I’ve been trying for the past few weeks to crank out a list of favourite anime. This list would display my fine, immaculate taste in foreign cartoons, and all the titles will be time-held classics passed down through generations upon generations of tea-drinking anime fans. Then I realised that, if I was going to be completely honest, My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute! would be in the top 10 and promptly gave up on that idea.
Confronting your own tastes can be a bit of a scary thing. For some time now, I’ve deliberately avoided any kind of ranking system on this blog because I didn’t want to say that one kind of anime is inherently better than another. It’s hard to measure feelings sometimes. Do you rank the anime that is better-made and planned over the one that is flawed but interested you more?
When I’m putting on my critic goggles, I have to concede that when we’re talking about craft (and I do believe that craft can be evaluated by more-or-less agreed upon principles) you shouldn’t let things like hype distract you from what the anime is actually doing. But in general? There’s no rule telling you how to enjoy your anime. It’s totally a good thing that our own experiences can add to what we take out of an anime. (Well, to an extent.)
I realised this as I sat down to write this elusive Top Anime List of mine. The anime titles I enjoyed the most and which had the most meaning for me were ones where factors outside of the show strongly influenced how I watched them. It had little to do with how “good” they were. It had everything to do with how popular they were and how much interesting discussion and fan stuff came out of it.
Because of that, my tastes are really heavily skewed towards the mainstream otaku stuff. I can honestly say I got more out of Sword Art Online and Guilty Crown (lol) than Cowboy Bebop, for instance.
It’s not even that I like those anime ironically or because they’re “so bad they’re good”. Cracking jokes about anime is just a great source of fun in general. I end up getting so much out of polarising, oft-parodied shows because I get to enjoy them on multiple levels. The discussion around shows that people will generally agree are good (or bad) is much less interesting in comparison.
I happen to value these social interactions really highly because I consider myself part of the anime subculture. I can’t really say I talk to other people a lot about books, for instance. My taste in literature is a lot different from my taste in anime, at any rate.*
This is, and probably will continue to be, a source of slight embarrassment for me. You know, shit taste and all that. Maybe I’m just overthinking it and anime fans aren’t judgmental douchebags who think you have no brain cells because you like Infinite Stratos. Could be. I’m not really banking on it, though.
I just wanted to get these reservations out of the way before I finalise and publish my official Top Anime List Ⓒ. The list will be almost entirely devoid of older, obscure shows. The list will also be biased towards shonen and male otaku-themed anime. I’m sorry, except not really. It’s my personal taste and that’s just how it goes.
So here is my answer to “WHY ISN’T [INSERT SHOW] ON YOUR LIST???”: I either didn’t watch it, or I did watch it, but ultimately preferred watching cute anime girls lust over an emotionless sack of potatoes.
That’s the honest truth. It feels kind of liberating to admit it.
The list will be published in multiple parts. I’m taking a leaf out of Marow’s “Anime I Love” Project and writing posts on each of the anime that I love and really engaged me deeply in some way. I’ll talk about my personal feelings, my life circumstances at the time, and how my reactions changed over time. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll probably already have an idea about which anime will make the list. This will probably take months to get done since I’ll be writing about my favourite anime as I rewatch them.
It’s not often that I take such a personal approach, but top anime lists are personal by nature, so I feel this approach is probably the best way to go.
Hope you guys look forward to it!
* Addendum: Here is my top 10 list of favourite books. This isn’t a literature blog, so I won’t go into detail about my choices, but I’d be happy to explain them in the comments if you ask.
- The Good Earth – Pearl S. Buck
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
- The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
- Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
- Sherlock Holmes (the short stories) – Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
- Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
- The Power and the Glory – Graham Green
- Little Women – Louisa May Alcott