Mike wonders aloud which anime would be a good fit for the prestigious Criterion Collection.
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|top tier series'▲▼||Rating▲▼||Comment▲▼|
|Air (TV)||Excellent||leave feedback here.|
|Aria - The Natural (TV)||Masterpiece|
|Aria the Animation (TV)||Masterpiece||
Beautiful, peaceful, serene.
Aria not only stays well away from traditional ideas of good and evil, but also proves that an anime can be magnificent without being themed in deep conflict, and that an anime series can be totally engaging without a central narrative thread. The world of Aria is perfect and without the struggles of many fears, but that is in no way a failing.
Aria is about living life and enjoying it, as much as we allow ourselves to - every day, in every action and event, great and small.
|Cowboy Bebop (TV)||Excellent|
|Fruits Basket (TV)||Excellent|
|Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (TV)||Masterpiece||
I once said that the Ghost in the Shell productions (films, series'), cannot truly be described via abstract means - they simply are expressions of themselves. I cannot begin to discuss in text the level of depth there is to Stand Alone Complex. So much is happening beneath the surface, and yet the surface itself - the narrative or story arc, is a brilliant one of its own right.
There is a subtlety in Stand Alone Complex that transcends its narrative - it is a series that regardless of how heavily themed it is around technology, is well and truly rooted in emotion, spirituality and humanity.
|Haibane Renmei (TV)||Masterpiece||
First above all anime excluding Honey and Clover, which I regard as its equal.
Haibane Renmei isn't the kind of anime I expect all viewers to identify with, both visually and contextually. Though it is extremely warm, I still think many of its nuances are as abstract as the other ABe's, Lain and Texhnolyze. The illusion is that there's less to Haibane Renmei simply because it isn't as aggressive as the other two - this simply isn't the case. Haibane Renmei explores so many human emotions and interractions so honestly in a way that I identify with quite strongly. It doesn't get weighed down in premise, justification or over-explanation. Haibane resolves the issues important and crucial to its philosophies, and leaves all other matters to the imagination of the viewer, to resolve or leave open as they see fit.
As for my responses in regards to my personal tastes, I find Haibane to be the most beautiful anime created, visually and contextually.
|His and Her Circumstances (TV)||Excellent|
|Honey and Clover (TV)||Masterpiece||
The first series to equal Haibane Renmei in its honesty and direct presentation of real emotions. As the two differ in the emotional territory they examine, I could not rank one higher than the other.
Honey and Clover is a series that perhaps younger audiences won't take to. It presents many ideas and situations that are rather unique to adulthood - not only the situations themselves, but the emotions that go with it. For me, Honey and Clover was so brutally honest about some things that it hurt - in a good way. The characters are very real, and so too are their responses.
Some viewers have stated their dislike for the apparent lack of resolve in many of the show's narrative-threads, but I feel that Honey and Clover adresses very accuractely exactly what it sets out to, and resolves those things most important to the presentation. Other issues simply do not need to be resolved, and others still resolve themselves off-screen per se, and do not need to be shown in the series.
As comedic as it is at times, I didn't find this to be destructive to the sincerity of the series at all. At all times I felt that it was beautifully and perfectly presented, and never disliked a single moment.
|Honey and Clover II (TV)||Masterpiece|
|Maria Watches Over Us (TV)||Excellent|
|Maria Watches Over Us Season 2: Printemps (TV)||Excellent|
|Ouran High School Host Club (TV)||Excellent|
|Paradise Kiss (TV)||Masterpiece||
Parakiss lifts me up so high, I can hardly describe it. It is such a wonderful emotional-drama that I identify with in so many ways, it's almost overwhelming. The characters are wonderful, especially the deeply developed main protagonists, and the art is simply stunning. Yukari has become one of my most precious characters, and so too has George. This series along with Hachikuro leads the josei genre and lifts it up to the elite level of the most symbolic seinen and the most articulate abstract presentations. As with Hachikuro, so often I saw so many of my own thoughts unfold before me; I was stunned and amazed.
In a single word, Paradise Kiss is beautiful.
|Serial Experiments Lain (TV)||Masterpiece||
Truly the crown of the abstracts, and perhaps the real pioneer. First of Yoshitoshi ABe's works, Lain sat at the very top of my most revered top-tier shortlist for a long time, and has only really been equalled by creations by the same (ABe) crew, Stand Alone Complex being one of the rare productions to join these. So many of Lain's abstract elements connected with me in such a deep and intimate way - truly I thought as I experienced it, finally someone speaks my language, my language of ideas and images, the way I see them or very close to.
As with Stand Alone Complex, Lain is almost not about technology at all, but totally about love and humanity.
|Tachikomatic Days (OAV)||Excellent||
Tachikoma Days, much like the core of Stand Alone Complex, has a lot of subtlety hidden beneath the surface. While Stand Alone Complex's blind, in a sense, might be said to be its story arc, Tachikoma Days' is its comedy. Not to say it isn't genuinely heart-warming and funny, but the Tachikomas cannot be divorced from the overall philosophies of Stand Alone Complex - both those overtly presented in the story-arc, and those represented through symbolism and other subtle means.
For me the Tachikoma Days are an integral part of Stand Alone Complex, and in themselves reveal much about love and emotion in the same way the main series does.
Texhnolyze sees Yoshitoshi ABe and Ueda return to the hardcore abstract form they pinoeered with Seriel Experiments: Lain. the first episode alone stands out as a masterpiece, containing merely two lines of dialogue. The rest is made up of cerebral noises and images that are truly beautiful for the abstract minded. At times an extremely violent anime, Texhnolyze is by no means for all audiences, nor are any of the abstracts.
Though the presentation remains abstract throughout, eventually more dialogue takes place as the episodes progress, slowly evolving into what appears to be a coherant narrative. The last movement however also stands as a brilliant abstract work, and gives a totally different context to the events of the opening and middle sections. Throughout the entire work, characters are always much more than they seem, with symbolism and representation prevalent everywhere. Like all of the top tier anime I love so much, Texhnolyze transcends traditional philosophies of good and evil and delves into realms of the human spirit much deeper. Also like many of the anime I love, at the final chapter, the anime truly is beautiful in all its elements - including the context of the violence. It's not the sort of thing i expect everyone to understand or identify with, but for me, Texhnolyze strikes me at my abstract core, and reaches me emotionally as much if not more than it does intellectually.
Note: After watching this series for the second time, I have ranked it equal to Haibane Renmei and Hachikuro at the top position.
|(The) Wallflower (TV)||Excellent|
|Windy Tales (TV)||Masterpiece||
Supervised by none other than Mamoru Oshii with a wonderful score by Kenji Kawaii, this is a remarkably unique work by Production I.G. The artstyle is rare and very different from standard art design, and I must say I absolutely loved it. Like Aria, Windy Tales is a peaceful and serene series that has many subtle sub-texts lying beneath its warm and gentle atmosphere. Many things are symbolic, and like Haibane Renmei, the themes though simple and simply portrayed still reach deeply into intimate emotions.
With a full cast of loveable characters, fantastic music and magnificent writing, the elements of Windy tales all come together to create one of the most heart-warming and immersive atmospheres ever in anime.