If you were to try to create an objective list of the greatest anime of all time, what would you put in the top five? Fullmetal Alchemist, perhaps? Mushi-shi? And would Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke be the Ghibli representative on the list?
It’s an impossible task – there are so many great anime and it’s so hard to be objective. If we assembled together 100 anime “experts” (otaku, assemble!), we could probably craft a pretty good list, but no one would be satisfied with it. I certainly wouldn’t, as I lean more toward series that I love – my favorites – rather than those I respect as ones I consider “best.”
But you know what? It’s a fun exercise to see what everyone would come up with for their list of, say, the five best anime EVERRRRR. And to that end, please check out some of our picks below! We’re joined this month by Justin, the editor-in-chief and founder of Organizational Anti-Social Geniuses, a terrific blog of all things anime and manga industry-related.
Oh, and please share with us your top five in the comment section below!
- Hunter x Hunter
- Kill la Kill
- Usagi Drop
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- Mawaru Penguindrum
Considering I still have a long way to go in watching anime, I can expect this current Top 5 list to change 5 years from now, when I’m 30 and traveling to Japan for some random reason. But at this present time, these are probably my Top 5 anime, narrowly edging out Rainbow and only a paltry mention of Death Note to suffice. The 5 I chose I think are worthy though. Mawaru Penguindrum was the first Ikuhara anime I tried, and it was 24 (or so) weeks of absolute chaos, stress, and joy, and boy I was not sure what to make of this anime when I finished it the first time. I then watched it a second time some years ago and, instead of feeling conflicted, I’m convinced this is definitely a great show. It’s just narrowly behind Madoka, which I burned through in a day like a madman with its story, its imagery, and the themes it presented. However, these two shows, which aired in 2011, couldn’t knock off what was my favorite anime ever, Usagi Drop. The relationship between Rin and Daikichi managed to work, along with its visuals and sound, and considering I started taking anime seriously four years ago, this was a welcome anime to watch each week, then re-watch a year later. But it’s reign ended at my top only two years later, as two shows that ended in 2014 knocked it off its perch. The first was Kill la Kill. It’s frenetic, crazy pace made a big impression on me, and after its first episode, was entertained from start to finish. This just beat Usagi Drop from my top spot. Then, Hunter x Hunter happened. How can a 148 episode show be on top? Make no mistake, this was not a perfect show. It even had an arc where I was less than impressed. Yet, the more I think about how it ended, and the more I thought about the arcs where they were excellent, and the more I think back to episodes that made me realize why I became an anime fan, the more I couldn’t deny Gon and his crew from being at the top of my Top 5 anime ever despite some imperfections. I can’t profess to these being the very best, but if nothing else, they are one of the many best out there.
I’m blessed to have Frank, otherwise known as stardf29, write two guest posts for us here on Beneath the Tangles. Frank has been an anime fan for a good while, though has only really been following the deeper world of anime since 2007 and has only very recently entered the anime blogosphere with his blog, A Series of Miracles. He frequently goes by “stardf29” online, which is short for “Star Defender 29”, a reference to the “Star Defender” series that he himself is trying to write. He is also a Christian actively involved with his church, and when he is not watching anime or writing stories, he likes to help out with his church’s youth group.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
– 1 John 3:1, ESV
Father’s Day may have come and gone for this year, but I still feel that it is fitting to write a post on anime fathers and divine Fatherhood. After all, for Christians, every day is Father’s Day, at least with regards to God, our Heavenly Father. However, in talking about divine Fatherhood, I will specifically point out something important: it is an adoptive Fatherhood.
One of my favorite types of stories, including in anime, is the adoption story. When talking about an adoption story, there are two important factors that define such a story: what a child is being adopted from, and what that child is being adopted into. Obviously, the type of adoption story that is sweet and heartwarming (and therefore what I like) involves being adopted into a situation that is better than what the child is being adopted from (when the reverse happens, it’s a much more tragic story).
A great example of this type of adoption story in anime is Bunny Drop (Usagi Drop). Rin is presented in the story as the estranged, illegitimate 6-year-old daughter of 30-year-old Daikichi’s grandfather… talk about awkward! Her dubious background is the reason why none of Daikichi’s family members want anything to do with Rin, much less adopting her. Daikichi, on the other hand, feels sorry for how everyone is treating Rin, and takes it upon himself to adopt her and raise her.
Looking at this story from an adoption perspective, Rin gets adopted from a situation where her father is dead, her mother is nowhere in the picture, and her other family members, sans Daikichi, consider her an outcast. She gets adopted into a situation where she is fully loved by Daikichi, and can enjoy a nice life with friends and something that can be called “family” because of that. All in all, she can definitely be said to have been adopted into a better life.
Episode 3.5: “To Santa”
Usagi Drop is one of my very favorite series, but my last taste of it was the conclusion to the manga, which I found lacking (to put it mildly). So it was refreshing to watch this Christmas episode, a six-minute piece that was part of one of the DVD releases.
In the short, Daikichi prepares for Christmas by explaining the ins and outs of Santa Claus. I was surprised at how the legend has translated to Japan – chimneys, letters, cookies, reindeer, and all. Some of these traditions are European in origin and others North American. Rin’s carrot for the reindeer, I’ve discovered, is actually a tradition from English-speaking countries.
More closely to home, though, the episode reminded me of how I’m raising my children. Before kids, I was pretty vehemently against telling them about Santa. I didn’t like the idea of lying to them, and I remember how hurt I was when I found out the truth about the big man. But once I had children, my attitude did a 180, and it became a no-brainer to continue the
A year ago…taking my son to the hospital reminded me of Usagi Drop…
…and my own surgery at a hospital did as well.
A year ago…Angel Beats caused me to think about our way versus God’s…
…of how Christians should love one another…
…about bullying from a grace-centered perspective…
…and about dads.
A year ago…I interviewed the author of Because the Angels, a book in which Christianity and anime both play major roles..
…and reviewed the work.
A year ago…we thought about how Kin’iro no Corda demonstrated how the weak can shame the strong…
…how Shinobu became a grown-up…
…and how Koko ni Iru Yo! shows us the power of forgiveness.
A year ago…Goldy wrote her first post, giving her impressions of Persona 4: The Animation…
and I teamed with Alexander to opine about Kamisama Dolls and the existence of God.
“A Year Ago” is a monthly series on Beneath the Tangles which links to posts from the site written around this date last year.
A year ago…I was watching (and loving) Mawaru Penguindrum…
…as well as Usagi Drop, about which I wrote one post…
…no, two about the fourth episode.
A year ago…I was stirring debate when talking Hourou Musuko and homosexuality…
…and finding a Christ figure in Eden of the East.
A year ago…R86 was sharing some of what he enjoys about his favorite show at that time, Ookiku Furikabutte.
A year ago…Chelsea Machiella guest posted about Christianity in anime.
Right from the first episode, it was clear that Usagi Drop was going to be a special show. The first episode is based around the funeral of Daikichi’s grandfather, with the family attempting to figure out what to do with the old man’s illegitimate child, Rin. After the family reaches the conclusion of putting her up for adoption, single working man, Daikichi, volunteers to take her in.
Though perhaps he isn’t thinking in this manner, Daikichi is showing that love is an action, not a state of being.
Being “in love” is the easiest thing in the world. It’s an extreme high that costs us nothing. Showing love, on the other hand, sometimes costs us a whole lot. Loving someone can take time, energy, and money, and may result in nothing in return – or even worse, pain in reciprocation.
Daikichi isn’t an especially sensitive man, and perhaps that makes this story even stronger. We don’t expect him to be the type to tenderly care for the young girl; instead, we think she should be a burden to him. And according the world, perhaps she is. She takes up his free time and his work time; she costs him emotionally and financially; and she changes his entire lifestyle – not an comfortable thing to do for a bachelor.
Yet, Daikichi responds time after time with love.
When confronted with an opportunity to love, the easiest thing to do is to say “no.” Answering “no” means not having to invest in a relationship that could give you so much pain and so little else in return.
Perhaps that’s really where love begins, when one makes that first step in saying, “yes, even so, I will love you for who you are.”
Have you ever made that decision to to love someone, even knowing that it would be easier to just walk away? Did you regret your decision?
Yesterday, I gave numbers one through six on my list of the years top posts regarding anime and spirituality. It’s been difficult selecting the top posts of the year, though I’ve found again and again, they’re written by my favorite writers in the blogosphere. These wonderful bloggers seem to be adept at writing about a variety of subjects, religion included.
Below are the remaining six of the year, listed in chronological order:
7. Apples and Devil’s Deals: A Religious Analysis of the Apple Scene in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
written by A Day Without Me
Kyouko herself gains knowledge, too, and likewise comes to unhappiness, although unlike her father she is capable of adapting. But she herself takes on the guise of the Snake, at least as things develop, for she offers a literal apple to Sayaka while also holding forth an apple of knowledge as well. Sayaka’s already dealt with one Snake in the grass, and made the mistake of taking the apple from Kyuubey, but tosses the apple back at the second she encounters.
Yesterday, Yi posted a wonderful (as usual) piece. In it, she argues for the path Usagi Drop takes after the material that was covered in the series. She claims that the evolution and devolution of certain relationships in the series are fitting and well done. While I won’t argue with the relationships that did not come to pass (in fact, I see these as very strong points, if not disappointing ones), I don’t agree with the elephant in the corner of the manga page.
The Listless Ink post gave me an opportunity to write down the feelings I’d had since first reading the manga several months ago. Although these points are no doubt more thoroughly and elegantly covered in the comments on Yi’s site, I still felt the necessity to get these thoughts off of my chest and onto the digital page.
Warning: Spoilers galore after the jump Read the rest of this entry
Episode 3.5: “To Santa Claus”
With Christmas time approaching, Daikichi asks Rin what she wants Santa to bring her this Christmas. She responds that she wants another “Lob Ear,” a stuffed bunny, to be a friend to her current one. Daikichi later purchases the gift, along with a small Christmas tree for the two to put up in their home. For Christmas Eve, Rin arranges cookies and a carrot (for the reindeer) and the next morning, Rin happily eats with her new Lob Ear alongside her other one.
Coming in at only about five and a half minutes, this special addition to the Usagi Drop anime is short and sweet. The sweetness should come as no surprise to anyone who’s watched the show, which is always, always lovely. Read the rest of this entry
In 2010, I had a general rule that I roughly kept. I watched 2-3 new series per season – one of high quality, of enjoyable, but of questionable quality, and then maybe one other that hooked me. Despite trying to keep this rule in 2011 to avoid burnout, I couldn’t help but watch more new series than I’d ever had before. There were a number of excellent shows this years, and several more that I didn’t get to watch. And so when Kiddtic proposed an AniBloggers Choice Awards on his site (and later made a final, more structured setup), I jumped right on board. It also helps that I love me some lists.
After shuffling series back and forth, day after day, unable to settle on a satisfactory ranking, I settled for a little different approach. The series (and movie) below are placed into categories based on where I would roughly place them in my Anime Planet anime list, based on rankings from one-half star (worst) through five stars (best).
The Bottom Three: 3 to 4 Stars
Though without the bits of substance that stylistic predecessor Code Geass possessed, Guilty Crown is similar to that series in that both are entertaining and pwetty. I just wish someone would tighten up the writing, because I don’t think Guilty Crown is too far from transitioning to “good series” from a mediocre one.
Kamisama no Memochou
I knew (and expected) little of God’s Memo Pad, which is often the point when a series will surprise you (in a good way). Stylistically cool and full of at least somewhat interesting characters, the series begs for a second season (which, with further character development, could be better) – but please, if you’re going to claim Alice is a genius, show us how.