My Top 50 Anime

 

It wasn’t even four years ago that I sat down with resplendent wonder to watch what I consider my first anime. Sure, I grew up watching Dragonball Z, Digimon, and Pokemon, but they were “cartoons” to me. They had English voice acting and I didn’t even know of the word “anime” back then.

So when I decided to watch my first anime, which was Death Note, it was with the mindset of discovering anime for the first time, and I cannot begin to describe the impression it left on me.

My first thought after finishing it was that there was a whole world of anime beyond Dragonball that I could explore. Death Note awakened a hunger in me to experience the countless imaginative stories that this industry offered. The same level of creativity that I was missing from other mediums I enjoy finally presented itself. It was a bright new horizon that I immediately set sail towards.

I started by watching anything that featured eye-catching artwork or an interesting synopsis on Netflix. Once it got to the point where I wanted to find a website to track what I was watching, my horizons expanded yet again upon discovering Anime Planet and My Anime List. Those websites made me realize that Netflix was equipped with only a small fraction of the anime out there. I soon came across Crunchyroll which allowed me to ease my way into following current anime. Finally, I could be excited about new anime and talk about it with others as soon as new episodes aired.

It was a little bit after that when I named my ultimate anime goal that would take the two years between then and now to complete. This goal was to watch or try every anime on the top 100 list on Anime Planet. During those marathons, I came across an inspiring anime called Bakuman, which gave me the motivation to start this anime blog. I became so fascinated with anime that I wanted to share my thoughts and discuss it with everyone. The only step from there was to watch the anime that I see on other anime blogger’s top anime list, which helps me catch those extremely obscure anime that had something memorable about them.

This brings me to where I am today. I am someone who once knew nothing of anime that became a self-proclaimed otaku. Now I am here to share with both my fellow admirers of anime, and curious wonderers who are looking to take their first step into anime like I did a few years ago, my 50 favorite anime I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in this non-stop marathon of watching every anime I am interested in. I have finally reached the point where even my lowest, fiftieth entry is an anime that I’d enjoy watching again, and therefore I’m finally ready to share these choices with you all. Let me remind you that this is a personal list. These are “my” favorite fifty, and therefore my own personal preferences will play a role in where I rank everything. Just because an anime is positioned higher on this list than another, doesn’t mean I think more people will enjoy it than the previous one. I’m only speaking for myself.

Other Countdowns

My Top 20 Anime Openings

My Top 50 Anime Characters

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Before we get into it, let me describe a couple things that I will detail about each of these entries that will either be significant, or you probably don’t see on other countdowns that often. I want to design this blog as both an organization of my anime experience, and a viewing guide for people who are looking for something new to watch.

The Whole Series vs One Season – The big question is that anime is rather funky to organize when you have the confusing monikers of arcs, cours, seasons, series, sequels, and remakes making a right mess of things. As such, the simplest answer to me is that each anime series as a whole will get one entry, and I will specify, if necessary, whether my praise goes to the whole series, or just a particular section of it.

The “How ‘Anime’ Is It?” Meter

I love anime. Every otaku does. But not every anime-lover prefers certain extremes that anime can exemplify. This meter will tell you how “anime” the series is in terms of how many stereotypical anime tropes it contains. It does not mean the anime is better or worse! I don’t see the typical anime characteristics as inherently bad, though there are definitely some I prefer over others. The main criteria for this is measured by:

1. Fan Service – Fan service used to be things an anime did to purely please the fans, but times have changed, and so has the definition. Now Fan Service is pretty much synonymous with an overly sexual focus on characters, particularly girls. This includes panty shots, as well as unnecessary sexual displays and dialogue.

2. Over-The-Top – Another thing that anime inherently does thanks to it’s inordinately expressive visual style, is having things that are illustrated in a completely balls-to-the-wall fashion. This includes battle scenes with crazy proportions, moments that just build on top of one another before you can even process them, and the pure assault of multiple visual stimuli on the screen at once.

3. Chibi and Deformity – This is when a character is drawn in a completely atypical way such as having the character gush about something with a smaller, cuter face, or expressing revulsion with facial features that look nothing like the original characters. Plainly put, it’s this ” XD ”

4. Mental Monologue and Quantum Dialogue – A common occurrence in anime is that an anime scene will literally freeze time in order for it’s characters to think out a ridiculously expansive concept, tangents and all. Coupled with that are when two characters are engaged in some type of face-off and they talk with each other, carrying on full conversations while time around them seems to have stopped, or slowed.

5. Battle Fluff – While similar to the previous one, I’d say this one stands on it’s own as a different type of anime characteristic. This is basically only delegated to action anime, and it’s when the action has this increased sense of self-grandeur, wherein the characters fight by having impossible to pronounce names for their attacks, or they do a transformation that doesn’t really matter. Does it really impact the fight when your simple punch is called the mega-shocker-only-on-mondays-heaven-blessing?

6. Character Design and Art – Sometimes characters can simply “look” very anime. Bizarre hair colors, eccentric outfits, and a complete abandon of realism pave the way for people being able to guess this is a Japanese cartoon from one look at the main character. Also, sometimes there are art cues that seem to only happen in anime, such as when a character is surrounded by glowing bubbles and what not.

Every anime will be rated between 1-5 on the anime scale. A 5-rating means that this anime exemplifies almost every stereotype to a relentless effect. If you don’t like these types of traits, then stay away from these.Β  A 1-rating means that the anime abandons almost all of these and tries to do it’s own style of storytelling, typically in a very serious way. Again, if you don’t like that style of anime, it’s best to just move on.

Decisive Episode – This is an important factor that I think too many bloggers leave out of their reviews. Since anime is delivered in heaps and gobs of episodes, inevitably, you’ll have some that are considered slow-starters. Anime that, until a certain pivotal episode, fail to carve their identity into the hearts of anime fans. Sometimes it’s worth getting to that episode, and sometimes the first impressions aren’t accurate of the completed series. As such, I feel like almost every anime has that episode that really nails what it’s all about. It’s not just the first episode, nor is it simply the best episode, it’s merely the episode that you HAVE to get to in order to see what all the other fans are watching it for. Sometimes it happens right off the bat during the first episode, other times it’s not till the very end of the first season.

 

That’s all for the drivel and exposition. Now, let’s begin…

 


50. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Synopsis: Far in the future, mankind drifts in space aboard a floating civilization/spaceship. They are in a long-running war against the Hideauze, amorphous, squid-like alien creatures that threaten their home. Ledo, a mecha pilot, is fighting in a Hideauze battle when he is sucked into a wormhole and transported to what he discovers is the remains of Planet Earth, and to his surprise, there are people alive and well despite learning as a kid that the whole world had become ice.

Setting/Genre/Tone: A lush re-imagined version of a post-apocalyptic earth | Adventure | Uplifting, Intelligent

Number of Episodes: 13 (2013)

Gargantia is a thoughtful, adventurous little anime that starts off rather tame, but successfully tackles some big themes over it’s small run. Coming from my favorite writer, Gen Urobuchi, who’s known for his dismal, distressing works, I was pleasantly surprised that this anime was confidently charming, and explored it’s ideas in a much more graceful manner than other anime he writes for. Gargantia is, in essence, a tale of returning to a world you left behind, and learning that your advances in mankind aren’t perfect, or even right. This world we’re returning to, by the way, is absolutely gorgeous, making Gargantia have one of my favorite settings for an anime of all time. It’s just a haphazardly built civilization built atop a bunch of cargo ships roped together, but as it sails peacefully across the ocean, it can only be described as breathtaking.

Now we have the other half of Gargantia. The much more “Urobuchi” part where the sinister revelations happen and the shit hits the fan. The writing explores several topical subjects such as evolving the biology of mankind for space and if machines could ever act off of logic that isn’t derivative of it’s artificial intelligence. It’s all thought-provoking and the anime doesn’t “choose” right or wrong, as opposed to showing a humanity with factions on both sides. The big treat is just finding out what happened to earth since “our time” and we find out in a really insightful way.

The only things that held this anime back for me was the fact that the main character felt rather empty. He stood in horrible contrast to this hustling, bustling city full of vibrant people. He had moments that would make him a pitiable character on paper, but I feel the anime failed to cash-in on his big character moment, leaving him as a sore memory within this otherwise amazing anime.

Season Specifics: There are two OVA episodes that might as well be episodes 14 and 15 and are worth watching.

Decisive Episode: Episode 1 (Castaway)- You are introduced to the way humanity lives both in space and on the newly re-discovered earth within the first episode paving the way for it’s great adventurous tone immediately. So if it doesn’t impress you then I don’t think it’d be worth enduring for the clever plot twists in the later episodes.

Studio: Production IG

There’s a small bit of anime style mecha-focus in it’s story exploration and character design, with a tiny smidgen of fan service.


 

 

49. Cowboy Bebop

Synopsis: Spike Spiegel and Jet Black are space traveling bounty hunters on their spaceship, the Bebop. During their adventures, they encounter new and old enemies alike, as well as slowly adding more members to their crew.

Setting/Genre/Tone: A Sci-fi setting in deep space with civilized planets | Drama | Serious, Intelligent, Sad, Funny

Number of Episodes: 26 (1998-1999)

Cowboy Bebop is a stylish space anime complete with gunslingers for heroes, and a sexy soundtrack full to the brim of finger-snapping jazz. Cowboy Bebop was a pioneer in storytelling for anime with 26 episodes of all manner of drama and science fiction. Some episodes felt like a western, others felt like a horror film, and a certain, very select few felt like true works of art. Following the awkwardly related, and hilariously inefficient crew of the Bebop is guaranteed to have some form of appeal to you in at least one of episode.

So let’s talk about these “works of art” that I mentioned. Cowboy Bebop, to me, is sprinkled with magnificent moments. They aren’t constant, nor is there any build-up to them. They simply happen. These episodes are usually the ones that focus the most on the main character’s history creating some truly sympathetic hero. Every character feels like a tragedy trying to force their worth back onto the world by their own means. Everyone struggles, fights, survives, but they also doubt, weaken, and empathize with others. It’s a very “human” cast of characters who all have poignant moments at one point or another to express themselves.

So, obviously there will be many who wonder why this anime is so low on the list. First off, let’s get rid of the stigma that being low on this list is bad. I’ve watched hundreds of anime, and to make this list, you have to at least garner a large amount of my praise. Cowboy Bebop is a classic, and I love it for that. Anime really needed this to demonstrate how mature and engaging this medium can be. However, most of this is in terms of impartial appreciation, and not personal joy.Β  I, myself, didn’t NEED Cowboy Bebop, unlike the anime industry. Even though I hate the word “interesting” it’s how I find myself describing 90% of the episodes. They are simply interesting. I found my emotional engagement rather inactive through most of this anime. It was only those standout episodes that burned some truly powerful scenes into my memory, and it’s only off of the legs of those few episodes that Cowboy Bebop appeals to me, personally.

Season Specifics: This anime is episodic which means you can watch them in almost any order. However, interspersed within the story are important back story episodes on the main character that do resolve in order.

Decisive Episode: Episode 5 (Ballad of Fallen Angels) – This is the star episode of the series, and luckily it’s early on. That’s not to say that the later episodes aren’t as good, but episode 5 is the first of the back-story episodes about Spike, and they are on a whole other level of execution. It’s worth getting to this episode at the very least.

Studio: Sunrise

Cowboy Bebop heralds an incredibly serious portrayal of this world and it’s characters. There’s a miniscule amount of anime charm, but on the whole, it relies on it’s strong writing, and atmosphere to carry the anime.


 

48. Ouran High School Host Club

Synopsis: Haruhi Fujioka attends Ouran High School which is a dignified institution for some of the wealthiest families in the world. Haruhi managed to get in on pure talent, but hails from a poor home. Upon exploring the school, Haruhi knocks an expensive vase over which belongs to the Host Club, a group of male students who’s club mission is to spend time with the women of the school who visit their club room. The Host Club forces Haruhi to join their ranks in order to make up for breaking the vase.

Setting/Genre/Tone: A wacky, rich high school setting | Comedy | Funny, Uplifting

Number of Episodes: 26 (2006)

How in the world did an anime about boys emotionally catering to girls in overly sensual ways every make this list?! The answer is simple. Ouran High School Host Club is self-aware. There is a gigantic difference between an anime that “thinks” this type of content is great, and an anime that can make fun of itself for having the very same subject matter. Ouran Host Club’s characters are all walking satires on the stereotypes they are supposed to be. The whole idea of a “Host Club” is scoffed at and judged by the main character. This anime KNOWS that all this crap is dumb, and uses that to turn this into a comedy that’s both smart, and heart-warming.

It’s all thanks to Haruhi Fujioka. This girl is the lens of reality that keeps this anime from truly wandering off into sexy boy heaven. It’s through her point of view that you see how awkward, foolhardy, and charmingly dumb these boys are. It’s through the first “real girl” to ever come to the host club that each character is slowly progressed into a real human personality. The change is extremely fun to watch, and Haruhi herself is an very endearing character who, despite seeing how hopeless the boys are, cares for them without hesitation.

I don’t know quite how much flack I’ll have to deal with to justify placing Ouran over Cowboy Bebop, but I’ll still make my voice heard. Ouran also isn’t a perfect anime, which is why it’s also still very low on the list. It’s a wonderfully energetic comedy full of emotion and heart, but it’s scope simply isn’t that grand. I still liked it more than Bebop because I did enjoy each episode on average more in Ouran than in Cowboy Bebop. Just a smidgen, thanks to it’s rapid-fire gags and self-satirical writing. I wholly recommend both of them, and I’ll leave it up to you as to which one YOU like more.

Decisive Episode: Episode 2 (The Job of a High School Host) – Just in case episode one seems like a fluke, it’s worth going through at least two episodes to properly examine the Host Club as they are all character archetypes that are designed to make fun of themselves, and that’s hard to notice off of the first episode alone.

Studio: Bones

Female oriented fan service, hilarious facial expressions, and some over-the-top comedy help make this an exciting bit of anime.


 

 

47. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Synopsis: After being decimated by the “Second Impact” Tokyo III rose from the ashes of the original Tokyo, and is constantly under siege by mysterious lifeforms called Angels. Evangelions are mankind’s defense and they are piloted by the trio of main characters, Shinji Ikari, a young depressed boy, being the forefront of them all.

Setting/Genre/Tone: A futuristic post-apocalyptic city with Mecha technology | Action, Drama | Sad, Intense, Psychological, Intelligent

Number of Episodes: 26 (1995-1996)

Evangelion should make you say “whoa” when the credits of the last episode roll. It really should, no matter who you are. This is because Neon Genesis Evangelion undeniably has one of the most psychologically effective endings I’ve ever seen in an anime. It’s something you can’t tear your eyes away from. Because of this, I don’t see Evangelion as sci-fi, or mecha. I simply see it as a psychological study of depression, and a really good one at that. The scenes that articulate a stream of consciousness are among my favorite scenes in anime.

Those scenes are pretty much solely responsible for my love of Evangelion, because the rest of the anime didn’t do much to increase my favor. Until the ball of distraught starts rolling, Evangelion felt like a sub-par sci-fi anime. I did not like the designs of the angels, and I felt like neo-tokyo felt empty. Not empty in that hardly anyone lived there, but empty in that all we really see is one school, and the secret base under the ground. The city felt like a mere afterthought, and as a result, I just didn’t care about this world at all. It’s very polarizing, and remains an anime with an extreme sense of love and hate, but I’m the type who generally sees an anime for what it accomplishes, despite how long it takes to do so. It’s just that in this case, there still was just a little too much to truck through. Evangelion has an utterly mesmerizing final act, but everything preceding that only slightly appeals to me.

Season Specifics: It’s worth noting that those who love Evangelion rarely do so in regards for the first half of this series. Instead, it’s more like persevering through the first half to make it to the much more interesting second half. Furthermore, there is a movie called End of Evangelion which serves as an alternate replacement ending to the last two episode of the original series. Therefore, if you are unhappy with purely the ending, then it’s worth watching the movie. If not, it might be best to let the anime’s artistic purity remain and not watch it.

Decisive Episode: Episode 18 (Ambivalence)) Yes, that is a long ways from the beginning, but I do consider this to be the first episode with real impact, and what starts the anime down it’s dark and dreary path. If it wasn’t for the power of this episode, and the resulting momentum, I wouldn’t have placed this on the list at all.

Studio: Gainax

Mainly because of the mecha aspect as well as the design of the angels with a very small sprinkling of fan-service, would I say there’s a bit of “anime” in there. But overall this anime is so dark and harrowing that you almost forget about all of that.


 

46. The Tatami Galaxy (Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei)

Synopsis: Watashi is a social shut-in who dreams of having an ideal college life. He decides to do so by joining college activity clubs. However, even with all his choices laid out in front of him, fate has something more important in store for Watashi than simply choosing which choices of his lead to the best existence.

Setting/Genre/Tone: An abstractly drawn version of a modern Japanese city. | Psychological, Drama | Serious, Witty, Intelligent

Number of Episodes: 11 (2010)

If you thought of something like a bedroom stretching on for the length of galaxies, your mind is already working in the right direction to appreciate this mentally engaging work of art. It’s a far cry from the action, comedy, and drama that we’re used to, so I can’t recommend this one to people as easily as others. But for those who have an open and hungry mind, this anime gives you a lot to chew on. Tatami Galaxy throws you for a time loop. It’s not a time travel escapade full of plot twists and existential crises, but simply a constant examination of one’s life under different circumstances. Each episode shows our main character in his same college years, but from a unique vantage point. Specifically, each episode involves him choosing a different college social club from the last one and seeing how the same years of school unfold based on his new choices.

Fate is a funny thing, and not tackled too thoroughly in anime. You see destiny, of course, but destiny and fate aren’t exactly the same to me. Destiny involves a preset course. One in which you cannot deviate, and generally just means fulfilling prophetic terms. Fate, on the other hand is a much messier definition. It’s still in the realm of having events predetermined, but fate is more like the stuff that you can’t choose or control. While I’m not here to argue the definition of both, this is the type of anime that makes you think these things. You watch the main character fall for the same mistake, but in different situations, yet you also watch him succeed where you would expect him to fail. It shows that one’s fate isn’t quite as defined as you would think.

On the surface, this anime packs two distinct qualities. One is the constant, relentless barrage of narration. A quickly-articulating voice jabbers constantly explaining things at a quicker rate than even the most monogatari-est of the Monogatari series, which is an anime famous for it’s exhaustive dialogue. It may be off-putting to many, but the proof is in the pudding. You’re getting a whole lot of information to digest each episode. While the story does follow a repetitive structure because of the constant “reset” button used to rewind time, the joy is in seeing how his train of thought slowly drifts from what it was the previous time, and how things that initially didn’t connect, become tied by a thread between his alternate realities.

The second distinct thing is the art style. It’s not realistic, nor is it a stereotypical anime art style. One could say it has more similarities to a western cartoon. Japanese visual styles tend to make characters beautiful, heroes, villains, and side-characters alike. In this anime, beauty is much more natural, and the art style exaggerates facial features that can make them seem “ugly,” but as their personality kicks in, it simply defines them, and almost makes them endearing. The animation still looks fantastic in motion, and there’s a subtle abstractness to everything that puts a hint of surrealism on top of the present-day setting.

Decisive Episode: Episode 2 (Film Circle) – This allows you to see how each episode is a repeat of the last, but with alternate choices and different forms of character development. After which, you pretty much get the flow of the entire anime.

Studio: Madhouse

The character designs are like anime style caricatures, and there’s a lot of quirky Japanese references that pump the anime level up just a smidgen.


 

46. Black Lagoon

Synopsis: Rokuro Okajima leads a boring life as a business employee. When he’s traveling by a boat to deliver important documents, he is attacked by modern day pirates. He finds out that his boss cares more about the documents falling into the wrong hands than his own life, and tries to have Rokuro and the boat sunk. Rokuro decides to abandon his life and join the very pirates who came to rob from him.

Setting/Genre/Tone: A realistic gritty world at sea | Action | Intense, Dark, Funny

Number of Episodes: Black Lagoon – 12 (2006) | Black Lagoon: Second Barrage – 12 (2006-2007) | Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail – 5 (2011)

Black Lagoon is Cowboy Bebop with an adrenaline shot. It exchanges a bit of that classiness for grittiness and delivers it’s own brand of character-driven action and drama. I naturally leaned toward this simply because Madhouse can animate like hardly any other, which made this anime marvelous from a visual standpoint. I also like the idea of Rock as an unlikely hero, rather than Spike from Cowboy Bebop who was a bad-ass from the start. It gave him room to grow and develop through current events rather than build his foundation with flashbacks.

On top of this, the action is almost nuts at times. Crashing boats into helicopters and wild gunfights on the docks, the action is this anime is high-octane and very impressively animated. Of course, it feels a bit more over-the-top which is the biggest contrast to Cowboy Bebop, but where they both align is when the anime slows down to focus on a singular character. Revy is a great enigmatic character who has an absolutely unbreakable facade of not giving a crap about anything. Benny’s attitude of not liking violence always makes his point of view interesting when things turn into a bloody mess.

In the end, Black Lagoon delivers one explosive episode after the other, and still surprises you with enlightening character revelations. However, I’d still say my favorite episode of Bebop beats out my favorite episode of Black Lagoon. On the other hand, I’d much rather watch a marathon of Black Lagoon anyday.

Decisive Episode: Episode 2 (Mangrove Heaven) – It takes more than one episode to fully portray the best aspects of this anime. Episode 2 does a much better job of seeing the pirates interactions with each other as well as it’s blockbuster style action.

Studio: Madhouse

No anime tropes here. Just good old fashioned pirate hollywood action.


 

44. Angel Beats

Synopsis: A boy with amnesia named Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up in a strange world where school students are fighting a tyrannical angel. As he starts to remember himself, and learns of this world, an emotional story begins to unfold that involves everyone else who’s also stuck in this world.

Setting/Genre/Tone: An alternate reality high school with a lot of fantasy characteristics | Drama, Comedy |Sad, Funny

Number of Episodes: 13 (2010)

Angel Beats is another “feels” trip of an anime, but this time it’s coupled with bold action and a strange sub-focus on music. Our main character, Yuzuru, plays the nescient newcomer who knows nothing of this strange high school where you simply can’t die. What follows is Yuzuru learning of each of the students, and the often-times depressing methods of why they got there. The recurring theme is that none of them are happy with how their lives are going, and this is showcased with flashbacks that scar, visions that haunt, and tragedies that hurt. It’s all very depressing, but its balanced with some pretty wacky comedy.

The musical aspect of the anime isn’t really plot-relevant, but rather an important feature of the world, and a benefit to the anime because the soundtrack is simply top-notch. Some of the kids in this strange high school are in a rock band, and it’s their continued performances at school that act as the “events” where everything tends to go down, including the luring of the titular Angel character, Kanade. She is a merciless enforcer who will enact her laws onto the students. However, the main character seems to have a special connection with her that is a delight to see develop. Kanade is stoic and awkwardly cute which just naturally makes her a likeable character.

Decisive Episode: Episode 9 (In Your Memory) I do strongly recommend making it to this revelation episode if you’re iffy on the series at the beginning because this episode is the true heart of the anime, and the main character. There are emotional scenes before this, but I do consider this the best episode as well as the one that should get you invested into the story the most.

Studio: PA Works

Fan service, wacky comedy, stereotypical character designs and more in this zany emotional journey.


 

 

43. Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror)

Synopsis: Two young boys are behind a terrorist attack that just shook Tokyo out of it’s slumber. These boys, who call themselves Sphinx, begin a series of terrorist attacks that they give the community a chance to save if they can figure out their riddles.

Setting/Genre/Tone: An authentic modern-day Japan setting | Drama, Suspense | Intelligent, Artistic

Number of Episodes: 11 (2014)

Terror in Resonance is one slick anime. Coming off more like a film than an anime, this drama/thriller displays a confident execution of it’s artistic view of modern Tokyo. The story is about terrorism, but the anime has a natural hook of following this from the point of view of the actual terrorists. And while the synopsis just shouts terrorist, the themes and dialogue it actually explores is a much more subtle form of something much more humane. Terror in Resonance almost speaks to you with it’s evocative music score, edgy characters, and meticulous animation.

The anime juggles two styles at once. One of which being a heartfelt drama of tragically misunderstood kids just trying to make the world realize that there’s something wrong. The other being an intelligent look at a callid detective scouring the city trying to figure out what to make of these terrorists. For me, personally, the personal character moments clearly outshined the cat and mouse chase, by far. This is where the anime moved like water, spoke like poetry, and felt like raw emotion.

It was this other half, that felt just a little clumsy. It was clearly aiming for a Death Note or Code Geass level of genius level tactics, but it all came off a little clumsily and a bit unrealistic. Not to mention, the character that was supposedly going to elevate everything kind of dragged the plot down in the end. Despite that, I can’t deny the artistic integrity of this anime and I really felt like I was watching something one of a kind during many episodes.

Decisive Episode: Episode 1 (Falling)- The premiere does a fantastic job at selling itself as a confident and gorgeous anime. It introduces the main characters wonderfully and includes the first terrorist attack in it’s entirety.

Studio: Mappa

Completely void of every stereotype I can think of. Zankyou no Terror is completely solemn and offers an impressively practical point of view.


 

42. Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso)

Synopsis: Kousei was a child prodigy when it came to playing the piano, however, after his mother died, the shock rendered him unable to ever play again. That is until he meets a bright new musically-inspired girl in his school that is determined to snap Kousei out of his reverie.

Setting/Genre/Tone: A high school in modern day Japan. | Romance, Music | Sad, Funny, Artistic

Number of Episodes: 22 (2014-2015)

Sometimes an anime doesn’t have to be surprising with its storyline if it manages to surprise you with its artistic qualities, and this is how Your Lie In April dazzled anime enthusiasts everywhere. A half-music, half-romance tour de force of poetic words, stunning art direction, and a hauntingly evocative rendition of a classical tragic romantic tale, Your Lie in April is the aesthetic frontrunner of anime both romantic and musical.

The average episode of Your Lie in April involves teenagers lost in their own dreams of youth trying to understand each other, and often failing at doing so. While it seems all nice and bubbly on the surface, the first peek into Kousei, the main character’s mindset, allows you to glimpse the fine layer of drama that underlies this entire story. And this drama is what drives the finale into a truly melancholic nature. All the tragic undertones in this anime aren’t there just to be edgy, they mean something.

The less average episode of Your Lie in April involves the true spectacle of what this anime does best: musical performance scenes. Every once in a while a prominent character will have a climactic instrumental performance, and those scenes are crafted with such exquisite care that they rival some of the most powerful anime scenes I’ve ever seen. They nearly overwhelm with their overflow of gorgeous vernacular that the characters use when they become lost in thought during their time on stage, as well as some of the finest animation to come out of the powerhouse studio that is A1 Pictures.

Decisive Episode: Episode 3 (Inside Spring) This is the first episode that really contrasts Kousei’s tragic demeanor with Kaori’s uplifting one and that really portrays the dominant strength of their relationship.

Studio: A1 Pictures

The comedy is pretty standard for anime with chibi faces dominating a majority of the jokes and gags and the high school setting instantly makes this feel like an anime. The musical performances are evocative, but quite realistic, however.


 

 

41. Bunny Drop (Usagi Drop)

Synopsis: Kawachi Daikichi is attending his grandfather’s funeral when him and the rest of his family notice a strange girl there named Rin. Rin is looked at with disgust by them for being a seemingly illegitimate daughter of the passed away grandfather. Daikichi chooses to take care of her, thus changing his bachelor lifestyle to that of a clumsy father.

Setting/Genre/Tone: A cozy home and school life setting | Drama, Comedy | Sad, Funny, Uplifting, Charming

Number of Episodes: 11 (2011)

Anime just doesn’t get more touching than this. A bachelor who throws his beneficial lifestyle away to care for a young girl who’s disregarded by the rest of her family instantly warms you up to both characters. The bulk of the anime is seeing Kawachi deal with all the obstructive events of his life as a single man and adapting them to work for him and Rin. He does come off as a bit of a reprobate, but he makes effort to change himself. It’s all just so incredibly endearing to watch, and seeing these two bounce off of each other is about the most soothing thing in anime.

Rin is also just adorableness incarnate. The animation team did not let up on capturing her childlike charm and innocence. Of course, the bond between them wouldn’t be so effective if the voice acting and writing wasn’t done just right. The key to making a great child character as opposed to the typical whiny brat, is all in the realistic portrayal of how they really act, and Rin is easily one of the most developed child characters in anime.

If I could just wish for one extra thing for this anime, it would be that it didn’t end quite where it did. It wasn’t inconclusive, but nothing ever really built up. I wanted this scenario to tackle just more before calling it a day. That’s still ok because it doesn’t hurt what’s already there, but compared to the following anime, Usagi Drop would have had to take on just a bit more than what it has.

Decisive Episode: Episode 1 (Bunny Drop) – Within the first episode, you get to see the incredibly heart-warming first interaction between Kawachi and Rin. That charm is what the whole anime is about, so if you dig it, then you’ll love the whole thing.

Studio: Production IG

Some of the comic relief relies on the tried and true anime facial expressions and gags, but overall this is an earnest scenario executed with considerable realism.

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17 thoughts on “My Top 50 Anime

  1. I was worried for a second that you’d left Mushishi off the list. That can do some serious damage to your street cred (just kidding). I very much agree with all the top 10, spare maybe for Clannad and Hunter X Hunter (Up to Greed Island, so the Chimera Ant arc will make or break it for me.

  2. Nice update man !
    I just recently finished Shin Sekai Yori and The Tatami Galaxy… just flawless..

    Your list has been nothing but helpful since ive started watching, so Katanagatari is up next, and im sure it wont disappoint !!

    • Ooh, if Tatami Galaxy appealed to you, then you should have no problem with the others. That one is probably one of the most left-field ones. And if that amount of dialogue didn’t deter you, Katanagatari should hit that same spot too! I can’t wait for you finish it!

  3. I enjoyed Usagi Drops…up until the end. I’m assuming here that the end in the anime was the same as a manga (As your probably getting at this point… I read a lot of manga…hahaha). But man…that ending……hm..kinda weirded me out.

  4. I’ve already read this thread a few months ago but only now do I truly appreciate these “recommendations” and ideas of yours. I really like your tastes in anime as they are very similar to mine. All, and I do mean ALL, of the anime posted here that I have also watched are ones that I truly agree to be one of the best and most memorable. As for those which I haven’t, guess what, I’m doing a marathon of them right now. Thank you very much for this.

    • Wow, I’m always honored that someone would take my recommendations to heart, and excited that there’s another anime lover with the same taste. I’m sure you’ll eventually hit something that doesn’t mesh well with you, but I’m glad that it’s been all great so far! I have updates to make to this list. I have one more marathon to push through and then I’ll be adding at least 5 anime on here!

    • Thank you! I can’t help but get really active in the comments when IGN discusses anime. Yes, Railgun is fantastic. Misaka Mikoto is quite possibly my biggest anime crush. I don’t know how much source material is left to be adapted, but I hope for a new Railgun or Index anime to be announced soon!

  5. This was a really good read. I found this very informative to watch new interesting anime !!! you should make another countdown :))

    • Why Thank you!! It’s almost time for a revision of this list as well! I have over 5 anime to add to it already! ^.^

      I always have a couple countdowns in the works, and I always watch anime that I feel could have something for the countdown before making them!

      Out of curiosity, which anime piqued your interest the most?!

      • Madoka. I found it strange and odd but as i stuck with it I found it so great and by the end it tore my soul. (In a good way)
        Besides that i wanted to check out new genres so i watched Toradora which i actually seemed to really enjoy. Any recommendations on something similar?! πŸ™‚

    • Hmm, Toradora and Madoka are indeed two of the best. Don’t be surprised by your enjoyment of Toradora. It’s really well done, and makes anybody not feel ashamed to admit it!

      I will probably either suggest Clannad or From the New World from this list. There are a couple recent ones I watched, one of which, called Katanagatari is kind of like Madoka. It has an innocent art style, but eventually gets pretty dark. Though it’s all about martial arts, so it depends if that’s your “thing.” haha

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