Music. Anime. Art and Entertainment, both. Literature as well. Everybody has their preferences and everybody has their tastes. My tastes happen to be fairly patrician, but they weren’t always like that. Let’s just say that, once upon a time, I sat through all four seasons of the Familiar of Zero and To Love-Ru. That’s not to say that there aren’t Plebeian shows that I like, because there are many. The way I see it, Patrician shows are those that are extremely artistically self-conscious, that try to translate figurative language into animation in mind-blowing ways, that try to make subtle and not so subtle political, social or philosophical commentary. Shows that are categorized as “psychological” are often patrician shows. The best Patrician shows are those that use all of the tools at anime’s disposal to capture the human experience as vividly, fantastically and uniquely as possible. Patrician anime tend to be thought provoking and often times experimental. In most cases, when an aspect of an anime is so revolutionary that it clearly influences many others that follow it, those are typically Patrician shows.
Not all ambitious and Patrician anime are good, however. There are some that try too hard and fail to make their point and there are some that go all out on the artistic side but forget to provide meaningful content in the story. Plebeian shows tend to take less risks than Patrician ones, since they are designed, and often destined, if they have immensely popular source material, to make lots and lots of money. Patrician shows tend to take more risks and, even if they are true masterpieces, might very well fail in the market. An easy definition of Plebeian shows would be, “everything that’s not Patrician.” In other words, Plebeian anime are those shows that are designed to entertain as much as possible. Some, like the Familiar of Zero and To Love Ru do it through fan service, while others achieve it through amazing stories. Most of your typical Shounen and Shoujo shows/manga adaptations would probably fall toward this classification. At the end of the day, its not an either/or designation, but, as all things are, a spectrum. If I were to name an anime that seems to me to be the most radically Patrician, I’d say Serial Experiments Lain, which I haven’t yet completed. In the other direction, the most Plebeian anime would probably be Great Teacher Onizuka. GTO is one of my all time favorite anime, but its a by the book adaptation of the manga.
Anyway, as any connoisseur of media will know, one of the most fun and challenging things to do is to rank your favorite works in a given medium. Sometimes its impossible. When I list my favorite albums of all time, I’ll probably organize it into tiers rather than numerically ranking them. However, I don’t really have an excuse for not being able to rank my favorite anime. As a matter of fact, I want to rank my favorites, I want the world to know which shows I consider to be the leaders of the pack. However, there are a boatload of shows I haven’t seen yet, so my list will always be representative of only the shows I have seen, obviously. That being said, I have a watch list and on it I have been prioritizing shows that I know are exactly my kind of thing, so I will be editing my list from time to time to include new watches. Hopefully, I’ll have a reason to update it at the end of each season. In the comments for this page, in addition to whatever rage you’d like to express, please let me know what shows that are not on the list that you think I desperately need to watch (and write on). Also let me know which of the shows that are on the list that you want me to write on in depth in separate posts. I’m going to leave it as just a plain old list without any elaboration for now, but I’ll work on providing a little blurb for each show.