Scroll down for a list of epic journey posts.
I’d like to take you on an epic journey through time, spice, and my own mind. It is a journey for which I have long prepared yet dared not travel. My goal is this: to truly, TRULY capture my feelings for all of my favorite anime. My anime fandom is by far most completely defined by my favorites list. I update it constantly and for over a year have been trying to find it’s true meaning.
How It Began
In the beginning, a favorites list was easy to create. There were only four to five anime that I liked significantly more than everything else, and a few others that were really good with which I could fill out a top 10. You can see one of my early favorites lists here. Before long, I had seen enough anime that it became harder to define what made one my favorite. I’d seen Evangelion in mid-2006 while not having seen much anime and a year later when I saw Welcome to the NHK I couldn’t decide which should be my favorite – the old show that had such an impact on me despite my inability to remember it, or the new show fresh in my mind that I was still fawning over. This led me to incorporating things like tier systems out of confusion (which I still implement, though in a different way.)
The Groundwork For Change
It was during winter of last year that I watched what continue to be my top 3 anime of all time and the groundwork for all of my current self-debate and setup of my favorites list. First I had seen Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which blew away everything else I’d ever seen before. However, no more than 3 weeks later I then watched Eureka Seven. Eureka Seven moved me just as much as TTGL did and even though TTGL remained, to me, something untouchable, I liked E7 too much not to tie it up for the number one spot.
And then, of course, there was January 1st 2008 when I watched ef ~a tale of memories~ and once again found myself unable to forfeit my top spot. (I still find it funny that my top 3 came all within a month and a half but haven’t changed in a year). It was after these shows that I made up my mind – I was going to make the perfect favorites list. This idea would begin as a one-year adventure and evolve into a five-year legacy.
My original plan was fairly simple and fairly stupid, in retrospect. My plan was to watch every anime that I felt would appeal to me and only after seeing everything, construct a perfect favorites list. Initially, I constructed a list and decided I would follow it loosely while watching whatever anime passed my way in the meantime. The first list was constructed primarily by shows from omoikane and dm‘s favorites lists.
I posted part of it here on my blog though I had already watched a bunch of the list by then. My idea was that I could finish this list with all the stuff in-between within a year and then when I finally had my perfect favorites list I would post it up on Megatokyo’s favorites thread and bask in it’s glory.
However, my next revelation came with Arjuna, though this one didn’t happen all at once. I first watched Arjuna in March of 2008 and it immediately tied ef for my favorite anime of all time. However, shit didn’t stay so sunny when I got my brother to watch the anime a month later. Now, I made the mistake of not watching the entire show with him so that I could have had a more concise view on this, but the parts I did watch didn’t have the same impact the second time around. Or I should say, I started to see all the show’s flaws.
I realized I didn’t care much about the characters. I realized it was really preachy. I realized the pacing wasn’t the best. However, I couldn’t shake that overwhelming emotion I’d felt the first time I saw it. Months were spent making up my mind about how I felt, and Arjuna slowly slid down the notches on my favorites list (now sitting out of the list due to my inability to properly judge.) What does it mean to have a favorite anime? Is it a show that you like because it’s a good show? Is it because the show has great messages or characters? Is it because you watched it five times? Is it because that one episode was so fucking good? Is it the emotions you felt, your connection to the main character, the tone, the directing, the studio, what is it, what the fuck makes an anime your favorite?!
I began to pick up fragments of the meaning from the two anime bloggers who have always been my biggest influences, Omoikane and Wildarmsheero (good and bad influence, respectively, lol.) Wildarmsheero had already made me recheck my meaning long before. He says that his favorites are determined by things like rewatchability and directing almost more so than anything else. Ideas like this intrigued me and first got me looking for other reasons that a show could be a favorite.
Even though I’d been looking at Omo’s favorites list for so long, it only more recently sunk into me just what it all meant. The most obvious was Nadesico, which Omo has watched and rewatched countless times over the years and had veritable adventures with. But one must look beyond just that he had a lot of time with the show – the point is that it’s been a part of his life. It’s been something that he’s felt a lot of ways about and looked back on and thought about and never forgotten about. It had always perplexed me that Omo has such a short favorites list even though he has fairly low standards and says good things about most of the anime he watches. It’s because a favorite anime for him isn’t an anime he likes – it’s an anime he truly feels.
My True Meaning
Even though I’ve let emotion and impact be my biggest factors in determining favorite anime from the beginning (in my quest for total subjectivity) I never really looked at things harder than ’emotional equals good.’ What do these emotions mean? How do they connect back to the show? Earth Maiden Arjuna to me was ‘the universal truth’. It made me think. It validated my thoughts. It agreed with me. It was a show I felt I truly ‘understood.’
But does that make it a favorite? There were episodes I didn’t like. The love triangle element was iffy. I didn’t care much about the characters. Just because the show had a spiritual importance doesn’t mean it has to be one of my favorite anime. I truly started to come to terms with this through Kure-nai. There is no ‘deep’ reason for liking Kure-nai. I don’t love everything about it, and it is not a spiritual connection, but there are elements of the show that I positively adore. It is a show that truly resonates as a ‘favorite’ to me because I can hold it in high regards for verified reasons that I can both explain and protect. This, my friends, is how I have come to define a favorite anime.
It’s not about how many times you watched it, or how deep, or how pretty. It’s about a pure, unquestionable reason that you absolutely love it. This reason needn’t be totally tangible, even. It could be tied to some personal memory or part of your identity that makes the show special to you and you alone.
The current anime season (fall 2008) has made me come full circle to understanding how I define a favorite anime. There are anime airing this season that appeal to me for their story or directing or characters in ways that would have ordinarily assured them a place in my list. However, my favorite anime of the season is Toradora because, for my own, definable reasons, I like it more. And I’ll surely get into that anime itself somewhere down the line.
The Epic Journey
So, what exactly IS this epic journey anyway? It’s an eternal journey. A journey to properly define exactly WHY all of my favorite anime are my favorite anime. To spell it out for my own understanding and to properly explain to the world exactly why I like this anime the way I do. It’s a massive undertaking that will periodically span the entire length of my blog’s life. I’ve always waited for this time to come, and now that I have proper, assured support from my newfound fans (lolikitsune and ghostlightning, love you guys!) I am ready to set out. (If you guys are lucky, lolikit will comment with his essay on Air that inspired me to create this series.)
What I plan to do is first post about each of my favorites just from memory, and try to capture why, exactly, it’s still a part of my favorites list. I will the rewatch the series and get technical with exactly what I did AND DIDN’T like about the show. I will probably repeat this process for each show once a year at least, if not sooner or latter. I estimate that I will have a good idea of my base favorites list after 5 years and from then on can add or subtract as I see fit with what will likely then be sage-like knowledge.
I hope you will enjoy this series (seriously, since it’ll be up like all the fucking time) as I will be pouring all of my heart and soul into it.
(Note: Some posts predate the creation of The Epic Journey and were added later. The first post since the beginning of the Epic Journey was Eureka Seven: A Recollection)
Episodic Blogging Experiment: Boogiepop Phantom Rewatch – Episode One (August 18, 2008)
Boogiepop Phantom Rewatch – Episode Two (August 19, 2008)
Boogiepop Phantom Rewatch – Episode Three (August 20, 2008)
Boogiepop Phantom Rewatch – Episode Four (August 21, 2008)
Eureka Seven: A Recollection (December 20, 2008)
Eureka Seven 1-13: On the Wrong Way Out On the Causeway to Neverwhere (December 21, 2008)
Eureka Seven 14-26: Buy a Little Time for This Head of Mine – Heaven For Us (December 23, 2008)
Condense the Nonsense
Eureka Seven 27-39: To the Center of the Sun (December 27, 2008)
Eureka Seven 40-50/Conclusion: GET IT BY YOUR HANDS (December 27, 2008)
Status Report; Preferably Through Existentialism, Capitan! (January 4, 2009)
DigitalBoy Remembers Love Part One: The Explanation of epic Rewatch (February 19, 2009)
Gunslinger Girl Chapter-by-Chapter – ch. 1 – Observing the Heavens (February 24, 2009)
Gunslinger Girl Chapter-by-Chapter – ch. 2 – Love Thy Neighbor (February 25, 2009)
Gunslinger Girl Chapter-by-Chapter – ch. 3 – The Snow White (March 3, 2009)
Gunslinger Girl Chapter-by-Chapter – ch. 4&5 – The Death of Else de Sica Part 1&2 (March 5, 2009)
End of Evangelion: A Recollection (March 10, 2009)
End of Evangelion Conclusion: Any Way the Wind Blows… (March 12, 2009)
FLCL: A Recollection (May 6, 2009)
FLCL Director Commentary: It Was All Tsurumaki’s Idea! (May 7, 2009)
FLCL Ep. 1 – Little Buster Never Knows Best (May 7, 2009)
FLCL Ep. 2 – CAN YOU FEEEL?! CAN YOU FEEL THAT HYBRID RAINBOW?! (May 7, 2009)
FLCL ep. 3 – Sad Sad Kiddie (May 8, 2009)
FLCL ep. 4 – CRAZY SUNSHINE! (May 11, 2009)
FLCL Ep. 5 – BLUES DRIVE MONSTER (May 14, 2009)
FLCL Ep. 6 – i think i can, i think i can, i think i can, I think I can, I think I can, I THINK I CAN!!!!! (May 20, 2009)
We Are On the Cruise! One Piece Introduction and eps. 20-44 (Baratie and Arlong Arcs) (June 11, 2009)
My Top 20 Episodes of Ranma 1/2 (August 6, 2009)