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Ani-Gamers’ Top 3 Anime of 2008

Our third and final Top 3 list is for anime. This section has slightly stricter rules than the other two Top 3 lists (manga and video games). To be eligible for this list, a title had to have begun its legal release in North America during the 2008 calendar year. Yep, that means no fansubs.

You might notice that a certain American anime company has a rather large share of our votes. We swear that we haven’t sold out. Seriously. We chose these titles because this company made some great licensing decisions this year. These are shows that have touched people’s hearts, spawned countless cosplays, and for the lesser-known among them, sparked some real intellectual thought over their deeper meaning. In a year that saw the anime industry nearly collapse and miraculously rebuild itself, in a year that saw both the fall of ADV and the rise of legal anime streaming, these shows are examples of how anime is still going strong. If you need a reason to support the American anime industry, look no futher than the following three anime.

A special thanks goes out to Yumeka, who provided some much needed tie-breaker votes to solidify this list.

Below, our choices for the best anime of 2008. The writeup for each winner has the author’s nickname next to it. [Vampt Vo], for example.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Third Place ••• The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Directed by: Mamoru Hosoda

Animated by: Madhouse

Distributed by: Bandai Entertainment

Mamoru Hosoda, whose only major directorial achievement until now was two Digimon movies, hit one out of the park in this feature film based on a novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui (Paprika). The story of the high school girl Makoto – who has just discovered an ability to “leap” through time – quickly changes from a light-hearted attempt to improve her day to a frantic struggle to retain everything she loves in life. The film is funny, down-to-earth, and very subtle at times. Animated beautifully by studio Madhouse, featuring character designs by Evangelion designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, and sporting a unique directorial style from Hosoda, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a beautiful, poignant film, and an experience that no anime fan should miss this year. [Vampt Vo]

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Second Place ••• Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Directed by: Goro Taniguchi

Animated by: Sunrise

Distributed by: Bandai Entertainment

Anime is used to genre-bending, and Code Geass was 2008’s American televised blending masterpiece. Loaded with mysterious characters, outrageous mecha designs and gripping political pathos, the Faustian epic of Lelouche VI Brittania’s descent behind the mask of Zero took most of us by surprise. School life, mecha, super-powers – all of them come together in a show able to create intense suspense anywhere, from a single pawn on a chessboard to an international guerrilla free-for-all. Featuring CLAMP’s character designs and Taniguchi’s melodramatic direction, this colorful masterpiece NEVER loses sight of the key struggle: Lelouche’s ambition to create a peaceful world. With cosplay options, sprinklings of fan-service and pretty boys galore, Code Geass earned its place as one of the best new anime of 2008. [Uncle Yo]

Gurren Lagann
First Place ••• Gurren Lagann

Directed by: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Animated by: Gainax

Distributed by: Bandai Entertainment

Wait, there’s a giant robot anime with a well-crafted, meaningful story? Studio Gainax (Evangelion, FLCL) has answered with a resounding yes. With some of the most lovable characters ever created, Gurren Lagann is simply fantastic, whether you’re into the robots-kicking-the-crap-out-of-other-robots genre or not. It kicks off with a kickass escape, quickly turns to heartbreak, and only gets better before it peaks with mechs chucking galaxies at each others’ faces. What more do you need out of a cartoon? [MitchyD]

Personal Choices

(The top anime choice from each of our staff members that voted)

  • Karl “Uncle Yo” Custer: Tekkon Kinkreet (Studio 4°C)
  • Mitchell “MitchyD” Dyer: Gurren Lagann (Gainax)
  • “Ink”: Welcome to the NHK (Gonzo)
  • Maxwell “Pigeonflu” McGee: Gurren Lagann (Gainax)
  • Evan “Vampt Vo” Minto: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Madhouse)
  • “Yumeka”: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (Sunrise)

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