While I was growing up with my friends in Colorado, we would watch a lot of anime. At first, though, I had a hard time getting into the art style. My first exposure to anime was Sailor Moon, when it was airing in America, and when I was really young. At the time, I didn't really care for it much, but I did like the show that came on after Sailor Moon. That show was Samurai Pizza Cats, and it was hilarious! Time passed, and I started to like other anime. One friend I had at the time introduced me to two shows at once on VHS (ancient technology). Anime was an art form that ultimately I had to grow into, but once I did, the entertainment options were limitless!
Anime is like having access to a TV that never runs out of entertainment, and encompasses every genre you can imagine. The concept that something like that existed blew my mind. No matter how much you can binge watch anime, It would be very difficult to see it all. Anime quickly became one of my favorite things to watch. Do you like to watch science fiction, action, or perhaps romance? No matter what you like, there is an anime for that! Heck there are even anime for genres that don't exist in American television or movies, like Harem for example. It's an animated art form that's as vast and deep as the ocean.
Being an older guy, my favorite anime reflect my age. My personal top 5 are shows that introduced me to humor, drama, and action, the likes of which I had never seen before. These shows put any negative preconceptions I had about anime to rest. Sure, there is anime out there that people won't like, just like any entertainment medium! I have many favorite anime, but the 5 anime below opened my eyes, and showed me that anime takes many forms.
1. Samurai Pizza Cats (Kyattou Ninden Teyandee)
- Episodes: 54
- Air Date: Feb, 1990 – Feb, 1991
The Samurai Pizza Cats have a special place in my history with anime. Little Tokyo is under siege by the evil Big Cheese. Our three heroes will try and stop his evil schemes at every turn, while serving pizza. Polly Esther, Guido Anchovy, and Speedy Cerviche will battle the Ninja Crows to save their city! It’s one of those shows that will have everyone in the family laughing. The show even has jokes about Madonna, and the Pointer Sisters! The Samurai Pizza Cats have it all.
Named Kyattou Ninden Teyandee in Japan, Saban purchased the show and waited to dub it. Unfortunately, for Saban, the show didn't ship with a readable script. Saban ended up dubbing in their own dialogue, resulting in an entirely different experience from the Japanese counterpart! The result was 54 episodes of absolutely hilarious, and brilliant voice acting from the English speaking cast. In fact, “as soon as someone finds the script, we might begin the show”, is right out of the opening theme. To this day the show is funny, and I'm surprised just how many more jokes I get now that I'm older. SPC is most definitely a show for all ages!
I loved SPC, it got me in a good mood before school. When the show eventually ended, I looked it up and learned it was anime. This is the first anime that really left a lasting impression on me as a kid, and planted the seeds to watch more after it was finished. It was, however, very difficult getting that theme song out of your head once it was heard!
Samurai Pizza Cats - Trailer
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: Apr, 1995 – Sep, 1995
Lina Inverse and her group of misfit friends were introduced to me by a close friend. My friend said he had rented a few things to watch, so I sat down and saw Lina Inverse on the front cover of the VHS tape, and watched it. Follow Lina Inverse as she goes on her adventures to save the world from various evils. She will also stop to eat food, usually fighting Gourry for scraps. Lina has a serious case of the travel bug, and usually ends up ending the lives of demon lords. Her and her group of friends quickly become known as the “The Slayers”.
Megumi Hayashibara plays the Japanese version of Lina Inverse. As it turns out, she is in almost every anime ever made. I'm joking, but she is in a lot of anime! She also provides the singing voice for all 5 seasons worth of opening songs. Lisa Ortiz provided the English voice of Lina, who I grew to love as well. Renowned voice actor Crispin Freeman also plays one of his first roles in The Slayers, as Zelgadis Greywords. This series may have aged, but it's still one of the best anime around with a leading female character. Whatever you do, never call Lina flat chested.
I own the Slayers OST and Megumi Hayashibara's voice is ingrained in my head forever. She has some catchy music! The Slayers also has many OVAs and movies, which I own. Lina Inverse is one of the most powerful women in anime. I mean, she has a spell that could destroy the world if she miscasts it! My friend and I wondered what a real life Giga Slave spell would look like. I liked The Slayers series so much, I wrote a 65 page fan fiction when I was younger!
The Slayers - Trailer
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: Apr, 1998 – Sep 30, 1998
Most people were introduced to Trigun through Toonami. Before it aired on the Toonami block, however, I watched it on VHS with a friend. This friend was the same one who introduced me to The Slayers. I had learned that the English voice actor for the main character was someone I already knew from TV. Johnny Yong Bosch was the second black power ranger in the American Power Rangers series, and he was also Vash in Trigun. Follow Vash, a wanted man, through the wasteland that is Planet Gunsmoke. Vash seeks to right the wrongs of the world, and do good. Could Vash truly be the legendary criminal he’s rumored to be?
This was one of the first anime that made everyone laugh hard in the room, and had everyone a bit sad when characters died too. Trigun explores a range of emotions. It starts off as a run-of-the-mill outlaw story, and then it evolves into something way more complex. I was blown away by the secrecy of the story, and it wasn't fully revealed until later episodes. Trigun might have you sort of bored at first, and I didn't realize I was watching anything amazing, until the Project Seeds episode. I will always have fond memories of watching this on VHS. Be kind and rewind, poor VHS.
Nicholas D. Wolfwood was my favorite character, and his massive weapon has been recreated many times by people who cosplay. Everyone bears their own cross in life, I just wish I had Wolfwood's!
Trigun - Trailer
4. Tenchi Muyo (Tenchi Muyou!)
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: Apr, 1995 – Sep, 1995
Tenchi was introduced to me by Toonami, but the uncensored versions were introduced to me by another friend. This new friend had the dvd box-set of Tenchi Muyo!, and I learned a bunch about censorship in anime. Up until that point I had thought that most anime (except Samurai Pizza Cats) was in its intended form in America. Well, like a lot of things at the time, I was wrong! The story follows Tenchi Masaki, a normal boy growing up in Japan. One day women start to fall from space, and it turns out he may be related to alien royalty. The longer Tenchi remains on earth, more people from Planet Jurai start showing up.
After Tenchi Muyo! was finished airing on Toonami, they started to air Tenchi Universe, which I thought was the second season. Universe, I learned, was its own thing and confused me a bit. I learned from all of the OVAs and TV iterations of Tenchi, that anime had a side I had never seen before. Quickly learning that Tenchi had many different versions of himself (and spin-offs) out there, I became intrigued. Eventually, the original Tenchi Muyo! story line came full circle and had a 3rd season. Recently, in the last couple years, I learned that the 4th season is being made. I'm so happy one of my childhood favorites started back up after all these years!
The idea of living on a planet where everyone seems to genuinely care about each other is very appealing. Jurai to this day is ingrained in my head as a potential future ideal for Earth. Maybe one day, I can still dream at least.
Tenchi Muyo! - Trailer
5. Ah! My Goddess (Aa! Megami-sama! TV)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: Jan, 2010 – Apr, 2010
One of my favorite themes to play on the piano is the second season opener to the Ah! My Goddess TV series. I love the bagpipes and music associated with this anime in general! This is the newest anime on my list, but it is without a doubt one of my favorites. Keiichi Morisato is a very unlucky boy, and one day he is granted a wish to offset his bad luck. He wishes for Belldandy (a goddess) to stay by his side forever, and his wish is granted. Will Keiichi be able to make this heavenly relationship work, or is he destined to be alone?
This show is all about angels and goddesses, so I had to give it a watch. I could relate to the character Keiichi, who had some of the worst luck in the world. But this anime had me hooked when fate decided to even out his bad luck by giving him a wish! The concept that life could turn around for the better was a highly attractive idea. At the time, America's economy was still in the beginnings of a bad recession, which started in 2008. I was living with a friend, made $8.50 an hour, and hung on to every precious moment that could brighten my mood. Ah! My Goddess pulled me out of a depression I didn't even know that I had. “One's financial status should never be equated with one’s worth”. - A quote from Belldandy.
Some people hope for something like an angel to swoop in and save the day. To this day I can watch all of the episodes like I was watching it for the first time. To me, it never gets old!
Ah! My Goddess - Trailer
I've liked anime for a long time. Some of my other favorites are Tekkaman Blade, Rurouni Kenshin, and Outlaw Star. Belldandy may be a fictional character in an anime, but it would be nice if more people valued others the way she seems to. Many of the abridged series of anime floating around can be quite fun to watch too. Samurai Pizza Cats will always be the original abridged anime to me. All of these shows spark fond memories for me. I'm confident other people feel the same way about their lists too. For those who read through this, I sure hope you enjoyed it! Feel free to talk about some of your favorite anime in the comments, it would be interesting to read!