10k Viewer Special: What My Favorite Anime Say About Me

favorite anime montage

Two days ago, WordPress statistics showed that I amassed 10,000 views on my blog! Thank you all so much for continuing to tune in and read my critiques and thoughts on various subjects from movies to anime to video games. To commemorate the occasion, I’ve decided to take upon analyzing… myself! To take the reader into the deeper portions of my twisted psyche and explain why I love the anime that I do. I’ve thought upon this subject a little throughout the years, but never felt I had a deep enough pool of titles to choose from. Now that I’ve seen over 250 anime titles (and re-watched all of my favorites at least once), I’m comfortable enough to know what I cherish most.

I’ll also publicly state that this idea was heavily inspired by this thread on the MyAnimeList community forums.

My four favorite anime, at the time that I am writing this, are Toradora!KatanagatariOokami to Koushinryou, and Dennou Coil. Just in case you weren’t familiar with the titles from the picture above. On the surface, these anime don’t tend to have a lot in common, whether it be setting, animation style, or focus of the narrative. In fact, Toradora! and Dennou Coil are completely opposite to Katanagatari and Ookami to Koushinryou in terms of the year the story takes place. My favorites tend to have a varying blend of different distinctive qualities to them. However, there is something that sticks out like a sore thumb, if one has seen these anime from start to finish.

Setting aside Dennou Coil, the three anime left all have an integral focus on romance. While the importance of romance in Katanagatari is debatable, they all thrive within the finicky feeling to both progress the plot and develop the characters. Though romance is a common theme in most anime titles, there’s something inherently similar with the romance among these three titles. It focuses on two characters (for the most part) slowly getting to know one another through a mutual desire to work together towards a similar goal. Taiga and Ryuuji from Toradora! want to get with each other’s friend. Togame from Katanagatari wants to collect the twelve legendary swords, while Shichika joins her simply out of “love.” Holo from Ookami to Koushinryou wants to travel back to her homeland, while Kraft, a traveling salesman, wishes to do business along the way. Each anime casts a heavy focus on putting two important characters together and having them share a momentous amount of screen time (and implied off-screen time) together. Over the course of their respective anime, the male and female lead eventually begin to understand each other more than they ever cared to before, which is another point to make: the major characters in each anime have no prior personal connection to one another before the anime begins. They start off as complete strangers, only to mold into something more.

So what does this say about me? One might assume based on what I’ve described that I just really want a girlfriend. While that may be true to some regard, I feel it’s more that I relish the building of a relationship between two people from beginning to end, and friendships can only go so far before the emotional spike hits the ceiling. I’ve had many chance encounters with people online and off that develop into meager acquaintances or casual friendships, but it’s those certain few who you want to let inside your world, and they the same for you, that tickle my fancy for blooming relationships. Very few times have I met that person who would continue to pique my interest in them for long periods, despite knowing next to everything about them. This isn’t only applied to romantic partners, either. Friendships can have an everlasting impact on the well-being of an individual, but I’ve always been intrigued with the concept of love and how the people involved deal with it. It’s one thing to see it in fictional media such as anime, but to see it in person, with people who aren’t always the same frame after frame, is always bewildering, whether good or bad. As an aspiring critic, I enjoy critiquing works created by people, but what might be the most difficult and satisfying subject of all are the people who created that work.

As such, a critic’s tastes in anything are bound to develop over time. I watched Toradora! and Ookami to Koushinryou in June of 2012, while Katanagatari was later in December. Until Dennou Coil earlier this year, I was torn between various titles as to what would be my fourth (and even fifth) favorite anime. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was up there for a while, then eventually teetered off as my experience with anime grew further out. Gosick was also a contender very early on (as another series that focused on two strangers, male and female, developing a bond over time), but a recent “re-watch” (of half an episode) reminded me of how trivial the series really was. Finally, White Album 2 held a spot among my favorites for about a half a year, but even that began to wane in self-perceived quality thinking back to it. That’s in desperate need for a re-watch. It wasn’t until Dennou Coil, viewed early on in the 2016 Summer of Anime, that I managed to find something I felt comfortable enough putting among my favorites list. Needless to say, it’s not exactly from the same family as the favorites that came before it.

Dennou Coil is an interesting phenomenon. It doesn’t involve two opposite-sex strangers developing a bond over time working towards a similar goal, nor does it even star characters within my age range (Toradora! had teenage characters, while Katanagatari and Ookami to Koushinryou had adult characters). Dennou Coil is more keen on imaginative world-building and developing the bonds between friends and family members, along with an almost whimsical study of denial and letting go. It’s an anime that took me by surprise; I would’ve never guessed I’d become so fond of it based on the first few episodes. And I think, above all, Dennou Coil is the first anime to really impress me without having to tickle my fetishes or tinker with my subjective biases. It’s an anime that, back in 2012, I wouldn’t really care to partake in, whether it be because of the age-range of characters (most are kids), the style of the animation, or the G rating (I like my series dark). It seems so “kiddy” on the surface, like it would only appeal to little kids, y’know? Luckily for me, this plays out more like a Studio Ghibli film than Norm of the North.

As I said before, Dennou Coil is the first anime I’ve favorited without having it appeal to my many subjective biases, but that doesn’t mean there were things about the series I didn’t feel emotionally connected to. A central topic in Dennou Coil is death, an area which I haven’t had to deal with often. Many of my relatives (ones I feel close to, anyway) are still alive and kicking, and I never had any friends be subjected to freak accidents or anything of the sort. The only thing that comes close was the death of a family cat that lived with me for nine years. It’s both good and bad to say that the most traumatic death I’ve ever experienced in my life was the death of a cat I had for nine years. However, Dennou Coil also deals with coping with death, or the loss of a loved one. Perhaps because of my inexperience with death, I struggle emotionally handling things of a similar nature. That section above about the chance encounters with people online and off? Many of those people, both with whom I was close and not so close to, are gone now. They didn’t die, but we eventually drifted apart. I no longer speak to many of them, which in a way counts as a “loss.” A few of them were people I felt close to, likely too close, and the ensuing difference in interest caused friction within the relationship. I understand it’s more trivial than something as permanent as death, but things like that bother me greatly, and Dennou Coil reminded me of my own struggles with letting others go. Most importantly, it reminded me that life goes on, even after all the turmoil.

The difference in time between my favorites also shows my evolution as a critic. In 2012, I was young, practically a child (if 19-year-olds were children). I would let my love for romance and uninhibited emotional growth between two people cloud out the flaws present within the anime. I would overrate anime if it tickled my romantic bias enough (See: Mayo Chiki!GosickBaka to Test to ShoukanjuuKami-sama no Memochou). Now-a-days, if an anime so much as shows a single panty shot, I rate it a 1. Just kidding. But I’ve become much less tolerant of ecchi clichés and… well, clichés in general. Perhaps that’s why it took so long to find another permanent replacement for a favorite after Katanagatari, because I was so stubborn with my own expectations that it took something completely off my radar to find a suitable heir apparent. I’ve just become more picky. When you compare everything romance to Toradora!, it’s hard to find another Toradora!.

This is all subject to evolve within the years, but I think what I’ve listed now is a good start in showing what kind of person I am and how my favorite anime reflect that. I think this post would’ve been a lot more dull had Dennou Coil not been on there. It certainly would have cut about five hundred words or so. I think it’s interesting to see the contrast between my three first favorites and the one that came long afterwards. I suppose sometime in the future I’ll have to do the same for my favorite manga… except all my favorite manga are what I enjoy about my favorite anime, so it’d be a little redundant. The one thing I can guarantee after reading this post is that you, the reader, will know that I’m very fond of romance. And that I am incredibly grateful for taking time out of your day to read my blog. Thanks again for 10,000 views, and happy reading!

You can find all my favorites and their ratings on MyAnimeList.

Entry #7: Ookami to Koushinryou (Re-Watch)

(Season One)

I’ve realized something about myself. I despise writing about all of these series when I have basically nothing to say about them that really stands out from other entry descriptions. Many of them just consist of “Oh, it’s really stupid. Funny joke. lol.” It’s truly a maddening process. On a brighter note, once I start writing, I immediately don’t care anymore. I love writing!

Spice and Wolf, or Ookami yadda la doo-dah, was the eighth anime I ever watched (in regards to my recent anime renaissance). I remember thinking the economic doohickies of th first season got in the way of the development of the relationship between Horo and Craft. I don’t believe that anymore. I have the transitional skills of a turtle.

The beautiful thing about this series is that it isn’t cliche. It is, from what I could pick up, completely devoid of cliche, except for maybe the premise of a young man traveling with a beautiful, “young” deity. That may be the only zing. Otherwise, this story is riveting based purely on its refreshing take on the romantic progression of a couple’s road to freedom. It genuinely feels like a fantastic viewing, only because of how realistic everything feels, despite the pseudo realistic setting.

I once told a friend of mine that the only thing anyone desires in an anime is good chemistry between characters. Spice and Wolf is one that takes full advantage of this statement. The way Horo and Craft get along is unlike any relationship I have ever seen in anime, and like many I’ve seen in real life. The teasing, the fights, the genuinely sappy moments all feel as desired due to this pair’s strong bond, which is only strengthened by the pair’s personalities.

Horo is a wise wolf. She is also beautiful. She is also like any other human being, which contradicts her position, granted we aren’t comparing her to the Greek Gods. Horo is the one anime character that I can recall teaching my life lessons. I can even recall learning something new after this most recent re-watch. When you learn life lessons from anime, you know you’re watching something spectacular. Her emotions are on her sleeve, except when she’s being sly. Like a wolf… wait, no, that’s a fox. She’s just a well rounded character, through and through. Craft is a nice guy. But aren’t all people nice guys? Craft is also an analytic businessman. But aren’t all people analytic businessmen? No. That’s the one thing he has going for him. If his personality were any indicator, he might’ve been just as cliche as any main male character. Fortunately, he grows as a person all throughout the series, seeing as Horo is so wise. But that’s not to say Horo is always the one doing the teaching. Their relationship grows from each other, as they get to know one another through their quirks. The little things are taken into consideration, as they blossom as a couple by the end of it. They both are good characters to begin with, with Horo having the clear edge early on. However, their development through each other is what makes both of them great.

Bah. Art is fine. I really don’t care about writing about art, it seems. Unless it’s bad. I should appreciate what I have. Ho-hum.

So, to check it off, amazing chemistry between characters… yeah, that’s it. That’s really all that needs to be said about this title. Their relationship alone is something that needs to be highly praised. Though, I will admit, the economic side to the story is interesting as well. It’s also a nice supplement for emotional distress and a producer of drama. Wow, I’ve realized that there’s a lot more to be said about the plot than I’m giving it credit for. Bah, I’m lazy. Perhaps next season.

(Season Two)

Normally, I’d be upset with a lot of unneeded writing, but this series makes it excusable. So good.

The second season of Spice and Wolf is spicier than the first, which may be why I enjoyed it more on a personal level. However, one thing I will admit is that the relationship between Horo and Craft feels a lot stronger in the firs season than the second. There are distinct differences, and they certainly seem closer by experience, but it seems as though Horo takes more of a back seat role in the second season compared to Craft. There are instances of this in the first season, but this season does it more frequently. What fun it was to see Horo hold her own during contract negotiations and sales pitches. We see more love quarrels than good ol’ economic fun.

I couldn’t even count every arc of the first season, because it all seemed to blend in so perfectly. In the second season, there are two arcs. Two. Each comprising of six episodes. I wonder if each of these arcs covered one whole volume of the source story. If so, that’s impressive. However, seeing as I was able to count them, it makes the story feel somewhat fixed. The first season had this adventure-esque quality that allowed you to immerse yourself within it and forget about silly arcs and what not. While I can’t say this changes for the worse in the second season, it certainly becomes noticeable.

What I believe the second season does better than the first is addressing the tough questions between Horo and Craft’s relationship. This is where a lot of that “unneeded drama” comment stems from, but it’s not unneeded. It’s perfectly natural. Too natural. I almost think this is real life. These issues also present an interesting take on relationships between strangers, or stranger beings. It feels natural, I can guarantee, as the emotions flowing through me at the time were emotions of dread and discomfort. It stings the heart and the mind.

Why does it seem like the closer two people come together, the less they can have fun with each other? This certainly becomes an issue during the second season, and it follows up into the end of the season. Horo seems more stout in the first season. Craft seems more stoic in the first season. In the second, the become more complacent. The experience together made them softer, more accepting of things that occurred. However, this complacency is also their downfall. I thoroughly enjoyed their relationship to the fullest extent, but their bond didn’t seem as strong as it could be. Even at the end, it didn’t seem as strong as it could be. I’m no nomad of love myself, but that doesn’t stop me from questioning.

Horo the wise wolf actually taught me more about life than… er… school? Her teachings seem more relatable in this season, even if her personality doesn’t. As I’ve stated before, Horo loses her composure more often during this season. She isn’t as stout, and her playful banter is only used to a certain degree. The carefree, loving bond between man and wolf that was present in the first season is put under trial during this season. Craft as a character, I feel, improves during this season. He becomes more of a human being. He thinks with his heart instead of his head. And with love at stake, what more could we ask for? His playfulness has increased. His cunning as well. He’s come full circle from being the ultimate merchant to the ultimate human being, full of every emotion ever conceivable.

Art is fine. Like I said before, nothing special is ever said about art unless it’s fantastic or fantastically bad. One thing: Horo and Craft’s first kiss looks odd.

When I first finished Toradora, I was thrown into a funk that lasted the entire day after. I didn’t want to do anything. I just wanted to lay in bed and think about my life. Finishing Spice and Wolf for the first time, I experienced similar symptoms. However, I believe the open ending gave me more hope for a more fulfilling finale… but alas, the anime does not care to show it. Even after this most recent re-watch, Spice and Wolf’s open conclusion left me with a sort of melancholy that reminded me of the past. It was a fitting emotion; one that I’ve felt many times after viewing such wondrous anime such as Spice and Wolf. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Personal Score: A-

Critical Score: A-