Along with my "year in review" post for all the anime I viewed during 2010, I've decided to make a post regarding the five best anime among those. For this list, I more or less discarded the ratings I gave each anime (as not all of them are among the series/films I rated the highest), and instead based this list more on my own personal experience with the anime - how much I enjoyed it, how thought-provoking/suspensful it was, how creative the story was, how well the art style and soundtrack fit the series, etc. (Note: series that I did not complete in their entirety this year - i.e. Full Metal Alchemist, Sgt. Frog, etc. - are not eligible for this list, despite the fact that I may have expected I would be finished with some of these series by the end of 2010.)
#5 - Turn A Gundam: Despite it being nontraditional Gundam in more ways than one, Turn A Gundam is, in my opinion, the single best alternate universe Gundam series released to date. The characters make the show what it is in the style of how 08th MS Team played out, and that said, the story is both genuinely entertaining and a bit more thought-provoking than with most mecha series. The soundtrack and art style do wonders for the series in subtle ways.
#4 - Samurai Champloo: I've only recently gotten into hip-hop music, but I'm certainly more partial to the old-school style than recent artists of the genre. Nujabes, Force of Nature, Tsutchie, and Fat Jon carry more of an old-school hip-hop sound in the soundtrack to Samurai Champloo, but add plenty of their own stylings to make it unique and cohesive with the series' story and art style. Fuu, Mugen, and Jin play off each other brilliantly and the colorful host of characters they meet during their journey only fuels the humor further. Equal parts action and comedy, Samurai Champloo is one of the most creative blends the anime industry has seen in years and kept me deeply entertained the entire way through.
#3 - Paranoia Agent: Lil' Slugger's actions start a slew of rumors that ulimately sets the stage for one of the most gripping and (admittedly) disturbing series I've ever had the pleasure of viewing. It's the sort of disturbing that you as a viewer are unsettled by, but don't want to stop watching due to how captivating the plot and characters are. A number of cleverly-scripted plot twists along the way coupled with the constantly changing perspective of narration was icing on the cake for me while watching this psychological thriller-mystery hybrid.
#2 - Ergo Proxy: A dystopian sci-fi series that slowly but surely reveals more and more to viewers about the many mysteries and subplots therein, Ergo Proxy paces itself brilliant, adding some epic action sequences when necessary. The proxies add an intersting dynamic to an otherwise familiar dystopian story formula, but the characters are where the series really shines through. The ideas conveyed within Ergo Proxy are fairly complex and as such not every potential viewer will be able to wrap their head around things (some may also lack the patience necessary to follow some less action-heavy episodes), but for those who choose to tackle this series, beautifully drab art style and all, it's a deeply thought-provoking and very well-scripted series.
#1 - Paprika: The concept of dreams is something that has fascinated and perplexed man for ages, but rarely does a story about dreams that is so original and perfectly-executed come along. While there are relatively few characters throughout, each of them plays an important role in the intricacies of the DC Mini's theft, its recovery, and the merging of reality and dreams. There's an interesting dynamic between Paprika and Dr. Chiba Atsuko that has been attempted many times in movies but rarely pulled off with as much creativity or success as this character's outward self and her repressed emotions. The soundtrack, while beautifully scored, is mildly creepy at times, which is only befitting of this mystery within the mind.