Sunday, 8 November 2015

My Top 15 Animes EVER!



Oh hai! Jason here. As the unofficial anime expert of the team (even though I'd consider myself about mid-level management in terms of my knowledge) I felt it was about time I provided a top ten list of my favourite anime ever, but the forces of the universe magically transformed this into a top 15. Oh and before we get started...there will be spoilers...in fact I'll put in big bold letters SPOILERS on any entry that has significant spoilers in (there is one entry where I can't really avoid it). So lets do this!

15. The Guyver: Bio-booster armour


So why is this anime on the list? Simple, it's the very first anime I ever watched. Yep this is where it all began the patient zero of my anime love. Originally aired from 1989 to 1992 and boy does it show. It's weird how anime from the 20th century has such a different feel with more of a dark feel with lots of horrible characters. Plus ever a paper cut causes buckets of blood to spray every where. Anime pre-2000 was definitely made for teen boys that's for certain.

The plot focuses on the a boy called Sho who gets accidentally discovers a strange device that forces itself into his body (...ahem) and grants him the power of the bio-booster guyver armour. It also causes the chronos corporation to come after him, as the armour was originally there's, with their Zoanoids that are humans that transform into giant monsters with various abilities.

Okay, bit of a SPOILER coming up. While there was a lot I enjoyed about The Guyver, including great monster design (which still holds up) and interesting plot points involving mankind being created by aliens, there's one plot point that really wowed me at the time. Sho's dad is kidnapped and turned into a Zoanoid. So at the time I expected Sho's group to managed to fix his Dad and turn him back to normal...but that doesn't happen, instead Sho's brain gets damaged (but the armour can go into auto-pilot and repair him) and he then...kills his own father. This was the first time I'd ever seen such a dark plot twist, as in Western entertainment things either turn out fine, or the death would happen, but with a brave sacrifice and reconciliation between everyone. But here was a Son...killing his own father...this willingness to have a nastier edge is one of the reasons I'm an anime fan today.



14. School Live


Okay...huge massive SPOILERS coming up...in fact you should go, right now and watch the very first episode of School Live...go on.

Last chance....SPOILERS are coming!

Have you gone to watch it yet? last chance.

Right here we go. School Live is the most recent anime on this list, it's about a girl called Yuki, her three friends and their dog who are all part of a school club who's gimmick is that they actually live in the school. The first episode is full of derpy adorableness and everything is very MOE (cute as hell)...and then...(last chance before big SPOILER)...

The episode finishes...and we find out the truth, everything we've seen in the first episode has been through Yuki's eyes...and Yuki hasn't coped with the terrible truth very well. There has been a zombie apocalypse and the four girls are holed up trying to survive. It's a fantastic first episode twist that will instantly make you want to see more. The rest of the series is very good as well as the three girls try and keep Yuki's delusions going even though they're not sure if its for the best. There are other twists and we get large flashback sections that take whole episodes up, but the series never gets rid of the cuteness in spite of the fact that everything happens among the backdrop of some very creepy zombies.

The finale is also especially good. As you might expect it becomes clear the girls current situation can't continue forever and towards the end you wonder who will survive...if anyone. School Live is a great anime with a fantastic main gimmick and you really should give it a go.

13. Martian Successor Nadesico


This is another anime that's responsible for keeping me a fan during my teen years. Made in the mid-nineties the plot is fairly simple, a race called the Jovian Lizards (who use automated robots to attack, so no one knows what they look like) are at war with earth and its colonies. This has lead to earth being in serious trouble with the war now at its doorstep, however a new prototype ship called the nadesico may be able to turn the tide. The only issue is that its crew are full of all sorts of weirdos and the seemingly ditzy captain Yurika seems to be more interested in her childhood friend, full time cook and part time giant robot pilot, Akito.

One of my favourite aspects of Nadesico is that it has an anime within an anime, Akito is converted into a fan of Gekiganger a giant robot anime that's very cheesy but plays a bigger role in the whole series than you'd think. The series also has a surprisingly twisty turny plot including a big death very early on. The truth about the Jovian Lizard's is especially good...one of my favourite twists in anime ever. Throw in a huge and interesting cast, great character design and animation that still holds up well and you've got an older anime that's worth seeking out. I'd argue that Nadesico has a little something for everyone.

12. Azumanga Diaoh


Azumanga Diaoh is often consider the starting point of the 'slice of life' genre, it is at the very least the 'Doom' of the genre, aka the series that really got the ball rolling in the slice of life world. The series revolves around the day to day lives 6 girls their teachers and a few other people as they go through their school lives....and that's about it. The series doesn't really have a main protagonist per-say but the focus tends to be on Chiyo who is a child prodigy who's skipped 5 grades and Sakaki the ultra cool and quiet spoken girl who is good at everything. Most people are a little intimidated by...and are unaware she secretly adores cute things especially cats (although they're not so fond of her).

Azumanga's strength lies in a combination of feeling like a very gentle anime with a good heart, and some major surrealism (mostly involving a yellow cat thing). The whole series has a very quirky air to it that feels very unique and adds to its charm. I always feel that the measure of a slice of life anime where not much happens is in how much you miss the characters when you've finished. Personally I found myself feeling pretty sad at the end of the series as I saw each character go off on their own paths, and knowing that I'd not get to spend any more time with them. Making me feel like that means that Azumanga Diaoh did its job well.

11. Macross Plus


Another anime responsible for me being a fan all these years later, Macross Plus was very much a random purchase for me. Visually one of the most beautiful anime I've ever seen with a fantastic and atmospheric soundtrack it tells the story of test pilot Isamu, who's picked to prove the value of one of two competing transforming fighter jets inspite of his reckless nature. The person picked to test the other option is Bowman, former childhood friend but now enemy of Isamu. Throw in the very girl they fell out over Myung who is the manager of an AI popstar called Sharon, and is secretly proving psychological information to the AI because she isn't perfected...and you've got the ingredients for a great story.

The AI popstar is especially interesting considering Japan's love of vocaloids, which are roughly the same thing. I'm not really a fan of giant robots and fighter planes but Macross plus really is a feast for the eyes and makes them interesting. It was one of the first anime to use both traditional animation and computer generated images. It's four, one hour long episodes and also has a condensed movie version, so give it a look one rainy afternoon.

10. Stein's Gate


Time travel is a pretty standard topic in all forms of media, but few handle it quite as well as Steins Gate. The story is based around self proclaimed mad scientist Rintaro Okabe and his slowly growing teams attempts to create new inventions. During this process they accidentally stumble on a way to send small texts back in time, after using this a few times to change the world of the present the group manage to create a prototype that can send peoples minds back in time. But this is where everything changes...before it can be tested out Rintaro's delusions that a secret organisation is watching him turn out to be more true than even he expected. This leads to a huge moment that changes the whole series into something much more serious as Rintaro fights time itself. In fact the episode directly after the big moment is one of the single best episodes of anime ever.

One of the things I especially like about steins gate is its approach to time travel in that rather than trying to send a physical object back, the team sends a small amount of data back in time...which oddly things like a more plausible thing to do. The first half of the series is enjoyable but drags a little...but the big moment in the middle is huge and massively impactful. Like I said the episode after this moment is fantastic and builds up to a great finale, a must watch for fans of time travel.

9. Sword Art Online


I can almost sense at least a few people swearing at this entry but...well tough! Sword Art Online is one of the biggest anime in the world nowadays but receives alot of hate, often unfairly. Currently there has been two series each divided into 2 story arcs (well 2 and a half in series 2). The original idea is that there's a VR game called Sword Art Online, but the game is a giant deathtrap, if you die in the game the VR helmet (called Nervegear) will fry your brain with microwaves, which will also happen if anyone tries to take the helmet off. The story focuses on Kirito one of the games best players. Okay its SPOILER time. The first arc ends when Kirito figures out that one of the players is the games creator and he gets the chance to end the game early if he beats him...but in the process Asuna whom he has fallen in love with and even had a kind of a family life with, seemingly dies. Once Kirito defeats the creator he returns to the real world and finds that Asuna isn't dead, but is trapped in some sort of VR world still.

This leads to the second story arc which gets most of the hate as Kirito finds out that Asuna has been see in another game and sets out to find her. The reason this arc is hated quite so much seems to revolve alot around new character Leafa who is Kirito's Sister...who is actually his cousin. I always find people's hatred of this incesty storyline a bit amusing as everyone who complains about it is pretty much holding up a sign saying "I haven't watched nearly as much anime as I like to think." Anime is FULL of weird incest stuff as I mentioned in my 7 anime that are good for beginners post. You kind of have to just deal with the pervy weirdness a little...that doesn't make it right but your enjoyment of anime will always be hindered if you have a little cry every time you see a loli character or a sister is a bit too fond of her brother.

What's more I'd personally argue that Sword Art Online has one of the strongest romances I've seen in anime. Usually the main female love interest would be cold to the male character until the finale, but SAO does away with that and actually shows us what happens after they fall for each other, which is quite rare. Throw in the fact that Kirito and Asuna briefly have a daughter (Yui) and you have a touching connection between them both. Series 2 isn't near as good in my opinion, but still has plenty of strengths.

8. Spice and Wolf


Spice and Wolf is an anime that really has a feeling all of its own. Telling the tale of travelling Merchant called Lawrence who meets Holo a wolf harvest God who decides to accompany him on his travels, as the wander the lands trying to make money they end up in various adventures, some that threaten their lives and some that threaten their bonds. Spice and Wolf is one of the great unfinished anime, as for some annoying reason few animes get past season two (I believe its to try and get people to buy the light novels they're based on).

The reason I love Spice and Wolf is that its just such a gentle anime, the characters wander through the countryside having chats about various simple things while ye olde music plays in the back ground, it really does feel like a world from a good few hundred years ago. Spice and wolf also has a very strong dub with Brina Palencia doing a fantastic job as Holo and really making her a charming, witty and cheeky character but always retaining a sense of depth. After all, Holo is a God and although she grows close to Lawrence, she's always bothered by the fact that she'll out live him.

7. A Certain Scientific Railgun


A Certain Scientific Railgun is rather unique in that it's a spin off series, and one that is arguably better than it's parent series, a certain magical Index. Both series occur in academy city, a gigantic city slash school that trains up espers, people who have scientifically based super powers that go from level 1 (very weak) to level 5. Mikoto Misaka is a level 5 'eletro-master' (electricity based abilities) and our heroine. She has a habit of getting caught up in lawlessness inside of academy city thanks to her connection with roommate Kuroko who is a member of Judgement, one of two enforcement agencies in academy city, and who has level 4 teleportation abilities...and fancies the pants off of Misaka.

While a certain magical index is a good series worth watching there are several reasons why you should watch railgun first. The first is simply chronological, there's a cross-over story that occurs in railguns second series but is Index's second main story arc. What's more Railgun deals with this cross-over story alot better, and is without doubt the highlight of the whole series, it's an intense and emotional storyline in which Misaka really comes into her own. Of course the final reason is that Railgun is just better, with superior pacing and more enduring characters it's a great watch that has one of the best female leads going and if you love it then you can be safe in the knowledge that while not as good, Index can help you scratch your academy city itch.

6. Yamada's First Time


Allow me to introduce you to my biggest guilty pleasure anime, Yamada's First Time. The synopsis alone will possibly make you roll your eyes. Yamada is a high school girl who has one goal in life...to have sex with 100 guys. Yep.....but bare with me. The biggest issue she has is her first time..she's worried that if her first time is with someone who is experienced that he'll insult her...technique. So she has to find a 'cherry boy' as she describes them, to be her first. Enter Kosuda, a guy she assumes is a virgin, and who she feels comfy around. The rest of the series is full of teen aged misunderstandings as both characters realise they don't understand sex, and how it'll make them feel.

Truth be told that's where Yamada's First Time's strength lies...these characters not really understanding as much as they think about sex and making lots of mistakes. Tiny little details like Kosuda noting that touching Yamada's breasts for the first time isn't as exciting as he thought simply because all he can really feel is her bra...they're quite realistic. What's more the series is actually quite romantic as Yamada tries to kid herself into the idea that she hasn't fallen for Kosuda. This series is also a good example of a Dub that is massively better than the sub version. It also contains the single most hilarious description of a male organ I've ever heard. Be warned though...there is a sister who likes her brother sub-plot...but that's anime for you and this is one of the funniest anime I've ever watched.

5. Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions


Now we're getting down to the nitty gritty. My top 5 picks are all 10 out of 10 anime's that are essential to watch in my personal opinion, and we start off with a wonderfully funny and heartwarming romance. Chunibyo tells the story of Yuta, a boy who is entering high school and wants to forget about his past as a character he invented called the Dark Flame master and who he lived as every second of every day (basically extreme cosplay). But a spanner is thrown in the works thanks to Rikka a girl who is chunibyo (literally eighth grader syndrome, aka what Yuta suffered from) she gets close to Yuta and gets him to join her new Eastern magical and napping society.

Initially Chunibyo looks like it's going to be a stereotypical Harem anime with several girls vying for Yuta's affections but fortunately it becomes clear that its going to commit to one direction. Rikka is a deeply interesting character as her behaviour and obsession with a fantasy world is clearly more complex than an over-active imagination and that Rikka has suffered some trauma that's led her to behave this way. What's more her family seems to think she should just stop her behaviour, which considering there are clearly mental health issues attached is a somewhat infuriating view. Other characters such as Dekomori think that Rikka is fine as she is...while Yuta himself ends up somewhere in the middle.

Chunibyo is a very touching anime in its second half with a very touching finale that ties everything up beautifully...but there is a second series. While a second series felt un-needed, it is still fantastic fun as we see this highly unorthodox couple deal with being romantically involved yet not knowing how to go about things, and I think the conclusion they come to in the final episode is perfect. Funny, romantic and tear jerking Chunibyo is a must watch.

4. The Future Diary


The God of space and time Deus Ex is dying, so he needs to find a replacement, to do this he gives 12 people a diary that can tell the future, each diary has its own strengths and weaknesses and each person must kill the others and become the last one standing. This simple premise leads to a great anime thanks to one major feature, Yuno Gasai, one of the most famous psychopaths in anime history. She's madly in love with our main character Yuki, and her diary tells her his emotional future...the fact her diary tells someone elses future shows just how obsessed she is. See Yuno is happy to kill...and she's especially happy to see anyone else who gets close to Yuki die.

In truth the notion that Yuno is just a psychopath is unfair, in some ways she's a challenge to the viewer, especially males, as she's wonderfully cute and adorable, yet also unhinged...would you forgive the madness and fall for her or keep her out of your life if she were in love with you? Plus Yuno is not a psychopath for the sake of it, she is very much the way she is for a reason. The series charts Yuno and Yuki's battles against the other diary holders with a variety of big moments in the main story and in their romance, but the whole series has a major mystery (SPOILERS) in Yuno's house there's a room with three corpses in...and one of them has the same DNA as her. The twist revolving around this is particular good and gives the series one big push towards its climax. Another must watch anime.

3. Angel Beats


Possibly the most emotionally powerful anime there is...if I were to get everyone in the world to watch one anime...it'd be angel beats. It tells the story of a group of people in a form of limbo...which of course takes the form of a Japanese high school, who all don't want to pass on properly as they have a regret or some reason to be angry at God, so they avoid living a fulfilling high school life (which would cause them to pass on) but they can't be too disruptive or they'll gain the attention of Tenshi, who may or may not be an angel.

The real strength of angel beats comes from the characters back stories (SPOILERS) from Yuri's, the team leader's horrific and tragic past, to Yui a girl who has tons of energy because she was denied so much in her life due to an accident, the stories are all powerful and moving. But it's main character Otonashi's past that is the most moving, told in two parts the first focusing on his meaningless life and his sick sister, after her tragic passing he becomes motivated to become a doctor, but in the second half he gets caught up in a cave in while on a train and tries everything he can o help the group...dying moments before help comes...however his last act is to fill out his donor card. It's an amazingly powerful moment and is the reason I feel everyone should see this anime...as if you're not an organ donor before, you way well become after...yep this anime may have saved peoples lives. The series also contains one final twist which actually made me shed tears (and I am an evil man). A masterpiece that you simply must watch.

2. Code Geass


There are few anime that are quite as big in scale as code geass. Set in a world where North and South America are replaced by a kingdom called Britannia that has conquered a large portion of the world and replaced many countries names with numbers. The series is set in Japan aka sector 11, and the people are referred to as elevens...cause that'll work out just great won't it. Of course in such an environment there are rebels. Rebels who have stolen a military weapon. That's where our protagonist Lelouch comes in, a normal high school boy (other than being a brilliant strategist) he stumbles into the rebels plot and finds out that the weapon is question is a green haired woman who promptly gets shot, but not before giving Lelouch the power of geass, an ability which allows him to give anyone a single command that they will always follow...but it only works once on each person and requires direct eye contact.

Phew...that's all in the first episode and over the two series things only get larger as Lelouch creates the character of Zero who helps the rebels fight back against the Britannia empire. The cast is huge and varied, the plot twists and turns with lots of secrets and huge events, there aren't too many deaths but the deaths there are have huge impacts (both series one and series two have one heartbreaking death). There are giant robots, new geass powers, betrayals and even a little comedy. Geass is a huge series that is almost always great, with only a bit of a dip in the middle of series 2. It also has the only anime girl that challenges my love of Lucy from Fairy tail, Kallen. Code Geass is an essential anime that has a little bit of everything for everyone.

1. Full Metal Alchemist


Here we are at my number one choice and in many ways it goes all the way back to my number 15 choice. Although I'd always watch anime a little bit here and there I certainly couldn't call myself a proper fan. This is in part because so little was available to watch on British TV. But then suddenly, for a little while an anime channel appeared. I watched it a little but wasn't that impressed by most stuff...that's until I started watching FMA. I liked it a little but then after a few episode something big happened (SPOILERS) when the man the two main characters were living with at the time turned his own daughter into a half human half monster experiment. As with the guyver I'd be reminded of just how brilliantly dark anime could be and was drawn back into anime. The guyver may have given me an interest in anime, but FMA cemented it and that's the main reason it's in the number one spot.

The story is set in a world where science, represented by alchemy, and religion do not get on. Al and Ed are two sons of a brilliant alchemist (but also a poor father) but after their mother passes away they try to bring her back...which is a forbidden taboo in the world of alchemy. Things go badly and Al loses his body while Ed loses an arm and a leg, but manages to attach his brothers soul to a suit of armour. They now search for a way to return their bodies back to normal while dealing with the military and its corruption, a scarred man and the homunculi. The series has a little of everything, action, emotion comedy and darkness. Many prefer brotherhood which is more faithful to the original manga...truth is I haven't seen it, possibly because FMA is such an important anime to me that I'm worried it'll be tainted if I see the newer version of Ed and Al's story.

So that's my top 15 anime (and the longest article I've written so far...phew). What are the anime that you feel are essential for everyone to watch?

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Hope you liked the list, catch ya later yeah!


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