With being a mom and a substitute teacher, I haven’t had a chance to sit down too much with new anime this year. There has been a few shows I’ve caught here and there, but I found myself rewatching a few series that I just really liked, especially when it was something I caught last year and now has a dub.
So, instead of doing a countdown to my top anime for this year, I’m going to do a top ten anime for me for all time. Feel free to argue for your choices in the comments, but here is my list of my all time favorite anime in no particular order that I think everyone should check out at some point in their fandom, whether it’s old school or more recent.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
“Puella Magi Madoka Magica,” or just simply “Madoka Magica” or “Madoka,” is one of those shows that has had such a strange effect on me. In its 12 episode run, you manage to start with a story that you think is going to go one way, but gets dark really, really fast. Early on, it’s a typical magical girl anime – you have cute girls, and they have special abilities that allow them to fight Witches. But then you get to episode 3, and all heck breaks loose – expectations are broken, and you realize that you are watching something that had never been seen before in the genre up to that point. I’m not one who likes “magical girl” anime, but I really liked this one.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
This is a series that divides anime fans. Those that like it are awed by the symbolism and the deconstruction aspects of the series. Those that hate it think every character is annoying, in particular lead character Shinji Ikari. As someone who came late to the game on this series (I watched it for the first time last year), it’s identifiable for me. Why? Because I can identify with what Shinji is going through in terms of a deep depression and self-doubt. So that’s why, to me, his character is not as annoying as others take him for. Yeah, he’s whiny, but all kids his age usually are at some point. He’s this teenager who’s being asked to do this adult job, and add to that his relationship with his father and you have the makings of a major psychosis. Worth at least checking out.
I introduced my stepkids to this show when I started watching anime again, and since then my stepdaughter in particular has been really into it. It’s a very easy show to fall in love with – set in Victorian England, you have a handsome demon who is contracted to be the butler of a 13 year old boy who wants revenge for his parents’ murders. The staff seem incompetent in comparison to Sebastian, but they have secrets of their own. Add to that the excellent writing and situations these characters are put in, and you have the makings of a great anime.
I know, this seems like an obvious choice, but this was the show that got me back into anime. And I started watching it just as a shortcut to the manga to make sure that it was appropriate for my stepson at the time. What drew me in was the twists and turns of the story, and without a single plothole open to interpretation – you would think writer Toshiki Inoue (adapting Tsugubi Ohba’s manga) would have a few holes that need explanation in the course of the story. It’s a perfect cat and mouse type story, and although it does have its flaws (parts of it can be seen as a little overdramatic) it’s worth a watch.
This is an anime that got me into anime in the first place. For those who don’t like it, it’s usually because the lead character Excel is so over energetic and her voice can get grating (the original English dub actress had to be replaced halfway through because she blew her voice out doing the part). For those who do like the show, however, it’s for the many anime parodies and references to genres such as space operas, American action films, dating sims, Japanese horror films, and others. Nothing is off limits, especially in the last episode, which never aired. It’s just a lot of fun to watch.
My husband bought this for me one Christmas knowing that I liked anime, and it’s probably one of my favorite Christmas gifts to date. The show is popular for a reason – the tight writing, the voice acting, the humor, the jazz soundtrack which shouldn’t fit but does. You can’t help but like these characters.
Eden of the East
I like this series so much that I own the entire series on DVD/Blu-Ray along with the two movies, and all three are signed by voice actor J. Michael Tatum, who plays Kazuomi Hirasawa in the show. The overall theme of what you would do to save your country really resonates, because even though it’s set in Japan it can really apply anywhere. The animators on this series really did their homework when it came to U.S. geography – since I lived in New York City for a time, I was able to actually establish in a few scenes where they were in the city.
This show didn’t get the love that it should have. The original Japanese version of the show was more kiddie fare, but when FUNImation got a hold of it adults could watch it, too, with no shame. The dub of the show is really heavy on incredibly silly jokes, pop culture references, and very out there humor. And how can you hate that?
This is the other show that got me into anime. I’ve read the manga so many times now, but when I was pregnant with my son I was finally able to watch the show in its entirety, and was crying by the end. I like to jokingly describe the plot as “a guy who falls in love with his computer,” but really there’s more to the show in regards to saving yourself for the right person, what it means to be human, and whether machines can also have personalities on their own.
Ouran High School Host Club
I’m not one for shoujo anime. My idea of a good Christmas movie is “Die Hard.” But when I heard that “Ouran High School Host Club” was a show that made fun of that genre, it piqued my interests a bit. And when I started watching the show, I really fell in love with it. Yeah, it made fun of the tropes of most shoujo anime with its “pretty boy” cast, but the show has a lot of heart behind it. And my favorite character in the show is Honey, mostly because he resembles my son. But it’s worth checking out.
See what I mean?
So what are your favorites?