As I made it clear earlier, I might not continue blogging come this site’s next renewal date. But if I do, there are plenty of series I’d love to get a chance to write about, and honestly, if I could cover half of these along with Samurai Jack, Wolf’s Rain, and Steven Universe, I’d be satisfied.
Before I begin the list proper, I feel the need to specify I’m referring to episodic reviews in the same vein to my Steven Universe, Samurai Jack, or Wolf’s Rain reviews, the honorable mention I’m about to throw out may still be covered in some fashion, rather it be a top ten list or an essay. That honorable mention is of course, Hunter x Hunter. You probably couldn’t tell just by looking at the site but Hunter x Hunter is actually my favorite show, ever. Most of that is due to the Chimera Ant arc, which I’ve cited on numerous different platforms as my favorite story ever told (that I’ve seen). And I could lavish the series with love for hours, and especially during Chimera Ant each episode contains enough information that would make unpacking incredibly satisfying. However, it’s the honorable mention because quite frankly, it’s been talked about to death. Granted, there’ll be several series on here that have been talked in length, and Steven Universe is, but here, I don’t know what I could add to the discussion. The whole reason this site exists is because none of the reviews I read expressed why I thought “Gem Drill” was such a phenomenal episode but with Hunter x Hunter? There are numerous beautiful articulations on why that series is so grand, especially with Chimera Ant. Nick Creamer from Wrong Every Time has an excellent essay on the arc, Guardian Enzo from lostinanime covered episode of the arc which was an absolute blast to read, and over on MAL you had MrAM providing a lot of insightful analysis in each episode discussion thread once Chimera Ant really started going. It’s hard to imagine I’d be doing anything besides parroting those three, so for now, it’ll get an honorable mentioned because I love it, but I have no aspirations to blog it. As for the ten series I do want to cover . . .
See, when I said I “hope to cover”, I meant that in quite a few ways. In this instance, I’m hoping that the series gets made. Anyone who’s a JoJo fanboy knows the current agony we’re going through, as Part Five still hasn’t been announced as happening (though I suspect we’ll get that confirmation eventually), and for those not in the know, Steel Ball Run is Part Seven, and there’s good reason to believe they may opt out after Part Six. Still, if Steel Ball Run does receive an adaptation, it’s practically a guarantee I’ll be covering it as long as I’m still blogging. I haven’t read Part Eight yet, but outside of that Part Seven is the best part of JoJo’s by a long distance, and it’s one of the only series I’ve ever given a ten to on MAL, be it animated or manga.
Kekkai Sensen burst onto the scene back in 2015 and quickly became one of my all-time favorite series. It would lose its newly acquired place in the top ten just a year later when Rakugo Shinjuu became a thing, but regardless, it’s still a series I loved. Kekkai Sensen was an odd mixture between original creator Yasuhiro Nightow (best known for Trigun, which funnily enough is the series Kekkai Sensen kicked out of my top ten) and director Rie Matsumoto. Nightow brought a fun episodic action series with a load of lovable characters in a variety of different one-off adventures, while Rie Matsumoto incorporated a brilliant over-arcing plot across the series that provided the series with depth and strong themes required to push it over just a really fun action spectacle. The mixture of the two was brilliant, and I still remember how surprised I was to learn White and Black where anime original, despite how distinct their scenes were from the manga material (it’s very easy to distinguish who the driving force behind the episode at any given point is, yet that works in the series favor).
The main issue giving me pause to review is the upcoming second season. Rie Matsumoto is no longer tied to the project, and this is pretty worrisome. The new director, Shigehito Takayanagi, who I can really only judge based on Dagashi Kashi. For what it’s worth, I liked how that series was structured for the most part, though going by manga readers there was a tendency to skip around chapters (including a lot of said readers favorites) and the one anime original segment was easily the worst part of the series (though it’s hard to know pin it on him). The former is fine, since they skipped a lot of my favorites from the manga (I’m so ecstatic that Dark Horse is finally releasing volume 8 [in December according to Amazon]) but the latter is concerning if they try to replicate the Matsumoto’s model. My guess is will receive a more direct translation, losing out on everything Matsumoto brought to the table, including her frenetic directing style, in favor of either more standard fare or a pale imitation.
A big part of the reason I hope to cover it is simply I want to re-experience the series. That’s true for most of these entries, and while Monster isn’t number one on that category, it is actually my second favorite show on the list (number three if you count Hunter x Hunter). Not only does Monster tell an engaging plot throughout its extensive 74 episodes, it manages to cram in several of the best side-stories in anime (though all of them are relevant to the core story, some simply thematically, others in more direct ways). I couldn’t tell you any of their names, but there are numerous small personal stories scattered throughout that I still think about, despite last revisiting the series early 2013 through the manga. And I’ve seen some divisive comments to the ending, which (and I’m not referring to the epilogue here) I thought was the perfect resolution, and it’s something I’d like to express in more detail. Unfortunately, there’s no legal way to view the series as far as I know, only the first fifteen episodes were ever released on DVD, over in the west anyway. The anime was essentially a panel-to-panel adaptation and the manga is easily available over here which alleviates the pain but for an animation review blog, that doesn’t do me much good. Even though I clearly haven’t strictly watched what’s legally available, I don’t feel right promoting it so thoroughly when the only method most will have to view it is through less than legal means.
Much like Monster, my desire to review this series is mostly fueled by my desire to re-watch it. Unlike Monster however, my memory of Haibane Renmei is far more faulty. What I do remember, was it was an anime unlike any other I’ve experienced before or since, and that the character of Reki and the final episode, were both amazing. I’ve yet to relate to a character as strongly as I did with Reki (which as a side-note, does not equate to her being the character I’m necessarily most liked). Through the years it’s been pushed down my list, and if one more home-run happens it might be pushed out of the top ten, so a re-visit might cause me to re-evaluate the series. The only thing stopping me is to finally buy the DVD and the amount of series I’m covering right now.
Contrary to everything else featured on this list, I’ve actually never seen Over the Garden Wall. I’ve intended to but for one reason or another I’ve yet to sit down and watch the series. From what I’ve heard about it though, it just seems to match my sensibilities to a tee, something that western animation rarely does. My main question is rather I cover this as I watch or do I binge through it first and write my reviews upon re-watch, much like I do for Steven Universe, Samurai Jack, or frankly any series I’m likely to cover here. Outside of that little quandary, there isn’t much holding it back outside of what I’ve got going on now and my desire to not get pigeonholed as exclusively western animation focused.
In terms of series that I’d consider potentially a harrowing experience to attempt to review, Shinsekai yori would top that list. So far, Wolf’s Rain is probably the most ambitious series I covered. The three episodes I’ve reviewed have been some of the most rewarding posts, they weren’t difficult to write but I do worry whether that will remain the case as the series develops, being an allegory it’s doubtful I’d be able to uncover all the salient messages featured there. For my money, Shinsekai yori is the only series that could top Wolf’s Rain for me but with how incredible that finale was, it’s just hard to think it wouldn’t be worth it. Outside of that episode, the most interesting element to the series was the world building, there were two and a half episodes that essentially boiled down to a conversation about the world’s history. What could’ve been boring exposition were often the most riveting episodes in the series, Shinsekai yori cultivated one of the most fascinating worlds out there. Those episodes, I also imagine, might be tough to review.
Ah Sym-Bionic Titan, we hardly knew ye. Of all the cancellations of cartoons in the west, few sting as much as Sym-Bionic Titan. Much like with most everything, I didn’t watch it as it aired but going through the series and getting invested the biggest question was how bad of a cliffhanger did they leave us with. Thankfully, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was anticipating but it’s still a shame we might never get a conclusion. It was written off for tax exemption, which makes it seem really unlikely we’ll ever see a return like Samurai Jack (and Samurai Jack is better). Although, Genndy did seem hopeful about returning to it some day. Regardless, the biggest problem of reviewing it is the same as Monster, I don’t think there’s any legal way to view it.
This should really come as no surprise. With only twenty-six episodes (and a movie, which I’m not certain I’d cover), Cowboy Bebop would be a relatively quick series to cover. But most importantly, it’s one of my all-time favorite series, my second favorite anime, and with the amount of variety in the episodes, the emphasis on the music boasting arguably the greatest soundtrack in the medium (I’d argue Wolf’s Rain but Bebop is second), and for containing perhaps the greatest scene in anime history, Cowboy Bebop would be an absolute blast to re-visit. Even if it means having to suffer through Boogie Woogie Feng Shui again.
If any series is going to make my explanation for leaving Hunter x Hunter feel silly, it’s Neon Genesis Evangelion. There are rarely any series that reached the crossover success that Evangelion did, and the series is still referenced constantly. Regular Show paid homage to the famous OP, and Steven Universe pays homage constantly, as it did in Kiki’s Pizza Delivery Service. Still, there’s a few big distinctions here. The main one being Neon Genesis Evangelion’s far more controversial nature making it at least one of the most interesting series to discuss. In terms of ambitious projects, maybe I should include this in with Wolf’s Rain and Shinsekai yori, since End of Evangelion is a thing. And a major reason why I wish to cover it, since that movie is a masterpiece. Regardless, the original series isn’t licensed for anywhere to stream legally and I don’t like any series enough to spend the two hundred plus they’re asking for the complete collection on Amazon.
There’s a reason why I’ve only numbered Mushishi. While I ordered this list in a rough order of how much I truly want to cover them, there was only one spot I was positive of before making this list and that Mushishi. One of the most original and greatest anime creations out there, this nearly 50 episode anime spawned countless episodes that I consider among the best in all of anime. Outside of maybe Hunter x Hunter, if I ever get around to creating the top 100 anime episodes list and I don’t place a series limit, Mushishi would easily have the most episodes, and I’m not sure any that would make this list would be in the bottom half. Still the most atmospheric series I ever seen, the series is in a class of its own when it comes to sound direction. And the visuals, as featured above, a gorgeous, it’s rare to find backgrounds that beautifully detailed. But beyond that, Mushishi episodes are often parables of some sort, and constantly use the Mushi’s bizarre abilities in order to communicate something far more human, a technique I absolutely adore. Once I finish up with Wolf’s Rain or Samurai Jack (it won’t be Steven Universe, I’ve got like 70+ episodes left of that), Mushishi will be the series that replaces it.