Rhete's Top 10 16 Cartoons of All-Time
by Rhete

So when I started to plan out my top cartoons list, it seemed natural that I would end up with a list completely full of anime. I mean, that's pretty much all I've watched for the last... decade. Polly however, was not please by this, and insisted that I shouldn't just automatically limit myself to anime, and that of course there are western things I liked as well. After thinking it through, hey, I do! But they're still not in my top 10, sorry! But just to appease the Polly...

Top 3 western animations

#3 - Invader Zim

Wait did I say appease the Polly or enrage, I forget...

Invader Zim taught me an important lesson. It's ok to like something even if it's popular. I could care less about the hot topic meme-spouting fanbase, but I'm a huge sucker for sci-fi stuff and still love the show itself. It's really a shame it got canceled, I was quite looking forward to it moving to outer space and having Dib take down the Irken empire.

#2 - South Park

While it's certainly changed a lot over the 14 years it's been on, South Park holds the distinction of being the only show I still watch on TV, and it still manages to be funny and relevant after all this time.

#1 - The Simpsons

Obligatory first 7 seasons only comment here. When the show started I was Lisa's age, 8 years old and in second grade. I haven't watched in 11 years and it kind of blows my mind that it's still on, but the early seasons were so perfect and so childhood defining that it demands a mention.

So there you go! I'm sure other people will cover those shows much better than I can, along with making lots of "Early seasons of The Simpsons only" comments.

So then, onto my top 10 list... is what I would say, but my list ended up being thirteen long, and dammit, it's supposed to be a top 10 list! So here's my little compromise:

Top 3 awesome as hell anime that D-Mac needs to watch already

You read that right. I've tried to get him to watch these and he won't. So I'm calling you out in public! D-Mac, you need to watch these shows dammit! They were inches away from making it on my top 10 of all time list, and they even have good English dubs! Come on already!


#3 - Cowboy Bebop

When Adult Swim launched in 2001, with Cowboy Bebop as one of their debut shows, I was pretty damn excited. I'd heard of the show and seen the unique looking DVD cases, but never picked it up. As far as best anime lists goes, yeah, this one is pretty darn predictable, but there's a damn good reason for that, it's just an amazing show. A mix of the best of the west and east, an eclectic show that can have cowboy shootouts one minute then spaceship battles the next. I've really yet to see a show do episodic story telling better than this one. Every episode is completely unique, and totally awesome. Oh and the English dub is fantastic as well.

#2 - Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

I love over the top stuff, and this is pretty much the most ridiculous over the top show I've ever seen. What starts out as a show about a small group of people living underground ends with robots the size of the universe throwing galaxies at each other. And somehow, the whole progression from A to B never feels too jarring. Great animation and music, fantastic characters, and insanely quotable in a dorky way, Gurren Lagann is a total winner all around. It's sorta like they made a non-awful version of Eureka Seven!

#1 - Baccano!

"Baccano! reminds you of why you started watching anime in the first place."

Between that quote and Polly's awesome writeup where she called it the best anime of the last decade, a sentiment I certainly don't disagree with, I'm actually at a loss for what to say about the show myself. It's just... really really really damn good! It genuinely felt like my list would be invalid if I didn't mention Baccano on it, so I would say that's some pretty high praise.

Each episode ends with the words "What's next on Baccano!" appearing on screen, and in a way that's the perfect description of the series. Baccano follows several plot lines at once, so each individual episode doesn't make a whole lot of progress, but always manages to end of a big cliffhanger, leaving one shouting, "I have to see what happens next!", desperate for the next nugget of info, and popping in the next episode. It's the ultimate addiction, and when it all comes together in the finale, there is nothing better.

Ok, now that we're six shows in... time for my actual top 10 list! My main determining factor for this was to go for more personal favorites, rather than straight out technical achivements, like the three shows above. These 10 are more personal to me, either through emotional content, or just plain old fashioned nostalgia bias.

Rhete's Top 10

#10 - Hidamari Sketch

I'm going to be totally honest, I'm not sure how I ended up watching this show. Polly and I just decided to watch it, but I really don't remember who first suggested it, or why. And truth be told, after the first few episodes, I wasn't very impressed. Granted in the pre K-On era, a show being "cute girls doing cute things" didn't mean it automatically would suck, but it certainly wasn't exactly what I was looking for at the time. I came pretty close to giving up on the show, but kept on for some reason, and then came what seems to be a common turning point for a lot of people, Episode 5, where Yuno gets sick. (Did I mention this show is not exactly high on plot?) Something about this episode just made the entire thing click for me. Hidamari isn't a show where you wait for anything to happen, it's a show where you just hang out and watch some friends go about their daily lives. It's cute, it's funny, and sometimes, that's actually enough.

But while working on this list, I was actually a bit torn on what my #10 show should be. I had several candidates, but I thought of something that made me decide on Hidamari. I've only been to one anime convention, which was last year, and for some reason my number one objective was to find some Hidamari Sketch swag. I failed, but thinking back on that made me realize just what a big fan of this stupid show about girls I am. Once you get hooked in and learn to love the characters, it's just a wonderful little slice of life that can't help but make you smile.

I'm eagerly awaiting news of a fourth season. Come on Japan make it happen!

#9 - Sora no Woto

A lot of people compare this show to K-On because the characters look similar. STOP DOING THAT! While yes, Sora no Woto is guilty of looking like another "cute girls doing cute things" show, (and actually being one for a good portion) it's so much more that. It's really more of a military version of Haibane Renmei, a slice of life show set in a fictional and mysterious setting. The true beauty of the show lies in the slow reveal of the world surrounding the characters, and how they chose to live their life given the circumstances. The main cast all start off as seemingly intentionally generic anime stereotypes, but as the show progresses, their personalities make total sense as you learn their history, and everyone goes through a nice amount of development for such a short show.

While the TV ending of the show was already perfectly satisfying, the show went up a few extra points for the DVD bonus episode released a few months later. (Which by the way, is included on the English release, hint hint!) The new ending was so beautiful and uplifting, a perfect summation of what the show was trying to say the whole time but was never quite able to, for me it raised the whole thing from a good show to a great one, something special that only comes along once in a while.

It's too bad it looks like K-On.

#8 - Elfen Lied

I blame this show for everything. It's 2005 and I don't really watch anime anymore, just whatever airs on Adult Swim or the rare theatrical movie. Then I stumbled upon this show, and the whole world of "Holy Crap, there's anime on the INTERNET?" and things were never the same afterwards. Elfen Lied is one of those perfect anime gateway drugs, or in my case, you thought you left and then they pull you back in.

A throwback to OVAs of the 80s and early 90s, Elfen Lied is absurdly violent, has a lot of nudity, and overall, is pretty darn stupid to be honest. The first six minutes still remain one of the most memorable scenes the format has ever produced, featuring the main female character wearing nothing but a helmet that covers her face, while violently dismembering a huge number of security guards. Limbs are torn, people are decapitated, beating hearts are ripped out of bodies, seriously, they literally don't make stuff like this anymore. And this is just in the opening scene of the show.

But beyond the extremely over the top shock value, and bizarre fanservice, there is actually a good story here, focusing on Lucy's clumsy attempts at revenge, and later on, redemption. Unfortunately the episode that really tied the whole story together for me, was a DVD bonus episode in Japan, and not incuded in the English release. Can't win em all I guess.

#7 - Paranoia Agent

It was a random summer night in 2005 when I turned on Adult Swim and happened to catch episode 3 of Paranoia Agent. It was my first introduction to the world of legendary director Satoshi Kon, and was immediately hooked in. While I've since seen all his works, Paranoia Agent still holds a special place as my favorite. It's one of the very few shows I would be sure to tune in to every week to find out what happened next, and was never disappointed. By the end of the run, I was actually watching all three airings, twice on Saturday then again the following Thursday. Along with FLCL which aired right afterwards, Saturday night was for a short time "mindfuck night", and it was awesome.

#6 - Puella Magi Madoka Magica

This is my second attempt at trying to write about this show. The first one turned into a basic review of the show, which isn't what I want my list to be about, it's supposed to just be my reasons for liking a show. So hey, either you know about this show or you don't, thems the breaks I guess!

So why do I like this show? Because it makes me cry like a little girl. Not even a little bit, like, the near entirely of the show. Spoiler alert, this isn't your normal fluffy magical girl show. It's dark, depressing, and absolutely beautiful in its madness. To be perfectly honest it might actually be my new favorite of all time, but because it's such a recent show I'm playing it safe and placing it here. I've watched it twice already, and I'm honestly holding myself back from watching it a third time simply because I have so many other shows to watch first, but I'm sure it'll get several more spins in the future.

#5 - Mind Game

This movie is directed by another one of my favorites, Masaaki Yuasa. I first became aware of him with the incredibly weird Kemonozume, and then again noticed his very obvious influence in Kaiba. (These shows btw, should be on Polly's license wishlist, but aren't for some silly reason.) In 2010 he directed what would be his most popular work yet, The Tatami Galaxy. At this point I figured I loved everything he had directed so far, I may as well complete the set with Mind Game.

So I went in knowing nothing other than the director and title, Mind Game, and sure enough, my mind was completely blown. This movie is just... wow... it's certainly not for everyone, but for me, it's probably the best movie ever. It's just such a crazy explosion of bizarre animation, style, and a beautiful celebration of life. I highly, HIGHLY advise everyone to check this one out, just go in with an open mind.

#4 - Fullmetal Alchemist

FMA is a book I judged by its cover at first, and I'm really glad I gave this one a chance. I initially thought this was another young boys fighting show, and didn't really have any interest in in. I did catch a few episodes here and there on Adult Swim, but it never quite clicked for me, since I was just catching bits and pieces and couldn't follow the story that much. Eventually though, I happened to catch one episode that blew me away, and made me decide to give the show a chance. The boys were now in the desert, and fighting against some guy named Father Cornello. I figured oh this must be a season three episode, given the change of setting. Imagine my surprise when I looked online and found out that it was actually the first episode of the series, which briefly starts in the middle of the story before going back to the start. I kept watching from there on, and was hooked pretty early on. "Oh, you mean Al's NOT a robot?"

While I do enjoy the first half of this show, it's a great big adventure that is rarely seen in anime anymore, the real reason why I love the show would have to be the last 20 or so episodes where it quietly diverges from the original manga and begins to do it's own thing. While a lot of people dislike the ending simply because it's not true to the manga, I found it remarkably touching and powerful.

And then several years later, the remake, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, turned out to be everything I had blindly assumed the first series to be.

#3 - End of Evangelion

I realized something odd not that long ago. That the original Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series was probably the first anime TV series I ever saw. I mean, I can't really blame myself, most anime released early on were either movies or short OVA series, it's a lot easier to collect something when it's only one or two tapes. None of that crap for Neon Genesis Evangelion though, the 26 episode TV series was released in a ridiculous 13 volumes, with only 2 episodes each per tape. Seriously would it have killed them to try and fit 3 or even 4 on there?

But despite the insane size, Evangelion was the first TV series I saw, due to the crazy amount of "best show ever!" hype behind it, I made it a point to rent the whole thing from the video store. (And then used a second VCR to copy the tapes, ahh the days of ghetto piracy.) However in hindsight I'm sure the whole effect of the show was entirely lost on me, I'd only seen a few random OVAs and movies at that point, let along ever see any mecha anime. Any sort of parody or genre deconstruction went right over my head. Don't get me wrong I liked the show, but I think I may have to rewatch it sometime to really understand it.

It was a few years later (late 1999 I think) when a friend of mine bought a fansubbed copy of the legendary movie, End of Evangelion, and lent it to me. It was probably some third generation tape that had been copied from copies of copies, and I was quick to make my own fourth generation copy. The image quality was not exactly the best, being perfectly honest I didn't realize that Asuka had nipples until recently. That's how washed out some of the picture was. But the movie itself, my god, it completely blew away all my expectations. Like I said I wasn't a HUGE fan of the series, but I must've watched the movie 10 times in a very short amount of time. What can I say, I was 17, and to me this movie was deeper than the Marina Trench. It became like my own little religion as I rewatched and over-analyzed the movie over and over while listening to this.

#2 - Tenchi Muyo

Despite eventually watching this on Cartoon Network, that wasn't actually what introduced me to the Tenchi series. I was aware of Tenchi Muyo many years earlier, when the local video store got Tenchi Muyo volume 1 on VHS, which contained a whole one episode. Man, those sure were the days huh? They never got volume 2, and I was stuck waiting like... seven years to see the rest. I did manage to see the first movie though, which was pretty good, even if I had no idea who the hell all the characters were.

So Cartoon Network airing the entire series was quite appreciated. Not only did they air the entire original OVA series, but Tenchi Universe and Tenchi in Tokyo as well. Five days a week of Tenchi action, they totally blazed through the series at a ridiculous pace. Truly a glorious summer.

As for the show itself, it comes from a rare era where being a harem show didn't automatically something would suck horribly. Yes there are lots of girls who are for no reason in love with Tenchi, but it also has spaceship battles, cool villains, and lightsaber fights! It struck a good balance between action, story, and comedy so that the harem elements were never overpowering. I'm a sucker for adventure series with long journeys like Fullmetal Alchemist so the second half of Tenchi Universe being a journey across the space itself? That's MY fetish!

#1 - Higurashi No Naku Kori Ni

If there is one thing I truly regret, it's that I'll never be able to erase this show from my memory, and experience it again for the first time.

Spring 2006, I was on a certain anime image board, and one night saw a lot of people talking about this show, in a very confused manner. "What the hell just happened?", "Is everyone dead?". That's one way to get me interested in a show I guess. Along with very confused comments, one image stood out.

Love at first sight

"I don't know what the hell this show is, but I have to watch it" I said to myself, and immediately watched the handful of episodes that were currently out.

Thus began what I can only describe as absolute and total addiction. Several months of watching, theorizing, and reading other peoples theories as we all tried to figure out what the hell was going on. Certain shows like this just aren't the same if you marathon through them, half the fun is going insane trying to predict and make theories as to what's going to happen next, and doing it with friends at the same time. The addiction got so fierce that for one episode Polly and I tried to watch the show raw without subtitles... that didn't exactly work out, we had no idea what was going on.

Even after the first season ended, the addiction continued, as we anxiously awaited news of a second season to finish the story, and some fans even attempted to just translate the original novels directly. Two years of the biggest "I HAVE TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT" ever, and a second season finally aired, followed later by an OVA series to completely finish the series once and for all.

To me Higurashi is like the perfect package, it has everything that I like all in one place. Violence, horror, psychological drama, mystery, and cute girls. The first season even has some aliens at the end! The joy of watching it all play out will not soon be forgotten, and I really wish I could go back and relive it again. Higurashi will probably stay as my favorite of all time forever.

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