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.