5. Captain Harlock: Endless Odyssey
I bet this is tantamount to sacrilege, but this is the only Captain Harlock anime I need. I’ve seen some of the OVAs and movies, but after seeing this I no longer felt like I needed to see anything else. Everything I heard about Harlock seemed to be distilled down to this storyline. Harlock’s that prototypical stoic hero who seems to have a cutthroat mentality, but all of his actions come back to the greater good. On top of all of that, the series has one of the most terrifying villains I’ve ever seen in an anime. Harlock is literally fighting against the nanoseconds birthed out of the Big Bang. That hellish moment in time wants to return the universe to that state of being, where all of existence writhed in inconceivable agony. Scary shit, man.
4. Heat Guy J
I hated the first episode of this series when I first saw it at a con. I was a different sort of anime fan back then, so I doubt I’d feel that way if I saw that first episode for the first time today. But yeah, I dismissed this series initially. Then I came across the DVDs on the cheap and said “what the hell, I’ll give this thing another try.” Turns out the series is the sort of government conspiracy and crime drama stuff I really dig. It also does a really good job of creating its own distinct world with its own weird political stuff and history that’s only alluded to for flavor. And on top of all of that, the action’s pretty good too.
3. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
The first season’s the “weaker” of the two GitS TV series. While the concept of the Laughing Man is pretty awesome, that storyline doesn’t quite come together as well as 2nd Gig’s stuff. And the first season doesn’t have singing Tachikomas sacrificing themselves. Yeah. That’ll keep you from being the awesomer of the two. But I still stand my assertion that GitS is one of the best political thrillers/procedurals in modern fictional history. The TV series might not hit the same philosophical buttons as the two movies, but it’s damn good stuff.
2. Azumanga Daioh
Azumanga Daioh is the Tower of Babel of the “cute girls doing cute shit” genre. During ancient times in the animeverse, we were united under the nigh perfection of Daioh’s combination of cuteness, comedic timing, and mean-spiritedness. Daioh’s comedic language allowed us to directly communicate with the anime gods, and times were great. But something happened. The anime gods struck us down, smashing the perfection that was Daioh and fragmenting it into the scattered landscape that is modern anime. Some fans only want to see cute girls and care not for humor and other things. Other fans refuse to have anything to do with such tastes. We are a people divided, but at one time we were united under the brilliant guidance of Chiyo’s Dad and his ilk. One day we will rebuild that tower and touch the anime gods once again. One day.
1. Tamala 2010 : A Punk Cat in Space
If you talk to my real life friends, they’ll tell you that if I’m overly excited about a movie, it’s probably some sort of trippy mindfuck thing that defies traditional rational thought and cohesive, linear narratives. When I come over with a DVD or whatever and insist that we watch it, they get scared. They might end up enjoying whatever it is I’m forcing upon them, but they’ll always feel dirty for watching something by the likes of Takashi Miike or Alejandro Jodorowsky or whatever. Tamala’s right up there in that tradition. In fact, it’s probably the closest I’ve seen an anime come to that sort of experience I love. It’s a fucking strike.