Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

09:10:32 pm , 978 words, 1888 views     Categories: Animation

Twenty

Philip asked me to put together a list. As usual with me, I wound up thinking myself into a corner by giving the question a lot more thought than rationally warranted, hounded by pedantic questions that I won't detail here. Suffice it to say that I decided to settle for a humble list of 20 anime TV episodes from the last few years that caught my eye for whatever reason, for the simple reason that anything less openly subjective would be too full of holes, and anything more stringent about quality would be a very short list indeed (besides which the notion of "quality" itself is subjective). Honestly, normally I wouldn't actively recommend most of the items on this list, so be aware of that. I had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to fill this list out. The list is in roughly descending order of preference. So don't kill yourself if you can't find the lower items.

   ▫ 1 ▫    Naruto 133

For Norio Matsumoto's animation of the action scenes. Norio Matsumoto is a prolific TV animator, but this episode has possibly the highest volume of his work. It's his summum opus of sorts.

   ▫ 2 ▫    Paranoia Agent 8

For Satoru Utsunomiya's work (director/storyboard/animation director). Possibly the only episode I've seen over the last few years that is crafted in such a way as to stand entirely on its own, as a solid unit, without the series that gave it birth. If the other episodes are good, this one is great, and stands apart from the others in most respects.

   ▫ 3 ▫    Soul Taker 1

For Akiyuki Shinbo's directing. Later episodes are watered down, so that this is the only episode that feels 100% Shinbo. Shinbo's first fully mature work.

   ▫ 4 ▫    RahXephon 15

For Mitsuo Iso's work (director/storyboard/animation director/animator). Again a classic example of a film that is completely at odds with the containing series. Measured pacing and detailed visuals, and moments of animated genius. Focus on the lush animation and coloring of the rocks.

   ▫ 5 ▫    Haibane Renmei 8

For the directing, animation, story and mood combined, which are all a cut above the other episodes. A fine film that stands well on its own and holds up to revisiting, which I do often. The emotions throughout this series are well handled and strike close to home, but particularly so in this very well-crafted episode.

   ▫ 6 ▫    Tweeny Witches 20

For Yasuhiro Aoki's work (director/storyboard/animation director). Interchangable with his other episodes. A promising new face on the block who emerged in this series with a bold, in-your-face style of storytelling.

   ▫ 7 ▫    Samurai Champloo 18

A representative example of the work of writer Dai Sato/director Sayo Yamamoto in this series.

   ▫ 8 ▫    Popolo Crois (2003) 6

For Kanada Yoshinori's work (storyboard). Harkens back to a style of animation that might have gone the way of the dinosaurs but for folks like Hiroyuki Imaishi, who's involved along with numerous other similarly-inclined animators.

   ▫ 9 ▫    Samurai Seven 7

For Hisashi Mori's delectable animation in the first half, boldly done entirely in his own personal style full of jagged lines and realistically-inspired movements. An exceedingly rare moment when an actual person could be seen beneath the veneer of the dominant anime design style.

   ▫ 10 ▫    Windy Tales 5

For the unique designs and overall artistic conception of the world, highly unrealistic and stylized in a way that blends curiously well with the otherwise very low-key slice-of-life stories that are told, of which this strangely moving, dreamy episode seems exemplary.

   ▫ 11 ▫    Earth Girl Arjuna 9

For Omori Takahiro's work (director/storyboard). A very powerfully directed episode, the subject matter of which was too much for the TV station; they refused to air it.

   ▫ 12 ▫    Kino's Travels 2

A representative example of this well-written series. I was taken by the treatment of the screen. Every shot is totally washed out, as if blinded by the whiteness of the snow, and this grows apace as the story approaches the climax, which is among the series' more affecting.

   ▫ 13 ▫    Planetes 11

A representative example of this series, which against the odds used the sci-fi genre to touch on a variety of topical issues in a somewhat intelligent, albeit melodramatic, way.

   ▫ 14 ▫    Beck 1

For Osamu Kobayashi's work (director/storyboard/writer). The hip, cosmopolitan Kobayashi's taste comes through well here as he makes comparative good of otherwise well-tried subject matter.

   ▫ 15 ▫    Gankutsuoh 6

For Takaaki Wada's work (director/animation director/animator). Working totally with the given design, Wada manages to invest more life=anima(tion) into these characters than anybody else, and his handling of the drama is comparatively convincing, especially for someone who has a long history as an animator and only a short one directing.

   ▫ 16 ▫    King Gainer 1

For no particular reason, though perhaps as a high-quality example of the robot genre, and of recent Yoshiyuki Tomino, with his huge cast of characters and breakneck pacing.

   ▫ 17 ▫    Abenobashi Maho Shotengai 3

For Hiroyuki Imaishi's work (director/storyboard/animation director).

   ▫ 18 ▫    Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu 18

For Yuichiro Sueyoshi's animation of Dama, a rare example of animation that feels like animation in TV anime.

   ▫ 19 ▫    Ojamajo Doremi Dokkan 40

For Mamoru Hosoda's directing, with its humanistic touch and consummate attention to detail.

   ▫ 20 ▫    Here and There, Now and Then 6

For Tadashi Hiramatsu's gritty directing.

Do yourself a favor and read a book instead.

Permalink

6 comments

Philip
Philip [Visitor]

true to form, ben - and: love the closing line!
it’s exactly the position of the rather genial author of the bizarre katamari damacy game, keita takahashi. after explaining recently that he intended his game as a tiny contribution to the betterment of the world (in that he hoped it would make people smile a little), when asked what he plans as a next step (after the major success of katamari) to better the world even further, he replied: maybe not write another game…
(i neither watch anime, nor do i play video games, but i’m very tempted to start dabbling…)

05/12/05 @ 00:22
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Thanks for the list… 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17, 19 are what I haven’t watched. I really should drag my ass to go watch Tweeny Witches. I’ve been meaning to watch Popolocrois, but I’m worried if I’ll be okay with the story and pacing, the director is quite…. well…

05/12/05 @ 02:20
Vahid
Vahid [Visitor]

Excellent list. Although I think you mean Kino episode 2, which is the snowy one. 3 is the apocalyptic prophecy one.

05/12/05 @ 18:22
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

Philip: A bit of dabbling is OK, though I do agree with Mr. Takahashi’s stance. Hopefully you’ll enjoy a few of these things.

RP: The first Popo series is actually watchable from what little I’ve seen, and it’s got some great work by Matsumoto at the beginning, but I had a look at the new one and it was pretty much unwatchable.

Vahid: That’s my next favorite ep, actually, but you’re right, I was working from memory and didn’t check an ep list.

05/12/05 @ 19:07
roo
roo [Visitor]

Hmm… checking against the ones I’ve got voteeps for, I seem to agree with you on the gank ep, which is about the best episode of anything I’ve seen in recent times, but disagree pretty completely on guu and abenobashi. Much prefered other eps of the the former, and about the only one of the latter I found at all amusing ep 8.

05/13/05 @ 10:44
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

I personally loved the Guu TV series ep 18, because it had some very interesting and really effective animation concerning Dama and her insane attacks on the doctor. The moving floor, the crazed chases… I remember really feeling high after that ep.

Yuichiro Sueyoshi was also in the OP of another one of Tsutomu Mizushima’s OVAs, Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan. But I don’t see anything special in the OP and I think it’s not worth watching for the animation in the least bit.

05/13/05 @ 23:19