1. Grave of the Fireflies (8/10)
2. Ergo Proxy (6/10)
3. Perfect Blue (6/10)
4. Spirited Away (5/10)
5. Pokémon (5/10)
Thoughts on every anime I've seen so far (Robert Christgau style):Akira
(Katsuhiro Otomo, Tokyo Movie Shinsha, 1988) A stylish aesthetic can't stop a mostly dull oeuvre from feeling longer than its runtime. I know full-well how popular this film is, and that it's considered a classic, but I don't care—that's not gonna make me like it any more. I was very unimpressed with the silly technophobic themes—which seem to be so fucking common in 20th century anime films—and in general, it made me wish I was just watching a better version of the same essential film: Mad Max
. Incredibly overrated and mediocre. 5/10Astro Boy
(Mushi Production, 1963, three episodes) An interesting piece of animation history that warrants little more than a respectful glance today. 5/10Baccano!
(Brain's Base, 2007, completed) To the show's credit, I did finish it, so it obviously engaged me enough to watch all sixteen episodes. However, it did not engage me enough to ever watch it again, or even consider it that good of a show. The show's strong points are its characters (gasp) and its method of storytelling, which is quite unique when compared with typical anime schlock, and made it seem very fresh and interesting. That's where my appreciation ends. Since I liked the characters, I wanted to learn a lot about them, and I really expected the show to flesh them out more than it ended up doing. There were also a bit too many of them, which made following each and every one of their stories kind of dizzying, and it's easy to pick favorites and least favorites, which made sitting through certain episodes more of a chore than others. Finally, the setting just made me wish I was watching a Western gangster movie instead, because they're all a thousand times better in every single way. This was no Goodfellas
, people. 4/10Bleach
(Pierrot, 2004, nine episodes) 2/10Boku no Pico
(Natural High, 2006, first OVA) 2/10Code Geass
(Sunrise, 2006, ten episodes) I was asked to complete this show, but I just can't. It's just way too fucking stupid, and it has the distinction of having my least favorite artstyle of all time. It's uglier than a neanderthal's miscarried fetus. I just can't handle it. And the writers must have been on crazy, insane amounts of Adderall, too—everything that happens feels like it was written by some 14-year-old with a sugar rush. It's headache-inducing to watch this show for extended periods of time. It's obvious that it's not supposed to be anything else but what it is, and I know some people are gonna get on my ass for that, but I'm a firm believer in the principle of "just because it's meant to be stupid doesn't mean it isn't stupid/cannot be stupid." I'm glad I dropped it when I did; I should've done so earlier. 2/10Cowboy Bebop
(Sunrise, 1908, thirteen-and-a-half episodes) "Overrated" is a word that I'd like to keep myself from using too often in these, but I'm struggling to find another word that oh-so-perfectly defines this show. However, my little reactionary weebs—that doesn't mean there was nothing about the show that I enjoyed. The coolly distinct atmosphere and lowkey tone of the series was what kept me going for as long as I did, and though I'm not terribly into jazz, I felt like it was a pretty good fit for this series. It gave a lot of scenes an "oddly satisfying" feel. That said, the characters are all annoying as fuck (especially—surprise, surprise—our female leads, Faye and Edward) and I don't give a fuck about any of them. The story isn't very engaging, and I couldn't help but ask myself, "What's the point?" after every "session" (the show's little pretentious way of saying "episode"). That said, it's still probably one of the better shows I've partially trudged through. I think it's rather telling how the best-of-the-best anime always seem to be inspired by Western styles, ideas, or sensibilities. I still don't have the heart to finish it, though. Sorry. 5/10Dragon Ball
(Toei Animation, 1986, twenty-eight episodes) My first true excursion into Japanese animation began with this slog, and I can't say I bear any sentimental feelings towards it. I detested all the characters, except for Goku and Yamcha to an extent, and its unyieldingly perverted sense of humor was incredibly trying. Perhaps if it could go just one episode without making a dumb sex joke involving Bulma's breasts, the show would've been more tolerable—alas, the entire show's entertainment value hinges solely upon jejune, simple-minded power fantasies for the little boys it's marketed for. And, as clear as it is that the show is meant strictly for babies, I'm just surprised that I made it as far as I did.
5/10 4/10Dragon Ball Z
(Toei Animation, 1989, first season) - Though the juvenile sexual humor has now (mostly) gone by the wayside, the franchise at this point instead began to double down on the stupid macho power fantasies and mindless over-the-top action, which has never and will never appeal to me. As I watch, I can feel my IQ score steadily dropping by the second. Not a good experience. At least Dragon Ball was more charming, in an annoying-kid-brother kind of way.
4/10 3/10Ergo Proxy
(Manglobe, 2006, completed) I did not absolutely hate this show—I liked it enough to complete it, but I don't like it enough to ever return to it again. First and foremost, I deeply appreciate this show's artstyle and overall cyberpunk aesthetic. Not only does it stand out beautifully in an ocean of a medium where every single show looks exactly the same due to Japan's extremely stagnant (or even regressive) industry standards, it's genuinely gorgeous and is easily the best part of the show. Everything else is okay. Not great. But it LOOKS great, and that alone is worthy of high praise in my book. It explores some neat philosophical themes, too, which is always fun. 6/10Ghost in the Shell
(Mamoru Oshii, Kodansha, 1995) Complete waste of time. 2/10Grave of the Fireflies
(Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli, 1988) I am so fucking bitter that, in my eight years of hating all Japanese media, not a single person has EVER thought to recommend me this film. Not one. My stipulations have been made loud and clear, yet nobody has ever thought that I would enjoy this movie as much as I did. I had to go and search for it all by myself in this sea of molten shit. Thanks, fuckheads. Either way, it's pretty obvious by now—this is my new favorite anime, and the second anime that I've ever actually enjoyed. It took me way off guard. Given its setting and subject matter, it's honestly pretty hard to dislike. Don't think I'm a weeb just yet, though—For every anime I hate, I want to see at least one thing that I love. So far, we're pretty deep in the hole. That said, credit where credit is due: This movie was great, and it feels pretty liberating to say that. I won't count on it ever happening again, though. 8/10Gurren Lagann
(Gainax, 2007, completed) Here's a comforting thought: the best thing about this show is that I will never see anything more vomit-inducing in my lifetime. Like a trainwreck, it was difficult to look away—hence my completion of it. Simply put, this show is brain cancer, and I actually have a very long and battered history with it—a history far too long to cover in a short blurb, so perhaps I'll write up a lengthier review in the future—but indeed, it has a soft place in my heart for being the first anime I've ever truly despised. It is the perfect amalgam of everything I abhor—not just about Japanese animation—but about the human race and life itself. It truly has it all. A very, very heartfelt 1/10Inuyasha
(Sunrise, 2000, five episodes) Basically Dragon Ball for girls.
4/10 3/10Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
(Hiroyuki Okiura, Production I.G, 1999) Actually not bad, but kind of forgettable, despite its crazy, twisty-turvy plot. It's kind of slow, and I'm not sure if it really justified its near two hours of length, but the story was interesting and laden with a lot of surprisingly touching moments that tickled my feefees a bit more than I'm willing to admit. Still, there's so many things about it that could've been better. I liked the story, but maybe it needed a better artstyle. Maybe it needed better animation. Or maybe it even needed more plot coherence, because there were several points where I didn't quite understand why any of this was happening in the first place—including the awkward and somewhat tacky Little Red Riding Hood "allegory," if you can call it that. I just needed something to make it stay with me for longer than it did, because as soon it was over, it just didn't stick with me for too long. 5/10, might rewatchKill La Kill
(Trigger, 2013, two episodes) Enjoying this show should be illegal. 1/10Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid
(Kyoto Animation, 2017, two episodes) 1/10My Neighbor Totoro
(Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, 1988) Boring and safe, like everything out of Ghibli's repertoire. 5/10Naruto
(Pierrot, 2002, first season) Probably my favorite of the "big four," though that's not saying a whole lot. It helps that I saw a bunch of episodes when I was growing up, usually when there was nothing better on TV, and I'm not gonna lie—I liked some of it, so I watched through the first season rather comfortably. Unfortunately, my favorite fight (Shikamaru vs. Temari) wasn't even in this season, so this ended up being a complete slog. It has a lot of things that I appreciate, though—it has a great sense of humor (albeit stupid and occasionally perverted), a variety of likable characters with lots of color and personality, and an interesting if nonsensical setting. We all know what bogs it down later, but I felt like giving it some credit either way. Most shonen start out pretty strong, but they always go downhill fast, and this show is no exception. 4/10Neon Genesis Evangelion
(Gainax, 1995, completed) A deconstruction of one of my least favorite subgenres of anime: Mecha. Given that this is one of the most well-renowned shows in all of anime, I was expecting to have more bombastic reasons to dislike it. But I don't, really. The show's ultimate flaw is that it's boring. Really, really boring. And extremely pretentious, to boot. The characters suck, with the protagonist Shinji being one of the most insufferable whiny little cunts I've had to put up with in all of the shows I've watched. None of the other characters are likable in any way, and I especially hated Rei and Asuka. There's a lot of vague symbolism that gave the impression that the show was trying to get "deep," but none of it ever amounts to anything. You can say that it's up for the viewer to interpret, but I'm starting to consider that sort of thing a huge cop-out when it comes to art. It's actually a pretty simple, and almost shallow, story. There's not much to interpret. I can shit in a cup and tell you to interpret something out of it, but you're not gonna want to. You're not gonna care, because what I did was just vapid, obnoxious, and out of nowhere. And then I'll say, "I guess it's just too deep for you; you just don't understand true art." It's fine, though. Having seen all of it (except for the movie), I can completely understand why this show ended up being so popular. It's the exact breed of vacuous tripe that I expect all anime fans to enjoy. There's nothing in here that I wouldn't expect the average braindead weeb to just eat right up—it's all there. The microdick mechs, the virginbait waifus, the shitty animation and artsyle, the pretentious yet borderline meaningless themes... Honestly, what's there not to love for your prototypical weeaboo? 3/10One Piece
(Toei Animation, 1999, four episodes) -
3/10 2/10Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt
(Gainax, 2010, completed) 1/10Perfect Blue
(Satoshi Kon, Madhouse, 1997) I originally gave this a 4/10, calling it a boring waste of time—despite the fact that I'd normally love any film that explores the evils of sexual exploitation in the entertainment industry. Because the subject matter is so precious to me, though, I tend to have unreasonable demands for how such themes should be presented, and as a result, on my first viewing, I thought these demands were simply not met. Upon giving it a second chance, however, I've decided that I was being a little unfair. What I had initially interpreted as hypocrisy, the very exploitation the film was trying to rally against, was actually a necessary component for making the audience feel uncomfortable about what they are viewing. The fact that I didn't enjoy what I was watching was sort of half the point. In hindsight, I was foolish to judge a movie for successfully conveying its message. That being said, I still think the film is a little pretentious, and I don't really enjoy the art style at all, and that made it hard for me to sit through a second time. Still, not a terrible film by any means—it's a good anime for people who don't like anime. Alternatively, a much better and more palatable version of the film is Black Swan
4/10 6/10Princess Mononoke
(Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, 1997) 4/10Pokémon
(OLM, Inc., 1997, first two seasons + some change) I watched this throughout my childhood, and I've revisited it several times, so I'm heavily biased in its favor. Though bad, the characters are all pretty great, and the dialogue is wonderful, so long as you don't take it too seriously. It genuinely has some of the best humor of any Japanese show I've ever watched, but, like I said—it's probably just a nostalgia thing. In fact, it almost definitely is. 5/10Ponyo
(Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, 2008) 3/10Princess Jellyfish
(Brain's Base, 2010, three episodes) 3/10Puella Magi Madoka Magica
(Shaft, 2011, completed) Fucking terrible. "But Verb! It's a deconstruction anime! It's making fun of all the things you hate! That automatically makes it a good show!" I'm afraid it doesn't, you vacuous cunt. I'll deconstruct your fucking face. There are smarter ways to deconstruct shitty subgenres out there, and they had to pick the laziest possible way to do it. It's easy as fuck to take something dumb and lighthearted and put a dark and edgy twist on it. That's not innovative. It's not interesting. It relies too heavily on shock "horror," and in general, commits the biggest sin that all anime deconstructions tend to commit—being a more extreme version of the thing you're deconstructing doesn't make you any better than that thing. Ironic shitposting is still shitposting, and you're still an uninteresting faggot with absolutely nothing original to contribute. 2/10Spice and Wolf
(Imagin, 2008, three episodes) Despite the premise piquing my interest, I dropped the show almost immediately following total, unmitigated disappointment. Brief moments of intrigue are frequently flanked by an autistic entourage of your typical stupid anime trope bullshit. There's only so much of this shit I can tolerate before I just want to throw myself off a cliff.
4/10 3/10Spirited Away
(Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, 2001) 5/10Tokyo Godfathers
(Satoshi Kon, Madhouse, 2003) 4/10Your Name
(CoMix Wave Films, 2016) You'd think the film's roaring international success in the West would give me high hopes, but I tend to be very cautious whenever I hear that people like something, because I find that most people are very easily impressed. A film that the average person would rate an 8/10, I would probably give that film a 6/10. Not always, but that does tend to be the case. Likewise, whereas most people found Your Name to be beautiful and original, I found it incredibly insipid, predictable, and anything BUT original. This movie is every boy-meets-girl story ever made, but with a silly Freaky Friday
premise. OH BOY, MY FAVORITE. Our two subject characters are so cookie-cutter—having relatable characters is absolutely fine, especially in stories like these, but not when they're so fucking drab to the point where you can't NOT relate with them. And while the plot itself didn't really have any glaring issues that I could see, its biggest issue is that it doesn't actually take any risks. The risks it does take are of the safest and most predictable variety. I'm not gonna spoil anything, but I genuinely don't understand why so many people are claiming that the twists are "unexpected." I guess you just need to watch more movies, or something, because I was about twenty minutes ahead the entire time. At least one of you was suspecting that I'd rate this film low strictly because of the scene where the boy, in the girl's body, starts feeling her breasts—and don't get me wrong, it was annoying and cringeworthy to watch, and extremely unnecessary. But I don't actually have a huge problem with it, given the circumstances. If a guy and a girl swapped bodies, it's very realistic to assume that the guy would start groping himself. It's still gross to show it in a movie, but the film had far more pressing issues than that. Overall, it's a very dull and unadventurous flick that commits many-a-sin, falling apart especially during the third act. Even the music was sucky and unmemorable. That being said, I'm about to do something I haven't done before, but I'm being absolutely genuine: I'm actually going to recommend this film to pretty much everybody—because, despite my own criticisms, I still expect most of you idiots to eat it up anyway, since most people have. So go ahead, watch it if you haven't already. Knowing how you people are, you'll all love it. I practically guarantee it. 4/10Yu-Gi-Oh!
(Gallop, 2000, scattered episodes throughout childhood) In my effort to recall every single anime I've ever seen prior to starting my plunge, I somehow forgot this magical masterpiece. I'm not one to judge a show by its premise alone, not anymore—Swiss Army Man
taught me that lesson, and that was my favorite film of 2016. That's a film where you take a mind-numbingly stupid premise and execute it perfectly to create something genuine, funny, beautiful, and emotionally poignant. So, Yu-Gi-Oh!
is a show with a bad premise—a bunch of kids try to save the world from evil by playing a children's card game. Very dumb premise. Completely asinine. I didn't even enjoy it as a stupid kid (and I liked EVERYTHING when I was a stupid kid). That said, as an adult, I'm able to find plenty of things about it that I enjoy—especially the dub, which has a lot of hilarious localizations that are highlighted by LittleKuriboh's Abridged Series. The problem with the show is that it doesn't do anything to justify its stupid premise—it's just a dumb, dumb show, and you feel dumb watching it, because the show takes everything so fucking seriously—and the more seriously it takes itself, the less you, as a viewer, are ABLE to take it seriously. And that's where all the unintentional humor comes in. I laugh at it now, but when I was still within the show's target demographic, it bored the ever-loving shit out of me, and I'd rather have watched Pokémon
. At least that show had some levity and self-awareness. That's the last thing you want, but in retrospect, I actually consider this one of the best worst shows of all time, and it might be worth it to watch a few early episodes along with the Abridged Series, if you haven't already. 3/10Yu Yu Hakusho
(Pierrot, 1992, six episodes) Perhaps this show invokes the Seinfeld Effect, but this is the most boring anime I've ever seen, and I certainly don't see myself sitting through 100 episodes of it. Indeed, I decided to drop it relatively early upon realizing just how long it was. I was told by many people that I'd like it based solely on the fact that it contains "no fanservice," which, 1.) that's almost always complete and utter bullshit, and 2.) I need WAY more reasons than that to enjoy a show, guys. Like an interesting plot, for starters. I know it's a shonen—and a particularly old one at that—and I know that there's an appeal for things like simplicity and "doing what works," but that's no excuse for the story being so bland. These days, it has nothing to set it apart from modern shonen, and I don't think that's an unfair comparison when it had DBZ to compete with back in its day. It resultantly suffers from its poor aging, and unfortunately, there's absolutely nothing about it that grips me enough to keep watching. 3/10
Attack on Titan
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
One Punch Man
Hunter x Hunter (1999)
Akame ga Kill!
Mobile Suit Gundam
Sword Art Online
Ping Pong: The Animation
Sweetness and Lightning
Boku no Hero Academia
5 Centimeters Per Second
Darker Than Black
Garo: The Animation
Hunter x Hunter (2011)
The Garden of Words
A Silent Voice
The higher up on the list, the more likely I am to watch it.