Recommendations- My Top 27 Anime (The Top 3)

3) Casshern Sins

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Synopsis: In a dark future, the world is in ruin and everything is slowly crumbling away into dust. Humanity is almost extinct, while robots desperately seek out new parts to replace their rusting bodies. Their only hope for survival is to devour the one known as Casshern… or so they believe. Meanwhile, Casshern himself has lost all memory of his past. Why are these robots attacking him? Did he really kill the one known as Luna; the Sun that was called Moon? And why is he, alone, unaffected and undamaged by the ruin?

Why I Like It: I’d never really been big on depressingly heavy handed melodrama before this show, and honestly my feelings towards that are still generally the same but this show’s themes really resonated with me. It’s a great allegory on what it truly means to be alive and combines that with a solid character journey and interesting symbolism pertaining to the whole life and death thing, and the various religious motifs that implicates. Beyond the story though, dear god is it a gorgeous looking show. The series has some fantastic art design combining 80’s character designs with a bit more of a higher visual aesthic, and has some really great looking backgrounds that really capture the feel of a post apocalyptic world in all it’s horrific glory. It also features a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack composed by Kaoru Wada of Inuyasha fame, and combines with the show’s visuals to make for a piece that’s as beautiful as it is thematically powerful. People are still pretty divided over exactly how good this show is, but I lean firmly in the camp of it being absolutely fantastic.

 

2) Monster

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Synopsis: Dr Kenzo Tenma is a genius surgeon working in post-Cold War Germany who has a bright future ahead of him. He is admired by his colleagues, loved by his patients, and due to marry his boss’ daughter, the beautiful Eva Heinemann. One day, when two patients in desperate need of emergency surgery are wheeled into his hospital, Tenma faces a terrible choice of saving the orphaned boy who came first or the mayor of Düsseldorf, whose recovery would raise the hospital’s profile and boost his own career. Against the demands of his superior, Tenma does what he believes is right and saves the child. However, his decision not only damages his prospects, but unleashes a chain of events so horrific that it might have come from the depths of his worst nightmares. Laden with guilt, Tenma begins a journey across Germany in search of a formidable young man who will challenge his morals, his love for life, and his very sanity.

Why I Like It: So compared to an earlier show on this list, Kaiji, this show is almost it’s polar opposite as a thriller. It’s pretty slow moving and spans a long 74 episode run that can feel as lengthy as it is rewarding. However it makes up for that by and large with it’s themes on human nature, which as opposed to Kaiji’s occasional cynicism, leans firmly towards the pro-humanity camp. Monster is a show about what it really means to be human, and as it goes through the journies of Dr. Tenma and it’s massive cast of characters, explores the things that can drive people towards becoming monsters. In spite of what we’re all capable of though, the show truly believes that almost no one is ever truly beyond redemption, and that while we have the choice to embrace monsterdom much like the series villain Johan, we also have the choice to do the utmost amount of good that we can, with the show always leaning towards the latter option. It’s an absolutely fantastic thriller but more than that, it’s a piece that reminds us our humanity can triumph over all the various crap we’re capable of and in a world where said crap happens on a pretty consistent basis, it’s a much needed reminder. Unfortunately thanks to the show having been a massive flop for Viz, it’s possible it’ll never see the light of day here in the states again but in the meantime there’s always that Australian release.

Streaming Availability: None (available through Madman’s Australian release on disc)

Now for my #1…

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1) Sword Art Online

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Why I Like It: I know I’ve given this show a lot of flack but in reality I’ve just been acting tsun-tsun towards it. Asuna has forever been my waifu and I feel that every man should aspire to be like Kirito. I mean for heaven’s sake, the man’s pretty much video game Jesus. The writing is some of the best I’ve ever scene and the show handles everything from AIDS to borderline rape with the utmost tact and respect. Screw the haters this is the best darn show ever made, and I can only hope that Aniplex makes another 6 seasons of it.

Okay, I had to make at least one joke entry here. Now for my actual #1:

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1) Penguindrum 

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Synopsis: Kamba and Shouma Takakura have taken care of their sickly younger sister Himari since their parents disappeared years ago – that is, until the day she died. But as the boys grieve by her hospital bed, Himari sits up, adorned with a strange penguin hat. Suddenly, the three of them are transported to a vibrant world where the hat, using Himari’s body as a puppet, charges these brothers with a task: find the Penguin Drum and their sister’s life will be saved! Now aided by some odd penguins they received in the mail, the duo must find this mysterious item or risk losing the sister they care for so much. However, they aren’t the only ones with their sights on the Penguin Drum, for new enemies await them around every turn, all connected in ways they would have never imagined…

Why I Like It: As I mentioned before with Yurikuma Arashi, Ikuhara is a very eccentric director and of the three major works he’s produced so far, this is by far the weirdest. The show’s storyline is the most accessible compared to his other stuff, and doesn’t play second fiddle to it’s themes as to the same extent as them. It’s a tale filled to the brim with various twists and turns that can be really funny, really weird and also extremely compelling. Of course as with his other works, the show’s execution of it’s themes are what really sells it,  and many of the themes of self-sacrifice for love, and sexuality that are prevalent in his other works can be found here. At it’s core however, it’s a tale about the importance of family and that the sins of your parents don’t define who you are wonderfully told through it’s cast of characters that are all as fun as they are complex. Also much like with Casshern Sins the show has an gorgeous looking visual aesthetic thanks to Ikuhara’s weird sense of style and it’s a very pretty looking show with some great looking design. In that respect, Sentai’s disc release and dub of the series are…less than stellar, but hey you can’t win em all right? Of Ikuhara’s three masterpieces, this one is easily my favorite and it’s the one I feel the most confident recommending if you aren’t already familiar with how his stuff works.

Streaming Availability: Hulu, The Anime Network

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So there we go, my all time top 27 favorite anime. Since I like to be fair, and it would feel weird not doing it I plan to do a list of my top 27 favorite western toons…eventually. Hopefully I can actually get to that before the summer, but for now at least I have the anime side of things covered.

Previous #10-4

Recommendations- My Top 27 Anime (#10-4)

10) Gungrave

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Synopsis: Brandon Heat and Harry MacDowel were best friends who lived by the law of the street, until one day they picked a fight with the wrong people and their life of freedom was suddenly taken away. With no one to turn to and nowhere to run, the choice to join Millenion, the city’s most powerful syndicate, seemed like an offer they couldn’t refuse. Now, amidst heartache, tragedy, and utmost betrayal, Brandon must take up the gun and help Harry climb the ranks of Millenion to succeed, in order to protect the people he loves, even if it means killing countless others in the process.

Why I Like It: Based off the game of the same name and created by the same guy who brought us Trigun, this show a bonafide mafia drama, and the first I’ve ever really seen in anime. The story of the two leads is a pretty tragic one as they climb up the ladder and make decisions that slowly drive them apart and eventually turns them into enemies as Harry’s ambition is weighed against Brandon’s devotion to his family. It also manages to weave the elements of the game into the narrative in a way that feels natural and though it certainly has the look of a more generic action show, it’s a drama at it’s core. Sadly the first episode doesn’t exactly help to give that impression but at least it can be skipped since it’s eventually covered in better context later down the line anyway.

 Streaming Availability: Funimation, Hulu, Netflix

 

9) Hajime no Ippo (all seasons)

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Synopsis:  Ippo Makunouchi is a loser. He has no friends, he spends his free time helping his mom with work, and he’s constantly being beaten up by bullies. But that all changes when one day he’s saved from another beating by Takamura, an up-and-coming boxer. Soon, Ippo turns his life around with a passion for the newly discovered sport, but his new lifestyle is far from easy! Before he can even dream of becoming champion, he’ll have to overcome a slew of fierce rivals and learn what ‘dedication’ really means.
Why I Like It: Alright so I said before that the appeal of sports shows is almost never found in the sports themselves but this show is the exception. As a series about boxing it features some pretty grand fist-to-fist brawls and has what is hands down some of the best fight scene chorography ever made with some of the matches featuring really explosive animation. It’s also a pretty fun cast of lovable jerks and works as a solid character piece as the main character Ippo slowlyn matures from a spineless doormat into a confident young man ready to take the world by storm with his fists. The manga it’s based on has been running for ages and likely isn’t ending anytime soon but what we do have animated is more than sufficient and it makes for some great viewing.
Streaming Availability: Seasons 1&2 (none), Season 3(Crunchyroll)
8) Hikaru no Go
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Synopsis:  While examining an old Go board in his grandfather’s basement, twelve-year-old Shindo Hikaru is possessed by the restless spirit of Sai, an ancient Go master who has waited for over one thousand years to play the Hand of God: the perfect move. Sai convinces Hikaru to act as a vessel for making his moves, but it is soon clear that Hikaru also enjoys Go and wants to play his own games. Moreover, the rules of Go have changed since Sai’s time, and Go players from all over the world are now much stronger, having had the benefit of hundreds of years of evolution and experimentation by the masters before them. Can this unlikely pair form a successful partnership and rise to the top of Japan’s Go community, and can Sai finally play the Hand of God and find some peace?
Why I Like It: So Go isn’t really all that interesting sport and having tried it once or twice after seeing this show I can attest to that. Thankfully this show more than makes up for it in it’s character journey as it follows the life of Hikaru as he improves his skills at the game under Sai’s influence and gradually grows to become a skilled player in his own right. Also much like with Cross Game it’s also a series about overcoming the loss of a loved one, and that theme really hits hard in the show’s final stretch, but makes for an emotional conclusion and one that can really hit home for anyone who’s had to go through that kind of loss. Similar to Cross Game it’s a bit on the slow side but it has a lot more character work, and it easily stands as my favorite sports anime.
Streaming Availability: Neon Alley, Hulu
7) Yu Yu Hakusho
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Synopsis: Yusuke Urameshi was a normal middle school punk until he was hit and killed by a car, while saving a child. His selfless action earned him the right to gain his life back and serve as a detective of the spirit world, keeping the world of the living safe from a myriad of demons. But being reborn has its price: Yusuke must hatch a spirit beast that will develop according to his actions, and if he doesn’t act in a good and honest manner, it will eat his soul. Can Yusuke protect the human and spirit worlds and still manage to save himself in the process?
Why I Like It: I’m a simple person at heart and I generally enjoy a good battle shonen, though I also prefer them to be well paced and actually have an ending which is where this show takes the cake. The characters are fun, and the action’s solid with some excellent pacing and choreography courtesy of veteran director Noriyuki Abe, who’s an old pro at that genre. Though it doesn’t stray as far from it’s shonen roots as the creator’s other big series, it does get progressively darker and more complex as it goes along somethings withdrawing from action entirely in favor of character work and more grounded solutions to the situations the cast find themselves in. It’s hands down one of the best battle shonen ever made and thanks to it’s pacing and fairly tolerable episode count, one of the easiest to sit through and rewatch.
Streaming Availability: None (available for purchase through online and physical retailers)
6) Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
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Synopsis: The foundation of alchemy is based on the law of equivalent exchange; you cannot produce something from nothing. As such, alchemy is bound by one taboo – human transmutation. Four years ago two young brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, broke this taboo when they tried to resurrect their dead mother. During the process Al’s body disintegrated and Ed lost his leg. In a desperate attempt to prevent his brother from disappearing completely, Ed sacrificed one of his arms so he could affix Al’s soul to a suit of armor. When his missing limbs are replaced by auto mail parts, Ed bears the name of the Fullmetal Alchemist – the youngest ever State Alchemist and dog of the military. Now, alongside his brother, Ed uses his status within the military to attempt to find any way that he can return their bodies back to their original state.
Why I Like It: Keeping in line with my simplicity this is another big action-adventure show crammed with some fantastic battle animation courtesy of BONES, but one with a bit more meat to it. It’s not as character driven as it’s 2003 counterpart, but I’m a bit more of a fan of stories with a narrative that feels completely whole, where it feels everything’s planned and nothing’s wasted, which this series accomplishes on a grand scale. It also leans more towards the idea of overcoming tragedy and becoming stronger for it, rather than having to just live with and accept it, which while a bit more of an idealized message, is one I gravitate a bit more towards. Brotherhood may not be quite as deep as it’s other half, and is slightly hindered by the series partially assuming you’ve seen the 2003 version, but it’s a great action-adventure piece and there’s nothing out there quite like it.
Streaming Availability: Funimation, Netflix
5) Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars
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Synopsis: In the year 2070, a giant object appears over the skies of the small town Tenmo, scrambling the electrical grid and confirming the existence of extra terrestrial life. To young Hajime Morata, this news is exciting and new – but to the townspeople, school council members and even the new exchange student Muryou Subaru, nothing going on in the skies is out of the ordinary. For it seems that Earth houses both intergalactic ambassadors and planet defenders alike – at least one of whom can use the power of the giant Shingu to battle incoming invaders – and Hajime is somehow connected. In addition to helping plan school festivals and living his day to day life, Hajime slowly begins to discover the secret behind his town and himself.
Why I Like It: This is another extremely personal choice for me backed the fact that I’ve rewatched it more times than just about anything else, and is one of the first things I ever really got into, but it’s still a really nice show. Despite the potential heavy sc-fi premise it initially offers, in actuality the series leans more towards slice of life antics as the characters go about their daily lives while the mysteries concerning the larger story at hand are slowly rolled out in the background. It’s a really relaxing little show, and the characters are all warm and fun to watch even the plot takes it’s sweet time getting anywhere.  I don’t really expect anyone to get as much miliage out of it as I did as it’s a really slow burn a good chunk of the time, but it’s good nonetheless and worth giving a shot if you have the time.
Streaming Availability: Hulu, Youtube
4) Hunter X Hunter (2011)
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Synopsis: Drawn to the mystique of the unknown, Hunters travel the world in search of terrifying creatures, incredible riches, and unexplored lands. Gon Freecss is a naive-yet-determined young boy who aspires to join the ranks of these individuals, in order to find his missing father Ging – a master of the profession himself. To reach his goal, he partakes in the formidable Hunter Exam, a series of tests that push the participants to their physical and mental limits, with a Hunter License as the prize. During the exam Gon befriends vengeful Kurapika, doctor-to-be Leorio, and skilled assassin Killua, who have entered for their own reasons. But with the sinister Hisoka standing in their way, will Gon and his friends be able to succeed in obtaining their reward, or even escaping with their lives?
Why I Like It:  Yoshihiro Togashi is a very strange writer, and one who seems to enjoy a lot of experimenting in his titles. His other major work on this list, Yu Yu Hakusho also became gradually different as it went along but this series is a much more polished product in that respect. As Gon goes through his journey to find his father, the series explores various genres and themes, which each story arc being almost completely unrecognizable from the others. It’s also not afraid to get into much darker territory than it’s  predecessor and occasionally reaches points where it’s barely recognizable as a shonen. The material itself is also greatly helped by the show’s outstanding production for a long running series, delivering consistent animation, a great soundtrack (well aside from the infamous theme song never leaving), and some really brilliant direction in the later arcs.  Sadly, the manga is doomed to stay within an endless state of flux thanks to Togashi’s constant hiatuses but the anime reaches a perfect stopping point and is thankfully almost completely self-contained on it’s own. Hunter X Hunter is a work that transcends the boundaries of it’s genre (and often genre period) to make for an excellent masterpiece. If ever you need an example to prove shonen can have some serious substance, this is it. As of this writing, this show unfortunately has yet to be licensed for home media here in the states but hopefully it happens someday soon.
Streaming Availability: Crunchyroll, Netflix
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Now onward to my top 3!
Previous- #19-11                                  Next- The Top 3

Recommendations- My Top 27 Anime (#19-11)

19) Tiger & Bunny

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Synopsis: In Sternbuild City, corporate logos not only cover billboards, but also the costumes of the super-powered heroes that act as its protectors. Veteran and newcomer warriors of justice alike compete in a reality TV show that offers points for apprehending criminals while giving champions’ sponsors a chance to promote their brand. When the low-ranking Wild Tiger loses his backing after a string of outrageous, botched rescues, he finds himself paired with an up-and-coming spotlight-seeker called Barnaby. But with their wildly different personalities, will the pair be able to save their beloved Sternbuild City and win the game show, or will their constant tension be the undoing of the world’s first hero team?

Why I Like It: I’m a sucker for good superhero stuff and this show combines those elements with a fun buddy cop show. The core cast of characters are all a blast and for the main character Kotetsu in particular, it’s really nice to get a series with a middle aged protagonist. It’s a series that generally mixes camp with western sensibilities and while it gets notably darker in the second half it never strays too far away from fun, always believing in the themes of heroism and never giving up what you want to do. Sadly despite it’s massive and unexpected success, a second season has yet to be confirmed but in the meantime, what we’ve got is still pretty fantastic.

Streaming Availability: Neon Alley, Hulu

 

18) Black Lagoon (all seasons)

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Synopsis: Rokuro Okajima is a small-time salaryman who is carrying documents for his company, when the ship he’s traveling on is attacked by pirates. Kidnapped, he discovers to his dismay that his employers’ main concern is to ensure the documents don’t get into the wrong hands, even if it means sending the carrier to the bottom of the sea. Now, with his former life ruined and his kidnappers seeming comparatively friendly, “Rock” decides to join their merry band of mercenaries, and sets out with a new career to the shadier corners of the South China Sea.

Why I Like It: This series is effectively the ultimate Hollywood action flick, filled to the brim with guns, explosions and great gunfight choreography. Pretty much every character is a villain in their own right but they’re all fun to watch and it makes for some great interactions. Though while Hollywood theatrics are it’s bread and butter it gets progressively darker as it goes along, displaying an increasingly more cynical world view in turn, which even if you don’t necessarily find yourself agreeing with makes for some interesting material. Especially so with the lead character Rock, who while trying to battle against the corruption of the world he now finds himself in, slowly becomes more and more of a villain himself.

Streaming Availability: Funimation, Hulu

 

17) Fullmetal Alchemist (2003)

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Synopsis: Once upon a time, two brothers passed the happy days of their childhood by studying alchemy, which is governed by the equal transfer principle: an eye for an eye — you can’t get more than you give. But these brothers tried to defy that law, and a horrific accident resulted. Now, the older brother, Edward, is called the Full Metal Alchemist because of his metal limbs, and the younger, Alphonse, is a soul without a body, trapped within the confines of an automaton. Together they search for the power to restore themselves, to find the lives they lost so long ago…

Why I Like It: Okay so debates between this series and it’s more manga-faithful counterpart are endless but those exist for a good reason. While as you’ll see later I lean more towards the latter this series still holds up extremely well on it’s own and it’s proof that anime adaptions doing something different isn’t always a bad thing. Compared to the more grand scale nature of Brotherhood, this one is a bit of a smaller tale as it’s more about dealing with personal tragedies that makes for a much more character driven story and it combines that with some cool fantasy concepts and solid action that makes for a compelling show (even if that dang movie negates what made the ending to the TV series work so well). Even if you lean more towards the manga/Brotherhood this show is still worth giving a shot on it’s own merits.

Streaming Availability: Funimation, Hulu, Netflix

 

16) Vandread

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Synopsis: In a far and distant future, men and women have become mortal enemies. Each living on seperate planets, an interstellar war is being fought between the two very different peoples. Hibiki, a mere 3rd class worker, finds himself in the middle of a huge space battle, facing the nemesis of mankind: Womankind!

Why I Like It: Alright so this one is an extremely personal choice backed by the fact that I’ve rewatched the darn thing so many times it’d feel weird not to include it, but it’s a solid show nonetheless. It’s a pretty classic space opera mecha series mixed with some coming-of-age stuff (and some pseudo-Evangelion material that doesn’t really go enough of anywhere to be worth mentioning). What really sells the show is that it actually makes pretty clever use of it’s premise and despite what it would normally imply, manages to avoid being a harem series by pretty significant margin (only two girls are ever actively trying to get in Hibiki’s pants and a technical third who wants to use him for…other reasons). The whole gender divide thing is handled creatively, with the two sides coming together in a way that makes sense, and the romance between the two leads is kind of cute. It’s not a show that’ll exactly set the world on fire for anyone but it’s still pretty good, which is while I’ll continue to hold a grudge against Funimation for marketing the re-release of the series as a by the numbers boobs show (with the 90 second trailer ironically containing almost every notable instance of fanservice in the show’s 24 episode run).

Streaming Availability: Funimation, Hulu

 

15) Bokurano

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Synopsis: When a group of children discover a strange cave at the beach, their lives are forever changed. Inside they find a hide out filled with computers and a man named Kokopelli who gives them a curious offer: to participate in a special game in which they save Earth from fifteen giant monsters. To defeat the invaders, he will give them a powerful mecha of black armor. The children eagerly sign the contract, name their new weapon Zearth, and must now take turns to pilot it; but the ‘game’ is in fact all too real and the consequences of battle become the stuff of nightmares. With no option to cancel the contract, is there any way to stop the game before it is too late for all of them?

Why I Like It: Before there was Madoka, there was Bokurano and while I admittedly saw this show after the former. they cover some fairly similar territory. It has a pretty interesting sci-fi premise but more than that, Bokurano is a story about the meaning of self-sacrifice, and what that means for each of us as individuals. As the show explores the stories of each pilot, they’re all forced to find their own reasons to sacrifice themselves, and in some cases can’t find any reason at all. Though the show mostly revels in nihilism in that respect (with the show featuring one of the most disturbingly appropriate theme songs ever made as it’s entirely about that point of view) it also more often than not balances it out with warmth and love. Like with Evangelion (though not quite to that ridiculous an extent) the ending is more about about that particular theme than the sci-fi aspect, but it all comes together to make an extremely compelling story.

Streaming Availability: None (available for purchase at online retailers)

14) Attack on Titan

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Synopsis: Over a century ago, mankind was devoured by giant beings of unknown intelligence and origin known as Titans – creatures that eat humans alive indiscriminately and for no apparent reason. The remaining population has managed to survive the last hundred years only by building a multi-walled city capable of keeping the Titans at bay, training military recruits to patrol the perimeter and gather intelligence about their mysterious foe. Eren and Mikasa have lived a relatively peaceful life behind the city’s walls, but when a massive Titan appears, smashing the outer barrier and unleashing a wave of terror, their lives are brutally changed forever.

Why I Like It: Alright so I’m not a very original person, but this show stands as a testament to the fact that how something is adapted is just as important as the adapted material itself. The story works as a great action drama piece about the dual sided nature of humanity, as both savage and caring, banding together against a greater force, in this case being giant monsters.  It’s source material is compelling enough but Tetsuo Araki’s direction ramps it up to eleven, making for a much more dramatic and over the top spectacle, combined with some great music (and an opening theme song that would spawn a thousand parodies) and great battle choreography (even if the show didn’t always have the animation to match). This show’s garnered the attention it has for good reason, and hopefully  subsequent seasons can keep it up.

13) Puella Magi Madoka Magica

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Synopsis: One night, Madoka has a terrible nightmare – against the backdrop of a desolate landscape, she watches a magical girl battle a terrifying creature, and lose. The next day, the teen’s dream becomes reality when the girl – Homura – arrives at Mitakihara Middle School as a transfer student, mysteriously warning Madoka to stay just the way she is. But when she and her best friend Miki are pulled into a twisted illusion world and meet a magical creature named Kyubey, the pair discovers that magical girls are real, and what’s more, they can choose to become one. All they must do is sign a contract with Kyubey and agree to fight witches that spread despair to the human world, and in return they will be granted a single wish. However, as Homura’s omen suggests, there’s far more to becoming a magical girl than Madoka and Miki realize…

Why I Like It: Again, I’m not a very original person, but hey this show is good. I’ve never been too much of a magical girl fan outside of the obvious stuff like Sailor Moon, so a darker take on that concept was a pretty appealing prospect to me and it delivered on that in spades. It puts an interesting spin on all the tropes magical girl shows tend to be built on, and much like Bokurano earlier is a story that looks at the idea of self-sacrifice with a perspective of both nilhlism and love. However it’s a much more tightly scripted tale, and combines those themes with interesting concepts thanks to it’s darker take on magical girl material, along with some great looking art curtesy of Akiyuki Shinbo’s direction. Like with Attack on Titan, this show’s gotten the level of praise it has for good reason and it’s one that will undoubtedly continue to stand the test of time.

Streaming Availability: Crunchyroll, Hulu, Netflix

12) Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (both seasons)

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Synopsis: It is the year 2029, and as many rush to embrace the changes that cybernetic technology bring to mankind, the seedier side of humanity is even quicker to take advantage of it. This series follows Public Peace Section 9, a government organization that plays behind the scenes to stop the worst of these criminals. Join Major Motoko Kusanagi and her team as they take you through an incredibly vivid world filled with plots of such depth and intrigue as is seldom seen.

Why I Like It: Ghost in the Shell is one the most sophisticated shows ever made, and one that masterfully explores various social and political themes through a well thought out cyberpunk setting. It’s science fiction at it’s finest and mixed together with  gorgeous visual design that still holds up today, and a great soundtrack courtesy of Yoko Kanno has allowed the show to hold it’s place as a beloved franchise.

Streaming Availability: Hulu

11) Cowboy Bebop

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Synopsis: Follow interstellar bounty hunters Spike Spiegel and Jet Black as they scour the galaxy for criminals with prices on their heads. Hoping to escape their past, they live on the spaceship Bebop, but it’s a dangerous business and old enemies don’t forget easily. Allies come from unlikely sources, however, as they find comrades in the beautiful swindler Faye Valentine, the genius child hacker Ed and the genetically engineered ‘data dog’ Ein. Will they be able to help each other though their respective struggles, or is their fate really inevitable?

Why I Like It: Well this was bound to show up at some point, and hilariously enough just outside of my top 10. Pretty much everyone’s seen the show at this point (and if you haven’t I’d recommend fixing that pronto) so there’s no need to go too in depth on this one but it’s a fun ride mixed with crazy adventures, cool action and a sweet, sweet jazz soundtrack that helped to make Yoko Kanno the legend she is today. I generally prefer the show’s various standalone episodes to the core story, but it does make for a grand tale of a group of people drifting through life while never really connecting with each other and ultimately arriving at their own separate destinations. It’s a great combination of jazz and noire and it continues to hold it’s place as one of the most celebrated anime of all time.

Streaming Availability: Funimation, Hulu

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Recommendations- My Top 27 Anime (#27-20)

So this is another one of those things I’ve been meaning to do for a while and since my review schedule for Fandom Post is a little less hectic this season, I finally have some time for it. I’ve never been particularly good at keeping track of how I rank the shows I watch and almost anything that isn’t directly in my top 10 is toss off into the endless void of “shows I really liked but not the point of being the best thing ever” for me. Frankly I’m still not really too down with making a concrete list since people tend to pay more attention to where stuff’s ranked than what’s actually on it, but I could use the peace of mind as far as knowing where I’d place this stuff so here it is. I compiled this based on three factors: the quality of the story, how much entertainment value I got out of it, and how well it holds up as an actual show. That last one in particular holds a lot of water so if there’s a certain few shows that got omitted from here, you know why. I’ll also list any places the shows are currently available for legal streaming if anyone’s interested in checking them out. With that out of the way, let’s get started

WARNING: There’ll (obviously) be some potential spoilers about some of the shows listed here

** All series synopses from Anime Planet

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27) Welcome to the NHK

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Synopsis: Tatsuhiro Sato is a university dropout and a “hikikomori” – a person suffering from social withdrawal. To Sato’s dismay, his self-imposed exile from the world is rudely interrupted when a mysterious girl knocks on his door. She has charged herself with the task of curing Sato of his hikikimori ways! Now, as new problems ranging from hentai games to internet suicide spring up, can Sato manage to overcome his hermit-like ways, or will the imaginary N.H.K conspiracy force him to remain a hikikomori forever?

Why I Like It: Shows about otaku culture and hikikomoris are a dime a dozen these days but this one easily stands above the crowd for being the one that best looks at that stuff from a psychological perspective. It takes a good hard look at the issues that can drive someone to being a shut-in and makes it clear that there’s no easy way to escape from it. Battling depression and a whole other slew of mental issues is no easy feat but this show tackles that and manages to be a pretty entertaining ride at the same time

Streaming Availability:  Funimation, Netflix

 

26) Kaiji (both seasons)

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Synopsis: Kaiji Ito is as pathetic a person as they come; a man who gambles his days away, only winning enough to lose significantly more. He hates himself, is riddled with envy for others, but is ultimately too weak to think of a way out of his massive debts. Then one day he is approached by a strange man who offers him what seems the solution of a lifetime – to take a short journey on a ship called Espoir, during which time he will be given the chance to win more cash than he can dream of in a card game like no other. Ever the desperate, Kaiji takes the gamble of his life; however, the game turns out to be far darker than he expected and the hard lessons pile on thick and fast. Now stuck in a closed world of unsavory characters willing to do anything to destroy him, can Kaiji gather enough courage to outwit them all?

Why I Like It: Really good thriller is a hard thing to come by in anime as the moment it starts taking itself too seriously, it can fall apart if there’s not enough substance. Kaiji doesn’t really have too much in the way of that but it more than makes up for by being a non-stop high octane thrill ride. The stakes are always absurdly high and the tension of the games are matched only by how over the top  the show can get about them. That’s not to say the show lacks any substance as there’s some solid cynicism about the self-centeredness of human nature v.s. our ability to help our fellow man, but mostly it’s about the high stakes games, and in this case that’s more than enough.

Streaming Availability: Crunchyroll

 

25) Psycho-Pass (season 1)

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Synopsis: In the future, a system called Sibyl presides over the country and provides order to every facet of life. It dictates which job fields citizens should go into based on aptitude tests, and can even read each resident’s mental state and predict which ones are likely to commit crimes in the future. Fresh from exams, Akane Tsunemori is beginning her career as an Inspector, a specialized police officer who works to apprehend these latent criminals and stop crimes before they happen. But not all that get caught are eliminated or jailed, some join the police force as Enforcers to provide insight into criminals’ minds, and Akane is warned not to get too close to them, as they’re considered little more than hunting dogs. Though skeptical of this advice, and Sibyl’s judgement, Akane is determined to work together with her Enforcers to protect the peace of her city and its inhabitants.

Why I Like It: This show is something of a spiritual successor to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and while it’s not on the same level as that, it’s good stuff. The series explores some interesting social commentary and ideas about what exactly makes laws valuable to society as a whole and while the admittedly goofy nature of it’s premise holds it back from quite reaching  it’s maximum potential the execution generally makes up for it. Also if you’re wondering why I specified season 1, it’s because only one season exists and you will never be able to convince me otherwise. Second season? What second season?

Streaming Availability: Funimation, Netflix

24) Cross Game

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Synopsis: When Koh was eleven years old, he lived a quiet and peaceful life, delivering sporting goods for his family’s store and batting frequently at the Tsukishima Batting Center. Though Koh had no interest in baseball, he started the play the sport anyways after a series of events, much to the delight of his best friend, the beautiful Wakaba Tsukishima. However, soon life dealt Koh a tragic turn, changing him forever. Now, years later, Koh attends Seishuu Academy and is soon pulled back into the world of baseball. Alongside Wakaba’s talented sister, Aoba; old friend and fighter Nakanishi; and plenty of new teammates and companions, Koh will once more pick up the pitcher’s mitt and see if he has what it takes to be a champion.

Why I Like It: The sports genre is an interesting one because what makes the shows compelling is almost never the sports themselves. In this instance the sport itself is baseball (which to be honest I’m not really into), the theme of the show is centered around life after the death of a loved one and trying to move onto new relationships. The cast of characters are all  generally charming and the way the core romance between the two leads is built up is handled with a level of tact a lot of similar stories lack. It’s a bit of a slow grind but the payoff is extremely rewarding and it makes for a definite winner

Streaming Availability: None

 

23) Neon Genesis Evangelion 

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Synopsis: In the future, a devastating event known as Second Impact has destroyed Tokyo as we know it, giving rise to Tokyo III – a city under siege by mysterious lifeforms known only as Angels. Mankind’s only line of defense are the Evangelions, a set man-made machines piloted by a trio of fourteen year-old teenagers, Rei, Shinji, and Asuka. The fate of Japan and the entire world now lie with these three children, though they might not have the power to save the most important thing of all: each other.

Why I Like It: Well there’s not much I can really say about EVA that hasn’t been said thousands of times before, but still it’s great. The show combines a pretty interesting sci-fi premise with the psychological issues concerning it’s cast of characters. Especially so with it’s lead Shinji who battles with constant depression, things in his life consistently going horribly, and daddy issues versus having to meet people’s expectations by manning up and saving humanity with his robot (which he generally does in spite of all the stuff he goes through, so I’ll never understand why the western fandom gives him so much crap). The ending is pretty controversial and how much you get out of it depends on how much you cared about Shinji’s development versus the sci-fi stuff but if you lean towards the former then it’s about as good a resolution as you’re going to get (and if you lean towards the latter then there’s always End of Evangelion).

Streaming Availability: None (available for purchase through online retailers)

 

22) Yurikuma Arashi

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Synopsis: After an asteroid explosion and meteor shower lit up the sky over planet earth, strange adorable bears began to attack and devour humans. The earthlings responded with violence of their own, and in the end, a massive barrier – the Wall of Extinction – was erected to separate man from bear. This fragile peace lasted until two high school girls encounter a yuri flower blooming – only to be shaken by the piercing warning of the Bear Alarm! Once again, bear and man- or bear and girl -will be pitted against each other in a deadly and mysterious showdown.

Why I Like It: Anyone who somehow managed to make it through my weekly reviews of the show on Fandom Post shouldn’t be too surprised to see it included here and it’s definently a show that deserves mention. Ikuhara is one of anime’s most eccentric directors thanks to his empahasis on visual metaphors and thematic resolution over a linear narrative, and that’s pretty much the case here. In this case all of that is centered around a fairy tale narrative that serves as an excellent allegory on societal views about homosexuality and what true love actually means, that’s both over the top fun and extremely heartwrenching in it’s depiction. It’s a testament to his skill that Ikuhara can handle  that kind of topic with grace, and while it’s not his greatest masterpiece, it’s still a masterpiece and full of great visual flair. I wouldn’t really recommend seeing it before any of his other series as it’s the least inviting for anyone not familiar with how his stuff works, but it’s definitely worth seeing none the less.

Streaming Availability: Funimation, Hulu

 

21) NANA

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Synopsis:  Nana Komatsu is on her way to Tokyo; now she can finally be with her boyfriend after a year of dating long-distance! On the train there, Nana Komatsu meets Nana Osaki – a girl who shares her name but seems to be everything Nana Komatsu is not; cool, street-wise, and a punk rocker. The two hit it off and spend the entire journey getting to know each other, but when they get to Tokyo, circumstance separates them seemingly forever. However, fate is not finished with these two. Whilst hunting for a place to live the two Nanas again cross paths. They decide to share a flat and become best friends in no time. Nana K. must learn to be independent and mature, while Nana O. works on becoming famous with her band; but together, they will learn about love and loss, and the growth that comes with it.

Why I Like It: People usually say that the years that define the rest of your life are around your teens but really it’s your 20’s as the decisions you make upon first gaining true independance from parents or family are some of the most important you’ll ever make and usually have the most amount of consequences. Nana is a show that understands this in spades as it details the lives of two young women coming into their own, and dealing with their respective love lives neatly meshed together with music industry drama. The show holds nothing back about how hard the decisions you have to make at that age are and can be almost excruciatingly painful to watch at times because of it because it hits a very real place for many, but it also believes that you can triumph over those situations and find your own sense of happiness, even if it doesn’t necessairly come with your dreams attached.

Streaming Availability: Neon Alley, Hulu

20) Toradora

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Synopsis: Ryuuji Takasu has an eventful life: his classmates think he’s a delinquent due to his ‘killer’ eyes; his crush Minori seems ever out of reach; and he’s just had an unfortunate encounter with ‘palm-sized Taiga’ – a feisty and dainty wench in his class. With different cleaning habits and tempers, the two clash like night and day; that is, except for the fact that Taiga and Ryuuji have crushes on the other’s good friend! With school rumors abounding, the duo must now work together to play matchmaker for each other. Who will end up with their true love?

Why I Like It: High school romance is a well worn genre and one that often pulls out the same old tired tropes but this one is a definite standout. The issues concerning the characters are at the forefront of the story rather than being used a vehicle for last minute drama like most of it’s brethren, and while the core romance is a pretty familiar one, it’s executed in a way that feels genuine and really rewarding after all the things the characters go through. In a sea of similar shows it’s the one that gets the most right and certainly worth checking out

Streaming Availability: Hulu, Crunchyroll

Next- #19-11