Anime Editorials

What is your personal anime golden age?

For me, a personal anime golden age is any consecutive run of 3 years in which the highest number of your favourites are gathered. 3 years may seem arbitrary, but I’ve chosen this specific range because, at least from my experience, the vast majority of anime fans tend to live and die in that time, leaving behind their lists and blogs as if time suddenly stood still, their scribblings, once filled with such joy and passion, now mere archives for the future generations of warbling young otaku to laugh at and build on, and so it continues. Anyway… before this all becomes a bit too existential, let’s crack on, shall we? Hi, I’m your local anime ghost, also known as bateszi, and here’s my personal anime golden age.

According to AniList, I’ve now watched 678 anime. To ascertain my own golden age, I took the 45 anime I’ve rated 9 or above, looked at their start years and it turns out…


…is my golden age.

Tenma & Johan face each other (Monster)
Monster (2004)

Allow me to break this down a bit:

  • 2003: Wolf’s Rain, Planetes, Kino’s Journey, Last Exile, Gungrave
  • 2004: Samurai Champloo, Honey and Clover, Monster, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, Paranoia Agent, Mind Game
  • 2005: MUSHI-SHI, Eureka Seven

To be honest, I was expecting something like 2007-2009, but in hindsight, these really were my formative years as an anime fan, the years that convinced me I was into something special and worth diving into.

I remember following the fansubs of Gungrave as it aired, reading the first anime blogs in 2004 for episodic reviews of Samurai Champloo and Monster, and finally started blogging for myself (in 2006) in response to the majesty of MUSHI-SHI: I just had to make sure everyone understood how good it was. By the time I’d started, everyone was already in love with Eureka Seven and telling me to watch it. Wolf’s Rain had Yoko Kanno at the very peak of her anime powers (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG aired in 2004, too!) and in Samurai Champloo, we had the last great anime from her most famous partner in crime, director Shinichiro Watanabe. Imagine how exciting it was to watch Gankutsuou as it aired, the sheer unmatched visual inspiration of it all! It really felt like anime was going to wreck the world! Since then, Kino’s Journey director (and fascinating auteur) Ryūtarō Nakamura passed, as well as the insanely talented Paranoia Agent director Satoshi Kon. They both made such interesting anime! Don’t take your anime heroes for granted, guys! And talking of anime heroes, Masaaki Yuasa’s career began in earnest with Mind Game in 2004. It seems strange to think it now, but Yuasa was basically ignored by anime fandom until The Tatami Galaxy finally woke them up.

Honey and Clover (2004)

Some of these are long overdue a revisit too: I wonder if Honey and Clover still holds up? It caught me at that perfect moment in my life: right between leaving university and entering into the adult world, and that’s what I mean about anime really. So much of it is geared towards young adults that we all reach a point where a lot of it, nostalgia aside, just cannot hit as hard as it used to, because we all get older, see and feel things differently, and that’s the risk with rewatching your favourites, realising that a classic like Honey and Clover isn’t actually all that!?!

Video version of this post!!

Thank you for joining me on this trip down memory lane! What is your personal anime golden age?

11 replies on “What is your personal anime golden age?”

The years centered around Mushishi contain some fantastic anime! My anime golden years are probably the same as yours. Kaiba is another high point.

Well, what do you know, I’ve just written a post over the Japan Sinks article to say how much I shared your views on the matter and then I read this about your anime gloden age… which happens to be exactly the same as mine 😉
well, truth be told, I’d cheat a little bit and say that my favorite anime period ever is 2003-2006 ( I think 2006 was way better than 2005 anime-wise, although I do love a ton of stuff off 05).
But, oh, boy, how I miss that era. I mean, stuff like Wolf’s Rain, Gungrave, Texhnolyze, Gilgamesh or Last Exile came out the same freaking year! There’s no way in hell we could have series of that caliber nowadays…
And, whoah, 2004 must be the best single anime year ever. Only for Monster alone would have been enough to make it one of the best ever, but we also had Gankutsuou, Kurau, Fantastic Children, Samurai Champloo… a ton of unique and ambitious series that put to shame 99% of the series made in the last 10 years.
And well, even though I also love 2005 (specially Mushishi, obviously) I’d go with 2006. I mean, it doesn’t get much better than Le Chevalier d’eon, Ergo Proxy or Red Garden…
Oh, boy, how I miss those days…

Honestly, I’m trying really hard to not be an old person that moans about how everything was better “back in the day” but when you look at the years, and the anime that you’ve listed here… I have to bite my lip. Anime used to be more ambitious, I think.

Oh, Kaiba. I have a lot of nostalgia for that time, centered around Kaiba and that era of this blog. Everything was so exciting!

I’ll cheat and stretch your recommended three year period to four years, so I can pick 1995-1998.

Whisper of the Heart
Golden Boy
Ghost in the Shell
Princess Mononoke
Cowboy Bebop
Kare Kano
Perfect Blue
Serial Experiments Lain

Within this short time frame, we received the greatest works of such legends as Anno, Kon, Oshii, Watanabe, Ikuhara, Ryutaro Nakamura, and Yoshifumi Kondo. For me, this is *easily* the greatest run in anime’s history. Its artistry changed the landscape of the medium forever, especially where TV anime was concerned. Without 95-98, 03-05 would look a hell of a lot different.

Oh, jeez, what a list! Ghost in the Shell, Berserk and Bebop sit atop the pile as my own anime favourites too. This really was a golden generation of creators, wasn’t it?!

Super late to the party, but just wanted to add a couple of personal favorites not already in that great list of 95-98.

Macross Plus
8th MS Team

This was such a nostalgic read. I remember following your blog a decade ago! I completely agree with your golden age same as mine. I’ve never understand why Wolfs Rain was so divisive and how in the hell is Planet ES not more popular I LOVED them both. Glad to see you blogging again.

I’ve been reading this blog for over a decade quietly. LOL.

I admit, that was a great era. 2003-2006. My late 20’s. I think, in part, its because that’s when anime was exploding on the western scene. Budgets and expectations were wide open. Kaiba was, for me, one of the last really experimental anime shows. It’s crazy to me that it was even made. But stuff like Kino’s Journey, Mind Game, Paranoia Agent, Mushishi was so so good. I have a hard time finding stuff of a similarly sophisticated take.

I do think that the comment about 95-98 makes a great deal of sense. A lot of anime from then (Berserk, Cowboy Bebop, Lain, Escaflowne, Mononoke, Kare Kano… or atleast the first 4 episodes) were really what drew me in to anime. It’s what I watched just out of college, for the first few years. But it’s the stuff from this 2003- 2008 era or so that kept me interested. The wave really crested for me then. Since then, it’s been hard to find compelling new anime.

Where’s the new Mushishi? The new Kino’s Journey or Bebop or Mindgame? Why wasn’t Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou ever made into an anime series? All the great anime questions of life. Haha! I just can’t seem to find much that is as artful, as adult, or compelling now. And I admit– I’m uninterested in wading through the muck anymore. My time feels much more finite.

Thanks for commenting, Steve. It’s always lovely to hear from long time readers!

I don’t blame you for feeling uninterested. My own take at the moment is that anime is in a bit of a creative slump, which is strange because it also seems like anime is more ‘mainstream’ now than ever before, but something has definitely just corrupted the creativity we used to see so regularly. There is good stuff being made, but it’s so few and far between, especially once you’ve gotten a bit older and aren’t up for the “nostalgic high school romance” every season. I’ve probably given up on watching anime seasonally at this point. It just isn’t as interesting as it used to be.

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