Tier 5: The Standard Bearers

Cardcaptor Sakura


The epitome of basic Shoujo, magical girl anime in my eyes. Sure there are more Shoujo shows to come on this list, but as far as just nailing the genre, without doing something else on top, this is the real shit. This show is also just the cutest thing. Everything is cute. If cute is not for you, then turn back you monster.

Why it’s on the list 

Cardcaptor Sakura is a superhero show where there is no evil. There are monsters and jerks, but none of the pure evil stuff that kids cartoons involving super powers are usually so full of. And not only does the show work without a truly evil force, it works exceedingly well. The show starts off from the same point basically every superhero since Spider-Man has started from: Cleaning up a mistake. The monsters Sakura fights are just the wild creatures she has accidentally released. When she’s not dealing with that it’s some jerk causing her problems, for his own reasons, but never evil. Which honestly works better.

The best super villains are the ones who are just specifically out to make trouble for the hero anyway. Does it really matter if the Joker is evil? Doesn’t it just matter that he’s out to make trouble of Batman? Before I saw this show, if you asked me if superheroes needed evil to fight I probably would have said yes., but I would have been wrong. Structurally it’s how I wish Kodocha had been structured. It slowly builds fucking perfectly; bringing you forward slowly, but never dicking you around too much. It makes the emotional moments hit really strong and feel earned, without making the rest of the show frustrating.

Why it’s not higher

Now we’re at the point where this section just makes me feel like an asshole, but that’s kind of the point. This is a genre defining work. It sets the bar for what this kind of show should be. To get into the higher tiers a show needs to break the bar.


The genre bar setter on the other side.

Why it’s on the list 

The pacing is just so much better here than in DBZ, when the series got too friendly with it’s own butthole. Dragonball benefits a lot from mangaka Akira Toriyama’s background in gag manga. Not just because Dragonball is really funny, but because Toriyama’s thoughts are always toward the joke, the punch line. (Pun intended) His fights are always well structured.

Dragonball is consistently entertaining and surprising. A big part of that was that even Toriyama didn’t know where the series was headed. There was no way he, or anyone else, could have predicted the series success and he just had to roll with it. And as someone who watched a lot of DBZ before seeing where the series started it was really interesting watching the series slowly take shape and become what I knew it as. Turns out the journey was pretty great.

Why it’s not higher

Honestly, early Dragonball almost breaks the bar the series would come to set. But only almost.