My Top Ten Favorite Anime (Sort Of).

Everyone’s got a a list of their favorite shows and what’s on the list is always different for everyone because we’re all different people with differing opinions. But since I’m awesome, my opinion is fact and everything in this list is pure gold and if you disagree with that then… Okay. I hope you liked the list anyway!

Not everything in this list is an anime that I’d describe as a masterpiece per say. They’re all just shows that I really like for multitudes of reasons, but with that, let’s just get to it already starting with!

10) Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma (2015)

Food Wars is a cooking manga/anime (that I’ve reviewed.)

NSFW foodgasms inbound.

NSFW foodgasms inbound.

Here’s a tip for all you Food Wars fans out there—go read the manga. The anime’s just as good, but go read the manga because woof… the anime ended too soon and left out one of my favorite tournament arcs ever and one of my favorite scenes/speeches from a manga (Ch.102). For those who aren’t familiar with the show: Food Wars is a hilarious and strangely epic cooking anime that revolves around Yukihira Soma as he battles (cooking battles) his way to the top of Totsuki Culinary Academy, the best damned cooking academy in all of Japan. Seriously, if you want a good laugh and great thrills, go watch Food Wars… Just make sure that you have food in the house because you’ll get hungry.

9) One Piece

A grand adventure in an even grander world seen through the eyes of a small, but larger than life pirate crew.

800 chapters in and we're still probably only half way there.

800 chapters in and we’re still probably only half way there.

Okay so everyone knows what One Piece is about and some people might have groaned seeing a member of the Holy Shounen Trinity in a Top Ten anime list. But while my taste in anime have developed and I’ve fallen out of love with the rest of the trinity, One Piece remains to this day as one of my favorite shows to watch—okay maybe not favorite show to watch because as big a fan as I am, I’m not ignorant to the fact that it drags on way too long with it’s flashbacks. But I do love it all the same because at its core, One Piece is a really fun show featuring a cast of fun and awesome characters.

8) Kimi Ni Todoke/Ore Monogatari!!

One features a girl that looks like the creepy chick from The Ring while the other features a gorilla, I mean a boy… who looks like a gorilla—both shows are about two misunderstood teenagers who simply want to be accepted.

Kimi Ni Todoke has some annoying bits regarding misunderstandings, but I still find it to be very endearing.

Kimi Ni Todoke has some annoying bits regarding misunderstandings, but I still find it to be very endearing.

When I think of romance anime, I laugh. I laugh because when I think of romance anime I think of harems and ecchi anime—two things about anime that I despise. I’m not a prude by any means, but I like subtlety. I’m the type of guy who cringes at most girls that twerk and I prefer seeing women in fall fashion to no clothes or summer clothes. I’m also the type of guy who believes in the idea of love, or at least likes to, because even I’m not dumb enough to know that it’s all just a lie…

Screw moe anime, Ore Monogatari is the epitome of cuteness!

Screw moe anime, Ore Monogatari is the epitome of cuteness!

But lie or not, two anime that never fails to put a smile on my face are Kimi Ni Todoke and Ore Monogatari!! Yes, these two shows are only here because of how cute they can be… and because of how much joy they both give me. I’m a fairly pessimistic person, but even I feel fuzzy inside watching these shows. Are they the best ever? No, but I love them regardless. They both feature outcast teens that just want to be accepted and find true love, and though the idea of love in both is highly idealized and innocent, I love it all the same.

If you want to know more about Ore Monogatari then you’re in luck! I already reviewed it here!

7) Mekakucity Actors

A show about something

Someone please explain this to me!

I really don’t get why this is here either.

Look I’m not going to lie, Mekakucity Actors is in this list because I’m looking for someone to try and explain to me why I love it so much because even I don’t know why I love it. Like seriously… Mekakucity Actors is a fine show, but it’s not even an 8/10 in my book. And yet for some reason… I really love it. All I know is that it features an ensemble cast of teens with special powers and a plot… I guess. I also know that it’s an anime based on a series of Vocaloid songs and somehow, it made me not want to punch my computer screen in the face.

6) Death Parade

A show about life. (And another show that I’ve reviewed!)

Boom boom boom! Dancing through the skies!

Boom boom boom! Dancing through the skies!

Death Parade is an original anime by Studio Madhouse and it’s probably my favorite anime of 2015. The basic concept of Death Parade is simple, two people enter a bar, they’re forced to play a game, an Arbiter watches the proceedings of the game and based on how the players reacted while playing said game, the Arbiter will then decide which of the pair would be sent to the void and which one would be sent for reincarnation. Again, simple concept, but like any good show, there’s so much more to Death Parade. Because despite being a show featuring dead people, it is a show about life itself as well as the experiences people have living it, may they be good or bad.

5) Hajime no Ippo

An anime featuring a bullied youth that learns the true meaning of strength through boxing.

Packs a PUNCH... Get it? No? Okay then... v ~ v

Packs a PUNCH… Get it? No? Okay then… v ~ v

I don’t enjoy boxing, or sports—actually I watch a little soccer here and there, but for the most part I don’t care for any of it. And yet… One of my favorite animes of all time is a boxing anime. But saying that Hajime No Ippo is JUST a boxing anime is like saying that Moby Dick is just a story about trying to kill a white whale. There’s more to both these stories than just their surface plot, and though Hajime No Ippo doesn’t go as deep as Moby Dick does in a thematic way, Hajime No Ippo does do a pretty impressive job of telling a riveting, pulse pounding and inspiring drama about an underdog who makes it big as a boxer. And yes, I consider Hajime No Ippo as a drama more than I consider it a fighting or sport anime, because though there is fighting and sportsmanship involved but at it’s core, Hajime no Ippo’s really all about the main character Ippo Makunochi and his rise to glory and greatness.

4) Gatchaman: Crowds/Insight

An anime about clashing ideals regarding the evolution of humanity as a society.

IN THE NAME OF LOVE! GATCHAMEN! ASSEMBLE!

IN THE NAME OF LOVE! GATCHAMEN! ASSEMBLE!

I’ve never seen the Gatchaman of old, but from what I’ve gathered, (and please correct me if I’m wrong) the original Gatchaman was a fairly simplistic hero anime where a group of Power Rangers esque individuals get together to fight aliens who threaten to destroy the Earth. The Gatchamen of Crowds and Insight however are vastly different. Rather than have a black and white narrative, the newest reincarnation of Gatchaman focuses more on opposing ideologies. In both Crowds and Insight, there was never a clear villain (maybe more so Insight than Crowds), for the most part, the enemies that the Gatchamen are going up against are well meaning, but dangerous individuals or groups who just want to see the world be a better place. And it’s exactly because of this that I’m putting Gatchaman in my list—it’s an anime that not only has fun and interesting characters, but it also takes time to look at society and even criticize it in a non-pretentious manner.

3) Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

A show about sacrifice, brotherhood and a bunch of other really awesome shit.

Remember October 3rd.

Remember October 3rd.

Action, comedy and drama—FMA: Brotherhood has it all. I never really liked the original anime, I thought it was fine, but was severely flawed. Brotherhood on the other hand is hands down just a masterpiece of awesome. It has a well-written narrative, great characters and some of the best fight scenes in anime. Go check it out if you haven’t seen it yet what the hell are you doing with your life?!

2) OreGairu (My TEEN RomCom SNAFU!)

An anime about a loner who sees himself above his peers as he treks through the icy road to true maturity.

Chin up kid, you'll get there one day.

Chin up kid, you’ll get there one day.

My Teenage Rom-Com SNAFU! is a show with a fanbase that irritates the heck out of me… Sort of. I just don’t like how every time I go into comments sections of episodes or discussion boards I seem to always find people who are constantly obsessing about the protagonist Hachiman’s harem. I don’t like that because it’s not what the show is about and it goes against everything that Hachiman stands for. It’s just not genuine. But I get it, talking about pairings and harems is fun—sure, I’m not going to take that away from anyone.

But it’s not why I love SNAFU and it’s not why I watch the show. To me, SNAFU is more than just about romances or harems. It’s not about how cool it is to be a loner, because even the show itself depicts Hachiman as being in the wrong even though his methods work. SNAFU is Hikigaya Hachiman’s coming of age story. I know that the synopsis says otherwise, but ignore that because trust me, this show really is something special.

Similar to how I have Kimi Ni Todoke and Ore Monogatari in this list for mostly emotional reasons, part of why SNAFU’s on this list is because of how much I can relate to Hachiman’s struggles with life. It’s rare for any work of fiction (and non-fiction) to ever affect me this show has, which is why I have so much respect and adoration for it—because not only does it make me feel all weird inside, it’s also a very well-written show filled with great characters and both hilarious and dramatic scenes and conversations.

1) Gintama

An anime that made me cry way too much, especially since it’s primarily a comedy show about a feudal Japan that has been taken over and modernized by aliens.

Nobody with naturally wavy hair can be that bad.

Nobody with naturally wavy hair can be that bad.

When I first started watching Gintama I wasn’t sure what to think of it. I liked the protagonist Sakata Gintoki, but I couldn’t figure out what the show was going to be all about. There were hints of Gintoki’s past and how it might come back to form an overall and overarching plot, but fifteen episodes in and still there was nothing. For the most part, Gintama seemed to be just a comedy anime (a really funny and heartfelt comedy anime) but story or not, I was still in for the ride because like I said, I enjoyed the comedy bits a lot!

There were more hints of a plot thrown in there and I was satisfied just having a good time laughing at the almost self-contained comedy episodes. I loved the smaller dramatic episodes too and grew to really love the whole cast. But what really got me were episodes 58 to 61—that’s when everything changed. Not permanently. But it cemented Gintama as a series that would forever be in my list of favorite anime.

Episodes 58 to 61 were when the Benizakura Arc happened, Gintama’s first serious arc. Every Gintama fan knows what it was like to first to fill the thrills and chill of seeing our goofball favorite characters be put in a high stakes and life or death situation where they need to go up against a villain that better suited a more serious anime. The Benizakura arc still had plenty of comedy to it, but for the most part, it was the story arc that laid the foundation for what’s to come—it established the villain, the main story and a better look at Gintoki’s past. I mean we’ve always known that Gintoki was a badass, but it was his fight scenes in the Benizakura arc that showed just how awesome he could be.

I can’t really explain why I love Gintama so much, but I know that despite having hundreds of episodes I’d still recommend it to people. I know that that’s a commitment and I know that the payoff may not come until fifty episodes in, but my God, does it PAY OFF. And even after the Benizakura arc the show does return to form and remains a comedy for a dozen episodes before tackling another serious arc—but I’m okay with that. Others might not be, but I swear, you must give this show a chance. You owe it to yourself as an anime fan to watch Gintama because not only is it a hilarious parody comedy anime, but it’s also an exciting and touching story about a man who refuses to be broken by the world and how desperately he needs to pay his rent.

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Death Parade Series Review

Here’s a written version of my spoiler-free review if you prefer to read!


Intro 

Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, etc.)

Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, etc.)

Do you all remember when Old Man Miyazaki went off on the anime industry? Actually, I’m pretty sure he does that all the time.

But I remember one interview where he said something like, “The anime industry is filled with a bunch of sad creepy virgins who don’t spend any time watching people. Because they’re people who hate people and love anime way too much. Your body pillow is never going to come to life you nerd! Commit seppuku!”

That’s probably a rough translation, but I’ve always agreed with that sentiment.

And while watching the anime Death Parade, I was reminded greatly of Old Man Miyazaki and this quote.

Death Parade (2015) Studio Madhouse. 12 Episodes.

Death Parade (2015) Studio Madhouse. 12 Episodes.


Death Parade

Death Parade is an original concept by the anime studio Madhouse.

And it’s without a doubt one of the best shows that I’ve seen in a real long time. Death Parade doesn’t have flashy battles or a grand and epic quest for the protagonists to conquer, but it is teeming with humanity and emotionality. Despite having the word death in the title, it’s pretty much a show about life and the point of it.

Takashi and Machiko, the guests of episode 1.

Takashi and Machiko, the guests of episode 1.

Decim, an arbiter who judges the souls of the recently deceased.

Decim, an arbiter who judges the souls of the recently deceased.

Now the plot to Death Parade is simple. The protagonist, Decim, is an arbiter who judges the souls of the dead. Every episode a pair of souls wonders into the bar known as the Quindecim, where Decim acts as a bartender. And upon arrival, Decim threatens and tricks the pair of souls into playing a game against one another with little to no explanation as to why. He doesn’t even bother to tell them that they’re dead already.

And I guess it also doesn’t help that his visitors don’t remember certain aspects of their life, nor do they remember the moment of their deaths.

Decim uses a device that derails games.

Decim uses a device that orchestrates accidents during the games to bring out the darkness in the players.

While playing games against one another, truths about the visitors begin to unravel and the dark nature of man surfaces. Often the visitors would remember things on their own as they play—which would then cause them to reveal their true natures, but sometimes Decim would secretly intervene and cause more friction than necessary, making the visitors act in an unsavory manner.

The point of the games is simple. When people die, they’re either sent to the void where their souls would disappear into nothingness or they’re sent to a place for reincarnation.

There are other things happening in the show as well. There are other arbiters, and other characters that make the show more colorful. Decim’s assistant Chiyuki for instance would continuously question Decim—and in turn make him question himself and his methods. And that’s pretty much where the main arc of the series is at.

While the Death Parade provides viewers plenty of emotional scenes and stories between the pair of souls Decim is judging. There are also mysteries and questions that the show would throw onto the viewers over the course of the series—like who’s Chiyuki really, what’s Nona planning and why does that old man have a flower on his chin? But the ultimate question is left to Decim: What is humanity? And does it mean to be human and what does it mean to live?

Chiyuki, Decim's human assistant.

Chiyuki, Decim’s human assistant.

The show’s answer to that question may not be the most original, but the execution on how Decim reaches his conclusion, his interactions with Chiyuki, the interactions and stories of the visiting souls as well as the side stories with Nona and the other arbiters all make this show worth the watch.

Death Parade is tagged on myanimelist.com under the Mystery, Game and Psychological genres.

It definitely has mysteries in it.

And it definitely has plenty of games in it.

But most importantly, the psychological aspects of this show are what make it amazing. Death Parade really delves deep into the whole spectrum of human emotion and existence in terms of its story, but the show as a whole does so as well.

I know that I might be talking about heavy stuff like the meaning of life and what not, but this show knows when and how to be light.

The cast of Death Parade top to bottom. 1st Column: Decim, Chiyuki and Ginti. 2nd Column: Clavis, Nona, Oculus.

The cast of Death Parade top to bottom. 1st Column: Decim, Chiyuki and Ginti. 2nd Column: Clavis, Nona, Oculus.

Death Parade is not devoid of comedy and not every judgment and soul that Decim judges has a malicious air to them. Because just as life’s not always bleak and dreary, the show also knows when to take a break and celebrate all that is good and light about life—while still acknowledging the bitter sad poetry of it.

The art and overall presentation of Death Parade is great as well. I really liked Decim and all the other characters’ designs on the show, even the dead people who are just everyday average humans are given a lot of personality in their designs. The music of the Death Parade stood out impressively as well; it has a nice blend of mysterious, eerie, tense and charming to it.

And speaking of music, Death Parade’s opening really contends for my all time favorite anime opening. There’s so much fun and excitement going on in it that I would often find myself replaying the opening multiple times before actually watching an episode. It’s a great opening for the show, even if it may come of as a little deceptive.

48721Also before I forget, besides the 12 episodes of the series there’s also a side story—a 30-minute movie short that the whole idea of Death Parade was based off from called Death Billiards. It’s not necessary to the plot, but it’s great—and might help you determine whether or not you should watch Death Parade!


Verdict

And I do recommend people watch this show. If you love anime that touches upon all the life and psychological stuff I mentioned, watch this show. If you prefer anime that has excessive amounts of boobs and flashy action in it, watch this show anyway. It doesn’t have what you’re looking for in terms of boob and action content, but I don’t think it would hurt to watch something human once in a while. Also if you’re a fucking normal, watch this show. I understand that anime is not for everyone, but I think that Death Parade warrants a watch anyway—if you don’t like to read subtitles, there’s an English Dub coming out this year (or is probably already released) that you can check out.

Maybe not everyone’s going to get what I took from this show, but as someone who puts importance to narrative it more than satisfied me. And as someone who’s always asking things about life it more than satisfied me.

I really love this show.

And as the credits rolled at the last episode of the show I couldn’t help but smile and grin in satisfaction. I always feel like anime rarely have conclusions, as whole series would often end too early because of how close they are to using up all the original material that they’re basing the show on.

So props to Madhouse for coming up with something new and something on their own—and double props for making something that ought to show Old Man Miyazaki that there are people in the anime industry with a shred of humanity.

People whom like people—well maybe not people who like people, but at least this show was written by people who knew how to be human.

That certainly provides a breath of fresh air.