Like so many others, I grew up with shows like Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, and Sailor Moon; and it wasn't until much later that I knew that they were anime. After the initial wave of popular anime passed, I didn't actively seek out more anime; I only caught random shows that would come out like Naruto. It wasn't until I experienced a certain anime that I had come to be so obsessed the world of anime. The enjoyment I got from watching anime spread to buying and reading manga and then into collecting all sorts of anime merchandise all while spending more money than I care to admit.
While coming up my favorite anime of all time, I considered many things, but the main two components were the quality of the show and how the show affected me. This may cause some anime to may be higher on my list than they would be if I simply judged them on the quality of the anime alone, but taking out the emotional attachment, I have to these series would be no fun. None of my friends have ever really been into anime outside of a few popular shows, so getting to write about all of these shows I enjoy will be a blast.
5. FLCL (Fooly Cooly)
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: Apr 26, 2000 to Mar 16, 2001
Naota Nandaba lives a typical and mundane life in the city of Mabase. Naota's life changed after being hit by a woman riding a Vespa named Haruko Haruhara. Haruko ends up taking residence in the Nandaba household, which is only the beginning of the strange happenings that start to befall Naota. After being hit with Haruko's guitar, Naota starts having strange intergalactic beings come out of his forehead. Now with aliens, government agents, and a war that will decide the fate of the universe all in Mabase, Naota's life has become anything but mundane.
To say FLCL is a strange anime would be an understatement. The sheer absurdity of the plot is one of the things that makes the show great. On your first watch through of the show, it's easy to see how fantastic the animation, music, and action scenes are. The story, on the other hand, can't be fully appreciated until you've watched the show multiple times and are able to see everything that is happening. FLCL was the first anime that I saw that wasn't a shonen or fanservice filled show; this ultimately led me to branch off into other genres of anime, showing me just how the vast the world of anime could be.
4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: Apr 5, 2009 to Jul 4, 2010
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood takes place in an alternate history where alchemy has become a major part of life. The brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric, are alchemists that attempted human transmutation to bring their mother back to life and paid the ultimate price. Alphonse lost his entire body, while Edward lost his leg and then subsequently his arm in order to bond Alphonse's soul to a suit of armor. The story follows Edward as he becomes a state alchemist and together with Alphonse, they research the secrets of the philosopher's stone in hopes of getting their bodies back.
With FLCL being the anime to get me to leave shounen anime behind, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was the anime that made me come back to the genre. With a great combination of beautiful actions sequences and a deep emotional plot, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood shows how wonderful a shounen anime can be. While many similar shows seem to have their characters fighting with no real consequences, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood wasn't afraid to have serious injuries befall many of its characters and it even goes as far as to kill off many of its major characters. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood set the bar for me as to what an action shounen anime is and I'm still waiting for a show to come close to what Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood gave me.
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct 2, 2008 to Mar 26, 2009
Ryuuji Takasu is an average high school student and despite the vicious looking appearance that made him infamous around the school, he's a pretty nice guy. On the first day of the new school year, Ryuuji bumps into Taiga Aisaka, a girl who's feisty nature and small size has earned her the nickname “Palmtop Tiger.” The meeting between the two ends with Ryuuji getting punched. With their relationship already off to a rough start, it gets worse after Taiga accidentally puts a love note in Ryuuji's bag, thinking it was the bag of Ryuuji's friend Kitamura. After a small scuffle between the two, Ryuuji tells Taiga about his crush on her friend Minori Kushieda. This leads to the two of them bonding over their unrequited love and forming a friendship with the purpose of helping each other out with their crushes.
Toradora was the first anime that I watched that made me sad it was ending. For days after completing the series, I felt this overwhelming sadness and a sense of emptiness that the show was over. Despite eventually getting over this, I can never bring myself to finish the series whenever I rewatch it, always stopping right after the ski trip. Toradora is the pinnacle of what a romance story should be. The show doesn't try to trick you with the revelation that Taiga and Ryuji get together after spending the majority of the series trying to impress other people; instead, the focus is on following Taiga and Ryuji as they grow to learn more about themselves and each other, while also realizing what they want out of life and what love really is.
2.Yu Yu Hakusho
- Episodes: 112
- Aired: Oct 10, 1992 to Jan 7, 1995
Yusuke Urameshi lives the life of a delinquent, getting into fights, skipping school, and only cares about himself. While skipping school one day, Yusuke does the unthinkable when he jumps in front of a car to save a little boy at the cost of his own life. After getting hit by the car, Yusuke is greeted by a girl name Botan, who tells Yusuke she is the pilot of the River Styx, that brings souls to the underworld to be judged. Yusuke's act of heroism was so far out of character for him, the heads of the underworld weren't prepared for Yusuke's death and hadn't decided where he would end up in the afterlife. Instead of making a quick decision, Koenma, son of the ruler of the underworld, offers Yusuke a second chance at life. After a series of trials, Yusuke is brought back to life and Konema decides to have Yusuke work as a spirit detective. As a spirit detective, Yusuke is able to put all of his years as a delinquent to use, as he fights against the various demons that end up finding themselves on earth.
Even though Yu Yu Hakusho turned 25 years old this year, it still holds up incredibly well. With a dark plot, lots of action, and lot of fantastic character development, Yu Yu Hakusho stood out among the anime of its time. Many of the characters in this show felt relatable, especially early on in the series, with all the emotional scenes dealing with some serious topics like death. Due to Yu Yu Hakusho being one of the first mainstream anime released in America, the nostalgia factor can't be denied when it comes to my feelings for this show. Despite this, Yu Yu Hakusho is still able to stand out when shown to newcomers even today and would be one of my recommendations for anybody looking to get into anime.
1. Rurouni Kenshin
- Episodes: 94
- Aired: Jan 10, 1996 to Sep 8, 1998
Kenshin Himura is a wandering samurai that has been traveling since the beginning of the Meiji era. After arriving in Tokyo, Kenshin runs into a young woman named Kaoru Kamiya, who is tracking down a man who claims to be the Hitokiri Battosai, and has been tarnishing the name of Kaoru's dojo. After Kaoru is captured by the man claiming to be the Battosai, Gohei Hiruma, it is revealed that Gohei was just an impostor and Kenshin is the real Battosai who vowed to never kill again. Using his reverse-blade sword, Kenshin saves Kaoru and prepares to set out once again. After deciding she doesn't care about Kenshin's past, Kaoru offers to let Kenshin stay at her dojo and being a new life not as the Battosai or as a wanderer, but as the peaceful and caring Kenshin Himura.
While I don't believe Rurouni Kenshin is objectively the greatest anime ever, it means more to me than any anime I have ever seen. Many people experienced Rurouni Kenshin during its run on Toonami in the early 2000's, but I wasn't introduced to Rurouni Kenshin until late 2007. At that point in my life, the only anime related media I was consuming was Pokemon related, but after taking part in a conversation with my brother and our friend about Rurouni Kenshin, I wanted to know what they were talking about and found the episodes online. What ensued was a 94 semi binge that would forever change my life. Rurouni Kenshin brought me back into the world of anime that I had left behind, with smooth action sequences, great characters, and a story that went from being an episodic adventure to a serious battle against one of my favorite villains in any anime. Sometimes I question whether the show should be my favorite of all time, but all it takes is watching the opening for me to experience the feelings I have for Rurouni Kenshin all over again.
I can't express how much joy I got out of talking about my favorite anime of all time. Through writing my list and looking at many other people discussing their favorite anime it made me think about how the world of anime is truly amazing. Something as simple as anime has stayed around for years bringing all sorts of people together. With so many genres and stories, there is something for everybody and nobody's anime experience will be the same.