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Top Thirty Anime: Part One [Dish #70]

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    Top Thirty Anime Series

    Having been sick all year (not an overstatement), I've had a lot of time on my hands and I've spent a great deal of that time catching up on the enormous number of anime I've wanted to see and not yet been able to. With that in mind I figured it'd be good to close out the year with a brief series showcasing the series I have enjoyed the most in my decent into full weebdom.

    Originally, I was just going to do an updated top ten but I've now fallen so far down the rabbit hole that ten just isn't a big enough number for the amount of series I really like. So instead you'll get the pleasure of reading thirty mini-reviews/synopses starting with entries 30-21.

    Number Thirty - Naruto/Naruto Shippuden

    Naruto in both its parts is in many ways your typical Shounen anime - something that you will not see much of in this list at all really. It's got your crazy powers and insane fight scenes and several of its characters are quite tropey even. It however greatly surpasses most of its ilk based upon the strength and complexity of its story, quality of most of its characters and because of its inherent themes.
    MAL Rating: 7

    Number Twenty-Nine - Toradora & Lovely Complex

    Okay so I'm cheating a little by including a tie between two different series in one spot, sue me. These are both primarily lighthearted and comedic romance series with the occasional hint of drama and both excel in the same areas to the point that I couldn't split them. Neither have particularly strong stories/premises (although they aren't weak either) but where they do excel is in their characters and their comedy. The characters are extremely likable and you end up rooting for them very quickly. Toradora needed more time than it had to really get through its story properly whilst Lovely Complex needed to be shorter, but overall both are highly enjoyable.
    MAL Rating: 7

    Number Twenty-Eight - Aoi Hana

    Aoi Hana is also a romance story, unlike the two stories below me however it is very firmly rooted in the drama genre with a very clear intent to focus on realism in its characters. The story primarily centres around two characters, best friends, as one tries to deal with typical relationship drama and slowly coming out to her friends whilst the other attempts to support her through problems she doesn't fully understand and questions her own sexuality (or seeming lack thereof). This show gets insane props for tackling its subject matter the way it did instead of going towards mindless ecchi/fanservice although it does pale in comparison to the manga it was adapted from.
    MAL Rating: 7

    Number Twenty-Seven - Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

    Otherwise known as Your Lie in April, this anime is a bittersweet drama with a premise based in music. A piano prodigy who has lost the ability to play meets a talented violinist who refuses to play by the rules. Together the two help each other face their pasts and uncertain futures all whilst the beautiful soundtrack plays along with it. A very solid anime for those interested in the genre.
    MAL Rating: 7 (But closing in on that elusive 8)

    Number Twenty-Six - Jigoku Shoujo

    I was intrigued by this anime's unique concept but went in with fairly low expectations. Perhaps the reason I liked it as much as I did was because it was far better than anticipated, but I like to think it's because it has earned this place. This anime might have a horror movie-esque premise, but it's more like a supernatural drama or a thriller. We watch people in terrible situations repeatedly try to decide whether or not to immediately sentence their targets to hell at the cost of being sent to hell themselves when they eventually die and come to question what we would have done in their shoes. We also come to be invested in the characters that are forced to undergo the duty of dealing out these punishments as well as the mortals who eventually get caught up in their actions. The plot is unfortunately slow to develop and quick to play out, but that doesn't hamper Jigoku Shoujo as much as it could.
    MAL Rating: 8 (Just)

    Number Twenty-Five - Darker Than Black

    It's hard to consign this dystopia-esque story to a single genre as it contains elements of science fiction, mystery, thriller and action with a little touch of drama but all these characteristics come together to form a really solid show. This series introduces us to a seedy world of manipulation, cover-ups and supernatural powers and follows characters as they attempt to survive within that world. It's very easy to get immersed in Darker Than Black, it's a shame that Gemini of the Meteor couldn't continue that tradition.
    MAL Rating: 8

    Number Twenty-Four - Fate/Zero

    By far the best entry into the Fate franchise, Fate/Zero is a prequel to Fate Stay/Night and once again takes us into the battle for the holy grail between sorcerers and the powerful warrior familiars they employ. This story however is somewhat grittier and darker than its predecessor with a more complex plot and characters and is overall a lot stronger for it. Definitely a great watch.
    MAL Rating: 8

    Number Twenty-Three - Elfen Lied

    This one is pretty controversial for its excessive gore and nudity but it is also underrated by those who are put off by those things. Elfen Lied is about as violent and dark as an anime can get but it backs these things up with a world and characters that demand such darkness and a strong, tragic story. This is a brutal and heart wrenching tale, and definitely not for everyone, but one I recommend to anyone who feels they can look past the gore.
    MAL Rating: 8

    Number Twenty-Two - Bokura ga Ita

    The girl falls for popular dude premise that sums up the starting point for like 90% of romance stories made me cringe a bit when I first looked into this series, but it turns out that it's much better that it might appear at first. Bokura ga Ita is a surprisingly strong romantic drama that explores how our past experiences influence our relationships in the present whilst also dealing with more typical elements of the genre such as communication issues and selfishness. A must watch for lovers of the genre.
    MAL Rating: 8

    Number Twenty-One - WataMote

    Chances are if we've talked about WataMote before, you've heard me lament its wasted potential. However, if you've read my review on it (found here), you'll know that I still have pretty high regard for this comedy. Never before have I cringed so much whilst also laughing hysterically. Despite its frequent hyperbole, WataMote treats us to a surprisingly honest portrayal of the struggles of social anxiety using comedy to educate as well as entertain. Whilst a few anime on this list incorporate comedic elements, WataMote is the only pure comedy to make the cut and for good reason. It's truly excellent.
    MAL Rating: 8

    Well, that's the first ten entries into this Top 30 list and tomorrow there'll be ten more. What do you think of my selection so far?