The plain list is here for the curious.
1. Mobile Fighter G Gundam
The absolute best. Good music, good characters, fun story, and a director who didn't take himself too seriously. "It's embarrassing, but so is everything else in this show, so we'll go for it!" I also appreciated that it fit the anti-war message of Gundam series much better than the original did, somehow, and even tried to provide a solution (albeit a wildly impractical one).
2. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
The setting was absolutely amazing. I really like stories like this that have a lot of little things building up an interesting world. A lot of series nowadays don't do that. My interpretation of the story seems like it's a little different from most, especially with the ending. This series indirectly helped me come out to myself, so it has a special place in my heart.
3. Galaxy Angel
A great comedy that still managed to have serious stories sometimes. It was part of the tail end of cel animation, which I like. I think the best strength in Galaxy Angel was that each character had a well-defined relationship with every other character, so you could build an episode off any two of them working together instead of having to contrive specific combos. I guess a character relationship chart that's more detailed than just "love" and "hate" is a thing of the past?
4. Saber Marionette J to X
Secret: I love everything Akahori Satoru is involved with. The animation in this season was weird at times, but I feel kind of bad for the people who gave up on the series on account of disliking J's ending. This one had so many neat ideas and plot twists, especially with the episode "1/3 of Sorrow". The opening and ending songs were also really good. It's strange that there was such a subversive harem comedy so many years ago.
5. Love Hina
Such a sweet story, especially the last episode. For some reason, I seem to be the only one who likes the animated version better than the comic. Actually, I originally had no intention of watching this, but my sister picked it up on a whim and I ended up enjoying it more than she did. In fact, it even made me cry. ._. I think Keitaro might have started my interest in nerdy guys...
6. Princess Tutu
This one was just beautiful, even speaking as someone who doesn't usually like fairy tales. Metafiction can be really cool. Over the course of the story you really come to care for the characters so much, and the visuals are unique and just fun to look at. It was also pretty educational. Thanks to this, I can recognize some specific ballets now. Autor is my favorite. I wonder if he'll have a happy ending someday, too.
7. Kino's Journey (a.k.a. Kino's Travels/Kino no Tabi/The Journeys of Kino)
A simple story about a traveller. I have a soft spot for this "episodic journeys" genre. The novels were good, but I like the animated version even better. The way some of the stories were combined is quite clever, especially in "Her Journey". The ending to "The Land of Shared Pain" was way better than in the book. That the ending theme was written by the author was neat.
8. Rune Soldier
Another series about charging ahead with hot-blooded passion. The basic premise of a violent wizard is pretty good, and the way it played with RPG cliches was pretty hilarious. I'm sad there wasn't a 2nd season even though one was set up rather well.
9. Seraphim Call
Probably the most "artsy" entry on this list -- Wikipedia describes it as avant-garde. The day-to-day lives of 11 girls, with some slightly strange elements thrown in. (I'm a sucker for anthologies...) I think Kurumi's and Urara's were my favorites, but the final episode was also fun. The OP, "pray", was wonderful.
10. The Vision of Escaflowne
This is how my sister tricked me into liking mecha. It's a thousand times more shoujo-ish than I'm entirely comfortable with, but still my favorite "trapped in another world" series, even all these years later. Maybe because it took apart and looked at a lot of conventions of the genre. Kanno's OST and the Sakamoto Maaya/Seki Tomokazu combo are probably part of it too.
11. Akane Maniax
An OVA no one else watched, spun off from another show that I didn't watch, and based on a game I never played? Sure, why not? Once again, my Seki Tomokazu fanboyism is part of why this is on here, but I'm mostly enamored with a romance story in which the main character is completely honest about his feelings, treats the object of his affection respectfully, and is willing to do anything to make her happy. Seriously, unlike any other character from any other high school romance japanimation, I'm willing to consider him as a decent person.
12. Cyberteam in Akihabara
It started out as a garden-variety magical girl series. Then they made anima mundi and the Rosicrucian Order part of the backstory and it got weird. (Seriously, I'd recommend this one for fans of Umberto Eco.) Cyberteam is a little hard to describe. At times it's an offbeat comedy. At times it will make you cry. (One word: Tsubame.) And at times, it will send you to the encyclopedia just to figure out what the heck is even happening. Also, the villains are the best.
13. Mahoujin Guru Guru
A relatively gentle parody of RPG conventions that quickly ends up completely insane and terrifying. After watching this program, all it will take to send you screaming into the night is "Hirari hirari hirari..." I tend to believe that Hero is a representation of how RPG heroes actually behave, realistically speaking, if you consider all the looting, killing, etc. that they do. Also, Kukuri is adorable. The ending is pretty great as well.
14. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Ace
Or as I prefer to think of it, Magical Guardians Darkness Wolkenritter. Seriously, they were the best part of this season. The bond between the knights and Hayate is almost unbelievably sweet, and they're incredibly sympathetic. (I would probably go around stealing magical cores, too, if it would save that poor girl!) Fate finally getting a normal, happy life is a great subplot, and the fact that Nanoha is more visibly bloodthirsty in this season is admittedly funny. (I do kind of wish there were more fanart of Zafira, or am I the only one who remembers his existence?) Also, Mizuki Nana is as lovely as ever.
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