This might be the hardest troll of otaku culture you’re ever going to see. But it points out one irrefutable fact: people love sharing and debating lists. Maybe it’s because they’re easy to read and endlessly entertaining, especially when they’re bad lists. Anyway, let’s get on with the show! (The list numbers aren’t ranks, by the way).
#10: Top 10 Duos/Rivalries/Enemies
Now, this list isn’t limited to best friends or anything. Look at Goku and Vegeta, sworn enemies for the longest time. Even after intimately fusing and becoming “body buddies,” Vegeta was jealous of Goku. Light Yagami and L are a duo. Dante and Vergil are a duo. Naruto and Sasuke are a duo. Most of these characters are related through some common origin story, and their interactions are heavily dependent on being foils to each other. My buddy Tony also brings up the topic of “bromances,” which opens up the discussion to a study of shipping characters together.
What you can expect to see: Goku & Vegeta (Dragonball Z); Light and L (Death Note); Naruto & Sasuke (Naruto).
Dragonball GT. Toei Animation. 1996.
#9: Top 10 WTF
I like this list, I really do. It takes a real secure person to say, “You know what? This story was so absurd that I need to share it with someone.” It’s a list that honors the insane shit animators put out there, and the insane people who liked it. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with insanity; being understood by everyone is overrated.
What’s also cool about WTF moments is that there’s SO MANY of them. Elfen Lied was so disturbing on so many levels I only watched the first episode before telling myself, “No fuckin way I’m finishing this.” I haven’t seen or read Gantz but I don’t know that I want to after all I’ve heard about it. And gore isn’t the only genre that fits in WTF. Evangelion, or just about everything released by Gainax? Kill la Kill, made by ex-Gainax staff at Studio Trigger, is craaazy but I love it.
What you can expect to see: Most of what I mentioned above will seriously leave you in deep thought after you’re done. Just watch Neon Genesis Evangelion, trust me. The TV series and End of Evangelion operate on levels beyond what most people are prepared to handle.
Kill la Kill. Studio Trigger. 2013.
#8: Top 10 Attack on Titan Moments
Ha. Hahaha. This one was Tony’s idea:
1. FEMALE TITAN
2. LEVI KICKING EREN
3. POTATO GIRL
4. MOE TITAN
5. SONNY AND BEAN…
And there’s more options, of course. You can apply this list to any mega hit series and it would work, because fans would flock and then have an internet orgasm together. It’s the most alienating topic to make a list about, but for those who follow up on a series together, it shows a level of camaraderie the internet should foster more often. Peace and happiness, bros!
Attack on Titan. Studio Wit. 2013.
#7: Top 10 Deaths
When someone important dies in a story, it hurts for real. Clannad is infamous for its deaths. Fullmetal Alchemist‘s entire premise relies on trying to cheat death. Claymore‘s plot only gets started because of a death, and Gurren Lagann hits its stride when *this character shall not be named* dies. There’s two ways to do death: draw it out melodramatically, or have people killed quickly without much warning. The ones that hurt us the most involve central characters, the people we grow up with as episodes and chapters go by. Don’t get me started, man – I totally forgot about a lot of the deaths I’ve seen until starting this list. Man, it’s hard to write about deaths without giving away spoilers…
What you can expect to see: Ask anyone about Clannad: After Story. You’ll get the same response every time: “Shit, that was so sad…”
Clannad. Kyoto Animation. 2008.
#6: Top 10 Badasses
Fuck the law, fuck tradition, fuck expectations, and fuck decency. What’s a badass going to do with all that? He’s gonna shit on it, that’s what. And everyone loves a badass, so we’re gonna let him keep shitting on everything and blame it on incontinence instead of his attitude problem.
It’s hard not to have fun writing these lists. I mean, even if everyone disagrees with which badass makes it to the top, who cares? They’re all badasses! It’s like arguing about whether or not Black Lagoon‘s Revi is higher in rank than Devil May Cry‘s Dante – the real Dante, not that scrawny DmC guy. We could waste time doing that… or we could say they’re both badasses who make it rain lead showers! (Though I must admit, if Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, I think Revi’s got Dante beat.)
It’s easy to think about anti-heroes and villains for this list, but that’s so limiting. Levi from Attack on Titan is pretty epic: did everyone see that Sonic the Hedgehog shit he pulled off in the anime against the Female Titan? And forget Levi – Mikasa’s the crazy one to look out for!
What you can expect to see: Itachi Uchiha (Naruto); Alucard (Helsing); Kenshiro (Fist of the North Star); just about anyone from Black Lagoon.
Black Lagoon. Madhouse. 2006.
# 5: Top 10 Couples
Love is beautiful, and confusing, and frustrating… but mostly, it just happens. We don’t all go out seeking these kinds of stories, but when a love story is good, even the coldest bastards get teary-eyed. I’m actually going to give my own opinions on this one: Eureka and Renton from Eureka Seven should be on everyone’s couples list. From what I remember, Renton kinda whines and fauns over Eureka until she falls for him, but that’s cool because then we’re all rooting for Renton at that point. It’s not like those terrible harem romances where the protagonist can be a pussy and still get all the girls. And at the end of the day, Eureka and Renton carved their initials on the moon, in massive lettering for crying out loud. When’s the last time your significant other did that for you? Never? I thought so.
Big Globe, which usually gets stupid poll results with these surveys, says Kirito and Asuna from Sword Art Online ranks #2 on their Top 10 Couples list. Man, whatever. You people are crazy.
What you can expect to see: Renton & Eureka (Eureka Seven); Kirito & Asuna (Sword Art Online); Tomoya and Nagisa (Clannad).
Eureka Seven. BONES. 2005.
#4: Top 10 Anime OPs and EDs
A catchy OP isn’t going to make or break a series for most people. If they’re ordinary, you just skip over them on your Netflix account or DVD and get to the show. But when they’re good, they’re really good. It’s a hit or miss kinda thing, you know?
The tricky thing is pulling off both a visually arresting opening/ending and an equally captivating theme song. They’ve gotta interact as if dancing a tango. For example (and don’t shoot me for saying this!), the opening song for Angel Beats is sublime, but other than watching Angel play the piano, the visuals are obligatory and boring (shows the main cast of characters doing nothing in particular) and cut to expected music beats. No risk taking, no artistic license. And come on, showing clips of the proceeding episode in the intro is so uninspired.
From what I’ve seen online, most people talk about the music in OPs and EDs: catchy music gets stuck in your head, it’s that simple. Still, having music and art come together nicely is a plus, and people don’t forget good intros. Do I even have to bring up Cowboy Bebop, whose intro is probably more popular than the anime itself?
What you can expect to see: “Tank!” by Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop).
Keanu Reeves in the role he was born to play, but never will.
Photo from http://thegamesofchance.blogspot.com/2010/09/keanu-reeves-to-play-spike-in-cowboy.html .
#3: Top 10 Gateway Series
Boo! This one’s ultra boring but sooo damn popular. It’s based on a huge misconception: once you show someone the right anime or manga, they’ll convert into an otaku. I feel like a lot of these lists cater to tame Western sensibilities, so Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Miyazaki will probably be up here. Better versions of these lists balance extremes: Bebop against Gurren Lagann, FMA against Spirited Away, Death Note against Ghost in the Shell. At their worst, gateway lists have Naruto and Bleach, the industry equivalent to opium.
Here’s the thing: some people walk through gates just to walk back out again. Some people don’t want to go through the gate at all. Thinking that finding the “perfect” introductory series is always possible is like trying to find the perfect religion for someone. Some people think religion is stupid and wouldn’t go near it. Some people get into it and get disillusioned. To be fair, it’s hard to hate someone who’s trying to help you improve your life. Instead…
Try building a list that caters to all sorts of people. And when you realize how futile that is, do something even better: make recommendations to people based on what you know about them personally. I guess I’m proposing nothing short of destroying the entire Top 10 Gateway system, but only because it’s so… inadequate.
What you can expect to see: Miyazaki stuff; Shonen Jump stuff; Shinichiro Watanabe stuff.
Naruto. Studio Pierrot. 2002.
# 2: Top 10 Worst Series
I don’t see enough lists like this, so putting it in a list of Top 10 Things Otaku Love to Make Top 10 Lists About is odd. But there’s no reason to NOT put it in. I mean, there’s a lot of blogger content dedicated to discussing really bad anime : ANN has its “Pile of Shame” articles; and OtakuUSA has “The Vault of Error”; and the infamous Flawfinder‘s always got something controversial to say. But it’s hard writing a list about complete garbage, because (1) nobody wants to remember sitting through some shitty manga or anime or book and saying, “My Lord, this was a serious piece of shit”; and (2) the proportion of shitty media compared to good media is so unfairly skewed. Some stories should never hit the light of day.
What you can expect to see: I dunno, man, there’s too many options here. I understand there’s people who say, “Erm, you can’t call things garbage because you don’t like them. That’s just, like, your opinion, man.” Well, fuck those people. Put whatever you couldn’t stomach onto this list, and if you send me those lists I promise to suffer through it just to show masochistic I can be. Just make it an anime list, I’d prefer that.
Duel Masters.Studio Hibari. 2002.
# 1: Top 10 Favorite/Best Series
People either call these lists “favorites” lists or “best” lists, depending on how confident they are in their assessments, and how many shows one has actually seen. In either case, these lists usually turn out alright (and boring) if we’re going with the safest picks. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood? Absurdly depressing but people seem to like it. Check! Cowboy Bebop? It’s arguably the most famous anime in the world, especially due to its Western appeal. Check! Evangelion? Doesn’t matter if you understood it or not; it’s legendary. Check! And so on, and so forth.
For people afraid of the Objectivity Police, Anime News Network and similar sites aggregate opinions gathered through star ratings and the like. Apparently ANN’s Best Rated Anime is Steins;Gate on both its bayesian and weighted estimates – I don’t know what “bayesian” or “weighted” averages are, but it doesn’t matter. All I know is that I should hurry up and watch Steins;Gate already…
My advice? Throw in as much ecchi onto your lists as you want, and watch the mayhem ensue.
What you can expect to see: Fullmetal Alchemist; Cowboy Bebop; Evangelion; Death Note.
Steins;Gate. White Fox. 2011.
That concludes the Top 10 List of Otaku Top 10 Lists. Feel free to reply with your positive and negative criticisms, I’d love to hear them and start a discussion. You’ve been a great audience. Happy Holidays, everyone!
- Nelson Rolon (AnimeGuardians).