I don’t have a touching or unique story about how anime has changed my life. My story sounds pretty lame, but I sincerely have to thank anime for improving my English proficiency. Obviously, my grasp of the English language is far from top notch, and I certainly can’t write as eloquently as an excerpt from one of the Harry Potter books and the likes. However, my English proficiency used to be a far cry from what it is now. Before anime was introduced in my life, I always scored borderline A’s in elementary English tests, and to Asians, those are more like C’s. All my friends had near-perfect scores and while I felt left out, I was lazy and never took the initiative to do anything to improve my command of English. After all, I’m the hopeless type who would give up upon seeing the first page of a book if it is only filled with words. I only enjoy reading books that have illustrations, so pretty much the only type of book I love to read are comics. Hence, I just sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed anime and manga, and suddenly my English proficiency improved so rapidly that I totally owned my friends in high school English tests. For that, I have to thank those who did a great job in subbing anime and manga too. Who knew there were many words to describe idiots such as imbecile, nincompoop, doofus, blockhead and buffoon?
Having said that, I’m really impatient and picky when it comes to anime. My favorite medium is actually manga, as it is more fast-paced and often more detailed. I find many anime series to be really slow-paced for my liking. I can’t stand the slow reactions that seem to be intended to enhance comedic value, as I find them really boring and wish to fast-forward them. Therefore, my recommendations below may be suitable for those who feel the same way about anime. Despite my general preference for manga, a good anime is better than a good manga because I can be lazy and enjoy them passively, which is why many of us love anime!
- Episodes: 220
- Aired: Oct. 2002 – Feb. 2007
The Nine-Tailed Fox named Kyuubi attacked Konohagakure, The Hidden Leaf Village, and in order to control this demon, the Fourth Hokage sealed it within a newborn baby named Uzumaki Naruto. Naruto is a hyperactive and mischievous kid who pulls pranks in order to get attention from others. He is shunned by the villagers due to the fox demon contained within him. Naruto greatly desires to become the next Hokage of Konohagakure to be acknowledged by others.
HOLD ON A MINUTE! I know what you’re thinking. Naruto anime is notoriously slow-paced, but the slow pacing was only apparent after certain arcs. I really enjoyed Naruto pre-Shippuuden era, minus the fillers of course. It was funny, touching, and also uplifted my spirits. I highly anticipated it when Naruto was pitted against stronger fighters like Gaara and Neji. This is the amazing part about shonen anime series. However, when it comes to Shippuuden, I was not excited about the strong opponents anymore, as Naruto always managed to easily sway the enemies’ mindset with “Talk no Jutsu”. Naruto anime series has a huge drawback which are the filler episodes. Even without reading the comics, virtually anyone can spot the filler episodes due to how terrible they are. With Naruto being such a popular series, you’d think the team behind it would put more effort into the filler episodes. I’d say, just skip the filler episodes if you plan to watch Naruto, and be prepared to get disappointed by the long-drawn Shippuuden series which is still ongoing.
4. Gensoumaden Saiyuki
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: Apr. 2000 – Mar. 2001
There was a time when humans and demons live together in peace. However, the peace was breached as demons started to attack humans. The demons are planning to unleash a powerful demon named Gyumao which has been imprisoned for thousands of years. A monk armed with a gun embarks on a journey to the west with 3 demons in order to prevent the resurrection of Gyumao. The series is inspired by the Chinese mythology, Journey to the West.
I’ve always find the Journey to the West mythology to be appealing, so I was drawn to watching Gensoumaden Saiyuki. To be completely honest, the plot and fight scenes are not spectacular. I mainly like this series due to the characters. The camaraderie between the 4 main characters is cute and refreshing, and I also really like the character named Son Goku. So it can be surmised that the main reason I like this series is because I was fangirling over Goku. Anyway, the anime is entertaining so do give it a shot. It is a low budget anime with AMAZING songs. I like every opening and ending song of Gensoumaden Saiyuki, and I also like many other songs from the anime. Seriously, I didn’t get bored going through the opening and ending songs for every episode I watched. Usually I just like to skip the songs, but with Gensoumaden Saiyuki, I would stay to listen to the songs. If you are a fan of Saiyuki, you will be thrilled to know that there will be an upcoming Saiyuki Reload Blast anime series! Those of you who have not watched the series should try watching the very first series of Saiyuki which is Gensoumaden Saiyuki.
3. Ouran Koukou Host Club (Ouran High School Host Club)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 2006 – Sep. 2006
Haruhi Fujioka is a bright student who manages to secure a scholarship at the prestigious Ouran High School which is an academy filled with rich students. Being a commoner, Haruhi is deemed as a rare species. When she was looking for a quiet place to study, Haruhi opened the door to Music Room #3 and stumbled upon 6 dashing guys who are the Host Club members. While making her exit, she accidentally broke an expensive vase, and since she could not afford to pay for it, Haruhi works for the Host Club to pay for her debt.
I’m the kind who cannot tolerate teenage romance series, be it anime, manga, or drama. I’ve tried being open-minded and watched several popular romantic series but I just find them very cheesy and I cringed at the whole thing. I’m surprised there is a shojo anime series that I like. This is mainly attributed to the main female lead, Haruhi Fujioka, who is indifferent to romantic feelings. Hence, there would not be any cheesy love scene every now and then, and there would not be any drama sparked from tiny issues which can be easily resolved but characters from romantic series always seem so dense to realize there are easy solutions. The series mainly centered on the cute friendship between Haruhi and her host club friends. In a way, I would say this anime series isn’t “too shojo”, and unromantic people like me can enjoy it too.
2. Ranma 1/2
- Episodes: 161
- Aired: Apr. 1989 – Sep. 1992
Ranma Saotome and his father go to China for martial art training purposes. They train at Jusenkyo where both of them fall into cursed springs. Due to the curse, Ranma will turn into a girl when he is splashed with cold water, but would revert to a boy when he is splashed with hot water. His father has a similar fate except that he turns into a panda instead of a girl. Ranma’s father has arranged for Ranma to marry one of his friend’s daughters, who decides that Ranma should marry his youngest daughter named Akane. Akane is a skilled martial artist as well and she hates men.
Ranma ½ is one of the earliest anime series I have watched. I made it a point to watch the series from the very first episode when it was aired on TV as I had a Ranma ½ game for the oldest version of Gameboy. The game was in Japanese so I could not understand the story, and I always wondered what hot and cold drinks had to do with gender, and whether the girl and boy with ponytails were siblings or lovers. Watching the anime cleared up the confusion, and got me hooked till the very end. The series is just so funny! And I’ve noticed that old school anime tend to have pretty decent filler episodes which can be entertaining, unlike many new anime series with rubbish filler episodes.
1. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr. 2013 – Sep. 2013
In a world where titans coexist with humans, humans were slaughtered to near extinction. In a bid to preserve the remaining humans, tall walls are built to protect them against the titans. However, peace does not last for too long as a titan manages to damage the wall, enough to allow titans to enter into mankind’s territory. After witnessing the devastating effects caused by the titans, Eren Yeager vows to eradicate them, and the first step to that is by joining the Survey Corps.
I really enjoy watching Attack on Titan because it does not intentionally try to drag on the series with slow character reactions and nonsensical fillers. It remains very true to the manga, which does not have many volumes currently, and hence there are not many episodes of this anime series yet. The anime is fast-paced and straight to the point. Besides that, it can be pretty unpredictable. Each episode leaves you wanting to watch more. From the very first episode, I was already drawn to the series because serious business happened right from the first episode which made me curious about what is about to happen next.
As you may have noticed, many of the anime series listed here are rather old, and I believe that’s because first loves leave the strongest impression. Therefore, my judgement may be affected by the order I watch the anime series. Perhaps if I were to watch the older series again, I may find them weaker compared to some newer anime series. However, I am not one who love to rewatch anime series, so I do not want to test that theory. I encourage you to try watching some of the older anime series like the ones I listed above, and let me know if they are great even when compared to your current favorites!