It’s hard to balance between delusional glorification of fandom and mocking it like an asshole. Creating a story that celebrates fandom while being fully capable of laughing with and at it in equal amounts is a pretty damn impressive feat. That’s what Genshiken pulls off. And it doesn’t hurt that I totally empathize with Sasahara and his otaku “plight.” That said, the main thing that makes Genshiken totally awesome is Saki. We get to see otakudom through her eyes and we get to see how she reacts, evolves, and resists fandom. Awesome stuff.
29. The Tatami Galaxy
Slice of life by means of quantum physics. I think the main thing that makes me love the series is the fact that, despite all of the foreshadowing we see in the series, it doesn’t boil down to “find true love.” Yeah, part of the main dude’s revelation is to finally put his foot down and ask out Akashi, but the primary trigger that frees him from his Groundhog Purgatory is the realization that he needs to love his own life and the choices he makes. That and the fact that the person who acts as a focal point for that isn’t the girl but his best friend. “Love conquers all” is fine and all, but it’s nice to see a series that skirts away from that and takes on things from a different angle.
28: Dirty Pair
Dirty Pair is a bit like my all-time favorite: Space Adventure Cobra. They’re both made of the sort of space opera stuff that’s native to the late 70s and early 80s. It’s that future where everyone wears latex body suits and hotpants. It’s all about laser guns and wanton destruction in a future that’ll never be. It’s all planet hopping and planet decimating. It’s the sort of shit you get when someone looks at Star Wars and says “I can do better than that. Watch!” The only thing going against Dirty Pair is its lack of any real coherent narrative. It doesn’t need one, but it doesn’t hurt to let things brew over a few episodes rather than resolving everything all nice and neat at the end of the episode as the Dirty Pair blows up all guilty parties and several non-guilty bystanders.
27. Giant Robo
This is how you do an OAV series. The first episode tosses us into the middle of the action. It forces us to put the pieces together as the series progresses, rarely taking the time to pause and explain the goings on. Giant Robo made the most of its limited time, and in doing so told a story more sprawling, emotional, and engaging than most TV series with several times more episodes. Less is more. It’s not unlike California Crisis earlier on this list, except it has a certain “it” factor to it. I think it comes down to the way each character seems to have their own elaborate backstory that’s barely eluded to. It gives everything a far bigger scope than seems to at first glance, making the whole thing downright operatic. Probably the best “classic” mecha series of all time.
26. Cat Soup
While something like Detroit Metal City may be vulgar and indecent, it’s still kinda good-natured in the end. Krauser doesn’t wanna really rape you, he’s just using rape as a means to break artificial societal boundaries and mock polite society. Cat Soup? It’s downright evil. The main character, two kittens, basically represent what a cat would be like if it was given human intelligence. They retain all of the playful malice and amorality of a cat, but they’re able to articulate their feelings. They’re no longer animals simply doing what nature tells them to do. They’re intelligent children who just don’t give a fuck and will let you die if it means they’ll get a giggle out of it. And I get a giggle out of watching them watch you die. Cat Soup is downright sinister, and it’s beautiful for that.