Thursday, May 22, 2014

Top 30 Anime

Whelp, here it is guys. My current favorite 30 anime. At first, I anticipated this to be a list of 50, but there was just so many other classics I hadn't come to yet that I decided against it. Revolutionary Girl Utena, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Bokurano, most of Masaaki Yuasa's works and finishing Nana are all my agenda.

Obligatory Note: And please, guys, if you have any qualms about the list, realize that this is a subjective list where popularity, success and opinions of other peers do not matter. Here is MyAnimeList just for reference.

Anyway, enjoy!

30. Spice and Wolf (First Season)

The story? Kinda unsubstantial. The setting? Kinda underwhelming. The whole shtick revolving around economics? Kinda not my thing.  Lawrence and Holo? Totally my thing.  Prismatic, mature and multifaceted, their relationship is, hands down, one of the best in anime; amply encased with rich sexual tension and bona-fide love.  Though the delivery and banter  of our main couple here is so very clever, its the astute comprehension of "show, don't tell" to convey emotion where its beauty lies. Each gentle movement and wordless gesture - the casual flick of the tail, the tenuous glare, the subtle blush - is left to speak for itself.  (Plus, Holo is hawt)
29. Azumanga Daoih

The pinnacle of 4-koma adaptations. A wonderfully endearing cast that I grew to love. Quirky humor and solid comedic timing. Inventive scenarios. I came into this series expecting nothing and Osaka blindsided me with the brilliance of a thousand suns.
28. Baccano

Baccano is the violent action-packed style-over-substance kind of fiction that usually strays away from my alley. But watching the series juggle a mammoth of a delightfully insane cast and bringing all their individual storylines together with such seamless execution is so damn impressive to watch. View the experience with the dub and it kicks even more ass.
27. Kiki’s Delivery Service

The story may be cute, meek and fluffy inherently, but it tells that story with unwavering poise and charm. Scenes are often reserved in action, but packed with so much heartfelt emotions and catharsis. Characters and their relationships are naturally developed to their fullest and the final climax is spellbinding.
26. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

A few tiresome shounen traits litter the series, like wonky pacing and poor comedic timing, but every other shouene cliché is elevated to fantastic heights. The protagonists are ones that eventually grow on you. The antagonists you’ll love to hate. The story is well-told and emotionally moving. Fights are chocked full of adrenaline. Full Metal Alchemist is the finest shounen there is and it’ll be a while until something triumphs over it.
25. Honey and Clover (First Season)

Honey and Clover is the shining essence of elegantly balancing heart-clenching drama and light-hearted comedy. The characters are painted in graceful strokes of care and attention from their personal needs and wants to their complicated relationships with each other to their daily college lives. It’s a series constantly brimming with colorful avidity  and what a shame that its shoddy second season reaped it from the conclusion it deserved.
24. Kodomo no Omocha

The first romantic comedy I ever got into. I remember gobbling up episode after episode. Now, admittedly, the length of episodes can be chopped in half to create a tighter story. But still, the series holds a very special place in my heart. It manages to perfectly gel rambunctious fast-paced comedy and powerful melodrama. Sana Kurata is still one of the greatest female leads.
23. Perfect Blue

Any criticism you hear concerning the unrefined, unpolished and crude execution of the film actually works in the story's favor. All those traits augment the cold nature of a disconcertingly perplex story fraught with needling themes of self-corruption and delusion on a chase for ambition. It's a hard film to sit through, but for all the right Lynchian/Hitchcockian reasons.
22. Steins;Gate

What really makes this series tick, isn’t the story – as well thought-out and riveting as it is – but the cast. Underneath the crazy time traveling hi-jinks and the grandiose conspiracy theories, Steins;Gate is really a coming-of-age story about overcoming one’s conceited ego, taking on selflessness and learning to feel compassion for another’s pathos. Along the way, the story suffers from a few hiccups, but here is the epitome that strong characters can make up for anything.
21. Aku no Hana

I love how uncompromising and unrelentingly ugly this series is. I love how it plants false hope for a happy turn-out for our pitiful characters only to crush that hope into a million shards. Reality, for some, can be burdensome but rewarding and, for others, its a psychotic cold-hearted bitch. It's refreshing to see a work of fiction choose the path less taken and mesmerizing to all the beautiful risks it handles down that path.
20. Princess Mononoke

None of Miyazaki's works have come as close to crafting such an impactful environmental message like this one. It isn't just the usual sole criticism of greed deeply rooted in humanity but also the stubborn and judgmental complexion of nature. In the end, when the war has come to its conclusion, there's no sentimental reunion between the two sides. Hell, there's not even a self-realization of each own's faults. Rather, the moral ends on a rather bleak note. Humanity and nature will never conincide in peace
19. Nodame Cantabile

How could I not love a series that creates such a genuine romantic relationship while never getting too caught up with it to relay the tribulations and triumphs of characters pursuing their dreams of playing classical music. The experience is enchanting.
18. Infinite Ryvius

Cringe-worthy in all the right ways, Infinite Ryvius is the anime space edition of Lord of the Flies. Fantastic execution throughout, this series knows exactly how and when to deliver a striking blow to the guts. It’s a nerve-wracking, unforgettable, edge-of-your-seat ride.

17. Red Garden

A lot of what was said about Steins;Gate can be applied to Red Garden. Here, the series’ plot is much more of a convoluted mess, but the cast makes up for it all. None of the nitty-gritty details are left unexplored and, hell, one could even complain that there’s too much character development. Everyone, no matter small the role, is grounded in reality and each with distinct personalities. Amidst all the vampries and babble of immortality, it’s an unbelievably human series.
16. Lovely Complex

Lovely Complex is the highschool anime edition of Pride and Prejudice. Two ultradorks completely oblivious of their own dorkiness. Appalled by each other, it’s not until the near-end do they realize how much they’ve got going for each other. It certainly doesn’t hold the emotional weight Pride and Prejudice had and it probably holds the least compared to every other romance on this list. But the chemistry is utterly believable, charming and heartfelt. That’s really all I could ask for.
15. Kare Kano

Relationships in real life are nothing like the old-school Disney bullshit. They're demanding and stressful and much more complex than many would to like to think. It's all about the firm resolve two must commit to be rewarded with true happiness and  few series drive home the message so powerfully like Kare Kano. If the ending wasn't such rubbish, this would have jumped into my top five.
14. Castle in the Sky

With a massive heart and a glorious sense of adventure, the film never ceases to delight and pull at my heartstrings, no matter how many times I re-watch it. From our loveable lead couple to the vivacious chirpy  pirates to the power-hungry antagonist, this has definitely got to be my favorite Ghibli cast all-around. Not to mention that its score is just striking and on-point with every feeling conveyed on screen.
13. FLCL

No anime series, and I mean no anime series, grasps the fallacies of youth, the emotional roller-coaster of adolescence and the incomprehensibly bat-shit crazy period of puberty quite like FLCL. Wickedly animated with one of the best soundtracks ever, it mirrors the teenage alive, tearing apart all conventional story decisions featuring robots bursting outta people's head, young girls morphing into terrifying bug-creatures and a bass that doubles as a machine gun and a katana. Yet, amidst all the bonker gaga,  FLCL is one of the most benign and understanding character studies.

12. Haibane Renmei

I was naive my first viewing. I knew this series was brilliant from the get-go, but it wasn't until  a second viewing, did I see all the little cogs and gears working in harmonious synchronicity. The foreshadowing is scintillating, the setting is subtextually breath-taking and its themes are intimate,  non-invasive and left to the viewer's own interpretation. I can't call it anything less than a masterpiece.
11. EF – A Tale of Memories

Memories doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of the story. What it does is flush two traditional love stories with raw passion and unadulterated emotion. Incorporate flawless cinematography that fluctuates beautifully in tune with emotion. Flesh out characters to nothing short of human and create an atmosphere so compelling and so rewarding. Memories is a one-of-a-kind occurrence; a drama that comprehends the countless haphazard aspects of young love and gives an extraordinary presentation.

10. Kino’s Journey

A flurry of philosophically abstract ideas. An intangible world, jumbled and nonsensical. A talking motorcycle. Kino’s Journey blends all these elements into a richly captivating experience, finding the beauty amidst the chaos. And the best part is that the series leaves much of the beauty for us to unearth. Kino is merely redirecting our attention to the worldly madness and saying “Look again. Do you see that glimmer? Do you see that glint?”
9. Darker Than Black

I can’t get Darker Than Black out of my head. It isn’t just a cool-as-ice espionage thriller, but one set in a kick-ass noir setting brimming with both conventional and esoteric ideas to chew on. I’d like to think that it’s a perceptive take between morality and pragmatism, a bitter approach on human ambition, the consequences regarding just how far we’re willing to go to achieve them and, above all, a touching account on how love-conquers-all. Sometimes I wonder if I’m only reading myself too deep into a whole lot of nothing. But then I do a double-take and ask “Who cares?". Because if a work of fiction, no matter how flawed, can etch itself so deeply into the recess of my mind, and for all the right reasons, then it deserves to rank itself so highly among my favorites.
8. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is bad-ass, cool, and classy just as it is endearing, charming and sentimental. Really, how could you not be won over by Spike Speagle and Jet and Faye and Ed and every other character in the series? It’s so easy to get wrapped up in their adventures and so easy to admire just what a perfectly executed action-series it is. To put it in a nutshell, Cowboy Bebop is just. Fucking. Awesome.
7. Monster

The writing is meticulous and the directing is conscientiously quintessential. Monster is a damn fine crime-thriller and a glorious achievement on every level. Are there holes in Johan Liebert's plan? Sure. But not only is he one of the best terrifying motherfuckers of a villain there is, but every other aspect is so grounded in unshakable realism and constructed with such authentic conceivability that there's little justification to nitpick.  
6. Tehxnolyze

Technological progression is the ultimate catalyst of humanity’s mutual assured destruction. It is the pitiful debacles and the misdirected struggles over the morality of said progression that send individuals spiraling into repulsive jaded depths. It is our unwilling nature to compromise on a collective purpose that sends us ripping at each other’s throats. Will it even matter when teleportation becomes possible? Will we even care when hover boards are crafted? Cancer can be cured, physical disabilities’ overcome and all infirmities can be averted and eradicated. But who cares how far we advance systemically and scientifically when human psychology is still stuck in a barbaric state? Everything will come crashing down on us because humans are greedy selfish bastards and Tehxnolyze is beautiful in evocating that message.
5. Shiki

I love Shiki for similar reasons why I love Tehxnolyze. But I nudged Shiki ahead because it’s not just insightful tale on a societal level, but on an individual level making the experience so much painful. For such a large cast, the series delves deep into the psychology of each individual so that every death causes recoil on levels much higher than the simple shock-value. And if anything, the series is a master of haunting suspense, deviously remarkable twists and tortuously edge-of-your-seat pacing. Shiki is not just one of the best horror anime, but one of the best works of horror. Period
4. Mushishi

Attempting to clarify just why I so love this series is, honestly, hard for me to convey. There are just too many fantastic aspects for me to pin down. Too many moments of pure unfathomable awe. The best explanation I’ve got is that, through and through, Mushishi is a consistently poignant episodic, stirring emotions from all ends of the spectrum and a spectacular journey one can only grasp from experiencing themselves.
3. Tatami Galaxy

An unconventional stories in all the right ways. Not one artsy direction is meaningless and no visual sequence is without significant flare to enhance delightfully quick-witted dialogue, wholly endearing characters and themes surrounding young adolescent love and existentialism. Masaaki Yuasa is a genius.
2. Gankutusou: Count of Monte Cristo

Based off the original novel, which was already perfect in and of itself, the series takes surprising, yet well-executed, liberties, to become a gem of its own. And honestly, what else is there to say that hasn’t been said about this series. It’s dark psychological drama and romance merged in gripping satisfaction to create the ultimate experience of epic melodramatic portions. I love it to bits.
1. Welcome to the NHK

Unflinchingly and riotously dark in its social commentary. Brutally earnest in its insights on human nature. You can’t often joke about isolation, loneliness and suicide without coming out as a prick and you often you can’t look into these issues without seeming like an unknowledgeable twit. Welcome to the NHK treads the fine line between, addressing these issues with sincere gusto and a stride of educated confidence. Every pathetic character is worth rooting for, every shocking joke is empathetic and every twist and turn is unforgettable. Welcome to the NHK is a stunning triumph and no anime, let alone most fiction, have come as close to hitting home hard.

31 comments:

  1. There's nothing on here that offends me, so I approve of this list. Need to get to Lovely Complex and Red Garden sometime as well.

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    1. Nothing here that offends Mr. Flawfinder? Obviously your taste sucks.

      Also I checked your MAL and you need to watch Simoun, Shion no Ou, Princess Tutu, and Figure 17. I would add AKB0048 but based on how much you disliked Code Geass you probably wouldn't like it.

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    2. Alright, I'll add them to my watchlist, even AKB0048.

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  2. Interesting list! I'll make this as a reference for the titles I'll be seeing soon.

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  3. While I can attest to much of spice and wolf not being my thing also and that I was in it for the relationship, it was the things I disliked about it that prevented me from completing.
    I also enjoyed azumanga daioh however as a manga and felt that its transfer to anime was not as amusing outside of reading it 4-koma style.
    Baccano is great demented fun , but I only half agree on the dub, the European accents didn't work for me, but the American ones were very good , it does get a bit convoluted in parts though.
    Kiki's delivery service won me over with its charm and this is me we're talking about..writer of darkness...
    I'm no big fan of shounen or full metal alchemist much but brotherhood was a huge step above that contrived and messy disaster first attempt Bones did of adapting the series.
    Honey and clover and kodocha are especially commendable for how they genre balance as it is very hard for me to find something like that that works. I disagree with honey and clovers second season being poor as it amplified everything I already felt in season one...that said you are right on the money about the ending. Kodocha's length, yes that made me seek the manga instead of the anime eventually..
    Imagine being in my position back when I was 11 and watching perfect blue for the first time as one of their earliest anime experiences, blew me away.

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  4. Steins;gate for the greater part was dull and rather convoluted at times but I loved its humour and characterization and felt it lifted up an otherwise only okay show.
    People say what they will and be put off by aku's style, an ugly world demands an ugly art style , I may not like that art style but without it the atmosphere would never have worked...they killed the dark humour though in the adaptation though.
    I enjoyed the romance and humour in nodamne but avoided subsequent seasons because the first felt so perfect, so final..and not chiaki Ko-Kon'd. I have you to thank for re-watching Red garden and you proving that even at this point I've gotten in my anime watching career that I can still be wrong about a show.

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  5. Kare kano's anime, they are a memorable couple yes but the anime fails to adapt the best parts of, the real meat of the manga and the experimental animation and overfocus on the comedy was awful in my opinion. Sense of adventure sums up laputa excellently.
    I'd be hard pressed to say I fully grasped flcl but that I was able to run with its madness is a very good sign. Perhaps haibane warrants a second viewing I watched the whole thing at a younger time and was bored by it.
    Ef while I hated memory loss girls voice and considered it akin to brain daggering, the series serves to cement just how far far shaft has fallen years after producing it by comparison. My general disinterest in most episodic storytelling prevented me from completing/fully enjoying kino's journey.
    Bebop for me is a mixed bag, I liked the parts focusing on spike, Julia and Vicious, the carnival episode and the ending showed how I got very attached to spike but the show itself was predomonently too episodic for me and its stories led to it becoming a mixed bag.

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  6. You haven't said anything wrong about monster and its a very very immersive show in regards to athmosphere, emotion, intrigue but its also to be admitted , drags alot in the middle and reading it as a manga enhances the flow of it. The depth you go into on shiki and texhnolyze I can only wish I had that reviewing ability.
    Can't believe theres actually something on your list I haven't seen..tatami galaxy. Unfortunately I think I might be one of the only people in the world who really didn't like monte cristo, I've never been fond of futurizing classic stories even if its done well , I felt the story was quite stretched out and the visual style it was going for while unique to look at at first became distracting as the series went on. However the count himself commands a very strong sense of charisma and the story comes together well in the end. I'm almost afraid to re-read/re-watch nhk , I got very into misaki's character emotionally yes and the dark humour sat with me but I think more emotional devestation awaits me on a second runthrough and thats a compliment to its credit.
    Sorry for filling up your blog with all this tldr =<

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    1. Nah, it's cool. I like hearing people's opinions.

      And yeah, you better check out Tatami Galaxy soon, haha. I know you've never been too fond of Yuasa's ugly art style, but I think you'll Tatami Galaxy's.

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    2. Heh, you'll be happy to hear that just after reading that comment deadlight I went and marathoned tatami galaxy. To my surprise and maybe yours I ended up enjoying its sense of humour, quirkiness and felt it had a good script carrying it. Although I will say that the style its is equal parts alienating and engaging. Really glad I watched it, thanks.

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  7. Needs more moe, iyashikei, and porn, you dirty Type A viewer.

    Tis a good list though, albeit I've only seen 11 of these shows (and I didn't read any of the entries for the other 19.)

    Interesting that you liked the Aku no Hana anime for "how it plants false hope for a happy turn-out for our pitiful characters only to crush that hope into a million shards." I don't want to spoil anything, but the story of the manga does eventually end on a more optimistic note than the anime. (The manga is way better than the anime btw you should def read it.)

    I was never really a big fan of Kiki or Castle in the Sky, but Princess Mononoke is definitely top 20 material for me.

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    1. Dude, the manga is exactly the same as the anime. In terms of story, the anime ( or what it could fit into 13 episodes, at least ) followed the manga to the absolute detail. It's just that the artwork is different. The anime is as good as the manga, but unfortunately ends forever more at an early stage in the story. I actually prefer the anime, due to it's incredible soundtrack and awesome portrayal of Nakamura, but i guess at least the manga was able to actually finish haha :D I love the manga also, of course.

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  9. good list. Now go and watch Zeta Gundam, Berserk, Ghost in the Shell, Gungrave, Gurren Lagann, Toradora!, Gantz, Genshiken, Black Lagoon, Code Geass and Evangelion. You won't regret watching any of these...

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    1. from what I've seen of these titles, I can tell this is a man of good taste and you should listen to him

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    2. I would actually recommend against watching all but Black Lagoon and GiTS. Evangelion's pacing is atrocious, Gantz is complete shit as so is Toradora!, Gurren Lagann is a fine watch without any dwelving commentary nor standout points to truly make it a masterpiece, Gundam always sucks, Genshiken becomes bullshit in the second season and Code Geass is a trainwreck.

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    3. Ghost in the Shell, NGE and Berserk are definitely ones I need to get to next.

      Black Lagoon, I really dug the second season, not so much the first.
      Toradora is alright.
      Code Geass - *barfs
      Gurren Lagann - Eh
      Genshiken - Really liked it. Juuuust missed out on the top 30 list.
      Gantz- Rather read the manga
      Gungrave- Might get to sometime

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  10. Lovely complex is SO good for the most part. But towards the end it kind of goes towards unnecessary places and before that it extent the conflict for a bit too long imo. It removed a lot from the experience for me...

    Lot's of romance on your list and teens angst. Have you seen Hyouka and Yahari Ore no Seishun ?

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  11. I bet you'd like Evangelion if you liked Kare Kano. The biggest difference between them is that Kare Kano is possibly the funniest anime I've ever seen and Evangelion is one of the most depressing. But you loved NHK and based on what you said about Kare Kano, that shouldn't be a problem.

    I like that Darker than BLACK is in the top 10. I guess I can see why it occasionally gets brushed aside, but it'll always be one of the shows that got me into anime and I've always had a great time watching it. I could say the same about NHK. That's gotta be the anime that always brought me closest to tears, either that or Beast Player Erin.

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  12. Man, our tastes are pretty similar. Guess I'll have to check some of these out...

    But,
    No Evangelion? :(

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    1. Just checked your MAL... you haven't watched Neon Genesis Evangelion?

      My god, your cred... Just kidding.

      But seriously, HOW have you not seen that show.

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    2. Yes, I know, I know! I'll get to NGE soon, haha! XD

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  13. "Full Metal Alchemist is the finest shounen there is and it’ll be a while until something triumphs over it."

    Hard to say, but HunterXHunter (the 2011 remake) is giving it a serious run for its money. It doesn't have the same kind of tightly woven, perfectly planned narrative (though it IS very well written in its own right), but emotionally, in character exploration, and in terms of subverting your expectations as to what a shonen anime is, HXH is definitely setting the standard these days. It's always been good, but the last arc (the only one that had never been committed to anime before) is nothing short of phenomenal.

    By the way there's a distinct lack of Paranoia Agent and Revolutionary Girl Utena in this list. Consider them two very heartfelt suggestions!

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    1. I agree! I think HxH is definitely the superior series, especially the episode 131... my god.

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    2. I disagree. HxH is starting to have serious pacing issues and does have full arcs that could be thrown in the garbage (greed island I'm looking at you). It lacks the adventurous and mysterious feeling you get out of Full Metal and goes for a completely different formula. While FMA can pass for an adventure serie like The Last Air Bender HxH is hardcore shonen with extra rations of useless ramblings (Chimera arc: lets tells everything from four different perspectives all the time in slow motion). It does have interesting ideas but going trough it isn't worth it. It isn't worth it! HxH is highly inconsistent on an episode by episode basis.

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    3. I love Paranoia Agent. Find that shit absolutely brilliant. I watched that a while ago though and I need to give it another re-watch just to see if it still stands up. If I were to put it up now, it'd be somewhere in the 20s

      Revolutionary Girl Utena, as stated earlier, I'll get to pretty soon.

      HXH... I dunno, I'm not in a hurry to see that right now

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  14. Excellent list, happy to see a fellow Kare Kano fan.

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  15. This was a really good list. It's great to see unique list that truly shows reflect the creator's personality and tastes as well as provide concrete and succint reasons as to why they made the list the way they did. With all the of Ryutaro Nakamura (May he rest in Peace) Yasayuki Ueda, Yoshitoshi Abe, and Chiaki J. Konoka collaborations on this list i thought i would see serial experiments lain on it as well. I figure either you havent watched it or it just wasnt your cup of tea. Oh and you're not alone on darker than black; i loved it just as much as you did and looked deep into its themes as well. it operates on a level higher than just an action thriller.

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  16. Wow honestly I have expected more modern anime (e.g. SAO and AOT) in the list, like many other blogs. But it's nice to see new (not really, just anime I've never seen) anime and I'll definitely try it out!!

    Thanks,
    Nashy

    http://natashascuteblog.blogspot.co.nz/

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  17. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a little confusing with the switching around but it is one of the best animes. it is better than some of them. It is more in the top 10 animes because it is amazing. I'm not saying your wrong but I think it is more in the top 10.

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