I’ve been watching anime for most of my life in some format. In that time, I’ve come across several series that have left an impact on me. Well, I’m here to honor the 50 series that I see as the best in a medium that has helped shape who I am.
*DISCLAIMER: this is a subjective list, based entirely on my opinions. If I get replies asking what something was not here, you will be ignored.*
50. Mysterious Girlfriend X
Yes, the anime about saliva swapping is on here. I never said this would be a dignified list. But I do legitimately love this series. I’m not really a romantic, or that into romance series, but I love when a series can capture a budding romance with all of the awkwardness that comes from it, and this series is sloppy beyond all else. It looks like a series from the late 90s-early 00s, even though it’s from 2010. It’s pacing is really off. The relationship involves threats of being cut with scissors. But the core of the series is a sweet relationship, which shines through all else. If you’re not grossed out by saliva swapping, go check it out.
49. Assassination Classroom
I should point out that when a series can create a villain who just makes me shake with anger, it’s doing something right. However, this series is not on this list because of the chairman alone. No, it makes this list because the absurd premise is carried out as stupidly over the top as Shonen Jump will allow. Koro-Sensei is kept not as a fearsome villain to be killed, but as the goofy mentor for the class of would-be assassins and his methods are just fun to watch. I’m filled with glee for a series about killing a teacher. Clearly, it’s doing something right.
48. Chaika -The Coffin Princess-
I like fantasy and sci-fi, but I prefer it as a backdrop for compelling action. There is no easier way to make me lose interest in your work than by piling on world-building until it’s at an absurdly complex and convoluted setting (it’s my main problem with stuff like “A Certain Magical Index”). So when a series has a complex fantasy setting, but can pair down the information given to just the essentials, I get excited. Chaika gave me that, partially since it adapts the entirety of a 12 light novel series into 22 episodes, but also because it presents a very simple action premise. Even if the show had more exposition on how the world works, the core is a fun adventure following fun characters that just goes along briskly. I wish it was longer, but that’s because Chaika and Toru endeared me to their quest and desire to follow them. Immensely satisfying fun.
47. Gatchaman Crowds
This would’ve been higher if the second season wasn’t so infuriating in the face of anything disagreeing with it. That turn in upsetting, because the first season is a nice slice of “How I Wish The Internet And Society Worked”. It was just so confident and managed to present the argument so well. If only the series didn’t try to build on its argument, then it would’ve entered the esteemed halls of anime classics. As is, it’s good but too removed from itself to be truly great.
46. Attack On Titan
Yup, this is only this high. Granted, it does have a special place in my heart: it’s the first series where I got swept up in the moment as it was happening. It’s one of the first where I could be part of the hype as it aired. And what sweet hype it was. For a series as inexplicably faulted as it, it holds up as a great example of desperation used for dramatic effect. It’s small victories seem massive because the losses are too much to handle. But when those victories come, it feels so gratifying that it doesn’t matter that the victory was “we moved a rock”. And that is why this series belongs here.
45. Amagi Brilliant Park
So, I have a love/hate relationship with KyoAni, a relationship which will be expanded upon in coming entries. However, I love their animation, even if it’s clearly be their b-team. Luckily, their b-team was working on material by Shoji Gotoh, who I love. His sensibilities regarding comedy serve him well here, as this is just hysterical. The characters are kept in a place where they can begrudgingly work together while also being able to play off of each other wonderfully. The show also has a good sense of comic timing for everyone to just wail and torture each other. I hope we get more, but if not, this was a really enjoyable 12 episodes of fun.
44. The World God Only Knows
When I first saw this, I thought nothing of it. However, it became a series that I ended up quoting often (it helps that Kiema just speaks absurdly). Many things stuck with me and I couldn’t understand why. Well, it’s because it’s a simple tale of someone looking at life like a dating sim (that seemed much different in my head). There is no deep meaning or ideas within, it’s just good clean fun by someone who loves dating sims and that love rubs off on you.
43. Angel Beats
Jun Maeda and I had a mutual understanding once upon a time: he wrote sappy romance visual novels about girls dying in the snow and I would avoid his works like the plague. What ended that truce was this, his first anime series. And I had to acknowledge that he was not just a hacky writer, since he did have some ideas up his sleeves. This series, while clumsy, manages to work where his visual novels did not: the emotional core comes from the connections we make with the characters. While it does need more space, what it gives us is an emotional journey that is intense and rewarding.
42. Gurren Laggan
Well, this is just loud, dumb, lumbering, sloppy, confused, inconsistent, and I love every second. This is a show that should not work, even a little, but the passion behind it just carries you along with it. It’s a fun roller coaster that grows crazier as it goes and if you cannot accept that, than steer clear of this, one of the manliest shows to ever hit any distribution system.
41. Black Lagoon
Good action and animation cannot forgive lackluster plots. They can, however, help bolster nonexistent plots into irrelevance by filling itself with a colorful and fun to watch ensemble that will make you glad that you’re old enough to curse and watch lots of blood. This is spectacle and it delivers by providing some of the best action this side of Hellsing. It’s not for the squeamish, but it is for those who love their action extra rare and bloody.
Images taken from Pixiv.net and are not credited only because I could not type the artists. Go look at their work.