I wasn't always open with my love of anime. Back when I was younger, my mother thought I had better things to do than "watch children's cartoons", so I always watched anime when she wasn't around. (Mom, if you're reading this… I'm sorry for being such a disobedient daughter!) At that time, my only options were the Filipino dubs on local channels. That was my first exposure to the likes of Princess Sarah, Remi: Nobody's Girl, Blue Blink, Zenki and B't X.
Also, I was an awkward, socially inept kid. Sometimes, I'd hear my classmates talk about Dragon Ball, Hunter x Hunter and other shounen anime, but I didn't dare chime in. I wasn't sure how they'd react to the idea of someone like me – a serious, straight-A student – watching anime, so I kept quiet. In hindsight, it was a bad move: I could've made more friends, and would've had better memories of pre-college years, had I dared to break the ice. But that's spilled milk now.
Fast forward several years later: I graduated from high school. Since most of the best universities in my country were located in the National Capital Region, I decided to move there for my college studies. Because I spent the first 16 years of my life in the province, the city proved to be a shock for me – and so did college life. I had to brush up on my social skills, fast.
And, as fate would have it, many of my college friends were anime enthusiasts. So were the co-workers I got along with, once I left college. I suppose I liked them because they brought out something I've hidden for so long: My inner otaku. (I know "otaku" has a negative connotation in Japan, but until someone comes up with a better, one-word term for "anime fan", I'll stick with that.) Thanks to them, I was able to watch anime I would've have watched/heard of otherwise. More importantly, though, they were a reminder that someone like me belonged somewhere.
Anyway, enough about me. You're here, because you want to know what this person nicknamed "Issa M." considers her top 5 anime. These don't come in any particular order, really: Out of the anime I've watched over the years, these were the ones that stuck with me the most. So, without further ado, here they are:
5. Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: Jul 2013 – Sep 2013
Yugo Hachiken may be good at studying, but he doesn't really know what he wants to be when he grows up. To make something of himself, and to get away from his family, he enrolls in a rural agricultural school, where he thinks he can get top marks without much effort. However, being a city boy, he realizes he knows next to nothing about milking cows, collecting freshly-laid eggs, and — heaven forbid — chopping off chickens' heads without batting an eyelash!
Based on Hiromu Arakawa's childhood (yes, that Hiromu Arakawa), Gin no Saji is an insightful look into what life is like on a farm. For example, if you're a cheese lover, you'll really appreciate that dairy product more if you found out how hard it is to make it! I'm not sure how accurate these details really are, since I didn't grow up on a farm, but I think Gin no Saji is a great watch either way.
Also, the characters all have their distinct and memorable personalities. There's Tamako, the plump girl who prefers to be plump, even though she's drop-dead gorgeous when she loses weight; Nakajima-sensei, the teacher who looks like Buddha but gets really angry if you touch his cheese; and Mikage, the pretty and cheerful girl with a heavy burden to bear.
Overall, Gin no Saji has a good mix of comedic, heartwarming and tearjerking moments. (Seriously, after watching that episode with the piglet, you'll never look at your pork the same way again.) If you want to dip your toes into the slice of life genre, I suggest you start with this one. You won't regret it, I swear!
TV Anime "Silver Spoon" Trailer (English Subbed)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct 2005 – Jun 2006
I've written a review about this show before, but in case you don't want to go through that humongous wall of text, here's the gist of it:
In an alternate reality, strange creatures known as "mushi" exist. Believed to be the purest form of life, mushi flit from one human settlement to another, often causing trouble along the way. Enter Ginko, a mushishi ("mushi master"), who travels wherever the mushi are, and helps/counsels people on how to deal with them.
Mushishi is a pretty mellow series, with the occasional disturbing element thrown in. (For example, that "eye scream" scene in Episode 2. *shudder*) It doesn't really have an overarching storyline. Rather, it slowly unfolds the nature of the mushi – and of people – as it goes along. Each episode is self-contained, so you don't have to marathon it to get the full picture of what it's all about. In fact, I'd recommend not marathoning it, because you'll want every episode – and every life lesson in that episode – to really sink in.
By the way, I've watched Seasons 1 and 2 of Mushishi, both in Japanese and English dubs. That's how good it is, so watch it!
Mushishi Epic Fan Trailer
3. Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: Jan 2006 – Mar 2006
If you're Googling this anime, make sure you type "Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror" in full; otherwise, you'll end up with a much different show than what I'm about to write. But I digress. Let's just call it "Ayakashi" from here on, for convenience's sake.
Ayakashi is divided into three tales: Yotsuya Kaidan, Tenshu Monogatari and Bakeneko. Yotsuya Kaidan tells the story of one of Japan's most famous onryo, Lady Oiwa, who comes back from the dead to haunt her philandering husband and his family. Tenshu Monogatari, on the other hand, tells of the forbidden love between a human and a "forgotten god". Lastly, Bakeneko is about a monster cat who gets repelled by a mysterious Kusuri-uri ("medicine peddler").
Like most of this series' fans, I enjoyed Bakeneko the most, for the sheer trippiness of the animation, and the awesomeness of the Kusuri-uri. Next would be Yotsuya Kaidan, because those scenes with the rats still give me nightmares to this day. I put Tenshu Monogatari in last place, not because it's no good, but because I don't think it really counts as "horror" in the strictest sense of the word.
If you want something to cool you off on a hot summer's day, I suggest you give this anime a try. You can also check out Bakeneko's spinoff series Mononoke (not to be confused with the Miyazaki film of the almost-same name), in case you can't get enough chills up your spine.
Ayakashi Japanese Classic Horror Trailer
2. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan
- Episodes: 94
- Aired: Jan 1996 – Sep 1998
As the title implies, it's about a rurouni ("wanderer") named Kenshin Himura, who only wants to live a peaceful life in the Meiji era. Unfortunately for him, peace isn't an option for someone who once lived as the legendary assassin Hitokiri Battousai, so he constantly finds himself hounded by his past.
To be honest, I'm not sure what I can say about this anime that hasn't been said a gazillion times before. All I can say is, this is one of the first anime that I've ever watched, since I grew up in the 90s. I remember watching it dubbed in English on a local channel, before watching it again dubbed in Japanese on AXN Asia. In both instances, I thought this anime had a great storyline – especially around the Kyoto Arc – so it's no wonder Rurouni Kenshin will be forever remembered as a classic in its genre.
Rurouni Kenshin Original Trailer (Samurai X)
- Episodes: 74
- Aired: Apr 2004 – Sep 2005
What if a good deed comes back to bite you in the butt? No, that's not a typo: It's basically what happened to Monster's protagonist Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a highly skilled Japanese brain surgeon based in Germany. One day, he's forced to choose between two patients in critical condition: the mayor of Dusseldorf, and a little boy named Johan Liebert. He chooses Johan, so the mayor loses his life – and Dr. Tenma loses his social standing and fiancée.
Despite this unfortunate turn of events, the good doctor believes he did the right thing. However, when he becomes implicated in a series of murders nine years later, and realizes that Johan was responsible for the aforementioned murders, Dr. Tenma goes on a hunt to clear his name, and repair what he thought was a grave mistake: saving a boy who would grow up to be a murderous psychopath.
Monster is, first and foremost, a chilling psychological thriller. Although Johan doesn’t show up for much of the series, you can still feel his malevolent presence in the form of the people he's interacted with. Somehow, he has this ability to persuade people to do the most terrible things without much effort – and that's what makes him scary. This show will make you wonder: How far should you hold on to your morals, before they start to do you more harm than good?
The only complaint I have with this anime is that it's really slow. Nothing much happens in most of the middle episodes. However, you can't miss any single one of them, because they're all pieces in the puzzle that is Johan Liebert. Just like with Dr. Tenma, if you miss just one piece, it could make a whole lot of difference between life and death – or whether you'll enjoy this show or not.
Monster Series Trailer
And there you have it, for Issa M.'s Top 5 Anime. I'm sure you have a different top 5 list of your own, so if you do, please share them in the comments section. Meanwhile, please continue to support Honey's Anime, so we can produce more awesome anime-related articles for you in the future!