Ten Shows to Watch?

This isn’t exactly timely, but the response I started yesterday to Pixy and Steven’s discussions of “Ten Must See Anime of the Last 10 Years” was saved in progress, and I rather abruptly lost contact with it. So I’m kinda late to the party.

I don’t object to either Pixy or Steven’s selections; it’s their categories that I object to. Look, “huge boobs” aren’t a genre, they’re a feature. “Gainax ending” – what are we trying to say here? What is “squishy?” What kind of “only ten” list would deliberately include a “bad” show? (I use quotes here, because I’m completely in disagreement over one of the picks. That was the right ending – we can’t have them all be happy and wonderful.)

So first, what are our categories, and do we even need 10 of them? Now I don’t want to define this list against someone else’s (so why are you starting by picking on someone else’s? –ed.), but I think most of these should be able to stand on their own as the traditional “genres” of anime.

1. Slice of Life
2. Romance/Soap Opera
3. Mecha
4. Seinen (shonen fighting) I’m wrapping panty fighters into this category, just for the hell of it.
5. Majou Shoujo
6. Harem Comedy
7. Mystery / Action
8. Supernatural / Horror
9. (Space) Opera
10. Girls w/Guns
11. Doesn’t Fit (Bonus pick)

Slice of Life: Lots of contenders Happy lesson, K-On, Lucky Star, but who wins? I dunno, I suck at this category. I’m going to hand it Lucky Star, just because. Azumainga Daioh probably should take it.

Romance/Soap Opera: Kanon 2006. KyoAni at the top of their game. The ending’s a little rushed, but this is a three-hanky tear-jerker, par excellence.

Mecha: Not one of my big fields, but the obvious contenders are Gundam 00, Macross Frontier, Gurren Laggan. Godannar is a very distant follower, probably because I actually saw it. Code Geass R2 starts following the mecha path, but it’s just tacked on. I followed the others a bit, and while I think Macross Frontier is probably the most accessible to non-otaku, that wasn’t the criteria – it was “shows to watch.” TTGL is it.

Seinen: Four obvious choices here – Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Ikki Tousen. All of excessive length, and the latter of questionable taste. For that reason, I’m going with the rework of DBZ.

Majou Shoujo: Nanoha A,. It’s not “typical”, but frankly, no series is, any more — the genre has moved on.

Harem Comedy: Most of the last few years’ offerings have been pretty weak, with idiots in the center. Hekiyou Academy’s Student Council Activities is worthy of consideration, as a parody or deconstruction of the trope. And you could argue Ah My Goddess, except Keichi is only interested in one of them. But seriously, there is only one, and it’s the obvious choice: Tenchi Muyo! GXP (It’s from 2002.)

Mystery/Action: Another genre I’m not very familiar with. For the sake of broadening my picks, I’m going with non-traditional settings: past, fantasy, sci-fi. Although I didn’t like it, 20 Faces might be a good choice. I’m open to suggestions on this one.

Supernatural/Horror: Divergence Eve, especially the first half. My god, what a story. Shana could have taken it, had Friagne been the big bad of the series, or some of the speculation about Rammie been true. Lain is a strong contender on the supernatural end, and demonstrates the weakness of using categories to control the ten picks.

(Space) Opera: I’m going to take some flak for this one, because it’s thoroughly earthbound, but the story IS a space opera in style and tone: Code Geass., both seasons. Banner of the Stars should have taken it, but to me, space opera suggests a certain “over the top” aspect, and Banner is too serious.

Girls with Guns: Probably Noir, though I haven’t seen it. The problem with Black Lagoon is that it’s not really a girls with guns story, it just has several in it.

And for a bonus “it doesn’t fit” pick, I’m going with Shingu. It’s got such great characters, I almost picked it for Slice of Life.

Of course, if you really want to get down to it, the list shouldn’t be strangled by categorization; it should just be what the question originally posed, before Pixy went on a tangent: Ten shows to watch from the last decade. In that case, it becomes much easier. In no particular order:

  1. Shingu
  2. Tenchi Muyo GXP
  3. Divergence Eve
  4. Kanon 2006
  5. Code Geass
  6. Gurren Lagan*
  7. Lain
  8. Haibane Renmei*
  10. Banner of the Stars

*Actually, it’s still on my unwatched pile; I’m going from rep here.

I think GITS:SAC may be the weakest choice here, because too few episodes mattered to the overall plot.

Two honorable mentions:
Shana (1st season), which failed again, for the same reasons given above.
Full Metal Panic, which failed by virtue of the uneven feel and middle-arc slump.

In both cases, had the entire series lived up to the first arc, they’d have been top of the list.

Notice what’s missing? Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya. Six episode series, with eight fillers. I’m just going to pretend the second season didn’t happen. Or at least seven of the episodes didn’t. Those two black marks should explain its absence adequately.

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