All-time Favorite Anime
Gintama is an anime that many people would probably recognize first and foremost for it’s comedy. Arguably a comedy masterpiece, make no mistake — when it’s time to peel off the comedic facade, Gintama is a show that rivals even the best shounen in existence with it’s engaging drama and intense fight scenes. Gintama is a show that keeps on giving. Humor, action, drama — no other series have granted such a complete experience in one show, which just goes on to prove that Gintama is truly one of a kind.
2. One Piece
There are a lot of elements which contribute as to why One Piece is such a great show. It has incredibly genuine characterizations which creates a cast of very believable friends; it has a creative and immersive world perfect for it’s pirates/sea adventure theme; it has great soundtracks which just helps get you into the mood when the characters are fighting for their lives or crying their eyes out. One Piece is an excellent show and it made sense why even after so many years, it’s still going strong; because it’s just that damn good.
3. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is another great shounen which really knows what it’s doing. Everything moves along in perfect pacing and every plot element introduced feels important, because all of them are actually building up to something significant. For the entirety of it’s 64 episodes, you get a show full of great content — fast-paced plot, action, drama and excellent characters.
Time travel isn’t uncommon in fiction as the trope has already been used in various shows. Steins;Gate however is one of the few shows who actually used time travel as the central theme of it’s story, and it’s definitely a time travel story done right. The expository is done well, especially considering the fact that this is actually a very heavy-infodumping series; but no doubt it’s also contributed to the fact that this series is carried by a group of well-written characters too.
Clannad understands slice of life needs a culminating impact. Clannad understands that life isn’t just all fun and games, and all these result in a very emotional Clannad After Story, which also makes the entire journey of the series to get there that much emotional, nostalgic and worthwhile. Clannad is highly regarded as a “crying anime” and indeed; like a master manipulator, Clannad is just so good at tugging our heartstrings that it’s hard not to feel emotional once you finish the series.
6. Code Geass
The moment I saw Lelouch’s theatrics, I knew I would be in one hell of a ride, and Code Geass really delivered on all fronts. But it’s no exaggeration to say that the main highlight of the show is definitely the well-written characters — all of them have clear goals and motives, and feels like real people. The two main characters especially paints a grey area on morality, which is always an interesting characterizing approach for me. Additionally the Death Note-style of outwitting your opponents and mecha battles just sealed the deal for me, and with the great, conclusive ending adding a nice finishing touch to this great anime.
7. Fate/Stay Night
Like it or not, Fate/Stay Night has really grown into a massive franchise over the years. Started as a visual novel, and then an average anime adaption by DEEN — the series has since grown by then, with excellent adaptions of the other routes, prequel, spin-offs, all with exceeding quality. Fate/Stay Night has an intriguing system and concept, but what makes the series so great is that it has always treated their characters very seriously. Each of their goals, motives and flaws are all highlighted extremely well, which makes you invest into the series that much more.
Misunderstandings, facing their real selves and pursuing their emotions — Toradora is a heartwarming yet painful take on romance anime. One of the main reason why Toradora shines as a romance anime is because the show just understands how the genre works. It feels authentic — the characters feel genuine, and their motives very real; which makes for some particularly good, emotional drama. I mean, I’m not even exaggerating here — Toradora is truly my favorite romance anime ever.
The entire theme behind Aria is the seeking of joy and happiness of everyday lives, the thrill and excitement behind the mundane; which I’m sure sounds familiar to you. Indeed, they honestly weren’t kidding when they say Aria is the mother of all modern moe anime, because this idea was eventually solidified into a genre years down the line. Watching Aria is certainly a therapeutic experience, but aside from having such an inviting world, it’s character-driven storytelling means that characters are slowly, subtly but surely growing as you progress along the episodes. Aria is an excellent iyashikei that managed to accomplish what it aimed for almost effortlessly.
10. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Anime adapted from visual novels have always been pretty iffy. But fortunately Higurashi’s adaption is pretty solid, I feel it was able to capture the “psychologically haunting” spirit of Ryukishi07’s writing perfectly. In fact I dare say it even bolstered it, what with the improved art, music and animation. The anime is just so good at foreboding atmospheres, at showing you that something is wrong despite the peaceful surface. As a psychological horror, Higurashi is truly one of the best.
11. Sakamichi no Apollon
An anime about jazz and youth — Sakamichi no Apollon is an anime that provide you non-stop euphonious jazz soundtracks, but also one that delivers excellent drama befitting the latter. Theme of self-discovery is particularly strong with this one, and has one of the most organic character-driven stories. It is a story of a young man discovering this other more free-spirited and creative side of music, and opened up his own perspectives of the world. Sakamichi no Apollon is a lovely coming-of-age story with lots of heart, and again, the music! I really can’t not mention it enough — truly god-tier soundtracks if I ever heard one.
12. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
One reason why Madoka is such a popular franchise is that it attempts to push the boundary of the magical girl genre. While perhaps not the first one to do so, Madoka is successful at the task, exceedingly so at that. Not once have I watched a magical girl anime so raw, angry and grim. It’s realistic and pessimistic rendition of the genre means it ponders the existential purpose of magical girls, and questions the mechanism of the magical girl system. Madoka is an anime about choices and flawed human beings — an anime with excellent thematic exploration and deep, complex characterizations; all compacted tightly, but perfectly in 12 episodes.
One of the most interesting things to question about Shirobako-does it paints a realistic picture on real life anime industry? Or is everything too idealistic and sanitized? I personally think it’s the former. Even if it may be a bit sanitized, one of the reasons why I like Shirobako so much is that it is especially grounded to reality-it depicts Musashino Animation just like any other workplaces, just with the exception that they are working in the anime industry, fitted in with compelling, but realistic characters. Last but not least, aside from being informative and realistic, Shirobako also has the ability to hit you all in the feels when you least expect it.
14. Hibike! Euphonium
KyoAni has always been great at “quiet atmospheres”; they are the master of the “show not tell” approach, they are the master of visual narrative instead of verbal. And if we are talking KyoAni, Hibike! Euphonium may be one of my favorite KyoAni works ever — the anime is full of those little moments where each gorgeous photogenic screenshots can tell a thousand words. People enjoy Hibike for it’s subtlety; though while there are fun moments nonetheless, Hibike also executed an almost perfect high school drama centering around concert band. Hibike is an one of a kind anime which just accomplished everything it sets out to do.
15. Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru
OreGairu is a romantic comedy, but as you can expect from the title (My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected), it’s also /not/ exactly a romantic comedy in the truest sense. It is a subversion of the genre, and exposed the more cynical sides of socializing — something OreGairu excels in through a plethora of monologues and visual cues. OreGairu is a wonderful series; while it may depict social cynicism, at it’s heart, it’s also purely just a slice of life-of insecure teens who desire simple, genuine friendship, something shown beneath layers upon layers of lies and deceit.
16. Holy Trinity of Idol Anime — Aikatsu, Idolm@ster and Love Live
Aikatsu, Idolm@ster and Love Live have been my personal “Big Three” of idol anime, as no other idol anime I watched has ever come close to any of these series. Furthermore, all 3 of them are different enough to distinguish from each other. Love Live has the group dynamics and team chemistry; Idolm@ster has the character, drama and story; Aikatsu has excellent music and performances to match the show’s buoyant atmosphere. All of them have unique things to offer that make them the best of their genre. Idol anime are good and these 3 are at the top of the mountain, indeed — the holy trinity of idol anime.
17. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Rakugo is a traditional Japanese entertainment — the art of acting multiple characters to tell a story. While it wasn’t exactly the most well-known art form throughout the world, 2016 decided it wanted to change that, and tried to bring it to attention among anime fans. And so, out comes in my opinion one of the best anime of the modern era — Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. A riveting historical drama filled with compelling themes and characters — Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is the ultimate anime about Japanese culture, history, art and people.
18. Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu is a show that carried itself like a musical; vignettes of musicals that use ballet and classical pieces as the perfect accompaniment to the story. Definitely unconventional, but elegant in it’s presentation. On top of that, an enthralling overarching tale of defying fate and tragedy simply sets this anime apart from others. Princess Tutu is an emotional fairy tale; an eloquent story, telling of sacrifice, love, and the meaning of happiness.
19. Violet Evergarden
Violet Evergarden is an emotionally-charged show about a former soldier trying to rediscover a new identity and purpose in a newly post-war timeline. The best part of Violet Evergarden is following the journey of the show’s aforementioned battle-hardened protagonist, Violet, trying her best to adjust to civilian life and her interactions with other characters in the show. On paper, it sounds like such a simple thing but marvelous in it’s execution. The episodic nature did a wonderful job in shaping up the world and it’s characters, and in doing so allow Violet to grow by observing the way other people live their lives. In any case, Violet Evergarden is a heart-wrenching story; filled with bittersweet character-driven narratives, breathtaking visuals and a beautiful set of soundtracks.
20. Hunter X Hunter
Bold and adventurous — Hunter X Hunter is a shounen that constantly tackle the limits of the genre, and is arguably one of the main series that redefine the genre with it’s subversive narratives and heavier thematic focus. Hunter X Hunter is an exploration on the complexity of human nature, a (chimera) monstrosity of an adventure that will face both the prettiest and ugliest facets of humanity. The series does have it’s highs and lows; when it’s at it’s highest peaks though — Hunter X Hunter is one of the best shounen ever made.