Lerxst’s Top 30
This is something I have been working on for about 3 years now. The reason it has taken me so long to actually write it out is that with every new season that starts to air, either a new show worms it’s way into my favorites and I have to stop all production on this or a sequel to a show I hold dear changes my outlook on the series for better or for worse. So this list will be forever changing as the years and seasons come and go. But now is the time to put it all on the line and give you all a glimpse into what I believe to be the best of the best.
30. Mind Game
This movie is strange from the get go. But then again that’s just what Masaaki Yusasa does. He makes incredibly unique, and sometimes strange anime. However the wacky nature of this movie isn’t why I’ve put it on my list. It’s the incredibly awesome ending that makes it the most memorable. What other movie have you seen where four individuals who have spent a large portion of time together inside a whale try to escape by bolting at top speed up the whale’s mouth, using the hair that has grown on their feet over the years and a fly to propel themselves out? It’s a sequence in anime and in movies in general that I feel can never be recreated or matched.
29. Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki
I’m a sucker for heartwarming anime dealing with family issues. Hosoda’s Wolf Children dives into that head first and tells the story of Hana as she tries to raise her children Ame and Yuki as a single mother. However being the wonderful director that he is, Hosoda doesn’t just center his focus on one this one conflict. He also goes into the lives of the two children as well. He brings to light the decision the two of them must ask themselves: do they want to live out their lives as wolves, or as humans? It’s those decisions that they must make plus the inner struggle Hana must endure in accepting their choices that make this movie such a joy to watch. It’s heartwarming, it’s sad, and it’s brilliant.
I can’t say exactly what it is I love about Chihayafuru. I do love the show don’t get me wrong, but this is probably the hardest show to write about on this list. I guess it’s just an accumulation of the wonderful art style, great story, and the directing of each karuta match. It’s probably the karuta matches more than anything. There are a lot of sweat and tears that go into each match and you feel for the characters when the win and lose. The passion and teamwork come through so much with each reading of the next poem passage that when someone out of the main characters gets that card you just want to jump out of your seat and cheer from them like you’re watching it in person. It almost makes you want to play karuta competitively.
Did any of you ever watch that cartoon Wacky Races as a kid? Do some of you not know what I’m talking about? Well, let me put it in perspective for you. Redline is Wacky Races, but on a really crazy acid trip. It takes that show and blows it up to a much, much larger scale. What really makes Redline incredible is that it is all hand drawn. Madhouse spent 7 whole years hand drawing this movie into the spectacle that it is today. It’s a movie that gets your adrenaline pumping from the start up with both it’s animation, and its music. Needless to say, it’s one hell of a crazy ride.
26. Porco Rosso
This is the magnum opus of Miyazaki’s films. Say what you want about Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo, etc. Miyazaki hit it out of the park with this movie and it truly is the best film in his arsenal. It takes a bit of a step back from the fantasy and the magical and creates a more down to Earth atmosphere where the characters are very much likable in their own ways. Even the “villian” of the movie, Donald Curtis with his cheesy mustache and all, has very likable qualities about him. It’s an accumulation of the character interactions with a very post-war feel from years gone that make it an all around complete package.
Manga has always been interesting to me. The devotion that mangakas put into their works on a daily and weekly basis is something I can’t even compare to anything else. And Bakuman gives you an inside look as to what it takes to be a mangaka for the biggest manga publication in Japan, from the strict schedule they have to endure each week, to striving to be the best in hopes of not getting canceled. The competitive presence in Bakuman is a bit different than in other shows. Their “rivals” aren’t what you would expect. The other mangakas they compete with each week in ratings aren’t looking to beat them and then rub it in their faces. They do it to make each other better. To draw better panels each week. To write better chapters each week. It molds comradery with competition in a way that makes it so you want to root for everyone.
24. Haruhi Suzumiya
Haruhi is a strange beast. And I’m not just talking about Haruhi herself. I’m talking about the series as a whole. While I remember enjoying the series, it is remarkably forgettable outside of Endless 8. What really gives Haruhi a shot of even appearing on this list is Disappearance. It takes a step back from it’s “humorous” side, cranks up the supernatural in full force, and puts its focus more on Kyon and Nagato. The moment that truly stuck with me was when Kyon had to decide on which world he wanted to live in. Does he want to live in the world created by Nagato where the SOS Brigade doesn’t exist and they lot of them never know each other? Or does he go back to the world in which he would come to scrutinize at times? “Don’t you find such an extraordinary school life fun?” It’s the way that Takemoto Yasuhiro plays out that entire scene that makes Disappearance so good and makes the Haruhi Suzumiya series worthwhile. It’s also worth mentioning that I didn’t hate watching Endless 8. In fact, I enjoyed it to some degree.
23. School Rumble
School Rumble is the funniest damn anime I’ve ever seen. It’s a parody on school life romance shows and it makes so much of its focus on the character interactions that you yearn for them to keep coming together and conversing with one another. It’s hard to not find a character you like in this show. They all have their own unique quirks about them. It also helps that Kenji Harima is the focus of the show 90% of the time. He is my hero and I only live and breath each day to become as brilliant of a man as he is someday.
22. Spice and Wolf
The actual story to Spice and Wolf is in some ways overshadowed by its main characters. The setting and story line are interesting in their own right, but it’s Kraft Lawrance and Holo that make this show so much fun to watch. They remind me a lot of Hitagi and Koyomi in Bakemonogatari. So unreserved and candid with one another that you lose track of what’s going on with the actual story because you are so invested in listening to these two characters banter on and on. Spice and Wolf is a prime example that characters can make a show great. You sometimes don’t need a intricate, thought provoking story with twists and turns around each corner. Throw in two really great characters and you can have a great show to show for it.
21. Aquarion Evol
This show is dumber than the biggest box of rocks in the world. But it is absolutely brilliant because of it. Because this show is self aware. It realizes how dumb it is with it’s sexual innuendos and stupid metaphors. It will stray away from it’s goofy nature for a few episodes to give you something a bit more serious only to lead you into an episode with Fudo Zen handing off crates of bananas to his students and telling them venture off somewhere in hopes of them learning something. And then it ends as you A-typical hot spring episode. This show isn’t so bad that it’s good. It’s so blatantly stupid that it makes it so wonderfully enjoyable.
FLCL is like one of those Japanese hot pots you see in anime every once in a while. Everyone comes together with a different ingredient and throws it into a pot of broth and eats it. Sometimes you will come out with something great. And in some cases, you come out with something really strange and unusual. You begin to eat it and realize none of the ingredients really go together. But then you hit that one bite that brings everything together so wonderfully that it’s almost euphoric. In hopes of recreating that sensation you keep eating only to find that one sampling every 5 or so intakes. This is FLCL. It’s a central idea that is masked by crazy, over the top hijinks. But if you really dig through all that you will find that one moment that brings everything together. That one moment that really captures the essence of it all.
If Okabe wasn’t the character that he is in this show, or if he wasn’t in it at all, Steins;Gate wouldn’t even be on this list. Watching both sides of Okabe Rintarou is the real joy of this show. On the one hand he’s an utter buffoon who believes he is a self proclaimed mad scientist, pretends to talk to some secret organization on his cell phone in his attempts to bring down CERN, and attempts to speak jive to badge sellers on the streets. On the other hand, he’s a broken man trying to rewrite time itself in order to protect those he cares about and watch his slow decent into madness. While the side characters are interesting in their own regard, it’s Okabe that makes the show worth watching the most. El Psy Congroo.
Have you ever watched an anime that you thought was so great that once you finished it you had to stop and think about all the experiences you just witnessed? Toradora was one of the first few series to do that to me. The show has it’s ups and downs but the resolution to the entire story that makes it great. Toradora may have one of the most satisfying romance endings that I’ve come to experience to date. While my love for Minori will never die, I do believe that Toradora got it right in bringing Ryuuji and Taiga together in the end. It just made sense and made for a great series as a whole.
17. The iDOLM@STER
I had zero expectations going into this show. I thought of it only as another generic moeblob with a bunch of music thrown into the mix. You know, what K-ON was supposed to be. But what I got from it were individual stories from a group of girls not only trying to realize their dreams, but overcoming themselves in becoming someone better. The moment that I realized how much I loved the show was during their final performance and they opened with READY!!. Its was in that moment that I slammed my laptop on the table, almost breaking it, and threw two fists in the air shouting “FUCK YES”. This anime turned me into the idol-loving douchebag that I am today. So if you want to know why I will automatically pick up a new idol show, no questions asked, and love those shows uncontrollably, then you can lay all your blame on The iDOLM@STER.
There was a point in my anime watching experience where I went onto MAL and picked something out of the top 30 and decided to watch it. At the time Mononoke was at the #30 spot and gave it a try. Mononoke was the show that turned me into a fan of unique art styles. It’s vibrant colors and filters made it so enjoyable to watch. Of course that’s not the only thing landing Mononoke on my list. The four stories it tells are so interesting and bring something new and fresh to the table that it makes it one of the most captivating shows I’ve ever come to watch. MAL may not be the best source for what’s good and what isn’t good with it’s rankings. But with Mononoke, they got it right.
15. The Tatami Galaxy
I’m not sure I would have enjoyed The Tatami Galaxy as much as I did had I not been in college when I watched it. It hits on a lot of great points that I believe most college-goers go through like what clubs to join and who to befriend and what not. The way Yuasa goes about portraying such decisions in life is really fantastic. In a very Groundhog Day fashion, Watashi is forced to relive the first year of his college life over and over again with each story and its outcome pulling you in more than the last. If you can learn to live with the rapid fire dialogue of the MC then you will experience one of the more interesting stories about life decisions.
14. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012)
There are times when watching a show where you can pinpoint exactly when you know you will love the show. For Jojo’s it was really early on. It was the moment when DIIIIIIIIIIIOOOOOOOOOOOOO arose from the dead and started walking up a stone pillar as the Joestar Estate burned beneath him in a fiery blaze. I knew then and there that I was in for something truly remarkable. It also helps it’s case that it is riddled with classic rock references all throughout the series and it’s ED is Roundabout by Yes. But one of the most redeeming factors of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is it’s attention to style. If there ever was as show more FABULOUS than Jojo’s, then I’m not sure our eyes could handle it. Whatever the case may be, it goes without saying that Jojo’s is without a doubt one of the badass shows in existence.
13. Strawberry Panic
I think it’s safe to say that Strawberry Panic was sort of my “gateway drug” into romance anime and watching anime on a regular basis in general. It’s really hard for me to come up with the words to really say what it is I love about this series. There were so many moments where I was hit with sadness, happiness, and anticipation for everything these characters went through. And it wasn’t just for Nagisa and Shizuma. Every other couple in this show got their fair share of screen time and there was something to like about all of them, even Kaname and Shion. And no, I didn’t like this solely because it’s yuri. I love it because it’s an emotional romance show.
12. Heartcatch Precure
I’ve heard time and time again that Heartcatch is one of the best, if not the best, Precure show in the series’ 10 year run. While I have never completed another Precure series (but watched a good number of episodes from other installations), I can say with confidence that Heartcatch is a damn good show. Yes it does have its typical mahou shoujo messages of friendship, family, and all that other jargon, but what it also has is those moments that will tug at your heartstrings and not let go. I went into this expecting cool transformation sequences, great fight scenes, and anything else that is packaged into a mahou shoujo show. I wasn’t expecting to come out of it with life lessons and an episode later in the show that would hit REALLY close to home. If you’re interested in jumping in on Precure, start with Heartcatch. You won’t regret it.
11. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Evangelion is that one show that most people who watch anime have seen, but most don’t truly understand. I can honestly say to this day that I still haven’t quite wrapped my brain around Eva. But it’s still an incredibly captivating series even with it’s psychological nature. It’s almost impossible to find a show out there that dives as deep into the human psyche as Evangelion does. Evangelion’s horrific and terrifying imagery still stays with me to this day. There is something about Unit 01 going completely berserk and eating away at an Angel that still one of the most haunting experiences I’ve ever had in anime. Eva’s really not a show I can explain to you. It’s something you just have to experience for yourself to understand.
10. Summer Wars
There are times where I have the need to rewatch a series so I can relive all the moments and emotions I felt the first time I watch it. Summer Wars is that movie that still gets me every time I watch it. That moment towards the end where Natsuki is playing Hana Fuda with Love Machine and loses enough OZ profiles where she can’t place the minimum bet. And then she gains control of all the other OZ accounts that haven’t been taken over because everyone in the world is watching her and believes in her to win. That moment gets me every time. It’s such a powerful moment in the movie that it really drives home everything that has happened leading up to it. Summer Wars is still my favorite anime movie of all time and I put it ahead of some of my favorite non-anime favorite movies of all time.
9. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
What is there to say about Gurren Lagann that hasn’t been said already? If you haven’t watched this show then you should really reevaluate what you’re doing with your life. It is the most “FUCK YEAH” show in existence. It’s over the top and has some of the most energetic moments in anime. It’s not even a matter of me recommending it. Go fucking watch it. It’s a show that anyone remotely interested in anime should experience.
I was required to read The Count of Monte Cristo back in high school and it was one of the best reads I experienced in those four years. Finding out that there was an anime adaptation of it made me a bit worried at first. How could an anime studio reinvigorate my love for that story? Well, Gonzo somehow did so with their incredibly unique interpretation of the classic novel. It’s not so much the spin they put on the story but the wonderful art style that goes along with it. The show just looks beautiful in so many ways. So Gonzo, I ask of you, please go back to making more anime like this. The world needs more shows of this caliber.
What I’m about to say about Mushishi is going to be a bit odd having it placed where it is on this list but here goes: Mushishi is the closest anime will get to a true masterpiece. After watching and rewatching Mushishi I can honestly say I find nothing wrong with it. The show is episodic and it tells so many astonishing, and some times terrifying stories that you are hard pressed to find one that you don’t adore. Whether it be a father and son who chase down rainbows, to a man who cannot escape a forest of bamboo, or having goo babies live under your house, Ginko’s journey through an old world Japan contains some of the greatest storytelling anime has to offer.
6. Kimi ni Todoke
If you were to classify me as a fanboy of any series in anime, Kimi ni Todoke would be that series. The thing about the Kimi ni Todoke that really drives it home for me is that I’ve been in Sawako’s shoes before. I know what it’s like to be liked by no one and not have a single friend. Loneliness is one of the worst feelings in the world. It’s through Sawako’s actions and her determination not to spend her high school days as an outcast that warm my heart the most when watching this show. Yes, the show has a rough start up plagued with misunderstandings and Sawako’s inability to do much of anything. But without those moment’s, without the trials that Sawako must go through to grow as a person, I wouldn’t love it as much as I do. However, it’s not just Sawako that makes the show great. The side characters in this series are some of the best in any anime. It’s not just their support for Sawako and Shouta that make them great. It’s their individual stories and the distress they must go through as well that really tie everytihing together. Kimi ni Todoke spawned my love for shoujo romances. To put it any lower on this list would be an insult.
5. Monogatari series
With every other series on this list I can pinpoint the moment or the reason why I wanted to watch it in the first place. The Monogatari series, however, is the one show where I don’t even remember why I started it initially. But I’m glad I did. The Monogatari series has some of the best character interactions in all of anime. Whether that be because of Nisio Isin’s style of writing or how SHAFT has animated this show and the events that transpire in the story in a way that only they can i.e. that fucking toothbrush scene, the show is just fun to watch. Koyomi is probably one of the most fun main characters to watch because he has so many sides to him depending on which character in the show he is with. And let’s not forget how hot Hitagi is. I mean just look at her. There’s a reason she’s the best girl in the series.
Of all the series on this list, Baccano is the one I’ve rewatched the most. I think I’m at about 7 rewatches for Baccano. And it’s not because the story is hard to follow that I need to constantly watch it in order to follow it. It’s because the storytelling is so unique and interesting that I constantly want to watch it over and over again. It’s consistent jumps between certain events in the story line and a cast of wonderfully interesting, and sometimes completely bat shit crazy, characters make for a show unlike any I’ve come to watch. That, and it has a really great dub. Probably the best dub out there. In fact it’s so good that I can’t watch it subtitled. A lot of the charm of Baccano comes from it’s dub a lot like how Golden Boy is better to watch dubbed. Baccano is a wildly interesting look into the lives of some of the craziest and down right insane characters anime has ever seen and their interactions with one another in a very “six degrees of seperation”-esque fashion.
3. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig
Ghost in the Shell was always a series that captivated me back when it aired constantly on Adult Swim on Saturday nights. I never actually watched it in it’s entirety back then, but I held enough of a interest in the show that whenever I saw DVDs of it in the store I would stop and contemplate buying them all. Granted, that never happened. It wasn’t until about three years ago when I was full invested in anime that I decided to finally watch it from start to end. And boy did it not turn out to be one of the greatest series out there. Ghost in the Shell is without a doubt one of the best written series ever. The show relies heavily on it’s dialogue between characters and if you miss even a fraction of what they’re saying then you will be completely lost in what the hell is going on. But if you are able to follow what everyone is talking about, then you will experience one of the best political, psychological, action-packed, and sometimes disturbing shows anime can dish out.
2. Clannad: After Story
Anime was the first medium of entertainment to illicit such an emotion out of me that it would drive me to tears. While Clannad is great in it’s own way, Clannad: After Story is where the story really takes off. I will admit that the whole scenario with Ushio and the robot in the alternate universe is a bit off putting at times. However the story of Tomoya and Nagisa that really sells it for me. For the sake of avoiding spoilers (although I really shouldn’t have to do this because all of you should watch this show) I’ll just say that there were three moments in After Story where I had to stop watching because I was so overtaken with sadness and heartbreak. Even when I rewatched After Story knowing the outcome of everything in the show I was still brought to tears. Clannad: After Story is not one of those shows that I want to go back and watch all the time for the sake of my emotional health, but it is a show that I will never forget experiencing and that I will hold near and dear to me forever.
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
With over 350 anime series, movies, OVAs, ONAs, and specials that I’ve watched, I can honestly say that nothing comes close to being as good as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Edward and Alphonse’s journey to finding a way of getting their bodies back is ever changing throughout the show. While they stray off the beating path constantly they never lose sight of their true goal. Their quest of returning to the lives they once had while at the same time restoring order to Amestris is one of the best stories in anime. Not to mention that all the people they meet along the way serve some purpose in the grand scheme of things. Tack on some of the best animated fight scenes in anime and you have yourself one of the best made anime shows of all time. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the best anime has to offer.