For many people in live, they search. Well search for what exactly? Something that ignites a fire within their soul and makes them say, “Wow! I really like this!” For some people, it’s books. For others it’s sports, movies, or driving. For us, we all unite together under the banner of anime. With a multitude of shows to choose from, it’s quite easy to find a show that someone will like. Literally, there is an anime for everyone.
I distinctly remember watching reruns of Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z when I was in elementary school. In fact I can vividly remember jumping on my parents bed and watching it on their giant TV that I was forbidden to use. I just waited until they left the house or I had a babysitter. Then in middle school, I was still watching reruns of those two along with Tenchi Muyo! and just laughing constantly. Finally it wasn’t until high school that I actually discovered anime.
Anime had come back into being something popular, yet still slightly underground so to speak, between the death of Toonami on Cartoon Network and the rise of Adult Swim. That’s when I saw it. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I caught maybe the last five minutes of an episode watching Batou lay down some smack down. Eventually I found out it’s the episode where he infiltrates a military base to spy on someone he used to admire.
Then I couldn’t stop. I became obsessed with whatever I could catch on TV. Inuyasha, Kakurenbo, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Paranoia Agent to name a few. I did pass on the Naruto phase which was fine and then before I knew it, I was downloading shows and torrenting way more anime than I ever could watch. I still have a backlist almost 7 years later. If anything, I really enjoy a great mix of shows, but I’m a sucker for anything futuristic or anything that makes me think. Enjoy my Top 5 shows!
5. Eureka Seven
- Episodes: 51
- Aired: April 2005 – April 2006
Eureka follows Renton Thurston, a young boy living a very boring life in a small town. He likes to lift. No, not the weights. He “lifts’ on a hoverboard-like board that rides currents on the air called trapar. He drams of joining to join the famous lifting group Gekkostate. One day his life is turned upside down as the Nivrash typeZERO crash lands in his home with a young girl named Eureka inside. He eventually awakens a special power within the Nirvash and begins to control it dually with Eureka. He is invited to join Gekkostate and sets off on a journey across the world to shape the future for humanity in the far distant future from now.
What is really enjoyable about Eureka Seven is that it is set in the very far distant future, like 10000 years from now far. The irony though is that while the human race has expanded beyond earth, we still can’t seem to coexist with aliens. Save for the hoverboards riding the trapar, life doesn’t seem to be so advanced. Another great part is the proving ground that Renton faces. He’s gotta work to get what he wants which is actually a really good life lesson.
Eureka Seven has a great cast of well-rounded characters and I really enjoy all of the opening and ending songs especially with Tip Taps Tip by HALCALI. It’s so weird and yet it fits the series so well. Another great thing about Eureka Seven is that we can watch characters grow together and then grow apart as if it’s nothing!
Eureka Seven is loved by many fans around the world. I first got into it when it aired on Adult swim and I don’t regret a single moment of it!
4. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (and all the subsequent seasons) [When They Cry]
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2006 – September 2006
Now with Higurashi, we take a sharp left turn into another genre. Originally arising from a sound novel game, it was given multiple anime adaptations and countless OVA’s. Higurashi is a completely different level of crazy and actually watching the first season will just leave you scratching your head and needing more information.
Higurashi is very dark and actually falls into the psychological, horror, and thriller genres. This show is great because you have to pay close attention to make sure that you don’t miss a single piece of information. The perspective of who is telling the story constantly is changing as well which means each time the information changes slightly.
Higurashi is about a boy named Maibara Keiichi who lives in a fictitious town of Hinamizawa. He joins a new school and is quickly introduced to his classmates like Ryuuguu Rena, Furude Rika, the Sonozaki twins Shion and Mion, and a few others. Unfortunately one day Keiichi comes across a murder scene within his town. Horrified he turns to his friends… who are no longer his friends? Terrifyingly fast paced and full of confusing twists and turns, Higurashi is not something that you can watch at night and expect to sleep peacefully.
Personally this show is great because there is a lot of detective work that has to be done. As started above, the person telling the story changes. With that comes new perspectives and new information. Higurashi is like a giant puzzle; a terrifying, giant puzzle. I should note, this show is actually based of a real place in Japan that you can go to called Shirakawa village.
Now that I live in Japan, I have been there twice. It was so cool to see scenes from the anime that were exact copies from this village. The difference being is that this village is beautiful and not terrifyingly full of evil. The winter night view is breathtakingly amazing too. I recommend this place and show to anyone who likes Japan or anime!
3. Ergo Proxy
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: February 2006 – August 2006
Ergo Proxy keeps is right in the line of dark anime but for a different reason. Like Higurashi, Ergo Proxy is also psychological, but it’s heavy on the futuristic elements, like personal robotic servants, self-aware AI, and bio domes. Ergo Proxy is set forth an unknown number of years into the future. It follows Re-l Mayer, an investigator, who lives in one of the aforementioned bio domes because the earth is now inhabitable. Life is a utopia as it seems until one day, a robotic companion is infected with a virus and becomes self-aware. This leads to a myriad of problems and Re-l sets out with Vincent Law to discover his past and what is beyond the dome they live in.
What’s great about Ergo Proxy is the philosophy that is so heavily integrated into the show. Many times the characters as questions aloud that seem quite answerable, but you can see they are mentally struggling. Searching for oneself is something that anyone on this planet can relate to. Of course the full body protective robotic suits, flying ships, robot servants destroyed cities, and bio domes are enjoyable in the futuristic aspect. The line between human and robot has become blurred which forces the characters to struggle with what is actually human and what isn’t.
I heavily recommend this show to you if you like anything philosophical, dark, or mysterious. It took me two watches to fully understand what is going on at all times. How about you?
2. To Aru Kagaku no Railgun [A Certain Scientific Railgun]
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2009 – March 2010
This show is actually a spin-off of a fantastic show called To Aru Majutsu no Index [A Certain Magical Index] that I loved! At first there was skepticism about a spin-off show based on a semi-side character to the original, but thankfully it turned out to be an excellent show.
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun is set in the futuristic city of Academy City. It has about 2.3 million residents, and true to its name, approximately 80% of the residents are students. However, they aren’t just everyday students. Here they are espers and everyone has a generally unique ability ranging from a Level 0 (no power) to a Level 5 (insane power). This show follows Misaka Mikoto, one of the most powerful espers in the city, along with her friends Kuroko, Ruiko, and Uiharu. Together they solve crimes and explore this very unique town.
At first this show could be easily dismissed as a shoujo show or just another slice of life anime. One would be foolish to do so. The jokes are well timed and great! Misaka is hilariously obsessed with anything that has “Gekota” or a frog mascot on it, and anything that’s really cute such as bathing suits or underwear, even though she is so powerful. Quite the juxtaposition if you ask me. Kuroko is the real punch line of this show, and there isn’t a moment where anything she says isn’t gold. Personally, I’ve seen this show more than five times and I laugh like an idiot every time. Enjoy!
1. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2002 – October 2003
Ranking in at my personal #1 is Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I probably wouldn’t have even gotten so deep into anime had it not been for this show! Ghost in the Shell: SAC, brings the viewer up to the year 2030 where the lines of human and machine have been blurred. Self-driving cars, optic camouflage, cyber-brains, and mini machines called micro machines that can help save a patient’s life, are now all common everyday things.
Mokoto Kusanagi and her team of ex-military and ex-hacker men, work in a special public security group called Section 9. Headed by Chief Aramaki, they search out criminals, hackers, thieves, and anything that poses a threat to national security. Stand Alone Complex eventually focuses on the Laughing Man incident as the central plot line. Ghost in the Shell: SAC also poses deep psychological questions and portrays people who struggle with their identity on a frequent basis.
Ghost in the Shell is pretty much an anime staple. Almost everyone has heard of it and seen at least a little of it. The police backstories are awesome, albeit they can get a bit gruesome, so beware. The futuristic elements are everyone and while our society most likely won’t be where this show is in 15 years, it’s still cool to envision a future where maybe our lives are a bit more complex. T
The balance of action, plot, and characterization is perfect in this show. Not to mention, Yoko Kanno made all the amazing music for this series! What’s not to love! That being said, Batou is my favorite character. Like I said in my intro, watching him kick some major butt on a random night at 2am is why I got into this show and into anime in general! How about you? What’s your favorite character from this series?
Anime isn’t just “another cartoon” or “something weird.” Anime is a wonderful expression of art that can sometimes make you laugh, sometimes make you cry, sometimes make you angry, and sometimes make you sad, but anime will never ever disappoint you. There is a show for everyone, and I am a firm believer of that. The other unique thing about anime is how expressive everything and everyone is. Sometimes, even when you’ve read the manga, the shows will be much more vibrant or realistic than you expected.
I really do enjoy anime. It’s been almost 8 years now since I discovered anime and there is no way that I would ever change it! Every single season there is at least one show that I will always fall in love with and I know that if you try, you can find one too!