I started my adventures with anime at a young age when they first showed anime on 4Kids. I didn't know what anime was and thought it was just cartoons, which is understandable for a 4-year-old. I know it was far too different from any old cartoons. It was that difference that caught me in their web and slowly but surely, prevented me from escaping. I also used to live on a tiny island, isolated from the world, so it didn't take very long for them to catch me.
From watching Ash choose his first Pokemon and starting his adventure to seeing a group of kids going on adventures with their monster friends, to girls magically transforming to save the day to even watching giant robots fighting in outer space. I remember I would always try my best to stay up late to catch Toonami and those late-night anime and even managed to find and watch Ranma 1/2 for the first time at my neighborhood video rental store. By the time I moved off of my island, where I finally learned what they were and had even more chances to watch them, I was already hooked!
Now, after so many years, I have fully immersed myself in all sorts of anime and even learned more about the country that made them. Growing up, I learned so many things from anime that I never learned from my family or real life. It shaped who I am today, from my interests to the goals I want to achieve. So here are my Top 5 Anime franchises that I love and that left a great impression on me. Why Anime franchises and not anime series? When I was figuring out which anime is my favorite, I realized I like certain anime as a franchise rather than just one anime series.
5. Cardcaptor Sakura Franchise
- Episodes: 92+
- Aired: 1998 - 2018
I had a tough time deciding this. I had a choice between Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, but ultimately, I chose Cardcaptor Sakura.
Cardcaptor Sakura was not just one of my favorite anime but also my first magical girl series and one of my first CLAMP series. It's about a 10-year-old girl named Sakura Kinomoto who found a mysterious book in her family's basement. She accidentally releases the magical cards in the book called the Clow Cards and meets the guardian, Cerberus or Kero. Kero appointed Sakura as the Cardcaptor and told her to gather all the Clow Cards before they caused any damage. She isn't doing it alone, though; she has help from Kero and her friends, as Sakura tries to balance her life as an ordinary girl with magic as she fulfills her duties as Cardcaptor.
I first watched Cardcaptor Sakura in English when they showed it on television. It was one of the two shows (the other being Sailor Moon) I have seen that focus on girls; this franchise especially focuses on a young girl, which back then was cool because it showed someone around my age having these incredible adventures. I enjoyed how each episode was written as small adventures when they introduced a new Clow Card, character, or problem regarding magic. I loved how kind Sakura was and how hardworking she was to get the Clow Cards and, later, the Clear Cards. I loved how supportive her friend Tomoyo was and the cute costumes she designed, how funny Kero was, how well-written Sakura's character development was, and her relationships with other characters, especially with Syaoran. Sakura's relationship with Syaoran was very sweet, if not romantic. Even when Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card made its debut, the franchise managed to keep the charm that the original had that made Cardcaptor Sakura enjoyable to watch. This franchise also has a handful of fantastic songs sung by a great singer/voice actor, Maaya Sakamoto.
4. Uta no Prince-sama Franchise
- Episodes: 52+
- Aired: 2011 - 2022
I have seen many otome and music/idol anime, but Uta no Prince-sama, or UtaPri for short, has been at the top of my list ever since the first season of the anime aired.
Based on the game with the same name, UtaPri follows a girl named Nanami Haruka (her default name in-game), with dreams of becoming a composer. She attends Shining Gakuen Academy, famous for producing idols. The school made a competition where students from the music course must teamed-up with students from the idol course and whoever wins gets to debut. Unlike the game, where you would choose between 6 different aspiring idols, Haruka paired with 6 unique aspiring idols in the anime and formed the group STARISH.
What I love about UtaPri and what makes it appealing is the unique cast of characters the franchise has, plus the many catchy songs they have made for the franchise. The characters were unique, with each character having a unique personality and backstory. It's hard to believe that they started as a 6-person idol group, but their cast of characters grew as the franchise expanded. Now there are 18 idols in total! They are all also visually appealing and voiced by famous voice actors too!
UtaPri also has great music. With a massive group of idols with different personalities, many of the songs in UtaPri were very diverse, and some were even very catchy. The songs in UtaPri differ depending on who sings them and whether they sing individually or in groups. It provided lots of variety to the franchise. With visually appealing idols voiced by prominent voice actors and a variety of music to choose from, it is no wonder UtaPri is still popular today.
3. Natsume Yuujinchou Franchise (Natsume's Book of Friends)
- Episodes: 76+
- Aired: 2008 - 2021
If you have watched an anime over 10 times and never got tired of it, then you know that it's gotta be one of your favorites. That anime is called Natsume Yuujinchou.
It follows a young boy named Takeshi Natsume, who can see yokai. While it may sound cool, it isn't to Natsume when he has to escape from being the next meal to a yokai. Not to mention this ability has forced him to be passed around from one foster home to the next. One day he accidentally released a seal of a demon named Madara, or Nyanko-sensei, who told him about his grandmother and her book: the Book of Friends. After inheriting the Books of Friends, Natsume made a deal with Nyanko-sensei and made it his goal to return the names that his grandmother obtained.
What I love about this franchise is its unique narrative. While the franchise and its story focus on Natsume, with some episodes specifically for him, it mainly focuses on the yokai that Natsume meets. For every yokai that Natsume meets, we learn more about them and their past by learning more about them alongside Natsume. It's like we get to see mini-stories of the yokai within this one big story about Natsume, and they wrote it in a way that it doesn't collide with one another. These mini-stories about the yokai feel like it's connected to the one big overall theme or story of the franchise, which is about Natsume. So, while it may seem slow to people, especially those who are into slice-of-life anime, Natsume Yuujinchou became one of my top favorites for its unique and well-written storytelling.
2. Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor Franchise (Fafner In The Azure: Dead Aggressor)
- Episodes: 63+
- Aired: 2004 - 2021
This franchise left a bigger impression on me than any other mecha anime I have seen.
In Fafner In The Azure, people lived in peace in the backwater of Japan's islands on an island called Tatsumi Jiya island. This island, though, is the last defense against extraterrestrial beings called Festum. They use these robots called Fafner to survive the Festum invasion. It follows a young boy named Kazuki Makuba, his friends, and the island's people as they fight to survive and for peace. As the series progresses, you also get to follow the story of Kazuki and the island's people as they grow to become the key to ending the war between Festum and humanity.
Out of all the mecha anime I saw or even anime in general, Fafner's story is one of the deepest I have seen so far. The story was so in-depth that you can't help but want to know what would happen next. The story mainly focuses on the war against the Festum and their survival, although there are instances where it's happy and peaceful; because of its focus, most of the story feels more solemn. I love the story, though, as it brought a lot of emotions out of me, from being tense to wanting to know what happens next to feeling sympathetic towards the characters, especially towards the main characters, and sad towards people's deaths. Yes, people die in this series. I can't tell you how many deaths I have seen and how they have died…pulled a string in my heart every time. Added to great music, art, and animation, it was surprising that not a lot of people talked about it. Overall, what made me love this franchise was the characters and the deep story it provided.
1. Pokemon Franchise
- Episodes: 1,215+
- Aired: 1997 - Present
This is the franchise where I will say that I am entirely biased even though I try not to be.
Ash Ketchum is a young boy from Pallet Town with dreams of becoming a Pokemon Monster. Together with his first Pokemon and trusty partner Pikachu, they travel across different regions, seeing new places, making new and loyal friends, and meeting new Pokemon as he travels to fulfill his dream of becoming a Pokemon Master.
This is where it all began. The start of my interest in anime, games, and later in Japan was through this franchise. It's hard to explain why I love the franchise when I love everything about it including the games. I love the world-building the franchise has made for the series. The different and unique designs for every Pokemon and how the Pokemon each has their unique personality and quirks. I especially love Ash and his friends' adventures through the world of Pokemon. All the experiences and the new Pokemon Ash meets are this franchise's charm points. It captured my attention when I was younger, and it still manages to capture my attention today. If you look carefully, you can also learn many vital lessons from each adventure Ash has gone through.
Pokemon has and always will have a special place in my heart. No matter how much anime I have seen, nothing seems to top what Pokemon has given me, and nothing can replace it.
So, here are my Top 5 favorite anime franchises. As you can tell, my anime choices are pretty diverse since I have no specific genre I love as long as the story is good. I hope you got to learn more about me and what anime I like from this. I also hope that you get a chance to watch these anime and let me know what you guys think about them! Leave your thoughts and comments below! I would love to hear from you and what anime interests you too! Don't forget to check out other articles that our fabulous writers in Honey's Anime wrote as well!!