Tier 3: Flawless


Ok, here’s a show that’s told out of order with a clear purpose. This is just a really compelling story, told in an interesting way.

Why it’s on the list

An out of order story told with purpose. A large cast of compelling characters. An amazing level of violence with really good action and a lot of blood. It might not seem like it, but the core ideas that Evangelion was struggling with are here in Baccano. It’s just that while Eva was all closed off, emo introspection; Baccano is direct and open. The characters in Baccano aren’t questioning their existence, they have their answers; they’re monsters and criminals and they’re fine with that.

But as a whole, the show is asking some of the same questions, it’s just not vomiting them out and asking them directly, it’s having very distinct confident characters interacting with each other. I’ve heard this show described as silly mindless fun and I couldn’t disagree more. There’s a lot of meat on the bone here, it’s just all done through characters. Which is part of the reason the cast is so huge. Sure you can enjoy it on a purely visceral level, but that’s not all there is to it.

Why it’s not higher

As much as I love this show, the follow up Durrarara, is clearly better. While I love this cast, what I think really separates them is that Baccano’s cast is full of role-stars; that is, they shine so brightly because of the small role the show places them in, and how well they fill out that space. I wouldn’t necessarily begrudge someone who liked Baccano more because they are two very different shows in a lot of ways; and yet there’s enough similarities that I for sure think that Drrr is higher tier.

Cowboy Bebop

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Cowboy Bebop is Noir personified. It runs the gambit of genres through the filter of noir. It shifts tone and style from episode to episode but remains grounded because it’s always looking at the world with the same lens.

Why it’s on the list

It does this fucking fantastically. Not every episode is great, but enough of them are. The best episodes are the best fucking thing, or at least right up there. Noir is an interesting and diverse genre, when it’s done well it looks easy, but it’s hard to breathe new life into well worn tropes. Cowboy Bebop does just that.

Why it’s not higher

This show does have weak episodes, and while I don’t think you couldn't make this show without weaker episodes, we’re making the hard cuts here.

The Irresponsible Captain Tylor

The story of a man who wants to join the military because he wants and easy life. On the surface this show is basically Bad News Bears set on a future military space submarine. A crew of dysfunctional outcasts the military wants nothing to do with. Also Jason.

Look, I don’t know why Jason Voorhees is a crew member, but he clearly is.

Why it’s on the list

Tylor may be the greatest anti-war story ever. I’m not sure that’s true, but it’s certainly up there in my opinion. Most anti-war stories come in one of two flavors: either they’re about shocking you with the horrors of war, or they’re about the patent absurdity of it all. The physical nightmare and the existential nightmare. Tylor is pretty content to just poke fun at and embarrass military culture.

There’s no moralistic denouncement of war, only the fact that the military higher ups who crave war are clearly the villains. The show is less interested in making a case against anything than it is in making a case for counter culture. It does so without completely glorifying counter culture either, Tylor and his crew are silly and ridiculous. We laugh at them as much as we cheer for them. Irresponsible Captain Tylor has one of the absolute best climaxes. The whole show is good, but that sequence is why it’s here on this list.

Why it’s not higher 

Shows its age a little. It’s from the early 90s but feels 80s in a bunch of ways even. Not the tightest show.


A group of kids enter into a contract to pilot a giant robot to save the world. Then shit happens. Bad shit.

Why it’s on the list 

This show is a gut wrench. Not for the feint of heart. Bokurano finds the balance between being completely sad and tragic without becoming exploitative. (A balance the manga it’s based on does not find) The show is about condensing down life, what’s worth living for, dying for; and the ends you’ll go to to protect what matters to you. This is a show that executes on a great idea intelligently and in a way that is fair to its audience. Also has one of the most delightfully evil and reprehensible characters around.

Why it’s not higher

This is a mech show where the mechs don’t matter. They’re pretty bad CG and the fights are awkward and slow. This isn’t a big issue, because the character drama is the focus, but hard cuts dude.