Posted by psgels on 9 January 2014 with categories: Top 10 Anime

Over the years, even when I just started blogging, I’ve seen enough people get tired of anime, claiming that anime in the past used to be so much better. I remember that I kindof saw their point, however there were plenty of awesome series to keep me watching. However, after the current state of the season so far, I really do long for the anime of the past, and they seemed so much more diverse.

However, the big trap with these statements is to over-glorify the past. “Yeah, the past used to be so much better, in my days blah blah”, so you need to be careful with these kinds of statements: you forget the boring parts and only remember the things that stood out. So because of that I decided to take a good look back at the past winter seasons. I’ll rank all of them, but I’ll talk about them in chronological order. For each picture, I’ll use a picture of the series that turned out to be the best, by the standards I hold today.

Once this season has ended, if I feel motivated enough, I’ll also include it in this list.

Winter 2013

This was a really bad season. The only remotely good non-sequel show to come out of it was Kotoura-san. It had a very strong first episode for a school series, and managed to keep it up for 1 cour. Beyond that, the obvious stand-out was a sequel: Chihayafuru, which admittedly was just fantastic. AKB0048 unfortunately was not as interesting as I hoped it to be, and Amnesia and Tamako Market had promising first episodes, only to crash down horribly. Apart from that, the school setting was again very prevalent (Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Mangirl, Sasami@Ganbaranai). Lots of series looked the same, but there also was some historical fantasy here and there (Maoyuu, The Hakkenden, Senran Kagura). Out of around 31 series, I only found three of them actually worth watching.
Rank: #11

Winter 2012

This was a season in which suddenly there were three ambitious science fiction series airing at the same time: Rinne no Lagrange, Mouretsu Pirates and Aquarion Evol. Out of those, only Rinne ended up not fulfilling its promise, but still it wasn’t bad. On top of that there was a solid horror-series with Another, and three really solid comedies in the form of Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki, Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou and the incredibly random second season of Tantei Opera Milky Holmes. Natsume Yuujinchou came with its amazing fourth season that gave a ton of depth into the people around him. So yes, I would say that this was a very good season, with a pretty decent variety as well. Aside from mecha and comedy, there also was slice of life, sports, fantasy and romance. I would call this a very well rounded season.
Rank: #7

Winter 2011

This season stood out due to three absolutely amazing series: Level E, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica and Hourou Musuko. All three together covered the entire spectrum: one was a brilliant comedy, another brilliantly deconstructed the mahou shoujo genre, and another was a brilliant look into what it is to be a transgender. These three alone made this season worth watching, and on top of that we also get a pretty decent closure to Kimi ni Todoke, a “so bad it’s good”-comedy Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu, and Gosick, an adventure series which started out questionably, but ended beautifully. The downside to this season was that there were a lot of stinkers. Fractale is the most notable for having a wonderful premise, only to completely ignore it, but Yumekui Merry had the same fate: great premise and execution, but just cut off in the middle leaving nothing resolved. Dragon Crisis just went worse as it went along, and Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka also failed to stay funny. Not to mention the epically bad Rio Rainbow Gate, Infinite Stratos and another Oniichan series. A season of huge ups and huge downs.
Rank: #6

Winter 2010

Oh boy, I remember how this was a stinker when it came along. However, looking back on it, it’s not the worst, it’s better than the Winter of 2013, however that season was backed up by a very strong Autumn season, while this one… wasn’t. So we were stuck with Durarara, a series which thankfully had a fantastic first half, only to have a much less interesting second half later on. The one series that stood out was Heartcatch Precure, the series that showed how much you can do with the mahou shoujo formula. Katanagatari also was interesting and fresh with its wordplay, but the problem with these series was that they paid out very slowly: Heartcatch Precure only started in February and had 50 episodes, and Katanagatari only aired once a month. Apart from that there were series that had interesting premises and were nice to watch, but never really were meant for greatness, like Cobra The Animation, a revival of the classic TV-series, and Sora no Oto, which at the very least had a very intriguing setting (really rushed ending though!). However, this also was the season in which the barriers of good taste got lowered significantly: Seikon no Qwaser was pretty much borderline porn. With a measly 17 series total that aired, things did not look good for anime at the time. However, things recovered afterwards.
Rank: #10

Winter 2009

Winter 2009 was weird. It was stunning, completely stunning. Birdy the Mighty Decode still stands in my top 10 because of it. White Album was incredibly annoying, but ultimately worth it and a unique romance. Ride Back started out rather weird, but it turned out to be a pretty unique mecha series about an adult female who drove this cross between a motorcycle and a robot. Maria-sama ga Miteru surpassed itself, Shikabane Hime was weird, but ultimately awesome to watch, and Hajime no Ippo also completely surpassed itself. It was glorious, and yet there were so many annoyances at the same time with how the Tower of Druaga failed to live up to its hype, Natsume Yuujinchou’s second season was not as strong as the first, Koukaku no Regios didn’t go anywhere, Kurokami failed to deliver, and Munto turned out to be nothing more than a blatant recap. I also remember complaining about how there were way too many sequels this season. And true, the amount of sequels at the very least has never been as overwhelming as in this season. 2009 was definitely the year with the most conflicting feelings.
Rank: #3

Winter 2008

This season was one of the best winter seasons ever. The reason was the sheer quantity of amazing series that aired. Porphy no Nagai Tabi is a series that today can not be made: 52 episodes dedicated to a children’s novel, coupled with stunning background art. Gunslinger Girl’s sequel was very controversial due to the style change, but I loved it. Shigofumi had an awesome concept of a girl who brought back letters from the dead, and True Tears is one of those unique romances in which you never really know what the characters were thinking. Hakaba Kitarou seamlessly combined horror with comedy, Aria the Origination was an amazing conclusion to the Aria franchise and Spice and Wolf was a really intelligent look at medieval economics with excellent characters. THIS. This is what a winter season should be. There was something for everyone, many risks were taken and many series delivered in well thought-out ways. There were a few disappointments, but none of them were really big disappointments. Just a few series that burned out in their second halves (Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei and Sisters of Wellber 2), and the obviously bad series like Rosario to Vampire were in a minority and could be easily avoided.
Rank: #1

Winter 2007

The 2007 season had much less quantity. However, what it lacked there, it made up for in quality as it premiered two series that would grow out to be absolute classics: Les Miserables and Nodame Cantabile. This definitely was a season for the people into classic literature or music. No other season has ever been able to deliver two of these masterpieces at the same time. If you look at the rest of the season, the you’ll see lots of action: generic action series or series about people with powers fighting each other, that never really stood out. Rocket Girls was nice, and Master of Epic also was this unique little comedy series. There also was slice of life, sports. That’s the big difference between this season’s lackluster series: in 2014, everything looks like each other. In 2007, things were uninteresting, but at least they were different.
Rank: #5

Winter 2006

This was the first winter season I actively followed. And what a season it turned out to be: Ayakashi ~ Japanese Classic Horror, Ergo Proxy and Rescue Wings together. All incredible series, aimed at adults, yet all completely different. Beyond that there was a really solid romance series situated in a hospital with HanTsuki, Magikano was hilarious back when Seiji Kishi was still good. Plus, Nerima Daikon Brothers: an actual animated musical that never got fully subbed, yet was really fun to watch. There may not be as many series here, but here is the thing with this season: all these six series were incredibly well thought out. They had some really interesting ideas and they took their risks, instead of rehashing the most popular thing around. All of these series set out to challenge the status quo and do something never done before. Even Magikano, as its brand of humour was still fresh back then.
Rank: #4

Winter 2005

Here we get to the point where I haven’t seen every series that came out, so my view of this season has also a few impressions here and there. This was an average season, that delivered two really strong short series: Air and Starship Operators. Romance and space opera. Beyond that there was the short comedy Gag Manga Biyori. Beyond that, there’s lots of romance, mecha and kiddie shows. I mean things like Mahou Sensei Negima, Peach Girl, Jinki Extend: I saw small fragments of them but none of them really looked like they had potential. This actually reminds me a lot of the season we’re currently in.
Rank: #8

Winter 2004

This is a weird season since there were two utter classics that aired with strange schedules: Ghost in the Shell’s second season aired two episodes at the start of each month, and Paranoia Agent started in february. Especially Paranoia Agent was absolutely fantastic in every single way. But yeah, this season absolutely rocked. One of the best action series out there in the form of Jubei-chan 2 also was shown here. That’s three completely amazing shows in one winter-season, and the rest of the season, even the not interesting ones, are incredibly varied. There are fanservice series, but plenty of historical ones, there is a comedy, there are series aimed at a young audience, and old audience, plenty of series that took risks and series that just stayed with the status quo. The balance is perfect here.
Rank: #2

Winter 2003

The top three series this season were all really inspired: The Big O’s second season really knew how to play with the mecha genre, Ashita no Nadja was a really creative shoujo adventure that we nowadays never get to see anymore, and Wolf’s Rain, although the execution left a bit to be desired here and there, really stood out with how its main cast consisted out of wolves, and I absolutely cannot fault its setting, which was incredibly imaginative. Beyond that though, this was a small season. Most of the other shows were just harmless fluff or just plain bad series. Oh, and Licensed by Royal, which I haven’t seen but admittedly does look interesting.
Rank: #9

Winter 2002

One thing to note is that ten years ago, the seasons were much smaller. This season, ignoring the kiddie shows, had about 16 anime. The best of which was RahXephon, which was an intelligent mecha series, definitely. Also good were the adventure series Patapata Hikousen no Bouken for the younger audience, and Fullmetal Panic, for the older audience. Nothing standout like in previous years though. Kanon also premiered, starting the trend of key adaptations, and Onegai Teacher aired as well. Nothing much stands out, but there are lots of cute girls, along with generic action series in which the enemies are strange supernatural beings.
Rank: #12

Winter 2001

Here we get to the part where the winter season was pretty much insignificant. The only series that are noteworthy are Arjuna (a nature series, admittedly very creative) and Tales of Eternia. Ojamajo Doremi also had one of its seasons here, but apart from that… there was hardly anything. That I’ve seen, at least. The thing is that there are surprisingly many series that feature adults as their protagonists. There are 14 series in total, and while most of them indeed do look uninteresting to me, they don’t suffer from the problem of not trying out different things.
Rank: #14

Winter 2000

Only 9 series aired in total. 9. That’s nothing. One series stood out from the bunch: Boogiepop Phantom. Fantastic show if you want to work hard in order to understand a series. Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran was also a very solid period piece. Beyond that though were mostly kiddie shows (we saw Mushrambo and Mon Colle Knights on Dutch TV, actually), but yeah, it’s apparent that producers at this age didn’t see much into winter seasons, and any series airing there is a mere coincidence. I’ll stop my overview here then.
Rank: #13


So, what did I conclude from this? Well, globally, these years can be divided into three periods. In the first period, until about 2005: relatively few series were released, and among them were two or three series that really stood out as amazing series, only 2004 had more and falls more in the period that came afterwards. The rest of the series were meh, however they were varied and were different from each other.

The second period is what I’d like to call the golden age of anime. It lasted from 2006 to 2009, including 2004 (and 2011 and 2012, I guess). The season size got much larger, and with that the amount of amazing series also increased. Every season had so many series that worthwhile. There was something for everyone and so many series came up with interesting ideas, rock solid executions. There were meh series, and series that didn’t deliver, but even amongst them was enough good stuff and things were varied.

And the third period started in 2010. Globally, things returned to having two or three really standout, really good series, with the rest not really being remarkable. But here’s the kicker: as opposed to the first period, the amount of series per season still is huge. There are as many series as in period two, and most likely even more! The result is that while a decade ago, you had the same amount of standout series, this time they’re surrounded by heaps and heaps of generic series that on top of that all look the same and don’t try to be anything new, different or fresh. You get piles of series that are all trying to fit into the same niche and therefore all just end up watering each other down due to the huge amount of competition.

Because of this, the stakes to stand out get higher, so more money is poured into the animation budget. The financial risk is higher, so in terms of storytelling you can’t take many risks either, so people opt for safe scriptwriters and series with interesting ideas are really hard to greenlight. Because of how everything is overcrowded, series that have certain elements in them tend to sell more, so every series needs to have those elements in them in order to also compete for sales. Even the good ones, leading to the excessive amounts of fanservice you see in nearly every show today. I mean, it cannot be a coincidence that Kill la Kill and Space Dandy, the TWO series that set out to try something new and different, both being ended up so crass at the same time.

So yes. I’m not saying anime is dying. I’m saying anime is in dire need of a new business model. The current one is fifteen years old now, and the lack of innovation is starting to hurt. The industry thankfully isn’t as far south as the gaming industry is, however something needs to happen. Be bold! Be creative! Screw conventions!

31 Responses

  1. Kurini says:

    It was a good read! It reminded me of some series I wanted to try and I added some series I would like to watch!
    I hope you’ll make one for spring, summer and fall too! :D

  2. Zadown says:

    “The industry thankfully isn’t as far south as the gaming industry is, however something needs to happen.”

    Gaming is both stale at the high end and very interesting and constantly changing at the indie scale of things with Kickstarter providing funds for both nostalgic and innovative enterprises. But you can’t (at least not yet) create impressive anime with tiny indie teams so you only get the stale high end side of things compared to gaming industry. Silly comment all in all, IMO. :P

    • Matthew I says:

      Yeah, video games are entering an age where the ease of creation and the number of people creating means that there is never going to be a cease to the flow of great games. There’s thousands of games released a DAY, and there are always people who play enough to sift through the crap for everyone else! And the ‘video game industry’ is basically unkillable, because theyre not tied to any business model. AAA games are not really my thing.

      Anime, on the other hand, could fall dead any day, its position is so precarious

    • Scruffy says:

      Makoto Shinkai may disagree with you about the possibility of indie Anime. He pretty much created ‘Voices of a Distant Star’ on his Mac at home and him and his then GF initially provided the voices. It’s true it was just an OVA but that is one way that Anime is innovating. We also have other kickstarter funded OVA’s such as Little Witch Academia.

    • notintheface11 says:

      Yes, this comment is simply ignorant. Games are just about as good as they’ve ever been. Focusing on the Call of Duty’s and AAA EA titles is akin to defining anime by whatever big KyoAni fanservice show is on at the moment. Anime didn’t have the best year in 2013 but that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with it or even its business model. Stuff that makes money tends to do well, and you just have to embrace that while continuing to look for the good in the medium.

  3. kyurenjo says:

    This is an amazing read. Wow.

    Looking forward to Spring, Summer, and Fall version.

  4. KaZuHiRo says:

    Here are the (most) complete list of anime that aired in Winter

    Daa! Daa! Daa!
    Ojamajo Doremi #
    Shinzo (Mushrambo)
    Miami Guns
    The Super Milk-chan Show
    Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran
    Mon Colle Knights
    Pilot Candidate (Megami Kouhousei)
    Boogiepop Phantom

    Salaryman Kintaro
    Mo~tto! Ojamajo Doremi
    Sushi Azarashi
    Sadamitsu the Destroyer
    Earth Defense Family
    Baki the Grappler
    Tales of Eternia

    2002 (suddenly got bigger)
    MegaMan NT Warrior
    Arcade Gamer Fubuki
    Kick Off
    Ojamajo Doremi Dokkaan!
    Galaxy Angel Z
    Genma Wars
    Kanon 2002
    Aquarian Age – Sign for Evolution
    Seven of Seve
    Ultimate Muscle
    Full Metal Panic!
    Beyblade: V-Force
    Mirage of Blaze
    Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat
    Patapata Hikousen no Bouken
    *I didn’t include Gun Frontier since it aired in the last week of March

    Tenshi no Shippo Chu!
    Beast Fighter – The Apocalypse
    Digi-girl Pop!
    Gunparade March
    Ashita no Nadja
    Crush Gear Nitro
    Someday’s Dreamers (Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsuna Koto)
    Shutsugeki! Machine Robo Rescue
    .hack//Legend Of The Twilight (Hack Udeden)
    L/R: Licensed by Royalty
    Nanaka 6/17
    Wolf’s Rain
    Ga-Ra-Ku-Ta: Mr. Stain on Junk Alley
    Beyblade G Revolution
    Lime-iro Senkitan (Raimuiro Senkitan)
    Stratos 4

    2004 (this is probably my favorite)
    Hit o Nerae!
    Yugo the Negotiator
    Paranoia Agent
    Kaiketsu Zorori
    Futari wa Pretty Cure
    Diamond Daydreams
    Daphne in the Brilliant Blue
    Burn-Up Scramble
    The Cosmopolitan Prayers
    Monkey Turn
    Transformers: Energon
    Area 88
    Gravion Zwei
    Jubei-Chan 2: The Counterattack of Siberia Yagyuu
    Maria-sama ga Miteru
    B-Legend! Battle Bedaman
    Mezzo DSA
    Misaki Chronicles (Divergence Eve 2)
    Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig

    Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan
    Strawberry Marshmallow
    La Corda D’Oro – primo passo
    Gag Manga Biyori
    Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart
    Buzzer Beater
    Damekko Doubutsu
    H2: Kimi to Ita Hibi
    Battle B-Daman: Fire Spirits
    Ultimate Girls
    Mahoraba ~Heartful Days~
    Transformers: Cybertron
    Gallery Fake
    Peach Girl
    Ah! My Goddess
    Starship Operators
    Xenosaga: The Animation
    Lime-iro Ryuukitan X
    Magical Canan

    Shinigami no Ballad
    Ergo Proxy
    Papillon Rose
    Futari wa Precure Splash Star
    Meine Liebe Wieder
    Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora
    Ayakashi – Samurai Horror Tales
    Kashimashi – Girl Meets Girl
    Funny Pets
    Nerima Daikon Brothers
    Yomigaeru Sora -Rescue Wings-
    Bakkyuu Hit! Crash Bedaman
    Kage kara Mamoru!
    Tactical Roar
    Wan Wan Serebu Soreyuke! Tetsunoshin
    Lemon Angel Project
    Rakugo Tennyo Oyui
    Amaenaide yo!! Katsu!!
    Kinnikuman Nisei – Ultimate Muscle 2
    Kagihime Monogatari – Eikyuu Alice Rondo

    Romeo × Juliet
    Ikki-Tousen: Dragon Destiny
    Rocket Girls
    Juusou Kikou Dancouga Nova
    Naruto Shippuuden
    Dinosaur King
    Yes! Precure 5
    Moonlight Mile
    Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpucho: Tou
    GR -Giant Robo-
    Getsumen to Heiki Mina
    Nodame Cantabile
    Venus Versus Virus
    Hidamari Sketch
    Les Misérables Shoujo Cosette
    Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight!
    Master of Epic
    Shuffle! Memories
    Deltora Quest
    Himawari Too!!
    Koisuru Tenshi Angelique – Kagayaki no Ashita
    Kyoushiro to Towa no Sora (Shattered Angels)
    Saint October
    Afro Samurai

    Gag Manga Biyori 3
    Bus Gamer
    Yes! Precure 5 GoGo!
    Kodai Ouja Kyouryuu King D-Kids Adventure: Yokuryuu Densetsu
    Daughters of Mnemosyne
    Hakaba Kitaro
    Spice and Wolf
    Aria the Origination
    Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino
    Porfy no Nagai Tabi
    Minami-ke: Okawari
    Persona -Trinity Soul-
    Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
    Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de
    Shigofumi – Letters from the Departed
    Zenryoku Usagi
    Hatenkou Yuugi
    True Tears
    Rosario + Vampire
    H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~
    Sisters of Wellber Zwei

    Fresh Pretty Cure
    Hetalia – Axis Powers
    Genji Monogatari Sennenki
    Keihin Kazoku
    Sakuran Boy DT
    Yume o Kanaeru Zou
    Sora o Miageru Shoujo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai (Munto)
    Slayers Evolution-R
    Kemono no Souja Erin
    Chrome Shelled Regios
    Examurai Sengoku
    Kupuu~!! Mamegoma!
    Birdy the Mighty Decode:02
    Asu no Yoichi!
    The Tower of Druaga: the Sword of Uruk
    Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger
    Viper’s Creed
    Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou
    Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo
    Minami-ke: Okaeri
    White Album
    Kotonakare Hero Gingerman
    Maria-sama ga Miteru (4th Season)
    Shikabane Hime: Kuro

    Heartcatch Precure!
    Chi-Sui Maru
    Nodame Cantabile: Finale
    Hanamaru Kindergarten
    Unko-san Junjou-ha
    Seikon no Qwaser
    Kaitou Reinya
    Dance in the Vampire Bund
    Hidamari Sketch × Hoshimittsu
    Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu
    Omamori Himari
    Sora no Woto
    Gag Manga Biyori+
    Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3: Owari Naki Unmei
    Cobra the Animation

    Mai no Mahou to Katei no Hi
    Bakugan: Mechtanium Surge
    Suite Precure
    Hourou Musuko
    DD Hokuto no Ken
    Dragon Crisis!
    Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?
    Level E
    Cardfight!! Vanguard
    Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu!
    Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne—!!
    Otona Joshi no Anime Time
    Puella Magi Madoka Magica
    Yumekui Merry
    Infinite Stratos
    Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season
    Rio – Rainbow Gate!

    Smile Precure!
    Black Rock Shooter
    Danball Senki W
    Inu X Boku Secret Service
    Thermae Romae
    Papa no Iu Koto o Kikinasai!
    Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
    Ano Natsu de Matteru
    Aquarion Evol
    Rinne no Lagrange
    Mouretsu Pirates
    Zero no Tsukaima F
    Area no Kishi
    High School DxD
    Senki Zesshou Symphogear
    Amagami SS+
    Tantei Opera Milky Holmes Dai-Ni-Maku
    Kill Me Baby
    Recorder and Randsell
    The Prince of Tennis II
    Natsume Yuujinchou TV 4

    RDG: Red Data Girl
    Otona Joshi no Anime Time Season 2
    Dokidoki! Precure
    Chokkyuu Hyoudai Robot Anime
    Hetalia The Beautiful World
    Ganbare! Lulu Lolo – Tiny Twin Bears
    Beast Saga
    Cardfight!! Vanguard: Link Joker Hen
    Ganbare! Odenkun
    Chihayafuru 2
    Mondaiji Tachi ga Isekai Kara Kuru Soudesuyo?
    Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Next
    Vividred Operation
    gdgd Fairies
    GJ Club
    Tamako Market
    The Unlimited -Hyoubu Kyousuke
    Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman
    Line Offline Salaryman
    Ishida to Asakura
    Love Live! School Idol Project
    Senran Kagura
    AKB0048 Next Stage
    D.C.III ~Da Capo III~
    Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East
    Minami-ke Tadaima
    Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru
    Cuticle Detective Inaba
    Maoyuu Maou Yuusha
    Ai Mai Mi
    Yama no Susume
    Heroes ~Legend of Battle Disks~

    2014 (To Watch for)
    Happiness Charge Precure!
    Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha.
    Maken-Ki! Two
    Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil
    Sekai Seifuku ~ Bouryaku no Zvezda
    Tesagure! Bukatsu-mono Encore
    Wake Up, Girls!
    Go! Go! 575
    Hozuki no Reitetsu
    Magical Warfare
    Meitantei Rascal
    Sakura Trick
    Silver Spoon 2
    Z/X Ignition
    Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Ren
    Mikakunin de Shinkoukei
    Oneechan ga Kita
    Youkai Watch
    Wooser no Sono Higurashi Kakusei-hen
    Koukaku Kidoutai Nyumon Arise
    SoniAni -Super Sonico the Animation-
    Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta
    Minna Atsumare! Falcom Gakuen
    Nobunaga The Fool
    Saki Zenkoku-hen
    Space Dandy
    Tonari no Seki-kun
    Witch Craft Works
    Future Card Buddyfight
    Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiin Da Ga
    Robot Girls Z
    Seitokai Yakuindomo 2
    Buddy Complex

    And here is 1999 (which is probably the best winter season ever)
    Digimon Adventure
    Petshop of Horrors
    Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
    Bomber Man & Bidaman Bakugaiden V
    Ojamajo Doremi
    Hatsumei Boy Kanipan (Gadget Boy)
    Beast Wars Neo
    Chiisana Kyojin Microman
    Space Pirate Mito
    Crest of the Stars

    • omo says:

      Thanks for this comment, it helps to compare that with what the main post is talking about. Granted it is missing a few things and has some OVAs and what not listed.

      As for me, 2008 was also an outstanding season but each year there were more interesting shows than before. I think on average 2008-2014 was way more interesting than 2000-2007 (golden age was not so golden IMO). I also agree 1999 was a surprisingly awesome year (by ratio).

    • KaZuHiRo says:

      I forgot to add Kurokami, Maria Holic and Akikan! in Winter 2009

  5. Tassia says:

    Please stop saying “to be a transgender”! I know you’re Dutch and I understand you having a bit of difficultly with English. I’m thinking your other transgender readers, such as Emma, probably also feel awkward reading that. Transgender is an adjective, not a noun. These are all correct: “I am a transgender person”, “I am a transsexual woman”, and “I am a trans girl”. I loved Hourou Musuko and was really emotionally into it- it’s an amazing series in general, though part of my joy for it was probably from the fact that I was trans and not out to even myself yet back when I was watching it 3 years ago and following your blog. I still feel so passionately for trans kids like Nitori and Takatsuki.

    • Emma says:

      @Tassia: Ha, oh my , I must say that although I do appreciate the thought I got more of a chuckle out of the odd phrasing in that sentence he wrote , heh I don’t feel all that bothered or offended. I felt autistic compelled at one point though to correct him jokingly when he mixed up the word transvestism with mtf transexuality. (But I’m not one for being a phrasing nazi! lol)
      I actually had the same experience as you with the show, I even went to rewatch it when I had more of an idea.

      I already popped my comments on the shoutbox about this post but I think reading this again I’ll add that putting in perspective winter seasons tend not to be as good as other seasons more often than not.

      • Tassia says:

        Yeah, I wasn’t really offended either. I have Asperger’s and that may contribute to me habitually wanting that corrected. And I so often see trans people on reddit correcting cis people’s messup on this grammar.

        I totally agree with your opinions on 2011. In 2008 I was only beginning to be seriously into anime and was almost entirely watching stuff life Miyazaki, Naruto, FMA, Code Geass, Azumanga Daioh, Great Teacher Onizuka, Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and 5 cm/s. Of what psgels mentioned in 2008 I’ve only really seen Spice and Wolf.

        • Emma says:

          I was on and off anime in 2008 and 2009 sometimes, I know 2010 winter can be criticized yes but it was around then with heartcatch and wagnaria I started getting alot more open again with less serious shows.

  6. Spike says:

    “So yes. I’m not saying anime is dying. I’m saying anime is in dire need of a new business model. The current one is fifteen years old now, and the lack of innovation is starting to hurt. The industry thankfully isn’t as far south as the gaming industry is, however something needs to happen. Be bold! Be creative! Screw conventions!”

    Actually, neither the gaming nor anime industries are in need of a new model. The current model is making them HEAPS AND HEAPS of money. 95% of the anime you praise to no end about creativity and story and such are complete flops financially.

    Like it or not, anime is not made for some random Dutch fan, its made for the loser otaku in Japan that wants Tits and Moe and preorders those blurays / dvds / collectibles long before you’ve even written a review of the first episode saying how shitty it is. That’s just how anime is, and probly always will be so there’s really no reason complain about it all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the thought-provoking mature series as much as you – but anime just like all entertainment isn’t art, it’s a business. They’ll go where the money is.

    • Miranna says:


      The anime industry isn’t dying, far from it

      It is making insane money, so why should they change?

      The day moeblobs and fujoshows stop selling, maybe they will reevaluate, but for now…

      • Juno says:

        I think people are suggesting that the “heart” of anime is “dying.” That is, things are becoming more and more like each other and even innovative stuff is losing its appeal and originality. At least, that’s the claim.

        It may be hard, now that it’s a mass-produced thing, but no matter what sells and who makes money, one thing about anime will very likely never change: The creators are still artists.

        And as long as artists are a part of the industry, its creative flow will not completely cease. Don’t underestimate the vast imagination and intelligence of artists. They’ll prove you wrong later. =P

        Case in point: Even if shows have gotten overall stale, there have still been a TON of gems in recent years. At least, enough for me to stay up to date with them without falling behind, despite my busy life schedule. I can deal with that. =P

        • Spike says:

          But as I’ve said, most of the things we’ve considered ‘gems’ have been commercial flops – very few are also successful. Heck look at Shin Seki Yori. That barely got any dvd sales and it was AOTY on many sites. Same with Uchuu Kyoudai. Keep making ‘art’ and you’ll find yourself ‘retired’ pretty quick.

          I’d contend that anime was never overtly ‘original’ it’s always been pretty much the same basic plots and settings since the 1970s, it’s just that the West discovered it pretty late and it’s pretty different from what we have here. But if you look at MOST anime from 80s and 90s they aren’t all that different from the 00s just nostalgia and anti-moe sentiment clouding people’s judgement.

          • Jalapeno Bagel says:

            ^ agreed. Looking over this list, I would even argue that anime has largely stayed the same in terms of “creativity” and “boldness.” Because there are always anime that were “creative and bold” just like there are always anime that aren’t. Even if it may not seem equal from this list, that’s because some series got your approval label, but not others. ultimately, these observations don’t have anything to do with the actual business model; there’s a list of BD sales floating around that show that the number of recent shows on top sales positions is higher than older. What this list is saying is you’re getting bored of anime and the genres you currently prefer are not coming up as frequently as others.

    • Ellixus says:

      Precisely what I was thinking…

      I’ve been watching anime for more than 15 years and they’re still using the same set of formulae… if anything, what has changed are the tastes of people, the cultural background, and the production media…

      In any case, although I’ve been watching anime all these years, if I had to put at a list of the good ones right now, I could probably name 15, 20 at most… but 7 years ago it was certainly longer…

      So, most likely what has changed it’s your perception, so the things that 7 years ago would have seemed fresh and original, now are simply average or worst…

  7. Emma says:

    I can see the business and money bit , yet alas I am disappointed , sorely so that certain shows don’t catch on as much financially, but oh well I’m grateful to have some of these at least rather than none at all =<

  8. kero says:

    Thanks for this post, what a trip down memory lane. I’ve never really followed seasons, so didn’t think of it that way before until I started reading your blog posts… come to think of it, I’m not even sure how I picked my anime.. I guess hearing what other people thought were good and going with that.

  9. fedek says:

    The problem is that MONEY moves the industry.

    Sadly it works that way.

    I admire for example, Bee Train and Hyuge Mono, that thing is the less profitable thing ever.

    And is almost 3 cours, that was love for the art.

    But is not that easy :(

  10. Arno says:

    Masterful post, really.

    I still have a weakness for Mahoraba for its narrative consistency, and another show which I don’t remember the name : it was about a guy who returns to Hokkaido and there is a fox girl and a miracle at the end. It just found the winter poetry fantastic, and the main boy although having a harem was not a total idiot.

    But as far as harem is concerned I have fond memories of the Kouta character in Kanokon : he was so stupid and powerless it became actually very good comedy.

    Of course Ghost In The Shell was a few steps above the others artistically. Spice Wolf and Moyashimon almost brought tears to my eyes, seeing there was a country where you could produce educated animes for the young, whereas in Europe it is no longer possible.

  11. The best way to foster change and innovation is to buy shows that innovate. Gatchaman Crowds got a sequel about 1 month after I preordered the BD box; while that’s more happy coincidence than anything, it’s a fact that if everybody who read this post bought one show a year via amazon Japan, we’d see a very different genre spread as the years went by. As other comments have pointed out, anime is an industry built around the people who buy it consistently.

    Also, it seems a bit vague to define an era that goes from 2006-2009, but also includes 2011-2012. It takes some credence away from the idea that there’s some definitive shift in the industry that goes beyond normal fluctuations around the mean if the era of decline isn’t precisely defined by anything other than anecdotal evidence.

    • Jalapeno Bagel says:

      Of course the genre spread would be different if people bought vastly different genres from the current mainstream. But that doesn’t mean those genres are “innovative” and would cause some sort of paradigm shift as the connotation suggests. It just means the genre spread would adjust to one you (the reader of that post) would prefer. Which is already the state we’re in now (the root cause is that this genre spread is preferred, not necessarily that fans of “innovative” series are being pennypinchers).

  12. Perry Tanko says:

    Wow it really Has been 14 years hasn’t it?
    GREAT! so many good series have gone by and many more to come.

  13. Progeusz says:

    >Kotoura good
    >AKB not interesting
    >Amnesia having promising first episode
    >Mangirl being set in school (all of characters are adults and school isn’t shown you moron)
    >Sasami being set in school (Do you have brain problems? This is a show about NEET, it can’t be set in school by definition. Maybe 3% of it was actually in school)
    >Rinne no Lagrange, Mouretsu Pirates and Aquarion Evol being ambitious sci-fi
    >especially RnL and Aquarion being ambitious sci-fi
    >Another being anything but an unintended comedy
    Sorry, I can’t read this load of crap anymore.

  14. jstorming says:

    Good post! I see the increase of anime offerings as mostly positive thing-the anime industry’s growing and more shows are being produced. Marketing and money is always going to push big studio projects to err on the more conservative side. It’s not too different from traditional book publishing, where the book market is dominated by an elitist few. The competition’s fiercer but originality can boost a little known show high above the crowd if it’s top notch.

    tl;dr There will always be a lot of bad or mediocre anime, but good shows will get noticed, thanks to diligent, hardcore fans to spread the word.

  15. AnimeRed.Net says:

    Watch Anime in High Quality English Subtitles – AnimeRED.Net

  16. AnimeGega says:

    Watch Anime online subtitle in english –

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  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:45 AM)
    It takes a true magnificence to propose such a grand question as: What dot life?!
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:42 AM)
    @Kaiser: the show does vary in quality, but for the first season they generally crank up the insanity with every episode until a very remarkable season finale where Xavier faces his worst enemy.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Bam: Oh in symphogears case, I certainly laughed but I wasn’t supposed to.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:39 AM)
    @Bam: While it didn’t always work, that first episode of renegade angel was amusing, I particularly liked the part where he went on about Aids being invented.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:22 AM)
    and don’t be fooled by the simple graphics, the crudeness is completely intentional.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:21 AM)
    @Kaiser: as far as Xavier goes I implore you to download and watch the first episode to get the gist of it. That show is the pinnacle of absurdist and meta humor. It’s strangely adored within the animation circles, getting very high praise from the industry, but it’s very dense and bizarre so people either love or hate it. If you’re anything like me it might become one of your most beloved shows.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:17 AM)
    @kaiser: If Symphogear gets as bad as Valvrave then we’re talkin. Few companies make entertaining trash like Sunrise does.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:54 AM)
    *At first I thought it would be like nanoha
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:49 AM)
    I read a comment stating that season 3 of symphogear got so bad that it came off as along the lines of “worse than a Mari Okada melodrama”.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 04:36 AM)
    @Bam: That renegade angel thing looks off the wall, haven’t seen an episode but my thoughts from looking up the show is “I’m not quite sure if this is a good/bad thing lol”

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