32 Kick Ass Shows

I didn’t want to throw out some nonsense post on my and schneider‘s day in the tournament, because, frankly, that would be boring, and one obnoxious meta post in my archives is more than enough for me. But I do want to welcome anyone taking a look at this site for the first time, so I figured why not kill two birds with one stone by greeting people with the favorite series post I’ve been meaning to cobble together for a while now. Fun for the whole family!

Why 32? Because people love random numbers, or so I assume. Plus, I can honor the greatest Los Angeles Laker of all time, Magic Johnson, who also has the greatest potential porn name of any NBA player, past or present. Magic excelled on all fronts. Believe it.

(Random meta crap before the good stuff: I’m primarily an episodic blogger, but I do have non-episodic content here, here and here. I do put a certain amount of effort into the episodics, though; I like taking on the challenge of approaching each episode from an interesting angle (which I don’t always succeed at, but every piece of writing can’t be a home run). I don’t like a ton of recap, picspam or blathery nonsense, so I try to avoid it as much as possible (but not always, as evidenced by this paragraph). So there you go — I try to give episodic bloggers a good name by giving you all as much effort as possible. Anyway, enough of my sales pitch . . .)

(Final note: Feel free to chastise me for not including your favorite series on my favorites list. That’s what these posts are for, right? Of course. But, seriously, go ahead; I don’t mind.)

32. Baccano!: Not quite as big a fan as some people, but I’d be a fool to deny the sheer power of Baccano‘s ever-shifting storyline and its forceful personalities bouncing off one another in the most violent ways. There are not too many things more entertaining than Ladd Russo facing off against you-know-who while knife-wielding Chane stands off to the side, waiting to cut up the poor bastard who threatens her. Plus, the show’s hilariously literal titles always make me smile. My favorite: “Ladd Russo Enjoys Talking a Lot and Slaughtering a Lot.”

31. Code Geass: Completely melodramatic, often goofy as hell, doesn’t really hold up at all when even a modicum of logic is applied to it . . . but, fuck it, I liked it a lot when I first saw the series and liked it even more when I watched both seasons for a second time. I value entertainment as much as anything else, and Code Geass — fucking schizophrenic, goofball show that it is — is great entertainment.

30. Dennou Coil: Cyberpunk with kids, with a dash of Miyazaki thrown in for good measure. Dennou Coil is about as ideal a TV series as you can get: A strong setting with plenty of creative elements, solid writing that constantly develops the story without focusing too much on the plot, a wide cast of interesting characters, and on and on. It’s pretty sad that a series like Dennou Coil stands out so much simply for having consistently good writing, but that’s anime for ya. The series also craps all over those who bitch and moan about “filler” that doesn’t move along the main story by having some of the very best standalone episodes anime has to offer (some of which are better than even the best of the plot-related episodes, I might add). Also, even when the tragedy and drama is at its height, Dennou Coil is just a metric fuckton of fun.

29. Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-Hen: I’ve become a big fan of director Yasuhiro Imagawa lately, and this series is a big reason why. Take one part pure spirit and manly energy, one part tightly-plotted story filled with twists and one part larger-than-life heroes and villains, mix ‘em all together and you’ve got a series that has my heart pumping even as I type these words. Plus, you gotta love a series that has Zeus himself as one of its heroes. Only true badasses get to work with the god of gods.

28. Maria-sama ga Miteru: Somehow, this isn’t even the girliest series on my favorites list. Marimite has some of the weirdest drama possible, and sometimes you just want to smack the characters upside the head, but I can never help but fall victim to the show’s delicate spell. Any show that unleashes a character like Sei Satou upon the world is worth remembering forever, anyway.

27. Serial Experiments Lain: I wasn’t sure how well this would hold up when I watched it again last year (after first seeing it about four or five years prior); however, Lain‘s freaked out tale of a corrupt ‘net, worldwide conspiracies, the erosion of the line between reality and cyberspace and even God’s appearance in the Web still holds up, even if the actual technology itself is a bit outdated. Love the absolutely sinister feel conveyed by the art as well — the show is creepy for more reasons than “Present day, present time! Hahahahaha!”

26. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex + 2nd Gig: The original series impressed me enough to grab a spot in my top 40 for a while, but adding 2nd Gig to the mix puts it over the top. These two series are probably the best political thriller series anime will produce. They tackle complex issues and philosophies but never forget they have stories to tell and characters to shape. That’s what separates Ghost in the Shell from, say, Ergo Proxy or Speed Grapher. Every character has such weight to them, and that adds more heft to every twist. But, really, the Major is all you need. It is pre-ordained that I fall for her.

25. Kaiji: This is my ideal kind of series: On its face, the story is gritty, intense and exciting — if difficult to watch at times due to the horrifying trials Kaiji endures — and filled with twists with turns. But if you want to look deeper into the story, you’ll often find Kaiji having a clever go at the viewer who is as riveted by Kaiji’s predicaments as the amoral old men who prod him forward. It’s one of the few gaming anime anyone can enjoy, too, since the games are all simple. Takes a special kind of series to make rock-paper-scissors into a life or death experience.

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51 Responses to “32 Kick Ass Shows”

  1. the only thing that shocks me in your list is Kaleido Star XD oi

    currently watching RahXephon so I can read that post of yours! I’m enjoying it so far ^_^

  2. Johan Liebert’s a pantheon villain indeed and now you’re making me want to resume my rewatch of that series. Still waiting for that really bad anime season so that I can finish up Planetes and start watching Kaleido Star.

    • I guess I’m lucky that my job affords me enough time to blog, keep up with current seasons and watch a show or two on the side. :p

      Planetes and Kaleido Star is a kickass one-two punch of awesome.

  3. You had my vote at “32 Kick…”

    As soon as I saw the Toradora! screen shot, “My Silky Love” got stuck in my head. That’s a good list. There’s not much more I can think to add to it. (Also, there’s something about Honey and Clover, and watching it during a hectic time in life.)

    • Haha, whenever a series has an especially memorable OP/ED, it always seems to play whenever I look at art from the series. My Toradora song of choice is “Orange”, however.

      Honey and Clover should be required viewing for every college student going through tumultuous changes.

  4. It was only reading this list did I finally realise how different our tastes are. I like the stuff you love and love the stuff you like with Gankutsuou and Bebop being the only crossover series (and I get the feeling I like Gankutsuou for slightly different reasons that you love it). There’s a hell of a lot of melodrama the higher up the list you get

    Must…watch…Utena…soon

    • “It was only reading this list did I finally realise how different our tastes are.”

      Don’t worry. I still love ya anyway. ;)

      I appreciate well-executed melodrama — if I didn’t, I doubt I’d be an anime fan because this is such a highly melodramatic medium, haha. Your favorite series, Death Note, is melodramatic as hell, for instance. (And there’s nothing wrong with that! Death Note might not be a favorite of mine, but I still like the series and enjoy watching it.)

  5. Nice list! I’ve seen most of them and agree with your thoughts on the majority (even if I’m fairly sure a lot wouldn’t make it onto my own list or at least in a very different order). Now, must get my hands on Versailles and Erin…….

    • Nothing wrong with reordering shows or leavin’ ‘em off your own list. I’ve left off a good number of well-liked series either because I haven’t seen them yet (Mushishi, Kino’s Journey, Haibane Renmei, etc.) or because I just don’t like them as much as other people (Higurashi, Now and Then, Here and There, Haruhi Suzumiya, etc.).

      Erin starts a bit slowly, but once Erin gets sent on her journey (around ep7, I believe), the show picks up quite a bit. Rose of Versailles is awesome from the start, although the bitchy melodrama at the beginning might not be to everyone’s tastes. (It focuses on the catty rivalries within Versailles, although thematically, I think it’s to highlight how absurdly out of touch the Versailles court is with the people over which they rule.)

  6. I still need to watch several of these titles. The ones I have seen in the list are good ones though.

  7. Nice list. I’ve only seen about half of it, but the post makes me want to watch the other 50%. And between you and Ghostlightning talking about Utena lately I think I’ll have to get to that sooner rather than later. Maybe it’ll be my next ‘work series’ once I finish xxxHolic. (My netbook can’t handle new, HD shows with subs, but older ones at lower resolution are fine. Thus when I’m at my do-nothing job I tend to watch older series when I’m not reading or building models.)

    • Some shiny, updated DVD releases of Utena were subbed not too long ago, so you should go after those whenever you decide to watch the series. Whenever you do watch Utena, I hope you enjoy it!

  8. I’m glad you put Saikano on the list. Most people give it a harsh rap for being a manipulative tear jerker but dammit you have to want the show to make you cry for it to be effective. When you want it, the show is more than happy to deliver. It still has one of the saddest death scenes I’ve seen in an anime.

    • It probably helps that I know of a couple of guys who speak of Saikano in high esteem, so I’ve been influenced by them, haha. As for the death scene, there are multiple candidates you can be referring to, but the one that hit me hardest was the one in ep9. Perhaps not coincidentally, that one also has by far the most contrived set-up.

      • Nailed it in one. That death scene broke me man. Just contrived and even maybe overly dramatic, but who gives a crap. So tragic. I cried my eyes out.

  9. Lot of flippin series in one post. Good list though, re-enforces a lot of my own backlog (orz.

    I’d suggest breaking it up into blobs of 4 or 8 next time :)

    • Haha, yeah, one of these days I need to switch to a more flexible template that will let me play around with things like, you know, multiple page posts. xD

  10. Great write up. Through the drudgery of finding watchable shows every season, the troubles of the industry on both sides of the Pacific, and the occasional flare of blogosphere drama, a list like this always perks me up and reminds me why I love all these crazy-ass shows.

    And I’d probably slide in Haibane Renmei somewhere around #1, but that’s just me :P

    • I plan to continuously update this list (just as I update the title-only — and much longer, haha — list I keep on MAL) as shows crack the top 32. Whenever I watch Haibane Renmei, I’m sure it will earn a spot here. :)

  11. We have very different tastes, although that’s definitely not a bad thing.
    Agreed with many of the anime on the list as being amazing though and also reminds me of stuff I had planned to watch.

    Btw. major huge props for putting Utena as #1. ^ ^

  12. fathomlessblue Says:

    Thanks for that list, theres about 8-9 series i’m going to follow up. I’d definitely recommend Kino’s Journey and Haibane Renmei since you haven’t seen them yet The latter particularly is excellent and one of my fave series. The English dub is awesome too.

    I somewhat agree with you on Now and Then, Here and There. I thought it was great but like grave of the fireflies I have no interest in watching it anytime soon, if ever again.

    I’d also have included Kenshin (minus the third season) and FLCL, although that depends on whether you view it as a series or ova: either way it rocks

    • Kino’s Journey and Haibane Renmei are the sorts of series where I want to be in the absolute right mood to see them — I don’t think they’re going to suck, but I think I owe it to them to WANT to see them before I watch them, if that makes sense.

      Haven’t seen much of Kenshin (though I do want to watch the Tsuiokuhen OVA), but FLCL is a favorite of mine. It wasn’t too far off from appearing on this list. (I think I have it at No. 36.)

      • Leah-san Says:

        Hmm~
        I would like it if you would extend your list up to 42. I need some more good shows to watch. And it’s fun seeing someone’s opinion. And why 42? Because it’s the answer to live, the universe and everything!

        • lol Well, I won’t extend the write-up to 42 series, because the post would just be too long in that case, but for the curious, here are series 33-42 on my list~

          33. Spice and Wolf (both seasons)
          34. Wolf’s Rain
          35. Ouran High School Host Club
          36. FLCL
          37. Now and Then, Here and There
          38. Mouryou no Hako
          39. Nodame Cantabile
          40. Slayers
          41. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
          42. Mobile Suit Gundam 00

          • Leah-san Says:

            Cool :D
            Thank you very much!
            Mouryou no Hako, whats that about?

          • http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=10153

            Basically Mouryou no Hako is a bizarre murder mystery. It has great mood and atmosphere, good characters and the story is insane, but the series might not be to everyone’s tastes because it’s REALLY talky. There’s literally an episode that consists of nothing but four guys sitting around a table talking to each other about the plot. It can be a bit much sometimes.

      • fathomlessblue Says:

        Yeah the Tsuiokuhen/trust and betrayel is excellent and worth watching as a stand alone feature. Theres a second ova reflection (somewhat serving as a summary for the final manga arc that never made it to tv) which isn’t as it shits all over the tv series characters personalities and motivations, plus you’d need to see the series anyway.

        Like the Patlabor movies vs series theres definately a huge change in mood from the kenshin ova to tv but the series is excellent (for a shounin) especially season 2. It you ever do get round the seeing it then skip the third season, its filler of the most appalling kind.

        Theres a number of excellent on-going anime which will no doubt make my list once they’re complete, mainly fmab and durarara!!, although if Arakawa under the bridge maintains its quality i’ll have another fave.

  13. Leah-san Says:

    Eto~
    I wanted to give you the 33 Show, Kino no Tabi. Still (to my opinion) one of the most touching anime out there, without all the forced drama. And I love shows, where the protagonist travels. And Kino is also a great Anime heroine <3

  14. Only thing I think is weird about the list is that you’d go out of your way to name Guu one of the top two most hilarious anime douchebags, yet still not make room for Hare+Guu.

    Though I agree on Tomo being a complete sociopathic bitch throughout the entire series and that it pretty much just makes her even funnier. By the way, have you read the manga-only tenth anniversary chapters yet? I think you can find them on Manga Toshokan if you’re interested. They’re well worth the read, if only to remind yourself that Azuma still has a knack for high school insanity after years of Yotsuba.

    And they have Yomi in pigtails, which won me over instantly. Yum.

    • Hare+Guu is No. 62 on my list, just behind Paranoia Agent and just ahead of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.

      I haven’t read any of the Azumanga Daioh manga. I’m not much of a manga reader in general, actually. I’d much, much, MUCH rather read the physical manga than a scanlation. (Same with books, which is why I’ll never get into e-books unless I have no other choice.)

  15. […] world, or think, or something.) What got me thinking about it, though, is a comment Scamp made on my recent favorite series post about how it wasn’t until he saw my top 32 list that he realized how different our tastes […]

  16. At first I became skeptical of this list when Black Lagoon was 20, and shows like Honey and Clover (a show I didn’t really enjoy for some reason…it was kind of just annoying to me, and I’m an art major, so that makes no sense to me), but then I saw Monster at number 2 and decided that it’s acceptable.

  17. I’ve only completed 4 of your top 8, but with 2 of the remaining ones successfully downloaded and the other 2 on Crunchyroll, I’ll eventually watch them all. First though, I’m going to check out Giant Robo (between your talking it up and the ridiculously low price that’s on the set now I couldn’t pass it up). Also, congrats on your round one Tourney win!

    • Excellent. Giant Robo is so much fun, so I hope you enjoy it! (And I hope people buy it. $10 on Right Stuf is a ridiculous price. Hell, the $15 I paid is a ridiculous price!)

      Thank you very much!

  18. Hurrah for Utena being at the top of your list! It really is my favorite show ever, anime or otherwise, and your description of why it succeeds as it does is just perfect. (Especially your comment about how the repetition is used both to parody old-school shoujo tropes and underline its narrative, because I don’t think I’ve seen it phrased that succintly before.)

    On the other hand, it makes me sad to realize that no other anime will ever come close to accomplishing what Utena does — except perhaps for Princess Tutu, which feels like SKU’s spiritual successor in many ways.

    • More Utena fans makes me happy.

      I’ve read that about Princess Tutu a couple of times. It’s officially on my radar now.

      • Definitely watch it if you get a chance. :) I’d be surprised if the show didn’t land a spot on your favorites list when everything is said and done.

      • Leah-san Says:

        You should definitly watch Princes Tutu, but you gotta make time for this anime, it’s very deep and you can understand it better if you are not rushing it.

  19. Leah-san Says:

    Shinmaru-san? You’ve got good taste in anime, and I’m searching for a new anime to watch. And I wanted to know if you could give me an anime, that is kind of… psychological. And it can be weird, but not disturbing. And with psychological I mean something that makes you thinking, but is not complicated. And if it has good art and a decent plot and pretty girls, I’m even more happy. (But I’m not that into fanservice and avoide those shows normally.) And it can be any genre, like fantasy or slice of life. I really enjoyed Kino no Tabi.

    • Of shows that are not already on this list . . . I recently finished Infinite Ryvius, and that’s really good. It’s not disturbing in a violent way, although the story is plenty intense. Le Chevalier D’Eon’ is a good show, too, particularly the second half. Really like how it plays off historical events and uses them to create nuanced characters. Both seasons of Spice and Wolf keep you on your toes with the relationship between Lawrence and Holo.

      • Leah-san Says:

        I already watched Spice and Wolf, and I liked it very much. I think I’m gonna check the first, thank you very much.

  20. chris Says:

    deathnote ?

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