Tier 2: Perfect

Durarara!!

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Hey, a show that just was airing again recently. Drrr would be here without season 2, but that second season has been up to the standards of the first season, even if so far it’s mostly amounted to table setting.

This is the follow up to Baccano I mentioned. Coming from the same studio and based on another light novel series by the same author, Drrr is kind of like the Raid 2 to Baccano’s The Raid: Redemption. Bigger, more ambitious, but still fucking awesome.

Why it’s on the list

But Drrr raises the bar even higher with its characters. There’s just more going on with these people, they have more depths to mine, and they all get their moment in the spotlight, as opposed to being run through the meat grinder. Drrr captures that feeling of a living, lived in world, better than any other anime.

I just enjoy spending time with these characters, every little moment is great. On top of that this show is also grade A at delivering on the big dramatic moments. Long term machinations are set up so well, play out at the right pace, and come through to fruition properly.

All the while life just moves along.

Why it’s not higher

Nope! Done with this. No more point. Tier makes the case for itself.


Princess Tutu

The story of a duck who turns into a girl who turns into a magical girl to save the heart of a noble prince.

Why it’s on the list

I’ve heard this show described at Utena-light: a complicated deconstruction of the Shoujo genre, but for kids. While there’s truth to that, I was never satisfied with that description, but eventually I realized what Princess Tutu really is.

It’s Don Quixote. Trade out tales of chivalry for German fairy tales and Bam, you’re got it. And not just conceptually either, it’s also structured like Don Quixote. Specifically it is split into two halves with the second half being much more meta contextual and the book of the story itself playing a big role.

But while Don Quixote is a tragic failure, Princess Tutu is more of a tragic success. This show found the answers that Cervantes didn’t. I actually kind of think this is the stronger work.


FLCL

Nothing amazing happens. Only the ordinary.

Why it’s on the list

Simply put, Fooly Cooly captures the feeling of being a 13 year old boy better than any other work of fiction.

I don’t even know what else to say, this show is fucking amazeballs. The soundtrack provided by The Pillows is amazing and gives a show full of identity and personality even more of it.

It’s also just an incredible work of animation. Experimental, weird and joyous.


Full Metal Alchemist

FMA opens with a scene of two young brothers attempting to resurrect their dead mother. It doesn’t go well.

Why it’s on the list

The opening scene is one of the best openings to any TV show. It’s immediately gripping, while also telling you a lot about the main characters, and the world, very quickly.

And the show lives up to that opening. For a show that starts so dark, FMA finds balance with silliness. It knows what moods are right for what times. Primarily this show is about brothers who are still pretty young, and it understands the resilience of kids; that they will find ways to have fun. But it never loses sight of the tragedy of its opening. Everything Ed and Al do is driven by that moment. What they lost and what they’re willing to do to get it back; that hangs over the whole show.

But that’s not just the whole show, it’s so much bigger than just these two kids. The cast is gigantic and everyone has a role to play. FMA is bold, sweeping and effective. It provides childish hopeful idealism and cynical, bitter, realism; delivering both honestly and with equal passion. All the while remaining tight and well paced.

Most shows fail at doing the one thing they try to do. FMA tries to do everything and succeeds at every turn.