Top 20 Favorite Anime

A long time ago, I did a post where I discussed my top 15 favorite anime series.  However, now that it’s been a few years, and I have become more familiar with more series, and have rewatched some of the ones on my list previously, my opinions have changed somewhat.  So now I am going to put out the definitive list.  Here are the top 20 favorite anime that I have.

20. Psycho Pass (Season 1)
You know something that I have never seen anime tackle before?  A crime-procedural.  Especially one where you are in a dystopian city that has a legal system that is both cruel and uncompromising.  That is the world of this series.  At least in the first season.  For whatever reason, the second season just totally died.  A crime-procedural in a series where the law is carried out by a soulless computer that judges your punishment based on how much of a threat you are due to the data that it takes in.  And its judgement is the last.  Characters who are fun, morally-gray material, and a genre that I have never seen done before in this medium.  While the second season died so bad, it’s good that at least we have this one.

19. Rahxephon
After the success of Evangelion and what a cultural icon it became, there were a TON of imitators out there.  Most of them never even went past the line of derivative, with people seeing them for the schlock that they are.  However, then you get series like this one.  Which took the formula for Eva and actually went further with it.  In fact, I would say that it perfected it.  A show about aliens who look like us, machines that are golems made of stone, and a focus on music and the power of sound, this was a very grim series that I would argue was better than the series it was riffing on, in more ways than one.  Were it not for the ending which is kind of dull, this show would be able to easily stack up to the more famous predecessor.  But quality animation, a fantastic score, and really good voice acting makes this series shine.

18. Darker Than Black (Season 1)
Another series where the second season just royally fucked the quality, this series was about darkness all around.  In a world where some nameless calamity has stuck the Earth and imprisoned it under a cloud that has stars symbolizing people with special powers, our tale follows a clandestine group who does dirty work for a shady organization who is exploiting those individuals.  Action that keeps you pumped, dark subject matter, and a kind of grotesque nature keeps you guessing.  This series is cold, but for at least the first season you can see where it’s coming from.

17. Digimon Tamers
Given how this franchise had been so light-hearted by comparison, this series in the franchise took a decidedly darker turn.  For a marketing vehicle, this iteration of the franchise was meta, had complicated characters who you like, and took some incredibly dark turns that as a child I was in love with, and as an adult I still can sit down and watch and feel very moved by.  How a show this dark was able to get onto a children’s cartoon block is beyond me, but I am glad that it is, because there is nothing like it.  Whether it is just for the nostalgia, or to just enjoy a children’s show that wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries of what is acceptable, it still holds up to this day.

16. Samurai Champloo
What do you get when you take the creator of one of the greatest anime ever made, add in hip-hop, and enough meta to make Deadpool proud?  You get this series, of course.  A stylistic, badass and overall too fun series about a bunch of travelers, I love this show so much.  It’s not complicated.  This is entirely style over substance.  But that style is just so damn cool!  The creator of Cowboy Bebop comes back to tell a story about three travelers in the Edo Period of Japan, trying to find a Samurai who “smells of sunflowers.”  From the awesome sword-fights to the fantastic voice-work in English, nothing about this series doesn’t stick with me.  Sure, there are some episodes which just die, but overall it is still a ton of fun to watch.  Steve Blum steals the show as Mugen, but the rest are still so cool.  If you can handle some history-twisting, this series is for you.

15. Gundam Wing
I am dying to know when FUNimation is going to re-release this series, now that they have  the Bandai licenses.  Here’s hoping they don’t do a shitty redub of it.  The voicework in this series is classic.  Telling the story of five youths who head down to Earth to get revenge for the murder of a leader of the Colonies, along with strike back at the clandestine Organization of the Zodiac, Gundam Wing is all about big robots and big battles.  But more than that, it looks at ideas about war, the nature of good and evil, and how the changing tides of history can leave people behind.  This series is classic, and while the animation hasn’t aged as well as you’d think, it still is pretty awesome.  I’ll admit that my nostalgia goggles are on pretty tight for this.  It is the first series that I watched as a kid that got me into anime.  But I still love it, and in my opinion it holds up to this day as a gateway series into anime.  Seriously, though, FUNimation, don’t do a redub of this.  It can only suck.

14. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
When I watch this series, the whole time I think about what life was like growing up.  But more than that, this series does something that so few stories about growing up does – feels real.  When I see the grungy basements that the band is playing it, I feel like I am there.  I feel like I could watch these shows and hear these instruments.  It tells the story of a young man who is lost growing up, and just so happens to run into the lead guitarist of a band.  From there begins a story of growing up, music, and the hardships that come from knowing that youth is temporary.  Were it not for a totally forced plot later about a mobster which had no reason to be in there, this series would have been nigh-perfect.  But I still feel each string of the instruments when I watch it to this day.

13. Baccano
What do you get when you combine a total lack of chronological order, supernatural powers, and the backdrop of early 1900’s gang warfare?  You get a show that is so damn fun to watch!  This series is a marvel.  It’s a marvel how such an unapologetically violent series can exist but be so fun to watch.  This series is brutal.  You have dismemberment, a gleeful enjoyment of murder, and characters who are pretty much all terrible people but you love all the same due to how deliciously evil they all are.  It tells the story of a train massacre, along with a drug war that goes on because of a substance that grants people immortal life.  Between the phenomenal acting in the dub, and the cool style that it has, this series isn’t about the narrative.  It’s about the crazy ride aboard a train that you can’t look away from for one second.

12. Outlaw Star
Some series are substance over style.  Others are style over substance.  Outlaw Star, on the other hand, is nothing but style and not a lick of substance to be found anywhere.  But dear god is it cool!  Gene Starwind finds himself going from a do any dirty job business owner to a starship captain outlaw who has a mysterious vessel and a mysterious woman who can pilot it in his care.  What this show lacks if any form of substantive elements it makes up in some of the most fun that a series has ever had with its premise.  This is science fiction escapism at its best.  This show knows exactly what it is and doesn’t shy away from it.  Hell, it embraces what it is, and does nothing but have fun with that every step of the way.  If you like all the trimmings of a space adventure story (no joke, they don’t miss a single beat), you need to watch this anime.

11. Vision of Escaflowne
First off, let me say, FUNimation – shame on you for making a redub version of this series.  If you hadn’t have included the original version in the blu-ray, I would be hunting you down.  The redubbed version is just bad, no matter how you scratch it.  A series that also retreads ground that we have seen before, but damn if it isn’t all the execution.  The story of Escaflowne is as predictable as it gets.  You have a girl taken to a mysterious world, who ends up becoming involved in a greater plot that involves fantasy elements in a world with animal people and fighting robots.  Original as my pizza pops idea, but as I said, all in the execution.  This series is incredible to watch!  From the gorgeous visuals, to the fantastic voice-work, it has it all.  Not to mention the soundtrack, which is so damn beautiful.  You know exactly where it will go from beginning to end, but each step of getting there is worth it.  Just wish the ending to the series wasn’t as flat as it is.  I guess they meant for it to go further, but ran out of budget.  Oh well.

10. FLCL
This series is one that I saw when I was much younger, but when I rediscovered it as an adult, it grew on me so much.  The best coming-of-age anime that I have ever seen, this short series tells the story of a young man who is dissatisfied with life, but has his boring days broken when a woman on a vespa with a guitar smashes him over the head and nothing in his life is the same.  While this series does play with elements of eldritch horror and mecha anime, at its core it is about our young hero and his issues with growing up.  He is a lonely kid, and I see so much of my own struggles growing up in him.  Plus, it looks at the problems associated with sex, love, and emotional honesty in a way that feels mature.  The guy who made it studied under the creator of Evangelion, but I would argue that this series does complex emotions better, simply because they capture what it’s like to be a kid better.  If you saw this when you were younger, check it out again and see what you think.

9. Death Note
One of the most widely-known anime series, Death Note tells the story of a man’s rise to power.  Light Yagami is a bored high school genius, who one day happens to come across a notebook dropped from a death god called the Death Note.  He then goes from a soon to be lawyer to little Hitler and he fights to remake the world in his image.  This series has zero subtlety.  None.  But dear god is it fun!  The game of cat-and-mouse between Light and L is too much fun to watch.  Too bad that the entire conflict just dies after that point, up until the very end of the series.  Looking back on it now, I don’t have the same love for this series that I do for others on the list, but it is still an incredible show that has one of the best dramatic arcs to follow.  At least for the first 25 episodes.

8. Wolf’s Rain
This series is probably the most thematically dense of any of the anime on this list.  This is a cold and cryptic series that fuses religious allegory with bitter tragedy.  It tells the story of a young pack of wolves, on their journey to find Paradise, all while the world is slowly descending into chaos and the end of everything is near.  Between the truly incredible visuals, the voice acting that is at the top of its class, and one of the most gripping tragedies ever told, this series will make you cry, think, and question all at the same time.  It isn’t for everyone, as the material is dense and there is virtually no exposition to let you know what is going on.  However, if narrative rich in symbolism and with a lore that you have to pay attention to in order to figure out is your game, then check it out.

7. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
I find it so weird that the most true to the original story version of this series is done in an anime set 3,000 years in the future.  That is just so strange to me.  It follows a young man named Albert, who comes into the acquaintance of a mysterious Count.  What follows is a tangled web of lies, manipulation, and a revenge story that will keep you hooked.  But not only that, it also has a style that is all its own.  This series animation is strange, to say the least.  But that strangeness is what sets it apart.  The style in it fits so perfectly.  This series is almost impossible to analyze, because it is nearly perfect.  Were it not for how bad the last two episodes are, I would almost call it a perfect anime.  Some flaws, but too much fun.  Not to mention having a villain who is just so awesome.

6. Stein’s Gate
When time travel, fate, and the changing of reality collide, you get Stein’s Gate.  Telling the story of a young man and his band of misfits who stumble upon the ability to change time, a young man learns the true price of changing reality, and what it takes to set things right.  So much of what I love about this series centers around the main character.  A lot of people see it as a gripping thriller about time travel, and that is true, but that isn’t what keeps me loving this series the way that I do.  Every single one of these characters all feel like people I could know and love, but as I said, it’s not what keeps me coming back.  The real reason that I love this series the way I do is the character of Okarine.  His anti-social nature and awkwardness in the face of life and the hardships he comes across resonate so much with me.  His fight to be a good friend all while battling his own awkwardness feel so true to me.  Not to mention the fact that he lives in his own head, desperately trying to make sense of it all.  It’s a cold story, but seeing how far he will go to save his best friend hits me right in the heart.

5. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
A lot of people have made comparisons between this series and Death Note, and while I do see those, I believe that this is the better series.  Why?  All because of the main character.  The story goes that Lelouch is a disaffected youth living in the occupied nation of Japan.  He has no thoughts about life and is looking to strike back at the Holy Britannian Empire who he blames for ruining his life and crippling his sister.  As fate would have it, he gets his shot when a mysterious woman gives him the power of Geass.  Now it’s a battle of wits to destroy the people he hates, and manipulate the world on his ultimate chess board, that grows bigger and bigger with every battle.  Light is an interesting character, but his corruption is ridiculously immediate.  Lelouch, on the other hand, is one we can watch grow and slowly become turned by his own power.  To the point that he has to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to bring about total peace.

4. Mushi Shi
Anyone who knows me knows that my first love is animation.  I love to watch animation that has quality and a look all its own.  It’s why I love the film Bambi to this day, even if it is cutesy to a sickening degree.  The animation is a step above.  To that end, this series is much the same.  Telling the tales of the wandering Mushi Master Ginko, this series is just so peaceful.  It’s kind of like a lullaby.  I can watch this series anytime that I need to just feel better about my day, and it works wonders.  But dear Groj, the animation!  This series is a visual marvel.  Each episode seems to play around with a different style, and man do I love it for that.

3. Fullmetal Alchemist (Original)
I honestly don’t think much of Brotherhood, so I’ll head that off.  But the original series is a brilliant character study into the Elric Brothers, and their tragic tale of trying to get their bodies back.  This series is nearly a flawless tragedy.  Telling the story of two brothers and how their quest to get their own lives back destroys the lives of countless people around them.  This series is a near-perfect character study.  Edward and his brother are so likeable, which makes the fact that they are doing irreparable harm to the lives of everyone around them that much worse.  This series is also almost perfect, save for the ending.  I am one of the few people who calls bullshit on that ending.  How does sacrificing memory for Al’s life even make sense.  This series would have been a perfect tragedy if it ended with Al giving his life, and Edward realizing that in the end, he has to accept that some things cannot come back, and he has to move forward with his life.  But it is still a transcendent anime that is another perfect gateway series.

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender
How America was able to create an anime this good is beyond me.  This series did something that few anime have done before – transcended the gap between kids show and adult.  This series is incredible.  There isn’t a single bad episode.  There isn’t a single wasted character.  There isn’t a single frame that doesn’t fit in one way or another.  When you learn the insane amount of research that went into this little masterpiece, then you realize that anime can be more than just a niche market.  The story of Aang and his journey to learn the four elements and save the world combines incredible animation, lovable characters, and so much fantastic story-telling in all the best ways.  I honestly can say that this series is perfect.  Right down to the ending, it gets everything right.  For those wondering what I think of its sequel series, then it can be boiled down to this – Season 1 and 3 are amazing, while 2 and 4 go from terrible to boring.

And my favorite anime is…

1. Cowboy Bebop
Everyone and their brother has said about how awesome this series is.  Most people will call me a sheep for loving it the way that I do.  But so be it.  This series is perfect.  From the very beginning where you see Spike going to what is likely his doom in order to escape his life in the mob, the end of the first episode that sets up the tragic nature of the series.  Taking elements from tons of genres and blending them all together, this series cannot be defined by any one genre.  The story of the Bebop and its crew of misfits goes from pensive look at tragic characters, to beautiful elements of action set-piece, all of which are set to the best music that anime has ever or will ever have.  This series is astounding.  People sing its praises, but you know what, it’s earned that.  No series has ever done it like this, and I doubt another series ever will.

So, what are your favorite anime?  Let me know down in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“I’m just in a dream that I can’t wake up from.” – Spike Spiegel, Cowboy Bebop

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Terror in Resonance

Terror in ResonanceSo, here’s a new segment where I give my first impressions on new TV shows, anime or even book series that I find.  These are usually done when the show first comes out or when I see it.  I might also expand this to include video game and movie trailers.  Actually, yeah, that”s what I’m going to do.  I hope you all enjoy.

Anyway, today’s topic is a new series by the ingenious creator of Cowboy Bebop, Shinichiro Watanabe.  Following that series, and a spiritual successor – Samurai Champloo – he seemed to disappear from the anime world.  A bummer, too, because this guy is a MASTER of creating odd stories that you wouldn’t think would make any sense, yet always do.  How he does it is anyone’s guess.  This new series is no exception.

It is called “Terror in Resonance.”  Right out of the gate, this is an intense series that never lets up.  Also in the vein of Watanabe’s work, it is such a weird premise that the fact that he makes it work baffles me.  The premise of the series follows two terrorists and their unsuspecting and unsettled accomplice as they work to get revenge against the government and police of Tokyo for reasons that are unknown.  It is implied that the two boys were victims of some kind of experimentation, but they never say for certain.  This series is asking you (and does a good job getting it done) to find two terrorists sympathetic and hoping that they win.  Yeah, it’s nuts.

On the technical side, this series has excellent animation.  Since it has a real-world setting and real-world characters, it looks the part.  The lighting is absolutely flawless, often working to set a scene all on its own.  The destruction animation is flawless, almost film-quality.  The character models are also very normal, which is unsurprising, coming from Watanabe.  He has a habit of making character look like real people.  There is absolutely no fan service in this series, with it never losing its dark edge.

As far as the characters go, the voice-work is excellent!  Since it is still being released in Japan, there is no dubbed version yet.  If they have Steve Blum do the voice of the disillusioned detective who is hunting the two boys, I’ll be over the moon.  For real, that would be awesome.  The two boys who the series follows are interesting thus far.  They have a dark past that they have only just gone into, and I’m eager to see where it goes.  Their chronically depressed accomplice is one I hope we get to see more of, as they imply that her role is growing, but we never really see it.  The detectives who are hunting the kids are also interesting.

Thus far, I am very much liking this anime.  I think it has a lot of potential and I hope we get to see more.  It is like a mix of Death Note, terrorism and some neat quips about social media and the Internet.  I even saw that Amazon got name-dropped into the series.  That’s neat.  So yeah, eager to see what’s next.

Initial Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 15 Anime Series

Now, I’m not talking about the top 15 series ever, just my personal favorites.  I’m not some kind of otaku.  I am a story-seeker.  Wherever I find a good story, I run with it.  And anime has given us some really great stories.  Of course, like with film and books, a lot of what I have seen in junk, but when I do find diamonds in the rough, I am really grateful.  Now, some of the series’ that I have on here are ones that I grew up with, and if I watched them now, I might have a different opinion.  But I doubt it.  I had a pretty good sense of story even when I was younger.  In any case, any of these series’s would be worth checking out.  Hopefully you have!  Enjoy.

15. Outlaw Star
So, there are going to be a few shows on here that are style over substance.  I don’t mind that, so long as the style is cool.  But this series is a little different.  This series has no, and I mean NO, substance at all!  It is entirely style, but for what it is, it is very, very cool.  This is science fiction escapism done right.  The universe is very neat, the characters are all over-the-top, but it is never boring.  The story is almost nothing but vignettes about the adventures of the crew of Outlaw Star, going around the galaxy, trying to find the Galactic Layline.  For real, that is as deep as it gets.  No personal journeys, no great introspection, just kick-ass action and bizarre adventures.  And bless this little show, because it does it just perfectly.  The animation for the series has aged incredibly well, and the universe is all sorts of fun.  Check it out, if you want something that is high on action, low on brains.

14. Digimon Tamers
A series that I saw when I was younger.  I was around 12 when I saw it for the first time.  And man, for a show that was made for kids, I don’t think it is possible for this to have possibly been darker!  For real, for being a kid’s show, there were a LOT of shit-your-pants scary moments in it.  This show dealt with some pretty heavy stuff.  There were the personal insecurities of the characters, which often manifested in the most harsh way possible.  There was the ugliness of what they were doing, deliberately destroying living creatures to make themselves stronger.  Even up to the end, this show never lets up with its subject matter.  And it does so very well.  It is cool when something that is made for kids doesn’t talk down to them.  I think that kids can handle the darker stuff, so long as their is a happy ending.  What makes this series especially interesting, to me at least, is that I don’t actually think it was a happy ending.  It was rather cold, in a lot of ways.  This show isn’t one of my favorites because of great animation or great music, but because of great characters.

13. BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad
I never thought that I would be a big fan of slice-of-life shows.  I mean, why would I want to watch something like real life?  I get to see it enough as-is.  But this show is a total exception to that.  The characters in this show are 100% believable.  This isn’t Disney Channel trying to interpret what being a teenager is like.  This is life experience we can all understand.  I love every minute of this show.  You can feel the strum of the guitar strings as the chords play.  You can smell the dusty basements where the music is playing.  You can identify with the young man as he is trying to find a place that he belongs.  Every single element of this show works, and it works great.  I love it.  I haven’t enjoyed a show like this in a long time.  Now, because it is slice-of-life, this isn’t for everybody.  It doesn’t have a perfectly happy or perfectly unhappy ending.  It is like life – a little good, and a little bad.  And it makes for a masterful show.

12. Baccano!
Whenever people talk about Lost, they make a point about how ridiculously convoluted it all is.  A lot of people have the same thoughts about this series.  To their credit, yeah, this series is REALLY complicated.  It takes more than one run-through to catch everything.  The series tells a whole bunch of stories, all centered around the massacre aboard the train, The Flying Pussyfoot.  This series involves so many characters, so many plot points.  You would think, with how incredibly complicated it is, that it would fall flat on its ass.  But it doesn’t.  This series paces everything so perfectly that even though you may miss some stuff here and there, you will hardly mind.  Every single character, even if you only see them for a scene, plays a part.  You feel like they all have a purpose in the series.  There isn’t a single waste scene, sentence or second of the series.  It is only 13 episodes long, and the creators of the show took advantage of every gory and deliciously odd moment of it.

11. Rahxephon
Man, this is one of those series that is so thematic that one has to sit down and think about it.  There are so many thematic elements at play that it is almost like a study in the subject.  The story tells of a young man named Ayato.  He finds a giant mecha-like golem, and it takes him outside the city of Tokyo, which in this world is its own reality.  It is inside of its own universe.  Outside, Ayato has to do battle with other golems.  Over time, he realizes that reality isn’t as simple as he thought, and that his destiny isn’t as kind as he had hoped.  Everything about this series flows so well.  The music, the visuals, the character growth.  It is very subtle, and very beautiful.  There are a lot of points in this show that don’t make a whole lot of sense, but it is such a pure descent into a fantastical world that you scarcely mind.  It isn’t about the science fiction element, which isn’t the show’s strong point.  This is about questioning reality, and questioning yourself.  What more could one want?

10. Samurai Champloo
Made by the creator of Cowboy Bebop, this series is one of the strangest pieces of historical fiction that I have ever seen.  The benefit of it being completely inaccurate, historically speaking, is that this series knows it.  It is making fun of a whole bunch of time periods and cultures, yet still having not only a cool action story, but also deep characters and some really cool fights.  It is kind of strange how you are having to constantly shift back and forth from not taking this series seriously at all, to finding it almost too serious.  The characters have stories, and like Cowboy Bebop, they all find that by trying to outrun their pasts, they eventually become consumed by them.  This series mixes samurai era with hip-hop style and the same level of good visuals that is to be expected from the creators of Cowboy Bebop.  I will admit that this is a style over substance series, but if that is your gig, you’ll find something to love.  If you don’t take history very seriously, pick it up and enjoy!

9. Gundam Wing
Now, this series has kind of become one of the classic pieces of otaku fanbase, but I am not among them.  Those people creep me out.  I love this series for reasons all my own.  This is a series that gets me because of the story.  The story goes that many years into the future, humanity has started colonizing space.  When a pacifist leader was vying for independence from Earth, the United Earth Sphere Alliance cracked down on them.  Eventually, the colonial leader was assassinated.  Now, many years later, five machines are being sent to Earth, to get revenge.  This series follows the five young pilots in their mission to get revenge.  In the process, they become embroiled in a battle with shifting political sands, different allegiances, and finding that they are not only figuring out the destiny of the stars, but of themselves as well.  The animation for this show wasn’t especially great, but this was more about characters and story.  It has a broad arc, and you never feel bored watching it.  This is a show for a very specific fanbase of sci-fi lovers, but if you are in the mood, and got some popcorn, take a watch.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Wolf's Rain8. Wolf’s Rain
Alright, I’m just going to level with you – this show is incredible.  Truly, unbelievably incredible.  This anime is probably one of the greatest of all time.  This show is perfect.  Absolutely, utterly perfect.  There is not one thing that was done wrong.  A genuine tragedy about wolves who are searching for paradise, a divorced couple who is caught up in the web of things, a man who has vowed to hunt all wolves to extinction and a noble who has his own nefarious plot, all of which revolves around a young woman called “The Flower Maiden.”  The animation of this series is incredible.  The voice work in English has pretty much every anime all-star voice actor and actress.  It’s an incredible cast.  But the best thing about this show – how smart it is.  This series is an allegory.  The world that it exists in is incredibly complex with a very rich history, however, there is one caveat to that – there is no, and I do mean NO exposition.  All of this history is stuff that you, the audience has to pick up from bits and pieces.  But what makes it better – you don’t have to go through it with a fine-toothed comb to enjoy it.  This series is one that you can enjoy, regardless of if you are aware of the level of depth or not.  If it weren’t for personal preference, this series would be right at the top of this list.  It’s what a great tragedy should be.  It will warm your heart and it will also make you cry.  A lot.  But it is still beautiful.  Take it from me, you won’t be disappointed that you watched it.

7. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – what the hell?  How could an anime about The Count of Monte Cristo possibly be any good?  Well, for a lot of reasons.  The first is that this adaptation, believe it or not, is actually both the most faithful, and the most different adaptation of this story that I have ever seen.  I could go on for hours about that, so I won’t, but it is almost surreal how close to the story it is, even though it is set in a futuristic universe.  But the real selling point for me, aside from the great writing, the great story, and the coldly good acting are the visuals.  This series is a visual mind-fuck.  I don’t think that I have seen anything like it.  Ever.  You can get lost in how they do everything that they possibly can with this series not to make it feel understandable or comfortable.  The use of color, the use of lines, the use of faces and voice, they are all totally bizarre, yet entrancing at the same time.  It’s hard to look away when you are watching, because it is that gorgeous to look at.  But of course, the story is great too, and it is cool to see the story take place from the son of the noble that the Count is trying to get revenge against, rather than from the Count himself.  Like the story, in that regard.  If you’ve never seen the story played out before, I would recommend this version first.

6. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
One thing that I love is a story about intrigue and deception.  This series is rife with that.  Code Geass has been compared to Death Note, another series that you’ll see on this list, but to be honest, I think that they are very different shows.  For one thing, their style is 100% different.  Code Geass is a very traditional anime.  I would say that I don’t think that their animation is anything special, but that’s okay, because the story is very engaging and interesting.  It tells the story of a prince who is hiding out from the totalitarian empire of Britannia, who is gradually taking over the world.  Through sheer chance, Lelouch comes into possession of a Geass.  For each person, this power is different.  In Lelouch’s case, it allows him to be able to make anybody follow a command he gives them, so long as he has direct eye-contact with them.  This allows him to begin his efforts to overthrow Britannia, and to get revenge for his mother, who was murdered, and for his sister, who was mutilated at the same time.  This series isn’t has harsh as Death Note, either.  It is definitely an action series, though it does have some good moments where Lelouch’s brilliant mind gets a chance to shine.  This series has a LOT of really harsh moments, and when the characters shine, they shine brilliantly.  Plus, the cat-and-mouse game never lets up.  Overall, a great story, with some badass action.

5.Mushi Shi
Anybody who knows me knows that I am a HUGE fan of animation.  I think that when it is done well, it can bring a story to life in a way that nothing else can.  It can make a world seem more enriched, and it can make characters feel closer.  Honestly, I think there is more that can be done with animation that live action.  And this series is a perfect example.  I like JesuOtaku’s description – that it is a lullaby.  This show truly does feel like a lullaby.  I could go to sleep watching it.  The stories are quiet, very melodic.  You feel very calm, even when this show has incredibly gory and gripping moments.  It tells the story of spirits called Mushi that live with humans, and there is a special magician who can interact with them.  The animation in this series is perfect.  Were it not for the fact that I don’t just judge this by animation alone, this would be right at the top of my list.  Each episode has a new style, a different way of animating.  It never stop being impressive.  I am consistently feeling like I am diving into an unknown world.  Now, there is the fact that this series has absolutely no, and I mean NO, over-arching plot.  Each episode is a vignette.  This is a show for a person who loves animation.  For real, if you want something that will tease your mind, and dazzle your eyes, this is the show to watch.

4. Death Note
Yeah, you knew it was coming.  I LOVE this series.  I truly don’t think that a single element of this series fell flat.  Except for all the episodes after 25.  Yeah…that got pretty bad.  I won’t spoil it for the 5 people who haven’t seen it, but yeah, it got a lot less exciting.  Up until the last episode, which is so incredibly good that you’ll want to watch it again the moment it is done.  But the premise is simple.  Yagami Light is a lot like Lelouch.  He is a brilliant young student who is profoundly dissatisfied with the state of things.  He sees all the prisoners who get out of jail, not having to pay for their crimes of murder or worse.  He wants to do something about this, but can’t.  Then, by sheer chance, he comes upon the Death Note.  This is a notebook.  With it, he can kill any person, however he pleases, so long as he knows their name and face.  Now, Light is using it to kill the world’s criminals, and create a peaceful utopia with him as the new god, under the assumed identity of “Kira.”  Enter the brilliant detective, L.  L wants to catch Kira, and is willing to do anything to accomplish this.  While he has a very strict sense of right and wrong, L will also do absolutely horrible thing to get Kira, making it a good argument over which of them is the actual monster.  The pacing and characters are brilliant, and the animation is amazing.  The use of light and shadows is just great.  The character models and environment animation is also among the best that I have ever seen.  This series never lets up, and the intensity keeps building and building, right to just the right moment, and explodes in a way you never thought possible.  All up to the very, very bitter end.

3. Fullmetal Alchemist
This series only did one thing wrong – the ending.  Other than that, every aspect was perfect.  For real, it is perfect.  The only reason that it isn’t at the top of my list is because of personal preference.  The story goes that Edward and Alphonse Elric use the power of alchemy (taking one substance and changing it into another) to try and resurrect their dead mother.  Their efforts fail, and Edward loses and arm and a leg, Alphonse loses his entire body.  Now, both of them join the military and become State Alchemists, using their position to try and research the all-powerful Philosopher’s Stone, which they hope will be able to create a new body for Alphonse, and new limbs for Edward.  This is an incredibly tragic series.  It is heart-breaking and sad right up until the very end.  The idea of a tragedy show is incredibly difficult, and this series pulls it off perfectly.  From the very start, you are invested in the struggle of these two boys, who have become involved in something far bigger than themselves, and in the process grow up very fast, and very harshly.  There is also an expansive cast of recurring characters, all of whom have a plot and feel like they are a key part of the story.  The voice acting is top-notch.  This series is on par with a great animated film.  Of course, it is also dark, violent, and very horrific at times, so this isn’t a show for the younger crowd.  But I guarantee that if you like a good story, you won’t be able to stop watching.  Not for two seconds.  And if you are wondering what I thought of the reboot series – Brotherhood.  Well, I’m not a fan.  It was rushed, clearly an action show, and on top of that, there were WAY too many people, none of whom was flushed out enough.  But there is the first, and the best.  Enjoy.

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender
I know, why am I putting a kid’s show above Fullmetal Alchemist?  Well, to be honest, this was an incredibly well-done show.  I think that this is like most any of the animated feature films that Disney has done.  It is able to be enjoyed, by both the young and the old.  The story goes that there are four types of elements – Water, Fire, Earth, and Air.  They can be manipulated by “Benders.”  There is one bender, though, above them all – the Avatar.  This person can bend all four kinds, as opposed to only one, which is the way it is for everybody else.  Things were all well and good in this world until the Fire Nation began a campaign to take over the other nations.  Only the Avatar had the power to stop them, and he vanished.  For 100 years.  Now, he has returned.  It is a young Airbender, the last of his kind.  The story picks up from then, when he has returned, on a mission to stop the Fire Nation and restore balance.  It’s a pretty basic plot, but man, it shines in this series.  The characters are all fun and all grow throughout the series.  The bending elements aspect was clearly thought through entirely, as you can clearly say that each style was based on a different form or two of martial arts.  The animation also is great.  It starts out pretty basic, but after a while, it is incredible, outright gorgeous.  The voice-work is top-notch.  All in all, this show may have been made for kids, but it is easily able to be enjoyed by adults.

And my top anime series is –

1. Cowboy Bebop
Don’t accuse me of following trends.  This is one hell of a show.  The premise is that the crew of the Bebop is a bunch of social misfits who are trying to find a way to get by, in a universe that is without law and order.  They work as bounty hunters, ever-working to hunt the elusive paycheck.  Not an easy thing to catch.  But it is the growth of characters in this show that is just amazing.  My favorite is Spike, and not because he is cool or because he can fight.  His outlook on life just marvels me.  He views life as a dream, that he is waiting to wake up from.  All the risks he takes and the tempting of fate that he does is purely so that he can justify his own existence.  Of course, the rest of the cast is great.  So, the characters are great, but what about everything else?  The animation is the best that I have ever seen in any series.  The darkness, the detail at some points, and abstract at others, the noire quality of it, while at the same time the science fiction style, it’s all perfect.  And the music is just great.  Blending western themes with jazzy beats, it is almost a perfect soundtrack, and compliments its universe in the best way.  The reason that this show is so loved is because it is just that good.  I don’t think a single element fell flat.  Except that one episode…Boogie Woogie Feng Shui.  That was the only real time that this show failed.  And it did fail badly, but still.  Overall, this series has perfect music, perfect characters, perfect writing, perfect voice-work, perfect animation.  It is the best that I have ever seen, and I love it to death.

Until next time, a quote,

“Look at my eyes, Faye. One of them is a fake because I lost it in an accident. Since then, I’ve been seeing the past in one eye and the present in the other. So, I thought I could only see patches of reality, never the whole picture. I felt like I was watching a dream I could never wake up from. Before I knew it, the dream was over.”  -Spike Spiegel, Cowboy Bebop

Peace out,

Maverick