I’ve already made a list of my five favorite anime from the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a list of my five favorite anime from the 1990s. So now I’m going to follow it up with this list, which is my five favorite anime from the 2000s (2000-2009). What’s very interesting to me about this particular era is the fact that I began writing about anime for BellaOnline in September 2007, so near the end of this particular decade is when I started seriously delving into anime. At the time this list is posted, I will have written about anime on the Internet in some way, shape, or form for a little over 11 years. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long already!
But, like I do with my lists, it will be presented in alphabetical order, rather than being a Top 5 list.
This is one of the earliest anime series I delved into when I first started writing for BellaOnline, and it’s also the first shojo anime that I watched and reviewed for the site. Having Fruits Basket as the first shojo anime I truly paid attention to, it set the bar pretty high for me when I review shojo anime. The only drawback to this series is the fact that the manga was still ongoing when the anime was in production, so the story of the anime doesn’t truly end. The ending of the manga was much more satisfying.
For those who don’t know about Fruits Basket, the series focuses on a high school girl named Tohru Honda. She’s orphaned after her mother is killed in a car accident, and she went to live with her grandfather. But when her grandfather’s house needed to be remodeled, Tohru ends up living in a tent in the woods. Unknowingly, she is camping out on property near the home of one of her classmates, Yuki Sohma. Yuki and his cousin, Shigure, offer Tohru a place to stay in exchange for cooking and housework. And when Kyo Sohma appears the house, things get a little crazier, especially after Tohru discovers that the Sohmas have a secret. 13 members of the Sohma family are possessed by the 12 animal spirits of the Chinese Zodiac, as well as the spirit of the cat that was left out of the Zodiac. The members of the Sohma family that are possessed by the curse transform into animals when they are hugged by a member of the opposite gender, are under a great amount of stress, or are weak in any way. Tohru promises to keep the family’s secret, and she is allowed to keep her memories instead of having them hypnotically erasing them.
Inuyasha is another anime series that I started delving into during my early days at BellaOnline. It was also the first anime adaptation of a Rumiko Takahashi manga that I had watched. The setting of feudal Japan fascinated me, and the relationship that develops between Kagome and Inuyasha, as well as Miroku and Sango’s relationship, was interesting to follow. When I first saw Inuyasha, it was before Inuyasha: The Final Act had been created and aired, so the ending for the original anime was a little disappointing. But with the follow-up series, I appreciated how all the loose ends were tied up, and that audience got an actual conclusion for the story.
Kagome’s jumping between our world and feudal Japan made for interesting plot situations, especially since Kagome would end up missing a lot in school. It got even better, of course, when Inuyasha found a way to come into the modern world. Trying to hide his ears in our world made for some good humor.
There was also a strong villain in Naraku, and the resurrected Kikyo also became quite the obstacle for Inuyasha and Kagome. Honestly, I thought a lot of the characters were wonderful, and I’m glad that the anime version of their story got the conclusion that it deserved.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
If you asked me a few years back if I would have ever considered this title to be among my favorite anime from the 2000s, my answer would have probably have been “no.” For my first exposure to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, I was stuck having to watch it in the original broadcast order for the first series, and then later seeing the second series. With viewing order, a lot of the story wasn’t in chronological order, so it made it hard to follow. When I was able to watch the series again after FUNimation put out their release of it, I was able to see it in chronological order. Being able to see it in the proper chronological order, I realized that the anime was a lot better than I had initially given it credit for. Unfortunately, I have to dock a few points from this series due to the Endless Eight arc.
Outside of Endless Eight, the story of Haruhi Suzumiya and her interest in aliens, espers, and time travelers is actually rather fun to watch. And Kyon as the “straight man” is just perfect.
This film by Satoshi Kon uses the same idea of psychological storytelling as his other works, but it’s not in the same blurring of fantasy and reality as Perfect Blue and Paprika. Millennium Actress instead focuses on a blurring between memory and reality. The execution of the story is very well-done, although there are a lot of layers to the storytelling, and you really have to watch it more than once in order to pick up on details that you may have missed the first time you watch it.
The story of the film is done in the style of a “play within a play.” Genya Tachibana is working on a documentary about a famous actress named Chiyoko Fujiwara, an elderly actress who has withdrawn from public life. As Genya talks with Chiyoko, we see the story of her life from her teenage years to being a middle aged superstar; the flashbacks that appear are interspersed with segments from Chiyoko’s films. While Chiyoko’s life takes place surrounding World War II, the characters in her films span from the Sengoku period to a futuristic space age.
One of the big elements of the story has to do with a dissident artist that Chiyoko helped to escape from the military; she became attracted to him, but he had to flee. However, he left behind a key to his suitcase, and Chiyoko wants to find him. She initially became an actress in order to have the opportunities to travel and try to find him.
Noein: To Your Other Self
Noein: To Your Other Self is another anime that I was first exposed to early on at my time writing about anime for BellaOnline. The sci-fi angle really grabbed me, especially the exploration of the concept of parallel universes.
The series takes place 15 years in the future, where a violent battle is taking place between two “timespaces”: La’cryma and Shangri’la. La’cryma is a possible future of our own universe, which is 15 years in the future from where the main characters of the series are. In this timespace, all beings have been transformed into quantum beings at a macro level due to an incident that occurred in the past. There is a group in this timespace known as the Dragon Knights, who protect La’cryma from Shangri’la and enter into other timespaces to find the Dragon Torque. It is believed that the Dragon Torque is the key to stopping Shangri’la’s invasion. Shangri’la is a dimension that is intent on the destruction of all space and time. This timespace was created by a being known as Noein.
The main characters of the series live in present day Hakodate. At the beginning of the series, a 12-year-old girl named Haruka Kaminogi and her friend Yu Goto are about to run away from home. Before they can leave, they meet Karasu, a member of the Dragon Knights. Karasu believes that Haruka is the Dragon Torque, and it appears that Karasu is Yu from 15 years in the future. The series follows Haruka, Yu, and their friends as they find themselves getting mixed up in the battle between La’cryma and Shangri’la.
Not only did the parallel universe concept intrigue me, but I also really came to care about Haruka, Yu, and their friends. Not only was I interested in the present day characters, I was also interested in their parallel universe counterparts and seeing how they differed from each other.