40. Soul Eater
Shonen action done well is both a rarity and a thing not appreciated when it occurs. I have a soft spot for shonen action, and this is one of the best executed examples I can think of. It may not innovate like other shonen action series, but there is an undeniable sense of confidence, talent, and, above all else, fun, that comes from this series. If you like this kind of show, it will not disappoint and may even surprise you with how well done it is.
39. One Piece
If I didn’t fall behind at ep 130-something in this over 800 ep monstrosity, it would be higher. Still, this belongs here because I remember first encountering the manga. I remember first encountering the shitty 4Kids dub. I remember seeing the Funimation release. I remember every binge attempt I made on this. It’s a series where I got hooked from moment one and every time I revisit it, that initial spark is rekindled. I look forward to when it ends so I can attempt binging the WHOLE DAMN THING, but until then, it is a good friend who I enjoy seeing.
38. Great Teacher Onizuka
By all accounts, this should be terrible. It’s crude, badly animated, has serious pacing issues, and should make anyone with decency shudder. I, however, think it’s hilarious. The idiot teacher trying to get his students to respect him through pure absurdity is funny to me. I love his idiotic costumes. I love his shameless perversion, even in front of his students. I love how he breaks into a students home with a sledgehammer to put a hole in their wall (that is actually in the first episode). It is hysterical to me because the show just has a sense of earnestness and sincerity that makes it click in a way that ironic wackiness would not.
If you want an example of legitimate adult animation, like the kind that needs maturity because children would be bored and confused by it, I struggle to think of a finer example. This adaptation of one of the best manga ever written manages to capture the dread and angst of our hero, a surgeon conflicted as to whether he did right or wrong by saving a child’s life when that child grows up to be an omnicidal sociopath. It’s a slow burn and requires patience, but it is a series I would recommend highly, since there is little else like it in animation or even in television. Here’s hoping Guillermo Del Toro’s live action adaptation for television finally gets off the ground.
36. Eureka Seven
As a self-described pessimistic asshole, I should hate anything about how we can save the world with the power of love. Well, here’s a series about two teens piloting a robot that is eventually powered by the power of their love. I’m not kidding. Granted, it’s quite mean to our male lead for the entire first half, we eventually get the happy and overly sugary story we were promised. I got through it originally in 2 weeks and I can only think that it is brilliant, even after watching that much of it. The show’s writer, Dai Sato, may be an uneven talent, but since he gave us this, it’s not like I can come down hard on his…..less well done works.
35. The Vision Of Escaflowne
There is something to be said for a well-executed idea. This series is one of the best executed ideas ever. Every episode is packed and it just brings you along on the journey. It’s insane fantasy, but there is not a better plotted anime fantasy around.
The common criticism of Rahxephon is that it’s an Evangelion ripoff. While there are parallels between them, where Evangelion is insular and dark and moody, Rahxephon is ultimately outgoing and weirdly uplifting. This show is about art and creation and it follows the concepts that come with it. Its a beast unto itself and one of the beast done mecha shows of the 2000s.
33. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Who loves crazy? I know I do. And I can’t think of a crazier collection of clichés, music references, and great action put together. Describing this doesn’t do it justice, since it must be experienced by all who want to know the glory of DIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When you love a medium and are passionate about it, you can power through and even excel in creating what you love. Few works capture that sense of passion, and for my money, Shirobako captures it the best. If you love anime, this is a story about people so passionate about their chosen profession that they drive everyone the work with crazy. It is, quite possibly, the best love letter to anime that could be created.
31. One-Punch Man
At this point in my life, I’m tired of superheroes as Marvel and DC present them. They’ve dug to themselves into holes of overly-dour and serious-“matureness” that it’s hard to actually witness. Luckily, in anime, we get this breath of fresh air: an over-powered superhero who is bored and wants to be acknowledged. This is a juggernaut of a series, with some of the best animation on television, mixed with some sharp character writing. This is a great look at what the medium can do when firing on all cylinders at full blast. Please, give us more shows like this, instead of the Kyo-Ani crap that keeps getting made.