I remind myself of the subjective nature of lists like this, how they rarely exist to please readers (or even succeed when that is their intent), and how expecting them to be anything close to “definitive” is near impossible. That said, the Toonzone’s Top 25 Animated Television Series of the 00’s list surely exists to provoke discussion, so here are my unprompted and unexamined thoughts on it.
I’ve never been a fan of the kind of sloppy, “ironic” visual style so that took off so big after the success of The Powerpuff Girls. I don’t have much love for the crude and whimsical look of Spongebob Squarepants, either, which also lent itself well to a lot of similarly obstreperous cartoons. Yet these two aesthetics (or a hybrid of the two) seemed to have the decade on lock, at least from my experiences in channel surfing. This messy style was headache-inducing and the general loudness of these programs only contributed to the obstreperousness and “screamification” of television in general, helping rewire a generation of kids whose parents long ago gave up on teaching them to use their inside voices. At least the dreadful Camp Lazlo isn’t here but I look at the screenshots for Chowder, Flapjack and El Tigre and my temples begin to throb. No doubt that this style was also visual shorthand for a kind of classic authenticity, an easy way to harken back to the spirit of Jones, Avery, Hanna, et al. (whom I’m sure the writers and readers of Toonzone revere) and to make a grab for recognition as a proper successor to their tradition of making “pure” cartoons. Without having to do any of the heavy lifting to truly earn such a title, of course.
I like to think that I’m open to all forms of animation, not simply anime, as my viewing habits may suggest. Some of my favorite movies of the past five years include Ratatouille, Wall-E and Persepolis, I’m kind of a connoisseur of animated music videos, and The Simpsons is probably my favorite television series of all time. That said, it feels like anime was shortchanged, or at least artificially capped at just four choices. Why Paranoia Agent and not Haibane Renmei, FLCL, or The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya? Why Mobile Suit Gundam and not Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex or Last Exile? Why Fullmetal Alchemist and not Kino’s Journey or Naruto? When you look back at the decade and the embarrassment of riches that anime fans had to choose from, the selections here feel arbitrary, randomly placed, and somewhat limited. Now it’s quite possible that Fullmetal Alchemist was the best anime series of the decade, a beautifully composed epic and tragic story. But I’ve watched Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends and Kim Possible and I just don’t understand how these three titles fall where they do.
I’d probably be content with FMA at #11 if it wasn’t for the placement of the title at #10. Robot Chicken is one of the most nihilistic, angry and cruel programs I’ve been unfortunate enough to lay eyes upon (Family Guy being much worse, although I expected it to show in the top ten and don’t begrudge its placing), and even within this strain of Adult Swim series aimed at stoners and /b/tards, it scrapes the bottom of the barrel in ways that Squidbillies would never dare. How and why does this find its way onto the list at all when Aqua Teen Hunger Force is nowhere to be found? At least that program had a brilliant run for a few years early in the decade, one that seems lost on a generation that thinks Youtube Poops are hilarious and whose biggest contribution to culture will be the elevation of eviscerated and “random” parody to the highest (and possibly only) form of humor. Absolutely indefensible.
I didn’t even discover this site until about a month ago — quite a coincidence how suddenly I should be ready to question their collective opinions, I know — and my impressions of what it’s about and where the writers are coming from on all this are probably incomplete. I’m really pleased to see a list so well-presented and willing to seriously consider such a wide spectrum of animated works. But like anyone else, I wish it had reflected the decade as I’d lived it, or at least in how I found temporary escapes from the grisly reality of it all. At least everyone should be able to agree on their other decade-in-review features, especially their piece on the end of broadcast kids’ television, which should be required reading for everyone interested in animation and the business behind it.