Top tens would be foolish if they were completely objective. The only differences would be in the author’s viewing habits that simply prove they haven’t seen X in order that they might place it on the list.
So with that in mind, I’m going to lay out a few simple things that will be skewing the list you are bound to see. As with the standard reviews you see here, I am foregoing the usual clinical stuff, and merely using my personal enjoyment as a benchmark. That doesn’t mean I won’t try to analyze WHY I enjoyed something, to deconstruct a series to some key elements.
But deconstruction is an imprecise tool when we get to things we actually enjoy, rather than those which are miserable to sit through. Just because we can break down the elements of a series, it does not therefore follow that any series which assembles those elements together again will be as enjoyable. Sometimes these elements are subtle, sometimes they are gross, but I don’t think I’m alone in believing there to be a magic to storytelling that, if one tries to reach out into it like mist, you might end up washing it away into thin air.
So what are the angles that influence Dataport Doll?
Well, I’m sure if you’ve read any number of my reviews, the first should be obvious. I would be lying if I said my sexuality doesn’t influence my appreciation of media. But you can go back to my Yuri Goggles post, or the Sakura Trick recap, to see what I feel about lesbians in media.
But I would find the charge that I am “politicizing’ my favorites a distasteful one. Rather, I think that it is easier for me, as someone who identifies as lesbian and enjoys character studies more than almost any other form of story, to identify with a character who either is lesbian or can possess lesbian undertones (see subtext). And many of the characters you spy in this series will have probably been the scale that tips them into the list. You’ll note I still use Suigintou as my avatar, but thinking about it for ten seconds, there’s no way I’d actually put Rozen Maiden among my favorite series.
…This is actually the biggest reason I might adopt individual character studies as special posts.
But Suigintou is a great example of how several series did end up here. Character study + Darkness + Lesbian = DataportDoll favorite.
Tied into this point is that character studies will show up a lot here. Two shows are here for similar, nigh identical, reasons, even though they present their subjects differently. You’ll see when we’re done, as one of these shows I’m mentioning is #1.
A third factor I’ve taken into consideration is some -slight- alterations for the sake of balance, and nostalgia, giving weight to older series which are still rather close to my heart in favor of perhaps newer series which ring stronger in my ears due to how long it’s been since I’ve seen them. I’ve thrown around titles like “the greatest ____anime” over the past year, and also felt it should be honest I include some of those.
And a final factor…how many avatars do I use from that series? How much did a series affect me that I incorporated parts of it into my online identity? I feel this is actually an important benchmark as I truly believe art is transformative. And for a series to demonstrate that in me, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that THAT should be considered as to what I deem “favorites”. Number 10 actually landed on the list this way from a four-way tie.
It is these subjective reasons which will influence my Top 10.
After much hand wringing, I’m deciding to NOT include Avatar: TLA due not only to its nature as American-based, but also complications that arise about Korra (Season 1 of Korra being my favorite TLA franchise set of all, Season 2 blowing, and the rest incomplete). I also have to admit that, much like a series that did not make the Top 10, while I do LOVE Avatar to death, objectively speaking this devotion is reserved for small PARTS of a 61-episode series. Not to say I think most of it is crap, just, I don’t go back and watch the entire thing for fun. I don’t marathon it like I do many of the Top 10s. That and if I gave it a slot, I’d almost HAVE to rank Korra up higher, and thus use 20% of my spots up. The Top 10 gives me chances to speak about shows I don’t mention a lot, and Korra has been mentioned on the blog before, so I’m content at that. And it’s not like Avatar: TLA was jockeying for the top spot, it was going to end up somewhere at Eight or below, so I don’t feel -as bad- cutting it. But I wanted to give it a super-special mention.
As a bonus, when I crafted up this list, I came up with 17 series. Those that did not make the cut heretofore get an honorable mention.
-Naruto: As I mentioned in my “Where Naruto Should Have Ended” post, I feel the series should be over, but the fact it isn’t continues to make me want to punch it in the face too much to include it here. But those parts I loved, Essentially Tsunade Retrieval through the series gap into Pain Arc, is a pretty strong contender.
-Inuyasha: No series gives me the same sense of nostalgia as Inuyasha. It was family bonding time in my house, even my dad had picked out Kikyo as his favorite character. But, much like Naruto, too much is mindless dragging along that I cannot score the series as a whole to put in on the list. Even though Kagura’s death makes me teary every time.
-Fullmetal Alchemist: Oh damn. Yes, FMA does not quite make my cut. I think the simple fact is that I enjoyed it, and objectively (being purely objective here), it may actually be the greatest of the great. But I haven’t felt the need to watch it, nor Brotherhood since either series ended, and feel content not watching it again. So, subjectively, it doesn’t belong here. But it gets close.
-Witchblade: Stop judging me.
-Gankutsuo: A visual masterpiece and a great character study, I mark it down for just not quite having the ‘umph’ in its climax I was looking for.
-Baka to Test: A glorious little comedy series, it’s still one of the first I try to show to people who want to get into anime. Excellent dub and original, the lovely Shouko and the greatest teacher ever, it falls just short primarily because there’s a comedy series that outdoes it in laughs and absurdity, for me.
-Higurashi: This was a difficult cut because I wanted to make it work. But if I use ONLY the first season, I felt the Keiji arc went on for WAY too fucking long to justify its presence here. And if I expand into the sequel series, well, even cherry picking those, there’s too much filler and the eventual lack of grittiness that would be dropped in favor of swimsuits can’t justify its placement here.
So there you have it. I will be blatant though in sharing what WILL be coming in at #10…
I’ll see you all in the Fleet of Fog.