Hello Everyone! It’s certainly good to be back, and I’m sorry about the silence. I honestly missed this quite a bit, but life always manages to get busy. Now that I’m back as well, I figured I should take my turn writing about my most important anime. Since RishRaff did 9, and B-Ro did 10, I figured it would only be right to up the ante and do 11.
To be honest, I’m quite okay with doing 11, as even with that number, there were so many shows that just missed the list. The shows on here switched around a lot, and I’m sure they’ll switch around more in my head after this is published. Keep in mind that this list is (mostly) in no particular order. So without further ado, enjoy my wordy ramblings about anime that I care about.
If you don’t count watching shows like Pokémon and Naruto as a kid, FLCL was actually one of the first anime that I’ve ever watched (I started watching it the same night that I started another series on this list), and boy has it stuck with me. FLCL has an appeal that can be hard for me to explain. A certain style that’s very unique, mind blowing, and… well… Cool. The heavy symbolism, the switching animation styles, the off the wall gags and characters, all mixed with one of the best utilized soundtracks I have ever heard makes for a show that’s very off the wall, but doesn’t forget to be sincere about it. No matter how strange things became, almost everything about this show connected with me in some way. FLCL is a great example of what can happen if you let your imagination run wild and just go all out creating something. There’s nothing else quite like it, and that’s a beautiful thing. I still have hope for the sequel though.
#10 Ano Natsu de Matteru
It’s interesting how the place/time I watch or listen to something can add to my memories of it. Ano Natsu was one of the shows I watched during my first summer of watching anime. That was such a magical time for me. A new world of stories and characters had just opened up, and every late night was a chance to explore more of it. It was also a very transitional time, since I was just getting used to being a college student and looking towards full on adulthood. I was working more and more on making music as a way to cement these feelings and memories. With that in mind, it made total sense for Ano Natsu to stick with me when I first watched it. Ano Natsu is, in my eyes, a celebration of youth and memories, and shows the beauty in wanting to create something to remember them by. The stunning visuals make for such a warm and inviting setting, and the main romance hit me pretty hard in the feels. This show very much so represents that summer for me. It reminds me to celebrate the beautiful, nostalgic times of yesteryear, and look forward to the opportunity to make more memories. Sometimes I feel like I give this show too much credit, but anything that can make me feel this type of genuine optimism has to be doing something right.
I watched Sankarea in the opposite environment from Ano Natsu. Rather than being at home during summer vacation, I was at school during the winter when watching this. The start of this blog was a whirlwind time for me. We put out a LOT of reviews right away, which meant that I was also watching a lot of anime. There were many late nights binging shows, and then talking about them with RishRaff and B-Ro. Experiencing a show like Sankarea certainly made it all worthwhile. It’s a very loveable romance story made special by the horror twists and references. The character of Rea alone was really interesting to watch develop. My experience with the show can be summed up with the gorgeous closing theme. Watching that closer and letting the music envelop me in its delicate atmosphere at three in the morning was just perfect. Sankarea really helped make those days special.
Oh, and I’m working on getting all of the manga volumes, so I can finally see how the story ends!
#8 Diabolik Lovers
And here is my pick for “Bad but still Important Show”. There were a few shows that I was considering for this spot. Shoutout to Momo Kyun Sword for being so entertaining (and kind of endearing) in its awfulness, DearS for having some good bits alongside a lot of problematic parts, and Diamond Daydreams for reminding me that I will be forever alone and that I should really visit Hokkaido. However, of the bad shows I have seen, Diabolik Lovers left the largest impact of them all. I talked at length about this mess of a show in a bonus post a while ago, and I found it fascinating how my feelings for the show changed from pure hate to pure disappointment as I was writing it. Diabolik Lovers, if you looked at it from an absolute bare bones perspective, had a few interesting ideas that it could have effectively explored. But any and all potential was completely ruined by the second episode. Diabolik made me legitimately angry at times while watching, which was certainly a first for me. However, that post on the show was probably some of the most fun I’ve had working on something since the start of the blog, and it really taught me a lot about what makes good horror effective, and what I specifically look for in that genre.
A show all about sucking blood just plain sucked. But at least the soundtrack was good.
#7 Rozen Maiden
There was no way that I was going to let this one slip by (especially considering that it’s the show where our mascot came from). My experience with Rozen Maiden’s three seasons was very unique compared to other shows. I went from not really liking the show to enjoying it during season 1, loving the show to being bummed by the cliffhanger in season 2, and being confused to the point of near rage to loving the show again for different reasons to again being bummed by the cliffhanger in season 3. Each individual season has its flaws, but Rozen Maiden does a lot of great things as a whole, to the point where it is actually my favorite anime world. There’s just something so intriguing about the premise of this show and the world it creates. It really inspires my imagination, and makes me want to see more of it (the cliffhangers probably help with this admittedly). The lovable cast also has to be mentioned, especially the dolls. I’ll always be fond of this weird little show.
#6 Boogiepop Phantom
This show is a very interesting case of expectations affecting one’s opinion. Based on the few things I had heard about Boogiepop and from seeing the first episode, it looked extremely similar to another anime on this list, that anime being Serial Experiments Lain. However, while they do both have fantastically dark atmospheres, thematic richness, and cryptic hidden stories, Boogiepop has a very different purpose in mind. Because of this, I didn’t really understand it at first, and thought it was incoherent and mediocre. But once I caught on to what it was truly going for, I was completely invested. Boogiepop has an episodic structure with a lot of unique characters and miniature plotlines, all of them showing different parts and angles of an underlying story. Everything in this show feels off in a very intriguing way. The visuals are very washed out and drained of color, producing a dreamlike effect. A lot of the soundtrack is actually made up of electronic songs from various artists, and similar to a show like FLCL, the songs are used really well. Each episode had an interesting premise and something to say, culminating in a full picture that was much more profound than I would have expected. I just love shows with this type of atmosphere and storytelling. Boogiepop definitely taught me to give more things a fair chance before passing judgement.
#5 My Bride is a Mermaid
This show still holds the title of the most I have ever laughed at an anime. Looking back, it’s a miracle that this show’s brand of ridiculous humor and parody somehow resonated with me so much that I stayed completely invested for all 26 episodes. I almost can’t believe that it had that many episodes, as they seemed to go by so fast. The premise is lovably ludicrous, and it feels like the creators explored every possible avenue one could take with it to great effect. However, I’d say the real strengths here were the characters and character interactions. I imagine making an over the top character isn’t too hard to do, but the ways that the numerous over the top characters interacted with each other always managed to surprise me. This is rapid fire zaniness at its finest, and boy did I laugh. I was in pain, I had to pause the show multiple times after some of the moments, and I was having an absolute blast.
#4 Serial Experiments Lain
Let’s all love Lain! This show, combined with games like System Shock 2, made me realize that I love cyberpunk. The consistently dark and ominous tone had me enthralled right from the start. That alone could have carried the show for me, but Serial Experiments Lain achieves so much more. Watching Lain’s journey is mesmerizing, thought provoking, and even a little heartbreaking. There are so many visual moments and sound cues (the hum of the power lines, anyone?) that have been burned into my memory. It also looks at themes like technology and the concept of connection in the new millennium in a superb manner that only something like Radiohead’s OK Computer could compare to for me. This show left me in awe when I first watched it, and it still does today.
#3 Clannad After Story
You know, I had a pretty set in stone Top 5 Anime list in my head for a while. Then this show came along and confused everything… After hearing so many great things about Clannad and After Story, I was excited to finally buy DVD sets of each and jumped in. As I said in my reviews, Clannad is all about great execution, especially in its more emotional moments. After Story then manages to improve upon that while adding one of the most memorable plotlines and best examples of character development I have ever seen. It takes full advantage of having a full season of character and setting introductions before it, allowing itself to take what was established and go places that I never would have expected it to go (and I’m glad it did). One scene in particular felt like the culmination of a perfect storm of quality writing, character, and presentation, making me cry more than I have ever cried when watching a show. After Story goes straight for the heartstrings, and I found many of the themes to be very personally relatable, especially as a young adult. I can’t help but feel sentimental about this show every time I listen to music from the ost, see art from the show, or notice that I still haven’t played the visual novel despite buying it on Steam a while ago… In many ways, After Story transcends being just a “great anime” for me, it’s simply a masterpiece.
#2 Your Lie in April
In case it wasn’t obvious, I’m very passionate about music. Writing, listening to, and analyzing music is one of my greatest passions in life. So when I first heard about Your Lie in April, I was interested, but a bit reserved. I had the impression that it was going to be a shallow romance story combined with the main character training to be the very best at piano to win a trophy or something. Boy was I wrong… Your Lie in April is an essential watch for musicians or anyone interested in creative endeavors. It focuses on the purpose of making music rather than simply being the best from a technical standpoint, which I found to be way more inspiring and beautiful. The characters (Kousei and Kaori especially) were amazing, each showcasing themes that really resonated with me. These themes also shine through in the visuals and, of course, the soundtrack. It’s a show packed to the brim with heart, shown most prominently in its unforgettable conclusion. Your Lie in April has really stuck with me, and I still revisit the soundtrack if I need some inspiration.
#1 Angel Beats!
Perhaps you’ve heard one of us talk about this one before? Yes, I suppose it is my turn to write about Angel Beats. This is truly the show that started it all for me. I watched episode 1 the same night I started FLCL at the start of that magical first summer of anime, back when I knew very little about the anime world and what exactly I was getting into. When the opening theme played, and “My Soul, Your Beats” started its chorus, everything changed. I had this sudden feeling come over me, like something new and exciting was just revealed for me to jump into. Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness started my passion for music, Final Fantasy X started my passion for games, and Angel Beats started my passion for anime with that intro. Of course, the show itself became something truly unforgettable for me. One thing that still baffles me to this day about it is everything the show managed to achieve. It has a huge cast of characters, over the top humor, action, heavy tragedy, romance, spiritual themes, all thrown together in a special way where everything just works. Angel Beats also represents the start of this blog for me. Writing these posts made me really start caring more about analyzing art. Why do I think something is good? What do I look for in art? This has really made me appreciate creativity and artistry more, and played a role in my current obsession with film. I’m grateful for Angel Beats, I’m grateful for RishRaff showing me it and B-Ro for talking about it with me, and I’m grateful for this blog and this little corner of the internet.
Thank you so much for reading! My time here has been so incredible. I’ve had a lot of great discussions and met a lot of amazing bloggers, and it really means a lot to me. Thanks for being amazing, and hope to be back again before too long!