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12. Ping Pong The Animation
If you’ve gotten this far in my list, you probably won’t find it surprising to learn that Ping Pong is not exactly a sports show. It contains sports – and has a variety of thrilling and aesthetically stunning matches, in fact – but in truth it is a story about people, and about what brings them to ping pong and to each other. Its characters bounce off each other and grow continuously, their sharp edges and loves and ambitions all reflecting in how they change those they compete with. Its scale stretches beyond the court, with ping pong serving as either gateway to or guardian from engagement with the real world. And all of its poignant turns are framed by Masaaki Yuasa’s tremendous direction, full of beautiful interpretive flourishes and scored by a careful soundtrack that constantly elevates the proceedings. Ping Pong demonstrates that any conflict can be made gigantic through empathy for the characters involved, and goes above and beyond with its tremendous aesthetic merits. Even if you don’t consider yourself a sports show fan, Ping Pong is something special.
11. Kino’s Journey
Kino’s Journey is, unsurprisingly, about the journey. Not just the overt journey, though it isa travel show – every episode, Kino and her bike Hermes visit a new nation, staying just three days before moving on. Through Kino’s adventures in these strange, mystical lands, Kino’s Journey eventually reveals itself to be about the journey towards greater understanding – of how people work, of why we do the things we do, of what purpose we can possibly seek in this world. And it doesn’t offer easy answers – Kino’s Journey is rife with ambiguity, its various fables and conflicts only muddying the waters of human nature further and further. But that is, like I said, not what it’s about – there are no easy answers, but as this thoughtful, pretty, and inventive show continuously demonstrates, the journey is its own reward.
Shirobako Gets It. There are too few anime out there that really handle the trials of adulthood, and too few shows that manage to portray constant hardship and pressure while still maintaining a light tone, but Shirobako is hardship-lightness-adulthood all around. Its stories of career scrabbling and anime production woes are both universal and poignantly specific, with its rich cast of characters coming almost immediately to life through the gracefulness of the storytelling. Across two seasons of fraught management at MusAni Productions, nearly every side of young professional anxiety is illustrated and explored, from the terror of being left on the fringes of your desired industry to the pressure of feeling so swamped by your daily life that you can’t even consider your long-term goals anymore. And that seems like it’d be a downer of a ride, but Shirobako is also just endlessly fun, and infused with a relentless optimism that makes it impossible not to root for its fraying heroes.
9. The Eccentric Family
The Eccentric Family takes the Ghibli sense of whimsy and magical realism and applies it to a grounded, thoughtful family drama. Written by the same writer responsible for The Tatami Galaxy, its story bounces through a handful of gorgeous little vignettes before pulling together into a exuberant exploration of duty, family, and the meaning of life itself. That might sound heavy, but Eccentric Family is anything but – it’s filled with moments of ecstatic beauty that revel in the little joys life has to offer, and its characters bounce off each other with the buoyant geniality of a truly loving family. It’s beautiful and deftly written and basically about as warm as a show can be.
I said in my 2013 year-end post that OreGairu is basically anime’s Catcher in the Rye, and I stand by that. OreGairu knows exactly what it feels like to be young, smart, and isolated, and it expresses that with both cynical wit and overwhelming empathy for its very flawed protagonists. Hachiman and Yukino build fortresses of superiority and psychoanalysis around themselves, but they can’t hide their desire for connection, or their underlying empathy. The show sticks pretty close to romcom formatting, and its aesthetics are only serviceable, but OreGairu soars where it counts – human characters, vivid dialogue, and a frank exploration of youth politics and identity. It’s pretty much the high school romcom I’ve always wished existed.
If you’ve read this far, you probably know I like stories about people. Flawed people, broken people – people whose sharp edges make them hurt each other even as they strive for connection. Monogatari really knows people, and it understands that it is often our weaknesses that defines us. And to illustrate this, Monogatari makes those weaknesses real. Its spirit-hunting stories are compelling in their own right, but each of them also dig at the souls of their central characters – it matches mystery with human truth point for point every season. And beyond its central metaphor, outstanding character writing, and very distinctive dialogue, Monogatari does so much else, too – the ways it plays with visual storytelling vary from season to season, but pretty much always come off as more driven and intelligent than virtually anything else out there. Whether it’s exploring power dynamics through shot framing, investigating the dark hearts of its various protagonists, or simply reveling in its own visual language and wit, Monogatari is always expressing something worthwhile, clever, and true.
Created right in the middle of Gainax’s golden age, FLCL’s about as good of a coming of age story as you could possibly imagine. Puberty sucks, and learning who you are is tough, and becoming an adult doesn’t really come with instructions – FLCL knows all of this, and instead of expressing it through an understated character drama, it chooses to go for the gusto. Robots popping from foreheads, guitars wielded as battle axes, wild visual slapstick crossed with awkward personal moments. It’s a show that comes off as crazy while actually featuring some of the sharpest, most grounded character work in anime, and all of this is backed by a delirious visual palette, a stacked animation budget, and one of the most iconic soundtracks in anime history. Growing up is hard to do, but FLCL still makes it look fun.
God bless you for putting Spice and Wolf in there. 100% agree 🙂
I was just about to put up an angry comment saying something like “how can you make a greatest anime of all time list without putting evangelion in it” when I was nearly reaching the end of the list
where’s CODE GEASS?
Where the fvck is Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood?
Yes love psycho pass but also nature, inuyasha, free, parasite, tokyo ghoul, hakuouki , High School of the dead, Hiro no kakera, wolf girl and black Prince, say I love you, kamisama Hajimimashita, kamigami no asobi, inu x bokuss, amnesia, brothers conflict, vampire Knight, Uta no prince sama, kaichou wa maid sama, devil is a part timer, noragami, my little monster, blue exorcist, attack on Titan, black bullet, black Butler, Working XXX, and more,…
What the f, I thought these are all originally anime (not based on LN & Manga). Considering no Gintama, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, SAO, OPM, AOT, DanMachi, Mahouka, DanMachi, MS Gundam, High School DxD (haha), etc., this list is based on personal selection rather that what actually should be.
some great here but most of them are not good enough for top 30 not even top 100, and no FMA Brotherhood, Code Geass, Death Note, Ghost in the Shell, Clannad, not even one Gundam series, Kaleido Star, Bersesk, Haikyuu, Kuroko, Angel Beats, ERASED, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso… so yeah not a good list.
No Gintama????Really????..one of the animes which made me watch it when I woke up and when I went to sleep,I am not even exaggerating yes it is not everyone’s cup of tea and that any”top” list is subjective Gintama would definitely be top 3 on my list.For those who have not watched it and are scared of the 300+ EP count do give it a try atleast first few episodes since it takes a little time to get going but one it does it churns out some great episodes and the comedy is on point most of the time also all the OPs and Ends are awesome…yes I am a fangay of Gintama and the Yoruzuya trio…scrape that I am a fangay of all the cast.
This list is made by a NEWB. There’s so many other animes that way above these. How do you not have Clannad, Angel beats, Erased, Elfen Lied, Hellsing, Full metal alchemist, Eureka Seven, etc, etc, etc. there’s maybe like 10 at most that i’d say totally deserve to be on here.
Great article ! It mostly featured anime I haven’t seen, but based on your wonderful and insighful descriptions I want to discover all of them now 🙂
I don’t care that it didn’t include mainstream anime popularly recognised as “awesome”; your choices were well argued, and each person has their own taste after all.
If you enjoy stories about people and human dramas, then I recommend you check out Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. It’s an amazing anime, and I’m sure it would make you revise this top 30 list in its favour.
A great list! Glad to see there are no pretentious series like Death Note and Code Geass in it :’) also the overrated series like Clannad and Shigatsu (*cough cough* Erased, AoT, And thank goodness a list without the mainstream shounen)
If you remove series like Chunnybyou, Hyouka, Toradora, Psycho Pass etc. and put more series like Escaflowne, Monster, Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, Kemono no Souja Erin, Akage no Anne, Nodame Cantabile, Honey and Clover, Twelve Kingdoms, Rose of Versailles, Princess Tutu etc.
No natsume? Disagree
Ridiculous list these animes are good but not the best . looks like the person who made the list has only seen these animes . there no naruto,fairy tail,bleach,one piece ,death note ,hunter x hunter ,dragon ball z and many more are there better than most of the animes in this list.
Give me one good reason why anime like Naruto, One Piece, Bleach(these three were once called the top 3s in world of anime) and there father Dragon ball(a fucking godly anime) are not in this list.
is this bobduh from wrongeverytime.com or the author of this article just coppy and paste his top 30
wish Mushishi got a higher place
You Need to Update The List
there’s tons of Masterpiece Anime just made like Made In Abyss, Houseki no kuni, March Comes in Like a Lion etc.
Unless there is no Mob Psycho 100 in this list, it is not legit.
First of all thank you for putting this Top-list together. Usually they do not keep me really interested, because 9 out of 10 are kinda the same.
But your’s is different. I was reading it while sitting in the waiting room of a clinic to get a surgery for my shoulder and i was like nervous as f*ck.
But the list got me so captivated that the time i was waiting to get my negative corona-test result so the surgery could start went by the fly.
There where so many great shows in this list and even some I never even heard of! (gotta check them out)
The only thing i think it’s a pity is that you did not include Code Geass.
And while I understand that you where going for a different type of list, I personally think that there is no more perfect anime than that. (Though Madoka Magica comes pretty close.)
Especially the end was perfection in itself because everything was so well thought out and strung together. Gotta love that show. Haha
Well just my opinion again thank you very much you made my day so much less worse than it could have been.