Rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Ten anime you’ve seen that will always stick with you. List the first ten you can recall in no more than 10 minutes. Tag 10 friends.
Like the video game meme, adding my own additional explanations to each entry!
10. Digimon (Adventure, 02, Tamers)
I've rambled enough about my own experiences with Digimon and the impact it had on me as a kid in this questionnaire here, so I'll just summarize by saying it introduced me to a lot of storytelling ideas that were new or went to lengths I'd never seen before as a kid, and that impacted me a lot.
9. My Neighbor Totoro
It was either this or Kiki's Delivery Service that was my first Ghibli film (I watched both of them at friend's), but regardless of which came first, Totoro easily stood out more for me. It isn't necessarily that one is a superior product to the other (and I suspect I was likely too young for Kiki's message to really hit me), simply that, well, Totoro is my idea of heaven. It's a lush, green countryside with enormous, grand trees and a big, cuddly guardian of the forest whose method of transportation is a giant cat. The sunny days are as beautiful as the rainy days, and you're more likely to run into Susuwatari in an old house than you are a spider; like I said, heaven.
8. Revolutionary Girl Utena
I haven't seen Utena in full for 10 years, so while I can't give confident analyses of the story or characters it due to lack of memory of the finer details, it still says a lot that the general aesthetic, themes, surreality, and especially the music of the series remains embedded in my head to this day; someone can describe something to me as "really Utena" and I'll immediately know what they're talking about. What elevated it from "pretty darn good" to "masterpiece" to me as a 16 year old, however, was the ending. To this day, I don't think I've ever seen a series with a game-changer of an ending like this one's.
7. Black Jack 21
This was my gateway drug to Tezuka, and it's still yet to meet a single entry to unseat it as my favorite animated adaptation of his work. I highly doubt that status will ever be subject to change, either, because, man, this one hits all of my biggest narrative kinks. The "someone (or several) is after the hero's life" storyline is a near-bulletproof way to get me hooked on something (provided the hero is likable, of course), and you can find it in a lot of my big-time favorite stories, and this series was all about that. It was a pulse-pounding ride from beginning to end, and until the number one entry on this list, I didn't think I'd ever see another anime that would, honestly, have me on the edge of my seat all the time like this one.
6. Ringing Bell
I can't say anything about this one. Really, I can't. Just check it out for yourself: original Japanese/English dub (I've only seen it dubbed, and while it suffers at times from usual early English dub...ness, it still left one hell of a powerful impression). I'll be here if you need a hug afterward.
5. Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket
This one, however, I can talk about without managing to spoil. This and G Gundam are my favorite of what I've seen of the franchise, which is pretty hilarious considering they're pretty much at...the opposite ends of the Gundam spectrums. Where G Gundam is hot-blooded, over the top, and just plain fun, Gundam 0080 is down to earth, has little in the way of action, and doesn't mince words with its message. It's brutally frank in its delivery, yet manages to pull it off in a way that doesn't come across as gratuitous or manipulative. It has a fantastic staying impact and, quite honestly, it's my favorite antiwar piece.
Fun story: I was working out when I first watched it and, needless to say, I was a pretty disgusting mess when I finished the last episode.
4. Memories: Magnetic Rose
I think I've told the story of how I learned of Magnetic Rose's existence like 10 times now, but hell, I'll tell it 10 more. In Anime Expo of 2013, I attended an extremely cool panel called "The AMV Wayback Machine: The History of AMVs." It was run by a host of veteran anime fans showing AMVs dating back from the 80s all the way to the early 00s. This Magnetic Rose AMV made in 1998 was one of them. I was completely blown away--by the fact something amazingly well-crafted as this AMV was made that early on, and the amazingly well-crafted AMV itself. Unfortunately, the title of the anime was never said during the panel, and being the timid little soul I am, I couldn't get up the guts to just ask the panelists "What was that amazing one with the Phantom of the Opera song from?" One search from "1998 phantom of the opera amv" on YouTube later, and Memories was in my Netflix queue.
Jaw-droppingly beautiful animation, music, and story...it's one of my all-time favorites.
3. Spirited Away
I actually hated this movie when I saw it for the first time. I remember my expectations for it being sky-high, and felt depressingly crushed when I saw it. I was angry at all the positive feedback it was getting--what was everyone seeing in it that I couldn't? Yet, despite my strong, negative reaction, I was also inexplicably drawn towards it. I started writing up my own story, hugely inspired by the world of Spirited Away's. I wanted to see it again, and not just in hopes of understanding it better on second viewing; there was something about it that just kept drawing me towards it.
I saw it the second time, and it became one of my favorite movies ever. How that passionate hate turned into passionate love, I still can't explain. Maybe it was there all along, it was just a love I couldn't understand. A little bit like the message of the film.
And yeah. That train scene.
2. Neon Genesis Evangelion
This one has a strange story behind it. For the longest time when I was 14, I acted like I'd seen the whole series in the whole series and the movie--I figured I might as well have, I'd read extensively on it, after all. In reality, I'd only seen the first 13 or so episodes, and it wasn't until I was nearing the age of 17 that I finally watched it in full. Sort of. I plucked the episodes I was most interested in seeing out of order, and somehow, the powerful impact remained the same. I was in one of my worst bouts of depression upon watching it but, like Silent Hill 2, it only made the hits hit harder and the staying impact that much greater. It was a disturbing, depressing series to me, and I didn't understand why it was so beloved, or why I kept going back to it. The likely answer is that it hit home on topics like insecurity, loneliness, and depression unlike anything I'd ever seen before, and because I was at my lowest point, it spoke to me and clarified my struggles. I loved it and I hated it at once, it fascinated me but also caused me great pain, but I was also drawn to the pain (ah, adolescent masochism). But eventually, I came wholeheartedly love it.
Well, gee, I don't know what could possibly lead anyone to think that Kaiji stuck with me in any way. Could it be my Kaiji-themed tumblr layout remaining unchanged for 3 years, only changing with slight alterations for the holidays? Could it be the fact that I've bought more merchandise for it than I have any other franchise in my life (including my own childhood)? Could it be that I've written over 30 fanfics for it? Could it be all the beloved friends I've made and met because of it? Could it be how I've gushed endlessly about this series and character and how much they mean to me, and continue to do so 5 years after first watching the series later?
Truly, a mystery.
I can only kid about my love for Kaiji for so long. It's such a powerful, beloved series to me that I've actually only seen it in full a couple of times, wanting to make sure when I watch it that it's at the proper time and place--and that I myself am emotionally prepared for what's to come. It shocked me to the core, it broke my heart, it warmed my heart, it reaffirmed my faith in life and humanity, and I'm pretty sure it made me a better person. I am eternally grateful for its creation.