I often feel as though I complain so much about bad shows, the good ones hardly get the recognition they deserve so, to make amends, here’s a list of my top 30 shows and why I love them so much! Kudos if you manage to read the entire list, I know it’s long but, it’s incredibly difficult to list the reasons I love a show without rambling!
30. Arakawa under the Bridge
This show is a hilarious testament to how easily humans can adapt to any situation. Ko Ichinomiya, a self-absorbed CEO is coerced into living under a bridge with his new, space-head girlfriend; where he encounters a most bizarre assortment of characters. Yet, it doesn’t take long for Ko, renamed Recruit, and the viewers to adjust. A guy with a star for his head? Sure. A middle-aged man who mustn’t step off of the white lines he’s making otherwise his wife’ll turn into a chicken? Makes sense. Still, the show somehow never stops being funny, how it manages this, (even throughout the 2nd series) I am yet to figure out…
29. Lovely Complex
Lovecom has to be one of the greatest romcoms I’ve seen! Yet, its strength doesn’t come from its humour, which, don’t get me wrong, is great but, its characters which showed us love can be found in the most unexpected of places. Yet, surprisingly, it idealise didn’t love, (something you all know bothers me massively) we were reminded that you don’t always fall for Mr Right, unrequited love is one of the most painful things you can experience and every relationship has its problems- something which was refreshing to find in an anime advertised as a romantic comedy.
28. Haibane Renmei
Haibane Renmei was beautiful yet, the beauty of the show wasn’t in what we were shown but, what we weren’t shown. What were the Haibane? Why did some of them move on whilst others were left behind? What happened to them when they moved on? What was outside of the walls? These questions were never answered but, I would honestly never have it any other way- explaining these things would only take the beauty and mystery out of the show! The first episode was also one of the most striking first episodes I’ve ever seen…
27. Eve no Jikan
Eve no Jikan isn’t particularly long but, it still manages to explore some really thought-provoking topics, such as discrimination and what it is that makes us human. What’s clever about Eve no Jikan is that it does this in the simplest of ways: we are presented with a small cast of characters, some human, some android, and are given some insight into their lives, and whilst many of their stories are moving, they’re presented in a calm, detached way, leaving viewers to make their own inferences as to characters’ moral standing, something Chobits also managed to do. A real treat, can’t wait to see what Studio Rikka does next.
26. Tatami Galaxy
Definitely one of the stranger shows I’ve watched! I thought the screwy narrative brought about by Groundhog-day-esque time-loops was an extremely creative way of conveying the show’s message. And I love that Watashi is only able to escape his tatami galaxy, a metaphor for his closed-off life, when he opens up to the world’s possibilities. Perhaps because of the show’s light-speed monologue or because I watched this within the space of a couple of days, I feel there’s still so much I have yet to glean from this show. A definite re-watch but, only once I learn to speed-read!
Very rarely do I watch a show where I am not bored by even a single episode, Gankutsuou is one such show. It had enough plot twists to make each and every episode edge of seat exciting but, not so much it became confusing, the way in which it manages to strike this balance is just part of its brilliance. Its textured art-style, larger-than-life cast of characters and interesting concept also help to make this an incredibly entertaining watch!
24. Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori
The Jigoku Shoujo franchise contains a mixture of all my favourite aspects of a show: episodic storyline, intriguing characters, heavily atmospheric, etc. Yet, my one big criticism of the first series was how repetitive it got, so when I watched Futakomori, it was like all my birthdays had come at once, it kept everything I liked about the first season but, experimented with the delivery of each characters’ story. Sometimes we’d be shown the fate of an individual character before going back to see how they’d reached that point in the first place- a technique reminiscent of the likes of DRRR!! or Baccano! We also got some much-needed character development. An all-round improvement on the first series and one of the best sequels to a show I’ve ever seen!
23. Mawaru Penguindrum
The latest, (but, by no means the least deserving) addition to my top 30. This is one of the few shows to have given me a high but, not because of some epic battle, as per usual but, because during one moment in the finale everything clicked, I understood. Penguindrum’s biggest flaw is that it juggles too many plot points all at once, making the storyline hard to follow but, with a single line: “the apple is also a reward for those chosen to die for love” everything made sense! I’m hesitant to explain fully what I mean, for fear of spoiling it for someone who may not have seen the show, (I do try to be considerate, sometimes) but, so thrilled was I that everything pulled together, I was buzzing throughout the rest of the day! Also, gorgeous art, interesting characters, catchy OST, blah, blah, blah…
22. Kino’s Journey
At first, the title of the show- Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World, seems rather ironic. During Kino’s travels she encounters the worst of humanity: war, genocide, dictatorship and even cannibalism. Themes such as the pointlessness of existence and the devastation of natural disasters are also explored. Which makes you think, how can a world containing all of these things be described as beautiful? Yet, Kino’s Journey truly shines when it explores humanity’s potential to change, to dream and to love your fellow man, reminding us that the world is, indeed, a beautiful place.
21. Honey and Clover
The only other romance to touch my heart since Lovecom yet, it wasn’t its stories of love which touched my heart but, its stories of unrequited love. At the time of watching H&C, unrequited love had its poisonous grip over my life, every-time I thought about this guy, my insides clenched a little, so Takumi and Ayumi’s respective experiences with unrequited love really spoke to me. I have never resonated with a show quite as much as I did with Honey and Clover. But, it wasn’t all doom and gloom! H&C was often extremely funny- the Twister scene and the scene where Morita tried to feed Hagu to a rather melancholy giraffe were the first things to make me smile in a long time! Yuuta’s journey even inspired me to take my own bike out, ride to the shop and buy some Skittles…
A genuinely funny show- the cast of characters are all so odd you can chuck them into practically any situation, sit back and let the LOLs ensue. Milkshake, toilet paper, video games, driving lessons, zombies, monobrows, French-bread, being shipwrecked, not being able to sleep, radio exercises, Jackie Chan and group dating, everything Gintama tackles is hilarious simply because those tackling it are hilarious! Even when the show deviates, regressing to its shounen roots, it’s awesome! This is because the characters aren’t just funny; many of them have darker sides to them, these more traditional ‘shounen-y’ arcs often draw out these darker sides, making for extremely interesting viewing!
Let me get this straight, I’m not a fan of moe. Moe characters are wasted on me. When God made me he must’ve forgotten to shove in any maternal instincts- I feel more protective over snails than I do over babies, yet, Azusa somehow managed to crack my tough, cold, metaphorical exoskeleton during the finale of K-ON!! Maybe it’s because her pernickety ways so strongly reminded me of myself or because I could relate to her situation, finishing school myself at the time, watching her really made me well up! Pathetic perhaps but, I think to strongly resonate with a character to the extent anyone watching would think you’ve just been informed of death within the family, is pretty special.
18. Death Note
Death Note was the first anime I watched knowing what anime was. I was hooked by the end of episode two, when L first challenged Light- these characters weren’t battling it out with muscles but, with their smarts, a concept I found extremely appealing! L was a delight to watch; even now he is still one of the most intriguing characters I’ve met. I can understand why he felt so close to Light, (despite how suspicious he was of him for a large portion of the show) both felt alienated by their intelligence. The concept of the show is also thought provoking; would you have done the same had you possessed a Death Note? Unquestionably one of the most fascinating shows I’ve watched and worthy of its place on my top 30. I don’t care how ‘mainstream’ it makes my list look- if I hadn’t watched it I wouldn’t be the same person I am today, an anime-loving super-geek!
17. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Found this difficult to get into but, I’m so glad I persisted- not that I had any choice in the matter thanks to my stupid vow to never drop a show! This is one of the few shows I’ve ever watched that I’ve got some sort of high off of! It was during the finale when Simon and Team Dai-Gurren yelled “Who do you think we are!?” and the ‘Libera me from Hell’ theme kicked in, a giant rush of adrenaline hit my bloodstream. It felt like I had electricity running through my veins. This euphoria persisted all throughout the entire battle, right up until the closing credits. As I began my comedown and this wave of awe washed over me, I remember thinking: I’m never going to watch anything that awesome ever again…
This is, in my opinion, SHAFTs finest work. Sure, Madoka was epic an’ all but, its characters lacked the wit and charm of those in Bakemonogatari. The characters’ peculiarities were only accentuated by Shinbou’s off-the-wall animation, which made it seem as though they inhabited another world entirely however, the show shined brightest during the interactions between its characters. Incredibly tight scripting created a fascinating dynamic between Araragi and each and every one of the girls, their jibes and retorts were so cutting, and timed so perfectly, that Bakemonogatari is easily one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen!
15. Eden of the East
I didn’t really get EOE, I know it’s not the most complicated of shows but, I wasn’t able to follow it all the same. So, I’m not gonna pretend it’s here for its DEEP story or anything, this is here simply because of Takizawa and Saki. Man, those two were beautiful. Two young people thrust together by a chance meeting who, no matter how many times they’re separated, always manage to bump into each other again, clichéd? Sure, but, I fell for it all the same! Takizawa’s confidence and charm complemented Saki’s meekness perfectly, bringing about some truly tender moments. And the fact their relationship rarely took centre stage kept their interactions from becoming stale. EOE really brought about my inner romantic, peculiar, considering that it’s actually about some kind of battle royale!
I feel as though anything I could say about Mushishi has already been said a thousand times before but, I’ll say this: this is one of the few shows on this list I can whole-heartedly call ‘perfect’. The world Ginko inhabits is so breathtakingly gorgeous, (the amount of detail put into each backdrop is incredible, and the music often sent a shiver up my spine) but, perhaps my favourite thing about the series is the individual stories themselves. Each story was achingly beautiful, whilst Ginko was often able to help those plagued by the mysterious mushi, there were times he was unable to do anything so had to move on, and those times were incredibly sad. A true masterpiece in every sense of the word.
Baccano is one of those shows you’ve got to sit through in its entirety before you can really appreciate it. Each character has their own story to tell that makes up part of the bigger picture and it’s not until you’ve heard each of these stories you can piece together what the show’s all about. Each character is so much fun, there wasn’t a single one I didn’t like: Isaac and Miria, two kind-hearted thieves who stole my heart, Jacuzzi, the yellow-bellied leader of a rag-tag racket, Ennis, a kick-ass homunculus and Claire Stanfield, who adopts the role of the legendary Rail Tracer, embarking on a vicious killing spree before experiencing love at first sight, these are just a few of the show’s kooky cast that I adored! In Baccano, every character plays the lead, contributing to the rich, detailed story where anything goes and not all is as it seems.
12. Samurai Champloo
This show oozes cool outta every pore. It experiments with storytelling, has an amazing OST, (who knew hip-hop and samurais would mesh so well?) and for the majority of the show the lead characters don’t give a hoot about one another, which creates an interesting dynamic between the trio. But, the real reason I love this show is ‘cause I was hooked within minutes. That’s right, it took only a few minutes for me to realise this show was gonna be special and that, whenever judging whether or not an anime deserves a 10 outta 10 I’d forever find myself saying “Hm, it’s good but, it’s no Champloo…”
11. Welcome to the NHK
There’s something truly marvellous about NHK- despite the fact the show’s rife with talking furniture it feels like an incredibly realistic portrayal of the effect of media on impressionable young people. Its characters suffer with real problems and react to situations in a way that- whilst over-dramatized, seems believable. Whilst the characters’ extreme behaviour makes the show seem, at face value, nothing more than a comedy, it’s actually really touching at points! The episode where Sato’s almost coerced into committing group suicide is played up as a joke but, when you consider what is actually going on, it’s terribly sad. So, for being hilarious, touching and making Freud-related jokes, NHK, welcome to my top 30!
10. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
To me, Tokyo Magnitude is easily the quality of a Ghibli movie- its pacing was perfect, the character design was kept simple to focus on the gorgeous backdrops and It largely focused on the development of a single character, Mirai. Mirai is oddly reminiscent of Spirited Away’s Chihiro, both are mouthy brats until, when taken out of their comfort zones, they’re given the opportunity to grow. Mirai’s development peaks during the show’s moving finale which- I’m not ashamed to admit- made me cry! It saddens me that the most recognition this has ever received was after Japan’s magnitude 8.9 earthquake last year, and that was only to criticise it for getting it wrong!
The main reason I loved Shiki was that it was refreshing to see vampires return to their roots- afraid of crosses, not being able to go out in sunlight or enter a home unless invited, yet, in spite of these flaws, characters were sufficiently stupid to keep falling prey to them. Each and every character was expendable, even the main characters, making the show extremely tense! I also loved the complete role-reversal that took place as the humans became increasingly twisted, posing the question- who were the real monsters of the show? Perhaps the scene with the middle-aged women having a tea-party amongst the bloodshed laboured this point too much but, as long as, (like me) you don’t take the whole story too seriously, this show’s a hell of a ride!
8. Higurashi no naku koro ni
One of the biggest shocks to my system of all the shows I’ve seen! If anyone ever chuckles at your love of anime, saying “Dur, cartoons are for kids!” shove a copy of this in their faces! Despite the fact that, at first glance, the girls’ appearance made this look like a jolly harem anime, it didn’t take long for me to feel as though something with deeply wrong with each and every one of them. The eerie BGM, the change in the tone of their voice, their eyes- all indicators of how bat-shit insane they were! Oh God, you knew shit was gonna hit the fan when Rena’s eyes changed! The whole experience was made even more terrifying by the sheer brutality of it all- they were just little girls! It didn’t take me long to convince my sister to watch the show. She had to pay me to accompany her to the toilet, she was so scared by it!
One of two CLAMP shows to ever pry its way into my heart. Whilst the individual storylines were engaging, and often extremely eerie, it is Yuuko that earns HOLiC a place on this list. Yes, that’s right, prepare yourself for another one of my rants on why Yuuko is so great! I’ve mentioned before how she drives the show forward, pretty much everything Watanuki (and many other characters in the show) does is a product of her manipulation. She’s witty, intelligent, beautiful, mysterious (you never do find out all there is to know about her) and I’d bet half the show’s budget was dedicated to just her wardrobe. I am so infatuated with the woman that HOLiC somehow managed to sneak its way into my top 10 favourite shows of all time…
DRRR is here much for the same reason Baccano is: for having a rich, detailed storyline in which each and every character plays a crucial role but, I find myself favouring DRRR simply because I found the variety of types of relationship between characters to be even greater than in Baccano, or any other anime in fact! I love the dynamic between the two nerds, Erisa and Walker, I love the budding romance of Celty and Shinra, I love the unlikely friendship of Mikado and Kida, (their personalities are so different) but, most of all I love the hatred Izaya and Shizuo seem to have for one another. Hate is one of the strongest, most powerful of human emotions, so to feel that for someone you’ve just met, before even exchanging words, is something I find intriguing to say the least!
5. Clannad: After Story
Less funny than its predecessor but, Clannad’s humour was never its strongest point so, that doesn’t matter! Rather than continuing to add to Tomoya’s harem, AS focuses on his relationship with Nagisa and how that develops over time- something you don’t get enough of in anime. Mostly it’s just a case of the guy getting the girl, and that’s that! But, AS is about how the pair overcome the obstacles life throws at them, whilst still emphasising the importance of family, making it one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful shows I’ve ever seen and one I’m sure everyone can relate to on some level, despite it having supernatural themes…
Kuragehime is such a wonderful show; its characters are so extreme they’re almost caricatures of what you’d expect an otaku to be but, it’s also extremely touching! Whilst these characters’ interests do ostracise them, viewers aren’t encouraged to pity them- they’re content with who they are as people and their interactions with Kuranosuke highlight this. But, perhaps what touched me the most was Kuranosuke’s ability to see Tsukimi’s inner princes, beneath those nasty grey joggers and scruffy eyebrows was an incredibly talented, beautiful individual, and he was able to bring this individual to the surface! A really sweet romcom, with added jellyfish.
The whole, our protagonist’s normal everyday life is shattered by forces that are beyond their control is something which has been done to death but, when the protagonist is female and the forces beyond their control are vampires, I’m all for it! Saya, our heroine, is refreshingly down-to-earth and shows real development as she learns more about herself and is hardened by her experiences. But, it wasn’t just Saya I loved but, the entire cast. I laughed with them, I cried with them, it really felt like we shared an experience, ya’ know? And this show has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard- Hans Zimmer, a composer who has composed music for over 100 major blockbusters, including Pirates of the Caribbean, did a truly wonderful job! Whilst, by no means, a renowned masterpiece, this will always be a personal favourite!
2. Fullmetal Alchemist:Brotherhood
FMA was one of my first forays into anime and is a show that provokes many fond memories so, when this shiny, new remake came along I was extremely excited! Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed! Whilst the first part of the story is sped-through, making certain events lose some of their impact, I felt as though FMA:B’s story was much tighter, overall. The villains were vanquished, couples coupled up and unlike FMA, they didn’t pull a master villain completely out of its arse. Two of my favourite FMA characters, Ling and Olivier, were also introduced, who were both so awesome, I can’t for the life of me work out why they weren’t included in the original! But, my favourite improvement was Ed’s hair which, miraculously, was made to seem a lot blonder than in the previous series.
1. Naruto Shippuden
Wait, don’t leave! At least let me try to justify why this is here! The reason I cherish this show so much despite all of its flaws, (yes, I acknowledge it has flaws!) is because this was the show that started it all for me and is one of the few shows to consistently give me a high! This reason I’ve chosen Shippuden as opposed to Naruto is because of how much Naruto grows throughout the show. Throughout Shippuden, Naruto becomes stronger, more mature and gradually earns the trust and friendship of those around him, I love this as I’ve always insisted it is far more interesting to watch a character riddled with flaws grow as a person than start off with someone perfect from the off-set- *cough* Ichigo *cough*. Not only that, the battles are more intense, the villains, more villainous and, best of all, there is, comparatively, much less Sasuke.