Why The Hell Not: My Top 10 J.C. Staff Shows

For a long time I’ve wanted to make a post about how great J.C. Staff is, since they get so much shit from the Western anime community in general (though they also get plenty of due respect). Now’s a good time to help raise awareness because a bunch of dumbasses are making top 10 lists of J.C. Staff anime—so I’m jumping into the fray.

It began with a random-ass survey on some Japanese website whose top 10 was then transplanted to Sankaku Complex. Top 50 is long, but since it’s a good way to look at a lot of shows at once, it’s a good way to start this post. Please note that the order of this list is absolutely fucking ridiculous (as in, I can’t fathom how the results came out this way).

Biglobe Survey Top 50 J.C.Staff Shows

1. Tantei Opera Milky Holmes
2. Taishou Yakyuu Musume
3. Toradora
4. To Aru Kagaku no Railgun
5. Aoi Hana
6. To Aru Majutsu no Index
7. Otome Youkai Zakuro (which google translate called “virgin pomegranate monster” ROFLMAO)
8. Hidan no Aria (*cough*recencybias*cough*)
9. Yumekui Merry (*cough*)
10. Shakugan no Shana
11. R.O.D. the TV
12. Kaichou wa Maid-sama!
13. Zero no Tsukaima
14. Azumanga Daioh
15. Ookami-san to Shichinin Nakama-tachi
16. Mahoraba ~Heartful Days~
17. Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto
18. Bakuman.
19. Daphne in the Brilliant Blue
20. Ai Yori Aoshi
21. Hayate no Gotoku!
22. Potemayo (which google translate called “I will to baggage”)
23. Best Student Council
24. A Little Snow Fairy Sugar
25. Honey and Clover
26. Honey and Clover II
27. Sky Girls
28. Slayers
29. Nodame Cantabile
30. Daa! Daa! Daa!
31. Revolutionary Girl Utena
32. Asatte no Houkou
33. Nabari no Ou
34. Kimikiss ~Pure Rouge~
35. Loveless
36. Nanaka 6/17
37. Hatsukoi Limited
38. Yomigaeru Sora -Rescue Wings-
39.  Shingetsuten Tsukihime
40. Gunparade March
41. Ghost Hunt
42. Karin
43. Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru
44. Shigofumi
45. Melody of Oblivion
46. Ikkitousen
47. Winter Garden (Never even heard of this, apparently related to Di Gi Charat)
48.  Slam Dunk
49. Starship Operators
50. Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo

Aside from some really WTF inclusions and the fact that it may as well have been in alphabetical order, this list is a good way of looking at a ton of decent-to-excellent J.C. Staff shows at once. I’m fairly confident that either one of your favorite shows is in this list, or one of the shows you haven’t seen in this list could end up being one of your favorites.

Following up on this insane list, some batcase did her own top 10, which looked like this.

Klux’s Top 10

1. Honey and Clover
2. Hatsukoi Limited
3. Nodame Cantabile
4. Otome Youkai Zakuro
5. Shakugan no Shana
6. To Aru Majutsu no Index
7. Toradora
8. To Aru Kagaku no Railgun
9. Revolutionary Girl Utena
10. Azumanga Daioh

Clearly this list is incredibly lame; some asshat agreed and made his own top 10 list.

Glo’s Top 10

1. Shakugan no Shana (like how fast this list became shit?)
2. Toradora
3. Zero no Tsukaima
4. Hayate no Gotoku!! (note the second !)
5. Hidan no Aria (Glo referred to this as a “poor man’s Shakugan no Shana.” SHANA IS ALREADY A POOR MAN’S ANIME. Aria is a dead man’s Shana.)
6. Excel Saga (Amazing how this wasn’t on the top 50 O_o)
7. Azumanga Daioh
8. To Aru Majutsu no Index
9. Ookami-san to Shichinin Nakama-tachi
10. Aoi Hana

Clearly this doofus just picked all the Kugimiya shows for his top 5. Anyway, here’s my list.

My Top 10 J.C. Staff Shows

1. Revolutionary Girl Utena + Adolescence Apocalypse

This was an obvious choice. Not only one of my favorite anime, but one of the greatest, most respected, and influential semi-cult classics of anime history. The series is artistically brilliant, even if the animation isn’t always (or even often) up to snuff. That’s totally forgiven by the movie, which is drop-dead gorgeous throughout and a true artistic masterpiece of animation.

2. Toradora

Another of my favorite anime, and my pick as the best romantic comedy around. I think it’s probably the studio’s best-looking TV production, which is saying something considering how many of their series feature the greatest art director in anime, Kobayashi Shichiro. To me, the mark of a successful series as animation is when the animated moments themselves are memorable in the way they looked. I have a lot of memories of the fine animation moments in this series.

3. To Aru Kajutsu no Raildex

Yeah, plot-wise, Railgun was mostly a big mess, and the second season of Index made me want to adopt Otou-san’s phrase (that he uses for Shana) and consider myself an “Index apologizer.” Nonetheless, I love the series for what it is, and if nothing else it’s god damn good-looking, being alongside Toradora as the best representations of the studio’s current signature style.

4. Honey and Clover

Another highly acclaimed series, known for being among anime’s most grown-up and effective melodramas. I’m probably wrong about this, but I’m pretty sure it’s where J.C. Staff’s signature “washed-out” style of animation for their more mature, laid-back, and/or dramatic shows began. (See also, Aoi Hana, Nodame Cantabile, Taishou Yakyuu Musume, Asatte no Houkou, etc.)

5. R.O.D. the TV

A joint production with Studio DEEN, R.O.D. TV is a good-looking show with great-looking action scenes and is one of the best among the many similar 26-episode action-adventure shows that made up the bulk of anime from the mid-2000s. Did I mention there’s lesbians all over the place?

6. Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko

Shinbo Akiyuki’s ultra-fun and stylish cult classic, perhaps best known for having some of the greatest eyecatches ever. Yamamoto Yohko is a proto-four-girls show, mixed with a healthy dose of sci-fi and Shinbo keeping a rare steady hand at the directing helm. Very visually delicious.

7. Asatte no Houkou

Like Honey and Clover, a softly-painted, mature melodrama—only this one is dialed way back into quiet and peaceful mode and tells a tight, gripping story with nary a wasted moment. Very much a recommendable show that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.

8. Kare Kano

Okay, it’s a joint project with GAINAX, and clearly the GAINAX side had the most influence, whereas the reverse seems to be true of their other collaboration, Melody of Oblivion. Still, Kare Kano is a true-blue classic, and Otou-san did a great write-up of it recently that you should check out. Maybe this inclusion is cheating, but hey, a joint is a joint.

9. Excel Saga + Puni Puni Poemy

Yet another semi-cult classic that stands amongst the most famous of batshit-insane anime comedies. One of two shows that were so chaotic, ADV gave them an annotation track on the US DVDs to help make sense of things. (The other is Pani Poni Dash, by SHAFT, natch.) I still haven’t finished Excel Saga, but I’ve seen Puni Puni Poemy and that’s enough to earn the batshit comedy crown. (Sorry Azumanga Daioh, I’m just not that into you.)

10. Starship Operators

This is the black sheep of my list, and with my not having seen it since a solitary marathon in 2007, I’m not entirely sure it belongs (same reason it couldn’t break my top 100 shows). What I remember about Starship Operators was a surprisingly engrossing sci-fi drama with amazing tactical battles and very well-done drama. If nothing else, it’s a show I want more people to see (and need to rewatch (story of my life)).

Some other shows that are awesome but I’ve only seen an ep or two of: Alien Nine, Maze, Melody of Oblivion (joint with GAINAX), Ghost Hunt, Gunparade March, Taishou Yakyuu Musume

Other shows by them I think are pretty cool: Nodame Cantabile, Potemayo, Yumekui Merry, Otome Youkai Zakuro, Shigofumi, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, Shingetsuten Tsukihime (inb4 no Tsukihime anime), Yomigaeru Sora

Shows I haven’t seen but am pretty sure are cool: Kaichou wa Maid-sama!, Ookami-san to Shichinin Nakama-tachi, Sky Girls, Slayers, Aoi Hana, Metal Fighter Miku, Cat Soup, Hayate no Gotoku!! (note second !)

What are your favorite J.C. Staff shows?

32 thoughts on “Why The Hell Not: My Top 10 J.C. Staff Shows

  1. Alright I did an abridged list over at Glo’s blog but I’ll do a full one here. I haven’t seen a lot of the ones you have listed.
    I really feel strongly about the top 5

    1. Nodame Cantabile – It’s only my 2nd favorite anime ever behind Gintama. I blew through the first two TV series and the TV drama in a matter of weeks. I might be biased a little because the TV drama but I’m also a sucker for shows that involve music. Season 1 of course is miles ahead of the latter two but still good enough for me to rank it #1.
    2. Toradora – For basically the same reasons you mentioned.
    3. Railgun – I’m gonna break em apart. I love Mikoto so much more than Index or Touma or any of those dicks. Also her powers are 10000x cooler than any other character.
    4. Milky Holmes – It surprises me as much as anyone but MH was the unequaled dark-horse gem of a few seasons back. I just can’t justify putting any of the other JC staff shows I’ve seen higher than this. Absolute riot of a show with basically no source material so I guess they just made shit up.
    5. Azumanga Daioh – I on the other hand am just that into Azumanga. It took me awhile to get through it but few to me have touched Azumanga in sheer quality of the jokes presented. Practically every one of the jokes is meme worthy infectious humor that’s hard to forget. Though this is largely thanks to Osaka.
    6. Hatsukoi Limited – Mainly for the relationship between Kei and Kusuda which was godsbedamned cute as hell. The other girls got plenty of time to shine but I know who the real stars were to me.
    7. Okay Index can go here.
    8. Shana but only the first season the rest can suck my cock.
    9. Kaichou wa Maid-sama – Well, I watched it for 26 episodes. Misaki is so incredibly cute. Toward the end the show was really good, but mostly Misaki and Ayumi Fujimura voicing her hngggg.
    10. I suppose Otome youkai Zakuro. I admit I enjoyed much of the show though the original draw and quality diminished as it went on.

    Shows I can’t remember how I feel about: R.O.D. TV The reaction was positive but I can’t remember how positive.
    Shows that are too wtf for me to place here: Alien 9…seriously wtf maybe if it actually yknow…finished
    Shows that are awesome that I’ve only seen the 1st ep or so of: Excel Saga, Honey and Clover, Starship girl w/e
    Shows by them I think are pretty cool: R.O.D TV (probably), baseball girls, Merry I guess (recency h8), Slayers, ookami-san I guess (for the narrator), shigofumi (not sure I finished this one)
    Shows by them I outright hated for the vast majority of their run: Fucking Bakuman /sigh

    • I’m pretty much a loner in this sentiment, but I’ve never really found Misaka interesting. I’ve always felt that the people surrounding her were more interesting in their interactions with her than she was herself. Of the Railgun 4, she’s probably the least interesting to me. Not that I like the character Index much either, but there’s a fuckload of characters in Index the show.

  2. 1. Utena
    2. Honey and Clover
    3. Kare Kano (wasn’t going to count it, but I put it in so the list wouldn’t depress me)
    4. Toradora!
    5. Azumanga Daioh
    6. Nodame Cantabile
    7. Aoi Hana
    8. Alien Nine
    9. Excel Saga
    10. Hayate the Combat Butler!!

    wow that is a big dropoff at the end. I need to watch something better from J.C. Staff.

  3. 1: Toradora
    2: Honey and Clover
    3: Index
    4: Railgun
    5: Azumanga Daioh
    6-10: ????

    Not even seen 10 shows by JC Staff.

  4. Either agreed or haven’t seen it, except Excel Saga. There are a few I’d put ahead of it, like Taisho Yakyuu Musume, Hatsukoi Limited, and motherfucking BEST STUDENT COUNCIL.

    • I haven’t seen those three but wouldn’t be surprised if I’d put them above Excel Saga myself. I’m not a big fan of it. My list would probably change a lot if not for having so many shows unfinished.

  5. Yamamoto Yohko I’ve heard as having a cult following, and I am a fan of shinbo. How would you compare it to his other stuff?

    Utena I’ve always thought was overrated. Sure, the style is awesome and the premise is somewhat interesting, but for me at least, it hasn’t really dated well. The movie was much better, IMO.

    But in no particular order, here are my favorites.

    – Nabari no Ou (Stunning in Hi-Def)

    – Adolescence of Utena (Interesting Re-imagining of an already interesting premise)

    – Puni Puni Poemy (Excel Saga was good, but I found it a bit repetitive and tiring after a while. This is a good deal more unified and more cohesive, despite still being batshit crazy.)

    – Toradora (Everyone likes this show, do I even have to say why?)

    – Nodame Cantabile (A bit stupid at times but some parts of it are really enjoyable)

    I plan to watch Kare Kano soon, shame I’ve waited this long, but Starship Operators seems rather interesting too. I’ve been pestered to pick up H&C again, but I just couldn’t move past those initial episodes. All they do is talk, cry, drink, cry some more. Every episode. In that order. Maybe, one day, I’ll climb over that hill and see why it’s so highly regarded.

    • I can’t really compare Shinbo stuff easily, but I’d say it’s like Hidamari Sketch + sci-fi, and using the darker visual style that he was known for in the 90s/early 2000s.

      Utena is the opposite of overrated. It’s only possible for Utena to be underrated because it deserves all the praise in the universe. I do agree the movie is better, though.

      Nabari no Ou is one of those shows that’s not bad but I don’t see myself ever finishing.

      H&C is certainly a lot of talking, crying, and drinking. It’s got some amazing bits later on but if the melodrama doesn’t cut it for you, the show probably never will.

  6. I think the reason why they got so much hate is due to the fact that JC Staff focus more on Mainstream productions for Otaku related audiences (which is funny, because anime itself is not mainstream here in the West, if that makes sense).

    Nice list Bro ! I didn’t know that Excel Saga was from JC Staff, although I miss the second season from Hayate No Gotoku !! in your list. Nagi and Hayate need much more love in my opinion =)

      • That’s kinda hard to explain, but I think Western anime fans tend to dislike relative popular anime like Naruto or Bleach, because here in the West watching anime is a sign of independence and unique personality. So if something gets more and more popular, the product may loose its charm for the fan community and they start to hate it.

        Regarding JC Staff, they are great at what they are doing and most of their anime are quite popular hits. I think that’s why they are such a great target for Nay-sayers.

        I do know that anime in Japan is not mainstream either, but at the same time I don’t live there, so I can’t judge on that. All I know about Japan are superficial impressions from the mass-media =) But that’s another topic.

  7. Good choices for J.C. Staff picks. Even if their animation quality isn’t the best, I agree that they’re very good at fulfilling the goals of whatever series they’re working with.

    My top 10 off the top of my head:

    1. Azumanga Daioh
    2. Toradora!
    3. Utena
    4. Hayate no Gotoku!!
    5. Slayers Next
    6. Railgun
    7. Shakugan no Shana
    8. Kare Kano
    9. Excel Saga
    10. Bakuman

  8. (I am not counting Kare Kano; to me that is Gainax all the way. If it was to be counted, it would have landed at number 1. Easy.)

    1) Honey and Clover – excels in comedy AND romance drama AND life drama
    2) Azumanga Daioh – laugh for laugh, may be the funniest slice of life / cute girls do cute things show
    3) Toradora – the best non-shoujo romance?
    4) Revolutionary Girl Utena – in theory should be higher up, but there are too many issues (hello, Nanami)
    5) A Certain Magical Index – I am a sucker for shounen shit talking action
    6) Nodame Cantabile – great with comedy and classical music performances, but romance drama wasn’t top tier
    7) Sweet Blue Flowers – aka Aoi Hana, delicious romance drama; needs a sequel
    8) Hayate the Combat Butler!! – getting into so-so territory; fun at times, but too kiddish; give me some relationship action
    9) Familiar of Zero – first season had spunk and a few interesting elements; don’t watch beyond that
    10) Shana of the Burning Eyes – I am vested in this series and I’m not even sure why; heroine has an amazing visual design

  9. awesome list. i should really start making such lists more often and actually post it on my blog XD lol

    I personally wouldn’t put Toradora in my top 10 but I can see why and how people love it so. It was watchable for me but very forgettable too. I really only remember a punch or fight from it or something. Oh and that annoying parrot >.< I really, really didn't enjoy Asatte no Houkou at all but I'm not surprised you liked it a lot because it's you~
    Railgun I'd replace with Index (i'd probably just count it all as Index and actually have Railgun included in that) but even in my own list I don't think the series would even make it to the top 10. top 15 maybe

    I haven't seen Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko and Starship Operators yet but now I want to start them a lot sooner rather than later

    That Biglobe list scares me as a lot of the ones that would end up in my list are near the middle and more towards the end of theirs lol

  10. Slayers (Next especially)
    Toradora!
    Honey and Clover (counting both series together)
    Azumanga Daioh
    A Little Snow Fairy Sugar
    Kaichou wa Maid-sama!
    Zero no Tsukaima (mainly the first season)
    Mahoraba ~Heartful days~
    Potemayo
    Kare Kano

    Haven’t yet seen Utena, Nodame Cantabile, R.O.D the TV, or Ookami-san, though.

      • I originally put off watching it because the only versions available were full of eyecancer. Then, by the time rips of the remastered DVDs were available, it had become yet another title on my massive to watch list.

        I’ve also had R.O.D downloaded for, like, two or three years now, but haven’t gotten around to watching it yet.

  11. Utena is definitely the obvious choice – it’s the series that practically made J.C. Staff, and I am rather surprised they don’t rank higher in the other lists, but I suppose works like Utena are not exactly what the studio is known for in this day and age.

    J.C. Staff is an interesting studio in the same way that Sunrise is interesting’: one gets the sense that J.C. Staff is not so much ‘one studio’ in the same way that, say, SHAFT or GAINAX is, but rather like a collection of different studios. I think, you can definitely chalk up the variety to how often the studio adapts of existing works however.

    One might argue about the quality of the works adapted, but J.C. Staff is admittedly very good at the act of adaptation itself, and very consistent at adapting the particular visual look of a series. Light novel adaptations – Toradora, Index, Shana, Tsukaima, and so on have their designs smoothened out by the studio, and in motion, look quite consistent. There’s another different aesthetic for the Kimikiss and Amagami series and the Nodame Cantabile and Honey and Clover series, etc. Call them what you will, but I think they’re in fact a very professional company in that sense.

    • I don’t feel so much a bunch of different studios as I do a studio that really feels the influence of the directors and other staff put on a show. This is a studio where you can feel the director quite easily, whereas those “singular” studios are more of a tight team influence. They’re also a studio where you can feel how much money they had going into a show lol.

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  13. I don’t believe I’ve seen much from them, but I can say I like Uraboku and Ghost Hunt. Okay, I love Ghost Hunt. It was the first anime I ever gave a 10/10 to. And I loathe Honey & Clover so very passionately. That’s all I’ve got.

  14. Their past year has been uncharacteristically uneven – I have a sneaking suspicion that following the industry downturn (most of the current contracts would’ve been signed in early 2009), J.C.STAFF accepted too many projects for too little money, leading to the scheduling and budgeting nightmare they’ve recently faced. In addition to TV anime, they had to take extra work on the side, which doesn’t help.

    That said, their system has been astonishingly effective over nearly a decade, and I felt that 2009 was a banner year of sorts. DEEN (we all know how much hate they get) and AIC (largely irrelevant and unimpressive until recently) actually followed similar business models through the same years, yet neither managed to come anywhere close in terms of the number of big hits produced or consistence in quality.

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