My Summer 2015 Anime Odyssey, ranked

2015 was the year I set out to watch as many great anime as I could. I made a huge list of anime that I needed to watch, and an order to watch them in. Since then the list has only grown, and I almost never watch anything on it. But for the summer of 2015, my day was almost all watching anime. These shows were formative to my idea of what anime is, as well as my idea of art in general, but my opinions of them have changed in the two years since then.

Here’s how I ranked those shows at the time.

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My Favorite Character: Evangelion Unit 01

This post contains massive spoilers for Neon Genesis Evangelion and End of Evangelion

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Neon Genesis Evangelion is a soul-rending series about loneliness, alienation, and the inevitable end of the world. It’s a supreme work of art and more emotionally vivid than anything else I’ve seen. And its mascot is a giant metal purple unicorn.

Evangelion Unit-01 has my favorite design in any character or piece of technology in fiction. Its color design and decorations embody anime’s potential to bring silliness to serious situations, while its shape is that of a human. Unit-01 fights with beastlike fury, humanlike desperation, and a touch of the supernatural.

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My Favorite Characters: #2 – Stan Pines (Gravity Falls)

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Mr. Mystery. Grunkle Stan embodies a lot of the humor from Gravity Falls – snark, cynicism, and relatable vulnerabilities expressed through emotional yelling.

There was always an uncomfortable question with Stan, though. He seems so simple and ignorant, but from the beginning it’s clear that he’s been keeping secrets. How is he able to seem so earnest in his skepticism while collecting journals in a hidden basement?

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My Favorite Characters: #4 – Steve Carlsberg (Welcome to Night Vale)

In Dungeons and Dragons, one category of magical effect is “you become convinced that ____”. No matter what happens to you, this is your complete and utter belief. But no one listens, no one else is convinced.

Steve Carlsberg desperately wants his truth to be shared with his fellow citizens, but does not hold their ignorance against them. Just as he clings to his own version of reality, he respects that the town can only do so much to break out from theirs.

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My Favorite Characters: #5 – Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

Lemony misses the point a lot. He defines words in ways that only work in the context they’re used. His idea of morally justifiable theft is eating anything you steal, however valuable. The moral of Snow White, to him, is “never eat apples”. His biggest failure is probably his constant warning to his readers: “Don’t read this book”. People are going to read it. In a world of incompetent adults, Lemony Snicket is one of the strangest and most sympathetic.

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How We Turn From SpongeBob Into Squidward

Some people want to be artists, but they work a day job for money. The receptionist who paints in his spare time, the software developer who wants to be a novelist, or the psychologist who wishes she were a famous singer. Having both a passion and a job is a good thing. But working a low-paying job you hate in the hopes that one day you will be recognized for your true talents, is a mundane tragedy. It describes the life of Squidward Tentacles, sometimes-antagonist and always chew-toy of the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon.

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