Cody's Top 10 Anime - Part 1

The LAN Mob culture is pretty awesome, and it's always a pleasure to see what games/movies are trending and becoming popular. One of my favorite aspects of working is here is just being able to converse with people passing through about the latest movies, video games and of course...anime! Some of my favorite Lock-In shifts have involved discussing anime with some of the regulars, especially when My Hero Academia dropped and everyone loved it, which really opened the floodgates. Since then Anime is in constant discussion, and just recently a few regulars took one of my suggestions seriously and really loved the series. This led to a conversation in our Discord asking me what my top anime of all time were, which then led to me working on this post! Like any serious "Top X" post, I never really realized how difficult this would be until I got started, especially considering how good anime has been just the last few years or so. Actually sitting down and putting this list together was extremely difficult just do to the sheer amount of shows that I love, but this list is definitely my definitive...for now. However, besides the first anime on this list being my absolute favorite, the list is in no particular order because that would be impossible. So despite the "Top 10 Anime" memes, please check out part 1 of my top 10 anime of all time! 

Cowboy Bebop 

Cowboy Bebop is an episodic series following a group of bounty hunters in a futuristic western setting. There's an over-arcing narrative, but this same narrative is almost peripheral when you look at Bebop as a whole, instead of as multiple separate episodes. To put it simply, Bebop is about overcoming life, and the grief that life can bring. Anyone will tell you the primary and colorful cast of Cowboy Bebop is one of the strongest draws of the show, and I certainly agree, but why is that? Outside of their humorous and bad ass interactions, each character employs a level of stoicism, resignation and even selfishness when it comes to each other and the bounties they chase, which represent a narrative other than their own. However, most of these bounties are struggling with their pasts in the same way the crew of the Bebop are, and in many ways mirror the same existence, one forged completely of their pasts. The characters in Cowboy Bebop are unable to live with purpose in the present due to the misery they're living with on the daily due to their pasts, and it's a potent storytelling mechanism that I've never seen utilized so well. I feel like I need to stop myself before I end up discussing the finale, which is one of anime's finest in my opinion. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who has yet to experience it yet so if you haven't watched the series, just start it and I guarantee you will be hooked. The show's director, Shinichiro Watanabe, is nothing less than a legend in my eyes, and his examination of purpose in this difficult life (whether it be in the past, present or future, fictional or reality) is seriously top-notch. There isn't a single soul on this earth I wouldn't recommend Cowboy Bebop to, and that's pretty impressive considering how niche anime can be. (The Cowboy Bebop soundtrack is also frequently playing in the shop on my shifts!)

Soul Eater 

I think any anime buffs reading this list might be surprised to see Soul Eater among some of the other titles on this list. Honestly, Soul Eater's premise isn't particularly unique and it shares a plethora of similarities with other Shonen series . However, Soul Eater manages to be one of the funniest Shonen I've ever had the pleasure of watching, while still offering some of my favorite fight scenes of all time. It has a very unique atmosphere and style and I can't help but praise the show's ability to get you laughing out loud in one minute, and examining deep insanity and loneliness in the next. Zany visuals and a perfect soundtrack compliment both sides of the spectrum to help create something that transcends the initial mediocre plot into something genuinely unique and memorable.

Mob Psycho 100 

Mob Psycho is the second anime adaptation from the famous "One Punch Man" author, but seems to get much less recognition when compared to the wildy popular OPM. Mob Psycho follows the tale of a teenage boy named Mob, who is gifted with incredibly powerful psychic abilities. However, Mob simply wishes to live his life as normally as possible, despite getting wrapped up in all sorts of nonsense. If you're a fan of One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100 is an incredibly easy recommendation to make. Both series share many elements such as an overwhelmingly overpowered main character, likable secondary characters and offbeat comedic tones. However, Mob Psycho deserves so much more than simply being compared to One Punch Man, even though it gets fans of the latter to sit down and watch it. While the animation is incredible (animation studio Bones really shows off some of their best work here) the plot is fresh, unique and really stands apart from anything I've ever watched (even OPM). At the end of the day, the primary reason I love Mob Psycho 100 so much is simply because of how incredibly well written the main character is. Mob's struggle with his own emotional instability and how the show turns it into a major plot device is incredibly creative, and basically creates the most emotionally delicate and weak main character in anime history, yet somehow one of the most bad ass, endearing and relatable. As I mentioned, Mob Psycho 100 is an easy recommendation for fans of One Punch Man, but it certainly does not deserve to sit in its shadow.

BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad  

Despite how much I enjoy talking with everybody around the shop about the latest anime/past recommendations and mangas, there's certainly something missing from a majority of the discussions - the slice of life genre. Don't get me wrong, I love a good action/adventure story as much as the next person, but the more realistic side of things can make for an excellent story as well. Enter Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad, my favorite slice of life anime of all time. Beck is a story about a fourteen year old boy named Yukio "Koyuki" Tanaka who has no real goals or ambition and just floats through the day to day with a distinct lack of passion. To put things simply, through a series of events Koyuki meets a young boy named Ryusuke "Ray" Minami who helps him discover a deep passion for music and eventually they start a band called "Beck". Out of all the anime on the list Beck is probably the hardest for me to describe to anyone who hasn't seen/read it; especially since I'm aware that slice of life is hit or miss to begin with. I will say that the creators of the show had the unique and wildly difficult task of taking a manga about playing music and creating an anime, (which obviously has audio) and absolutely knocked it out of the damn park. Dub or sub; it's irrelevant, it's very well done. Koyuki's struggles are extremely relatable, not only because they are everyday life problems, but ultimately Beck is about struggling with balancing what one is passionate about and pursuing it with your entire being, which is extremely motivating. I'd like to say if you simply start watching Beck you'll get as enamored with the characters/music as I am, but you won't know until you try!     

Gurren Lagann 

Gurren Lagann absolutely has its issues, I definitely can't deny it. There are multiple instances of characters behaving distinctly out of character and the plot isn't particularly profound. Yet here Gurren Lagann sits - in a list of my top 10 anime of all time. If you decide to examine the series under a microscope and analyze every element I think many fans will be a bit disappointed, but the show's monumental strength is how silly, fun and for lack of a better word; dumb it is. Gurren Lagann is a mecha anime that follows the story of a young boy named Simon, his dear friend and "brother" Kamina, and a girl named Yoko as they battle against the tyrannical "Spiral King" who forces humanity to live underground. The plot is interesting enough to make you want to know what happens next, but Gainax's excellent animation and the sheer over the top fight scenes are what helped Guren Lagann earn itself a spot in my top 10. One of the very popular quotes of the series (there's a ton) is, "Kick logic and do the impossible! That's how Team Dai Gurren rolls!". Yes...yes it is.
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