The Top Anime of 2003


2003 was a pretty good year for anime. A bunch of my all-time favorites came out this year whilst the ones that don’t qualify were pretty good too. Not much else for me to say really. I could talk about the history of digital animation and how it evolved around here, but I think I’ll leave that to more capable hands and just list off my favorites from this year right now.


Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.40.11 AM10. Gunslinger Girl

Gunslinger Girl is pretty much one of the best “girls with guns” anime I’ve seen, if not the best. It takes itself way more seriously than stuff like Upotte or Girls Und Panzer, but it also manages to throw in a ton of light-hearted moments into the mix that are surprisingly charming and creepy at the same time. The thing about these girls is that they try to put on the act of living normal lives to the point that they convince themselves they are normal. But when it really comes down to it, they’re just cold-blooded tools that can’t change their fate. It’s morbid in all the right ways with just the right amount of quiet moments to give the action more weight. That sequel that came out in the year 2008 isn’t quite as good because of the awful production values, but on the whole, it’s damn great stuff.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.41.06 AM9. Fullmetal Alchemist

Along with Ranma and Detective Conan, Fullmetal Alchemist was one of the anime that started me on my path to a Japanese cartoon fanboy. What surprised me the most about this adaptation is how different it was from my friend’s manga, and yet it never felt like it was any worse off for it. In fact, several things improved thanks to its balls to take risk with the source material, although the ending was kind of pushing it. I’ve watched this anime many times as a highschool kid and whilst parts of it don’t hold up for me as much, it’s still a great shonen action anime

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.40.30 AM8. Planetes

Planetes is basically one of those special shows that we only get once in a while. It’s basically a workplace satire about garbagemen in space that works well thanks to the huge amount of charm instilled in the cast and scenarios whilst focusing on Hachi’s dream to one day own a spaceship. And it tells that story through two distinct halves: a fun episodic slice-of-life for the first half, and a more story-based approach for the second half. I didn’t love the second half like most people do because its serious tone was a bit too much for me at times, but it’s an amazing series that even I can’t deny the pleasure of.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.40.44 AM7. Darkness, the Hat, and the Book of Travelers

A yuri hentai game adaptation from the director of Fate/Stay Night about a time-traveling incestuous lesbian and her witch friend hopping through different dimensions in order to find her sister and fuck her. It’s pretty much as much of a mess as you’d think, but it’s a goddamn awesome one that surpasses all other VN adaptations to date. No poorly conceived character development like either the semicolon anime or the Key stuff. No wasting time on doing fuck all like Shuffle or To Heart. Just throwing a bunch of random elements together hoping it would stick, and somehow it magically does. Yeah the characters are shallow and the animation is crap, but that just adds to this clusterfuck’s enjoyment in my mind.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.41.00 AM6. Tokyo Godfathers

One of the best feel-good Christmas movies of all-time. I think what makes me fall in love with this thing is how it brings on tears through the power of happiness without being emotionally manipulative about it. Even stuff like Pixar, who have a reputation of making you cry through sheer happiness, doesn’t do it as well as Tokyo Godfathers. Plus, I appreciate how Kon stays away from his usual mindfuck direction in regards to telling this story. Wouldn’t have fit with the tone at all, plus it shows that the guy has range.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.40.22 AM5. Texhnolyze

Texhnolyze is probably the toughest of the Yoshitoshi ABe works to get into. Those first few episodes play with the narrative way too loosely for my taste to the point that it makes less sense than Lain. It loosens up later on, but not to the point that you can’t turn your brain off for even a second whilst watching it. But damn, all those taglines saying how “inhumane and beautiful” it is? They’re dead on. Watching the city of Lux tear itself apart whilst all these different factions fight against each other with no one, not even the main dude, to really root for and no clear goal in mind is pretty damn awesome. Also, as per usual with ABe anime, the soundtrack rocks.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.40.51 AM4. Cromartie High School

Cromartie is the king at anti-humor comedy. Seriously, I hate that kind of humor for the most part, but Cromartie not only knows how to use it well, it manages to make that humor funnier than most easy monkey cheese stuff as of today. I love its randomness and its acceptance of the absurd. But most of all, I love the classic lines. “HE ATE MY PENCIL!” is still one of the best openings I’ve seen to a comedy in a while.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.41.14 AM3. Full Metal Panic Fumoffu?

I have no idea who came up with this brilliant invention we humans like to call FMP Fumoffu, but all I can ask after seeing this is “where did that guy go?”. Anyways, it’s pretty much all the comedic moments of Fumoffu (although more exaggerated, and thus more funny) without the serious mecha bits, so there’s not much else to say. Whilst I’m not sure if I’m on the “Fumoffu is a thousand times better than the original” bandwagon, it’s definitely better overall and still one of the funniest comedies I’ve ever seen.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.41.38 AM2. Air Master

The thing holding Air Master back from being a true classic in my eyes is the bad art, humor, animation, and voice-acting. With that said, it’s a testament to how good this anime is that it ranks high with me despite those issues. I love the fight choreography and the wacky fighters that populate this anime. I love how it messes with the shonen cliches in just the right way so that it comes off as fresh despite the fact that we have seen parts of this anime before. Plus, Sakiyama, Kenjirou, that biker dude, etc. are fucking awesome. If only other action anime were half as good as this.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 11.41.49 AM1. Kino’s Journey

When I was randomly looking at top MAL anime one day, I saw Kino’s Journey and was curious regarding what was up with it. I watched the thing on some shit streams and was immediately captivated by just about everything in the series. Not all of the episodes are gold, but each one always provided a great outlook on life and did it in a way far more entertaining than anything I ever read in a literature class. See, the key to getting me to like deep stuff is to have a girl with a gun and a talking motorrad. If only the Canterbury Tales had that.

7 responses to “The Top Anime of 2003

  1. Gunslinger Girl is a drama, and it has some serious themes – it’s not surprising it’s “more serious” than Upotte and GuP. If anything, the closest thing to it is Leon, the French movie with Natalie Portman – it’s closer to stories about cyborgs, or child warriors, which it is, than to any silly sports show.

    Planetes too is a drama, which is one of the things making it so “rare” – it’s an actual drama slice of life, rather than slice of life taken to mean “Silly comedy” or “nothing happens.” – aside from being a good and sadly underwatched show, which is just constructed well. I think as a result it’s also one of the better shows to ease people who don’t know anime into anime (along Genshiken), or to suggest to people who burn out on shows that are too “random”.

    • Reason I bring up how serious Gunslinger Girl is is because I’m usually not one for wacky premises done without levity. It’s the reason I can never get into live-action American dramas.

  2. “HE ATE MY PENCIL!” is still one of the best openings I’ve seen to a comedy in a while”

    Normally when I think of Cromartie having one of the best openings this is what comes to mind

  3. Tokyo Godfathers is a film I consider near-perfect in all regards. It’s what introduced me to Kon and the subject matter tackled showed not only his artistic range, but his willingness to humanize people who are usually seen as pariahs. It’s not often we see something like that out of Japan and I try to re-watch it yearly.

    I love Fumoffu and adore Kino’s Journey, but I could never get too into the original FMA anime. It always came off as a little too preachy and constructed rather than natural and subtle. Blame it on my love of shounen series, but Brotherhood and the manga struck me more because they managed to have the structure one would associate with One Piece or Soul Eater and still have these themes of racism, redemption, and family without the need to bring Nazi Germany into the picture. I still enjoy the original, but I have much more fun with its other two iterations.

    • I like them both equally. Obviously, FMA has nostalgia in mind, but the reason I don’t consider Brotherhood better is because 1. Its ending was too happy and checklisty for me 2. I liked the original’s serious moments more than Brotherhood, as well as its comedic moments.

      The original doesn’t come together very well though and Brotherhood’s action is awesome, so…yeah.