Reflections: Am I just overthinking IGN’s top 25 anime list?

Just shy of a month ago, IGN released an article that was titled “The Best 25 Anime Series of All Time.”

Now this list is objectively garbage. If I can be allowed to rant for a second, it is basically the equivalent of making a list of the best 25 video games of a all time, and leaving off any game printed before 2004, and then slapping four copies of Madden on that list.

To anyone with any real sense of history, it’s just not a good list. As Darius Washington point out on Twitter, how do you have a list of the best anime of all time, but don’t have anything made before 1989? Where is Astro Boy? Where is Gundam? Where is Macross?

Rick Hunter

I was, and still am, to a degree, really upset about this list. It shows the continued bias of video game journalists talking about anime. This isn’t a top 25 list of best anime series of all time. It’s the top 25 anime of people who really only watched anime between 1995 and 2018, and weren’t really interested in anything that wasn’t mainstream or mainstream adjacent.

I don’t know which is the worst crime — that Legend of Galactic Heroes isn’t on this list or that Dragonball Z is.

And IGN is by no means the only place guilty of this sin. Polygon, Kotaku and even Kinda Funny have all engaged to using anime as a descriptor for anything that is melodramatic in a cartoony way. They all clumsily stomp around and try to explain things that they don’t really understand.

It’s made all the more frustrating by the fact that I’m not the most well-educated person about this subject and I know that the commentary is more rotten than milk left out in the sun on a hot summer day.

OK. Rant done.

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I saw that post and I thought about pouring out my vitriol and picking apart every pick on that list. I steamed, and I fumed and I had a many a pointed conversation with an invisible IGN editorial board in my head.

But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if I’m just turning into the worst anime fan, or really the worst kind of fan of any medium. The kind that doesn’t accept that different people are going to have different opinions.

Here’s the thing. Anime is only one of my hobbies. Between video games, movies, music and podcasts, it’s just one more place I spend my time. And I’m really a decade out of date. I’m catching up on stuff people watched years ago.

I have to wonder if I’m even competent to judge IGN’s list? They’re not really writing for me. They’re writing for the person who watches anime as a tertiary hobby. To continue my video came metaphor, they’re writing a list for people who really like Madden, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and played Gone Home and thought it pretty cool.

I mean it’s not a best anime of all time list, but it is a best anime if you’re kind of sort of into anime.

I don’t mean that to be dismissive. We all have that friend who says, “So what anime should I watch?” Well here’s a whole list of anime they could watch, and most of which they won’t need to look too hard to find.

Sure. Maybe it doesn’t have Armored Troopers VOTOMS but does it need to?

Chirico

This leads me to probably my biggest question. You see, in less than a month I’ll turn 43. I’m not even in the same generation of people who talk about video games. Maybe I’m wrong to get upset when they use anime as a descriptor.

I mean that’s the other side of this. Language is fluid. It changes over time, and even changes within a lifetime. Maybe I’m the jerk, who can’t accept that most anime is at least a little unreal. That most of the time people use animation to exaggerate the truth beyond what is believable in live-action. Just look at the blowback James Cameron got when the first images of Battle Angel: Alita came out.

Yes, I would love it if IGN made a list that took the entire breadth and depth of anime into account. Yes, I would be thrilled if people stopped using anime as a descriptor and started using it to refer to a medium.

But maybe, I’m the problem. Maybe I’m expecting the world to change for me rather than changing for the world.

What do you think? Should I just accept that I’m too old to have a good opinion on this? Or am I just overthinking it?

As always, thanks for reading.

10 thoughts on “Reflections: Am I just overthinking IGN’s top 25 anime list?

  1. Any best of list is going to be subjective, miss things or have choices that some fans will question. I don’t tend to mind even if I wouldn’t agree. Of course there is a reason I have never attempted a best of all time anime list and am wondering if it is even worth putting together a ‘Best of the decade list early next year.

    1. So I think it’s worth it to put together a best of the decade if only because you are likely to pick things I haven’t watched.

      I only really mind because I I would hope for a more complete list.

  2. I saw all the hate the list got, looked at the list, and didn’t really get it. Are there series I think could have been on the list that weren’t? Absolutely. However, it is a solid selection that hits on several titles you would be amiss to check out, especially if you were newer to anime. I would comfortably recommend several of the titles here.

  3. I often think about how fraught with risk that kinda list is, and every time I get the urge to put something similar up, I always back out of trying anything so ambitious 🙂

    And I know what you mean too, like, how can I judge whether anything is the ‘best’ of all time etc? I’m just a viewer, so I have no special insights.

    Having said that – I do think that a list which claims to have ‘impact on the what came after’ as a metric should have considered a wider span of decades. (And for me, I’d have included ‘Astro Boy’ for sure. Nice to see ‘Mushi-Shi’ in there though).

  4. I guess I’ve gotten to the point where I just don’t care about these lists things from big sites anymore. I don’t this list, Crunchyroll’s 100 anime of the decade, and others because they just go for out more popular titles and I just don’t give a damn.

    Everyone has their own lists and no one is going to agree with the others people’s. What’s the point of being angry? Make your own.

  5. “and then slapping four copies of Madden on that list.”

    I laughed way more than I should have at that!

    As others have pointed out, the list is wildly subjective. But on the plus side, I’d take it as objective proof that the community needs voices like yours to establish a more balanced and nuanced understanding of anime. Sure, IGN can have their list, FWIW. But I’d consider you and the other commenters here to be as or more qualified to issue a list.

    At least you’re present defensible reasons a given show was placed where it was!

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