5. The Legend of Black Heaven
The only thing keeping Black Heaven from being one of my all-time favorites (opposed to just being really, really good) is the music. Late 70s/early 80s arena rock? Eww. Eww. No. No. If only Ouji was, like, ten years older or something and he was some grunge dude or something, or if he was into punk or new wave or something more time-appropriate. But yeah, he has crappy taste in music and I have trouble accepting that it’s that music which saves the universe. Despite that harsh bias, I really like this series. I can relate to this series. Relating to anime is, like, a foreign concept for me, so looking at some dude and being able to say “Yeah, I feel you, man” is nothing short of miraculous. That working dude funk sucks, and when it comes to this sort of wish-fulfillment thing I wanna see it go all-out. Don’t just have some mundane dreams come true, go full-tilt and have that dude save the world. Small victories and realistic shit doesn’t hit those buttons for me (I’m looking at you, Space Brothers). Go over the top.
4. The Big O
The first season’s the better of the two. That second season’s still pretty cool and all, but it veers off into an esoteric mindfuck direction that didn’t quite work for me. Being someone who usually likes that sort of stuff, that’s saying a lot. Just didn’t quite vibe with everything else going on in the series. But when Big O is going full-on Diniverse Batman merged with Dark City noir topped off with awesomely clunky super robot shit, it’s pretty sublime. It’s pulp schlock with just enough intelligence teeming below the surface to keep it from being complete fluff, not unlike some of my favorites such as Cobra or Cowboy Bebop.
3. Magic User’s Club!
Moreso than Tenchi, Magic User’s Club feels like the prototype for a lot of the trends in modern anime. You have the school club. You have the love dodecahedron. You have the quirky twist that makes it slightly different from the herd. It’s everything that Haruhi and Shana and whatever else perpetuates as the anime norm, but it came about in the late 90s. What Magic User’s Club has going for it that most of its successors don’t is genuine charm and wit. It isn’t about checking off the otaku list and making sure it’s completed by the time episode 13 rolls around. Magic User’s Club actually plays off of its own thing for the most part (Although it gets plenty of “oh yeah, that’s familiar” moments as well, just like any other anime.). It’s the only “high school club” anime you need.
2. Nekojiru Gekijou
This is the TV version of Cat Soup. This is the one where the cat brother and sister make friends with a pig only to take joy in watching their father butcher him and eat the resulting pork cutlets. This is pure sociopathic joy, and it’s up there with Popee and Kogepan as far as anime shorts go.
1. Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Adolescence of Utena
Utena Car. Yeah.