Back in October 2011, . At the time, I had a somewhat limited watch history and, to be honest, I hadn't quite thought some of them through. I figure it's about time I fix that. This time around I'm going to do it by genre instead of just naming a bunch of the same genre and copping out on the others. Variety is the spice of life, you know?
THE REQUIREMENTS: According to my friends, I have some very high standards when it comes to animated shows, and I can't really dispute that. I do have high standards for shows because I've seen so many incredible shows and can't tolerate anything less. Most of these will meet every requirement, but some might not. Some are non-negotiable, like a decent story and likable characters, while others, like animation and music, are important but won't completely ruin an anime if they aren't superb. "Graphics aren't everything" we gamers like to say...
- A compelling story (with little or no pointless filler)
- Likable and well founded characters
- A well-constructed world
- Fitting music
- Acceptable voice acting
- Fluid and appealing animation
(NOTE: When I mention an anime, I mean all the seasons of said anime. So, for example, when I say Clannad, I also include Clannad: Afterstory.)
Favorite Fantasy Anime: FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD
Of course. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is still my favorite fantasy anime. Everything about FMA:B is fantastic. While it may not be as strong as its predecessor in the character development, it still does a fantastic job of building the story and world that the characters live in. The story that Hiromu Arakawa created is incredible, the voice acting is superb, every character is likable, the animation is beautiful and fluid, and the feels... oh, the feels. I could name half a dozen scenes off the top of my head that are full of feels of all kinds.
RUNNER UP: ATTACK ON TITAN (SHINGEKI NO KYOJIN)
I know what you're thinking, "Goon, Attack on Titan hasn't even finished yet. It's not even halfway done!" And if it were to end unfinished right now, it would still be a close runner up to FMA:B. This is the first anime that I've felt the need to watch each episode multiple times. I am loving the story, as crazy as it is, and the world they live in is fascinating. The music is absolutely amazing; not only the opening, but the rest of the soundtrack as well. The animation is so incredibly fluid and fresh it boggles my mind. And those eyes...
The most beautiful eyes I've ever seen in an anime...
As I write this, there are 10 episodes out, with another 14 or so in the works, and I can't wait for the next one.
Favorite Sci-Fi Anime: GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX
Matoko Kusanagi, one of my favorite characters and one the strongest female leads of any anime...
Oh yes, Ghost in the Shell. Is there a finer example ofa Sci-Fi Cyberpunk anime? I submit that there is not. It meets all the requirements: Fantastic animation, a deep and compelling story, strong characters, great music, and a world that is realistic yet still quite out of our reach. The deep philosophical questions that the anime raises are issues that our world would need to address should such technology be invented, and some even relate to the world we live in now. Ghost in the Shell: SAC is an anime that everyone should have on their required watching list. Both seasons are good, although I feel the first one is better than the second (but that's my personal opinion).
RUNNER UP: COWBOY BEBOP
Cowboy Bebop was one of the first anime I ever watched. It reminded me of Firefly, which I am a huge fan of, and I was immediately drawn in. But because it was one of the first anime I had ever watched, I didn't fully understand the ending and didn't fully appreciate it. Now that I've watched other anime, I understand the ins and outs of Japanese storytelling a little bit better. For as old as it is, it's held up pretty well. I especially liked the movie they made, which improves the animation quality and tells a great story separate from the main plot.
I personally need to watch this one again and give it the attention it deserves. If I only had the time...
Favorite Mecha Anime: TENGEN TOPPA GURREN LAGANN
There are tons of "Mecha" anime out there. It's a genre that might not have been created by the Japanese, but it has most assuredly been defined by them. Most people probably know what a "Gundam" is, even if they don't watch anime, and those that do would likely name off any one of the numerous renditions of the classic show as their favorite. I however, haven't watched any of them. They didn't draw me in... at least not in the way Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann did.
Despite quite a bit of excessive "fanservice" (one of the main characters, Yoko, wears short shorts and a bikini top for pretty much the entire series) and completely ridiculous action (by the end of the series there's a mech the size of a galaxy being piloted by a mech the size of a planet, piloted by a mech the size of a city piloted by a mech the size of a building, all piloted by one man; a mech within a mech within a mech within a mech... "Mech-ception"), the show is rather amazing. The ridiculous action is actually what makes the show incredible, and I love it.
RUNNER UP: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION (REBOOT)
While the original show can be considered a classic, no one can overlook the absurd and nonsensical ending. The movie they made to clear up the ending only made it worse. Now there's a reboot in the making that is absolutely gorgeous. The animation, I mean. The story is still insane and makes very little sense, but the action and animation are superb. A total of four movies are being made for the reboot, and, hopefully, they have a more sensible ending than the others did...
Favorite Comedy: NICHIJOU
Nichijou is one of the funniest things I've ever watched. Any sort of over-arching story is hard to make out through the insane and ridiculous scenes of hilarity, but I'm pretty sure there was one... maybe. There are certain episodes that make me laugh no matter how many times I see them, and I've watched them over and over again. It is definitely worth the watch.
And someone went and made an amazing AMV out of it (which I've watched at least a dozen times by now):
RUNNER UP: LUCKY STAR
I don't really know what I was thinking when I first picked this one up. This was one of my earlier "adventures" in anime, back when I only watched action-oriented anime like Naruto and Bleach. I took one look at the art style and thought, "Yup, this is for girls." Then I read a blog post that Lucky Star was amazing, and, to my surprise, it was written by a dude. So, I took a chance and watched it... and, sweet cuppin' cakes, I'm glad I did.
Although it's not as insane and ridiculous as Nichijou, it has just about the same amount of hilarity. Lucky Star is the first example that I happened upon that taught me "art style doesn't matter". Something "cutesy" doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be a cute anime. I mean, MADOKA MAGICA. And that's all I have to say about that...
Favorite Slice of Life: CLANNAD and USAGI DROP
I truly can't decide which one I like better. Clannad is an excellent romantic comedy. The first season was great, but the show gets really good in season two. I mean really good. I won't deny it: Clannad made me cry. Big time. I am not a person who usually cries because of movies, shows, or stories (although recently I've become a bit soft I think), but Clannad: Afterstory hit the spot. It tripped the breaker and shut on the waterworks. You have to get through the first season to get to the really good stuff, but the first season is full of really good stuff too.
Usagi Drop is cute and heartwarming (yeah, you heard me), and I loved it. The interactions between Daikichi and Rin are wonderful. Rin struggles to break the boundaries set by her lack of social skills, while Daikichi has to sacrifice many parts of his comfortable bachelor life in order to become a father. The story was fantastic, and there were tears at the end (mostly because I realized there weren't going to be any more episodes). The comedy thrown into the mix is something almost all of us can relate to, the comedy of life. I found myself smiling and happy at the end of every episode, and I'm sure you would too.
RUNNER UP: TORADORA
I've watched quite a few romantic comedies. Yes, I know, didn't expect that of me, right? As I said above, I watch anime of all varieties, and I've come to appreciate most of them for what they are. Toradora is well above-average. The characters are interesting, and there were some hilarious scenes that come to mind right now and make me chuckle. If you like romantic comedies, you'll probably like Toradora.
Favorite Mystery/Suspense Anime: DEATH NOTE
There is no better mystery anime than Death Note. PERIOD. The twists are mind-boggling and the rivalry between L and Light is brilliant. Anything else I could say seems like a spoiler, so I'll shut up now. But I will say this: Death Note is the only anime I've seen, or anything for that matter, that has turned the utterly mundane act of writing in a notebook into an adrenaline-pumping excitement-fest.
RUNNER UP: HYOUKA
While not as intense as Death Note, Hyouka still has quite a bit of suspense and mystery. Houtarou is a "Sherlock Holmes"-ian character who doesn't want to be Sherlock Holmes, but is forced to be by the always curious Chitanda, and is forced to solve sometimes very simple mysteries in their high school. At the time I watched Hyouka, it was rather refreshing. I had just come off a long "diet" of pure action anime. There was a point in the middle of the anime that really disappointed me (right after a particularly suspenseful cliffhanger), but it got much better and ended off fantastically.
Favorite Action Anime:KATANAGATARI
And tear them to pieces he does...
Katanagatari is a bit abnormal: It runs twelve episodes, each about forty-five minutes long. The first eleven were action packed, but none so much as the last one. There was almost twenty minutes of non-stop pure pwnage. I was on the edge of my seat with my eyes glued to my television for the entire fight. It ranks right up there in my "Craziest Fights of All Time" list. But the last episode is only one part of a far greater journey over the course of a wonderful anime.
RUNNER UP: DARKER THAN BLACK
As the title suggests, Darker than Black is dark... duh. However, the concepts and world of Darker than Black are very interesting. It's a somewhat futuristic look at a world where loads of people have superpowers, and many are taken advantage of and used because of it. As the whole story is unfolded, the horror of what the main characters had to do because of their circumstances to get up to that point is revealed. It's kinda depressing, but it's a great series.
FYI: If you start watching it, watch season one first, then the four OVAs, and then the second season. If not, you'll end up missing a few very important plot points and be completely confused like I was.
Favorite Anime Movie: PRINCESS MONONOKE (MONONOKE HIME)
What can I say? It's Studio Ghibli, the "Disney" of Japan... only, better. Yeah, it's "super green" and seems like it was written by tree huggers, but the story, characters, and animation are superb. Princess Mononoke was the first piece of anime I watched when I really started getting into anime a few years ago (other than Pokemon and DBZ when I was a kid), and helped to cement my love for the medium.
RUNNER UP: AKIRA
Okay, this one might not catch everyone's fancy, but I loved it. Akira is pretty crazy and ends rather abruptly with a somewhat rushed ending. The last thirty minutes is especially ridiculous. But then, as you're watching, you remember that Akira came out in 1988. You look at the animation quality, and you're suddenly like, "Woah." I've watched it several times and it still boggles my mind that the animation was done with traditional, a.k.a. non-digital, animation techniques.
And to finally cap this list off:Favorite Anime OF ALL TIME:FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD
I've actually got a poster of this on the wall beside me right now...
Yup, this hasn't changed since the last "Favorites" post. Although I've watched quite a few new anime in the years in between, FMA:B is still my favorite anime. Sometimes, I can't even rationalize why I love it; sometimes I can't help but let my inner fanboy out. I have all the manga, I have little "gashapon" figurines on my shelf, I have a huge poster on my wall, I have Blurays and DVDs... It's my favorite, and I can only say that so many ways.
So there you have it. If I mentioned an anime in this list, I give it my recommendation. I know this is somewhat of an old hat on my blog, but I figured I've watched enough anime since then to change things up a bit. I hope these give you a place to start should you wish to join the "Otaku" ranks, or maybe if you just want to try anime out for the first time. As I always say, "There's an anime out there for everyone. You just have to find it."