I've been an anime fan for more than a few years now. When I was very young I would never miss a chance to watch Transformers. In my early teenage years I watched Project A-Ko and Record of Lodoss War with glee. Then in my late teenage years I would rush home every single weekday so that I could see Sailor Moon on television. It wasn't until I was 18 or 19, however, that I discovered the anime section on Netflix and knew that I was hooked for life.
Since that time I've watched hundreds of different series; some of them were absolutely fantastic works that I will remember fondly forever. Some of them were absolute nightmares that I have tried to purge from my brain as much as I possibly can. All of them, however, have shaped me into the anime fan that I am today.
However, what makes a series into an all time favorite? That's a question that everyone has a different answer to, but for me the answer is pretty simple. In order to become an all time favorite, a series has to not only be something that I can watch over and over again, it has to be something that I wish to share with others. I truly believe that anime is a medium meant to be shared and enjoyed with the people that you share your life with. That is exactly what all of the series within this list have in common; not only are they all series that I can enjoy on my own time and time again but they are also all series that I would have no qualms about showing to friends or family.
5. Skip Beat!
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 2008 – Mar. 2009
My first experience with Skip Beat! was an interesting one. Being that my wife and I don't celebrate Christmas, there was one year where we were sitting around the house bored on December 25th. To combat this, we decided to throw something on randomly which ended up being this series... and we didn't get up from the couch again (except for the usual potty/snack breaks) until we went to bed that night. Then when we got up in the morning, we picked right back up right where we left off and kept going until we were done.
In this shoujo series with a twist, the heroine is a girl named Kyoko who is living in an expensive Tokyo apartment with her childhood friend, Sho. She works endless hours at multiple jobs to support him as he attempts to become an idol. She gladly does it though, because she cares for him deeply and thinks that he feels that same towards her. The truth is,though, that he's just been using her and always intended to dump her as soon as she was no longer useful to him. After Kyoko finds this out, she swears to get revenge and decides to do so by joining a rival talent agency, vowing to become an even bigger star than he could ever imagine.
As much as I love shoujo series, even I have to admit that the formula can feel a little stale at times. Skip Beat! is a series that absolutely shatters all stereotypes and turns the genre on its head! Brilliant in execution, this is a series filled with laughs and tears that will also remind you that while caring for others is all well and good, sometimes you gotta look out for number one.
Skip Beat! Trailer/h3>
4. Sword Art Online
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Jul. 2012 – Dec. 2012
Very rarely do I encounter a series that will actively make me scream at my television as I watch, but that's exactly what happened the first time I sat through the series Sword Art Online!
Set in the not too distant future, full immersion virtual reality is now something that people can have in their homes. One game that takes advantage of this is Sword Art Online, an adventure game that allows people to live in a fantasy world that comes complete with a massive dungeon and monsters. Naturally there's a catch though; on the day that the game is officially launched the creator informs everyone that they are locked in and can't exit until the final floor has been cleared. Additionally if they die in the game, the headset they are wearing in the real world will kill them.
One of the most divisive series to come out within the last few years, many people hate this series with a passion for a variety of different reasons. Despite this, I still love this series with all my geeky heart. The action, the characters, the music, the story... all of it makes me happy to see again and again.
Sword Art Online English Dub Trailer
3. Kaichou wa Maid Sama! (Maid Sama!)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 2010 – Sept. 2010
This is another shoujo series that isn't afraid to be different by having a strong female lead who isn't afraid to kick a little ass when needed. In this series, the heroine is a girl named Misaki Ayuzawa who is the very feared student council president at her school by day, but a waitress in a maid cafe by night. When the most popular and handsome guy in school discovers her secret, the two begin a very strange relationship which features more ups and downs than a Six Flags roller coaster.
A solid series that made me fall in love with it from the first episode, Maid Sama! captured my heart with its strong lead characters and very sweet love story. While it's heartbreaking that it never got a second season, the story that it does tell in its allotted time gives the audience more than enough to be satisfied with, leaving a desire to watch it over and over again.
KAICHOU WA MAID SAMA TRAILER
2. Princess Nine: Kisaragi Joshikou Yakyuubu (Princess Nine)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 1998 – Oct. 1998
The day that I discovered Princess Nine is a day that will forever be etched into my memory. I still clearly remember finding the series and thinking to myself, “I like anime. I like girls. I like baseball. So surely I'll like an anime series about girls playing baseball,” but I was wrong. I didn't like the series, I LOVED it and still love it to this day.
This sports series is all about finding your dreams and chasing after them with everything that you have despite whatever obstacles are put in your way. Ryo Hayakawa didn't really have any dreams besides helping her mother out in the family oden restaurant, but then she is scouted by a prestigious all girl high school. Her mission is to become their new ace pitcher and lead the all girl team, all the way to the national championship within three years.
If Sailor Moon was my gateway into the world of anime, Princess Nine is the series that made those first nervous steps down the path of fandom that much easier to take. This is twenty-six episodes of anime gold which will forever hold a treasured place within my personal collection.
Princess Nine Anime Trailer
1. Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (TV) (Assassination Classroom)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Jan. 2015 – Jun. 2015
Up until recently, if you had asked me what my all time favorite anime was the answer would've easily been Princess Nine... that is until I discovered Assassination Classroom. Imagine this; you're a junior high school student stuck in a classroom that is meant for the rejects and outcasts that the main school no longer wants to deal with. Once you hit this class, you no longer have a future and your days are pretty much numbered. That's the situation the E Class find themselves in.
One day while doing their normal lessons, some military personnel walk in with a large yellow thing with tentacles. This large thing goes on to say that he blew up 75% of the moon and at the end of the school year, he is going to do the same thing to Earth unless one (or more) of the class members are able to assassinate him. Yup, these students just became professional killers and their target is also their new teacher.
Assassination Classroom might sound rather silly but watching this series rekindled a fire in me that at one point, I was worried had gone out. It reminded me of why I became an anime fan to begin with; to watch series filled with laughs and heart. This is more than a series filled with memorable characters; this is a series that makes my very adult self wish that I could be part of it. If I had gone to school with the members of E Class and had Koro-sensei as my teacher, there's a very good chance that I would've gone down an incredibly different path in life. The fact that an anime series is able to make me ponder that sort of possibility, is pretty amazing.
Assassination Classroom Anime - Official Teaser Trailer HD
Anime is a fantastic thing to have in your life and while not every series that you watch is going to be the absolute best thing you've ever seen, the ones that resonate with you are going to stick with you for years upon years. I'm always going to remember the five series on this list fondly. No matter what happens in the future, I will always be able to remember back when I watched them for the first time and have a smile cross my face. That's powerful but then again, that's anime.