As some of you may or may not know, yours truly is a Something Awful forums member -- I paid my ten bux. The anime subforum on SA proposed that posters submit a list of the five anime series released between 2000 and 2009 that they thought were truly special, groundbreaking or otherwise significant. Being the opinionated person that I am, I had to contribute my horrible animu picks. So here, straight from all the stuff I wrote over on SA, are my top five picks for the past decade, in no particular order whatsoever.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
A whole lot has been said already about this absolutely stellar show, but this rocked my world. I recognized a good portion of the throwback mecha references but I was surprised by the ones I missed and consequently made myself go back and learn up on. Not to mention the emotional rollercoaster that is plot progression. I especially liked their use of the drill as a central theme on multiple levels, from a PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION OF PURE MIGHT to more intangible things like the meaning of life and the universe and all of that emotional garbage girl stuff. If you watch this and aren't moved by it in some way -- be it to tears, to arms or into a frothing nerd rage -- you may be dead.
GunXSword -- also declaring Most Overlooked, despite how many people agree that it's way up there.
I always have to defend this decision but it's honestly one of my favorites.
1) Ray's gun looks like a sword! Vaan's sword looks like a gun!! WHAT A TERRIBLE IDEA and yet it turned out to be really neat.
2) Everything was very well planned-out: there weren't really any characters whose backstories or motivations were kept secret, no loose ends left untied; every conflict or mystery opened was brought to a conclusion. No "maybe we'll reveal this in the second season if there is one!!"
3) Everyone goes crazy at some point. Everyone. Wendy, Vaan, Ray and his annoying younger brother, Carmen 99, Pricilla (maybe kinda sorta it's been a while?), all of the antagonists especially Walter William Woo (MOTHERRRRRRR); everyone goes absolutely nuts and it's rendered in this ugly, dramatic, uncomfortable way that really makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. I guess in a world filled with infallible, perfect moe kyun little sisters, stereotypical shounen male leads and one-dimensional, underdeveloped characters, the character quirks thrown in to GunXSword made it worth watching. Especially when those character quirks cause the characters themselves to flip out.
Okay, maybe some things didn't make sense. Maybe some stories were so convoluted in metaphors and anecdotes and its own style that it was confusing sometimes. Sure, the art wasn't always stunning and perfect, and yes, some of it seemed a little heavy-handed. Even so, no other series comes to mind that quite had the same relaxing effect. It was hard to tell if the stories were crafted around the drink, or the drink was crafted around the stories -- both arguments are certainly fair and valid. The show's delivery -- its pacing, art style, even down to the colors used throughout an episode -- seemed as though it was inspired by dreaming; as if you were asleep by the end of the title sequence and the whole episode was a very compelling dream. I watched this show slowly, and really only after busy days, because it was really easy to chill out to. The entire show is about Ryu making unexpected drinks that surprise and soothe his customers' spirits. Maybe that unexpected, surprisingly relaxing quality to the anime itself is the audience's "Glass of the Gods" specially prepared just for us, a clever little irony that tickles me to no end.
Way back when ADTRW tried its first "Let's Watch!" thread and everyone agreed to watch that anime about dogs in Alaska with big huge bears or something, I opted to watch one of the series that didn't get picked. At the time, I wasn't quite as familiar as I would've liked to be with older super robot series, and Jeeg was surprisingly effective in convincing me I had a lot of catching up to do.
It was your standard fare, nothing too special: monster of the week erupts from the bowels of Hell and terrorizes the city, protagonist gets a warning from HQ and launches, there's a fun transformation/combination sequence (BIIIIIIIRUDOO AAAAAAAHPPUUU *fist pound*) and they duke it out. At first they tried to put a little flare to it, graphically showing where the monsters came from (the evil witch lady makes out with ugly ass cronies and regurgitates a slimy monster soul into her henchmen's mouth -- mega barfo) but it eventually dropped that, dipping into good ol' monster of the week territory.
The ending, of course, brings back good old Kotetsu Jeeg, and he teams up with Koutetsushin Jeeg for a surprisingly well-done, satisfying ending. A true super robot series for classic super robot fans.
Last but certainly not least, a series that comes far out of left field for someone who's a staunch mecha/hotblooded manly action/shounen fan...
I honestly looked for two years for the full OVA. I'm a big fan of Hiroyuki Imaishi, and the snippets I had seen of his work from Re: Cutey Honey made me want to watch the whole thing. Unfortunately he only worked on the first episode, but something about it made me want to keep watching, even if it was only three 45-ish minute episodes long. Here's a long overdue thanks to Uncle Go for adding a whole bunch of sex to Sailor Moon and coming up with this gem of a series almost forty years ago. I'd say this particular remake is one of my Top 5 because it opened up a lot of new ideas for stuff I want to watch and look forward to that I wouldn't have thought to look at otherwise.
Along with the top five are miscellaneous categories, like honorable mentions and the like:
Check This Out! -- Rune Soldier, or the western localized title for the manga, Rune Soldier Louie. Actually don't. It's bad. Louie is a muscular, womanizing, thick-headed mage in training that prefers to fight with big swords and his big fat idiot fists instead of magic, the family trade. He pretty much hates that he has to be a mage and uses his staff more as a beating stick than a magic wand when he's not drinking or grabbing ass. Toss in a bunch of well-endowed (except Merrill she has no bust lol) tsundere female supporting characters and send them on an adventure a la Record of Lodoss War (which I just learned is connected to Rune Soldier, who knew!) and there you have it. I'm not gonna lie -- I liked it, but I quit watching it for other stuff. If you liked Slayers and maybe even Full Metal Panic and I suppose Record of Lodoss War by proxy, you might enjoy this if you can get over gags mixed with uncomfortable amounts of jiggling and fanservice.
Looking forward to Sengoku Basara season 2. Loved the games. Loved the anime. I didn't mention it in my top five because I'm saving it for 2020, heh.
...so there you have it! If you've never heard of or simply missed something mentioned here, there's no time like the present to go check it out.