Anime has managed to become a fundamental part of most of my relationships since I hit 13. I think it can end up being that way for a lot of people. They get introduced to anime in some way or another, and they can’t help but want to find others who share their passion for it. Because of anime, I have met some pretty amazing people, realized a life goal, and furthered my career. So I think it has treated me pretty well over the years.
Ever since I was a child, anime has been a huge part of my life, shaping it even. I began watching anime in middle school because I wanted to strengthen my friendship with a new neighbor. It was something she was interested in, and I quickly began to love it. She is still my best friend to this day. From that one experience, anime has become a major factor in my life. I went on to participate in cosplay competitions (even winning a few), becoming vice president for my anime club in college, and founding a multi-genre convention at my university. To this day, Swampcon still receives over 5,000 guests annually and hosts anime guests from all over the country. Anime has helped me create lasting friendships and build my career in video editing.
The community that I discovered which surrounds anime is definitely a complicated and varied one, but also a very warm and welcoming one. I think being able to find such like-minded people who accept and even share in your passions is an experience that can never be replaced.
Based on all of this history, “What is your favorite anime?” is a pretty difficult question. But I will endeavor to answer it for you. Now, thinking back to my childhood and college years, I will try to not let nostalgia decide all of my answers, but no promises. How can you not include the shows that introduced you to anime in a list of your favorites?
5. Fullmetal Alchemist
- Episodes: 51
- Aired: Oct 4, 2003 to Oct 2, 2004
This is a classic that is included in many top lists, but usually not in its original form. FMA: Brotherhood appears to be the younger, favorite iteration for most people. But I cannot forget the terrifying, yet spectacular introduction to anime that was Fullmetal Alchemist, the original show. After deviating from the original manga about 12 episodes in, the creators for the anime went in a whole different direction, which helped create 2 amazing stories from one plot line.
As a 13-year-old I was able to catch episode 2 on Adult Swim as it was airing. Despite this slightly traumatizing introduction to the series, I was hooked. How can you not find out what happens after that? FMA follows the journey of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse, who are desperately trying to rectify their mistake. The world they live in uses alchemy to change and create objects. The brothers go through many obstacles to try and find the Philosopher’s Stone. This item has the power to do the impossible with alchemy, and just might be able to help them. This is an epic, fantastic journey unlike any other, and is an amazing introduction to anime.
Fullmetal Alchemist Trailer
4. Lucky Star
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr 8, 2007 to Sep 17, 2007
When I am looking for a bit of pure joy to watch, I turn to Lucky Star. This show follows an adorable group of high school girls as they go through their daily lives. The real charm to this show are the characters themselves and the interactions they have. You will find yourself enthralled by conversations about dentists and pastries and look back to wonder how that is even possible.
Lucky Star is also similar to Gintama in the way it uses satire as a main source of comedy for the show. You can see references to popular anime such as Gundam, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and many more. One of the girls in the show is an otaku character, and it is so much fun to see her fangirl over her many obsessions. These characters are so lovable and happy, watching Lucky Star can only make you feel good as well.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 10, 2004 to Dec 26, 2004
This show was my ideal. This is what life and friendship in an anime club was supposed to be. When I saw it the first time, I realized that I was watching myself, or at least what I wanted in a group of friends. This was truly a genius move on the creators’ part. To create a show by nerds, for nerds, and actually about real nerds.
Genshiken depicts the daily life of a university’s anime club. The small challenges and victories of the everyday. We get to see the characters grow and be true to themselves in small realistic ways. It was like watching a version of yourself in these characters. This anime brings its viewers a simple joy, but a strong one. You don’t need magical powers or giant mechas to be special, all you need is a good group of friends.
2. Digimon Adventure Movie (Digimon: The Movie)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Mar 6, 1999
When I was a child I could not get enough of the Digimon world. From having imaginary Digimon to actually getting a Digivice for Christmas one year, I was a little more than obsessed. So when Digimon: The Movie was released in the United States, you can guess I was more than a little excited. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this film or listened to its fantastic soundtrack.
Digimon: The Movie spans two generations of Digidestined and combines the first three movies released overseas for Digimon. We get to see the Digimon world’s first introduction to Digimon creatures themselves, when the main characters are only just children. But several time lapses later, we see that these characters have grown into fully realized Digidestined. This movie had a complicated plot that really challenged young viewers. The true brilliance of the Digimon series is that it brought the imaginary, the fantastical, into the real world. It gave the audience the sense that there could be more than just the ordinary behind any computer screen.
1.Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume’s Book of Friends)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jul 8, 2008 to Sep 30, 2008
When someone asks me what my favorite anime is, Natsume’s Book of Friends is my first response. The peaceful tone and sentimental feel of this anime might not be everyone’s favorite, but no one can deny that it is the best at what it does. There are now 5 seasons of Natsume, with one currently airing, so I can’t be the only one who is in love with this heartwarming anime.
The story of Natsume follows a high school boy who can see yokai, or demons. He has grown up his whole life as an outcast because of the trouble that this unique talent brings. When Natsume finally finds a kind elderly couple to take him in, he will do anything to protect the new life he has built with them. Throughout the story we can see Natsume grow and understand the yokai around him. Not all are bad or evil, in fact, most are just misunderstood and need a little help. Natsume becomes accustomed to these encounters and does his best to help these troubled demons. This is the sweetest story I have ever seen, full of kindness and gentle interactions. It’s a story about not judging a book by its cover, and allowing yourself to see good in unexpected places.
Natsume’s Book of Friends Trailer
After writing this list, I am beginning to think that I prefer sad anime. This is further proved by the fact that the narrow misses on this list are Wolf Children, Anohana, and Your Name. If you can find an anime that moves you enough to tears then it is, in my opinion, a good one. The great works should always move us. And if anyone tells you that anime is not art, then please feel free to thoroughly prove them wrong with pieces such as Princess Mononoke, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and so many others.
Like I said, choosing a list of only 5 was impossible.