hakusho.
1. Inu-Yasha.

I don't tend to watch the action-adventure genre in anime, but, as a fan of Gainax, I actually purchased Nadia: The Secret Of Blue Water (1990-1991) and watched this epic, mostly beautifully drawn series with my kids when they were young.  It's a wonderful family-oriented series with terrific characters.  The series also has some wonderful mech craft including the Nautilus (two versions), which I just recently got my hands on for a growing spaceship collection in the Fancave.

Best Of Sci-Fi:
5. Ghost In The Shell.
4. Martian Successor Nadesico.
3. Ghost In The Shell S.A.C..
2. Cowboy Bebop.
1. Akira.

I can't recommend Mamoru Oshii's Ghost In The Shell (1995) enough or his sequel film, Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence (2004), or the many series that have since followed.  These are remarkably entertaining stories immersed in science fiction and big, profound ideas about humanity. 

Next, if you've been a regular visitor here at Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic you know I also covered Cowboy Bebop.  While it may not rank among my personal favorites and I may have watched it without the proper frame of mind at the time, it's still a substantial work and worth your time.  It's cool.

Now Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira (1988) is a funny animal.  It's another highly influential film and it's planned for live film adaptation, but I just never loved this film.  I've seen it twice and its dystopian vision leaves me cold.  It also lacks the kind of characterization I like in my films and television.

I actually prefer Steamboy (2004) and I have yet to see Memories (1995) featuring Otomo's Cannon Fodder.

Best Of The Weird:
5. Cat Soup.
4. Panda Go Panda.
3. Super Milk-Chan.
2. Di Gi Charat.
1. FLCL.

I haven't seen FLCL (2000), but I hear that it's, well, weird.  But I love just about anything by Gainax and I have it sitting on my shelf.  One of these days.  Any thoughts out there on this one?  The animation is stunningly good as Gainax once again works hand in hand with Production I.G. who made such a splash with the truly awesome The End Of Evangelion (1997) and Death And Rebirth (1997).  While we're on the subject of missed series, I also have Gurren Lagann (2007) in queue.  I hope I didn't make a mistake with it, but has been dubbed a much under appreciated Gainax work.

Best Of Horror:
4. Hellsing.
3. Petshop Of Horrors.
2. Blood: The Last Vampire.
1. Boogiepop Phantom.

Blood: The Last Vampire (2000) inspired a run of anime series (Blood+ and Blood-C) and a live action film (2009).  The live film is likely another example of style over substance but the Hong Kong actioner may be worth checking out.

This short film that really acts to establish Production I.G. as a major player.  It worked.  The animation is exceptional, but there's not much to it.

Best Of Drama:
5. Haibane Renmei.
4. Millennium Actress.
3. Jin-Roh.
2. Perfect Blue.
1. Grave Of The Fireflies.

The late great Satoshi Kon (1963-2010) delivered a series of wonderful films notably Millennium Actress (2001), which I covered.  His Perfect Blue (1998) also makes the list.  He definitely ranks among the classic masters of the art form.  Mamoru Oshii's early Jin-Roh (1999; Oshii delivered the screenplay) is also an impressive cautionary tale that really has some resonance today more than ever.  His sometimes impenetrable style is an acquired taste, but he has an immense talent.  One should really check out his Mobile Police Patlabor (1988), Patlabor: The Movie (1989) and Patlabor 2: The Movie (1993).  These are beautifully animated films with strong characters and stories for mature audiences.

Finally, Hayao Miyazaki's partner at Studio Ghibli created a wartime masterpiece called Grave Of The Fireflies (1988).  Roger Ebert called it one of the best war films ever made and it really is.  It's heart wrenching and gorgeously animated like anything else from Studio Ghibli.

The Best Of Comedy and The Best Of Girl Power were omitted for obvious reasons.  Not obvious?  I'm just not into girl power.  I like girls and I like girls with power, but I really don't have time for anime with girl power.

This list is all over the map, uneven and omits some serious contenders. Clearly there is also no differentiation in the list between picking films and TV Series. Then how on Earth does the list not select a single film from Master Hayao Miyazaki? Sorry, but as much as they get a selection or two right in my opinion, there are serious omissions throughout the list. This list is also fairly old so keep that in perspective.  The landscape of anime has changed substantially.  Still, where is Blue Submarine No. 7, to offer just one example. Gunbuster (1988-1989), Royal Space Force: The Wings Of Honneamise (1987) and others are also noteworthy. The fact these are not included is a major oversight. They do appear in Brian Camp and Julie Davis' Anime Classics Zettai! as they rightfully should.

I have highlighted my favorites in green until I can compose The Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 10 Anime.


le0pard13 said...

Fantastic post, SFF! Obviously, I've some catching up to do with a lot those you've listed here.

Roman J. Martel said...

A fun list, but I'd have to take issue with a few of the picks as well. :) Great to see "Ghost in the Shell" so high on the list. I've seen some serious backlash against the film lately, which surprised me.

I'm also really happy to see "Boogiepop Phantom" on the list. Really a great horror series and one of the best to capture the uncanny dread of a nightmare. One of my favorite anime of the 1990s, and one I have to cover on my site someday.

Satoshi Kon is one of my favorite anime directors and I think "Millennium Actress" may be my favorite movie of his. Great stuff. I just need to cover "Paprika" and I'll have reviewed all of his work on my blog. :)

I've been out of the anime loop for quite a while, so my knowledge doesn't extend much past 2002 or so. But there's some great stuff out there that wasn't included (leaving out any Miyazaki should be a crime). Maybe it's time for me to cobble together my own list.

Oh and your mention of Bebop and your reaction has me curious... It sounds a lot like my reaction to the show. :) I think I'll check your coverage out.

El Vox said...

This is a fun post because I've been curious about anime lately. I've enjoyed Bebop Cowboys too. Also Vampire Hunter D and the animated Matrix series. I'm sure I'll think of a few others too.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Cheers L13!

Thank you El Vox. Exactly. Just a fun post and very retro my friend. It's a dated post. I should have taken the time to write down the year but it definitely covers some of the earlier titles.

Thanks for writing Roman. I must tell you too, that it's a pleasure to have a fellow writer that enjoys anime with the kind of vigor you share at your site. I need to explore that further.

It's nice to have that kind of simpatico for the genre.

Now I have not read or seen the backlash toward GITS but I suppose these things are inevitable and ebb and flow.

I must agree that Millennium Actress is stunning and beautiful and romantic. I love that film.

Miyazaki. He's a category unto himself I would imagine. : )

As far as Cowboy Bebop. Far be it from me to sway people from their love, affection and adoration for this series but it just struck me as slightly overrated.

I think there are some tremendous action sequences. I think the animation is beautiful. Characterization is okay. I always thought it could have been much better.

I enjoyed the universe it created but I was never completely blown away by the series or the film. As beautifully executed as they are visually I found it came up short more often than not for me personally, but I can see where people could fall in love with that series and I would recommend it for people interested in sci-fi action adventure. Of course Faye is hotter than Jessica Rabbit in IMO too. : )

I need to look at some titles post-2002 as well Roman. I'm way behind. I checked out Gunbuster for the first time recently. Good. Early Gainax.

Titles I'd like to see: Witch Hunter Robin, Freedom, more GITS, finish Ergo Proxy and others.

Any thoughts on Gundam?

And I would recommend Last Exile. I thought that was a fairly solid series that I enjoyed with my kids.

All the best

Roman J. Martel said...

Yeah, Bebop is a lot of fun, with great visuals and entertaining stories and characters. But it was really lacking that extra push to put it into the same league as EVA. Heck I thought the story arc and character dynamics of Vash the Stampede in "Trigun" made that series better over all. And that was my main issue with Bebop, it never gets too deep with anything. Most of the issues that befall the characters during the series just don't seem to impact them as they go along. The last three episodes are the exception, but in my mind Bebop is a missed opportunity. It could have been one of the best series out there. Instead it's a blast of fun and visual candy (yes Faye is very sweet), but that's about it. I think even Gene Starwind from "Outlaw Star" had more of a evolving character than Spike from Bebop.

When it comes to Gundam, I've only seen "Gundam Wing". When it was shown in Cartoon Network during the Toonami block. And can I tell you, I'd never seen anything like it. Totally gripped me from start to finish. When they started to release the series on DVD and I revisited it, it started to lose a bit of its luster. I noticed all the circling the plot was doing and the characters weren't pulling me in as much. Still a lot of fun, but in the end I never finished picking up the series on DVD and eventually traded it in.

I started "Last Exile" quite a few years ago and remember getting into it. But something happened (and I can't remember exactly what it was) but I never finished the series. I have it in my download list on Netflix, but I think I'm going to dive into the GITS television series first. I still haven't seen that.

And it's great to hear from another anime fan who seems to be from the same era of fandom. Looking forward to more chats about anime.

El Vox said...

A recent clip on YT finds Pacific Rim's director, Guillermo admiring some of the anime/robotic inspirations for his film. Apparently he's as much a fan as the rest of us:

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thanks for that link El Vox. I appreciate it. I will check that out. It was relatively apparent where del Toro's heart came from on Pacific Rim and he handled it with such originality.

Roman, likewise, it's a pleasure to talk anime and look forward to these exchanges.

You and I are on the same page and you articulated Cowboy Bebop's issues further. Certainly one could say the characterizations were subtle, but, like you, I appreciate a more emotional effort or a deeper mining of character than the series offered. It left me wanting more and not in a good way. Still, it has its merits and I don't want to detract from that, but we agree on the problems completely.

I will need to give the Gundam stuff a shot some time. Finding time - always the problem.

Anonymous said...

I remember a series where aliens (human form) invade earth and use historic sites as their bases - such as the pyramids and the inca temples (nazca lines as airfields). The bad guys were dressed in very elegant military uniforms. I can't remember how the good guys looked like. :-( Does anyone know the name of the series and point me to some links?