A list created by Mac Arrowny in January of 2010. After it was started, several other users made lists of their own, but most failed partway through.
Contains a list of his top 100 anime, reasons why he likes them, his favorite character from the series, and recommendations to certain fans.
There are also smaller lists that he made after the top 100 that are towards the bottom.
The List Edit
100. Last Exile Edit
A neat little series with old-fashioned planes rather than spaceships. I generally prefer the latter, but the animation in these battles is quite good. The show mostly follows Lavie and Claus, but the kids aren’t as interesting as the adults, and the show’s at its best when it’s focusing on the crew of the Kill ‘em All Silvana, which are a pretty entertaining bunch. Dio’s great too (though maybe I should’ve watched the dub so that he wouldn’t have been a trap <_<), as is much of the supporting cast. The plot goes in an odd direction toward the end, which keeps it down a bit, but the entertaining combat and great cast prevents it from falling too much.
Favorite Character: Dio Eraclea. He starts out as a generic psycho, but gets really interesting as the show goes along, and kinda stole the main character spotlight at times (which is a good thing).
Recommended to: people who like plane action, action/romance fans, people who like character-focused shows. Really, there’s something here for pretty much everyone.
I think I’m the opposite of most people when it comes to opinions on this series. It starts out as a pretty generic gangster show – solid, but nothing we haven’t seen done better by Hollywood several times before. But there are two time skips, and with each one the show improves dramatically each time. After the first, it becomes a badass show about an assassin with a lot of good action, and after the second it takes a supernatural twist and has even better action. Other than the beginning, the main flaw is that the romance is dumb, and that Brandon makes a lot of dumb decisions. The ending is an amazing finish to a great show, though, and redeems it enough to put it on this list. Also bros, but I’m not particularly turned on by broship anyway.
Favorite Character: Harry McDowell. Gotta love his brilliant plans, though it’s a shame he wasn’t more trusting.
Recommended to: gangster movie fans, supernatural action fans, bro fans. It’s hard to find all of those in one person, so people usually prefer one part of the show to others, but if you like all three, this will be a real treat.
98. Dai Mahou Touge (Magical Witch Punie-Chan)
Evil magical girl accomplishes her goals through violent means. That’s about all there is to say about the show. I love violent/evil protagonists, and the episodes are short and funny. Using wrestling to break opponents’ bones instead of magic was a nice touch. Still, it’s not the funniest series I’ve seen, so here it is.
Favorite Character: Punie Tanaka, of course. Anego’s fun too.
Recommended to: Magical girl fans who’ve grown up and want something that parodies the genre extremely violently.
Adorable little story about a noble girl and her superpowered bodyguard in modern times. Murasaki’s adorable all the time, Shinkurou himself’s a solid character, and most of the supporting cast is cool too. The action scenes are neat, and the villains are a good mix of evil and badass (<3 Lin). There are a few lame parts though – Kurenai gets screwed over too much, and the roommates are oddly annoying considering how cool they seemed at first. The musical episode was…weird, and the animation tries to be realistic but also feels weird. Yuuno had a lot of untapped potential too. A pretty good show without many flaws, but not as amazing as the series above it.
Favorite Character: Lin, I think. Either her or Murasaki. It’s been a while since I watched this. >_>
Recommended to: anyone who likes stories about family. It’s mostly a nice feeling anime. Mostly, anyway.
96. SDF Macross
The first Macross is also one of the worse series, IMO. There’s a lot of stuff that’s pretty great for its time and stands up well to current stuff, such as the uniqueness of the Zentradi and the neat scientifically accurate (kinda) stuff, like when the Macross transforms for the first time and kills many of its passengers in the process. Roy Focker is an amusing mentor, Max Jenius is totally badass and it’s fun how much better than the main character he is, and the girls in the love triangle are surprisingly tolerable. The mecha combat’s pretty neat, and episode 26 might be my favorite episode of any Macross series due to how good the fighting is and the shocking events that happen.
Unfortunately, the main character’s pretty annoying for most of the series, Kaifun is an intensely irritating rival, and the pacing of the series is really slow/messed up by the weird seven episode epilogue. The singing is good, but not nearly up to Frontier’s level. The show is good enough to get here regardless (and way better than any classic Gundam), but still, it could’ve been much better.
Favorite Character: Max Jenius. Nerdy glasses wearing pilot. Greatest fighter in history. Makes women fall in love with him by beating them at video games and punching them. Need I say more?
Recommended to: it’s hard to recommend Macross to a specific audience, since it has everything. Singing, mecha, romance, character drama, action, science, etc. It’s worth a try for everyone though, since there’s no other anime like Macross.
95. Honey and Clover
H&C is definitely one of the better romance series out there. The characters are interesting, the humor is often funny, the animation’s as expected from Production IG, etc. But I only really like half of the show, that being the half focused on Mayama, Ayu, and Rika. It’s an interesting and believable love triangle throughout, especially the way that Mayama doesn’t fall in love with Ayu simply because she loves him, and how she doesn’t give up just because he loves someone else. Rika’s motivations and development are also great. The other love polygon isn’t terrible, but it’s not good either. Hagu really shouldn’t be attracting that many men, as she has neither the personality nor the body to do so. Takemoto starts out lame, and while his trip at the end of season one, his confession, and the Tower of Adolescence are all great, I don’t like him much other than that. Morita is not funny, and I did not like his serious parts with his brother at all. The plot twist at the end of the love polygon was fun though, so I’ll give it that. A good show that I could recommend to anyone, but I wish it’d focused more on the good half.
Favorite Character: Lohmeyer-senpai. Oh god, the OVAs were easily the best part of this show. The legendary hero was hilarious, as was Lohmeyer’s sausage and the way the other guys treated him for bringing. They should’ve made a whole show about the guy.
Recommended to: shoujo fans, shoujo haters, pretty much everyone. This show does a lot right that shoujo does wrong. It’s definitely worth giving it a shot.
94. Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror
Honestly, there’s pretty much only one reason Ayakashi’s this high, and that’s the third arc. It’s better than the equivalent arc in Mononoke, but still not quite as beautiful animation-wise. The other two examples are fine examples of Japanese classic horror, but nothing amazing as far as anime goes. Still, I’d highly recommend watching at least the final arc to any fans of Mononoke, and the rest is enjoyable enough.
Favorite Character: The Medicine Seller. Some of the best voice acting ever along with mysterious motives and perhaps the greatest sword ever make him a very entertaining main character.
Recommended to: Mononoke fans (seriously), horror fans.
93.5. Rozen Maiden
Pretty much an inferior Fate/Stay Night ripoff, but F/SN’s good enough that it’s still very enjoyable. The main thing I liked it for was the magic battles, which were really good, though there were only a couple of them each season. The slice of life stuff was also pretty enjoyable, and almost all of the Maidens were pretty good characters. Unfortunately, it does have some gaping flaws, namely that Jin was an awful character, and the second season’s villains were terrible. Other than that it’s pretty fun though, if low on substance.
Favorite Character: Shinku. The way she treats Jin as a slave all the time is pretty endearing, as is her mix of fighting for justice and being totally condescending. She gets some good development in the OVA too.
Recommended to: people who like magic fights and slice of life
93. Crest/Banner of the Stars
Crest > Banner 1 > Banner 3 > Banner 2. I don’t think many people like Crest the most, but I consider it to be pretty much flawless, and the way Lafiel and Jinto’s relationship develops is pretty much perfect. The space battles at the end are good, the politics is great, and the land battles are also compelling. Banner 1 gets even better in the space battle front, but introduces a lot of really annoying characters (I hate those twin generals), and I remember the pacing being slower. Banner 2 cuts out all the space battles and the pacing gets slower yet, while 3 doesn’t really have much happen but is nice. I’m a fan of good space battles and political stuff (so long as it’s done well) in general, and this series mostly delivered in those areas, but certain other sci-fi anime completely eclipse it. It is mainly a romance, so that’s excusable, but even the romance isn’t the greatest (action romance series always seem to screw up the pacing of the romance).
Favorite Character: General Spoor. What a freaking badass for a series like this. Her sheer love of destruction makes her completely awesome. I’ll never forgive them for replacing her with those lame twin generals.
Recommended to: sci-fi fans, action/romance fans, politics lovers
92. Rose of Versailles
Moving back several centuries, and proving that 18th century French politics > sci-fi politics, we have Rose of Versailles. I mainly watched this for the reverse trap protagonist, who definitely lived up to expectations (“Oscar, you’re manlier than a man”). Still, it was Antoinette who stole the show. She was never likable, but she was completely believable as a spoiled little girl in a really tough situation who wasn’t really a bad person. She always makes the wrong decision, but it’s always understandable why she makes those decisions. Oscar’s also believable, and generally badass and wise in entertaining ways, but the focus on her in the second half makes her much less badass, with a romance that was solid but really not as good as the rest of the show. I’d much prefer it if they’d kept the focus on Marie Antoinette, though I think that much of the fanbase disagrees.
Favorite Character: Marie Antoinette. Well, “favorite” might be inaccurate, since I like Oscar the most, but Marie’s definitely the best/most interesting.
Recommended to: Politics lovers, people who like badass female main characters who aren’t over the top
91. Koi Kaze
Blood-related incest? Sign me up (no, not in real life). It’s always irritating to me when incest turns out to be okay because one of the siblings are adopted or something, so it was cool to see them overcoming the real challenges here instead of having them be magicked away. It’s also nice that both of the characters fall in love with each other on their own rather than having it be forced, and the way they question themselves every step away despite really being in love. I wasn’t fond of how Koshiro was so nasty in his attempts to hide his feelings, but it was believable, so I don’t hold that too much against the show. It would’ve been nice to see the show go on for a little longer too, to see how future challenges were dealt with.
Favorite Character: Nanoka. Had strong convictions and fought for what she believed in throughout the show, and the scenes with her at school were pretty touching.
Recommend to: incest fans, people who like realistic(?) romances.
90. Gambling Apocalypse KaijiEdit
I love the full names for this guy’s series. Kaiji’s a much different sort of series from Akagi, having a pathetic protagonist rather than a total badass. It’s an interesting twist having a protagonist who cries all the time, and mostly makes the show unpredictable (until you realize that every plan he explains is destined to fail while all the ones he doesn’t end up succeeding -_-). The moments when he succeeds are incredibly powerful after all of his failure, but going through that failure in the first place isn’t as entertaining to me. I prefer more competent protagonists in general, and a lot of the arcs feel really slow. IIRC, the first E-Card arc was my favorite (that’s the second last game, right?). It was fast, interesting, and unpredictable with an intimidating opponent and interesting plans. I just wish all the arcs had been like that.
Favorite Character: Tissue Box. That thing’s on the same level as Snake’s cardboard boxes. Too broken for ordinary mortals to grasp.
Recommended to: drama fans, I guess? People who like MANLY TEARS? Everyone seems to like Kaiji, but it’s pretty different from any other shows.
89. Lovely Complex
One of the first shoujo anime I watched (I can’t remember the very first, though it’ll be on this list). The relationship between Otani and Risa is always adorable, and it progresses at a good pace (if you hadn’t noticed by now, pacing is one of the most important things to me in anime. There’s very little in which I complain about the pace being too fast, and a lot of series have slow pacing as the main strike against them). Risa herself is funny and courageous, if a little dumb, and while Otani’s a little more annoying, he does get better by the end of the series, and it’s nice to have a fun guy as the love interest rather than the cool jerk often seen in shoujo. The show’s really funny too. It’s just…not amazing, which is why it’s this low.
Favorite Character: Koizumi Risa. Awesome tall girls ftw. I really like how she actually fights hard to achieve her goals.
Recommended to: Romance fans who prefer comedy to romance but like a fairly equal balance between the two, shoujo fans who want to see a nicer love interest than usual.
88. Noein – To Your Other Self
The best quantum physics anime of all time. The science aspects of the show are pretty fun, though unbelievable. The action is also awesome. I love that style of sketch fighting, and it’d be cool if it were used more often. I like the plot more than the characters, but some of the characters, are pretty great, particularly Karasu. Unfortunately, his other self is a complete wuss and a terrible character in general (kinda like a certain VN character, without the improvement), so all the scenes with him are pretty bad. The show also falls off in the second half, as the number of action scenes decrease. I seem to remember sympathizing more with the villain than the main characters too, which is never a good thing.
Favorite Character: Karasu. Generally badass and amusingly nasty to children.
Recommended to: People who want SCIENCE in the anime, sketch fight fans, character development marks.
87.5. Eve no Jikan
There’s a lot of stuff that makes Eve no Jikan pretty special. The episodes all tell beautiful stories, and the robot characters are amazing. Seeing their struggles to deal with the oppression of humans and the way they regain emotions is pretty touching. Some of them are ridiculous and hilarious (The Terminator) but at the same time it’s just so well presented that you almost have to cry. Unfortunately, the two main male characters are awful, and a big part of the premise is dumb. In the past, people were biased against robots because they had no emotions. Now that they do have emotions, they’re biased against robots because of bad writing. I think the show might be a lot better if the proprietor were the main character, or if there were no main character and it just had different robots every episode.
Favorite Character: Sammy. She has very sympathetic desires, and the way she acts makes a lot of sense. She’s the real star of the show.
Recommended to: sci-fi fans, those who like seeing characters explore their new humanity
87. Azumanga Daioh
The classic of slice of life comedy, but far from my favorite. That might be partly because it wasn’t one of the first I watched, but also because a lot of the comedy doesn’t click with me for whatever reason. I know that Yukari, for example, is a lot of people’s favorite character from the show, but I didn’t find her all that funny…but I should be talking about why I like the show, not it’s problems! Most of the cast is great, and there are tons of hilarious scenes (the knife scene with Osaka never gets old). The chemistry between the students is perfect, especially when it comes to their relationships with Chiyo. Sakaki’s love/hate relationship with cats, Osaka’s general cluelessness, Tomo’s hyperactivity, Yomi’s insecurity about her appearance, Chiyo’s mix between genius and childishness, and even the supporting characters’ quirks are great. I don’t really have many problems with this series, and it is highly entertaining, it’s just that there are lots of series I find funnier.
Favorite Character: Chiyo’s dad. This is the first time I saw Wakamoto in a comedic role, and it is glorious.
Recommended to: people who enjoy the sort of jokes they make with their friends, slice of life/comedy fans, people who wish they had friends to make this sort of jokes with >_>
I rarely get hyped up about anime, but when I do, it usually turns out well. Of the three shows I was most excited to watch, two are in my top two…and the other is CANAAN. Based on a Type-Moon VN, directed by the guy who did Sword of the Stranger, beautiful looking animation, a great OP, a spectacular voice cast…it seemed like it couldn’t fail. And it didn’t to some extent, or it wouldn’t be here. The action really is good, there are some hilarious moments, Canaan’s a solid protagonist, her relationship with Maria is yurilicious, Alphard is a great villain, Liang Qi is a funny sidekick…but all those elements don’t come together very well. There’s not very much action, so that can’t carry the show. Maria’s kept away from Canaan most of the time, so we usually see her whining. Hardly any of the show is from Canaan’s perspective, so that can’t even make things interesting. And the humor’s often badly placed, especially when it comes to Yunyun. I think the show would’ve been a lot better if it had dropped most of the humor, and maybe some of the philosophy stuff too. There was so much potential, and the show just didn’t live up to what it could’ve been.
Favorite Character: Canaan. I love badass female protagonists in general, especially if they’re ambiguously lesbian. The show could’ve used more of her rather than the photographer duo.
Recommended to: people who don’t get their hopes too high. Expect a fun show with some good action and comedy, and you won’t be too disappointed.
85. Great Teacher Onizuka
GTO is a really inconsistent show. Certain arcs are 10/10 (I cried at the end of the first Tomoko arc), while others are completely meh (the final arc being a good example here -_-). I’ve heard the manga’s better, but unfortunately I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. Anyway, there’s a lot of awesome stuff about GTO. Onizuka is a total badass, and seeing him succeed in reforming bullies/saving weaklings/defeating the administration/whatever is always incredibly satisfying. In addition, they’re usually really funny, which makes it so that the show’s almost always entertaining. The supporting cast’s great too, especially the more evil students. One of the problems I had with the show is that Onizuka himself never really succeeds. I like it when the protagonist scores with the girl in the end, especially when he’s as awesome as Onizuka is.
Favorite Character: Urumi Kanzaki. Her plan to take down Aizawa was incredible for a “good guy”, though I thought her early evil was a bit overblown considering how smart she was supposed to be. Still, she’s consistently entertaining, even when she’s still a bad guy. I was also pretty fond of Aizawa and Urumi.
Recommended to: comedy lovers, drama lovers, people who like badass comedic protagonists.
84. Murder Princess
Half the reason this anime’s even on the list is because its name is so awesome. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite live up to the name after the fantastic first episode and the awesome last scene, but it’s still not bad. The titular murder princess, Falis, is a badass (yes, I’m aware I use this term too often in my write-ups :p) bounty hunter who reclaims the throne and rules in an expectedly entertaining way. Unfortunately, the anime isn’t as action and murder focused as the name suggests, as it actually focuses on the relationship between her and the real princess. It’s actually pretty good when it’s focusing on this, as the relationship is a mix of sisters or something more, and it’s clear that Alita’s will is far stronger than it seems at the beginning of the show. I remember one particular scene where Falis slaughters an enemy and showers Alita in blood, but Alita never stops smiling at Falis. The side characters and villains are all pretty weak though, as is the plot, so it loses steam whenever it focuses on them. It’s a good show, but another one that really didn’t live up to its potential.
Favorite Character: Falis. Taking a violent person and forcing her to be royalty works perfectly, and her human side that shows up when she’s with Alita is good too.
Recommended to: People who watch shows based on their names, people who like action/friendship crosses (kinda reminds me of Ga-Rei Zero in that respect).
83. Hunter x Hunter
The superior Togashi series. Hunter x Hunter starts really slow, and while the Hunter Exam arc does have some great moments (that basketball game was very cool), it’s sadly lacking in fights and just generally unimpressive. However, after that it gets much better. Nen is definitely one of the coolest fighting systems in anime, especially since there’s so much detail to it. I wish that all magic/fighting/ki/whatever systems went into this much detail. All the restrictions that can be placed on it and the different schools of Nen usage make for a wide variety of different users too, so there are tons of unique enemies and characters. The Star Tower (was that its name?), Yorkshin, and Greed Island were all fantastic arcs, though Yorkshin was at its best when focusing on Kurapica (trap Kurapica FTW, and his use of Nen in that arc is the best in the series). Greed Island’s my personal favorite, as it really felt like magical fantasy anime done right, which is very rare.
I haven’t really talked about the characters or plot or action yet, which I guess are important. Gon’s pretty average to below average for a shounen main character. He’s determined and confident, and comes up with good plans once in a while, but he’s also naïve and does dumb stuff (like saying “first is rock” before he attacks even when people tell him not to). The rest of the cast is pretty great, except for Leorio who is a loser, and the villains are solid too. Plot is standard shounen stuff, except that it’s kinda silly that Gon still wants to see his deadbeat dad. The action is great…when it’s there. Of all the shounen fighting series I’ve seen, HxH probably has the least action. I suppose that and the start would be its main flaws. Still a very enjoyable series though.
Favorite Character: Hisoka. Seems like your ordinary crazy evil villain at first, but he develops into a crazy evil villain with mysterious motives. Which isn’t much different, but everything he does is really cool, and his fighting style is always really entertaining. Plus, he’s such an unstoppable enemy that he really seems like an interesting goal for the good guys to beat.
Recommended to: shounen fans who don’t mind a little more plot, character development/talking and are willing to patiently wait for the awesome.
82. Natsume Book of Friends
I generally like the “main character goes around helping people with their problems” formula, and Natsume does it excellently. Just about every story is touching or entertaining in some way, which is the main thing that separates the good shows of this type from the okay ones. I especially remember the firefly episode as being one of the best. However, the show has one problem: Natsume himself sucks. Usually the main character of these shows is a really interesting person in his own right, but Natsume feels like a loser harem protagonist. What’s worse is that we see a much better example of what the protagonist could be: Natsume’s grandmother, who goes around enslaving the spirits to make them her friends. I wish there were a spinoff with her as the protagonist. It’d be pretty interesting.
Favorite Character: Natsume Reiko. As said, she goes about enslaving spirits to make them her friends, and makes them really happy in the process. The flashbacks with her winning rigged duels against them are all quite entertaining.
Recommended to: people who like “main character goes around helping people with their problems” type shows. I’m talking about stuff like Trapeze, Mushishi, Bartender, etc. when I say this.
The greatest shounen romance ever (well, technically I have one higher, but that’s more of a comedy). That’s not saying much, since shounen romance is generally terrible, but there it is. More than the romance, it’s the comedy and feel-good atmosphere that makes the show great. For most of the show I had a happy grin pasted on my face, and a lot of the jokes made me laugh. I really liked every main character, and even the side characters were entertaining. Unfortunately, the serious parts of the show didn’t really keep up the happy atmosphere, so the show was a lot less entertaining when it was more dramatic. Even they were fairly good for most of the show, but toward the end the quality decreased a lot. Ryuuji’s development actually changed from a really interesting and good character into a pretty typical harem protagonist at the end of the series. It’s frustrating when character development’s a bad thing. Ending up with the most predictable girl (and the wrong girl) was unimpressive, and the last couple episodes were ridiculous. Still a very good show, don’t get me wrong, I just wish it had kept up its early momentum.
Favorite Character: Minori Kushieda. Funny Minori is hilarious, and serious Minori seems to be the most intelligent character on the show. Taiga suffers a lot in comparison to her.
Recommended to: Shounen romance fans who want something good. Comedy fans in general.
80. Yakitate!! JapanEdit
Making a typical shounen about making bread = genius. Just about all the ways Azuma had of making bread were hilarious, and the reactions of the judges to that bread were brilliant. The show did have a few problems – Pierrot was an inferior judge, Kyousuke as a joke character got really repetitive, Tsukino was highly underused, and the final arc just wasn’t very interesting – but there was so much hilarious stuff that I can’t really fault the show too much.
…It’s not a very deep show, so I don’t have much to say about it, other than saying again how funny it is. It’s impressive that it managed to go on so long and still be so funny.
Favorite Character: Brad Kidd. I had a lot of trouble with this pick. Azuma’s such a perfect main character, with his determination, consistent hilarity, and insane skill, and Ryo’s reactions are utterly hilarious. But every time Brad appears I just had to burst out laughing. His “mysterious resemblance” to “a certain American celebrity” made his character design alone perfect, but all of his lines are great too, from his amazing advice to his stupefied reactions to Ryo’s dumb comments. I love minor character like this in general, and it’s a shame there aren’t more like him. You’ll be seeing another at…#47. And yes, I did just give a longer write up to a character who has less than 10 minutes of screen time than to a 69 episode show.
Recommended to: People who want some comedy in their shounen, or anyone who likes comedy.
79.5. Shin Mazinger
The only mecha show of last year, and it’s a pretty good one. The mecha fights are all badass and over the top, just like super robot mecha fights should be. The villain selection might just be the best in any anime ever, led by the unpredictable and devious Baron Ashura. The Zeus plotline also adds a neat layer to the story, with some fun characters and powers to make things even more unique. Kouji’s a typical hotblooded main character, but he does his job well, and the Narrator just makes every moment of the show better. I also loved the ending, which was pretty unexpected for a super robot show. Sadly, most of the non-mecha stuff sucks. The animation outside of the mecha battles is some of the worst I’ve seen. The Mazinger Corps and Sayaka are dumb, and the show was much better when it seemed like they would have zero importance. The friendship arc was bad when I saw it in Mazinkaiser, and seeing it again here just made it even worse. That weird European arc wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the rest of the show either. And after finishing the show, I still have no clue why they’d include the first episode – it’s almost like they wanted to scare away any casual viewers. Big Bang Punch is enough to make the show great, though, and when the show’s on the ball it’s really great.
Favorite Character: Nishikiori Tsubasa. The exception to the non-mecha stuff being lame. Despite being a filler character, Tsubasa is ridiculously awesome, and the Kurogane Five aren’t bad either, with all their fun powers. Seeing her single-handedly take on Dr. Hell’s minions was always awesome. It’s nice to see the woman being the most badass character in the show for once.
Recommended to: super robot fans, those who like badass stuff in general
Magic fantasy is something that really appeals to me. So many anime take place in fantasy worlds without any magic, which is fine, but I really like magic, so it’s kind of disappointing at the same time. And then in series with magic, it’s often not the main character who can use magic, and we hardly ever see the side characters use it (and then there’s stuff like FMA, where the main character has magic but uses his goddamn automail all the time -_-). So it’s really great when a series like Slayers comes along, where the main character has magic and uses it in pretty much every single episode. A lot of the fights in Slayers are pretty fun because of this, especially in the more recent series, which were incredibly enjoyable, if only because of their amazing action.
Of course, Slayers isn’t just a fantasy action series. It’s more of a parody of fantasy anime than anything else, and it’s usually really funny, especially when it’s focusing on Lina and/or Gourry. Dragon Slave’s combination of awesome power and wanton destruction makes it a really entertaining move for multiple reasons, since she often kills many of the villagers she’s (not really) trying to save. However, the comedy isn’t really consistently good. The show usually has a story begins -> comedy episodes -> story continues -> comedy episodes -> story climaxes formula, which mostly works, but probably half of those comedy episodes aren’t really that great. Thankfully, I like almost every cast member (except that annoying princess Martina and Gaav’s loser servant), so even when the episode’s not great it has good characters to save it.
I haven’t really talked about OPs and EDs yet, since they rarely affect my opinion on a show, but Slayers has a really great collection. Try and Next’s OPs are both classics, but Revolution’s ED is my favorite, since it has that wonderful “start playing a few seconds before the end of the episode” effect, and Lina screaming out “This will never end!” right after the episode ends is the perfect way to get hyped up for the next episode.
I should also note that I’m not including the movies and OVAs here. They’re okay, but the quality’s a lot more inconsistent, and the first couple really aren’t very good. Excellent, Gorgeous, and Book of Spells are my favorites of those, as they actually use their budget to create some great action scenes, and have decent plots/comedy.
Favorite Character: Lina Inverse. There are several others I love, especially Gaav and Zelgadis, but Lina has so much more screen time than anyone else, is the funniest character on the show, is a great fighter, and is just a wonderful person in general. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the other cast members dislike her so much.
Recommended to: fantasy fans, fantasy haters who want a parody of all the stuff they dislike about the genre.
78. Alien Nine
Alien Nine is definitely one of the most unique shows I’ve seen. It’s a short little 4 episode OVA series about little girls who are recruited to fight off aliens attacking their schools. It’s not moe, and it’s not a comedy, instead it’s just weird. The main character is by far the most cowardly character in any anime I’ve seen. She’s the type who sees her friends being killed in front of her and runs away rather than mustering her courage. She’ll run away from enemies who are weaker than she is, and she gets terrified when she actually kills any aliens. Her relationship with the Borg on her back that gives her the power to defeat aliens is also frightening and somewhat creepy (especially when it’s licking her back). I generally prefer when traits like this are taken to the extreme, so she appeals to me a lot more than the ordinary cowardly anime protagonist. The side cast is also great, including the teacher with a mysterious motive (which is never revealed), the vastly more sympathetic character who does her best to fight the aliens but is less powerful than the main character, and the oddly strong and super powerful little girl who enjoys everything she does and kills the aliens for fun, but is actually somewhat soulless.
This show probably doesn’t really belong on the list, since it objectively isn’t very good, but I enjoy stuff that’s really different from standard anime while retaining anime fundamentals, so here it is. I also like unpredictable stuff, and the show never really went where I expected it too, which is a plus. The plot goes in some interesting directions, and there are some excellent moments in there. I should warn you that it only adapts the first part of the manga, so it’s also incomplete, but it doesn’t feel too bad on its own.
Favorite Character: Kasumi Tomine. Her sheer enthusiasm for killing aliens and her incredible skill at doing so makes her pretty fun and interesting. Also difficult to predict.
Recommended to: people who want something different that’ll make them feel uncomfortable. It’s difficult to recommend this at all, but it is only four episodes, and it’s definitely interesting.
77. Ga-Rei Zero
I waited a long time to watch this because apparently the DVD versions were better, but I wish I’d watched it earlier , since it was really good. Yomi and Kagura’s relationship was a great example of strong sisters/friends (friendship between females >> friendship between males, bro fans), and the way it fell apart was really sad, even though you know it’s coming from the start. All the final fights are really emotional because of this, more so than the vast majority of other action anime. The action itself is also really good, albeit sparse. The main flaw of the series is that most of the rest of the cast isn’t nearly as good as Yomi and Kagura. Nabuu was funny, and the suitcase/wheelchair/etc. battles were awesome, but the characters themselves were mediocre. The villains were especially lame, and I despised Noriyuki. Still, the series was very good. Way better than the similar Berserk anime, too.
Also the first episode is awesome. I was spoiled on it, but going in without foreknowledge would’ve made it even better.
Favorite Character: Yomi Isayama. I liked how they tried to make her seem weak and jealous for a while, but her true strength kept her on the good side for a lot longer than I expected. A great mentor character in general.
Recommended to: bro fans who like female characters, dark anime fans, friendship/character development fans.
76.5. A Certain Magical Index
I really, really wanted to love Index. There’s so much that it does well that it could easily be top 10 for me if it had been executed better. Unfortunately it has some enormous flaws, which sadly become even more apparent near the end. I’ll start with what I like: this is an amazing magical world. Having Espers with special abilities that resemble magic paired against magicians with their own magical abilities is a great premise. There are tons of cool powers that people have as well, and the animation makes these powers look really pretty. The fights are all very well done, and I actually liked the conversations people had during the fights. I didn’t feel it was all “Touma ends the fight with one punch” either, since there was a lot of moving around before that sort of thing happened, and some great teamwork too, and the enemies usually took more than just one punch. Though Touma’s plot protection is a bit silly, seeing all the powers displayed in, say, the alchemist fight makes it completely worthwhile. The show was surprisingly emotional too, partly thanks to the great atmosphere and production values. I felt for most of the characters.
But as I said, there’s a lot of dumb stuff holding it back. The show’s set up in arcs where there’s an episode of slice of life stuff followed by battles, and the slice of life stuff is all terrible. Index is a really annoying character whenever she’s not fighting (though she’s a really neat character when she is fighting), and Touma’s kind of lame too. The amnesia twist was incredibly underused. At the time, I thought it was pretty neat, but then it’s almost ignored, and when it’s brought up it’s completely incidental. The show’s pacing is a lot slower than it should’ve been; almost every arc could’ve had at least one episode cut out without losing anything. And the final arc in the show was completely worthless other than Index’s fight, since everything was totally predictable and nothing happened that we hadn’t seen before. The Angel Fall arc was likewise weak. There’s a lot of stuff I love about the show, but it just fell so far short of its potential.
Favorite character: Accelerator. His evil laugh is perfect, his powers are the coolest in the show, and he’s a more interesting character than pretty much anything else. I was highly depressed that his second arc was so short, because it was so good. Last Order and MISAKA were also really good characters, while Mikoto was pretty good before she turned into typical tsundere fodder whose abilities were vastly underused (seriously, she’s supposed to be the third most powerful Esper).
Recommended to: magical action fans, those who can tolerate some lame clichés.
76. School Rumble
Takes (almost) everything wrong with harem series and does it right. Harima is a total badass, as opposed to the complete wimps seen in most series, and none of the characters love the same people who love them. Misunderstandings are cranked up to ridiculous levels of hilarity, and there’s a much greater variety of them than in other anime. The reactions to those misunderstandings are much more ridiculous too. More characters need to react by turning into Noah. Because nothing is serious, it’s a lot easier to just enjoy it rather than get frustrated at how lame the characters all are. There are plenty of clichés, but the author does enough with them to make them funny that it doesn’t really matter. Unfortunately, the show loses a lot of steam in the second season, but it’s still very funny.
Favorite Character: Harima Kenji. The ultimate badass among harem leads. And again, his overreactions are hilarious. My favorite female is Yakumo…I liked Tenma a lot at first, but she got less funny as the show went along.
Recommended to: Harem fans (or haters) who want a funnier and awesomer twist on the genre.
75. Kaze no Stigma
As I said earlier, I love magic fantasy, and when I started watching Kaze no Stigma, I found its magic fights to be the best I’d seen (when you take the length of the fight into account). Unfortunately, there are a lot less fights after the first arc or two, but the last arc takes a very cool idea and rejuvenates the show somewhat (ordinary people get RPG character powers and have to level up by killing each other/innocent people – I also loved this in Hunter x Hunter, in case I forgot to mention it). The show also has one of the best main characters ever, especially considering that he’s paired with a tsundere. When I first watched the show I was disappointed for a few seconds because I usually prefer female main characters and expected one, but after a couple minutes it became Ayane who was the disappointment. She’s not bad, and the moments where she fights together with Kazuma are fantastic, but her typical tsundere-ness isn’t nearly on Kazuma’s level.
As for the important parts of a show (writing, plot, characters, dialogue) they’re all pretty average, but Kazuma and the great magic fights are enough to win me over.
Favorite Character: Kazuma Yagami. Really, could it be anyone else? He’s totally badass whenever he appears, but also has a pretty decent sense of justice. He’s not overly perfect, either. One of my favorite scenes with him has him promising never to let anyone die, and to save everyone he cares about no matter what – right before he fails to save someone very important to him. It doesn’t make him give up, and he swears to try harder in the future, but the loss is truly painful. This is what a shounen main character should be.
Recommended to: people who love magic action, Shakugan no Shana fans who want a more badass main character, shounen fans who want a badass main character. Just don’t have too high expectations for the actual quality of the show.
A really nice little romance between an advertising worker and a voice actress. The first episode is really great, and the last episode is also fantastic, which is where a lot of my love comes from. The episodes between vary in quality somewhat, which is why it’s so low, but they’re mostly pretty cute and interesting. The pacing’s a lot faster than most romances too, since the whole thing happens in 90 minutes.
Favorite Character: Aka Onda. A really cute character who acts pretty reasonably most of the time, but is still realistic.
Recommended to: people who think most romances are too drawn out, seinen romance fans, people who like short series.
73.5. Astro Fighter Sunred
Still watching this, since the second season subs are so slow, so it doesn’t get an exact position. Still, what I’ve seen is very funny. The show is delivered in 10 minute episodes, split up further into 30 second-5 minute segments, following different minions of evil and their misadventures or focusing on our hero Sunred. All of the villains are really funny, from the super cute (and not very deadly) animal soldiers to General Vamp, the only supervillain with housewife credentials. Sunred himself is also great, with his propensity to overkill the baddies every time and his incompetence at everything other than saving the world while being a huge douche.
Favorite character: Sunred. So many good choices here that this was really hard. Hengel’s always hilarious, especially with the dramatic music that plays whenever he says something perverted and his maid café adventures. All of the animal soldiers are great, especially the wolf (what was his name?) and P-chan, whose out of place deadliness makes him pretty unique among the villains. But the Sunred flashbacks put him over the top, with his amazing use of fire to defeat the villains (burning down the trees they’re hiding in using his lighter) and other antics that make him a gigantic ass. More comedies need to have protagonists this unsympathetic and nasty.
Recommended to: comedy fans, sentai fans who want to see an excellent parody, those who like to see douches as comedy protagonists.
73. Kaleido Star
Who knew the circus could be so fun? Kaleido Stage is one of the most absurdly awesome circuses ever. They basically act our famous stories/plays while doing great circus tricks. Part of what makes this so good is that the animation and action are both incredible. The fight scenes on stage are better than most fighting series out there, and even the regular acts look great. More importantly, Sora is a very good main character, and we see her working for every bit of the success she achieves, and always feel happy when she succeeds. The rest of the cast is pretty good too (except Kalos and some of the losers in the second season). The main problem with the show is that the second season sucks for its first half (or more). Sora’s rise to stardom is basically reset to zero for no good reason, and the new characters are really annoying, so that you only sympathize with them when they’re lashing out at each other. It does recover toward the end (the endings for both seasons are amazingly moving), but a lot of the greatness of the show is lost by then.
Thankfully, the Legend of Phoenix OVA is perhaps the best part of the entire show, and gives Kaleido Star the send off it deserves. Seeing Layla get some real character development and having her face challenges from her point of view was a perfect change. It also does very good things for the already great relationship between Layla and Sora.
Favorite Character: Sora Naegino. Inspiring when she’s weak, even more so when she’s strong, and an interesting character all throughout the series. Tempted to put Layla here though, since her relationship with Sora is a big part of what makes Sora herself so interesting.
Recommended to: shoujo and shounen fans. This anime original series has a very nice mix of stuff that appeals to both demographics.
I love board game anime in general (even when I don’t know how to play them >_>), and Saki’s no exception. The thing that makes board game anime great in general is the thoughtful way of fighting (which I also appreciate in action anime), with the mind games and everything. The ridiculously epic way they portray such a mundane activity is great fun too, and Saki is probably the most over the top of them all, especially with all the random superpowers everyone has. I also love yuri anime, so the combination of the two should be perfect for me.
However, Saki has a number of flaws. The beginning few episodes are pretty boring, there are a few too many fanservice episodes (none of which are yuri fanservice episodes, sadly), and the end isn’t as strong as it could be (though I don’t mind, since it leaves room for a second season). Saki’s playing is a bit too repetitive too (Rinshan Kaihous are only awesome the first 15 times. For all that, the good far outweighs the bad. The mahjong itself is over the top and more fast-paced and unique than other board game series, thanks to the huge cast of characters with all their different play styles. The cast itself is one of the best in anime – there aren’t many I love, but I like almost every single character. Their interactions are always entertaining too, especially because of the yuri overtones that color everything. Saki and Nodoka aren’t my favorite characters, but their relationship is fantastic.
Favorite Character: The Koromo. Pretty much everything she says is hilarious, and she makes for an interesting “nice villain” type. Touka, Mihoko, and Hisa, along with most of the rest of the cast, are close though.
Recommended to: Board game anime fans, yuri lovers, moe fans (I guess).
71. Nyoro~n Churuya-san
An adorable show where bad things happen to Churuya every episode. I laughed at every episode, then I watched it with a friend and we both laughed at every episode. Seeing the various hilarious ways Churuya failed never really got old, since it was only 13 2-minute episodes. The art style and the way everything was presented just worked perfectly.
Favorite Character: Churuya. I really want to pick pretty much everyone here, as Ashakura and Churuya’s failures are hilarious, as are Kyon, Itsuki, Mikuru, and the rest of the cast picking on them. Nyoro~n and screen time give Churuya the win though.
Recommended to: Haruhi fans, Haruhi non-fans, people who like dumb comedy with adorable characters.
70. Full Moon wo SagashiteEdit
FMWS's first episode is easily one of my favorite first episodes ever. The first time we see Mitsuki singing in her adult form in an incredibly moving moment, and the whole episode has a wonderful mix of darkness and happiness, what with Mitsuki’s throat cancer and acceptance of death. Most of the episodes of the show focus on the inspiring and happy things, with Mitsuki succeeding in turning unhappiness into smiles, but the occasional depressing episode about her throat cancer keeps things interesting. The characters are mostly interesting, but some of the character development is pretty weak. I like Takuto less at the end of the series, though I’m not fond of him in general. The romance sucks and is all about pedophilia, and the ending’s really bad. The series overall is better than the manga, mostly because of the singing, but it could’ve been much better considering how well it started.
Favorite Character: Mitsuki. Her acceptance of death and dedication to doing what she loves is pretty unique and interesting, as is her incredibly dedication to Eichi in the manga.
Recommended to: People who like singing, shoujo fans.
69. Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo
The best parts of Getter are the most over the top and ridiculous parts, and this series is pretty much nothing but the most ridiculous aspects of Getter. Every encounter is really over the top, and it has one of the best opening sequences ever with one of the main characters sacrificing his life in a super manly way to defeat the dinosaur empire within the first few seconds. The Americans are particularly hilarious, and manly/badass stuff happens all over the place. The ending is awesome too, as is the case with every Getter series. Unfortunately, the quality as a whole isn’t very high, and the main character is much weaker than Ryoma. It sometimes feels dumb rather than ridiculously awesome, but it’s awesome often enough that I don’t really mind.
Favorite Character: Texas Mack. What a great mech. Having its cannons hidden under the White House lawn and under all the American embassies in the world is brilliant.
68. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.
Why is GitS this low? Because the quality is incredibly inconsistent. The more episodic episodes in the first season are mostly pretty weak, and the Individual Eleven story in season two isn’t as good as The Laughing Man in season one. But there’s a lot of stuff that’s really good about the show. The cast is incredible, the animation and action is among the best in any TV series, the music is possibly the best of any anime ever, and the story is mature and interesting with some fun sci-fi elements. Everything about it is just really well done, and the series as a whole is very entertaining.
Favorite Character: Motoko Kusanagi. Starts out as an ordinary badass female main character, which is great, but her character development in the second season gives her a lot of depth and makes her even better. Even in season one she has some pretty good development.
Recommended to: people who prefer more mature anime but still like quality action.
Normally I don’t see much point in ecchi series, since the ecchi doesn’t go nearly far enough to be erotic at all, but Mnemosyne goes much further than other ecchi series by having tons of lesbian sex all over the place, which is great since yuri ecchi > normal ecchi in general. The ecchi is also more serious than comedic. More importantly than the sex, which is a pretty minor part of the series, is that the show as a whole is actually really good. Probably my favorite part of it is the atmosphere. The effect of Yggdrasil appearing and sending out its spores is absolutely beautiful, and the development of technology over the course of the series is incredible. The changes that occur in the world due to having decades between episodes are something I’d kind of like to see more often. The action is also great, and I like most of the characters, other than the villains who aren’t that great. The only real flaw with the series is that the last episode is relatively weak. Having a great opening by freaking Galneryus of all bands is a huge plus. It was a good choice for the first anime I watched after getting a 5.1 sound system. ^_^.
Favorite Character: Rin. Her character is solid, as the woman who keeps on fighting for justice for mostly selfish reasons. But her abilities and interactions are even better. She dies in pretty interesting ways in pretty much every episode, her action scenes are great, and her relationship with Mimi is awesome (<3 vodka). It’s also pretty unique to see an action main character voiced by Mamiko Noto, who does a great job here.
Recommended to: ecchi/yuri fans, action fans, sci-fi fans, people who like seeing the development of technology.
In a lot of ways, Diebuster is inferior to Gunbuster, but it has a few pretty big advantages. The start of the show is much more interesting, and of course, since it’s newer, the action is mostly better too. And as has been said by many others, Nono is the ultimate combination of GAR and moe – this doesn’t necessarily make her better than Noriko, but she’s a great character in her own right, and her secret is incredible. Unfortunately, it’s inferior to Gunbuster in most ways. The rest of the cast isn’t great, the plot isn’t as interesting, it doesn’t have time dilation, and the ending is basically an inferior version of Gunbuster’s. Still, it’s a very entertaining series. I wish that Gainax produced nothing but original mecha shows.
Favorite character: “A true Nonoriri has a Buster Machine in her heart!” What an awesome lead.
Recommended to: Mecha fans, people who wish mecha shows had female main characters, TTGL fans.
65. Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu?
I’m not a fan of FMP in general. Certain episodes are good, but mostly it’s crap. It tries to balance comedy and action together and generally fails hard in both areas. However, Fumoffu is all comedy, and it’s much better because of that. Pretty much every episode is hilarious, particularly the early episodes that have two stories each, which keeps the comedy fast-paced and interesting. Unfortunately, the second half has more single story episodes (and even a relatively lame double episode story), so it’s not quite up there with the best anime comedies, but it’s great nonetheless.
Favorite Character: Sagara Sousuke. Generally awesome, but his screw-ups (blowing up the school repeatedly, attacking people in general, convincing the class that they were going to die) are bad enough that I never felt too bad for him when other people attacked him, especially since his actions were rarely accidental. His antics are pretty funny in general, and you can kind of understand his logic while staring in disbelief at the same time.
Recommended to: comedy fans, people who want to see a guy who deserves tsundere attacks.
64. Princess Tutu
Definitely one of the best magical girl series out there…in fact, this was the first one I watched (other than Sailor Moon back in the day), and almost none of them matched up to it. First of all, the protagonist is a duck. She gains the power to change into a girl, but being a duck really makes things interesting. I’d heard that the show started off as something focused on ballet and turned into ninja guitars later, but the ballet ended up being pretty much my favorite part of the show. I loved all the classical music used here, and the ballet scenes were always beautiful. All the fairy tale elements were great, especially Mr. Cat as the weirdly perverted teacher who always starts licking himself frenetically when he gets excited, and the plot twist in the end was perfect. The climaxes of each season were fantastic as well, especially the ending, which really worked in a way I didn’t expect. There are some slow episodes here and there though, especially in the middle of S1 and the beginning of S2, which is pretty repetitive.
Favorite Character: Fakir. Everyone in this show has their good parts and bad parts, so I’m tempted to pick most all of them. I really disliked Fakir at first for being such a douche, but his development throughout the show was fantastic, and his part in the ending was really touching.
Recommended to: classical music fans, magical girl fans, NINJAS FIGHTING WITH MOTHER****ING GUITARS fans.
Does Monster even need a write-up? Everyone knows what makes it good. Great mature show, lots of good character development with an incredible cast in general, interesting plot, cool serial killer. The tension is always done well, and the plot twists are exciting but believable. Tenma, Nina, and Lunge make for a great triumvirate of heroes all fighting for the truth with different strategies, and Eva’s development throughout the show makes her just as interesting. It does have a few problems, though. The ending is somewhat weak, and the pacing is too slow. But it’s really enjoyable overall, and it’s a shame there aren’t more anime like this out there (though it’s still vastly inferior to 20th Century Boys).
Favorite Character: Johan. Johan is what makes the show interesting. I wouldn’t say he’s quite on the level of his predecessor from MW, but he’s still a pretty interesting character.
Recommended to: People who like mature shows, people who like slow pacing, thriller/suspense fans.
62. Mai Otome + S.ifr
There are a few reasons I like this show more than Mai HiME. Most importantly, the fights are a lot better, and death is actually permanent here. The yuri overtones are also a big plus, as is the reduced focus on males. Unfortunately the males are still completely awful (Sergay is a terrible character on the same level as Yuichi from HiME), so the show isn’t all great, but it’s pretty entertaining due to all the rest. The teachers at the Otome school are all pretty awesome, and the school scenes in general are pretty solid. Arika isn’t incredible as a protagonist, but her fights are really good, and she’s better than Mai who’s way too emotional and love struck. Her persistence is pretty solid too. But the main reason I like this series is because of the action, which really is good – I love this sort of beamspam. The fight at the end of the series is particularly awesome, and quite emotional.
You may be wondering why S.ifr is being included with the main series and Zwei isn’t. The answer is…I really like S.ifr, and didn’t like Zwei much at all, so there’s not really a good reason at all >_>. S.ifr’s fights are among the best I’ve seen in any anime, thanks to the extra high budget and Lena Sayers as the shared protagonist. Her fighting style starts out unique and awesome, and her final fight is one of the best fights I’ve ever seen. The fact that it’s an OVA series means that the budget’s really high, so the animation is pretty much flawless. Makes me wish that more action series had sequel/prequel OVAs with beautiful animation/action.
Favorite Character: Shizuru. Not as awesome as in HiME, but still a badass lesbian teacher who’s always cool and has a plan.
Recommended to: yuri/beamspam/magic girl action fans.
Manly over the top series have always been a favorite of mine, and while s-CRY-ed isn’t the best of those, it is very good. Kazuma’s motivated to fight by his anger at his enemies, which is much better than the motivations of most action heroes. His rival, Ryuho goes from coolheaded and badass to hotheaded and badass, retaining his core personality all the time, and almost as awesome throughout the series. The powers the characters have are all very cool and used in entertaining ways, for over the top and ridiculous action scenes. s-CRY-ed’s not a very deep series, so there’s not much to say about it other than talking about the manliness of the characters. Unfortunately it has a few faults – some of the side characters are meh (Straight Cougar not included, of course), there’s too much plot, and the animation’s not as pretty as it could be – but it’s a really fun series. And that last episode is more than enough to counter any flaw the show could have. Now that is the kind of fanservice I wish we saw more often in anime and manga. Can’t figure out a way to work an awesome fight into the plot? Just throw in a bonus episode/chapter to satisfy the fans. Absolutely brilliant.
Favorite Character: Kazuma. As I said, shounen hero powered by anger/hatred. He starts out weak, but solely by getting more hot-blooded he manages to overcome his enemies.
Recommended to: people who don’t care about plot and just want awesome manly over the top action.
60. Oniisama E…Edit
This series was somewhat disappointing for me. I was expecting yuri, as this was referenced as the classic yuri series, but it doesn’t really have any. What love exists is far more sisterly than romantic, and there’s romance with guys in the end. Other than that, however, it’s a great show. It has that 80s style of making drama seem absurdly over the top, so it’s entertaining even when ordinary stuff is happening. The characters always interact in interesting ways, and it’s fun to see the crazy directions the relationships go in. One of the only real flaws is the awful quality of the subs – the subtitles themselves are fine, but they’re VHS rips, so the sound and picture quality are awful. Still, it’s a solid show, and its neat to see one of the shows that originated a lot of shoujo clichés.
Favorite Character: Rei Asaka. She seems strong at first, and is able to confront most enemies throughout the series, but her weaknesses keep her interesting. It’s nice to see a drug addict as one of the main characters once in a while.
Recommended to: shoujo fans who are interested in the classics, Marimite fans.
59.5 Aoi Bungaku
Just finished this, and neglected to put it on the list earlier whoops. Anyway, this is a very well done show, and it’d be nice if this sort of thing were done more often. The adaptations are all of established classics, so the quality is pretty much guaranteed. Furthermore, this is one of those good Madhouse adaptations, where the production values are through the roof. The animation and art are top tier, and the music is also pretty much perfect. You’d think that the story was the most important thing for classic literature, but the great production values really do improve things. It has some of that classic Death Note-style epic writing, the action scenes are surprisingly thrilling, and the imagery in the final episodes is just beautiful. Just to quickly go through my thoughts on all the arcs:
No Longer Human: always solid and interesting, but the start is slow. The twists after every episode are really interesting though, and it gets better with every episode, finishing with an amazing final episode.
In the Forest, Under Cherry Blossoms in Full Bloom: actually one of my favorites. The mix of absurdity and mass murder worked perfectly.
Kokoro: At first, I really disliked this one. The main character is a despicable loser, and while everything else is pretty good, the main pleasure I got from watching it was watching things go wrong for him. The second episode, however, was incredible from start to finish. Seeing things from the rival’s perspective was perfect.
Run, Melos!: a touching story of bros, but I found it incredibly frustrating that Joshima’s reasons for abandoning his friend for 15 years were never explained, so this was my least favorite. If you guys could enlighten me as to his motivations, I might take a fonder view of it.
The Spider’s Thread: I love evil protagonists in general, and Kandata didn’t disappoint as an insane serial killer. His murder methods/fighting was excellent as well, and the ending was perfect.
Hell Screen: Definitely my favorite of the arcs. As I said, the art/animation are at their best here, the events go in an unpredictable but satisfying direction, and it’s just incredibly stylish.
I should also note that the pacing is pretty much perfect in all of these. They manage to adapt classic works of literature in one or two episodes, and it works splendidly.
Favorite Character: Akiko. The show has plenty of amazing characters with good development and who do interesting things, but insane proxy serial killer girl takes the cake. Yanderes ftw. >_>
Recommended to: people who like more mature anime, and high quality anime lovers in general. It’s not pretentious like you’d expect a literature anime to be, and it know how not to take itself to seriously (well, No Longer Human and Run, Melos! are pretty serious)
59. Hajime no Ippo
Objectively, Ippo is the best fighting shounen ever. The cast is all likable, the pacing is pretty much perfect, the show does a great job of getting you to care about the fights, the fights themselves have beautiful animation and have interesting progression, the music is epic, etc. And I do really enjoy the show, which is why it’s on the list. It does have a couple flaws, like how Ippo pretty much stops developing after the a while (it’d be nice if he gained more confidence), the romance is stupid, and the fights often go in a set pattern (Ippo starts out losing, then he fights back, then he starts losing again, before pulling out a close finish by KO), but it’s so well done that these flaws don’t matter much. More importantly (for me), is that it’s a show about boxing. Personally, I’d enjoy it more if there were more magic and swords and crazy super moves. Again, it’s still great, but I like my fighting over the top and ridiculous, if possible.
Favorite fight: Takamura vs. Hawk. Not just for the fight, but the hype before the fight was incredible. Takamura’s difficulties in his previous fight and with losing the necessary weight, Hawk’s repeated insults against Japan and Takamura, and Takamura’s promise with Ippo got my really excited for it. The fight itself was something between two top tier fighters fighting at the highest level, and it did a lot of things that were unique for the series.
Favorite Character: Takamura. Both badass and hilarious, and New Challenger made him seem less than invincible but still awesome as hell.
Recommended to: shounen fans who want something that’s really high quality, fans of more realistic martial arts/fighting
58. Chrono Crusade
Generally an enjoyable series, with fantastic gunfighting animation (possibly the best I’ve seen). Like Eva, it has pointless cross-shaped muzzle-flashes, but that just makes it more fun. The plot is delightfully dark, with a lot of civilian loss of life and the occasional important character death to keep things unpredictable. The relationship between Chrono and Rosette is possibly my favorite romance in an action series, and the depth of their trust for each other is something you rarely see from male and female leads. There are a few flaws, like the overabundance of fanservice and some weaker episodes in the middle, though they aren’t too bad. But the real reason the series is this high is the ending. Endings aren’t everything, but they can really help to elevate a good series into greatness, and CC’s ending is among my favorites ever (top 3 at least). I really wish more series had this sort of spectacularly depressing finish.
Favorite Character: Rosette. Fun and silly at times, but also determined to do what’s right at any cost. She knows that fighting with Chrono will cost her her life, but that’s not enough to stop her.
Recommended to: gunfighting fans, shounen (well, this might be seinen) fans who like depressing endings.
I don’t think I put these series together on purpose, but here they are. If Chrono Crusade’s ending is top three, Gunbuster’s is an easy number one. I’m pretty sure I’ve never cried as much while watching an anime as I did while watching Gunbuster’s ending. It was just absolutely beautiful. The whole final episode is amazing, with great action (other than the stills >_>), Noriko and Kazumi’s relationship coming to a brilliant climax, a quadrillions (I think it was quadrillions) on one fight, some very cool attacks from Gunbuster, and the culmination of all the neat time dilation stuff. Unfortunately, the rest of the series is not as good. The first couple episodes have some neat parts, but they aren’t that entertaining and have too much fanservice. It does get much better every episode though, and the time dilation parts are some of the best use of science to create emotional scenes ever. Wakamoto as Coach is pretty fun too. All the stuff after Gunbuster itself is introduced is pretty great. I just wish it had started a bit better.
Favorite Character: Noriko. Starts out kind of annoying, and the parts with her romance aren’t that great. But her relationship with Kazumi is awesome, and she becomes a total badass by the end of the series. Final episode Noriko is definitely up there with the most hotblooded super robot heroes.
Recommended to: Super robot fans, SCIENCE lovers, TTGL fans. I’d say people who are willing to patiently wait for greatness, but the whole thing’s only three hours long so you don’t have to be that patient.
56. Macross Zero
Zero is on here for a completely different reason than the previous Macross. In fact, it’s only on here for one reason: the action is awesome. Since it’s an OVA, the animation is beautiful, and it’s pretty unique compared to other anime. Rather than focusing on the giant robot aspect of Macross, Zero is all about the fighter jets. The main use of the giant robots is to conserve fuel while on land, and to dodge bullets (the planes will transform into robot form in midair in order to dodge incoming bullets/missiles. How awesome is that?). There’s also a fairly solid story and characters that I didn’t dislike at all, but to be honest, I don’t really remember them at all, other than that there’s a love triangle, some singing, and a well done underwater mouth-to-mouth scene.
Favorite Character: Whoever the best pilot is. Probably the main, but again, I don’t really remember the characters.
Recommended to: High quality action lovers, particularly if you like fighter or giant robot action or are a Macross fan. It’s only 5 episodes, and it stands alone from Macross well enough, so there’s no reason not to watch it.
Probably the anime with the most talking ever. The majority of every episode is just the cast talking and wandering around, but this is surprisingly entertaining. A lot of the talking is pretty interesting, which is essential, and the character development is quite solid. The mix of people’s in-game personalities with their real-world personalities makes them all into really good characters, even with originally irritating characters like Sora and Tsukasa. More than just the talking and characters being interesting, the atmosphere is phenomenal – probably the best of any anime out there. There are scenes that just have people walking around without talking, and they’re really compelling because of the great direction/art/animation, and most importantly the music is fantastic. I really like the fantasy setting too, and even though it’s an online game it’s still one of the best fantasy settings out there. The action scenes are surprisingly good too, what few of them there are. Unfortunately, it’s slow for a while in the middle episodes, but it’s not too bad. The ending is also fantastic, with all the romance twists I like most.
Favorite Character: Subaru. Great development from a weak character to someone who rules The World, and her real world identity and what happens with her in the ending are both perfect.
Recommended to: talking anime fans, people who care a lot about music and atmosphere, fantasy fans
augh I keep remembering shows that I forgot to put on my list. >_< Hopefully this’ll be the last one.
Anyway, this isn’t all of Bleach. I’d heard that Bleach really gets a lot worse after a while, so I just watched the first 63 episodes and dropped it. It was a highly enjoyable experience for me, and I was pretty happy with the show overall. The animation’s pretty good and the fights are great, the whole cast is good (which is impressive considering how big it is), and the story’s compelling enough for a shounen, as is the awesome setting. The pacing felt a little slow at times, but Ichigo progresses pretty fast, and it’s always cool seeing him pull out a new technique that brings him to the next level. The whole main squad (Ichigo, Chad, Orihime, Ishida, and Rukia) made a fantastic team against the Hollows, all with their different abilities and character quirks. The humor here works a lot better than most shounen humor, IMO (<3 Orihime’s fantasies), which also gives it a leg up over most of the competition. The best thing about the show overall is probably that the fights are so interesting. We see fights between a huge number of different people, and are given a good reason to care about them. Even the main crew’s fights are interesting because they’re still learning new techniques all the time. It’s a shame it apparently gets worse (seriously, adapting 180 chapters in 63 episodes and then another 180 chapters in almost 200 episodes?), but the same thing happened with Kenshin (to a lesser extent), and I was happy dropping that too.
Favorite Character: Rukia. It’s kind of a shame she wasn’t really there most of the time, because she is awesome. Great as a fighter, and hilarious when she’s acting as a student. Is there a movie that focuses on her or something? Can I watch it with only 63 episodes of the series watched?
Recommended to: shounen fans who want a good series with a huge cast…and are willing to drop it after 63 episodes?
54. Hell Girl
Hell Girl’s a show with exactly one flaw: it’s really repetitive. A lot of the stories are pretty similar, and there are several repeated lines and animation sequences. They are really well done lines and sequences, so I didn’t really mind all that much, but it could’ve been a lot better. Thankfully, season two (Futakomori) fixes pretty much all of these problems. The stories become more varied, there’s less reused animation, and the reused lines are done in much more entertaining ways with Ai sometimes making fun of the criminals to lighten things up. Her assistants have a lot more to do with the stories too, and it feels much more personal. The arc at the end is also pretty neat, if horribly depressing.
But I’ve skipped the basics. In general, the series is just incredibly satisfying. Seeing evil criminals tortured and sent to hell every episode fulfills all my desires to see evil punished, and the criminals’ stories are usually compelling or, occasionally, fun. But it’s the unusual episodes (and the ones with great plot twists) that I liked most in the end. The nurse episode was something I both loved and hated, as it went against what makes the series so satisfying, but was probably the most chilling episode in the show. And there’s a ton of episodes in season two that come up with even more absurd/depressing reasons for people to want revenge, and it was really sad how a lot of them turned out.
Note: I never actually watched the third season, since I’ve heard it’s pretty meh. Should I check it out?
Favorite Character: Ai Enma. Generally has fantastic lines, and the development she gets just makes her even more interesting.
Recommended to: People who enjoy saying criminals get punished, and are willing to deal with a repetitive show. Even if you watch the first season and don’t like it too much, be sure to check out the second season, as the improvement is incredible.
53. Hikaru no Go
Aww yeah epic board games. Copy what I said in Saki’s write-up, except replace moe and yuri with quality and character development. I wish every shounen were more like Hikaru no Go. The character starts out weak, and advances to be one of the top Go players out there, but it takes years for him to accomplish that. You can really feel time passing, and the pace is never too slow. The games are all very good too. The series does have a few problems: early Hikaru is overly whiny, emo Hikaru lasts for TEN FREAKING EPISODES (seriously, he had a good reason, and he did some awesome stuff in that time period, but 10 episodes is way too long), and the ending was a bit too soon…but I’ve heard bad things about the manga ending too. Still, it’s a really good show, and the Go matches are always intense.
Favorite Character: Sai. His playing is really cool, and his last match is incredible. He’s a solid mentor for Hikaru too, and his selfishness really adds a lot of depth to the traditional mentor character. I wish they’d made it clear that he was male earlier though. >_>
Recommended to: board game anime fans, people who want a well paced shounen that does everything right
52. Rurouni Kenshin
There’s a reason this is considered classic shounen, often the best ever. Unfortunately, the first season isn’t that great, with a lot of mediocre filler. The good episodes are pretty solid, and even some of the filler (pirate girl FTW). But still, even the best Tokyo arc episodes aren’t as good as the average Kyoto episode. Kyoto’s easily one of the greatest shounen arcs ever, with great pacing, emotional connection for the main characters, a whole ton of awesome enemies and new techniques for the main characters. One of the things that’s most remarkable about Kenshin is how good the fights are for a such an old series. I mean, something like Hunter x Hunter is years newer, but Kenshin’s fights still look better. The choreography is outstanding too.
Favorite Character: Saito Hajime. There aren’t really any characters I love, even though I like pretty much everyone (except Yahiko, who is awful). Saito’s style of fighting for justice with incredibly questionable methods is awesome though, and makes him an excellent opposite for Kenshin.
Recommended to: shounen fighting fans who want to see the epitome of the genre.
51. Sketchbook ~full color’s~
A lot like Aria, except that it takes place in the real world (which is a bad thing, since sci-fi and fantasy slice of life is incredible). The similarities go right down to having a big focus on cats, and these cats are better than Aria’s, though still not fantastic. I think I liked it about as much as Aria’s first season, as there was a lot of wonderfully relaxing stuff, but there weren’t any incredibly emotional episodes, so here it is.
Favorite Character: Sora Kajiwara. Sora’s the best part of the series. She’s incredibly adorable, and is the main contributor to the relaxing atmosphere of the show. Her monologue on the wonders of all-purpose spring onions is a classic.
Recommended to: Aria fans, people who prefer the relaxing form of slice of life.
50. Samurai Champloo
Does right everything Cowboy Bebop does wrong. I like jazz more than hip-hop, but the music’s better. I like sci-fi more than samurai Japan, but the atmosphere’s better. The comedy’s better, the characters are superior, and the action is up there with the best action anime. The action is probably the biggest reason I like the show, since it really is beautiful. It’s always really fast, and the style characters use is pretty dynamic for a show without any superpowers. I was even tempted to put Sara as my favorite character, just because her action scenes are so incredible. The three main characters also have perfect chemistry. They don’t always get along well, but you can tell that they’re real friends, and their problems all make sense. The episodic stories are pretty much all really good too – I mean, the occasional one isn’t great, but even then there are the fight scenes to make things awesome. The humor episodes were surprisingly good too. I’m particularly fond of the baseball episode, which is also remarkable for having native English speakers (even if they mostly just swear). The hip-hop isn’t really used for serious reasons, but instead as comedy, which works a lot better IMO. Anyway, it’s just a really well made action show overall.
Favorite Character: Mugen. It kind of pains me to put Mugen here, because I don’t really like his personality that much. But he’s by far the most entertaining character in the series, and using his sandals to fight makes for some outstanding action scenes.
Recommended to: action show fans, people who want high production values and stylish atmosphere.
I’ve actually only seen the first season of this show, though I’m considering watching the rest at some point. The show’s pretty much tied for being my favorite slice of life of the comedic variety. It has a lot more bit to it than most slice of life shows, especially when it comes to Chiaki’s awesome nastiness. All three sisters are generally hilarious. Kana’s hyperness works surprisingly well due to how self-aware she seems to be, and while Haruka seems like just the boring nice older sister type at first, her past as a banchou (or was it a sukeban?) gives her some depth and makes her that much better a character, and she also improves whenever she or her sisters are in trouble. The show doesn’t use many of the clichés that most slice of life/high school series do either, so it feels pretty unique and every episode has something new and interesting.
Favorite Character: Mako-chan. His protestations of his manliness while looking ridiculously girl always make me laugh, and he’s pretty much my favorite trap in general.
Recommended to: slice of life fans who are want funny and original stuff.
My personal favorite fighting shounen series (assuming you don’t count mecha as fighting shounen), mainly because I really like the fights. It starts a bit off due to Raki being annoying, but it’s still good due to the fights. Once the Teresa flashback starts though, it becomes really incredible. Teresa vs. #2-5 is easily one of the best shounen fights ever, if not the best ever. What comes after that is obviously not quite as good, but Clare’s progression from weakest to among the strongest was also really great, especially considering how fast it happens. Additionally, it has more death and violence than almost any other shounen, as well as less humor. I usually don’t like shounen humor that much (even in Bleach, a fair amount of it fell flat), so this is a big plus for me. It does have some negatives – Raki is lame, the second last episode isn’t that great, and the last episode is really bad. But that’s fewer bad episodes than pretty much any other shounen anime, so I didn’t mind too much. Also, it has a pretty much all female cast, and I tend to like it more when characters are female (though my favorite characters are all male, that’s just because there aren’t any female characters like them >_>).
Favorite Character: Teresa of the Faint Smile. The way she’s so far above every other character makes her pretty impressive, and her carefree killing personality fits such a good guy character perfectly.
Recommended to: action (particularly sword-fighting with giant swords) fans, people who like female action protagonists.
47. Lucky Star
The other show that’s tied for my favorite comedy slice of life, for one main reason: Konata. Super loser otaku protagonists are pretty good in general when taken to the extreme (others including Satou and Takumi), but Konata’s by far the best of them. For one, she’s a girl, so she’s more appealing than males. She’s also a lot funnier than anyone else of the type, and is also more self-aware and deals with her own nerdiness a lot better. Pretty much every scene with her is great, and if the show has a flaw, I suppose it’s that the show doesn’t have enough of her. The rest of the cast is all pretty good though, so the scenes without her aren’t too bad. The show’s also pretty good at making funny references, and I watched it when I hadn’t even seen that many anime. Unfortunately, it does use more clichés than Minami-ke, and the first few episodes are just a little show, but even then the conversations are pretty funny. Also, I didn’t like Lucky Channel at all, mostly because Minoru’s a horrible character.
Favorite Character: Anime Tenchou. Another one of those low screen time characters who makes me burst out laughing whenever he appears. From his voice to his out of place design to his lines, he’s absolutely brilliant. Obviously he doesn’t contribute as much to the show as Konata, but that doesn’t really matter when he’s so funny.
Recommended to: funny slice of life fans, nerdy girl fans, reference anime lovers.
46. G Gundam
If we’re talking about the show with the most badassery and hotbloodedness ever, I think G Gundam just might be it (Fist of the North Star would probably be close). Domon is one of the best protagonists out there, his method of fighting is badass, his catchphrases are badass, one of his girlfriends are badass and the other becomes badass, and his enemies are the most badass of all. G Gundam’s at its best when it’s focusing on being over the top and ridiculously badass, which it is a lot of the time. It has Domon bursting out of the Statue of Liberty in the second episode, and it only gets better from there. The fights are usually really entertaining, and all the different types of Gundams are tremendously entertaining with their ridiculousness. Unfortunately, it does have a few flaws. A lot of the fights are pretty similar: Domon starts out jobbing to some loser, than uses Shining Finger and kicks the enemy’s ass. I mean, it’s fun, but overly formulaic. Thankfully, not all fights are like that. Some of the early episodes are also pretty weak, especially the ones before Master Asia appears. Some later episodes feel a bit fillery too, like the crappy ones that focus on Sai.
Favorite Character: Master Asia. I was tempted to put Windmill Gundam here (also Lumber Gundam, Nobel Gundam, God Gundam, Devil Gundam, etc.), but Master Asia’s too awesome to be beaten by a joke. Taking on giant robots with your bare hands always puts you a level above the rest, and he’s even more impressive when he’s actually in his robot. Truly deserving of his “Undefeated of the East” title.
Recommended to: people who like badass and manly shows, and feel like most of them are too short.
45. Paradise Kiss
Josei romance anime > shoujo romance anime, generally. It’s a shame there’s so little of it. The first couple episodes of this show are kind of weak, which is a big part of what holds the show back, but the rest is great. It’s not just a romance anime: it’s largely focused on Yukari becoming a model, so the amount of clichéd romance drama is kept to a minimum, and things are always interesting due to the multiple ongoing plots. In fact, I’d almost say that the best thing about the show is Yukari’s career, as it really makes sense with all the problems she encounters, even though it doesn’t really seem like a likely sequence of events. There’s a large variety of cast members with their own dramatic relationships, none of which really go in the expected direction. The show’s not afraid of sex either compared to most shoujo, which is appropriate for a romance. With all that it’s a very good show, but it’s the ending that makes it really outstanding. I think it’s probably the best romance ending I’ve ever seen, actually. It really wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was perfect nonetheless.
Favorite Character: Yukari Hayasaka. Not particularly likable at the start, but her development is great, and by the end of the show she’s really respectable and likable as well.
Recommended to: romance fans who want something somewhat more mature or with a more interesting protagonist, josei fans
44. Paranoia Agent
Mostly episodic series that has really interesting individual stories. There are a couple around the middle that aren’t very good, which is why it’s not higher, but other than that it’s great. It’s like every episode is a different Satoshi Kon movie, and the huge variety of creativity is a sight to behold. Shounen Bat’s escapades were highly interesting too, as was the mystery of trying to figure out if Shounen Bat was real or not (and the surprising explanation behind him). It leaps between genres like nothing, from depressing stories of multiple personality disorder prostitutes to RPG adventures. My personal favorite was probably the one that focused on the wife, but everything was good, so I wouldn’t complain about the rest. I’m not sure what most people thought about the ending, but I highly enjoyed it, and was a little disappointed that Paprika’s ending was so similar.
Favorite Character: Yuichi “Ichi” Taira. It’s hard to pick a favorite, since pretty much everyone’s really good. Even Maromi is a tempting pick. Ichi’s overconfidence and introduction sequence is just too good not to pick though, as it’s probably the funniest part of the show. I’d probably like him even more now that I’ve read Ichi the Killer.
Recommended to: People who like messed up anime. It’s good for those who like deep stuff and crazy stuff, and can be enjoyed either way.
This’ll be a briefer write-up than it should be, since I don’t really remember the show that well. It kind of reminds me of Hell Girl in a way, but slightly happier. Fumika goes around delivering letters from the dead, mostly to very disturbed people. Fumika’s disinterested attitude is exactly what I like in a main character, and the direction the show takes in the second half makes her even more interesting. Also, the show has multiple yanderes, and a nice atmosphere in general. IIRC, it also has yuri elements…with an awesome twist to make them even better than ordinary yuri. Sorry I can’t say more about it, but it really is a great show.
Favorite Character: Fumika Mikawa. Disinterested and violent, and more complex than she seems at first. It really is her show.
Recommended to: Hell Girl fans, people who like disinterested character and yanderes.
42. Junjou Romantica
uh oh yaoi time. This is the only yaoi series I’ve seen, and I only watched it because it was really highly rated on a few anime sites. Thankfully, it lived up to those ratings, and was in fact an incredibly high quality series. The relationships are interesting, all the characters have good development (this is the most important part, so I thought I’d add a parenthetical remark to emphasize that), and since it focuses on so many different pairings, the pacing is excellent. The humor is also generally excellent, so even if the romance isn’t for you there’s still that. The gay twist keeps things fresh…though again, since I haven’t encountered much yaoi, I don’t know how fresh it actually is. The relationships also progress in a fairly odd way, with couples having sex long before they tell each other that they like each other or even admit that they like other men. I wasn’t sure whether I liked or disliked this part, but it certainly made the show unique.
Favorite Character: Miyagi You. Rather more complex than the rest of cast since he actually used to be married, and is the most analytical about things. He doesn’t fit into a standard role at all, and is probably the most unpredictable guy in the cast. His relationships with other cast members are good too.
Recommended to: people who are willing to watch a great romance show with an open mind and don’t mind not sympathizing with the characters, yaoi fans.
41. His and Her Circumstances
Probably my favorite shoujo romance anime, though generally shoujo romance manga is better than the anime stuff. I actually prefer Kare Kano in anime form, for a couple reasons. For one, I watched it first. It also ends before the worse parts of the manga, and the animation style and voices are quite good. Unfortunately, it does have some huge problems - there are multiple recap episodes, episodes with no animation/screwed up animation (especially toward the end), and it ends right in the middle of an arc. However, the longer it gets since I’ve watched it the less I remember the faults, and I had the manga to finish that arc.
Anyway, on to the meat of the show. This was the first romance anime I’d seen where the main couple actually gets together long before the ending, and that alone makes it vastly superior to most other romances. Yukino and Arima have wonderful chemistry, and both of them are really likable characters. Arima was a bit of a douche for a little while, but it only lasted an episode so I didn’t mind that too much. The romance progresses at a fast pace and in an interesting way, and is pretty touching at times. It mixes romance and comedy perfectly too. Rather than switching between the two, they flow naturally together. The side cast also gets a lot of development, keeping them from being boring one-dimensional appendages for the main characters. The production flaws are a real shame, because other than that the show is pretty much perfect.
Favorite Character: Yukino Miyazawa. Greatest romance protagonist ever? Probably so, though Iono comes close. For starters, she’s incredibly smart (as is Arima), and having smart leads in a romance is much better than the usual morons. Her quirks also make her a hilarious protagonist (aww yeah Queen of Vanity), and her reasons for everything she does are over the top but make a lot of sense when you think about them. Her development’s really good too. She overcomes (some of) her flaws in a natural way, while still keeping some of them, and really blows away the rest of the cast (including Arima) in terms of development, which is quite a feat considering what a great character she was to start with. It’s a shame that Kare Kano’s popularity didn’t make her type a cliché to replace the traditional shoujo protagonist.
Recommended to: people who want a well-done romance, those who don’t mind terrible production flaws.
40. Legend of the Galactic HeroesEdit
LoGH is an absolutely remarkable show. It’s 110 episodes, but the pacing is perfect. It has an absolutely enormous cast, and all of them have their flaws and strong points to make them interesting, and the author’s willing to kill them off when necessary. Each season has its own interesting story that’s a part of the great overall story, and solid little arcs making up each season. The animation’s pretty good for such an old show, due to it being an OVA series. The space battles are pretty decent, and the battle of wits between the two leads is one of the best out there. I love battle of wits series in general, and LoGH does it well.
Unfortunately, it does a have a few flaws. Reinhard’s main advantage is that he has a huge team of incredible leaders on his side that he’s spent years creating. They aren’t quite at the same level as him or Yang, but they’re far above everyone else…at least for the first season. After that, they job repeatedly to loser Alliance admirals, and Yang has no problem crushing them, even though they fought almost as well as he did at first. The Alliance is full of lame characters in general, and Julian’s probably the closest character to a Mary Sue that I’ve ever seen in an anime. The first season’s just better than the other shows in general, since that’s when the Empire and the Alliance are the most equal. There’s a lot of DEM to force losses later on, which is frustrating – it seems like the winning side should’ve triumphed much sooner. Still, there’s tons of good stuff, such as the arc focusing on Reuenthal, which is probably my favorite Wakamoto performance ever. Really a remarkable show in general, and something everyone should watch.
The first Gaiden series is also quite good, as Reinhard’s early adventures with Kircheis are awesome, as is seeing him meet some of his future admirals. It does have some flaws – the last arc doesn’t have nearly enough Reinhard, and most of the show takes place on the ground. Still, it’s quite an enjoyable complement to the main series.
Favorite Character: Reinhard von Lohengramm. Brilliant protagonists are my favorite type, and Reinhard’s mind games and strategizing are up there with the best of them. He’s a lot more human than most of them too, with real flaws, and he doesn’t always win, even if he usually does. His morality is great too. He’s fighting for justice, but in a far more practical way than Yang, or most other leads.
Recommended to: battle of wits fans, sci-fi lovers, people who want a truly epic and high quality show.
39. Elfen Lied
Mmm, delicious ultraviolence. Pure over the top violence is fun on its own, especially when used in pretty good action scenes. Elfen Lied’s not just violence and action though (but that’s an essential part of what makes it enjoyable). It’s also a relentlessly depressing series where tons of bad things happen to everyone, some of which are pretty touching (;_; the dog). Bandou’s one of the funniest anime characters out there, so it’s no slouch on the comedy front either. Unfortunately, the main character’s pretty weak, and the main villains are lame, but it’s a nice and entertaining show in general.
Favorite Character: Lucy. Nice back story, understandable progression into what she is today, and has a delightful propensity to kill everyone around her. I wish there’d been more of her, since she’s the best part of the show.
Recommended to: People who love ultra violence and crazy killer girls.
38. Macross Frontier
The greatest Macross series. Simply being new means that the action is top tier, but it’s superior in most other way too. Princess Alto isn’t as bad as the other Macross protagonists, and the love interests are superior, particularly Sheryl. Both of them are singers this time, so there’s a lot more singing, and again, the songs are vastly superior to all of the other Macross songs, particularly Lion (though I guess that’s only used in the show once). The plot is solid and well paced, so that it never really gets boring, and the romance and action are balanced pretty well. The supporting cast is also pretty good, and I thought that the ending fit the series quite well, although a lot of people seemed to dislike it. It’s an all around well-made show. I wish that more mecha series with this sort of production values were being made.
Favorite Character: Sheryl Nome. Ranka’s not bad and has pretty decent development, but Sheryl is just vastly superior. Screaming out “LISTEN TO MY SONG!” always makes me smile, and teases are my favorite type of anime female.
Recommended to: mecha fans, singing fans, Macross fans, love triangle fans.
Pure action goodness. It actually seems to use CG for the fight scenes, but it’s some of the best anime CG ever…not that it’s much of an accomplishment, since anime CG generally sucks, but there it is. The fights really are well done, especially the ones in the first episode, and it’s worth watching just for that. Random stuff like time stopping for no reason happens and just makes the fights that much better. But I also found the plot somewhat enjoyable, if lacking in substance, and most of the cast is pretty entertaining. There’s some decent comedy from Nue and female Karas to spice things up too. More importantly, it can be really badass at times, especially when it comes to Otoha himself, which is probably the most important factor other than fight quality in an action series.
Favorite Character: Yousuke Otoha. Again, super badass fights, is randomly a doctor, and his “last stand” scene is incredible. His former life was pretty good too.
Recommended to: People who like pure action. It’s an excellent short little series for that.
36. New Getter Robo
For the first couple episodes, I was thinking that this would be the best mecha series ever. Unfortunately, after that the mecha become the focus, and the quality isn’t as high. The main flaw of the show is that the mecha choreography kind of sucks. There are some really badass things that happen during the mecha scenes, and the fights in the last episode are really good, but other than that the personal fights are much better than the ordinary fights. It also gets a bit slow in the middle for a while, but that’s not a big problem.
But there is a ton of stuff I love about the show, which is why it’s here. The characters are all incredibly badass, because of the amazing premise: to be a Getter pilot, you have to be insane. I wish this sort of premise were used more often in shounen. Jin’s the best, as he’s a mass murdering terrorist but is still the secondary hero, and Ryoma’s a fantastic main character too, much more entertaining than the typical shounen hero, due to his strategy of beating the crap out of everyone in his path. The series has tons of ridiculously badass stuff in general, like a reverse trap with F cup breasts and spontaneous time travel due to overwhelming manliness, along with an amazing ending (as is typical of Getter). Lots of characters die too, and the series is willing to have depressing stuff occur if necessary.
Favorite Character: Jin Hayato. As I said, he’s a mass-murdering terrorist, but is also a hero. I love those “will due anything to achieve their goals” good guys. Getter Two is also the coolest form, though it’s a shame it doesn’t appear more.
Recommended to: Everyone who loves super robot shows and stuff focused on hotbloodedness. If you like TTGL/G Gundam/s-CRY-ed/etc., you really need to watch this.
35. Eden of the East
Best series of the year? Not quite, but it’s close. I love the Bourne movies, and this anime definitely felt a lot like Bourne. It’s not just a copy though, since there’s a lot more focus on Japan’s problems, the Selecao system, etc. Seeing all the different saviors and how they used the system was great – probably the highlight of the show. Just having Akira buy stuff was also awesome. I’m even tempted to put Juiz as my favorite character because of the ways she carried out the requests made of her. The plot progression’s pretty quick due to all the different saviors that have to be dealt with, but there’s always the overarching plot of Akira’s quest, so it never feels like a villain of the week story or anything. The philosophical/political aspects were solid too (though I’m still not sure why Japan needs a king…). Unfortunately, the series falls short when it comes to characters. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are great, but the Eden club sucks. Well, it’s not awful, but it serves no good purpose, and is by far the worst part of the show. I really wish their stuff had been cut out. Regardless, it’s still a great show. Looking forward to the movies.
Favorite Character: Akira Takizawa. I’m kind of unsure about his overall plan, but he does do a lot of cool stuff, and always seems to be able to come up with a good solution to the problems he encounters.
Recommended to: Bourne fans, people who like a good mix of action/character development/deeper themes
34. Black Lagoon
It’s hard to explain why Black Lagoon is so good without sounding repetitive. Everything about it is just really, really, good. The action’s somewhat over the top, but not incredibly so, and the animation is great. The pacing is pretty much perfect, the voice acting is top tier, and the individual stories are all quite compelling (twins arc was the best, btw). Even the one off characters either have good development or moments of awesome (particularly Rotton the Wizard), and the main cast is a perfect balance. The stories also feel pretty unique compared to most action series out there. If the show has a flaw, it’s that Rock’s kind of annoying at times and the show would be better if it focused more on Revy, but he does have some good moments to make up for it.
Favorite Character: Revy. Not much to say that I haven’t said before – I love crazy girls who kill a lot of people, and doing it as stylishly as Revy is a big plus.
Recommended to: action fans who want something slightly more mature than the average shounen
33. Shion no Ou
Unlike the other board game anime on the list, Shion no Ou’s just as good when the characters are not playing games as when they are. The main cast is a neat balance between a mute girl, a trap, and a rich older girl, who all interact with each other pretty well and have interesting stories of their own. The side cast is great too, especially since their motivations are so opaque, and finding out what’s really going on is pretty exciting. The plot is split between a massive shogi tournament and the mystery of who murdered Shion’s parents in front of her when she was really young. Both are exciting in their own way – the shogi’s the same great battle of wits found in all board game anime, and the murder mystery is better than most because of the way it ties into shogi. The ending is much better than I’d expected too, as the confrontation between Shion and the murderer was probably the best scene in the whole series, and possibly the best board game scene ever. Unfortunately, the series does have one problem: there’s a fair amount of QUALITY animation, especially in the last episode. The worst I’ve ever seen, in fact. It can be a really pretty show at times, but it’s disappointing when the animation screws up so badly.
Favorite Character: Shion Yasuoka. Shion’s the other thing that elevates her series above other board game anime. Her mute gimmick makes her absolutely adorable, but she’s a much stronger character than you’d expect. She always has to deal with the reality of her parents’ brutal murder, and she’s aware of all the problems surrounding her, which she fights against with all of her strength. Playing shogi to find her parents’ murderer is a fun motivation, too.
Recommended to: board game anime fans, battle of wits fans, murder mystery lovers, people who want an adorable mute protagonist
32. Spice and Wolf
This is probably a little too high, since Spice and Wolf 2 was somewhat disappointing (not enough Horo). Still, it really is a great show. Horo and Lawrence make for one of the greatest lead pairings ever, and the show would probably be great if it was nothing but them talking to each other and making good deals…and that’s most of what does make it great, but not quite everything. All the economics in the show make it unique (being unique is a huge plus for me if you hadn’t noticed, so long as the show’s got some quality to go along with it), and every scene where Horo goes into giant wolf form is excellent (this is part of why S2 was disappointing). Really though, it’s the relationship between Lawrence and Horo that makes the show great.
Favorite Character: Horo. Again, I love teasing females, and Horo’s one of the best at this in general. He competence as a merchant, all of her quirks (<3 apples), and her awesomeness as a wolf only make her that much better.
Recommended to: people who enjoy good dialogue, those who want something different from anime.
31. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
“A depressed teacher tries to commit suicide all the time and rails against the ills of modern society” – has there ever been a better premise for a comedy? SZS has the fundamentals down pat, including one of the best animation styles out there (and apparently one of the cheapest) and possibly the greatest series of OPs ever (GitS SAC is the only show that comes close). The voices are perfect too, particularly Zetsubou-sensei’s own voice. A show does need more than just the fundamentals, but SZS delivers in all the other areas too. There’s an incredibly diverse cast, so there’s always someone ready to make a good joke, and most of the societal ills work quite well as set ups for all sorts of jokes. Having to pause the show to read all the jokes is a little annoying at times, but it usually just draws out the pleasure. I guess that the only problem with the series is that the humor’s not as consistent as it could be, and I don’t get some of it because I’m not Japanese, but it’s more consistent and funnier than most comedies, so I don’t really mind. There are so many amazing episodes that it’s hard to pick a favorite – the General episode was probably the best recent one. It’s also genuinely interesting even when it’s not that funny because of the great cast and the interesting problems it deals with. And it’s enjoyable to watch even though it’s ongoing since it’s so episodic.
Favorite Character: Kafuka Fuura. Itoshiki’s probably the funniest character since he has the most screen time, but there are times when he’s really not that likable. And Chiri’s got that killer style, but I don’t find her as funny. Kafuka’s always hilarious though, and she makes completely different jokes from the rest of the cast, so her appearances are highly appreciated. Her relentless optimism that only serves to make everyone else even more depressed is the ideal counter to Itoshiki’s despair.
OP Ranking: Rumba > Bure > Lyricure > Beam
Recommended to: random comedy fans, SHAFT fans, people who want a more unorthodox comedy.
30. Gundam 00Edit
This is my personal favorite Gundam series, and the first season is one of my favorite anime period. I love the “four Gundams against the world” premise, and ending war through destroying all of its weapons is a fun plan (though I did think it was slightly weird that everyone used some form of armor, that wasn’t too big of a deal). All four of the main Gundam pilots are pretty interesting too. Allelujah’s not that likable, but his MPD is fun to watch, and all three of the others are great. Celestial Being as a whole is a wonderful organization, and the Gundam support crew headed by Sumeragi’s brilliant planning gives the battles a new dimension, rather than just having them be battles between pilots. The fights themselves are also very pretty. Not quite the best out there, but awesome nonetheless, and a shallow person (like me >_>) might say that the series is worth watching for the fights alone. It does a lot of over the top stuff in fights too. Nothing like a 5m tall Gundam using a 10,000 km long sword <3. It does have a few flaws, like Louise and Saji being kind of annoying, though they get somewhat better in S2, but mostly these flaws aren’t a big deal.
Unfortunately, S2 screws up a lot of what’s good about the show. The show really felt like it was close to ending in episode 24 of S1, and was unnecessarily stretched out. Killing off half the cast in one episode and then bringing most of them back in the next = stupid idea. The A-Laws are a terrible villain organization, and don’t even make that much sense (it’s really not that easy to get away with killing 100 million civilians at once). I disliked almost every single member of the organization, and it didn’t even make that much sense for some of them to be there. Mr. Bushido was also a stupid character – not every Gundam series needs a Char clone. The first few episodes of the show were still great, but it really slowed down after that. Thankfully, it gets a lot better towards the end once everyone realizes how dumb the A-Laws are, and there’s plenty of great stuff I’m not mentioning, like Prince Ali’s absurd badassery, and the ending is great, but the show really fell short of its potential. Of course, I still love it or it wouldn’t be here, but it could’ve been a lot better.
Favorite Character: Setsuna F. Seiei. No character says his name in a sexier way than Setsuna. Just hearing him say it is enough to make me giggle in delight. Hearing him talk about how he’s a Gundam is equally arousing. What a man…er, Gundam.
Recommended to: Mecha actions fans, people who like “small group against the world” stories
29. School Days
Uh oh, time for the most controversial entry on the list. I’ll acknowledge from the start that School Days is love/hate. If you don’t like it, this write-up’s not going to convince you otherwise. School Days is one of the most purely entertaining shows out there. Every episode Makoto gets up to some pretty zany antics, and there were plenty of times when he’d say yes to another girl or be so indecisive that I just had to laugh. The other girls mostly start out pretty reasonable, but exposure to Makoto makes them act pretty crazy, which also had me laughing at times. I suppose that might qualify it for “so bad it’s good” status, but as long as I’m enjoying it, that’s what matters to me. Having a protagonist who actually scores with every girl in a harem series automatically makes it better than 99% of the harem crap out there. SD’s really different from other harem series in general, and is far less predictable too. Instead of being about a gradual courtship between the main guy in girl, where they slowly realize their feelings and get closer, Makoto just creates and destroys relationships with everyone. It’s a downward spiral into despair, culminating in one of the greatest endings out there. I can understand why someone wouldn’t like it, but I think that most people take the show way too seriously.
Favorite Character: Makoto Itou. This might be Setsuna, except for her plan failing so hard. Makoto’s another character I don’t actually like that much, but he’s incredibly interesting, and makes the show what it is.
Recommended to: people who want to see a deconstruction of the harem genre, and enjoy seeing absolutely everything go wrong.
28. One Outs
Basically Akagi with baseball. In some ways, this is an improvement (especially since I know more about baseball than mahjong >_>) but it does make things slightly less mind-gamy. It also feels pretty similar, but there are so many generic shows out there that I don’t mind a few Akagi clones. Toua’s mind games are every bit as awesome as Akagi’s though, especially when he’s playing against particularly strong opponents. I don’t really like that the team’s owner is the villain, since that often cramps Toua’s style, but he fights against the owner in various interesting ways. Seeing Toua deal with his weaknesses is interesting too. I don’t mind a flawless character, but Toua’s flaws add a new layer of challenge for him, and are a nice enemy for him to fight against. Unfortunately, the show does have the same flaw as Akagi – the second half is pretty much all one game, and the pacing slows down a lot. Some really awesome stuff happens during said game, so it’s not all bad, but the first half was better.
Favorite Character: Toua Tokuchi. He’s the one who pulls off all the awesome mind games, and is pretty good at monetizing his talents. Not quite as amazing as Akagi, but he comes close.
Recommended to: Akagi fans, people who like mind games, baseball fans?
27. Maria Watches Over Us
With Marimite, I came for the lesbians and stayed for the tea parties. This is one show where being slow is definitely not a bad thing, as it’s one of the more relaxing series out there. It’s just really nice, and gives you a warm feeling. That’s not to say that there’s not conflict – there’s a surprisingly large amount, really, with minor problems turned into life-or-death crises. Having a multi-episode arc devoted to the problem of what Yumi should get Sachiko for Valentine’s Day allows for some amusingly over the top, but still touching, drama. Every season introduces new and interesting characters, as well as new problems for the cast to deal with, but they’re all so insignificant that watching them just feels nice. Some drama is more serious, like the religious clash between Buddhism and Christianity in one of my favorite arcs, but even that has such a happy resolution that I didn’t really mind. There is the occasional weak episode, and the show has way too much focus on male characters (they get like 10% of the screen time), but it’s just a really nice watch overall.
Favorite Character: Sei Sato. This was a pretty tough decision, since there are so many good characters to put here. There’s Yumi, for being one of the most developed main characters ever – she’s feels very different in the first season, but the only real change is that she’s grown up into a much stronger person. Shimako’s another favorite, since I think the show’s at its best when it’s focusing on her, and while she doesn’t develop as much as Yumi, she’s a stronger character in general. And Kanako’s definitely one of the funniest and most likable characters in the show, again with amazing development and some of the best episodes. But Sei is definitely the funniest, has an amazing back-story, and her return appearances in later seasons are real highlights. She also gains big points for being the show’s only confirmed lesbian – it’d be nice if another popped up in a later season (some are almost confirmed lesbians, but haven’t been in any relationships).
Recommended to: people who like slow and relaxing series, pseudo-yuri fans
The classiest anime ever made…and yet it’s still surprisingly simple and accessible. The show is about the legendary Bartender, The Glass of the Gods, solving people’s problems by making them awesome drinks. I’m no connoisseur of alcohol, but every drink he made was well explained, and had a really neat effect. Some of them are fairly simple, but they can often be really over the top. In one episode he manages to save a couple’s marriage by making a drink that turns into other drinks when shaken or otherwise manipulated, representing all the states of their marriage – the show manages to mix touching moments and awesome moments pretty well. The series as a whole has a very relaxing feel, and it’s just nice to watch it. Pretty much every episode is great, with compelling individual stories. Unfortunately, the last episode is the worst episode, which brings the series down somewhat, but it’s still mostly great. The show definitely managed to increase my respect for bartenders and alcohol in general.
Favorite Character: Ryuu Sasakura. Who else could it be The master bartender manages to suavely deal with everyone’s problems very well, and the episodes where he has his own problems are very well done too.
Recommended to: people who like relaxing anime, those who want something more classy, those who enjoy “main character helps people solve their problems” shows.
25. Nodame Cantabile
The best romantic comedy anime ever. This is partly because it adds an additional focus rather than being entirely romance or comedy based. The music of this anime is fantastic, some of the most appealing music in anime period. Using classical songs gives it an unfair advantage, but it’s still be than, say, Princess Tutu’s music, and is leagues beyond Beck’s music. The challenges the characters go through with regard to music are also interesting. The leads are both prodigies, and the problems they have are more about personal barriers than anything else. Seeing them overcome those barriers (only to succumb to their problems again an episode later) is usually pretty inspiring, and rewarding in an aural sense as well.
Of course, the music’s not all the show has going for it. It’s also pretty damn funny. The relations between the main characters are generally hilarious, and the side cast is pretty funny too. The scenes where Nodame takes control are extra great, since they’re such a switch from the usual. The romance is also pretty fun. Nodame’s in love from the start, but Chiaki’s a bit harder to get. This is pretty typical of shoujo in general, except that the whole show’s from Chiaki’s point of view, which is a pretty big change from the usual and keeps things pretty fresh. The two leads are both amazing characters too, so it’s very easy to cheer them on. The second season’s not quite as good as the first, but it’s close. It has a great ending, some nice progression, and is still better than pretty much everything else out there, so I didn’t mind too much.
Favorite Character: Shinichi Chiaki. Again, Nodame really is a fantastic character, so it’s kind of painful not to choose her. She’s really funny, and her dark back story actually works pretty well. But Chiaki’s way beyond the average romance main character. He’s a lot more intelligent and analytical, and is actually experienced with relationships. And again, his point of view is really different from most. He can also be pretty adorable at times, since he’s a tsundere, and gets embarrassed pretty easily, yet is still usually in control of the situation.
Recommended to: romantic comedy fans who want the best of the genre, classical music fans.
24. Pani Poni Dash!
The best comedic slice of life (if I split genres enough, I could probably say all of the top 25 are the best of some genre >_>). What can I say about it, other than that the show’s hilarious? The premise isn’t anything great, and the cast is weaker than SZS’s, but the jokes are all really funny. The class has really good chemistry with each other, and all the side characters, like Behoimi, who thinks she’s a magical girl, keep things fresh. There’s a lot of unrealistic stuff that comes out of nowhere, like aliens/robots/God/etc., which is also done pretty well. The OVA’s not quite as good, since it was a little too focused on fanservice, but it was still pretty funny.
Favorite Character: Ichijou. The evil(?) class rep with no common sense and the power to do anything. She’s the source of a lot of the fantasy humor, which she pulls off perfectly, and is just great at making things uncomfortable in general.
Recommended to: people who like random comedy, SHAFT fans.
23. Read or Die (OVA)
Possibly the greatest premise for an action anime ever: huge nerd who loves reading books is actually a Paper Master working for the British library as a secret agent, and has the power to manipulate paper to attack her enemies in various ways. This unique ability results in some very impressive action scenes, like fending off a lightsaber with a roll of twenties, or the scene where she creates her paper airplane, which might be my favorite scene in the whole thing. The whole thing feels like a wonderfully over the top action movie, with fun plot twists and crazy fights all over the place. The villains are various famous people who have been cloned with super powers, making things even more fun and ridiculous. There’s even a neat yuri-esque relationship between Yomiko and Miss Deep to cater to my interests even further. The whole thing’s just a great action show that fits what I like close to perfectly.
Favorite Character: Yomiko Readman. Shy, obsessed with books, and willing to fight anyone to get her book back. She’s clearly an ordinary person, but she has the strength of a Paper Master, and is willing to use it to fight for what she loves. Most importantly, her power’s really awesome, which is the real reason she’s here.
Recommended to: action fans, people who like over the top and ridiculous fights
22. Story of Saiunkoku
The best political anime ever (I’m really starting to like this gimmick…) (it’s not as good as Sanctuary though. Make sure you read that). Politics in anime usually suck, but Saiunkoku makes them pretty fun, especially since the main character actually enjoys them. Saiunkoku’s a lot like Twelve Kingdoms, but with less action and more focus on the politics/characters/romance. Every element is done exceedingly well, and seeing Shuurei’s progress in becoming a government official and her attempts to overcome the gender barrier is always great. One might complain that she’s a little too perfect, but she has her flaws, and if she were any less competent she’d fail. The show makes up for her great skill by placing some incredible obstacles in her way, against which she usually comes up with some very clever solutions. She’s a remarkable person from the start, but her development throughout the show definitely makes her even more mature and a better character in general. The development for the rest of the cast is also excellent. The romance has less focus, and while it’s clear how things will end, the journey to that end point is much more interesting, since there are so many requirements that have to be satisfied for it to be possible.
The show does have a couple flaws. Some of the arcs are relatively weak, death is circumvented in silly ways, and Eigetsu is a super annoying character in his normal form. The action scenes are fairly weak too, though this isn’t really an action show so that isn’t a big deal. And the rest of the show is so good that a few flaws aren’t nearly enough to stop me from loving it.
Favorite Character: Shuurei Kou. Teenage girl political masters are awesome, rare though they may be. Shuurei’s generally an incredibly strong and admirable character. She’s also involved in the best “bad boy romance” ever, since her paramour’s a sociopathic mass murderer rather than just your ordinary delinquent. The way she handles it is perfect – she knows that she has feelings for him, but not once does she show it to him, even when she cries herself to sleep at night. It’s nice to see a girl who can choose to do the right thing even when she’s in love. The rest of the cast is mostly excellent as well, so it’s kind of disappointing that I can’t talk about them too, but Shuurei definitely stands above the rest.
Recommended to: political anime fans, people who want a really strong female protagonist who isn’t an action hero.
21. Revolutionary Girl Utena
What a show. There’s not much out there that’s like Utena. It’s a spectacular psychological journey that explores Utena’s psyche and the minds of her fellow students, accomplished mostly through duels. The duels themselves are pretty fun, and usually come along with some revelation for the character Utena’s dueling against. There’s an overarching plot related to the mystery of why the duels are happening, and the true identity of Utena’s enemies, which is the best part of the show, but the more episodic stuff is fun too. The show can be really over the top at times, especially when it comes to the evil student council (there’s scenes where a train will run through the middle of the student council meeting and nobody notices, along with other crazy events). It’s a character development focused show at its heart though, and the development is magnificent, for the huge cast but especially for the main characters. Anthy’s development from a doormat into a real character with depth is especially good.
Unfortunately, the show is highly flawed. It’s pretty repetitive, the second arc seems pointless in retrospect, there are lots of episodes where Utena doesn’t really develop, there are several recaps (one of which contains a major plot development, so you can’t just skip them), and there’s a long “transformation sequence” every episode. But there’s plenty to make up for the flaws, and even the flawed stuff is often done well. The transformation sequence is one of the best ever, and even when Utena doesn’t develop there’s good development for side characters. The comedy episodes with Nanami are surprisingly good too. The final arc is the highlight of the show. By then, every episode is related to the main plot, and has a huge impact. The ending is one of the best anime endings out there too, with a nice mix of despair and hope and the climax of Utena and Anthy’s development. The whole show’s worth it just for that.
Utena’s also another contender for the greatest anime soundtrack ever. There’s literally dozens of duel songs, and while they’re pretty similar, they’re all awesome and have ridiculous lyrics that are enough to make the duels great on their own. Absolute Destiny Apocalypse and its remixes are good enough that I didn’t skip the transformation sequence even once.
Favorite Character: Utena Tenjou. Badass tomboy with plenty of emotional issues despite being the strongest girl in the school, and with tons of great development. She’s also one of the more bisexual anime characters out there.
Recommended to: People who like mind bending shows and amazing character development.
20. Mahjong Legend Akagi: The Demon Who Descended into the DarknessEdit
And we’re back to the manliness, after a few girly (sort of) anime (also back to shows with goddamn awesome titles). When I watched it, Akagi felt really original to me. Almost all the fiction I’d encountered had a main character with some sort of flaws, but here was something with a completely perfect protagonist who was one of the manliest and most badass guys out there. It was pure joy to watch him destroy the competition with brilliant mind games (and/or cheating). This was also the first board game anime I saw, so it was really cool to see a new style of combat like this. For a while it was in my top 5 anime…and then I realized that it had a second half. Not to say that the second half isn’t good, but it’s all one game, and that game doesn’t even finish. The pacing slows down a lot, so it’s not quite as exciting, though there are the occasional awesome moments that are some of the best in the series, like the whole host of demons and angels battling each other. Washizu made for a neat villain too. The series is amazing, and I have no problem recommending it, I just wish the second half had been better.
Favorite Character: Shigeru Akagi. Possibly my favorite anime character period. In addition to being a pretty much perfect super badass genius, he’s also something of a sociopath, and only gets more excited when the opponent’s life is the prize. If he has a flaw, it’s that he only goes all out when the stakes are life or death, but that only makes him manlier IMO.
Recommended to: board game anime fans, mind game fans, people who want the ultimate cold-blooded badass as a protagonist.
19. Darker than Black
When I looked at my list, I thought this was too low for a while…but then I remembered season two, and now it’s placement seems just right. Not to say that S2 isn’t awesome (flying cars, Rambo, lightsaber girl, glass throwing, info girl’s sexy outfit, human Hei annihilating Contractors, etc.), but it has a dumb ending and isn’t as strong in general, and is enough to knock this down half a dozen spots or so.
The first season is pure win though. I loved it from the first arc, and felt that the quality only improved with each subsequent arc. A large percentage of the cast dies each time, which is always a plus, and more importantly the action is fantastic. I love magical action in general, and why Contractor powers aren’t quite magic, they’re close enough and they look really good. Every arc’s characters are well developed and I always felt for them when they died or got what they wanted. The main character set is excellent too, including MI5, Hei’s group, and Misaki (Misaki x Hei 4ever. ~_^), with Hei being a particularly badass protagonist. Just about the only fault is the plot, which never really explains the setting. I’m not much of a fan of evil government conspiracy theories ever, so that was also somewhat lame. Still, it’s a minor part of the show, and the rest was really fun.
Favorite Character: Amber. One of the few female characters out there who makes plans and has everything under her control. Also, her power and its compensation are by far the best in the show, especially the way they’re used. She’s also incredibly good-looking.
Recommended to: dark episodic slightly fantastic action fans, people who don’t need the setting’s mystery explained to them
18. Death Note
And here’s another show that was much higher during the early stages of watching it. Early on, just about everything is perfect. Light’s plan is brilliant, L is a great antagonist, the Death Gods are awesome, Misa is a neat foil to Light, the police force is great, and each episode had something new and amazing happen to keep things interesting. I love the mental battles between Light and L, and really wish there were more shows that did that sort of thing. Akagi, LoGH, etc. all have mind games, but none of them are as intense and quick-paced as Death Note’s. Additionally, the animation and music are phenomenal – it’s quite something that they manage to make something as mundane as writing in a notebook or eating a potato chip so frenetic and fun to watch. Unfortunately, the quality goes down in the Yotsuba arc, which still has plenty of awesome moments (Just As Planned is easily one of the greatest scenes ever), and then down again after episode 26. There are still two incredible episodes (Father and Justice) that are among the best in the show, but most of the rest is just not as good. Near and Mello are terrible antagonists, and Light gets a lot dumber, and the ending is blah (this fake ending is much better: http://forums.narutofan.com/showpost.php?p=10820907&postcount=1). Mikami’s pretty good, but also makes some dumb moves. The great parts are still great, but again, it fell short of its potential.
Favorite Character: Light Yagami. I love evil protagonists, and there aren’t many protagonists more evil than Light. He gets extra props for achieving his goal and creating peace on Earth through evil means, and simply thinking of using the Death Note in that way was splendid. His personality’s fun too, with his insane overconfidence and propensity for mind games. Unlike Akagi, we got to see inside his head too, which is an extra bonus.
Recommended to: mind game fans, people who like evil protagonists.
17. Casshern Sins
This is one of the more recent entries to my top 20. For a long time I avoided watching this for some reason – I thought that because it was a remake of an old anime, it would just be outdated crap – I couldn’t have been more wrong. First of all, the fights are amazing. I’d say that the series probably has the best fights for a TV series since Samurai Champloo, and some of the better ones are OVA/movie level. The series is also relentlessly depressing. The world’s been destroyed, everyone left is dying, and Casshern goes berserk whenever he starts fighting so he usually ends up killing everyone he tries to save. And yet, amid all this horror, we still get to see the beauty of the world. There’s still music, singing, art, and the occasional flower garden amidst the destruction, and there are still people fighting for each other. It’s a very moving show. The show starts out episodic, and this is a good thing, because every episode is spectacular. Unfortunately, the plot comes into focus later on, and it’s really not as good. There are still great episodes, and the ending is pretty much perfect, but it would’ve been a little better if it had stayed episodic throughout.
I should also note that Toru Furuya as Casshern is one of the best VA performances in anime. He makes the first ten seconds of every episode worth watching again and again, and creates a great mix of being tormented and a destructive impulse.
Favorite Character: Luna. She starts out as the cool character in the intro, and there’s a lot of hype about how awesome she was before she died. But as we find out more about her background, she just gets better and better. I won’t explain how here, since it’s a big spoiler, but everything about her just fits the theme of the show perfectly. Her voice is also excellent.
Recommended to: people who like depressing shows, and shows about exploring the world (Kino’s Journey is somewhat similar, if that helps)
16. ef ~ a tale of memories + melodies
The best romance anime. The pacing is wonderful, since it tells five stories in 24 episodes. The animation style also adds a lot, due to having the traditional awesome SHAFT animation, and some particularly great SHAFT-style scenes with phones. One of the stories is a harem, but it’s one of the best out there, since it has the girls viciously fighting against each other (the confrontation at the train tracks was amazing). I really like almost all the characters, too. Renji and Kyosuke aren’t the greatest at times, but Renji gets developed pretty well, and all of the girls are great. Chihiro’s not the type of character I generally like, but her memory loss is such a good plot device that I like her anyway, and found her climactic line to be one of the best romance scenes period. Thanks to the style, the romance can get somewhat over the top at times, but that’s definitely a good thing, since I like over the top stuff in general. This show really makes me wish SHAFT worked on more serious romance adaptations, since it blows their other stuff away.
Favorite Character: Yuuko Amamiya. Teleporting nun FTW, plus she has a nice history. This was a pretty tough choice too, since I like pretty much everyone.
Recommended to: romance fans, people who think most romances are too slow, people who like SHAFT-style animation.
15. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha + A’s
Unlike most people, I loved Nanoha right from the start. The first couple episodes are well done magical girl cuteness, but by the third it’s clear the series is something more. Unleashing the pure destructive power of Divine Buster for the first time elevated it to a new level, though, and it only gets better from there. Shooting beams at each other is an awesome way to fight, and the choreography’s way better than the Gundam series people usually compare Nanoha to (or maybe it’s just because little girl beamspam >>> giant robot beamspam). The great action is the main reason Nanoha’s here, but that’s not all it has going for it. The relationship between Nanoha and Fate is awesome, even when it’s more friendship focused, and Nanoha’s strategy of befriending everyone is equally impressive. Sometimes I like evil irredeemable villains, and while Nanoha does have those as final bosses, it’s at its best when it’s focusing on how nice the world is…while Divine Bustering you in the face.
Favorite Character: Nanoha Takamachi. I probably liked Fate more in the first two seasons, so it’s unfair to put Nanoha here due to StrikerS influence. She’s still a great character in the first two seasons though. Her strategy of attacking people with all her might to convince them to join the good side is amazing (“by the way, if you fail to block this, the city will be destroyed” <3), and her White Devil scene blows away those of long silver-haired characters any day of the week.
Recommended to: People who like beamspam, especially when it’s being done by little girls, action fans in general
14.5. Le Chevalier d’Éon
Based on a French secret policeman during the 1750s+60s who’s frequently possessed by his dead sister whenever he comes across a group of zombies he needs to kill. And it’s 100% serious. Why the hell didn’t I watch this show sooner? Using the term zombies might be a bit misleading as to the nature of the show, since it’s more focused on diplomacy/espionage and protecting the French government. That’s not to say that the action isn’t excellent though, because it is. It’s a lot more streamlined than most action, with the usual kill being a stab to the heart that only enters a few inches into the chest and takes less than half a second. It feels a lot more realistic than most action, and because it’s Production IG, the fights themselves are entertaining as hell. The show manages to make the Bible incredibly badass, as the fights always have someone speaking some Psalms of revenge in the background. There’s also a bunch of neat magical battles of words too – this is what the final battle in the Umineko anime should’ve been like.
Chevalier is not, however, an action show. The mission(s) that d’Éon and company are mainly political, and since it’s taken from real life, the politics are actually well done. Of course, there’s a supernatural twist on everything, and a lot of liberties are taken, but those are mostly for the sake of entertainment and only serve to involve the viewer more. And the viewer definitely feels involved. There are a lot of really sad moments, especially towards the end of the show, and partly due to historical necessity a lot of characters are killed off in a really excellent manner. The show’s really fast-paced too, due to having the cast travel all over Europe and throwing in new plot twists all over the place. There were a few problems I had with the show early on: the action scenes didn’t really have exciting music, the cast was oddly opposed to Lia, and Robespierre as a villain in 1760s France was dumb. But all that was addressed in the last 7 or so episodes. The music is excellent in general, and the sad music used during later action scenes only made them more emotional. There was a lot more Lia, and everyone became more accepting of her. And the use of Robespierre was one of the best parts of the show, with everything making perfect sense by the end.
I also really enjoyed the message of revenge: it’s not just something to satisfy your hatred, but something that eliminates an aberration and restores harmony to the world. I’d like to see this kind of message more often. The show had some of the best loyalty scenes out there, too. Just about everyone shows their loyalty in some sort of incredibly intense way, particularly d’Éon himself, and the final scene was absolutely inspiring, right up there with MGS3 for showings of incredible patriotism. For most of the shows, the fundamental conflict was how to show their loyalty and who or what they were truly loyal too, and the resolution of that conflict was usually unpredictable but realistic. Even Madame de Pompadour managed to inspire.
Favorite Character: Lia de Beaumont. The whole show’s about her revenge, and she’s definitely the most awesome character. The whole cast goes through some brilliant development, and it’s pretty tempting to pick Marie and Louie too. But she still stands out above the rest, whether in romance, action scenes, magic scenes, character development, or whatever. She’s also just about the only good guy who can use the Psalms, which is a big plus.
Recommended to: people who can enjoy anime with lots of talking, those who want realistic action scenes, politics/loyalty/revenge fans, Rose of Versailles fans
14. Neon Genesis Evangelion
This is probably the most nostalgia-based entry on the list. Eva’s the first anime I ever watched on DVD, borrowing the old Perfect Collection from a cousin of mine who foolishly bought it for over $200. I loved everything about it but Shinji from the time I started it, particularly the opening. Cruel Angel’s Thesis is pretty much the best anime OP ever, which was recently re-confirmed by it being used in the best scene in Hayate no Gotoku!!. Moving along from that tangent…I’d like to say it’s the show that got me into anime…except that I didn’t watch anything else for years afterward (though I watched Eva again), for some reason.
The series does a lot of different things, and it does them well. The mecha fights are probably the most intense in any series, due to 01’s vicious personality, and the connection to Shinji’s psyche. It also has some really fun fights, like Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win! As I said earlier, End of Eva is the best part of the show, partly because of how good the Asuka vs. Eva series fight is, and Eva 1.0 also kicks the fights up a notch. The show is full of good character development – it’s not fast, but it’s always happening, and it’s significant. Pretty much everyone in the cast gets some solid development, not just the main characters. Unfortunately, the show’s pretty confusing and Shinji’s pretty annoying at the start, so it’s fallen from being my favorite, but it’ll always hold a special place in my heart (until it’s replaced by the movies, anyway).
Favorite Character: Asuka Langley Soryu. Kind of annoying at first, but Shinji mostly deserved to be treated like dirt so I didn’t mind too much, and once her character development got going she became really sympathetic. She’s even better in Eva ReTake (which contributes further to Eva’s awesomeness), where she really steals the show in all of her incarnations, partly because of her incredible design – no one pulls off bandages like her.
Recommended to: people who want character development and messed up plot with their mecha, everyone else so that they can enjoy the awesome of End of Eva and Eva ReTake.
13. Detroit Metal City
I’ve put a few comedies on this list, but all of them have weaknesses. Not so for DMC. It’s easily the funniest anime I’ve seen, and it managed to make me laugh more than anything else out there. The whole premise of a Swedish pop lover as a death metal frontman is great, especially considering how over the top the band is, with its general mass destruction and stunts like eating bats. The cast is 100% amazing, and seeing Krauser go overboard time and again never gets old. It’s not as repetitive as it could be, either, as every story is fairly original, and Negishi’s character development toward being more in tune with his Krauser side is awesome. This is the last anime that’s a contender for having one of the best soundtracks ever, because the songs are hilarious but still good to listen too. It also has the traditional Studio 4C direction, which is as well done and innovative as always. The whole show’s only twelve 10-minute episodes, so if you haven’t watched it, you really have no excuse.
Favorite Character: Johannes Krauser II. I wanted to put the Manager here, because she’s hilarious whenever she’s onscreen and it’s fun to hear so much ridiculous Engrish (also tempted to go with Krauser-tan for the greatest MAL page ever: http://myanimelist.net/character/17800/Krauser-tan ), but Krauser makes the show. 9 rapes per second is a pretty unbeatable feat as far as anime characters go, and the Tokyo Tower episode has to be the single funniest anime episode ever. Still not sure whether he’s funnier when he’s going all out or when he has Negishi’s apologizing thoughts in the background.
Recommended to: comedy fans, people who can enjoy something with lots of swearing, metal fans (no, you don’t have to be a metal fan to enjoy it)
12. X TV
I’ll never understand the hate this series gets. This is one of the only shows out there that pulls off the miracle of the filler being vastly superior to the canon content, and is magnificent even before the filler comes into effect. It has a huge cast, and somehow manages to make you care about every single cast member. I think I’d say it has the best cast ever, or close to it, considering its size. It’s as depressing as a show about the end of the world should be, as it’s not at all afraid of killing off main characters, and each death really means something – I cried in almost every episode in the second half. It feels like a generally tragic show, which is pretty remarkable for anime in general.
It’s not just tragic though. It also feels more epic than just about anything else. The music goes a long way to helping things here, especially that main theme that plays whenever the fate of the world is being considered. It makes you feel like the end of the world would be a big deal through individual characters, rather than random people throughout the planet, and the viewer really doesn’t want that end to come. It’s also a really good action show. The magic fights are some of the best ones out there, which is pretty cool considering how old the show is. The fights are also meaningful and unpredictable. Usually you can tell who’s going to win in an anime fight, but that’s never true with X. The show does have a couple flaws – mainly that Kamui’s overly angsty and unlikable at first. But they’re so minor that I don’t really care.
Favorite Character: Arashi Kishu. Again, the cast is so great that it’s hard to choose just one. Satsuki, Karen, and Yuto are probably my favorites of the rest, but Arashi’s ability to make decisions and her amazing dedication to the path she chooses puts her up there. I feel bad putting her up here alone though, since it’s really her interactions with the rest of the cast that make her great (as is true of everyone in the show).
Recommended to: fantasy anime fans, tragedy fans
And so we come to the first anime from my favorite genre. Sci-fi/fantasy slice of life is a combination that isn’t really intuitive, but it works so well that I can only complain that we don’t see it more often (YKK does this equally well on the manga front). Aria is, in a word, relaxing. Every episode just makes you feel nice, and is the perfect finish to a day. Aria’s a show where slow pacing actually works to its benefit, and is almost the only show I didn’t marathon. It’s nice to have a show prove that you can have an entertaining piece of fiction without conflict. The world of Aqua is beautiful to behold, and because of the OP format, this is one of the only shows for which I watched the OP every single episode. The cast is all really nice, particularly Akari, who makes the show what it is. I often don’t like characters with the super friendly never angry personality since they’re not very realistic, but in a world like Aqua she seems just right.
Unfortunately, the show does have its flaws. The first season is consistently great, but not quite amazing. The second season’s best episodes are better than anything in the first season, but it has a few that sort of suck. And I don’t like President Aria much at all – he can be cute and funny at times, especially near the start, but he wears out his welcome later on. I don’t really like the young male characters in general, especially Akatsuki (though he was awesome as a child). What makes Aria really phenomenal is the Origination. Origination’s probably my favorite single season of anime ever (well, my #1 would be slightly above it). Some shows have a great ending to make them great, but all of Origination feels like that great ending. It’s the culmination of everything we’ve seen in Aria, and the emotion is overwhelming. Alice’s episode is probably the best one in the whole show, but almost every episode in Origination is like that. I ended up almost marathoning it because it was just so good. Truly a triumph of anime.
Favorite Character: Akira Ferrari. Accidentally had Rail Tracer here for a minute, which would be awesome but inappropriate. >_> Again, Aria’s cast is great all around, so it’s hard to pick someone. Akari makes the show, and Alice has the best character development, so they’re both tempting picks. Akira’s episodes stand out from the rest of the show as good in a different way though. She’s incredibly hotblooded for a show like this, and was extra badass in child form. All the scenes with her are very good, so here she is.
Recommended to: people who want a nice, relaxing show, those who like beautiful scenery
Close to a perfect show. I recommend Baccano! to other people more than anything else, because it seems to be the most universally loved anime out there. It goes at a fast pace, is delivered in an interesting non-chronological style that isn’t too confusing, and has a superb huge cast, up there with X’s (though it does have some weak members, like the Genoards). Here, the cast’s greatness is based on their strength as individual characters more than their interactions. You have hilarious cast members (well, everyone is hilarious), badass cast members, and everything in between. There are even great minor cast members, like Wakamoto and his Caroling. Other than the amazing cast, the show is just a lot of fun. The action’s slickly delivered, and the train robbery is 100% crazy awesomeness. It can be intensely violent at times, but in a fun Kill Bill way. The show does have a couple weaknesses. One or two of the early episodes aren’t that great, and the Genoard story isn’t as good. The OVA wasn’t quite as awesome as the main series either. Still, it’s an amazing show that no one should miss.
Favorite Character: Rail Tracer. I could probably double or triple the length of the write up just by talking about all the characters I love. Isaac and Miria are the most hilarious comedy duo in anime; Nice has the best back-story and is badass in general; Firo, Luck, and the other gangsters prove to be thoroughly entertaining at their jobs; etc. Rail Tracer has it all though. He manages to apply violence in an intensely humorous manner, and is more badass than the rest of the cast combined. His motives are so flippant that I can’t help but love them, and even in romance he manages to be superior to the rest of the cast.
Recommended to: everyone. It’s got action, humor, great characters, and most importantly is a whole lot of fun.
9. Kino’s Journey
Kino’s Journey is not deep. Every episode has some sort of message, but rather than making it subtle, the show throws it in your face over and over again, in the most ridiculous way possible. I, liking ridiculous and over the top stuff in general, highly appreciated this approach, especially because it manages to deliver that message in the most entertaining way possible. It makes a message on the evils of absolutely democracy and bigotry fun by literally killing every citizen of a country, and does other similarly silly things with other messages, but is highly enjoyable along the way.
Almost every episode of the show is really good, which is the most important challenge for episodic shows. The premise of Kino traveling and spending three days in every country keeps things fresh, since every country is radically different, and Kino’s eyes provide a great lens to view things through. Most of the parts of each country are pretty bad, but we’re usually shown at least one thing that makes the world beautiful. I said that every episode is good, but the conclusion of the show really outdoes itself with two of the best episodes out there, the last episode being one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The whole show’s a very nice adventure, and I’m sad that SHAFT hasn’t made any new seasons or movies. It seems like doing so would be pretty easy, considering how much more material there is.
Favorite Character: Kino. She’s a character who nonchalantly accepts genocide, because interfering is not her purpose. She gains the power to fix a broken society, and instead decides to break in the opposite way. Kino’s no hero, and while she’s not evil, her disinterested policy really makes her interesting and different from any other anime character. She’s not emotionless, especially considering the content of the last episode, but she sticks to her convictions no matter what. She’s also surprisingly competent in combat, which makes for some good action scenes in a series you wouldn’t expect them from.
Recommended to: People who like adventure stories about exploring the world.
8. Sengoku Basara
I had a pretty hard time deciding between this and the next entry on the list. This one’s shorter, and keeps the action more constant with fewer flaws, but the best moments aren’t quite as good. They’re both amazing shows that should be watched by fans of each other, and are equally as good, IMO. Anyway, Sengoku Basara takes manliness to some of the highest levels in any anime, making all the leaders of the Sengoku period into unstoppable warriors with over the top fighting abilities. They yell all their dialogue at each other, have tons of gratuitous Engrish, randomly fly into the sky to have their battles, ride motorcycle-horses, bring out robot warriors, etc. Just about every character is absurdly manly and badass (including several of the women), and it’s both hilarious and awesome. The fights are generally incredible, too. It uses the same sketchbook-style fights as Noein, but instead of petering out toward the end the fights just get even better. Maybe it’s just me, but the fights kind of felt like they transcended the bounds of ordinary anime and had to be sketched to show the characters’ true manliness. It does have a couple flaws – Ichi isn’t very interesting, and…that’s pretty much all I dislike about it, really. Awesome show.
Favorite Character: Oda Nobunaga. Again, there are a lot of characters I love in this show. Date Masamune, Yukimura, Nouhime, Honda Tadakatsu, Takeda Shingen, others whose names I don’t remember…all would be great picks, but the Demon King of the Sixth Hell is far more awesome than any of the rest. Completely remorseless, and has a badass fighting style all his own. The plot twist about him at the end fit the show perfectly.
Recommended to: people who like super manly badass awesome shows, those who want an accurate representation of what it was like to live in Japan’s Sengoku period.
7. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
The other anime that’s up there as a paragon of manliness. TTGL has the advantage of being a mecha series, and taking its epic to absurd extremes in the final episodes. It’s great throughout, though. The early episodes are practically a parody of other manly anime, and do it hilariously. Two heads for twice the power’s gotta be one of the funniest mecha moments ever. It gets a lot more serious around episode seven though, and the quality improves with the added seriousness. For such a manly show, episode eight’s one of the saddest out there, and the series of fights against the Big Four and The Spiral King are all very well done. If that’s all it had, it’d be a 10/10 show, if a bit lower. Unfortunately, it dips slightly in quality during the Rossiu was right arc (slightly – there were still awesome moment, including all the fights against the Anti Spirals), but the final arc is so good that nothing else really comes close. It’s been said before, but TTGL throws galaxies as shuriken – seriously, how do you top something like that? I should also note that the fights are much better than pretty much any other SR fights. The choreography’s actually good here, rather than simply relying on having tons of awesome stuff happen.
Favorite Character: Kamina. Easily. Adult Simon is awesome, but he had to go through being child Simon first (who’s still a pretty decent character, and has some of the best SR development you’ll see). But Kamina’s far more ridiculous, and his last scenes only bring him up further. He’s also the funniest character in the show.
Recommended to: mecha fans, people who like super badass man-who am I kidding, everyone’s seen TTGL already. There’s no need to recommend it anymore.
For a while when I was watching this, I was really expecting it to be my new favorite anime. It’s one of the few shows where every single aspect made me like it more. I rarely take note of voice acting, but the Medicine Seller has the best voice acting ever (quite the feat considering I mostly recognized him as Suzaku). I like pretty much every animation style, from Akagi to K-ON!, and yet Mononoke blows all of them away – it’s fun to watch even when there aren’t any action scenes. I’m not quite sure which effect was my favorite, but I’m highly partial to the snow in the Nue arc and the fish in the Umibozu arc. The action scenes themselves are incredible considering that it’s not even an action series, and the Medicine Seller’s sword is the best anime sword ever. The music is excellent, particularly the sad music. The cast gets an amazing amount of development considering that the show is built around 2-3 episode arcs, and the Medicine Seller fits quite well as the protagonist. Even the humor works, as we get the occasional scene with Wakamoto as a curse-giving fish or the Medicine Seller very slowly mocking one of his customers.
And the arcs themselves! Every one of them tells an interesting story, unpredictable and yet completely believable. I really like fantastic mysteries, and Mononoke is a great example of the genre. There are some that still confuse me a little even after watching the show twice – mainly the Noppera-bo arc – but they’re told so well that it doesn’t really matter. Much of the cast usually ends up dead, but finding the truth is enough to satisfy those that survive, and the ending is usually happy, if a little bittersweet. Unfortunately, the Bakeneko arc is pretty weak compared to the rest, and like most people, the final episodes of a series usually have more of an effect on me than the rest of the show. Everything about Mononoke is superior to Ayakashi – the production values, storytelling, etc. – and yet the arc that’s remade is just totally inferior. Still, it’s a small part of the show, and it was still pretty good. The show overall is an amazing experience.
Favorite Character: The Medicine Seller.
Recommended to: people who want something different from their anime, those who can appreciate a brilliant animation style and complex storytelling.
5. Code Geass
Many people like to speak of a mythical concept called “quality” when they talk about anime. They particularly like to apply this odd idea to Code Geass, saying things like “it’s objectively terrible quality-wise, but it’s incredibly entertaining”. But really, why the hell are you watching anime if not to be entertained? I know that’s the only reason I watch it, and Code Geass, much like every other series on this list, is entertaining as hell. The production values are through the roof. Very few mecha series look better than this, and the ones that do have worse choreography, for the most part. In almost every single episode, some sort of crazy plot twist happens. I kind of expect this from some episodic series, but doing it in a mecha series keeps the awesome level constantly high. Even when the pacing’s slow (which it’s usually not), so many exciting things are happening that it feels like the show’s moving at lightning speed.
The concept of the show is one that highly appeals to me. The mastermind who’s willing to sacrifice anything for his goals is my favorite type of protagonist, and Lelouch/Reinhard/Light/Akagi all vie closely for the position of my favorite character period. Code Geass is based around Lelouch’s quest to overthrow his father, and most episodes play out through strategic battles of wits between him and his enemies (again, mind games are my favorite type of fight). Combining Lelouch’s strategies and the generally great choreography and animation means that Code Geass’s mecha battles are the best mecha battles, period. They even add some super robot style awesomeness with Kallen’s hand and Lelouch’s earthquakes later on.
The show also has a nice fantasy aspect which most mecha series lack. Combining mecha and magic has very fun results, and we see a lot of it in the second season (even more in Nightmare of Nunnally). Lelouch’s Geass is a fun ability in general, and while it does give him an advantage over his enemies, it’s hardly perfect (the Geass-testing episode is one of my favorites, as was the Geass going out of control episode), and it’s clear Lelouch could eventually have won even without the Geass. I should talk about some of the rest of the show, which is all very good – Charles as the villain, various creative Geass uses, the whole rest of the cast, Lelouch’s lack of athletic ability leading to hilarity, the whole “conquering the world” plot which really needs to be used more often in anime, etc. I even feel like I’m underrating the show a little here – it also has really fun character development for people like Orange, Diethard, and Sayoko. The show does have a couple weak episodes here and there (episodes 22 and 23 of R2 were pretty lame, IIRC). But really, the show’s all about mind games and mecha with high production values. Everything else is incidental.
Favorite Character: Lelouch Lamperouge. I kinda feel bad about having him as my favorite here, since C.C. is one of my favorite characters period, but I’m still not picking her…so I’m going to talk about her anyway, since the whole Geass writeup was about Lelouch. I love the tease style females whose role is mostly to relentlessly mock the protagonist, and C.C. does that very well. She’s also a pretty competent entity on her own, though. Her plans for saving Lelouch when he’s in trouble are always fun, she’s one of the more interesting mecha pilots, and I like her a lot as a leader in the Black Knights. Her pizza love is quite fun too, and her dialogue is top tier. I should also note that Kaguya is probably my favorite anime loli (though she’s like 13 at the end so I’m not sure if she counts), thanks to her intense determination, intelligence, and unstoppable romantic fervor.
Recommended to: mecha fans, battle of wits fans
4. Manabi Straight
I wasn’t really expecting to watch this show before I watched it. The character designs make everyone look like an elementary schooler, which I still don’t understand the rational behind. It’s not a particularly acclaimed series either. But watching the first episode, I was blown away. The art style’s still not my favorite, but the animation quality is leagues beyond anything else ever seen in a slice of life series, and the production quality is spectacular in general. Most slice of life has mood-fitting music that’s just alright (Aria being the exception), but Manabi Straight’s music is incredibly energetic and catchy despite being so simple. I actually watched all the episode previews in this show, not because they had any details about the next episode, but because they were so stylishly done and had that delightful clapping in the background. The OP and ED are also very good (the ED has Ufotable’s traditional claymation to make it unique), and the show makes use of the OP in an excellent way that I don’t want to spoil. The voice acting is likewise excellent, with a main character voiced by Yui Horie and great performances from Aya Hirano and Nonoka Ai. Of course, production values aren’t everything, but when they’re this high, they’re a definite plus.
The show also has a fantastic setting. Again, I love sci-fi/fantasy slice of life, and all the little futuristic touches give the show a little bonus in every scene. And the most important part, the characters, are done very well here. All of the main characters and most of the side characters are awesome, particularly the main trio and the president from the other school. Manabi’s boundless enthusiasm is always entertaining and often touching, particularly during the song in the first episode. Mei starts out as a decent but clichéd character, but the episodes focusing on her development really make her lovable. And Mika’s naivety is generally cute and amusing, while she probably has the most growth throughout the series. Though the series isn’t as focused on humor as most slice of life, the humor that’s there is usually very effective, and I know how the Internet loves that famous Metool gif.
For a slice of life show, Manabi Straight focuses a lot more on conflict and story than pretty much anything else in its genre, allowing for more character development than usual. Many of the early episodes simply involve pairing two characters together who don’t like each other much, and having them grow in the experience. It’s very effective, as you really grow to understand those characters and can feel the development. The “story” is mostly just preparing for the school festival, but it does keep things interesting in the second half, and leads the show to a lovely conclusion. I cried several times when watching the show, especially in the last few episodes. Almost every episode has its great parts, and it’s a shame it isn’t more popular among slice of life fans.
Favorite Character: Manami Amamiya. Again, her energy makes her awesome and unpredictable, capable of both being hilarious and creating heartfelt moments.
Recommended to: people who like slice of life, fans of emotional shows in general
3. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
This is the series that got me into anime, and for a long time it was my favorite show period. I was really excited to watch it, so excited that I started watching anime in the first place, and it lived up to my greatest expectations. I was already a fan of VNs before getting into anime, and I’ve always liked seeing events repeated in different ways (Groundhog Day and Run Lola Run are also awesome, Endless Eight is an exception), so the whole premise of the show appealed to me from the start. Each arc is hugely different too, which is a big plus. At the time I wasn’t a fan of yanderes since I hadn’t encountered many, or the term itself, but Higurashi definitely made me a fan. Seeing ordinary girls go crazy and kill everyone never gets old, especially when they do it so brutally. It’s even better when we see them do it from their own perspectives, as in arcs 5, 6, and Rei.
And there’s more to Higurashi than just killer lolis. All of the characters go through a lot of development over the course of the arcs, particularly once the answer arcs get going. Switching perspectives later on really adds a lot to the series, and helps to make me love the characters even more. Seeing things from the perspective of someone who knows what’s going on is the best part of Kai, especially considering how good that character is. The show is also a mystery at heart, but I enjoy mysteries for their plot twists and the reveals more than solving them on my own (plot twists and solutions give me an empty feeling if I’ve already figured them out ahead of time). Higurashi certainly throws out more plot twists than most other mysteries, so it’s highly enjoyable on that front. There’s also a possible fantasy twist all throughout, which made me enjoy it even more.
I’m not a huge fan of Higurashi’s comedy episodes. It’s usually done well, but some comedy episodes are pretty meh, particularly during the filler arc in Kai. This is a fairly minor complaint though, since these scenes are also good for character development, and are often awesome rather than just funny. The horror scenes are done much better. They aren’t really that scary, but the show produces a creepier atmosphere than pretty much any other anime out there. You really feel Keiichi’s paranoia. The violence is good fun too, and genuinely disturbing at times. There’s really no other anime like Higurashi out there, and experiencing it for the first time is probably my best anime memory.
A brief note on the VN: in a lot of ways, they’re superior to the anime. There’s more character development, Rena’s way better, there are some really touching sad scenes, the mystery has a lot more clues, the club games are more intense, and the story makes more sense in general. However, the pacing’s slowed down a lot, so there are more boring scenes in general, and it’s not as exciting to play. It doesn’t have voices either, which is particularly depressing in Rika’s case, given how amazing her voice is, and the art is…not as good. Most importantly, I watched the anime first, so a lot of the impact is lost – who knows which would be better to go through first.
Favorite Character: Shion Sonozaki. Saying why I like her would be spoilers, so I’ll just say that she’s awesome in the Massacre arc, is the star of two previous arcs, and the way she plays with Keiichi while he thinks she’s Mion is hilarious. Rika’s also in close contention thanks to Rei and Kai, but she doesn’t shine as much at the beginning.
Recommended to: mystery fans, yandere fans, violence fans, character development fans. Higurashi does a lot of different stuff, and it does it well.
2. Kara no Kyoukai
OK, forget everything I said about Manabi Straight having high production values, this is a show that has high production values. And it’s in a genre that actually relies on those high production values too, having the best anime fights out there because of them. Kara no Kyoukai doesn’t have very many fights, but every single one of them looks great. It even has the occasional magic fight, and pulls off some very unique effects. Shiki sliding on top of the roof in the first movie will always be one of the most memorable fight moments ever for me – little effects like that put the movies way beyond other action. Even the non-action scenes look amazing, and the music’s no slouch either, while the direction in general is way beyond the average anime. I remember being disappointed that the main theme wasn’t being used in movie 7, but then when it came on and only lasted for two seconds, it had more of an impact than in any of the other films.
I think I’m one of the few people who loved Kara no Kyoukai right from the start. I watched the first movie twice in the week after it came out on DVD, and the next release was always my most anticipated anime. I’m a big Type-Moon fan in general, so the movies were a dream come true for me. Some people complain that they’re overly confusing, but I never really found that to be true, perhaps because I’d read Tsukihime beforehand. KnK probably has the highest average episode quality of any series out there, IMO. Sure, there are lesser and greater episodes (3, 5, and 7 are on a higher tier than the rest), but every single one is great.
Though the action is the highlight, the show has plenty of other things going for it. All of the main characters and villains are well developed, and more importantly are very likable. Kokuto starts out as pretty unextraordinary, but becomes much better latter on, and the rest of the cast is great from the start. The romance is also quite nicely done. It doesn’t have much focus in the start, but my movies 6 and 7 it’s in full gear, and makes for a splendid conclusion to the series. Every episode has its own excellent story, dark and compelling in its own way, and while there isn’t really an overall story, there are some solidly presented themes. Even the comedy’s surprisingly good. Every movie starts with a cute and funny little claymation clip, and movie 6 is full of funny moments. The series is close to perfection, and there’s very little that could be changed to make it better.
Favorite Character: Shiki Ryougi. It’s nice to see a homicidal maniac as a protagonist, and her struggle against her murderous nature is great, as are her abilities. Her personality is top tier as well, much like all Nasu tsunderes.
Recommended to: people who like pretty animation and sound, the occasional action scene, and compelling stories/character development.
I’m not sure why, but for some reason I was really hyped up to watch this show. I was so confident that I’d love it (even though I knew hardly anything about it) that I insisted on buying it rather than pirating it. I never regretted that decision, except that it delayed my watching. Right from the start, I knew it was something special. The first episode is easily my favorite first episode ever, as it contains everything I could want in the show. There’s character development, epic special effects, fast-paced romance, tons of humor, and lots of neat fantasy twists. It even manages to be epic despite being slice of life. When I first heard the description of the show, I was worried that Yurie would only be pretending to be a god, but no, she’s a really god. And as I said, the mix of fantasy and slice of life results in my favorite genre.
Just about every episode has something happen with regard to Yurie’s powers, and while most of these are fun and nice, there are some that are really serious and sad, like the amazing battleship Yamato episode. Not only is the storytelling touching and funny, there’s lots of cool magic stuff going on to make it even better. There are episodes that are less focused on the supernatural and more on Yurie’s life, and while these generally aren’t quite as good, they still manage to be really great most of the time, like the episode Yurie spends hiding under the kotatsu.
The show does have one flaw, in that Kenji, Yurie’s love interest, is pretty lame. But he doesn’t get much screen time anyway, and his lameness only makes Yurie cuter, since there’s a bunch of scenes where her friends make fun of her for liking him. And the rest of the cast is so good that I don’t really mind. I should also note that this another series with pretty remarkable production values for a slice of life. It’s not as good as Manabi Straight, but the god effects all look great. The “fanservice” scenes don’t feel too fanservicey either, since the girls aren’t made ridiculously attractive like most anime characters.
But the main thing that makes this #1? I watched most of the show with a permanent grin plastered on my face. I almost count this as a flaw, since my face hurt at times, but it’s really a sign of how pleasant and enjoyable the show is. At times it was sad enough to make me cry, but it was always a happy sadness, as in Aria. Not much is more uplifting and happy than Kamichu!.
Favorite Character: Yurie Hitotsubashi. Not the brightest of main characters, but she’s absolutely adorable. Normally cuteness isn’t the most important trait in a character for me, but Yurie’s leagues beyond pretty much any other character in cuteness, and definitely above any other main character.
Recommended to: slice of life fans, particularly those who like Aria and the “relaxing” style of slice of life.
“Top 10 Manga/VNs with adaptations I haven’t seen so they won’t be on the list”. Edit
1. (manga) Bokurano
3. Kodomo no Omocha
4. Slam Dunk
5. Aishiteruze Baby
7. Tokyo Babylon
9. (VNs) Clannad
Not including stuff like Tsukihime or F/SN since I’ve heard very bad things about those adaptations. Anyway, I’ve heard good things about the adaptations for (most of) these series, with some like Utawarerumono apparently being even better in anime form, and I really enjoyed the manga/VNs…but I usually don’t like watching/reading adaptations of stuff I’ve already seen/read, unless there’s a huge difference. Anyway, I’d also highly recommend all of this stuff, so check it out if you’re into manga or VNs.
Top 10 shows that I haven’t seen: Edit
1. Hellsing Ultimate
3. Denpa Teki na Kanojo
4. Seto no Hanayome
5. One Piece
8. Kimi ni Todoke
10. Glass Mask
There are several shows I haven't watched for various reasons - most commonly because I don't watch ongoing shows, but a couple because the currently existing subs suck or are incomplete. I really don't enjoy watching ongoing shows, and have a lot more fun marathoning anime that watching it weekly. Everything on this list is something that I really want to see, and would likely (though not certainly) be on this list if I watched it. Looking forward to adding these eventually. Note that the list is not quite in order.
Top ten movie/OVAs with super brief write-ups: Edit
10. Dead Leaves – Over the top and ridiculous, and the action is great. It is pretty crude, too much so at times, but that usually only adds to the humor. Any TTGL fan owes it to himself to watch this. It’s only 45 minutes too, so watching it isn’t that much of a problem.
9. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Movie Gurren-hen – Not as good as the series, but it’s still TTGL, and the new footage is awesome. It’s worth watching just the first five minutes and last twenty minutes even if you skip the rest.
8. Ninja Scroll – Pure bloody and awesome action. I probably would’ve liked it more if I hadn’t watched it a week after Sword of the Stranger.
7. Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz – I don’t even remember this since I watched it so long ago, other than that it was awesome. Sorry. >_>
6. Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal – Why is this here instead of with Kenshin? Why is it counted as a single episode even though it’s four? No reason at all, really. It does feel pretty different from ordinary Kenshin though, and the quality is even higher. The fights are realistic-seeming but still well done, and it’s really emotional too.
5. Revolutionary Girl Utena: Adolescence Apocalypse – Even better than the series, but only because it has the foundation of the series to build upon. It’s incredibly fun looking for all the metaphors, the pacing is faster, the action and music are great as always, and the characters are just as brilliant. The ending is great, too.
4. Tekkonkinkreet – One of those anime that gets better every moment. I first looked at the DVD case and expected it to suck, and the movie started slow, but it consistently improved to the end, and it was quite the movie by then. The action scenes were really well done considering the style, and the character development/plot were also pretty impressive.
3. End of Evangelion – I usually count this with Evangelion, but I’m putting it here on its own anyway (yes, this list makes no sense). It’s also a big improvement on the main series, with spectacularly animated fights (Asuka vs. mass-produced Evas was incredible in both emotion and animation quality), Kom, Susser Tod is my favorite insert song, and the character development/plot progression is messed up but interesting.
2. Howl’s Moving Castle – My personal favorite Miyazaki movie. It gets a lot of hate for some reason, but I don’t understand why. It makes wonderful use of a fantasy setting, has a better romance than any of his other films (well, Whisper of the Heart comes close), and has an awesome wizard as a main character. Better action scenes than any other Miyazaki movie too.
1. Sword of the Stranger – The best action ever. Kara no Kyoukai’s probably on about the same level if you compare individual scenes, but Sword of the stranger has so much action that there’s not much comparison. The plot’s not great, but it’s not bad either, and the plot doesn’t really matter in a show like this. Everyone who likes great action really has to watch this.
There are some anime I’ve seen that I really liked at times, but have some enormous flaws that hold them back. I wish they were better, but there’s not much that can be done about it, unfortunately.
Top ten anime I wish were on the list: Edit
1. The Melancholy Haruhi Suzumiya – I recently re-watched the Melancholy episodes, and they were great. Unfortunately, a lot of the other stuff is really mediocre. The Day of Sagittarius was great, and Sighs is pretty good too, but none of it really matches up to Melancholy’s awesomeness. Mixing fantasy and slice of life is one of my favorite things in general, so it’s a shame that much of the show is rather less fantastic.
2. Magical Girl Squad – Absolutely incredible direction. Unfortunately, pretty much everything else about the show sucks. I wish more shows had direction like this.
3. RideBack – First four episodes were a great mix of mecha and ballet action, along with some neat rebelling. Unfortunately, the rest was all crappy politics.
4. R.O.D. the TV – First half is great slice of life with the occasional well-animated paper action scene, second half has some awful villains and a stupid plot. It’s depressing how bad it gets.
5. Dennou Coil – Love the setting and the action scenes, but there’s a lot of boring episodes, and only one really great action scene (the fight at school near the beginning).
6. Fist of the North Star – Kenshiro making heads explode is awesome, and I love super overpowered badass protagonists. Unfortunately, the pacing is awful. You could probably cut out half the series without much trouble.
7. Today in Class 5-2 OVA – The first episode and a half or so were consistently hilarious and made semi-ecchi stuff really funny, considering it was starring grade schoolers. The rest is mostly crappy fanservice, though.
8. Shakugan no Shana – Kazumi and Fumina probably ruin the show more than any other characters do. Their scenes all suck, and they make Shana and Yuji’s relationship a lot worse. The show would be great if not for that, and really is amazing in the last seven or eight episodes of S2. It’s a shame there’s not more like that.
9. Ergo Proxy – starts out amazing, and the atmosphere is incredible, but it really turns turn and villain of the week-esque in the middle, and the quality is just worse in general. It’s better when Re-l is the protagonist too.
10. Master Keaton
Started out as a really unique show about a traveling archeologist/insurance agent/ex-military badass, and the first five episodes or are pretty much perfect. It slowly falls apart after that though, and the average episode is just okay by the end.