It makes me a little sad when people diss anime. I’ll admit I’m no otaku, but I can’t see myself losing interest in anime any time soon. I think anime is great because as a medium it allows worlds to be created which wouldn’t be possible as a conventional Hollywood production. The way that epic soundtracks are blended with action scenes would be pretty tacky in live-action shows, but in anime it just works. I could write an article in itself extolling the virtues of anime as a medium, but there is also the personal side - some anime are just freaking cool.
I don’t really remember when I got into anime, I just remember watching Dragon Ball Z on Cartoon Network’s evening slot. I was obsessed with drawing, and Dragon Ball Z was what sparked my interest in the Japanese anime style. Every week I’d go to the library and take all the “How to draw manga/anime…” books out, and frantically draw the characters over and over again. Since then I’ve devoured every episode of Dragonball ever, and quite a few other series too! Below are my five of my favourite anime, starting with Wolf’s Rain.
5. Wolf’s Rain
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Jan 2003 - Jul 2003
An old legend claims that at the end of the world Paradise will open, but only wolves can find it. In a bleak future wolves have been hunted to near-extinction, and those remaining hide in plain sight by posing as humans. When four of the last wolves are inexplicably drawn together, they set out into an unforgiving world on an epic journey to find Paradise
Wolf’s Rain is a beautiful tale with a lot of atmosphere. The animation is stunning, with the dystopian world vividly imagined, a mix of ruined cities and towering metropolises. The animation definitely adds to one of the anime’s unique; anthropomorphism of the wolves. Granted they have human form, but there was something so relatable about these creatures that led to a truly emotional experience. Added to this was the strong character development, which set the series up for its emotional conclusion. A final point, and the cherry on the cake, is the soundtrack by the masterful Yoko Kanno!
Wolf’s Rain Trailer
4. Trinity Blood
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr 2005 - Oct 2005
Trinity Blood is set in a world is split between two factions, humanity and the vampiric Methuselah. Though the two factions have been at war for centuries, with the humans mainly led by the remnants of the Catholic Church, there are those on both sides who wish for peace. Among these is Abel Nightroad, a Vatican priest who is also a Crusnik; a vampire which feeds on the blood of other vampires. Trinity Blood is the story of Abel and his companions as they try to bring light to the bleak landscape of this future world.
Trinity Blood is definitely not “just another vampire series”. Its blend of political intrigue, sci-fi and traditional vampire-story elements make for an anime which really makes you think, but there are of course some exciting battle scenes too! One of the highlights is the dark, neo-gothic artwork, which really adds to the immersion of the series. Personally, I found this anime quite an emotional experience; the main characters were deep and had compelling back stories, and the soundtrack was so atmospheric.
Trinity Blood Trailer
3. Samurai Champloo
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: May 2004 - March 2005
Jin is a wandering ronin, quiet but deadly. Mugen is a vagrant swordsman, wild and unrestrained. The two couldn’t be more different, but when they are saved from execution by Fuu an unlikely trio is formed. Having been hours from death, the two warriors make Fuu a promise; to help her find the samurai who smells of sunflowers. With this vague premise, the three embark on a riveting journey across feudal Japan.
Many anime have unique points, but a series to be truly unique it has to be something special. Samurai Champloo is one of these; it’s set in an alternate feudal Japan, where traditional Japanese society is pervaded by modern street culture elements like hip-hop and graffiti. This could never have been pulled off without the simply incredible OST produced by Fat Jon and Nujabes.
The soundtrack adds so much depth to already brilliant moments; swordfights are animated to Fat Jon’s fast-paced beats, and emotional moments are magnified by Nujabes’ mellow tones. Personally, the characters are Samurai Champloo’s strongest point. Their back-stories have tremendous depth, and the group dynamic leads is at times heartwarming, and at times plain hilarious!
Samurai Champloo Trailer
2. Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr 1998 - Apr 1999
Cowboy Bebop is set in the year 2071, when humanity is now spread amongst the solar system. Set in Join Spike and Jet, a down-on-their-luck bounty hunting duo as they scrape a living hunting bounties for the Inter-Solar Police. Along the way they are joined by the zany Edward, and the mysterious Faye Valentine.
It’s hard to say anything about Cowboy Bebop that hasn’t already been said: Its narrative great, with an over-arching plot allows for some hilarious stand alone episodes while at the same time maintaining some sort of “story” to follow; The main characters are deep and well-explored, but most importantly, relatable; The soundtrack is one of Yoko Kanno’s masterpieces, especially the iconic big-band style opening. The list is really endless, Cowboy Bebop has virtually no holes to be picked, which is the reason for its lasting popularity and critical success.
Cowboy Bebop Series Blu-RayTrailer
1. Dragon Ball Z
- Episodes: 291
- Aired: Apr 1989 - Jan 1996
Dragonball Z is a legendary epic which follows Goku, Earth’s strongest fighter, and his friends as they fight to protect their home at all costs! Prepare for endless transformations and insane battles as the Z fighters go toe-to-toe with galactic warlords, near-indestructible androids and the most evil pink demon you’ve ever seen!
Dragon Ball Z is a massively influential anime, both worldwide and personally. For Westerners at least, it’s one of those anime people see as a child which slowly indoctrinates them into the anime cult. The anime is based on a simple formula, but it succeeds where many other Shounen “clones” flop. One of the reasons for this is its excellent character development, with annoying kids growing to be powerful warriors, and enemies becoming fast friends.
Dragonball Z also changed the game when it came to character attacks and transformations, creating some tropes which are still deeply rooted in anime series today, as well as having a killer soundtrack and host of opening themes. It’s possible to go on and on about DBZ, but it’s hard to describe it as anything but “awesome”.
Dragonball Z Season 1 Trailer
So there you have it, my top 5 anime! I’ve really enjoyed writing for Honey’s Anime since I started a few months ago, and I hope you enjoy reading my articles past and future!