Image source: TIGER & BUNNY on Twitter

And if the results are anything to go by, it seems we are living in the best period for anime ever.

Last week, Japanese public broadcaster NHK revealed the final results for their poll for the 100 Best Anime, as voted by members of the public. The poll is part of the “NHK Anime 100 Years” series of shows and special columns, some of which I have already gone into a fair amount of depth, such as the special program on the history of robot anime.

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The poll’s results were extremely surprising to say the least, with 2011’s hit superhero adventure Tiger & Bunny not only topping the list, but also appearing three times in the top ten, through its separate movie and TV series incarnations.

The most shocking thing, however, is perhaps how the vast majority of animated works on the list were produced in the last ten years. In fact, out of all 100 results, only 38 were older than a decade.

1) Tiger & Bunny – 2011
2) Tiger & Bunny The Movie -The Rising- – 2014
3) Puella Magi Madoka Magica – 2011
4) Love Live! (Season 1) – 2013
5) Love Live! (Season 2) – 2014
6) Tiger & Bunny The Movie -The Beginning-
7) Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion – 2006
8) Cardcaptor Sakura – 1998
9) Love Live! The School Idol Movie – 2015
10) Mr. Osomatsu – 2015
11) Gintama – 2006
12) Joker Game – 2016
13) Legend of the Galactic Heroes – 1988
14) Neon Genesis Evangelion – 1995
15) Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 – 2008
16) Is the order a rabbit? – 2014
17) Mobile Suit Gundam – 1979
18) Digimon Adventure – 1999
19) Psycho-Pass – 2012
20) Sword Art Online – 2012
21) Clannad ~After Story~ – 2008
22) Girls & Panzer – 2012
23) Haikyu!! – 2014
24) Detective Conan (Case Closed) – 1996
25) Hyoka – 2012
26) Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie Part 3: Rebellion – 2013
27) Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood – 2009
28) Attack on Titan – 2013
29) Space Battleship Yamato – 1974
30) Revolutionary Girl Utena – 1997
31) Bungo Stray Dogs – 2016
32) Prince of Tennis – 2001
33) Love Live! Sunshine!! – 2016
34) Cowboy Bebop – 1998
35) Steins;Gate – 2011
36) Natsume’s Book of Friends – 2008
37) Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] – 2014
38) Hoshi no Ko Poron – 1974
39) Future Boy Conan – 1978
40) Mobile Suit Gundam SEED – 2002
41) K-ON! – 2009
42) The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Season 1) – 2006
43) Gurren Lagann – 2007
44) The Castle of Cagliostro – 1979
45) Bakemonogatari – 2009
46) Ghost in the Shell STAND ALONE COMPLEX – 2002
47) Sound! Euphonium – 2015
48) Free! – 2013
49) Girls und Panzer Der Film – 2015
50) Fate/Zero – 2011
51) Your Lie in April – 2014
52) Shirobako – 2014
53) Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior – 2008
54) Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind – 1984
55) Gintama’ – 2011
56) Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 1000% – 2011
57) Your Name. – 2016
58) K-ON!! – 2010
59) Castle in the Sky – 1986
60) Sailor Moon – 1992
61) Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World – 2016
62) Free!-Eternal Summer- – 2014
63) High Speed! –Free! Starting Days- – 2015
64) Reborn! – 2006
65) Yu Yu Hakusho – 1992
66) The IDOLM@STER – 2011
67) Haikyu!! Second Season – 2015
68) Is the order a rabbit?? – 2015
69) Mob Psycho 100 – 2016
70) Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 2015
71) Fullmetal Alchemist – 2003
72) One Piece – 1999
73) Macross Frontier – 2008
74) Shonen Hollywood – 2014
75) Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato – 1978
76) Cardcaptor Sakura (Season 2) – 1999
77) Angel Beats! – 2010
78) Mushishi – 2005
79) Urusei Yatsura – 1981
80) Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – 2016
81) K – 2012
82) Kuroko’s Basketball (Season 1) – 2012
83) anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day – 2011
84) Hunter × Hunter – 1999
85) Pokémon – 1997
86) Armored Trooper Votoms – 1983
87) The Twelve Kingdoms – 2002
88) Blood Blockade Battlefront – 2015
89) Hetalia The Beautiful World – 2013
90) Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – 1990
91) Mononoke – 2007
92) Kill la Kill – 2013
93) Inuyasha – 2000
94) Urusei Yatsura 2 Beautiful Dreamer – 1984
95) Den-noh Coil – 2007
96) Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures: Stardust Crusaders – 2014
97) AKIRA – 1988
98) Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? – 1984
99) Gan to Gon – 1974
100) The Tatami Galaxy – 2009

When classified by decade, the results are even more astounding. The highest-ranking entry from the 1970s was Mobile Suit Gundam at #17, followed by Space Battleship Yamato at #29, which is then oddly followed by the little-known Hoshi no ko Poron (Poron the Star Child) at #38. Poron was a short-form anime from 1974 that has never been released on any home video format. This is in spite of there reportedly having been over 260 episodes produced. Although its copyright holder is unknown, it somehow managed to rank even higher than Hayao Miyazaki’s master work, Future Boy Conan, from 1978. As if that wasn’t enough, it also features Masako Nozawa in the lead role, who is perhaps undeniably most famous for being the voice of Son Goku from Dragon Ball. And yet Dragon Ball itself is nowhere to be seen on this list. How can this be?

Compare that now to the last time I talked about Masako Nozawa—in a similar countdown for the 25 top-ranking voice actors of all time, as compiled for a special program on TV Asahi. In that case, it was not down to a popular vote; instead, people within the industry were electing their most respected performers. As a result, those with longer careers and greater exposure and recognition by the public were ranked highly. Inevitably, very few recent works were represented in the final lineup. This is a marked difference; one could even say the opposite of what we witnessed with this NHK Best 100 Anime rundown.

The Top 25 Japanese Voice Actors of All Time, as Voted by Their Peers

It can therefore be argued that the results in fact say a lot about the popularity of current shows more than the overall popular anime “of all time,” and it also tells us about the way modern anime fandom is organized.

That is to say, the diversity that has developed over the turn of the century with regards to anime, the ubiquity of late-night anime broadcast slots, and the almost-complete disappearance of prime-time, mainstream works (other than pre-established, long-running ones from the 1990s like Chibi-Maruko-chan and Detective Conan/Case Closed) appears to have led to the current situation.

Back in the 20th century, anime was on television in the evenings. In some cases, families would gather and watch it shows like Heidi, Girl of the Alps. In other cases, kids would tune in to watch toy-based cartoons, such as robot shows for boys and magical girl shows for girls. Contrast that to the situation today, where many forms of entertainment—games, manga, internet, DVDs—are competing for our limited time, and everything becomes more diversified. In the end, the “mainstream” disappears.

Add to this the rise of social media and the ability for fans to congregate in virtual communities online, and you have the ability for very minor, unknown works to gather momentum and be pushed into the visible mainstream by grassroots fan movements. Hence, Hoshi no Ko Poron. Additionally, although it did not actually make the top 100 overall, the appearance of the infamous Chargeman Ken! (which has a cult “so bad it’s good” following) as the tenth highest entry in the 1970s category, far above well-loved classics such as The Rose of Versailles, Mazinger Z, and Anne of Green Gables, is also a testament to this.

NHK’s site allows you to also view the results by gender, and the almost complete lack of overlap in the two lists is truly a stark revelation. Where Tiger & Bunny and Code Geass dominate the upper section for the women’s votes, the mens’ rankings show a converse trend with Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Love Live! and Girls und Panzer.

Female Top Ten
1) Tiger & Bunny – 2011
2) Tiger & Bunny The Movie -The Rising- – 2014
3) Tiger & Bunny The Movie -The Beginning-
4) Mr. Osomatsu – 2015
5) Joker Game – 2016
6) Gintama – 2006
7) Cardcaptor Sakura – 1998
8) Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion – 2006
9) Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 – 2008
10) Haikyu!! – 2014

Male Top Ten
1) Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie Part 3: Rebellion – 2013
2) Love Live! (Season 1) – 2013
3) Love Live! (Season 2) – 2014
4) Love Live! The School Idol Movie – 2015
5) Is the order a rabbit? – 2014
6) Legend of the Galactic Heroes – 1988
7) Girls & Panzer – 2012
8) Mobile Suit Gundam – 1979
9) Neon Genesis Evangelion – 1995
10) Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion – 2006

This phenomenon can also be compared to the AKB48 elections and the way those are carried out. In those cases, fans vote for their favorite member of the idol group in the hopes that that girl can obtain the center position. However, it is also an opportunity to subvert the mainstream popularity of some of the girls and try to push a lesser-known member to the top. This is done through a combination of like-minded fans gathering and forming a well-organized coalition, as well as spending a lot of money on multiples of the same CD, within which the voting ticket can be found. The results push the more “minor” members to the top and give them more exposure.

Similarly, the voting system employed by NHK was also a catalyst in bringing such a diversified set of results. The rules were that one could vote once a day, with the option of choosing three shows each time, for a period of three months. It’s no wonder that Love Live! and Tiger & Bunny appear multiple times. It is, if nothing else, an accurate cross-section of just how passionate these disparate fanbases are.

In short, what we are witnessing in the absence of mainstream, prime-time, long-lasting classics that most of Japanese society would likely find synonymous with anime such as Cyborg 009, Star of the Giants, Sazae-san, and The Moomins, is that in fact they have been displaced with lesser-known titles with passionate fanbases. We are therefore visualizing the compartmentalization of Japanese society. It is, thus, an extremely eye-opening experiment, whether one agrees with the results or not.

Comments (2)
  1. Hooray for Haikyu!! 😀

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