The best(-ish) 25(-ish) anime of all time

New to anime? Looking for the highlights? Try Glass Reflection Top 25-ish Recommended Anime:



Granted, this is not a perfect list by any measure, very much weighted towards the present and the more blokey sort of anime, with noticable omissions. But it is a good starting point and a way to inspire yourself to seek out more. You may have noticed I’ve been on a bit of an anime kick lately, mainly because I finally got off my ass and got a home entertainment system sorted, consisting of getting my Chromecast up and running, using Plex Media Server to stream everything from a net drive. It works surprisingly well, even when I’m away from home. Oddly enough, by making it easier for myself to watch my anime, I ended up watching more. This top twentyfive list was a neat way to think about what to watch next or seek out.

And since I posted this to MetaFilter anyway (and you may want to check out the discussion there) and it’s a waste to throw away all the links I found, I thought, why not post it here too? Below the cut is the complete list with links to reviews, trailers or discussions of them.

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Loveable like the clatter of iron tracks



Admittedly, it sounds like Girls und Panzer should be awful. A bunch of typically stereotyped anime high school girls are bullied by their overpowerful student committee into taken up tankery, the refined and genteel sport that makes proper women and wives out of young girls, with the main character being reluctant to enter the sport again because of a mysterious accident in her past at her previous school. Done wrong it could be an endless series of fanservice panty shots, crappy slapstick and a trite plot to justify it all.



Luckily it’s better than that. Yes, the idea is silly, but the series takes it seriously, which makes all the differences. The tanks are recognisable like their real world counterpart, each with their own strengths and weaknesses and the tactics used are relatively sensible. Of course, since this is at heart a sports anime, the battles shown are more like those in World of Tanks than real warfare, something fans of the former have taken to heart. Especially because every now and again there are awesome moments of grognard nerdiness like this:



But without a good story, all this tank nerdery would be pointless. And what Girls und Panzer has is the classic sports underdog story, where the plucky newcomer with no pedigree, no experience, underestimated by the competition has to win for reasons. It’s a formula, but a well done formula: you know they’re going to win, but you don’t known how and there’s genuine tension as the odds are stacked against them. They don’t always win; there are losses too and there is a learning curve.



The characterisation, at first broad, is deepened too over the course of the series, which packs a lot in just twelve episodes (and two recap specials as the production got into trouble). Two things make it stand out from many other, similar looking anime series. The first is that all significant characters are women (only three men appear in minor parts) who work together to overcome adversary, with no sniping, no back biting, none of the silly little rivalries you see in other series. The second is that there are no villains, nobody cheating or gratitiously nasty: even the people dismissive or somewhat insulted by the newbies entering their sacred sport are won over. That’s what makes this special. That and showing how you can use a Type 89 to kill a Maus.

Can fandom change society?



No. It’s just a goddamn hobby.

Well, not in the way that the title and some of the content of this high level introduction to the wonderful world of modern fandom(s) implies. Fandom in itself is not a political act, but it is a way of interacting with the media we consume in a more healthy way than just passively receiving it.

Intersectionality is just another word for solidarity

I’m always leery of arguments like this, that want to dismiss the different axises of oppression various groups of people struggle with in favour of some vulgar marxist idea of the working class and not asking too many questions. Too often this has been used by alter kakkers to just dismiss any struggle that doesn’t fit in their century and a half old ossified world view:

Where people on the left should be focussed on what unites us, us here referring to the working class rather than the left in general (lol, as if that’s going to happen), as workers -the foundations from which we can build the new society- we now see attempts to stratify through definition the working class under the guise of intersectional analysis. An intersectional analysis is a useful tool to have in one’s box if one is studying Sociology or writing academic papers but in the real world it doesn’t translate well, not well at all. In fact one of the reasons that I began my abstention from generalised political activity was the emergence of this approach -along with the increasing popularity of privilege politics- as I saw early on that the praxis that would develop from this approach would inevitably see a return to the embarrassing ‘hierarchy of oppressions’ which permeated the radical politics of the 1970s/80s (before my time -I’m not that old!).

He may not be that old, but his criticisms are. There’s always been a tension within socialism about how to define the struggle. Rightwing socialists tend to define it narrowly, purely as the struggle of the working classes against the bourgeois and anything that isn’t directly related to that struggle as a distraction. Depending on the decade — or century — you’re talking about this could mean feminism, civil rights, gay rights, or today, intersectionality and online activism.

The leftwing has always defined the struggle much more broadly. There’s a long and proud tradition within socialism and communism of not just fighting for the rights of (white) working men, but also recognised from the start that you can’t build a classless society when half the population is still powerless because of their gender, that it’s immoral to let the welfare of the British worker depend on the continuing exploitation of the Indian worker. So there’s always been a strain in socialism that defined the struggle much broader than just defending workers’ rights, that strived for an utopia for all people.

That is intersectionality pur sang and the thing about it is that it works both ways. There’s always a tendency to assume that these causes always distract from your own, much more worthy and important one, but intersectionality also gets you allies. That’s what happened in 1984 when at the height of AIDS paranoia stoked homophobia a group of London gay men and lesbians reached out and supported the South Wales Miners Strike:



Both groups were canny enough to understand that they struggled against the same oppression. The gay and lesbian activists recognised the police violence and oppression the miners were subjected to from their own experiences with them and believed in solidarity enough to not just recognise it, but take action. And the miners reprociated, send delegations to Gay Pride, supported them in their struggle. It was of course mocked by the establishment — now the perverts support the pits, as The Sun put it.

But you might say, gay liberation, strikes, those are real political actions, real causes, not frivolity like what I’m talking about, but that was far from the mainstream view back in 1984. So many socialists for so long saw homosexuality as a capitalist perversion, not as part of their struggle, not something that could be easily portrayed in terms of class struggle. And that’s why this bloody cartoon included in the post annoys me so much:

cartoon by RednBlackSalamander

Not just because it’s a lazy cheap shot and doesn’t understand that in 2015 it’s really hasn’t been possible for at least a decade to pretend that that online space is less important than offline spaces. No, it’s because I’m old enough to know that all the examples of worthy causes given here –take back the night, ending rape culture, lgbt rights — would have been ridiculed and dismissed as fauxtivism and middle class vanities not too long ago. It’s breathtakingly ignorant.

Now AW Hendry started his post by mocking the Sad Puppies, which is how I stumbled upon it, thanks to Mike Glyer’s sterling work rounding up Puppy related material. He used it as his example of how people waste time with online activism and throughout his piece the unspoken assumption is made that online doesn’t matter and economic considerations should be much more important than cultural fights like this. What this misses is that, even apart from the simple fact that quite a few of us now live our lives as much online as in the real world, online follows you home — ask Zoe Quinn or any other SWATting victim. What he also misses is that the struggle over the Hugos is more than just the misplaced vanity of a few rightwing culture warriors: as Kameron Hurley explained, the Hugos meant she got $13,000 more in her post-Hugo book advance.

Not the highest of stakes perhaps, but for your average struggling writer that is a large chunk of money. I also have the suspicion for at least some of the ringleaders, this kerfuffle is a way to help themselves to some of that sweet, sweet wingnut welfare. People like Tom Krautman or Dave Freer may seem dangerously unhinged to normal people, but they’d fit in well with Vox Day’s old haunt, Worldnet Daily. Voxy himself of course is trying to establish his vanity press as a serious rightwing proposition and arguably does all this for the publicity. Which means for him at least it’s not the winning that’s important, it’s keeping the fight going, the better to keep fleecing suckers.

Supergirl



I sort of see why people were mocking this when it first came out a couple of days ago, what with looking more rom-comy than superheroy in places, but really this looks fun. A superhero who actually wants to be a superhero and has fun doing it? Not to mention that it looks like this is basically the same way Superman was introduced all the way back in the first Christopher Reeves movie, with the wanting to be normal, the clumsiness and awkwardness, even the picking out a costume scene.

A bit more soap opera in your superhero adventure isn’t a bad thing; that’s how Marvel got so big after all, it keeps your heroes grounded and it makes it more interesting than just an endless stream of hero vs villain fights.

the only things I could’ve done without were the awkward gay joke in the middle and the inevitable secret government service keeping taps of superheroes being hostile without reason, especially not when it’s yet another Gruff Black Military Guy.

Omdat



Bloem was a Dutch band who had their greatest hit with a somewhat corny song a couple of years before this one, a true one hit wonder. I stumbled across this one on one of those nostalgia tv channels; it’s been years since I last heard it. Only a minor hit, a darkly cynical pisstake off the inferiory complex of Dutch language pop singers, “because French is so much more romantic and English more mature”, at a time when the Nederpop boom was just gathering steam. The eighties were a time when a new generation of Dutch musicians, inspired by punk and its d.i.y. ethos no longer wanted to imitate English or American pop but went to sing in their own language. But sadly for Bloem it was too late. A couple of decent songs, two albums and lack of support from their record company meant they called it quits in 1983.