10. Konosuba: God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World
Anime Rank: #12 in all-time, #4 in anime airing in 2016
Genre: Fantasy comedy
Tentacle Rating: 7/10 – kind of naturally, to do all of the stuff it sets out to do it has to be quite weird as it’s mocking shows that are very weird themselves.
Music: As with everything else with this anime, the opening theme sounds like a parody of Sword Art Online’s opening songs. At least I assume it’s got its tongue in its cheek because the opening reel of images look mocking and you learn to expect everything about Konosuba to be mocking.
Best Girl Characters: Megumin. Megumin. Megumin. EXPULOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSIIIIIIIOOOOONNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!! Oh and Aqua is a huge bitch but she’s so entertaining to watch so I like her too.
Konosuba is the funniest anime I have ever watched. I don’t say that lightly, most anime comedies have me chuckling at some point but this one had me hugely entertained. It deserves a place in this top 10 solely because of that. It does this by appearing like a completely generic show for the first two minutes where some shut-in gets his wish fulfilment of being transported to a fantasy world after dying and leaving his pathetic old life. And then it shifts gears. Hard. And pulls comedic twists in ways so unexpected I don’t even see a problem by saying that they are unexpected. Each new episode brings a new, fresh and exciting look at the absurdities of video game fantasy worlds (i.e. even if you aren’t familiar with the many anime shows that have those as their setting it’s basically also mocking Skyrim). And one where the main characters are drunkards and layabouts. There’s a season 2 coming out this year and given this was also one of the shortest animes I’ve ever watched with merely 10 episodes, I’m definitely hyped to see more.
9. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Anime Rank: #11 in all-time
Genre: Fantasy Battle Royale
Tentacle Rating: 5/10 – two less than the 2006 version, times have changed and the focus is now on UNLIMITED. BLADE. WORKS. But still a bit of weirdness – but we have a lot more talk about who these characters are.
“I am the Bone of my Sword
Steel is my Body and Fire is my Blood.
I have created over a Thousand Blades,
Unknown to Death,
Nor known to Life.
Have withstood Pain to create many Weapons
Yet those Hands will never hold Anything.
So, as I Pray–
Unlimited Blade Works”
I love this meme, it’s one of my new favourite copypastas. For being such a large ham when it’s actually said in the show.
Music: Very awesome. Particular focus must go to Aimer’s Brave Shine, the second opening and one that would have probably been my Fate BJSC anime entry if Kalafina hadn’t been even better. The opening images that go with Brave Shine are incredible too. Ideal White, the first opening, and the second ending are also great. Also if you were in Nuggets, you might remember Garnidelia’s Yakusoku video had a lot of swords in a field. Despite that song being newer than the anime and not appearing in it, that’s a direct reference to this anime for some reason.
Best Girl Characters: You might recognise Rin from one of my avatars. This is because she is one of my closest contenders for being best girl, strong and in control of herself, and very no-nonsense. Definitely struck a chord with me. Archer is much better in this one than he is in the original, and so is Shirou actually. Shinji is even more hammy and hateable, in fact, most of the characters are just better all round.
One thing that has to be said about UBW (as I’m calling it in short hand) is the sheer beauty of its animation which is why I’ve gone out of my way to get a fighting gif for this one. That’s just a short clip of magic powers lasting a couple of seconds and yet the work that went into creating that must have been an impressive achievement. It’s a good thing ufotable had a lot of money. This has led to the rise of the name Unlimited Budget Works. Even though this is 2014-15 and it’s a couple of years old, I would still say it’s a solid contender for the most graphically advanced anime ever made. The show is beautiful.
And it appeals to my love of history too. Hercules, Medusa, Medea, heroes of legend, referred to as Servants, they’ve all come to battle in modern Japan over control of the mysterious Holy Grail. They are summoned by modern magicians, and each hero occupies one of the seven slots of the legendary hero classes, Saber, Archer, Rider, Caster, Lancer, Berserker and Assassin. To hide their identities and prevent their opponents from learning their special abilities (called Noble Phantasms), they are normally referred to by those names and I only say what they are because for those it makes little difference to the story. Shirou and Rin are two of the modern magicians, Shirou a bit unwittingly. The catch is that in order to get the Holy Grail, they must battle to the death until only one Master remains. This is how I was introduced to that central concept of Fate and apparently this is the worst one to do it in out of the two Stay Nights and Zero – but the prologue episode for this did the job pretty convincingly while I had no idea what was going on. It’s the same basic story as Fate/Stay Night but the ending and the journey to get there diverges a lot. There’s much more of a focus on Rin and Archer in this version rather than Saber, which, I like Saber, but I like Rin and Archer more and this felt far more exciting and dangerous for all characters as it advanced pretty rapidly towards the end over merely 24 episodes. I also got a bit of real life relevancy from this as a couple of friends brought it up out of nowhere about a month after I finished (and had moved on to Zero) so I got to have that rare moment of excitedly discussing anime in real life.
Top notch tense anime fights, lots of morality discussion, I didn’t touch on that much so I’ll do so now. There’s some great themes particularly about selfishly having higher ideals and planning to sacrifice yourself when doing so does not fix the problem. The best comes at the end of ‘A Visitor Approaches Lightly’ where Archer berates Shirou for basically all of this, as he has been fighting merely for the idea of being a hero, an idea that he borrowed from idolising someone else and as such has no real reason for fighting on his own. Essentially practical nihilism against reckless idealism. Shirou then resolves to prove Archer wrong. That, helped by the music and dive into the ending, really stuck with me. I credit this one for introducing me to a franchise full of all the things I want from anime, fights, history, excitement and discussion on morality and the human condition. And those discussions certainly aren’t done yet.
8. Psycho Pass
Anime Rank: #9 in all time
Genre: Dystopian cop thriller
Tentacle Rating: 1/10, the West has always had a love affair with these genres lately and the only reason for the one is the uniquely Japanese cute robots of the government that are used to calm and restore order in an exaggerated version of the tactics the Japanese forces use now. And yeah, like with Cowboy Bebop, this is a very good show for someone who’s a fan of TV but not necessarily a fan of anime. In fact I’d recommend it above that one.
Music: Not pop or pop rock. This is probably the most ‘indie’ I’ve seen an anime opening. Abnormalize is very reminiscent of mid 00s progressive rock or alt metal. The second, Out Of Control is that rare unicorn of an anime song that has lyrics in English and it is a total rock tune. Very different from the normal anime.
Best Girl Characters: Tsunemori became one of my avatar characters so there’s that. As the lead, it’s very nice seeing her at the helm, she’s competent, brilliant and far from being the jumpy newbie she’s made out to be in the first episode, she grows a most incredible backbone throughout the show. Kagari and Old Cop-San Masaoka are also very watchable and easy to root for. And Makishima. Everything about Makishima was brilliant.
Set in a Japanese city in 2100 or thereabouts where all crime has been eliminated, Psycho Pass owes a lot to classic dystopian literature and wears that on its sleeve, with multiple name drops of the likes of Philip K Dick and George Orwell as well as quoting liberally from philosophy and ancient stories (there’s a quote from the parable of the wheat and the tares in what is possibly the most appropriate situation for that reference ever devised by a story) left right and center. Most of that done by the eventual villain of the series, Makishima, a classic card-carrying, camp, hammy villain yet with noble motives, I love him. In the end, he’s only part of the story though. The Sibyl System that stops crime happening for the majority of people also determines who gets to live and die if their likelihood to commit a crime, their Crime Coefficient, goes too high. It’s then that police can enforce actions on criminals, they can use their guns once intent to commit a crime is detected – the perfect crime system. The Sibyl System also decides for you what career you will be best suited to so that everyone does not have the stress about worrying what they can do and can spend their best efforts making something of their lives. It’s certainly a very effective dystopia, peaceful and mostly undisturbed by criminals. Of course, the story changes that but I think what most impressed me is how well structured this world is, it’s essentially the perfect dystopia, no plot holes, a system that has several good arguments for implementing and a lot of real world analogies that can be made through the stories – my favourite analogy being an episode that literally looks at how online celebrities can affect people as it shows the logical extreme of a huge virtual reality net where people can hangout with celebrities who are famous for nothing all day every day. It’s the logical extreme of Youtube vloggers and I’m amazed that this show included that in it. I wrote a blog article about exactly that, this show is excellent at finding an aspect of our society and logically exaggerating it to introspect ourselves, and it’s for that reason it gets a place in my top 10.
it’s also written by Gen Urobuchi who’s one of the holy trinity of anime
7. Parasyte ~the maxim~
Anime Rank: #8 in all-time
Genre: Science Fiction Horror
Tentacle Rating: 6/10 – I mean, look at what’s actually going on there. I think it being a horror loses it a couple of points though as if it were a non-anime it would still be accepted by that audience and aside from the parasitic alien monsters who make tentacle limbs of themselves it’s very mature and normal. Also I think they tried a live-action version of this and this is something that really works only in animated form. For best effect at least.
Music: Let Me Hear is one of the most awesome hardcore screamo songs I’ve heard and it being attached to an opening of an anime as prestigious as this… *.* it’s so energetic. And I’ve made everyone listen to the beautiful and emotional Next To You from this too. Over the course of the anime you also grow to love Migi’s Theme too and now I’m listening to it I want to watch this entire show again. One of the best musics an anime has had.
Best Girl Characters: The main duo, Shinichi and Migi carry this show so well that you almost could have anyone filling the other roles as, like any self-respecting man and his right hand, they have an incredible relationship and bounce off each other so well. That came out the way I meant it to. But Kana is a very interesting girl to help the series along and Satomo is I guess… okay. One thing about this is that the animation design for the humans is far more realistic-looking than most animes so while the characters don’t stand out as much as they do in most anime they do feel more… human.
Based on an 80s-90s manga that finally got a properly good anime adaptation in 2014, Parasyte feels its older influences by having limited adaptations for the additions of technology, and as such is a desperate struggle of one boy to survive against an invading alien force, a group of parasites who have the ability to take over any human and act exactly like them to those they know, only revealing themselves for the monsters they are when it’s too late and you’re going to die. Shinichi was meant to be one of these but he stopped the parasite invading his brain such that it could only eat away his right hand instead. So instead of being a parasite with one brain, he now has two brains in his body, one human and one parasite. And he’s lost control of his right arm now and so we call that parasite, the friendly parasite, Migi (who’s a bit cold and calculating but has the most wonderful unique voice in the sub, I can’t praise that voice work enough). Actually, with the alien parasites invading your brain and the 90s setting, it feels very adult Animorphs, doesn’t it? I used to be really into Animorphs, that’s why I’ve made the connection, but here it’s a lot more horror and twists and turns around every corner and keeping you on the edge of your seat and actually, for the first half of this year it feels like I watched some very thrilling animes. This one was in January, with Erased and Fate soon to be watched, so it’s something I’ve been missing a little lately. Although I’ve had Psycho Pass and Death Note to keep me up to speed. I don’t know. Anyway, Parasyte had a wonderful open feeling to it, a lot of excitement with ever present danger and it really is a great TV show. Very anime, but also very good and open for anyone to jump in and get sucked into the adventures of one man and his right hand against the world.
6. Death Note
Anime Rank: #7 in all-time
Genre: Psychological Thriller + tons of mind games
Tentacle Rating: 1/10? The only supernatural element is the Death Note and the shinigami themselves, maybe it’s the fact that most of what I’ve watched so far has been in dub so I’m scoring it low and normal. It’s very normal as far as anime goes. It’s probably arguably the most well-regarded anime of the 21st century.
Music: I had almost forgotten Nightmare’s The World that Terra Avium entered to an old BJSC spinoff but here it is fronting the opening of Death Note. Glad I made that connection eventually. Nothing else so far.
Best Girl Characters: Not really any girls as far as I watched, but I am captivated by Light. And L. As you’re supposed to. Both are incredible characters and I actually feel more compelled to root for Light even though he’s the more insane of the two.
Notice that ‘as far as I watched’. It’s because I haven’t finished this yet. And hence I was extra careful with finding a picture. It’s not because I don’t want to. Every time I finish an episode I want to go straight on to the next one. However I’ve been watching this with someone else and watching a long TV show with someone else on a basis of ‘whenever we say we should watch more’ means that progress has been incredibly slow. So slow that I’m starting it in sub again (and racing through that) because I want to see how it ends and, no disrespect to the dub, which is a totally fine dub, but I do like watching these shows with subtitles in the actual Japanese.
If you’re not familiar, Death Note is a book that gods of death, shinigami, have and one, Ryuk, has dropped it into the human world where a student named Light Yagami picks it up and finds its power, you write someone’s name in the book, and they die. He starts using it to kill criminals and draws media attention and a huge police investigation led by the mysterious L to uncover the identity of the killer. I haven’t finished it and it gets more complicated than that but that’s the very basics.
But yet, even though I’ve only watched about 12 episodes and there’s still plenty to go, I’m willing to put it at 7th in my all-time list and 6th in this list. I predict it’ll be even higher once I finish it if it keeps up this quality. Each new episode pulls out new things from under the rug, it places two incredible minds at work trying to suss each other out without knowing the other’s identity, there’s a huge morality drama of whether Light is right and that he is creating a better world, I’ve wondered ever since picking it up what I would do with the Death Note and talked about that and scarily, I can’t say that I wouldn’t do what Light does, try and make a better world with this power. Although he has far more ego than I do.
Each episode of this is incredible. Whether you like anime or not, whether you like thrillers or not, I definitely recommend this as a show YOU SHOULD WATCH. For like, anyone. It’s that accessible.