Top 10 Best Anime Series

 

I have hit the 100-post mark on this blog! It is time to celebrate with another Top 10! I have mentioned my favorite anime series throughout my posts– and after having being at my 100th post–I feel this would be appropriate to discuss. This took me forever to figure out, as I had to watch a few series several times, here and there, to pick out details as to why I like a show more than another. I’ve been rewriting this list year after year, as it constantly changes. After the strong winter, spring, and now,summer 2014 season we’ve had, I would not be too surprised if some of these series end up on this list in the future. Keep in mind this is only my opinion.

#10

FULL-METAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD

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This series originally aired back in 2003, just as Arakawa’s manga was surging strong after about 2 years of running in Monthly Shonen Gangan. The plot was fantastic, and with its deviation from the manga, provided a justified anime-original ending. 2009 came along and when the announcement came that the series was being rebooted, I had high hopes for a faithful anime adaptation. This series is an incredible story for director Yasuhiro Irie has ,who has not directed much aside from Kurau: The Phantom Memory, but his vision for this series was astounding! We were introduced to the people of Xing, who were not even introduced into the original 2003 anime series.  The series opened with an anime-original episode to bring back the characters and feel of Full Metal. What a great idea! We jumped right into the action, and every episode was back-to-back, rarely having much of a recap.  The animation is still some of the best to this day; the choreographed fights (especially with Lin Yao and Bradley) developed some fluid animation styles not seen in a long-running series. BLEACH had its fair share of good fight scenes, but not all of them were as good, consistently, as this series was.  Sixty-four episodes in total, and there was not a single downfall in quality.  The delivery of the characters on-screen were so compelling it was nearly impossible to wait each week for the next episode, even though I was following the manga at the time!  The series sits on the list at #10 because it definitely is a revered series that I can re-watch anytime.  Highly recommend this series to anyone that is a fan of science fiction and action-adventure series.  If you enjoy Arakawa’s work here, I suggest checking out the agriculture series, Gin no Saji [Silver Spoon].  The ongoing manga and the two-season anime series  have been terrific in creating its characters ‘farming’ life.

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Gin no Saji [Silver Spoon]

– Xam’d Lost Memories

– Eureka Seven

 

#9

ANO HI MITA HANA NO NAMAE O BOKUTACHI WA MADA SHIRANAI

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One of the best opening animations and songs of 2011, Galileo Galilei’s, Aoi Shiori, was an awesome song–so fitting for this series, and now one of my favorite Japanese bands out there.  Coming up with this list was very difficult as I’ve seen more than 300 anime series over the years.  I enjoy a good balance between entertaining series and shows that have a lasting impression on me. There is no reason why this series would NOT be on this list.  Ano Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai or AnoHana for short, is quite a gem. This series follows the story of six childhood friends who drift apart after their friend, Menma, dies in an accident.  Ten years later, the leader of their group, Jinta, withdraws from society and becomes a recluse. The ghost of an older looking Menma is drawn to Jinta, asking him to fulfill her wish.  This series is probably one of the best and well-written emotional stories of tragedy of the past decade. The music by Remedios delivered some strong pieces during the high-intensity scenes that would otherwise have been left completely dry; the soundtrack is a definite and  integral part to this series. I can understand why this series aired on Noitamina.  The block was, and still is, known for airing more series directed with adult themes, tackling themes of death, and moving on after tragedy, were an essential part to this series. Seeing Menma through the eyes of [only Jinta was heart-wrenching to watch.  Great artistic take on this!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Usagi Drop [Bunny Drop]

– Natsuyuki Rendezvous

– Chihayafuru

 

#8

PSYCHO-PASS

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Another tough series to categorize, this would have placed much higher if it wasn’t for the overuse of quotes throughout. Oh Gen Urobuchi, you are doing this in Aldnoah Zero.  Can’t you learn to break away from that?  Anyway, the concept was fantastic. A futuristic setting where possible criminals could be arrested, killed, or sent to therapy if they held a high Crime Coefficient by the Dominators–sounds a bit similar to the Philip K. Dick novel, Minority Report, right?  Well, this branched on some of Dick’s ideas about criminals, but for the most part, was  entirely original.  What if one man upheld a crime coefficient that was always negated?  Interesting and intriguing plot to use here.  The music by Yugo Kanno was electronically pop- sounding when it needed to be, and the insertion of classical pieces, here and again, were memorable for the scenes that overlapped them.  Episode 11 is by far the best episode of the series.  Tightly animated, angles were crisp, the dialogue was heavy with plenty of action and the introduction of Makishima to the rookie Akane Tsunemori, at that point, was a great half-way point to all the previous crimes that were committed in the first half. If only this series would have maintained stronger animation in Episode 18, it would have remained consistently solid in its budget throughout. The ending was satisfactory and it was really cool to bring back a less important character in a role that will be largely played in the second season.

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

– REAL DRIVE

– Mardock Scramble

 

#7

NANA

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If there was another show I would have to put above Nana that provided an introspect into the lives of musicians, it would most certainly be Nodame Cantabile. As for that series, it strongly depicted romance in a classic way. Nana, however, makes this list because of one aspect–it pulls together so much better than Nodame–that is, its characters and the way they grow throughout situations as the story progresses is so much greater. Nana Osaki is a punk singer, a lonely girl who is more emo than any female lead character I’ve ever seen. Not in the solemn depressing sense, but in the way she views herself as a young woman and what she can do for herself as well as others. Nana Komatsu starts off as a naive girl with so many hopes, who dreams of loving a prince charming, but everything falls through with her boyfriend  from the start.  As the two Nana’s meet, they move in together,  living  in apartment #707.  Maturing so differently,yet  blossoming in friendship that lasts a lifetime. This show has a larger cast, but not one character  outshines another!  Character development is where this series makes my Top 10 list. However, it is a shame this anime series couldn’t continue the ‘leftover’ story; the manga has progressed past the show due to Ai Yazawa’s health. I hope one day this series will see a reboot, asit is an authentic coming-of-age rock star masterpiece of young adult lives intertwining with its trials and tribulations–this series gradually pulls in throughout.

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Paradise Kiss

– Nodame Cantabile

– Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope]

 

#6

Michiko e Hatchin

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This show was so good when it aired! The animation even to this day is still awesome! You can see Shinichiro Watanabe’s influence throughout every episode and I can just picture him directing this alongside Sayo Yamamoto! Granted he was the music producer and it really shows in all the compositions here, but I can see so many parts of this show where he would have laid down his ideas for the sake of the story! Kassin +2 a Brazilian band provided some unique songs to this show that impressively strengthen the series background. Set in Brazil, photography for the background animations were done in Brazil. Everything felt so genuine in each story! It would have been very cool to see this show turn episodic, rather than having a straight-forward plot. The story however was strong in the way it carried a hide and seek feel to it. Detective Atsuko after Michiko a wanted criminal and now having Hatchin under her belt didn’t help the situation for her. Hatchin did become a strong female in the end and you can see a mother/daughter relationship grow through their adventures of running away from police, drug dealers, and one of the best villains of 2008-2009 Satoshi Batista. This series was action-packed at times. There were also times when it was deep and slow moving that elaborated so much Michiko’s lost love. Especially seen in Episode 7. I feel like that episode had the best music production of any episode. Desencanto was a phenomenal song! I highly recommend this series for anyone who loves Brazilian culture, a passion for music, or just want to sit down and watch a strong, solid maturing story!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Phantom:Requiem for the Phantom

– Durarara!!

– Noir

 

#5

Yojohan Shinwa Taikei [The Tatami Galaxy]

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It was either Uchoten Kazoku or this. I love all of Tomihiko’s works. His novels are a delight! Some are very adult themed and some can be crazy fun. Uchoten Kazoku is a fantastic quirky ride about family feuds and light-hearted adventures. PA Works did a great job animating that series! Yojohan Shinwa Taikei illustrated a great look at college life and how there are so many possibilities into creating our own futures. The ingenious part about adapting this novel is how well they pulled it off in 11 episodes. Noitamina was a perfect programming block to air this on because not only was it for adults it was mainly focused for college students understanding themselves and the lives they would lead into adulthood. This series was strongly episodic into Protagonist choosing a club. It was refreshing to see how the main character didn’t have a name, and yet he was the pivotal reason why I watched this show! Each episode was an alternate universe of Protagonist being in a completely different club with the same cast just in varied roles! The rest of the cast was funny but not as funny as this guy! His judgmental behavior on Ozu and his love for Akashi were just the tip of the iceberg of a strong comedy series. I could re-watch this show over and over again! Very funny. Madhouse provided the animation has been on a decline recently but this show has to be their best work they have ever done! It also helps that no other director could have done this series faithfully but Masaaki Yuasa. Such a creative mind telling a story about college youth! Great staff here developed an already well-written novel into a wonderfully colorful anime series! Also, the soundtrack by Ooshima is incredible!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Uchoten Kazoku

– Kuragehime

– Tsuritama

 

#4

MUSHI-SHI

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My number 4 spot was extremely difficult to pick. I wanted to find a series that was full on drama with a small percentage of comedy and highly action-packed. How many series would match this criteria? Gungrave was an awesome mafia series at the beginning but managed to get strange when monster experimentation got thrown into the mix in the second half. Monster was a fantastic look at horror and drama interwoven as a mystery series. Strong large cast that were all part of the big picture in the grand scheme of things. However it didn’t make the list because it takes around 70 episodes to view the brilliance as a murder mystery series that this show is known for. Shinsekai Yori looked through the eyes of young kids that would grown into adults in an engineered world of telekinesis. The story, the music and its characters were strong throughout yet the animation was the one part of the show that remained inconsistent. I’ve got so many drama series I would have loved to have put up here, but there is one big reason why Mushishi ranks as my Top #4 Best anime series. Its authenticity. I’ve mentioned before in the season 2 posts that this show’s strong point is how everything from animation to music, to the entire atmosphere of a single plot in one episode comes together as one. The original season 1 and season 2 had such a subtle classic take on supernatural organisms that are all around us [Mushi] that can affect our lives because they are living out theirs just as they are. Each mushi is unique in how they try to continue on living. The series is episodic and can be watched in a random order without understanding any previous information. That is what is great about this show! It pulls you in with such subtly! A classic anthology of tales told in 24 minutes! Stories of people that fly up in the air and completely disappear, a boy growing horns to a traveling woman drying up villages of their water, to even chopping off heads and swapping them! This series has been consistently strong through each episode and so unique in how a story is told! I would recommend this series to anyone!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– xxxHolic

– Serei no Moribito

– Natsume Yuujinchou

 

#3

SHIKI

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It is no wonder why this series and Ghost Hunt are awesome series in the genre of horror. Both shows had really awesome sound effects, but Shiki maintained stronger because of its large cast and peculiar atmosphere. Fuyumi Ono is one heck of a strong writer! What is hilarious is how she is married to mystery novelist Yukito Ayatsuji. Does the name sound familiar? Well it should. He created the story behind the Another novels which had been adapted into a decent anime series. None of that guy’s works can touch the creativity that Ono has-especially in this series. This is without a doubt my favorite horror series. Shiki took the background of an isolated village and used that to its full potential so effectively! Another series with a large cast of characters- here is where we finally have a lengthy horror series that questions the compassion humans have for each other. Mushishi has a strong sense of human connection whereas this series rivals it by dismantling human nature. Not necessarily being influenced by mysterious living organisms but by the undead! I like how much the first half of this show depicts the livelihood of humans. The second half switches perspectives and portrays the vampires as the protagonists of the series. Obscure way to do this but it paid off greatly! The animation by Duame was the best animation for a horror series I could ever ask for! Loved this! Takanashi is strange composer. This is because he is all across the board with what is the definition of good composition and bad composition. Fairy Tail? Naruto? Really? There may be some good tracks on that but not everything laid down together perfectly into the story like Shiki did. I don’t know if he had some additional influence in piecing tracks but this show’s score was incredible!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

-Ghost Hunt

-Another

-Blood-C

 

#2

REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA

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Oh boy we are at this point of the list. This Top 10 was very tough to put together! My Top 5 followed a specific criteria. They not only had to be astounding at telling a story, continually maturing its characters, and having deep elements that keep that entire show from being stale. They had to be re-watchable. A series that introduced the school life aspect of a series done right was Utena. This show captured youth, love, and how much emotions can change over time. A series about two women falling in love- Utena and Anthy. There have been a few anime and manga that have tackled this genre right. Aoi Hana, Strawberry Panic, and the incredible manga Ohana Holoholo. Shows that have done it wrong were Sasameki Koto, Candy Boy, and the more recent Sakura Trick. All fan service infused without authentic romance to back it up. Revolutionary Girl Utena wasn’t just a story about yuri. It was more developed in mahou shojo. Sailor Moon hit acclaim with this side of a genre, but for me that series lacked performance in its voice acting, and it’s story fell flat a few times. [Hopefully, the new reboot will fix that] Utena managed exceedingly well with Ikuhara’s incredible directing skills. A series one in which that followed a beautiful tomboy turned prince. A charismatic and honest young woman with a naivety afraid of becoming a damsel in distress. The damsel in this was Anthy that was an astounding contrast to Utena. This revolutionized and fueled shows like Mawaru Penguindrum [another one of Ikuhara’s works], Star Driver and the more recent Captain Earth.

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– STAR DRIVER

– Mawaru Penguindrum

– Rose of Versailles

 

#1

COWBOY BEBOP

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Not much to say about this one. It’s popular, insanely popular. Anyone that has heard of anime has heard of this. This hasn’t changed in all the years I have seen anime. It might this year with Watanabe’s Zankyou no Terror but only time will tell with that one. Cowboy Bebop stands the test of time as the best anime series I have ever seen. Over-hyped in its initial run in the US. It actually failed when it first aired in Japan, and had trouble getting timeslots due to the graphic nature of the show. I cannot imagine what a show like Tokyo Ghoul or even Mouryou no Hako would have been in 1998. I remember seeing this series air on Cartoon network when I was younger-I believe it was back in 2001. By far the best English dub to an anime I’ve seen as well. Full Metal Alchemist and its reboot were both awesome but doesn’t take a candle to this show. If I recall it was the first anime series to air on Toonami’s Adult Swim programming block as well. This show knew what sort of story it needed to tell. It was a science fiction show that catered to the old days of western films and still to this day develops different values, and themes for different generations that watch it. Each episode- vastly different aside from the collection of episodes that are part 1 and part 2 of an ongoing plot between the main cast. Which is why this show captures its characters perfectly. An enjoyable ride that mixed the sounds of jazz with a futuristic yet classical illustration of action, comedy, romance, and bounty hunting. Haha! The pacing wasn’t ever flat either! Oh and then there’s the soundtrack. Incredible material Yoko Kanno provided. Her work on Sakamichi no Apollon into the realm of jazz was only garnered by Bebop’s successful musical score. Honestly even her work on Zankyou no Terror would not have been as good if not for Bebop. It’s quality directing, composing, and animation that pull everything together in Watanabe’s works. It’s like I said in my Zankyou post, everything is key to creating a Watanabe production. Bebop, Champloo, Apollon, Dandy, and Terror have all been amazing works of anime!  I would say if there would be any anime series to start out with it’s this!

If you like this you will also enjoy:

– Trigun

– Baccano!

– Outlaw Star

 

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