Kenholic Top 20 Anime of the Past Decade Pt. 2

Kenholic Top 20 Anime of the Past Decade Pt. 2

Took me long enough, but editing was a painstaking process. It was like writing 10 mini reviews. Does Mio stand a chance? My top ten after the jump.

10. Fruits Basket (2001). Moe with furries.

While cutesy and humorous on the surface, Fruits Basket also contains a darker undertone that takes this show to another level. Fun and games can quickly 180 into bitter sadness at the circumstances that surrounds the main characters. Though the anime ends midway through the story, it's still one of the best in my book.

9. Ai Yori Aoshi (2002). Love Hina + Drama.

Often compared to Love Hina because of the closeness of their airing dates and settings, this is far from a carbon copy. Two things really struck me about this show. First, the animation is surprisingly good for a 2002 show and second, this show got awfully serious at times. It's really the last time I saw a harem anime story actually arrive at its intended destination.

8. Full Metal Panic (2002). A showcase of genres.

You might not know it, but Full Metal Panic is unexpectedly very well researched for a sci-fi/comedy. It makes use of some radical what-if scenarios from the Cold War in the 1980's and a lot of the scenes throughout the series were painstakingly drawn based on real life photography from Japan and Hong Kong. In fact, if you were hardcore about it, you could visit those sites in real life (I went to a few actually). What's really crazy about this show is how it could shift its focus from a sci-fi adventure to an over-the-top comedy to a dark revenge thriller through it's three seasons.

7. Air Master (2003). Street fighting thrills that trumps any modern day offering.

The Airmaster story progresses with such an amazing continuity that subsequent rewatches always reveals something new to me, and I must have watched this series at least 4 or 5 times through. On top of brutal fight scenes, this show provides some of the most memorable fighters that I've ever seen in an animated medium. Pity that the anime never fully completed the story.

6. Gurren Lagann (2007). The most epic coming-of-age anime ever. raw raw fight the power.

Gurren Lagann is by far the most dramatic, gut wrenching, yet satisfying anime of all time. Words cannot describe some of the sequences that this show throws at you. By following the main characters through the arcs (time lapses between each one), you're literally watching them grow up and feel for the trials and tribulations that they each endure. I bet that given enough time and re-watches, this may eventually land in my top 3.

Aside: After talking up Gurren Lagann so much, what could possibly beat it? I think each of these in the top five hold such a special place that I couldn't possibly bump a single one out of this list.

5. Kaleido Star (2003). Best series you've never heard of, also one of the best this decade.

In 2006 I discovered Kaleido Star by sheer luck, happening upon it while browsing through Amazon's meager anime selection at the time. What started as an impulse buy turned into one of my prized collections. There's something beautiful about watching a young aspiring girl reaching for her dreams while overcoming all of the obstacles placed before her. The rivals are relentless, and her gratitude towards her peers make her an endearing character. What really makes this show great are the down points in her life that really bring a dramatic flair to her subsequent successes in the finales.

4. Love Hina (2000). Narusegawa tsundere goodness.

In 2001, anime selection in the US was at a bare minimum. You basically had Dragon Ball, Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion, Trigun, and Rourouni Kenshin so I didn't know anime had genres outside stylized violence and mecha. Love Hina changed all of that for me. Between 2001 and 2005, especially with the DVD releases, I watched this show a countless number of times (trust me, more than a dozen viewings for sure) sometimes back to back, sometimes marathoning it. It has a lot of things going for it: pretty good animation production values, a very good Japanese voice cast, and a different sense of humor that I was pretty unfamiliar with at the time (boke and tsukkomi). This is truly one of my all time favorites.

3. Gundam Seed + Destiny (2002). One word: Fllaaaay.

If there was one show capable of matching Gurren Lagann in terms of intensity, it would be Gundam Seed. I've never seen another show where I was left hanging until the last possible second only to be cheering moments later. Gundam Seed had those moments in spades. What set this Gundam apart in history though, was is its modern approach to story telling. Whereas mecha series typically featured the robots (Neon Genesis was the other exception) Gundam Seed brought teenage angst to the space opera scene, and as an aside gave rise to one of the most polarizing characters in the entire Gundam multiverse: Flay Allster. The multiple plot twists in this show were typical of any Gundam, but the personalities in this show really gave it its own identity. It's broad appeal makes this show something I can recommend to most people.

2. Azumanga Daioh (2002). I've watched this at least a dozen times.

Azumanga is timeless. The lack of any continuous plot makes for a difficult summary to write, but it's part of the reason why this show is so mellowy good. It's goofiness and antics are cheerfully contagiously and sets up a good mood for me almost every time.

1. Nodame Cantibile (2007). Onegai shimasu, Chiaki-sempai.

Up until last year, I never even heard of this series; but once I discovered it, I watched it again ... and again. This show just does everything right, from comedy to romance to drama to growing up. The respective journeys of Nodame and Chiaki are great adventures individually; but together, like their characters, they complement each other so well. This show is rightly deserving of the only "10 out of 10" I've ever given out on this site to date.


  1. I really enjoyed the live action version of your top pick. Lil surprised that a fanfave like Naruto Shippuden didn't make the cut.

  2. Gundam Seed in 3rd? Not a bad series, but it wouldn´t make may 100 best animes of the decade list.

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