Anime is something that has become an essential part of who I am as a person. It is not only a hobby but is so much more. One could say that my journey with anime started from a young age with my Saturday morning cartoons including Pokémon and Sailor Moon. While these were my first introduction to anime, there was a large gap of time between these two and when I truly got into anime as a genre. After Sailor Moon and Pokémon, my life was scattered with the occasional Studio Ghibli movie such as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. However, these had a profound impact to my childhood psyche. Six-year-old me vowed that I would only marry a boy with blue hair such as Howl or Haku. This was such my experience with anime up until I turned 19 and truly got into watching anime series and films. Starting with Ouran High School Host Club, I started watching anime as often as I could and quickly became obsessed… perhaps that isn’t the right word, I prefer to think of myself as passionate. After developing a library of anime and collection of manga, I chose to start my own blog on Anime Amino so I could share my passion with other like-minded people. With this experience writing, I was finally able to make it onto one of the big anime sites—this being Honey’s Anime—and I could not have been more excited. My passion has kept on growing and anime is now a staple in my everyday life.
Having a passion for anime is difficult to explain to the average person. When they look at it, they do not see the subtle nuances that are what make Japanese anime different than your average cartoon. Someone may look at anime and just see animation that is no different from a Disney movie. However, what these people don’t understand is that anime is an art form. This isn’t to say that there is no aspect of art in other animated mediums—it is simply different. Anime has a rich history that can teach its viewers about aspects of history and tell exciting stories that are brought to life in this exemplary art form. Anime is a large part of my life and this is why I will give you my list of my personal top 5 anime and implore that you watch them with an open mind.
5. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2014- March 2015
A prodigy from a young age, Kousei Arima was seen as being the next up and coming pianist. After his mother passes away, Kousei was left feeling empty and guilty. That is until he finds his passion reborn after meeting the beautiful and eccentric Kaori Miyazono, a spirited violinist who wants nothing more than to help Kousei realize his love for music again. The world is not all rainbows and butterflies though and the two must face more difficult challenges than they would have ever thought possible.
Generally, I stray away from anime that takes place in middle school simply because I am so far removed from it at this point in my life. This anime changed that, it has exemplary animation, a beautiful soundtrack and relatable characters. As a music lover and someone who grew up playing the violin, I can see myself in Kaori. The passion in this anime cannot go undetected as she pushes Kousei to new heights that he himself never knew that he could achieve. This anime is quite the tear-jerker as well because you get so invested in the characters and their lives. Even with side characters, this anime pays attention to and makes them someone that has a purpose and life that you really should care about. This anime is a must-watch for me and I highly recommend it to anyone, even if they don’t care for romance in anime.
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso Trailer
4. One Punch Man
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2015- December 2015
Saitama is an overall unimpressive guy, except perhaps in his ability to drop any enemy with a single punch. However as impressive as this ability is, Saitama is ultimately bored with the lack of challenge. He soon reluctantly obtains a most loyal follower in Genos, the 19-year-old cyborg. The pair join the Hero Association together in hopes to find an undefeatable enemy.
One Punch Man contains all of the things that I look for in an anime... good animation, humor, interesting back stories. However, it contains something else that I did not expect going into it. This anime makes fun of the typical anime tropes while maintaining its excellence. While this might seem like a difficult way to understand, it must truly be seen to understand. This hilarious anime contains no romance but the two main characters have an almost familial bond that will keep you rooting for them long after the anime is over.
One Punch Man Trailer
3. Ouran Koukou Host Club (Ouran High School Host Club)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2006- September 2006
When Haruhi transfers to Ouran Academy, a school for the wealthy and beautiful, she feels more than a little out of place. Trying to focus on her academics, Haruhi runs into what she believes to be an empty music room and meets the Ouran High School Host Club. After breaking an extraordinarily expensive vase, she must pay back her debt through working for the attractive boys in the club. Navigating love and school can be difficult though, especially with so many boys vying for her attention.
Ouran Koukou Host Club is probably the least serious anime on this list. Ouran was the anime that got me back into anime as a teen/adult. Having also read the manga, I was impressed by the loyalty that the anime showed to its original content. Aside from that, I am a complete sucker for reverse harems and Kyoya became my third anime love after Haku and Howl. Ouran Koukou Host Club has a strong female lead which is unusual for a reverse harem as they are usually quiet and meek. This anime is highly entertaining and while it might not contain the most serious subject matter, it is an anime that you can turn to when you want your day to be just a little brighter.
Ouran Koukou Host Club Trailer
2. Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: July 1997
As prince of the Emishi people, Ashitaka must defend his village when they are attacked by an angry spirit. He ventures to the source of what poisoned the spirit in Iron Town. There, he meets Lady Eboshi who is focusing all her energy in getting rid of all the forest spirits. As open-minded as Ashitaka is, he does not believe that one group should have the ability to rule over all. He meets a girl in the forest who was raised by wolves and is believed to be one with the spirits. The two discover a connection that will ultimately determine the fate of both man and spirit.
I consider Hayao Miyazaki to be the single greatest animator in anime history. All of his skills, including his technical and artistic ability, are portrayed in this film. The characters in Mononoke Hime are extremely well developed and don’t leave any questions unanswered as to why they are the way they are and why they make the choices that they do. What I particularly love about this movie is that the line between good and evil is entirely blurred. While it is obvious that we are supposed to be rooting for Ashitaka, the evil in this movie is making actions based on the good of humanity. This is a film that I find to be one of my all-time favorites, not just in anime but in all of cinema as well.
Mononoke Hime Trailer
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2011- September 2011
When scientist Rintarou Okabe discovers a new technology with the help of his friends Hashida Itaru and Mayuri Shiina, their whole world turns upside down. The machine, aptly named the “Phone Microwave,” can send emails back into the past ultimately altering the world line that they all live in. However, Okabe is the only one who can remember the world before the shift giving him the ultimate ability to influence time. This power is not all what they expected though, Okabe and his friends must figure out the best solution or let the world end in disaster.
When I first started Steins;Gate, I thought it one of the most pretentious anime that I had ever seen. I was undeniably wrong. As I forced myself through the first two episodes, I quickly became attached to the characters and grew to love their dysfunctional relationships. The characters were so well developed and the jokes were some of the most humorous that I have found in any anime. Steins;Gate is an anime that does not try to dumb the viewer down. While there are many anime that appeal to our less intelligent sides, somewhat like sitcoms, this one does not make you feel stupid but rather lets you understand what they are saying so that the characters can bring you to their level of intelligence. Steins;Gate is easily my favorite anime and to top it off, once I finished with the original, Steins;Gate 0 came out providing the world with new content. However, I must warn you that this anime is a tearjerker. The twists and turns will easily pull at your heart strings and keep your enthralled until the very end.
There are many anime that are worth watching depending on your own particular interests. While you may not agree with my favorites, it is important to understand the world of anime as a whole. It is crucial that the anime community realizes that there are many different shows that each appeal to its own viewers.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading my favorites and wish that you would approach each with an open mind. If you have any comments, please feel free to leave them below and I look forward to reading them.