Anime has played a major role in the life of No Borders No Race, be it reviewing a show people should watch or avoid or just spinning a catchy theme song in that week's playlist. In the last ten years the anime industry has brought forth some amazing programs, whether they were smart dramas with deep characters, heart-pounding action sequences brought to life in beautiful animation, or laughs that would tire out one's funny bone due to exasperation. For the next five weeks, we'll be showcasing the best Japan has delivered to the animation realm from 2006-2015, leading up to the anime that deserves a spot on the mightiest of pedestals.
WRITER'S NOTE: To qualify, the anime must have premiered between the years 2006 and 2015. New seasons of older anime will not be counted.
50: Yurikuma Arashi
First, we hated it. Then director Kunihiko Ikuhara (Sailor Moon, Revolutionary Girl Utena) pulled back the curtain and revealed a story filled with innocence, bullying, lies & deceit, and...bears. Yes, the premise was pretty silly, but Yurikuma Arashi was more than just about girls versus bears. Rather, this was an allegory to the visual mindset of those who are either for or against those in the LGBT community. The first three episodes gave way to the mentality of those who despise same-sex relationships, while the rest of the series showed why those clouded with hate were in the wrong. It may take a couple viewings to grab all the symbolism, but Yurikuma Arashi is a beautifully animated work of social justice that won't leave a bad taste in your mouth. Yuri approved.
49: Himouto! Umaru-chan
Sometimes in life, you need to be fabulously lazy. The title character of Himouto! Umaru-chan was the embodiment of the need of some listlessness, and it was chock filled with laughs and adorableness. In public, Umaru Doma is the pitch-perfect student, but when only her brother Taihei is around the school clothes come off and the hamster hoodie pops on. Whether she's hiding her identity from her friends or rivals, playing with her gerbil pets, or attempting to decide on a snack to give to her brother, Umaru-chan proved to be the Summer of 2015's most wonderful of vacations for the mind.
48: Kyouran Kazoku Nikki
When Kyouran Kazoku Nikki first premiered, it had the external appearance of an incredibly stupid comedy. Government agent Ōka is forced to wed the cat girl Kyōka, and gathers together a family consisting of a former yakuza cross-dresser, a talking lion, a biological weapon, a telepathic jellyfish, and a pair of sisters. It wasn't until the back stories of the Midarezaki foster family were revealed when a more darker tone was presented. For a series to balance out dumb moments of comedy with some tear-jerking heartache, that's not an easy thing to accomplish. (I still get shudders thinking of robot Hyouka's violent past.) Nevertheless, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki was a strange yet wonderful show about how even the weirdest of families can overcome the biggest of obstacles.
47: Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture
Tadayasu has the ability to see and talk to microbes, which makes him a prime candidate for attending an agricultural college. What follows is a humorous and educational comedy about living in a world constantly surrounded by bacteria. Moyashimon showcased the life of students both good-natured (Tadayasu and Hazuki) and ill-cunningly greedy (the scene-stealing Kaoru and Takuma), with an elderly professor and his sadomasochistic-dressing assistant leading the charge towards these students' futures. Of course, we all tuned in for the cuteness that the microbes delivered each week, with A. Oryzae being the most adorable of them all.
Currently unlicensed, and streaming on Crunchyroll
46: The World God Only Knows
A dating-sim pro is forced to use his faux romance skills in real-life. Otherwise, he'll literally lose his head. That's the premise for The World God Only Knows, with its hero Keima out to help spirit Hunter Elsie retrieve loose souls via courting his fellow students. What could've been a series that was fifty shades of wrong transformed itself into one of the smartest romantic comedies around, thanks in part to its treatment of third-dimensional love interests. Yes, it got a little bumpy here and there (not to mention the way Studio Manglobe messily handled the transition between seasons two and three), but The World God Only Knows always managed to leave its viewers with a hearty laugh and -- at the very least -- a good night kiss by episode's end.
45: Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun
When Chiyo musters up the courage to tell Nozaki her true feelings, she accidentally winds up helping out with his popular romance manga. That's when she slowly starts to see his inspirations coming from her fellow classmates, leading to some of the biggest and most unexpected laughs. Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun took the romantic comedy schtick, turned it upside-down, and proceeded to point and laugh at every single cliché it could muster up. The end result was one of the most refreshing series to pop up, one that had viewers look at the rom-com genre in a whole new light. Hell, I sure can't look at tandem bicycles anymore without bursting out with laughter!
44: The Daughter of Twenty Faces
Whether you called it Nijū Mensō no Musume, CHIKO: Heiress of the Phantom Thief, or by its translated namesake, The Daughter of Twenty Faces was a beautiful mystery that both looked and felt like a classic. Young Chiko is taken from her abusive relatives by the famed thief Twenty Faces, and learns everything that is to know about committing the perfect crime under his wing. When he goes missing during a violent shootout, the young girl begins a quest to find him with the aid of her newfound friends and old allies. A beautiful story, a British-infused orchestral soundtrack, and perhaps voice actress Aya Hirano's best performance helped to make tuning in to unravel this tale all the more rewarding.
43: Kamen no Maid Guy
Before Ladybeard, there was only one muscular man that perfectly wore a maid outfit. His name was Kogarashi, the sharp-toothed maniacal-sounding masked Maid Guy. With regular maid girl Fubuki by his side, he is tasked to watch over kendo extraordinaire Naeka and her otaku brother Kōsuke, the only blood heirs to their grandfather's fortune. What results is some of the best fan-serviced comedy money can buy, with Naeka going up against the likes of sports rivals, a pervy lesbian, and -- in one instance -- her own tits. Fortunately, with Kogarashi looking out for her, anything life throws at her get batted off...or it flies smack-dab into Naeka's posterior.
42: Baka & Test: Summon The Beasts
The better your grades are, the better your equipment will be in your classroom. That means if you're like Akihisa and the rest of Class F, your classroom will consist of orange crates, beat-up seat pads, and a chalkboard that looks ready to collapse at any second. If you find yourself in the world of Baka & Test: Summon the Beasts, that means you could challenge any class for their cooler stuff. Thus we are given a tale filled with funny fights, dangerously one-sided romances, and a new gender simply known as Hideyoshi. Whether it was for the fan-serviced comedy or the fun chibi-looking battles, Baka & Test always found a way to be anyone's donut to their banana.
41: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
A match made in Heaven, studio Sunrise and manga icons CLAMP brought together a tale of royal deceit, mechas, and the power of revolution. When Japan is taken over by the Holy Britannian Empire (which, let's be real, is actually the United States), the exiled Prince Lelouch dons a mask and the name Zero after gaining the Geass power from the mysterious C.C. Friendships are made, others are broken, and plenty of blood and robot parts are scattered across the nation. Code Geass was all over the place with its story, which helped to lead it towards one thrilling and unpredictable conclusion.
Licensed by FUNImation
Check back next week for the second part of this anime countdown!