I’ve been following the “March madness” at Derailed by Darry. It’s depressing; it demonstrates yet again that popular taste is a lousy guide to quality. In search of further bad news, I took a close look at the list of the “Top 50 best rated” animes at ANN. ((There are two different lists of the “best,” each calculated differently, but both essentially the same. This one is the “bayesian estimate.”)) Here it is, with my comments:
1 Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal (OAV) — Sitting on my shelf, unwatched. I’ll get around to it eventually.
2 Death Note (TV) — Two episodes viewed. Promising; I’ll watch the rest when it’s all out in a boxed set.
3 Cowboy Bebop (TV) — Six episodes viewed (there’s more on the shelf, but I haven’t bothered to watch it). Overrated; Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack is the best part of the show.
4 Spirited Away (movie) — On my shelf.
5 Mushi-Shi (TV) — On my “buy” list.
6 The Girl Who Leapt through Time (movie) — The best Studio Ghibli movie in years, except it’s not from Studio Ghibli. On my “buy” list.
7 Princess Mononoke (movie) — On my shelf.
8 Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann (TV) — Two episodes viewed. Waiting for the boxed set.
9 Nodame Cantabile (TV) — Four episodes, and I lost patience with the all the flakes.
10 The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (TV) — Overrated; I’ll wait for the boxed set, on sale.
11 Fullmetal Alchemist (TV) — I might investigate this someday.
12 Monster (TV) — Another I might investigate.
13 Kanon (TV 2/2006) — Four episodes viewed. Not what I like.
14 5 Centimeters Per Second (movie) — On my “buy” list.
15 Honey and Clover II (TV) — Not interested.
16 Grave of the Fireflies (movie) — I suppose I ought to see this someday, but I’m in no hurry.
17 Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (TV) — Two episodes viewed. One of the “best”? Yeah, right. Ubu may have something to say about that.
18 ef – a tale of memories (TV) — The first episode did not impress me, but I suppose I ought to give it another chance.
19 Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (movie) — On my shelf.
20 Baccano! (TV) — On my “buy” list if it’s licensed.
21 Clannad (TV) — Not interested.
22 Honey and Clover (TV) — I got fed up with Takemoto about two-thirds the way through.
23 Kino’s Journey (TV) — On my shelf. A good series to show to people who think they don’t like anime.
24 Whisper of the Heart (movie) — On my shelf.
25 Ouran High School Host Club (TV) — I ought to loathe this — high school setting, pointy chins, a [reverse] harem, rich vs. poor, cross-dressing, etc. — but it’s the best series of 2006. On my “buy” list.
26 Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (TV) — I’m mildly curious.
27 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG (TV) — Maybe someday. Maybe not.
28 Fighting Spirit (TV) — It’s supposed to be outstanding, but it doesn’t sound like anything I’d like.
29 My Neighbor Totoro (movie) — I gave my copy to my nephews and niece. I might get another for myself someday.
30 Denno Coil (TV) — Gee, I kinda like this one. On my “buy” list when it’s licensed.
31 Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit (TV) — I kinda like this one, too. On my “buy” list if it’s licensed (again).
32 Planetes (TV) — On my “buy” list.
33 Millennium Actress (movie) — On loan to a friend. A better introduction to Satoshi Kon than Paprika.
34 Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai (TV) — Hell no.
35 Haibane Renmei (TV) — This should be 34 places higher. On my shelf.
36 Great Teacher Onizuka (TV) — I’m mildly curious.
37 Mononoke (TV) — Highly stylized; an anime unlike other anime. On my “buy” list if it’s licensed.
38 Legend of the Galactic Heroes (OAV) — I suppose I ought to watch this, but 110 episodes? Never mind.
39 The Twelve Kingdoms (TV) — On my “buy” list.
40 Comedy (OAV) — Hard to find. It looks atypically dreary for a Studio 4°C show.
41 Evangelion: 1.0 You Are [Not] Alone (movie) — Not even slightly interested.
42 Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid (TV) — Not interested.
43 Howl’s Moving Castle (movie) — Hayao Miyazaki’s worst movie. Not on my “buy” list.
44 Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu (TV) — Not interested.
45 Castle in the Sky (movie) — Miyazaki’s done better.
46 Tsubasa Tokyo Revelations (OAV) — I might listen to the Yuki Kajiura soundtrack sometime; otherwise, no thanks.
47 Hunter X Hunter (TV) — and
48 Hunter X Hunter (OAV) — I might investigate these someday.
49 Cowboy Bebop: The Movie — Better than the series, but still a title to rent, not buy.
50 Touch (TV) — Not interested.
The most interesting feature of this list is what’s missing. It omits at least half of the shows I consider first-rate. Serial Experiments Lain, Cardcaptor Sakura, Noir, Crest/Banner of the Stars, Paranoia Agent, Sugar, a Tiny Snow Fairy, Porco Rosso and Shingu are all absent. It’s also heavily biased towards recent shows. Six of the first ten are from the last three years. Which of those six will still be there in 2011?
It’s not entirely worthless as a guide to what’s worth watching. Most of the titles I’m familiar with are at least watchable, and the list does include many of the best. Still, this is not a much better way of determing the best than the voting at Jason’s.
Update: Here’s a look at the list by someone whose taste is quite different than mine.