I wasn’t always an Anime fan. As a child, I enjoyed watching all sorts of cartoons that were on TV, just like most kids. This was until I shared something very special with my older brother; something that forged a bond between us. However silly it might sound, that something was Saint Seiya. We became huge fans of the show and, when it ended, I was left wanting more.
I started watching all those shows that looked similar to Saint Seiya, i.e. Anime. Some I didn’t really like and some I failed to understand, but some others were gems waiting for me to find them. Among them, the most epic of all: Dragon Ball Z. As I grew up, I watched Anime occasionally until a few years ago when I discovered Death Note. From the first minute it blew my mind away and I felt something inside of me coming back to life. It was my latent admiration for Anime.
The time has now come for me to honor all those memorable and significant, meaningful shows that I will carry close to my heart forever. You’ll notice I am getting a little nostalgic, since most of my selections belong to the past century. I like to think old is gold. Of course, some of them are too slow and lack the action and animations we're used to nowadays. Each of them has something special that cannot be replaced. To me at least.
Let’s now share this (very personal) short list of timeless classics; my top 5 Anime!
5. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
- Episodes: 224
- Aired: Apr 2000 – Apr 2004
Yu-Gi-Oh was something completely new for me when I watched it for the first time. I had never watched anything like it -there was Pokémon and a few others I know. But this one felt more real, more complex, better developed, unpredictable… superior in all aspects. I was blown away by its originality. It was the first show that forced me to use my brain. Nobody fought with their fists; the strongest was the smartest and I loved that.
Yuugi Mutou is a sweet boy who loves to play games. His life is drastically changed when he solves a mysterious Egyptian puzzle (one of seven Millennium Items), releasing the soul of an ancient pharaoh, Yami. Together, Yuugi and Yami play Duel Monsters as they try to find the mysterious connections between the card game, the seven Egyptian Millennium Items, and the ancient pharaoh.
The dynamics of the card game were excellent and one of the main things that caught my attention. In fact, I spent a lot of time looking for Yu-Gi-Oh video games and trying them out. I used to play the card game a lot, until it became complex and ridiculously difficult to play. It was good while it lasted.
4. Slam Dunk
- Episodes: 101
- Aired: Oct 1993 – Mar 1996
One of the main reasons why I started playing basketball is because of Slam Dunk. This is no minor detail; I literally owe the greatest passion I’ve ever had to this show. I am now a frustrated basketball player like many out there, but I don’t regret having fallen in love with the sport that gave me so much and made me the person I am today. This exciting and breathtaking Anime was more than just entertaining or moving. It was the beginning of a journey for me.
Slam Dunk is the story of Hanamichi Sakuragi, a high school student who joins the school’s basketball team, learning to play from scratch, in order to win the heart of Haruko Akagi, the girl that’s driving him mad. As he begins to understand the sport he falls in love with, it makes him the most dedicated player in the team as a valuable asset.
Throughout this story, we get to experience thrilling basketball games filled with flashy moves, talented players, fearsome opponents and the most dramatic situations. Also, if at any point, the teams’ jerseys will seem familiar to you, any resemblance with real life is just a mere coincidence.
3. B’T X
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 1996 – Sep 1996
I’m not sure I will ever understand what’s up with the creator Masami Kurumada and winged horses. Some of the main characters in B’TX have an awful lot in common with those in Saint Seiya. I mean no criticism though. Saint Seiya was an absolute masterpiece and so was B’TX. It was a couple million light years away of being as successful as Kurumada’s greatest work, but we know that success and quality don’t always go hand in hand.
This is the story of Teppei Takamiya, who visits his genius of an older brother, Kotaro, at a science expo. The reunion is short-lived as some bad guys kidnap Kotaro and take him to the Machine Empire. Teppei fights some of these men and, by dripping some of his blood, he accidentally revives B’TX, a robotic pegasus with artificial intelligence. B’TX helps Teppei get his brother back and take revenge on the Machine Empire.
The soundtrack alone is enough to make anyone love this Anime. If that’s not enough for you, there are also the magnificent Kurumada style illustrations. Not satisfied yet? Add a beautiful storyline filled with mysteries, a terrible monster growing out of control behind everyone’s backs, dozens of different and unique flying robots based on mythical beasts and their just as powerful and intriguing riders.
Masami, you did it again!
2. Saint Seiya
- Episodes: 114
- Aired: Oct 1986 – Apr 1989
As I mentioned earlier, Saint Seiya was my first favorite Anime and the reason I got into it in the first place. My brother and I watched it together every day. We asked for Saint Seiya figures for Christmas and on our birthdays (when I turned six, I got Aquarius Camus, the Saint for my zodiac sign) and we collected the stickers. We wanted to know everything there was to know about Saint Seiya, and by extension, Greek Mythology and the zodiac signs.
At that time there weren’t any other shows that were so well developed, so rich in culture or that had such an intriguing storyline. And the characters… their backgrounds and personalities were so deep and intense that you actually wanted to be like them. To be that strong, that honorable, wearing those magnificent armors, wielding the power of the Dragon, the Pegasus and the Phoenix.
This amazingly epic show, tells the story of those few fighters who are strong, fierce, bold and loyal enough to wear the sacred armors, and fight with their lives for justice. Seiya, along with Shiryuu, Hyouga, Shun and Ikki, earn the sacred bronze armors and fight for justice, literally; they fight to protect the reincarnation of Athena, the goddess of justice. Talk about epic.
1. Majutsushi Orphen (Orphen)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct 1998 – Mar 1999
I know only few people would agree with me on this one. I actually doubt there are any human specimens on Earth that would choose Orphen as their favorite Anime, ever. Other than me. The thing is, I watched this as a pre-adolescent, a time of my life when I was extremely nerdy, dreamy and romantic. I was really into the whole medieval knights, wizards, magic and D&D thing.
Orphen had all of those. A prodigy wizard child that escaped from the famous Tower of Fangs (a school for wizards, not like Hogwarts). After Krylancelo (Orphen) saw his role model friend and girl of his dreams, Azali, turn into a hideous monster by some mysterious dark magic. He travels the land trying to find a way to turn Azali back to normal. On his journey, he meets interesting, lovely and powerful characters.
If you can trust me, give it a chance. It’s only 25 episodes long and even if it doesn’t have as much action as we would expect from an Anime about wizards and dragons, it is quite funny and, most of all, touching. It actually made me cry once or twice, there’s no shame in that. Give it a shot; I believe you’ll like it from the opening.
This is it for my all-time Top 5 Anime. I would love to know if you liked my selections and if we share one or more of these as our favorites. Also, I would really enjoy putting you through the same agonizing job of choosing a Top 5 Anime. You can only imagine how difficult it was for me picking nothing more than 5 out of dozens of memorable shows. So, if you think you can handle it, tell me what your top 5 Anime is!
Thank you for reading! Let’s keep on sharing our passion for this wonderful thing that is Anime. ˆ_ˆ