Wow, this one’s a big one, isn’t it? I don’t know how long this will be. I’ll try my best to keep it short, but we have a lot to get to. I’ve been watching anime (subbed at least) for around 5 or 6 years now and in that time, I’ve watched somewhere over 200 shows. Not as much as some, but more than a lot of others.
Point is, I’ve seen enough to put together a decent list of my favorites. This is by no means me ranking which of these are the best. What I consider my favorite and factually better are two different things. If I ranked them that way, the list would be mixed up quite a bit.
So, obviously, this is just my opinion. Many things influenced this list from series that I’ve rewatched more, what means the most of me, what I think has good art, story, etc. But ultimately, it comes down to what I enjoyed more for various reasons. You will definitely disagree, so I’d like you to tell me some series you like as well.
This list is also ever-changing as I experience more anime, but a lot of these series I don’t really see going anywhere. Regardless, let’s get into it.
Anyway, let start with a few honorable mentions first. When making the list, I had three extra series that didn’t make the cut because I liked the other ones more. In no particular order, here’s them real quick.
Iruma Goes to Demon School is about a kid who goes to school in the underworld after getting adopted by a demon. Every episode I’ve watched, I had a stupid smile stuck to my face. It’s cute, and it’s charming. It’s constantly hilarious. It even breaks out into song randomly, like a Disney movie. It’s wonderful, and despite being a newer series, it stole my heart very quickly.
What can I say about Konosuba that hasn’t already been said? Nothing. This is a stupid series that takes everything we know about Isekai, flips it on its head, and gives us a lovable cast of morons that we just can’t get enough of. When will that next season happen? Just give it to me.
Lastly is one you probably thought would be on the list, Code Geass. I really liked Code Geass a lot. It has one of my favorite twists I’ve ever seen in any story period, and it’s a thrill ride from beginning to end with pretty fantastic main characters, but I’ve only seen season 1. When I see the second season, chances are this will be on the list, but as of now, I can’t in good conscience put it on. Now for the real list.
So, where do we kick off this fantastical list? Well, with a romance series. Expect to see a few more of those. Love Chunibyou & Other Delusions means a lot to me. One thing you’ll notice is that I love anime that tell stories. Obviously, they all do, but I mean, I love series that leave me with something. I love stories and characters that convey some kind of message that speaks to me and sticks with me for a long time. You’ll see that in every series here, pretty much.
Chunibyou, at its core, is just a love story. Boy meets girl, and they fall in love, simple. But what makes Chunibyou special is that boy is an ex-weirdo, and the girl is still very much weird. Rikka is a chunibyou, basically, she’s dramatic about everything and thinks she has supernatural powers. Yuuta used to be a chunibyou a few years back.
The series is about these two learning to accept and love each other for who they are and all the differences that make them unique. This series also has one of my favorite arcs in a romance anime. Yuuta, throughout the entire series, gets on Rikka for being a chuuni. There’s a time where, after some stuff, she gives it up and becomes normal. While she’s normal, not only does she seem happy enough, her facing reality is causing their relationship to grow and progress more smoothly.
But Yuuta realizes that this normal Rikka isn’t the person he fell in love with. He loves the weird-ass, gun-obsessed, crazy, supernatural, heterochromatic, magic, chuuni, Rikka, not whoever the hell this normal girl is. But what I love the most is that it isn’t about him loving her because she’s weird either. He genuinely loves her and whatever she becomes.
As the series progresses, you see Rikka slowly turn a little more normal. She starts to dial her chuuni ways back slowly, and you get to see them both evolve and understand each other more. They’re both in love but don’t attempt to change each other. Even if they have disagreements, they both accept their differences and actively learn how to love each other. Her chuuni ways become less a crutch and more a trait of her personality. One that will eventually fade away, but both her and Yuuta will be able to deal with it when the times come.
I love Chunibyou for a lot of reasons. The art is great, it’s funny, it’s cute as heck, but above all else, it shows that everyone in this world is different and unique, and we all should learn to love each other for who we are. I spent a lot of time thinking about their relationship when I was younger, believe me, and now, being older, I realize how important and special what they have really is.
Amagi Brilliant Park, if you couldn’t tell, is about an amusement park. I won’t lie; that is practically the only reason it’s on the list. Seiya is a high schooler because anime, and there he meets a girl named Sento. Some things happen, but it turns out that she’s magic and works at a failing amusement park, and everyone else that works there is also magic.
The catch is that their lifeforce is directly tied to how well their failing amusement part is doing. So obviously, the best way to fix it is to put Seiya in charge of the whole thing! The plot sounds ridiculous, and it is, but it is so damn fun. Let me tell you; this is one of the funniest series I’ve ever watched in my life. I still go back and watch clips from this multiple years later. It’s gold.
But what I give it the most credit for is just how unique the premise is. I’ve never seen anything like it, and they really did the story justice. All the characters are lovable, and they play off of each other great. The art is so good because KyoAni, and it’s a special treat from beginning to end. Originally, I thought this series would be right near the top, but I ended up forgetting about a lot of stuff I liked.
Evangelion is a series, alright. I can’t exactly say it’s “fun” to watch. It has the stuff of nightmares in it. It has death. It has destruction, and holy hell, does it have a ton of children with mental issues. Evangelion kind of messes you up, but in a good way, if that makes any sense.
There are not many anime fans that haven’t heard of Evangelion, and that’s for good reason. At its core, it’s a mecha series. Kids ride in robots and defend the world from monsters. But Evangelion has a lot of other stuff going on. Those robots are nightmarish, and all the kids in them are damaged to hell and back. The monsters, again scary-looking dudes, have a lot more to them that I can’t really say here. Lots of stuff happening.
The biggest reason many people love Evangelion is because the aforementioned damaged youth. You can generally find at least one character you relate to or at least the struggles they go through in some way. They’re very real people that go through very real things, if real people piloted giant mechs against hellish creatures, that is.
Of course, I love Evangelion for all of these things; Shinji is one of my favorite characters ever, period. I love that damaged boy to death. But above all, I love the Eva units. There’s a lot of imagery that makes me love them, that may or may not range from bloodied head covered in bandages, to cannibalism, to some other scary stuff. The Eva units will scare the life out of you, and they’re still my favorite mechs in anime.
But ultimately, I feel like the middle of Evangelion isn’t great. The beginning is amazing, the end is spectacular, the middle is just ok, and that’s why it’s not higher. Still, I can’t understate how exceptional this series actually is when you get right down to it. If only it all was like that.
One reason The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya means so much to me, I just mentioned about a week ago when I talked about the origin of the site. If not for Haruhi and her antics, this post wouldn’t have been made, and neither would this site as a whole. Haruhi sparked everything. She created all of this, which sounds pretty on brand, I must say.
Haruhi has some… issues, we’ll say. Issues that may or may not involve eight of the same episodes that can sometimes feel endless, but at its core, it’s an incredibly fun series that handles time travel stupendously. I was kind of in awe for some of the crazier episodes. They were a bit mesmerizing.
Truth is, I don’t like everything about Haruhi. I don’t like how some of the characters are handled, namely Mikuru, but overall, it’s a fantastic, imaginative series that really I just enjoyed a lot. There’s a lot to talk about, and I had a fantastic time watching it. Hell, Haruhi Week was a thing I did back in March! There’s so much crap to discuss, and I still have more I could talk about.
It’s a series that I think about a lot, just for how absurd everything really is. Though, I will say, this and Evangelion are pretty interchangeable, so take that as you will.
This is one series on this list that many of you have probably never heard of, and that’s a damn shame. Gosick is a series I still owe a review to. I’ve seen it twice, and it was pretty amazing both times. Basically, Gosick is a detective/romance (kind of) story that takes place in a fictional European country in the 1920s. Now, if you love detective stories as much as I do, just that short description is enough to get you on board.
There’s a lot that I love about Gosick. The music, the characters, the general atmosphere, but the biggest thing is the setting. I’m just a sucker for it. Of course, I want to see a mystery about World War l. Of course, I want to see train mysteries. Who the hell do you think I am? Yeah, I want to see an all-knowing little doll girl. Who wouldn’t?
Really, though, Gosick is good for a lot of reasons that aren’t so easy to explain. It’s just a journey from start to finish through a historical, magical, mysterious world that you really wish wouldn’t end. Those 24 episodes still weren’t enough for me. Was it perfect? No. Were the mysteries a little bland sometimes? Yeah. Was the series as a whole good? Yes. Yes, it was, and nobody ever talks about it.
I knew Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works would be here before I even watched it. And so we’re clear, I’m talking about the Ufotable one, not whatever the hell Deen tried to do. I could talk endlessly about how beautiful this series is. It has the best fight scenes of any anime I’ve ever seen. Basically, every moment of this series is epic. It’s essentially a collage of great clips thrown into one. It’s just downright beautiful.
But above all else, it tells the story of Fate/Stay Night wonderfully, which is why it’s here. I love Shirou to death. I can and will do an entire post on that beautiful man someday. To sum it up, Fate/Stay Night takes a character that seems like a generic goody, goody, shounen protagonist, and breaks him apart and rebuilds him again multiple times to create one of the best characters I’ve ever seen in my life.
I saw someone say before that Fate/Stay Night is a deconstruction and reconstruction of heroism. As big of a blanket term as “heroism” is, I can’t disagree with that statement. Blade Works only adapts one of the routes of the VN, but it is arguably the best one, and Ufotable did a perfect job adapting it. I have not a single bad thing to say about the adaptation itself. They did everything right. Any complaints I have are with the route itself.
Ultimately, this is probably the most technically impressive anime on the list. It’s amazing, and Ufotable spent that budget well. But there were four series that mean a little more to me at the end of the day. If I was ranking these series based solely on how good I felt they were, this and Amagi Brilliant Park would have been in the top 3. But I have more emotional attachment to the others.
Oh my lord, Clannad. Clannad, Clannad, Clannad. How the hell do I talk about you? How does anyone even talk about this story? I really don’t think anyone can do it justice. Clannad is truthfully the best actual story on this list; I just cherish three series a little more.
When we talk about how good Clannad is, we actually mean After Story, which is the second season. The first season is cute, normal romance, and After Story is gutwrenching pain and suffering that will break down even those with the coldest of hearts. Then it will warm you up, give your heart a big hug, and crush it until it’s reduced to a bloody puddle of sadness. But it’s phenomenal!
That one scene, and you know the one! That oh-so-famous scene at the end changed me as a person. I have only ever watched Clannad one time, and that was right around when I started watching anime. I have always wanted to rewatch it, but I genuinely don’t know if my heart could handle it again.
Up to that point, I had never cried from really any story before. I’ve thought things were sad, but nothing truly got to me. Clannad After Story made me bawl like I don’t think anything else ever has in my life, and ever since that day, I have become the guy who cries for pretty much anything, even remotely cute or sad. Whatever floodgate was sealing my emotions up was destroyed forever. Clannad literally broke me, and I still haven’t healed however many years later.
I think about the series all the time, like quite a few on this list, and I will forever have a little Clannad-shaped hole in my heart that will never be filled again. If I ever really need a good cry, I go back and watch that scene. It is some powerful stuff, that’s an…amazing, I guess, reward for watching the whole thing and falling in love with these characters. Just have many tissues ready and only watch if you’re prepared.
Now onto the top 3! Rather than get into this one too much, I’ll leave you a link to the post where I talked in depth about Sakurasou. To keep it concise, the protagonist, Sorata, is someone I relate with, possibly on a deeper level than any other character I’ve seen. He’s awful, he’s a failure, he screws up constantly, he’s mean, he’s rude, he lashes out on other people, but above all else, he tries.
Many of the ways Sorata responds to situations, is like I’m looking in a mirror. When I was younger, I was exactly like him. I made mistakes, I was miserable, I wasn’t driven in life, I was a failure, but I never blamed myself. I always blamed everyone else or just cursed the situation I was in rather than doing something about it. In another world, I definitely turned out like Sorata.
But ultimately, like he eventually does, I grew up a little bit, learned to take some responsibility, found my passion in life, and worked hard to make things happen. Me and Sorata are two sides of the same coin, and watching the series shows me how I should never be, but it also shows me that I need to work hard to make sure my life is worth something. So all of those reasons are why I love the Pet Girl of Sakurasou and why it means so much to me. Also, it was the first real anime I’ve ever seen, knowing what anime was. So there’s that too.
It depicts a very realistic look at the world where things don’t always go your way. In fact, life often won’t. It will beat you down, step on you, tell you to quit. It shows that life will pile up and do everything it can to win, but at the end of the day, you need to get back up and fight. You need to keep fighting for the things you want in life, no matter how impossible they may seem. That’s what Sakurasou taught me, and I appreciate this series more than words can describe.
Hoo, boy. If there’s one thing I love more than a cute romance anime or over-the-top comedy, it’s a series that combines both and decides to throw Satan and McDonald’s into the mix for added flavor. I’ve talked about The Devil is A Part-Timer here before. Those of you who have read that post will know already how much I love it.
The story is literally about Satan coming into our world and getting a job at McDonald’s. It’s so unbelievably stupid and doesn’t deserve to be nearly as good as it is, but it turns out that it’s fantastic. It’s funny as hell, it has amazing voice acting for some odd reason, and it’s actually a really cute romance story. Seriously. I’m rooting for Satan’s adorable, wholesome love life. There’s something wrong here.
Ever since I heard about the plot, I knew I had to watch it. And so I did, and it ended up being incredible. It had no right to, but I’m so glad it did. My only wish from the bottom of my heart was that we got a season 2. I wanted it so bad, and after eight whole years, we got an announcement for it. I know people are upset with the story, but I just want you all to know that I’m not, and I’m looking very forward to all of it, even the bits a lot of the fanbase didn’t like. I hoped things would go that way; I hate to say.
It’s funny because I really don’t have all that much to say about this one, yet I put it above other amazing series. But it’s just so good, I’m sorry. It’s dumb as hell and makes me cry laughing. I think it deserves to be where it is. Ultimately, you could switch this with Clannad, but I’ve still yet to rewatch it, so we’ll leave it at this.
I don’t even know what to say about Toradora. I really don’t. When I thought about this list, my immediate thought was that Toradora belonged here. Each series shuffled around, but Toradora was right here. I thought about whether I should change it, but each time Toradora came right back to first because, at the end of the day, it truly is the most important anime I’ve ever watched.
I’ve already done an entire post on it here, but even with that, I don’t think I’ve said enough. Toradora, for being a fairly simple love story, at least on the surface, is very controversial. You either love Toradora, or you can’t stand or understand the love it gets. Toradora is incredibly popular and has been the past 13 years since it aired. That alone will get it some hate, but most people who don’t like it have a really valid reason. They don’t like the two main characters, Taiga and Ryuji, together.
I agree with that. They’re both terrible for each other. Everything about their relationship is unhealthy as hell. Taiga is childish and borderline abusive. Ok, actually abusive. She doesn’t do anything for herself. She’s ungrateful and downright cruel to Ryuji most of the time. Meanwhile, Ryuji does everything for her without any complaints, but at the same time, he’s too damn dense to have an understanding of how that makes her feel, nor does he acknowledge it when he finds out. They’re both bad, albeit for different reasons, and two wrongs certainly don’t make a right in this situation.
But just because a relationship isn’t necessarily healthy doesn’t mean that the feelings just go away. Life isn’t black and white. Not everyone will go exactly how you plan. Not everything will go the way you want, or even the way that’s best for you. Life is filled with uncertainty, and it can take a turn whenever. You could map out your ideal life from start to finish, complete with full-proof ways to accomplish it, and life can throw a curveball at you. You can even realize after all that time that you don’t want what you thought.
Every character in Toradora goes through this in some way. They are all incredibly realistic people, and each one faces their own problems, generally brought on by themselves or the people closest to them. Because everyone in Toradora is selfish as hell to some extent. Mix that in with teenage drama, love triangles, etc., and you have a recipe for disaster that can and will blow up in everyone’s face multiple times.
If I had to sum up what Toradora is, I would say this: it tries to answer the incredibly simple yet complex question of what it means to love someone. It’s about how you may not always know what’s best for you. It’s about separating this ideal love and perception of what it means in your head and realizing the feelings you’ve always had but couldn’t see.
Toradora, and I’ve said this before, for as happy-go-lucky as it seems, still focuses more on how negative love is than the positive effects of it. It shows the repercussions of not understanding yourself and how charging forward despite that will hurt everyone that you love and care about. It’s a story about growing up, love, hate, self-discovery. It’s so much more than I can say here.
Toradora does two things that I often despise in romance series absolutely perfectly and are my favorite examples because of that. One, it freaking nails the love triangle/square. It is still the only romance series I can think of where this trope actually adds something of significant worth to the plot, rather than just being an excuse for drama.
And second, it handles a dense main character absolutely flawlessly. I hate both of these tropes, and Toradora manages to use them to tell a beautiful story that I literally cannot watch without crying. I have bawled each of the five or so times I’ve seen Toradora. It’s because rather than use these tropes as crutches, they use them to show how awful love can really be.
By Ryuji not making up his mind, he hurts everyone around him, almost ruining friendships in the process. He gives people hope just to tear it away because of his own indecisiveness, leaving them in tears. This back and forth happens quite a lot because of how damn dense Ryuji is, but when you throw that in with the fact that he’s often in denial, you get a pretty damn destructive person to all his relationships. This all eventually leads to the classroom scene towards the end, which everyone who watched Toradora knows. That is one of my favorite scenes in storytelling, period. It means so many feelings to the viewers as well as every character involved. It’s brutal and beautiful all the same.
I could rant endlessly about Toradora and dissect why I like practically every moment in the show. Hell, I already do each year. I’m putting out a post for the manga this month for Christmas! It’s so hard to describe why I love Toradora because I want to honestly say everything. But it’s the characters and the way they react to the plot. Toradora’s one big character study and how love can affect different people.
It manages to take the complex topic of love and explore it from so many angles. It shows how ugly love is. How bad it can hurt, how it can change you as a person for the worse. It shows how it can breed hatred, ruin friendships, leave a trail of destruction in its wake. But it also shows that love is an incredibly beautiful thing that can bring harmony to your life, no matter how chaotic. It can destroy you, or it can save you, and that’s the risk you take.
Everyone who doesn’t like Toradora, I get you, and I respect you so much, but there is no other series that could be my favorite, nor do I ever think anything will dethrone it. Basically, everything else on this list can change, Toradora, I highly doubt ever will. Of every series I’ve watched, Toradora is one I think about almost daily and will likely stay in my heart until the day I die as one of the most beautiful depictions of love I will ever see.
And that’s that! Wow, that went on for quite a while, didn’t it? I told you it would. I’ve wanted to make a list like this for quite a long time, but I was really intimidated by it. Making this list is like me committing that all this is true. I put a lot of thought into it, so I am happy with how it all turned out, but I’m sure it will change in the future. Not Toradora, though. I’ll take that to the grave out of pure stubbornness, damn it.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this. It took a while and was scary. Any of my blogger pals that read this, I’d implore you to also try and put together a list like this. It’s a lot of fun to do. I was reminded of a lot of series that I really liked that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Anyway, I’ll end this. That Toradora rant took a lot out of me.
Thank you very much for reading
I’ll see you all later.