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The People Speak! THEM Forums Picks

February 13, 2010

1. Haibane Renmei
With this one you get times that you are going along nicely, the world is great, not a care to be seen. *sigh* that’s nice. Then BAM emotion punch to the gut to wake you up. Plus, on the philosophical side, it has a little something for every one no matter what your beliefs are. -long time lurker

2. Monster
Brilliantly written by Naoki Urasawa. He fully explores his multi-deimensional characters, creates a perfectly suspenseful atmosphere, creates a complicated, multi-layered plot and pulls out a theme far more earnestly than other anime. -Excelsior

3. Spirited Away
I hope this isn't Miyazaki's last great movie, though it sure looks like it could be. And even if he makes more movies that fall short of his high mark of quality like Ponyo, I'd like to think this movie alone is worth an eternal spring of goodwill from fans, even without other masterpieces like Nausicaa, Totoro, and Princess Mononoke. From the music, to the story, to the animation, you can look at every aspect of this movie and still find something to savor. No wonder it placed so highly among THEM's readers. - Bradley Meek

4. Aria
Have you ever had a bad day at work? You’re all wound up and tense. Or maybe you are just feeling down and you want something to brighten your day. Or maybe it is cold outside and you want something smooth like a hot cup of your moms hot coco. Well, Aria fits this and then some. I never thought I would enjoy watching….. well, NOTHING to put it bluntly, quite as much as this. -long time lurker

5. Higurashi ~When they Cry~
Higurashi has flaws that prevent it from being a truly exceptional anime: clumsy directing, bad animation at crucial points of the series, and a sometimes excessive use of gore among others [...but...] it’s in this spot because it has got enough things going in its favor to make it a very appealing and entertaining series. It... features a solid and varied cast of characters, all of them with their own quirks and hidden motives. Its last remarkable aspect (and possibly the most pleasing) is it resolution: mysteries are solved, new bonds are formed, people are redeemed and not a single subplot is left loose.... -Venus Rozen Power

6. Kino's Journey
One of the things I've noticed about THEM readers is that they seem to really like anime with a good atmosphere. Kino's Journey is a good example: its muted colors, lush backgrounds and melancholic score all create a world of mystique that's somehow as familiar as it is foreign. It also doesn't hurt that it features a charming adventurer who wonders from one strange town to another. Each episode is also subtlety based on one of Aesop's Fables, which makes it as intelligent as it is aesthetically pleasing. -Bradley Meek

7. Millennium Actress
Satoshi Kon has always been preoccupied with fantasy and reality, but this might be his most explicit meditation on it. And it's also possibly his most memorable- a tender exploration of the audiences relationship with the artist, the artist with the audience, and the collective dream they live in through the magic of movies. -Bradley Meek

8. Now and Then, Here and There
For me, personally, I was very moved by it. I like to use the term “grip it and rip it” when I think about this one. I don’t think there has been another SHOW, I have ever seen, that made me cry, laugh, and feel like my heart was getting ripped out of my chest, like this one does. I CAN’T watch this more than once a year. Because I feel that if I do than the emotional impact will get lessened. And I don’t want that to happen. -long time lurker

9. Fullmetal Alchemist
There is a huge cast and strong character development which makes that by the end of the series you get to know most of their quirks and what drives their decisions. The relationships between the characters feel real, and regarding black or white/good or bad, here all of the protagonists are very very very grey indeed.

Although 51 episodes long, there are surprisingly few filler episodes. The animation is solid throughout and the soundtrack is amongst the better ones.

One reason why this series is a must see: the story! Never has an anime portrayed so well how to every action there is a consequence. The sacrifice to get something you truly desire. In the end it’s all about equivalent exchange. -JulesX

10. Mushishi
A thought-provoking anime. Mushishi stands apart for it's serene, poetic, atmosphere, one that invites you to sit back and relax in your chair and drift off into a myriad of philosophical questions. - Excelsior

11. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Hosada was able to stand out as a director for huge franchises like One Piece and Digimon, so when he was finally given creative control over his own movie, it should have been no surprise that it was as memorable as it turned out to be. It still took Japan by storm, and is also beloved by fans here in the States. THEM caught the fever as well through the enthusiastic postings of long time member DKL, and we uniformly loved it. Well, almost uniformly. There are still a few heretics who post here that still think it's "just not that good." I've been assured they will be... taken care of. -Bradley Meek

12. Azumanga Daioh
An old favorite of THEM, and many other anime fan groups. This is the perfect example of an anime meant to be watched together- it has great comedy with memorable characters and many quotable lines. It's also a series that seems to understand the awkwardness of being a kid perfectly- you feel like you could fit right in with Chiyo-chan, Asuka, Sakaki, Yomi, Tomo and Kagura. -Bradley Meek

13. Nana
Shojou and josei specialize in brutally breaking down their characters emotionally, and the beating the characters take in Nana makes the most brutal fights of Fist of the Northstar look like a light spanking. Their misery is our gain, because Nana emerges as a complex exploration of being young and the stupid mistakes that come with it. -Bradley Meek

14. Dennou Coil
Animators don't always make the transition from slaving away on cells to being master of their own project. Look at Ichiro Itano's ugly record for a perfect example of this. But veteran animator Iso showed he has a lot of talent beyond the drawing board when he wrote, directed, and animated Dennou Coil. THEM loved this series at first sight. -Bradley Meek

15. Samurai Champloo
Watanabe Shinichiro's second TV series, and it proves Cowboy Bebop wasn't a fluke. Although I think Cowboy Bebop is better, this is good as well, with some of the best fights I've seen in anime and the funniest episode I've seen in anime. -Excelsior

And as a small bonus, the runners up:

16. Honey & Clover
17. Boogiepop Phantom
18. Death Note
19. Fruits Basket
20. Rahxephon
21. Texhnolyze

- Bradley Meek

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