My memorable anime from 2002

December 19, 2013

I've got to say: 2002 was an awesome year for anime, or at least for the type of anime that I really like. Several of the standouts from this year are more like 'extreme standouts that are among my classics list'.

See the initial 2000 entry for the full background. I'm doing this based on the show's start date and memorable is not the same as either good or significant. Date information comes from Wikipedia and Anime-Planet.


  • Haibane Renmei: This is where I drag out the big guns and call HR 'numinous'. It is many things, including a character study (of several characters) and a study in how not answering our questions can make a show better. As I've written before the climax of the last episode had me genuinely tense and terrified, which is very rare.

  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: SAC is my favorite work out of all of the GitS I've seen and I feel also the best; everything came together right. That makes it not just excellent but awesome, full to bursting of so many great things and great moments and great characters. It is the essence of cyberpunk, boiled down until it is as beautiful and as brain-bending as it should be.

    (Very few shows could set an entire episode in an online chatroom and pull it off, but SAC manages the trick.)

    And oh, the Tachikomas. They're the best characters, really.

  • Princess Tutu: This starts out as a magical girl story with ballet and classical music and fairytales, which is already awesome, and then goes sideways repeatedly. It never takes the easy way out and is the better for it. And the technical execution is marvelous, full of little touches in directing and animation and beautiful, emotional dancing (which is far from trivial).

    If you don't mind some spoilers, watch this Princess Tutu AMV. The show is as excellent as the music video, which is high praise because the music video is stunning.

    (I have a high resolution copy of this AMV saved on my disk and I watch it periodically. That's how much I love it.)

  • Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi: Gainax cuts loose and takes an extended tour through a whole collection of genres in pursuit of a funny and touching story. Abenobashi is frequently crazy, usually amusing, and just generally excellent. The answer to what's going on genuinely caught me by surprise and I'm still not sure if the ending is a happy one or not.

Ordinarily memorable:

  • The Cat Returns: This is Ghibli at their most straightforwardly charming and accessible.

  • Full Metal Panic!: The characters carry the show, especially Sagara Sousuke. It isn't flawless but when things go well, it really delivers. There is a good reason that people want more of it.

  • Saikano: Watching Saikano is one gut punch after another; it's a well done work but also an inevitable tragedy from start to finish and there are no happy endings here. I can't imagine rewatching it but it has totally stuck in my mind ever since I saw it the first time. Watch it for people finding and taking what joy they can in the face of an inevitable, slowly creeping doom.

    (You know, that describes life in general. We're all going to die sometime; it's what we do on the way there that matters.)

Honorable mentions:

  • Naruto: Naruto is the best long-running shonen fighting show that I've watched and it held my interest for what was a remarkably long time, all things considered. For all of its bad traits, it delivered a lot of memorable interesting characters (and sometimes it even let the female ones do things) and good, affecting fights.

    (Naruto is not the best shonen fighting show I've watched; that would be Soul Eater.)

  • Onegai Teacher: I remember this fondly for various reasons, including the novelty of a reasonably well done love story which benefits from shoving the protagonists together first and then letting them gradually fall in love with each other later. It is not flawless by any means.

Sadly RahXephon does not qualify for this entry.

Things from 2002 that I want to see and am going to real soon now, honest:

  • Azumanga Daioh: Another casualty of disappearing anime clubs, so I've seen only some of the early episodes. I know, I need to fix that.

Things I want to see are here in large part because I expect that when I see them they'll be good enough to place into at least the ordinarily memorable section. Some I rather suspect will be standouts.

Sidebar: things that stubbornly stick in my mind

Aka 'shows that I feel like saying something about'.

  • Kiddy Grade: This isn't exactly a good show; among other things it has all sorts of flaws with pacing. The frustrating thing is that it also has all of the ingredients it needs to be great. I love the characters, the setting, the premise, and many other things about it, just not the execution.

    (Even the core plot is fine.)

  • Macross Zero: Beautifully animated but ultimately about as hokey as you'd expect. Still, beautiful. And it features a cameo by Earth Girl Arjuna (the TV show).

    (I'm so much of an EGA fan that I not only immediately spotted the cameo but was able to place just which EGA scene it came from.)

  • Tenshi na Konamaiki: This is a shoujo show that starts from an interesting premise with a bunch of nice characters but (from what I remember) then spirals off into the usual flaws of a relatively long shoujo show. It's probably a good thing for my fond memories that I watched this through an anime club and so only saw a limited amount of it.

I think my dividing line between 'honorable mentions' and 'shows I remember and want to say something about' is whether I'd recommend other people consider watching them. But who knows. This whole series is a work in progress and I figure stuff out as I go along.

Written on 19 December 2013.
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Last modified: Thu Dec 19 18:30:49 2013
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