Anime Monday - Ben's Anime of the Decade

So today is a special post. Normally I let my random number generator pick the anime for me, but toady I wanted to take a look back on my personal top favorite anime series from the 2010s. I won't be going in depth with any of these, but I wanted to talk a little about why I like them so much. Now since we have a lot to cover, I'll just leave the intro at that. Here are my top 10 anime series, and movies from the last decade. Starting with...

1. Fate/Zero

I'll be blunt. I love Fate/Zero. It was one of the first Ufotable animated series I watched, and is complete eye candy. Originally I did think the story was a bit boring, and I did go on to drop it less than half way in. Thankfully I decided to give it another chance about a year later, and for the first time I realized just how great it really was. By this point I knew a bit more about the Fate series (which helped me a lot), but it's really Zero that got me started. It's a dark tactical storyline with characters trying to out smart each other in a battle to the death, while using the help of legendary heroes (and legends) from the past. Kiritsugu  Emiya is a character I will never forget, but the rest of the cast is just as amazing. The only issue with the show is the fact that it's a prequel to Fate/Stay Night, and the original novel was written with the expectations that fans have already gone through Stay Night. Even so, new comers can enjoy it as well. It just takes a little bit to get past that first half, once you do though it's well worth it. (And it's even better when you watch it over again for a second time.)

Honestly I could fill most of this post with Fate anime series, but I'll just leave it at Zero. This was the decade of Fate though, and during the last five or so years quite a few series have released for it. Sadly the others can't rival Zero, but they're still pretty good on their own. Although there is Heaven's Feel...

2. Psycho Pass

This one and Fate/Zero actually have something in common. Both were written by a man named Gen Urobuchi. Gen is usually known for his dark stories, and twists on genre standards. For example taking the magical girl genre, and turning it into Madoka Magica. That being said, Psycho Pass was his "sorta" follow up to Ghost in the Shell. Production IG wanted to create a "new" series similar to GITS, and Psycho Pass is what was created from that. Set in a sci-fi world where everyone is monitored by a system, the series follows a young woman named Akane as she joins the police force designed to take action based on said system. If someone's mind is determined to be too "different," they will be branded a criminal and live out the rest of their lives behind bars. And if their mental stress passes a point "beyond return," then they are ordered to kill them. Simple as that. Overall the world is pretty interesting, but it's the characters and their stories that hold the show together. Sadly it had a rough second season, but the first is still great on it's own. Now at the end of the decade we're finally receiving a third series, and a few movies were released as well. Hopefully this means we'll be seeing more of Psycho Pass later on, but for now it's hard to say for sure. Anyway, it's a show I really liked, and would recommend to anyone who enjoys sci-fi or crime dramas.

3. Attack on Titan

Now let me say one thing before I continue. I'm not exactly ranking these series. While Fate/Zero would most likely be my number 1 on this list, I'm not going completely by what I like the "most." This is a mixture of when I watched it, and how many times I've sat through it. Going by this, Attack on Titan is easily number 3. This is a series I thought was stupid the first time I heard about it, but was hooked after finally checking it out myself. The whole humanity fighting for their lives thing ended up being pretty cool, but what I liked the most about it was the mystery of what is really going on in this world, and the fact that the characters weren't as invincible as they first seemed. The first titan attack was completely unexpected, and after seeing it I couldn't stop watching until I reached the end. At least, that would've been the case if it wasn't for the fact we had to wait years for it to continue... Thankfully those day are now behind us. Season 2 and 3 aired not too far apart, and the final season will begin next year. After that the story will be complete, and it will be ready for a rewatch from start to finish. I'm really looking forward to it.

4. Angel Beats 

This is a series I already covered in an earlier Anime Monday, but I didn't want that to stop me from including it on this list. It's a show I've rewatched multiple times since it aired in 2010, and it's one that is special to me. I won't spend too much time explaining it, but it's a unique story about kids who have died and are now fighting to continue existing in purgatory. Of course that's only the basic description of the show, as it's really about the characters themselves and how they ended up there. It's a pretty depressing show at times, but it's also filled with comedy, and some really great characters. And let's not forget about the music! Really the only down side to this series is the fact that it wasn't longer. A lot of characters didn't have much screen time, and because of this their story arcs never truly began. Now there is a visual novel in the works that will fix this, but who knows when we'll see it. (Maybe next year when it turns 10?)

5. Deadman's Wonderland

Okay, this one is weird for me. First of all I found out about this series because it was on when Toonami was revived. However I was unable to really watch it because it aired at 11:30 PM, which was when I had to go to bed because of work the next day. Thankfully the entire show went up on Hulu, so I was able to watch it in the end. And I loved it. It was extremely graphic, with shocking language, and an opening theme that was perfect for the horror that was about to unfold. It was a show about a high school kid who watches his entire class get slaughtered, and is then framed for it. He's sent to Deadman's Wonderland to live out the rest of his life playing twisted games in order to survive. While the general public think it's all staged and CGI effects, it sadly is not. These people are actually dying, and things only keep getting worse. It really was an interesting show, but sadly a short one. The first few episodes actually leave out some key characters from the manga, and the show ends right before that character's story would've started. In other words the story was never finished, and most likely never will be. That's why I read the manga instead! Still I really liked the show, and still rewatch it from time to time.

6. Future Diary

Another one I've already gotten to cover. Future Diary was one of those things I randomly watched, and will never regret. Kinda like Fate, it's a battle royale filled with tactical decisions, back stabbing, and some pretty violent twisted moments. There's honestly not much more I can say about this other than I'd recommend everyone to at least give it a chance. It's a show you don't want to have spoiled for yourself, and one you may need to watch multiple times to realize everything that's going on throughout it. While it may not be my favorite show on this list, it's definitely one I plan on going back to in the future.

7. Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans

Let me just say this first. I am a HUGE Gundam fan. I've been watching this series since I was 10 years old, my bed room is filled with Gunpla, Gundam Blurays, and even some Gundam art. I can't stress enough how much I like this series as a whole, but that also doesn't mean everything in the series is something I'd consider good. Iron Blooded Orphans was one of the series I originally had no interest in, and actually dropped multiple times. It wasn't until the dub came out that I decided to fully give it a chance, and then felt like an idiot. The series is great. Rather than being your typical Gundam war story, it's focused on a group of young adults and kids as they fight and try to find their own way in a world that has tossed them aside like garbage. After forming a team of their own, the kids accept a job to escort a young woman to Earth, and soon find themselves fighting for their lives every step of the way. It's an underdog story, and one where you never truly know what will happen next. It's also completely stand alone set in it's own universe, so anyone can watch it without knowing anything about Gundam before hand. Because of that, it's especially a great place for newcomers to start, and I strongly recommend it.

8. Parasyte

Parasyte was amazing. It's another series I put off watching, but eventually got around to because of... reasons... After a few really rough months with my grandpa in the hospital, and with the stress of starting a new job, I just wanted something to keep my mind off of things. That's when Parasyte popped up for me on Hulu, and I decided to give it a chance. Now I had heard of the series before hand, but I didn't actually know what it would be like, or how good it would become. The first episode seemed a little "meh" to me, but I stuck with it. I regret nothing. Parasyte is an interesting series about some sorta alien that tries to take over a human teenager's brain, but is reduced to being a replacement for his hand instead. The two now must learn to live with each other and cope with the current situation, all while defending themselves from others who are just like them. The series starts out slow, but after some pretty shocking events unfold, it's a non stop roller-coaster ride up until the end. Of course fans of the original manga may be upset to hear some things had to be changed (as modern tech was introduced to the story), but overall it's a pretty faithful retelling, and one anime fans really shouldn't pass up. I may have this as number 8 on my list, but don't let that fool you. This is easily one of the few must watch shows from the last 10 years. Honestly I'd rate this higher than Deadman Wonderland, but it's not something I got around to seeing until lately. So yeah...

9. Erased

Continuing the trend of Parasyte, here's yet ANOTHER show I should've watched long ago. Erased is the story of a man who is having a hard time finding his place in life. He wants to become a manga artist, but he's struggling to really get his ideas across. Having to work at as a pizza delivery man to survive, one day he witnesses something horrible which in return sends him back in time to his childhood. Here he is reunited with a lonely girl from his past, who would eventually find herself as a victim in a series of murders that swept across the area. Knowing this tragic fate awaits her, he decides to do whatever he can to save her and change the bleak future. It's a really good story with great characters, but sadly the anime doesn't cover the entire story. It focuses completely on the first case, while it only hits major points of what follows -- only to then skip to the ending and finish things off. It's a shame, but that doesn't mean the series isn't worth watching. It's a really good story, and one fans of time travel and murder mysteries shouldn't miss out on. I just wish I had watched it a few years earlier.

10. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure 

And once again, why didn't I watch this sooner. The first time I heard about Jojo was actually during a Namco count down event. They were announcing a new game and posted strange pictures each day to give us hints, and when it was finally revealed to be Jojo I still didn't know what it was! Of course I had friends who explained it to me and told me to watch it, but I didn't listen. It wouldn't be until this year that I finally caved thanks to another friend. Again I was an idiot for taking so long with this. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is not something I can explain here. In fact it's not something I can even explain in a single Anime Monday post. You see rather than being your standard long running series, it's technically multiple series in one. (Sorta like Gundam in that regard.) Each part is unique, and takes place at a different point in time. While Jojo Part 1 is mainly about vampires, Part 2 switches to nazis and the origins of said vampire powers. Part 3 is where stands first make their appearance, with the main characters traveling to Egypt to fight the main villain, while Part 4 is a more localized story with stand users causing havoc within a single town setting. With each series the cast of characters changes, and even the art style evolves with time. It's really hard to put into words what makes this crazy show so great, so all I can say is -- go watch it for yourself. Even if it doesn't seem like your thing at first, don't stop and keep moving along. Eventually you'll understand why so many games, anime series, and even manga contains references to the series. Or rather, you'll start to realize there have been Jojo references all along.

Well that covers it for my top 10 anime series list, but I don't want to stop there. Quite a few great anime movies also released over the last 10 years, and I just wanted to take a minute to talk about a handful of them. I didn't want to include these in the overall count down (as most of them are just a single movie), but I didn't want to ignore them completely. So with that being said, here are my personal favorite movies from this decade.

1. The Garden of Sinners

This was a toss up between The Garden of Sinners and the Heaven's Feel movies, but I'd have to say GoS comes out on top. These movies are animated versions of Nasu's original novels, and serve as the basics for basically the entire "Nasuverse." In other words, Tsukihime, Fate, and nearly everything else Type-Moon has created can trace it's origins back to this series. The movies themselves follow a young girl named Shiki as she investigates strange occurrences around the city. Shiki herself comes from a family trained to fight monsters, and during her training a second personality of SHIKI was created within herself. The movies feature stories that are told out of order, and it's not until the end of the series that we get the full picture. Even then the answers aren't always as clear as you might think. There's a lot going on in Garden of Sinners, and because of that it's really something you need to watch more than once. Which is honestly something that is easy to do. Ufotable's animation is top notch (as always), and seeing the beginning of Nasu's amazing world is something fans of Type-Moon shouldn't miss out on. This is definitely a must watch movie series, but the first movie does start out a bit slow.

2. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

I love this movie. It's as simple as that. While the first three Haruhi novels were adapted into an anime series, the fourth novel was given to us as a movie instead -- and it's better for it. Building off of everything previously released in the series, this movie feels like a conclusion of the first half of the series, and acts as an introduction to what is to come. During the original first three novels (and anime series) the focus was on Kyon as he deals with the crazy situations Haruhi drags him into; however with the movie that's not the case. Rather than waking up to another normal day, Kyon finds himself in a world where Haruhi herself doesn't exist, the dead have returned, and those with "special" powers around him are now normal human beings. He's the only one with memories of the original world, and it's up to him to figure out how to set things right. The way this story is set up is pretty great on it's own, but what makes it even better is how it plays off of the viewer's previous knowledge of the series. Little subtle things will seem like nothing to those who aren't familiar with the series, but long time fans will instantly recognize just how important they really are. It's a pretty great feeling when you notice these details for yourself, and can understand exactly what is going through Kyon's mind. It's just too bad this is where the series ended anime wise. Still hasn't stopped me from watching it ten plus times despite reading the original novel.

3. Your Name

This is one a lot of people will be familiar with, so I'll try to keep this short. Your Name is a great film, with an interesting concept. It's a story where a young boy and girl suddenly start switching bodies out of nowhere, and must figure out how to deal with their situation. At first they think that it's only a dream, but when their friends start pointing out how weird they were acting the previous day, it soon becomes clear it's real. So the two start leaving messages (and setting ground rules) for each other as they try to figure out why this is happening, but they also start to become invested in each other's life. Both are dealing with issues of their own in their own lives, and the other person takes it upon themselves to try to improve it in ways only they can. It's a pretty cool story, but there are a lot of things that are easy to miss the first time through. That's also what makes it good though. Sometimes movies are ones you only want to see once, but with Your Name you won't feel that way. It'll make you want to return to it, and when you do there's always a chance there will be something "new" for you to see. The same can be said for the novel version, which is also a pretty great read. It gives more insight as to what the characters are thinking, and is short enough to knock out in a few hours or so. It's just a great story, and one I'd recommend to even those who dislike anime or have never watched anime before.

4. Persona 3

Persona 3 is an adaptation of the original video game, and was released as multiple parts throughout this decade -- and I like them. The movies feature some pretty nice animation, and actually follow the game's plot pretty faithfully. There are some changes (such as the main character already knowing about the Dark Hour), but alterations such as these thankfully don't take away from the source material. While these movies aren't really anything special, they are a solid adaptation and simply fun to watch. The story of the main character getting caught up in the strange "Dark Hour" is great, but it's seeing the characters and how they evolve throughout the story that makes it worth watching. There's also the whole mystery of what the Dark Hour actually is, as well as the mystery surrounding the monsters that live inside the giant tower that appears during it. It's a pretty cool story, and it's easy to see why many consider it to be one of the best in the Persona series. Of course I'd always recommend the original games over watching the movies, but I'd also recommend the movie series to anyone who already likes the games.

5. Steins;Gate The Movie

I am a huge fan of Steins;Gate, but despite this I'm not a huge fan of the anime. It's fine to watch it if you want a condensed version of the story, but I'd NEVER tell anyone to watch it over reading the original visual novel. It's roughly a 50 hour story cut down to 10, and during that a lot of what makes the story so special is lost. Thankfully the anime does at least FOLLOW the main plot (something that can't be said for the rest of the series, like Chaos;Child), but it still removes a lot in the process. Thankfully Steins;Gate Elite fixes this by taking the anime's animation and applying the full game's script to it, but this is something you pretty much never hear anyone talk about. But anyway, all of this is besides the point! Despite not caring for the anime, I did really like the movie. This is a story that takes place after the original S;G series, and goes more into how the world is after the game's events. Sadly I can't say much because I don't want to ruin the game for anyone, but I will say that this movie is a really fitting conclusion to the original story as a whole. Now don't get me wrong, S;G's ending was perfect, but it's still nice to see what happens for sure, rather than just speculating about it. This movie provides that closure, and is a fun movie to watch from start to finish.

And I guess that about covers it! There were a lot of other shows I could've listed here, but after really sitting down and thinking about it -- these have to be my favorites from this decade. I've watched most of them multiple times through, and had a lot of fun doing so. There are others I would've liked to list as well, but I'll just save that for when their time comes during a proper Anime Monday post. Thanks for reading my list, and I'll see you guys tomorrow!
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