20 essential series

Essential: Haibane Renmei
Essential: Haibane Renmei

Joe Carter posted his selection of “20 essential animated television series.” It’s a quirky and eccentric list (Rocky and Bullwinkle is only #20 (and is “completely unwatchable”), while The Flintstones is #2? Nonsense), but its main failing is that it only includes American shows. Naturally, I had to compile my own quirky and eccentric list of 20 essential anime series. Note that “essential” does not mean “historically or culturally significant.” Sailor Moon, for instance, is of great interest as a cultural phenomenon and for its influence on later anime; but, the show itself is not exactly a great work of art, and I don’t recommend it unless you have a serious interest in the history of anime, or in long legs and short skirts.

The following series I can recommend to anyone interested in animation, television, inspiration and craftsmanship.

20. Azumanga Daioh ((Included because of Osaka, Chiyo, Yomi and Sakaki. (I can hear Astro shouting “Yukari!” off in the distance.) In last place because of Kimura.))
19. Animal Yokocho
18. Mononoke ((Or at least the “Bakeneko” arc of Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales.))
17. Princess Tutu
16. Jubei-chan: Secret of the Lovely Eye Patch
15. Divergence Eve ((Including Misaki Chronicles.))
14. Paranoia Agent
13. Petite Princess Yucie
12. Noir
11. Kaiba
10. Kino’s Journey
9. Sugar, a Tiny Snow Fairy
8. Oh! Edo Rocket
7. Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex
6. Crest/Banner of the Stars
5. Shingu
4. Cardcaptor Sakura
3. Dennou Coil
2. Serial Experiments Lain
1. Haibane Renmei

This list is somewhat tentative. I still haven’t seen much of Gurren-Lagann yet, or any of Dragonball, and there are probably some classic series that I’ve missed or don’t properly appreciate. ((The omission of Evangelion is deliberate.)) There are also cases to be made that Moribito, Nadesico, Slayers or Utena are as essential as others on the list, and that there should be something to represent Rumiko Takahashi. Nevertheless, I think my quirky and eccentric list is as at least as solid as Carter’s.

Optional: Sailor Moon
Optional: Sailor Moon

One thought on “20 essential series”

  1. Sailor Moon was my introduction to anime. It’s the sort of thing that… if you’ve never seen anime before, or you don’t know what it is, it might be fascinating. It’s also old now, and it’s like what Bubblegum Crisis is to cyberpunk: awesome to the people who first watched it, ancient to those of the modern era.

    I went through a long gap between my introduction to anime and when I was able to watch more seriously so sadly, a lot of the titles on this list are things I have not seen. Which just makes the list more interesting/ useful/ tempting.

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