Jul 202012

While I’d been an anime fan for roughly five years by the time 1999 rolled around, I saw none of the following series during the year of their release. Most of these series are ones I bought on DVD when they were released a year or two later in the States. I was probably buying episodes of Cowboy Bebop on VHS while these series were airing in Japan, so if I wanted to make a 1999 list from my own perspective it’d probably be Bebop and Those Who Hunt Elves or something like that.

That’s not how these lists work, so here’s the shit from that year that I didn’t even see that year but makes up my list of best series from that year. Yeah.

10. Ojamajo DoReMi

I haven’t seen a whole lot of this series. Just a few episodes here and there, and mostly unsubbed. It’s typical magical girl fare aimed at actual little girls, but it had a good amount of charm to it. It was more about the girls getting powers and doing stupid stuff rather than fighting monsters and saving the world, at least the few episodes I saw, and that’s pretty cool. It also has a kick-ass disco theme song, and that’s the main reason why it’s on this list. Seriously, it’s probably one of my top ten favorite anime theme songs.

9. Excel Saga

Excel Saga doesn’t always work. Hell, it kinda flounders most of the time, repeating jokes that weren’t all that funny initially. But every now and then it manages to turn out some brilliant shit. The episode where Menchi goes off on her own is bizarre, what with the character designs becoming more and more anthropomorphized as the episode progresses. And I gotta give it props for keeping things relatively fresh, since the topic of ridicule changes with every episode. The series also advocates eating your pets in times of duress. That’s an important strategy to know in these trying times. Excel Saga was quite the forward thinker.

8. Reign: The Conqueror

Can I defend my love for this series? Nope, don’t think so. It all stems from my irrational love for Aeon Flux. Reign has character designs by the guy who created Aeon Flux. That creates an association in my mind that keeps me from being able to see this series in any other light. I know people say it’s horrible. I don’t give a damn. I like its weird take on the Alexander the Great story. I love the creepy, absurdly thin character designs. But fuck it. I’m gonna be all defensive about this. I like Reign: The Conqueror.


7. Ruroni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen

This is the only part of the Kenshin storyline that I can tolerate. This shows us the part of his story that’s actually interesting. We see his past life as the cold-blooded murderer he so despises in the “present.” We see the mistakes he made that turned him into the whiny, obnoxious pacifist he is in the TV series. This is all of the cool stuff that Kenshin so despises and that the TV series does its best to avoid. This is what I wanted to see while toughing it out through the painful TV series. It’s some good samurai drama stuff. Maybe a bit too melodramatic in the wrong ways, but I can forgive it for everything else it does right.

6. Great Teacher Onizuka

Being a teacher doesn’t work this way. No. You can’t buck the system. The system bucks you back twofold. This is porn for those of us who are or have been in the education system. This is the way we wished we could deal with kids. This is the way we wished we could deal with administrators. You wanna give the system the proverbial and literal middle finger and do thinks the Great Teacher way. But you can’t. Your force of personality can’t trump bureaucratic red tape, petty teacher politics, and vengeful parents. Just like how you’ll never be able to sleep with that plastic surgery laden super model chick in that porn you watch, you’ll never be able to pull off the sort of artificial antics of Onizuka. That’s why Onizuka is awesome.

Nov 302009

Looking at my list, 2001 was a pretty good year for action anime. We don’t even get this many action series over the course of a single year anymore, much less this many good ones in addition to the other bad-to-mediocre ones that came out as well.

10. Noir

Yeah, more than half of this should could be edited out and you’d be left with the same exact show. For every awesome gun fight you had minutes upon minutes of still shots and repetitive dialogue that served less to explain anything and more to pad out the run time. Despite all the needless bits, Noir managed to be a pretty damn good action series. It may be a bit too self-serious (hence why it’s at the bottom of this list) and ponderous over topics that don’t really deserve the pondering, but it isn’t stupid. But those moments of action are pretty sublime. I especially dig how the two girls’ styles juxtapose one another. Kirika is your John Woo two-fisted type while Mireille is more along the lines of your stoic action hero from older movies. It’s no Black Lagoon, but Noir knows its action movies well.

9. Hellsing

The first half of this series is damn near perfect. Everything leading up to the Valentine Brothers’ attack on Hellsing’s base, and the attack itself, is perfect horror/action shit. It lays down the characters, makes their motivations clear, and places them in a situation where we actually give a damn about the outcome. And to make it all the more awesome, there’s a genuine threat presented by the Brothers. Sure, Alucard goes all Shoggoth on us and shows that he’s way more powerful than we imagined, but until that revelation there was genuine tension in that storyline. Then the next story arc began and everything kinda tanked. I don’t hate that African vampire stuff as much as some people, but it doesn’t quite do it for me like the first half. It’s still pretty watchable, but nowhere near as great as the first half. Had the series maintained that level of awesomeness, Hellsing’d likely be much higher on this list.

8. s-CRY-ed

What I love about this series is how, in a world where people have all sorts of crazy super powers and stuff, the main dude’s power boils down to “I punch stuff really, really, really hard.” He’s able to use that super-punching to do all sorts of stunts, like super-leaping by punching the ground, but it all comes back to hitting stuff with his fist. That’s, like, so damn elegant a power that it’s beautiful. The actual series is pretty standard action anime stuff, with conspiracies and battles and rivalries and stuff, but it works pretty good. It’s stuff like this and Tiger and Bunny that Sunrise should do more often. Fuck that Gundam shit.

7. Shiawase Apartment’s Okojo-san

I feel weird including this one on my list since I haven’t seen it all. It has yet to be fully subbed and it likely won’t be finished anytime soon. But screw it, I love this show. It’s a comedy about a dude who has a pet ferret thing. Said ferret is a badass. In the wild, he tamed bears and made them into his lackeys. Now that he’s living in a domestic setting, he uses his magnificent martial powers to rule over his apartment building. But no one notices but the ferret and his hamster buddy who lives next door. Yeah, it’s a basic “animals talking to each other like they’re humans and the humans are unaware of what’s going on” show, except instead of having a cutesy mascot it has a mean, nasty thing with a bad attitude who likes to boss people around as the lead. It’s hilarious stuff.

6. Read or Die

60’s James Bond spy stuff mixed in with X-Men-styled super powers. Yeah man, this shit is awesome. And the master plan of the villain involves creating a song that will kill all of humanity when it’s broadcast across the globe from the villain’s flying satellite base. Awesome. Totally awesome. Still not sure how we got from this sort of pure, perfect action stuff to that horrendous, banal TV sequel. That’s the sort of thing even God can’t comprehend.