5 Centimeters per Second is just perfect in every way, with an escalating series of sad and sweet moments that goes Up to Eleven in a way never before accomplished by a romance film. Quite simply it is the greatest romance movie ever made.
The manga version of AKIRA. Even though the film constantly overshadows it, the original is bigger, actually coherent, and just more epic. Katsuhiro Otomo's artwork renders everything from individual facial expressions to the psychic leveling of entire cities with meticulous, stunning perfection. And let's not forget the best thing the movie left out - Kei's aunt Chiyoko, AKA two hundred pounds of heat-packing, tank-driving badass in an apron.
Angel Beats!: Full stop. The soundtrack is made of distilled musical bliss, the characters are dynamic and have incredibly interesting backstories, and the plot is MADE of heartwarming tearjerkers.
Attack on Titan is a great, great series. It's filled to the brim with suspense and emotion, there are honest to god RISKS in this series. Another thing is that the mangaka seems to have thought to himself that "If the characters aren't interesting, why should anyone care?" because he is constantly trying to improve his characters and make them more fascinating. For the most part he's been succeeding so far. It's a LOT darker than your typical Shonen, which may understandably put some people off but the dark tone works well with this series.
The anime is amazing. The art style is unique, incredibly fitting to the tone of the series, and still manages not to stray far from the manga's art style. The animation is also magnificent, especially when compared to other mainstream battle anime like One Piece. The usage of CG for a lot of the scenery animation is amazing - rather than trying to make the 2D & 3D seamless (which often turns out garish and immersion-breaking), they instead went for a more stylistic use, and by god does it work. The choreography in fight scenes is easy to follow even during the faster scenes, incredibly intense, believable and oh-so-very beautiful.
It also avoids the Only Six Faces a lot of anime tend to have. The art-style is very detailed and beautiful and as said above, unique. The series is very suspenseful too.
Definitely Osaka. And Chiyo (Chiyo-chan in a penguin suit for the cute). And Sakaki. And Tomo. And Yukari. Hell, even Kimura. When a series has such a vastly varied set of characters with almost one-note personalities yet makes them all lovable, you know you have a good thing.
Baccano!, where every episode involves cuts to events taking place minutes, days, months or years before or after the scene you were just watching. Combine that with the 1930s, trains, monsters, immortal alchemists, and a whole pack of wacky, lovable characters and you're in for an awesome series. And if that doesn't make you want to check it out, the opening sure as hell will.
Bakemonogatari was the best series on TV summer of '09, hands down. While too much dialogue would normally be a complaint, the dialogue in Bakemonogatari is exactly what makes it so awesome. Seriously, episode 3 was nothing but the two leads having a conversation on a playground for 20 minutes and it was completely amazing. Combine that with SHAFT's visuals and the best ED ever and you have an amazing series.
Beck is one of the best series of the past five years, at least in part because it's so very, very unassuming. No giant robots, no super-deformed humor, no magic, no absurd relationships between characters that neither will ever admit, none of that crap. It does what it does, youth drama with romance and friendship and bullying all woven through with the power of great music, and does it really, really well. Slice of life anime with a great climax? Not since Kiki has it been done so well, and never since. But the characters are what really make it. Everyone acts like a normal person, and the illusion of deep characterization is so pervasive. The coming-of-age story is masterful, the bonding of the band members and their breakup and reformation is wonderful, and Maho and Koyuki have one of the best-written romances EVER. Seriously, it's incredible. The style is nothing to scoff at either. The art is very unique, but not in a strange way like Studio Shaft or Kaiba, just in its realism and its very, very low-key nature. The atmosphere and sound effects are never anything less that functional, and that's all they ever need to be, because of the MUSIC. Oh my dear sweet Jesus, the music. The dub voicetrack is incredibly good, too, and it's the icing on the dense, small, incredibly tasting cake that is BECK.
Berserk is the best manga ever made. Gorgeous artwork, beautiful story and character development, and a badass main character who completely avoids Badass Decay.
What makes Berserk so great is that it can alternate between high brow philosophical themes, pulse pounding action sequences, soul devouring horror, exeptionally real feeling romance, slapstick comedy and sticky pornography wile also building a detailed and gritty fantasy world. With EPIC results.
The Big O. Lavishly animated! Stylish noir atmosphere! Masterfully composed soundtrack! And a main character who is, more or less, Batman plus James Bond plus GIANT ROBOT PILOT. Add in the ontological mystery, Schwartzwald, and the thought-provoking Gainax Ending and you have a winning combination. BIG O! SHOWTIME!!!
Black Clover. Despite its rocky start, the series has distinguished itself through its lovable, quirky cast who never feel left out through teamwork-based battles, fast pacing, fleshed-out fantasy world, copious use of foreshadowing, and a strong female cast. Asta's strong sense of justice in making his enemies atone, Yuno's strong bond and rivalry with his best friend and foster brother, and Noelle's Character Development throughout the story are just a few aspects that make them great main characters.
Black Lagoon. Fucking Black Lagoon. It's got extremely awesome gunfights, badass characters, cool drinks and cigarettes, hilarious scenes and copious amounts of extreme insults. Above all, Rock and Revy are great, well-developed characters and Dutch is just cool. Rock is an idealist who still got enough balls to stand up to Revy and acknowledges that he's pretty crazy. Revy is a nihilistic Dark Action Girl who luckily doesn't get all "I have a tragic past, wah wah", which makes her instantly awesome. Honestly, this show is just freaking brilliant. FUCK!
What's even better with the series is that instead of the usual filler, the anime is just as good as the manga, prolly better at times. And Roberta is made of Terminator.
Fuck YES. Black Lagoon is simply fucking incredible. It's one of the only series that managed to take a Non-Action Guy and turn him into a badass without removing the Non-Action Guy status. The fact that the only real weapons Rock has are his brains and his solid fucking adamantium balls just make him that much cooler. Episode 7 showcased that so well. And he's just one character. Also, Hansel and Gretel might be the creepiest fucking thing I have ever seen.
Black Lagoon's greatest strengths is its ability to to take absurdly ludicrous, over-the-top characters and situations and make them nuanced and believable. Take, for example, the Bloodsport Fairytale arc, which centers around a pair of incestuous prepubescent pornstar-assasins attempting to hunt down a death-seeking female Russian ex-spetsnaz commander turned criminal overlord. Or the Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise arc, which centers on said death-seeking female Russian ex-spetsnaz commander turned criminal overlord starting a gang war with a Japanese Yakuza syndicate lead by a philosophic Little Miss Badass high school student with a body guard who can literally cut a bullet in half with his Katana. And yet, not only is all believably developed, it's incredibly awesome.
Bladeofthe Immortal is a legitimately great manga; while the story arguably drags a bit in places due to the mass decompression employed by Samura, the characters are pretty good and Samura's draftsmanship is ridiculously impressive, producing some of the most beautiful manga pages you'll ever see.
Bokurano. The characters, the plot, the designs of the mechas, the drama. Everything was an emotional twister, with turns and moments that were simply spectacular in formation. Of course, it was quite depressing, but it was the epitome of all those solemn emotions that made it so heart-wrenching. And the ending...it could not have been better. A manga that should always be remembered, honestly.
Claymore is one of, if not THE best Shonen out on the market these days. Large, but totally developed and superb cast, with a well developed world and story, with some of the best written action scenes in manga today. Clare is one of the best protagonists in Shonen today as well, and one of the most awesome determinators around. Worth a read without a doubt.
Seconded, the series keeps getting more interesting at every turn. Even Raki, who had lots of haters early on, has become a fascinating, well-rounded and likeable individual. And yes, Clare is made of awesome.
Code Geass is the best anime of all time. It has everything one could want in a series: action, romance, comedy, tragedy, mystery, philosophical debates, and much, much more. Not only that, but it does all of the aforementioned things incredibly well. For the most part, the dialogue is great. The plot and themes are great, and most of all, the characters are great. From Kallen to C.C to Shirley to Jeremiah Gottwald to even Rolo as well as other characters. And above all of those characters is Lelouch vi Britannia, quite possibly the greatest character of all time. The story is told very logically and consistently. This anime is just so amazing and incredible!
Crest of the Stars: Great characters, interesting story and magnificent world building. And that's just the anime. The light novels just add extra layers of detail and information that you just can't put in an anime to make it sheer genius.
Motto, motto and sevenfold motto. There's something about the chemistry of the main characters that's unique.
Deadman Wonderland. This is one of THE most awesome mangas ever. It takes a Shonen protagonist and thrusts them into a Seinen reality. It is, by DEFINITION, Crazy Is Cool. It's like someone took all the best shonen, blended them, and then distilled the result into some alcoholic substance. It's violent, graphic, full of enough horror to blow your brain out the other side of your head, and IT. IS. AWESOME!!!
And there's the fact that you can discuss for weeks about who is the real villain or who is the real hero, it's a great series for discussing about some serious issues, and it's technicaley a shonen
No love for Devil May Cry: The Animated Series? Sure the ending sucked, but the show had absolutely amazing action sequences, which really, is the entire bloody point, and still managed to have a couple heartwarming scenes that completely avoided Narm. Pure almighty awesome.
Digimon Data Squad was epic, especially with a tough street-fighting trainer, woobie Ikuto and a masterful soundtrack.
Digimon X-Evolution from the makers of the CGI TMNT and Astroboy in full CGI. It may look outdated, but it lacks the soundtrack of whiney humans, and has some of the most badass Digimon with close-to-saviour status in Alphamon. It also has some interesting contemplations and a heart-filled ending.
Dragon Ball and its sequel Dragon Ball Z are the greatest action adventure anime/manga series of all time. It's got explosive over the top fighting scenes, cool interesting characters with unique and distinctive looks and and a storyline that is both straightforwardly simple yet surprisingly complex at the same time. There is just so much wrapped into this one series. There's aliens, robots, demons, it's like they're just a smorgasbord. The series just keeps reinventing itself over and over again.
It's basically Kinnikuman meets Journey to the West. It pays tribute to a huge pool of influences spanning all media (most notably Superman), and receives tribute from an equally large and diverse group (only Alien had a comparable influence on video games). Yet somehow, there's nothing quite like it.
Indeed, Most of modern ShōnenAnime / Manga have been inspired by this series in one way or another. One could call it one of the Trope Codifiers of the genre.
A special mention has to be given to Dragonball Z Kai. Take out all the filler (and therefore nearly all of the show's flaws) and you are left with the greatest action-adventure anime/manga of all time. Nearly 20 years since debut, no anime has ever had as much passion, adrenaline and all-around fun as this series. Its sheer originality and influence on anime/manga has yet to be duplicated by anything else since (only Neon Genesis Evangelion rivals it in those categories.), and along with Saint Seiya it remains one the two biggest Trope Codifiers for the Shōnen.
Dream Eater Merry is easily one of the better series to surface in the last few years. Its fights manage to be engaging without becoming overly drawn-out, and its characters, rather than being inflated anime stereotypes, are three-dimensional, believable and genuinely likeable. The world the author creates is fascinating and imaginative, the villains are unique in that they're malicious without being killers, and best of all, it's only just scraped the tip of the iceberg, with plenty of loose plot threads ready to take this story to the next level of awesome!
There is no doubt about it. Fairy Tailis magic. Any Shounen cliche you can think of...is either subverted, averted, or played straight so wonderfully you'll end up crying at night for ever doubting it. The word Nakama probably has never meant more, and the world is crafted so intricately that you could be convinced that even a mage with the power of "heart" could be the most glorious wizard on the field.
How DARE nobody mention Fist of the North Star yet. It's only the manliest manga ever written! Kenshiro is one of the most badass protaganists in Anime/Manga history, why? he can make people EXPLODE just by poking them! Bad. Ass.
Fruits Basket is Shōjo at its absolute best. Yes, Tohru practically radiates diabetes at times. Yes, everycharacter has an angsty past. It will still suck you into the characters' lives and hearts, make you acutely feel every Tear Jerker moment and Heartwarming Moment, and marvel at how well the Rotating Arcs flesh out just about every major and minor character (granted, Ritsu was lost somewhere in there, but considering that there are no less than 14 Zodiac characters plus Tohru and her friends, it's incredible that there's only one neglected character in the entire cast). Who would have thought that a manga with uber-sugary covers could handle angst so beautifully, and make the angst dethronings so warm?
This series is made ofheartwarming. If you're happy when you read it, the comedy and lighter elements make you happier. If you're upset, the way the characters overcome their problems makes you a little less upset. The characters have a way of saying exactly the right thing at the right time. It's far from perfect, but it's still worthy of the attention it gets.
Awwww, show some love for Full Metal Panic!. Funny, awesome, and often heartwarming. No need to say more.
Gankutsuou. Sure it's just The Count of Monte CristoIN SPACE!!!, but it somehow manages to do much more with the concept than you would have thought possible. Setting the story in the future could have just been an empty gimmick, but instead it allowed for the animators to do new and interesting things with the plot and the setting (and to push the Rule of Cool into new extremes!) The series also has characters who are interesting enough to not get overwhelmed by all of the Scenery Porn—the best character of all, being the Count himself who manages to be one of the most darkly fascinating MagnificentBastards in all of anime.
Ga-Rei -Zero-. An original plot, sympathetic and likeable characters and an absolutely brilliant tragedy full of twists and turns. Add to this some excellent world building, beautiful animation and character designs and the growing sense of unease and suspense as things start to spiral... oh yes. Brilliant show. Needs More Love.
What? The list is this long and still no mention of one of the most awesome and hot-blooded anime and manga ever Getter Robo? Yeah, Gurenn Lagann is cool and all but do they have giant robots fighting demons or ancient gods? Do they have guys that can crush a dinosaur's skull WITH HIS BARE HANDS? Do they have giant robotic dinosaurs that is piloted by humanoid dinosaurs? This series just oozes awesomeness with great characters, simple plot yet have complex development and have very,very great opening themes.
Girl Friends is defiantly a well written Girls' Love series. Mari and Akko are both well written characters, the fact that you get to see things form both of their points of view really help to flesh out there relationship. While their angst can get annoying at times its mostly done on a reasonable level. Morinaga Milk's art style really lends well to Akko and Mari's Heartwarming moments. Defiantly a most read for any Yuri Fan.
G Gundam is the best anime when it comes to fight scenes, the thrilling battles, the Hot Blooded action as friends battle friends for the right to be named Gundam of Gundam. In particular the Master Asia vs. Domon Kasshu fight is the finest in anime history. Just a teacher and student with a father and son relationship fighting to see who was right. Countering each other's moves until the finally use Sekiha Tenkyoken, where Domon and Master Asia give a teary farewell to each other before Master Asia dies from his injuries.
Gundam SEED should be noted as well. It has all the best things in Gundam, and takes it Up to Eleven. Great characters, well created Gundams, and Lazers!
Gunslinger Girl. An absolutely brilliant work that tears apart what would be perceived as cool aspects of creating cyborg soldiers. The action sequences are incredibly well-made, the characters are highly unique, and the OP is one of the greatest songs known to man.
Do you like Sega? Then you'll love His Coool Seha Girls, a delightful Fanservice-laden tribute to one of the most well-known video game companies of all time. Watching the protagonists mature over the series as they travel through various Sega games and rub shoulders with legendary characters like Sonic the Hedgehog, Akira Yuki, and Ulala, is a treat for fans of anime, video games, and Sega alike.
I've seen Summer Warsfive times. It is by far my favorite film. I love its balance of action, comedy, romance, family drama, technology...mmmmmph, so good. I'm tempted for another rewatch just thinking about it.
MAN, Hunter × Hunter is such an amazing deconstruction of the shonen genre you could spend days talking about its plot and subtleties. Speaking of which, say what you want about the original 1999 anime, but good lord, it has some of the most beautiful Scenery Porn this side of Cowboy Bebop, coupled with Kazuhiro Furuhashi's usual laid-back tone and pacing, makes for some of the most enjoyable and athmospheric Padding to sit through. Not to mention the character-writing is magnificent: the main four characters have amazing chemistry together and are so darn likeable (not to mention that the writers seem to have taken the the concept of a "ragtag bunch of misfits that end up becoming some sort of family together" and ran with it). And that is not even going into the surprisingly well-done tear-jerking moments or the action scenes that still manage to be breath-taking despite the obviously limited budget (Hisoka vs. Gon anyone?). In conclusion, the 1999 version is a beautiful, beautiful anime and a great complement after watching the awesometastic 2011 version.
Don't let its Kodomomuke-esque art style fool you; Hunter x Hunter isn't childish fluffnote In fact, it will probably scare the crap out of any parent who gives it to their Gon-aged son, expecting something like Pokemon.. No matter how you enjoy the series (either through the manga or the two anime adaptations), you will find yourself sucked into its dense plot and complex characters. One thing that sets it apart from other shonen series is its take on fights — they aren't about getting stronger and using cool techniques, they're about the strategy one uses to win. Sure, the manga goes on lots of hiatuses (as of February 2021, it's a three-year drought), but especially with the 2011 anime, Hunter x Hunter has been one of the Gateway Series for a new generation of Occidental Otaku in The New '10s and The New '20s. The fact that it's (soon to no longer be) available on Netflix has also been a great help in reaching those looking for something to watch while couped up at home.
Hyperdimension Neptunia the Animation is a show that just keeps getting better and better. Not only is it one of the funniest shows with absolutely adorable and wonderful characters (Peashy, Nepgear and Neptune are like the holy trinity of cute and funny); but even manages to get great action and drama. The fights where the CPU Candidates (little sisters) fight to free the CPUs is amazing and Episode 10 proves that the creators can perfectly combine heartbreaking drama with an otherwise hilarious show.
Infinite Ryvius Lord of the Flies in SPACE, and yet it is so good. So incredibly good.
Why hasn't anybody else mentioned Inuyasha? The unique characters, the captivating art, the lovable characters, the unforgetable fight scenes and the story are all reasons why its no wonder the show remains an [Adult Swim] staple.
Jujutsu Kaisen has shown itself to be one of the next big Shōnen series — for good reason. The story's especially dark themes, gray morality, and driving question about having a meaningful death make it stand out amongst it peers. The power system is well-defined with characters all having cool cursed techniques. Yuji has his resolve and motivation challenged throughout the story. Megumi follows his personal sense of morality and is more than just a cool, composed young man. Nobara is a refreshingly competent Action Girl for the genre and unabashedly feminine about it. And Gojo is a great mentor figure whose pride and incredible power make him a loved character.
Do you like such things as character depth, mecha battles, character depth, and masterful oscillation between emotion and hilarity? And perhaps some more character depth? If so, look no further than Kamisama Dolls. A pair of main characters whose hidden depths and motivations begin long before the first episode, furious battles between ancient, robot-like dolls, an entire cast of characters hilarious, poignant, or most often a combination of both - this show takes all these elements and weaves them together with a genius hand, able to invoke joy, tragedy, humor, pain, powerlessness, and even mad desperation in vivid and heartrending turns. Even with its count of only 13 episodes, Kyouhei and Aki are some of the deepest, most human characters in anime, even against those with four times or more its episode count. The series would be worth it only for them - and it has so much more to offer. Truly a must-see.
No love for Kanamemo? Want a comedy with an actual Yuri couple, amazingly good slapstick, lovable characters, along wiith some good drama, and a script that is really different from every other anime comedies to the point that it's quite quotable? This show has all that. It needs more love, attention and awareness.
Karakuri Odette, so much. Even though it's not ambitious or particularly groundbreaking, and the art style is a tad off it captivates readers and makes you interested in everyday plights of Odette. Subtly, you can see her change from robot to a more human-like person.
There are not enough good things to say about Kimi ni Todoke. The overall mood of the setting can make even the most hardened stoic melt. The characters are very lovable and entertaining, with the lead in particular having that particular shade of kindness and hope that makes you wish she were real just so you could grab her in an armlock and mess up her hair. The writing is great, and emphasizes just how special the characters are and how they're better off for it. Overall, it's just one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have with a Shōjo series.
Not to mention the fact that the supporting cast is brilliant, especially considering the genre. Most series would have the friends of the main characters be boring, one-dimensional souls who exist for the sole purpose of...well, hanging around the main characters. And yet Ayane, Chizu, Ryu, Kento and all of the others end up being well-developed, with their own personal conflicts and character traits, and generally just really helpful to the overall mood of the series. Not to mention that the art in both anime and manga is gorgeous, if a bit inconsistent.
Koi Kaze. It is incredibly rare to find a story in any medium, from any country, that really takes the topic of incestuous relationships seriously. Too often it is used for either shock value or titilation. Koi Kaze treats the idea of a brother and a sister falling in love completely seriously and realistically, and it does so incredibly well. It's a series that goes to places other stories don't dare to go.
Last Exile. A steampunk anime that features quite possibly the most lovingly crafted and beautiful world ever seen. Epic battles (GONZO's CG works VERY well here), political maneuvering, and crowning moments of heartwarming and tearjerkers. DESPERATELY needs more love.
Legend of Galactic Heroes is the greatest and most epic science fiction series of all time and has probably the most three-dimensional cast in all of anime.
Lucky Star, anyone? Animation is good, drawing style is interesting, references are numerous, characters have some actual depth, seiyuus are awesome, opening is even crazier than in I'm Gonna Be an Angel!, Show Within a Show is not irritating, ending is one of the best things in the whole show. Oh, and CV elaborates the main plot. Awesome!
"Anime/Mekakucity Actors". The Kagerou Project as a whole, actually. It's a transmedia experience that's absolutely bursting with emotion and originality. Watching it grow from a single song on Nico Video to an anime, manga, and series of novels with a huge ensemble cast that dealt with themes of mortality, immortality, loneliness, infatuation, sacrifice, familial bonds, suicide, and love was downright magical. Also, Toumei Fucking Answer.
Mononoke. Seriously. Just look at it. It's like having sex with your eyes.
Mouryou No Hako is, sadly, very much under the radar. It's beautifully illustrated and animated (courtesy of Madhouse and CLAMP), full of Body Horror, Mind Screw and Psychological Horror, and effectively betrays your expectations of what is supposed to be a supernatural series. Deep, thought-provoking and mysterious, this is detective anime unlike you've ever seen before.
Munto is a great anime which needs more love here. Its only 9 episodes long and yet has such a good plot and interesting characters. The art is just beautiful and the action scenes amazing. The title character is also pretty hot and this troper is ashamed to admit she squees every time he and the heroine are together as they just go together so well. It has a bit of everything, fantasy, action, comedy, drama, and romance.
Mushishi. A pacifist hero who doesn't come across as a preachy, naive, idealist? (And who is not afraid to Shoot the Dog and make tough decisions if the situation calls for it?) A Monster of the Week show that can avoid repetition and boredom? A lush, highly detailed world with its own rich mythology? Lack of extended plot arcs be damned, anime just doesn't get any better than this!
Mushishi isn't about splashy animation, giant robots, alien frogs, [insert typical anime cliche]. And yet, it's a great show and highly aesthetic. Definitely gets the "unique" brand.
Mushi-shi is an ecologist's wet dream. Despite the mushi being completely fictional, not to mentionethereal beings, the meticulous research into their varied lifestyles is so evident that I wouldn't be surprised to learn Yuki Ukushibara had studied biology. Parasites that exploit human instincts such as parental behaviour or the use of fire? Check. Parasitoids that lead their host to more fertile feeding grounds? Check. Predators that imitate the call of their prey to exploit swarming behaviour? Check. Sky comb jellies? Check, check, check. It's like watching one of those wonderfully soft-voiced documentaries - "and now the barnacle castrates the crab and makes it believe it's pregnant..." - where awful things happen but the narrator is so delighted by how beautiful the animals are that you just can't care.
My Dress-Up Darling. It's a heartwarming story about accepting and being accepted for your hobby, a well-written romance that avoids cliched tropes (no hitting the main guy for an Accidental Pervert moment, the female lead is not in denial of her feelings) and has likeble characters, and also a sexy Ecchi work. This combination could have gone wrong, but instead it went super right.
My-HiME is simply brilliant. It suckers you in with interesting, sympathetic characters and excellent comedy, and then turnsthiscompletelyonitshead for the Carnival arc. That and Miyu is just plain badass. The only downside is the (very stupid) fourth episode and the utterly mishandled last episode, but the rest of the series more than makes up for it.
There's not many series, animated or otherwise, that you can genuinely call epic, incorporating a wide variety of settings, interesting characters, sprawling civilizations and high adventure. The Mysterious Cities of Gold is probably the only pre- Avatar: The Last Airbender series that can rightfully call itself Epic with a Capital E. Despite the "throw everything in but the kitchen sink" nature of its plot, (giant flying mecha? Alien elves? Francisco Pizarro?) it still manages to hold together well. And kudos for the writers for creating such a well-rounded cast (and for creating Mendoza, who is probably one of the greatest Lovable Trickster Rogue Bastards of all time...)
Ninku, a vestige from an era long before the realisation that the world was a dreary all round grey. No 10 plus filler eps and some nice animation particularly on the faces and fight scenes. Set in a surreal western outback, when power levels didn't leap over 9000 every other episode.
How is Nodame Cantabile not on here? It has amazing characterization, realistic plot, and gorgeous music. The main couple is introduced in the beginning, and their relationship somewhat sneaks up on you. The characters are well-rounded, with everyday quirks and emotions, and the main couple is both utterly adorable and stubborn to the point you want to bash their heads against the wall. And the beta couples are always a surprise, but she does it in a way that doesn't feel like it was strangled by the red string. The plot stretches out for a realistic amount of time, and the development comes naturally enough that you don't realize years have gone by until someone mentions it. The music sucks you in and makes you enjoy it even if you don't like classical music. An addicting series that is in no way a typical manga.
Ouran High School Host Club is funny, fluffy, shiny love, both the anime and the manga. The humour and playing with the tropes are just the beginning. It has some of the most loveable characters ever, including the minor ones, and it manages to get some really heartwarming moments in the middle of all the silliness.
Remember when anime used to be entertaining before all Directors and Writers took getting control of an anime series to mean that people have to listen to their idiotic opinion on everything? Tomino did which is why he created Overman King Gainer one of the funnest anime series ever created. The idiot trio are a breath of fresh air compared to the ridiculously evil mooks of anime made after it, the animation is excellent, the mechas are varied, the overman's abilities are used brilliant;y, and the entire cast is great. The ending is also really good as all the minor members of the Yapan Exodus gets their time to shine battling the Brainwashed and Crazy leads.
Speaking of Inio Asano, Oyasumi Punpun is definitely one of his best works. While noticeably dark, it is also a wonderfully-done coming-of-age story with well-written, easy-to-relate and realistic characters. It also reminds me that life isn't as easy as you predicted, which is hurtfully true. It is a great read from start to finish.
Let's clarify: of common anime elements like Lolicon fanservice and Kawaiisa, character design and animation that gives a big fat middle finger to the generic anime styles most revel in, an extremely dark atmosphere with some seriously chilling moments, and some great characters. Satoshi Kon, you rock.
Also, has one of the best Crowning Moments of Awesome/Funny this troper has ever encountered. Read the manga, too (but after the anime to not spoil it), it provides some interesting story-related and technical details.
Pluto. Amazing manga written by Naoki Urasawa, is often forgotten, when, in my opinion, is better than 20th Century Boys. Some people say it's just Monster with other characters and Recycled IN SPACE!, but it's a totally different thing. This troper started reading it only because she was bored and didn't have any good manga; she didn't expected it to be so interesting and moving. With big tearjerkers and amazing ending. One of my favourite manga ever.
Ranma ½. What's not to love? Three's Company plots, called attacks, Wig, Dress, Accent disguises, people wielding giant spatulas and umbrellas, on and on...
Rosario + Vampire is beyond awesome. It is sexy, funny, dramatic, intriguing, beautiful, compelling...absolute perfection. All the characters are lovable and they have incredible development. Akihisa Ikeda, the creator, is a saint in this troper's eyes.
This troper agrees, Lady Oscar is an amazing historical drama with great characters and interesting storylines. Even the Tear Jerker part is some of the saddest you'll see.
This troper is ridiculously happy over the fact that other people appreciate the awesome that is Rose of Versailles, because it Needs More Love. (She is also still a little bit sad about the fact that Lady Oscar is a fictional character, and thus is probably never going to turn up at her front door on a white horse and whisk her away from all this. Le sigh.)
No love for S Cryed? Seriously? It was just as hotblooded as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and it's not mentioned yet? The opening theme song sold the series for me from the get-go. Both the anime and the manga versions of scryed were just awesome. Just so awesome, hotblooded and so full of yelling!
Squid Girl. The hilarious hijinks of our squid girl Villain Protagonist may not be get her any close to her invasion of the surface world, but she definitely succeeds in invading the hearts of all who enjoy the series. This troper cannot be happier that Media Blasters is licensing the series, AND a second season is on the way in Japan.
Simoun is absolutely the most brilliant thing ever. Great world-building, a huge ensemble cast with amazing voice acting, managing to make the characters memorable even with the limited screen time that a big cast affords, a well-done Jigsaw Puzzle Plot that goes in very different directions than the obvious cliched approach, a distinctive and pretty art style... and the music. Oh, the music.
Thirded. Simoun is just... incredible, truly go watch it. While yes certain things about it turn people off if you can just let Simoun take you away you'll be in for a story you will never forget.
And pulls no punches about what that requires of a person, either, which makes it that much more remarkable.
Slayers. Tons of fun. It's like a raucous, drunken D & D session with all of your favorite friends (if your friends happened to be highly attractive and likable people....)
Sonic X. The original, subtitled anime is pure awesome (you can find it on YouTube, just look for Setsna 2's channel), and an excellent imagining of the characters.
Also, despite coming off as a fairly light-hearted series, it contains some of the saddest and most poignant moments this troper has ever seen in an anime, thus making her love certain characters more than ever. Episode 77 anyone?
Space Battleship Yamato is an excellent anime. Even though it's a bit slow-paced, its messages ring all too true. The characters are all likable if not outright lovable. The animation is excellent even for the 70s and summons nostalgia instantly (but not in a bad way) and the dub, though censoring scenes of excessive violence, is generally excellent (it was done by actual actors). The fandom is peaceful and tolerant and supportive of new authors/fanartists. The official site is jam-packed with trivia and has not one, but two official webcomics to read for free and no advertising. The Japanese don't have it this good.
Spice and Wolf. It has very little fanservice (some don't consider those scenes fanservice at all), despite one of the characters being a wolf-girl. Lawrence's business as a merchant is genuinely interesting. The romance is amazing, and the characters are realistic and mature. The character interaction is amazing, and may be the best part of the series.
The banter between the two is just amazing and it is really surprising how a series about being a merchant that teaches you stuff can be so entertaining.
This show doesn't need Fanservice, to sell the appeal of Holo's feminine wiles. The directors don't feel the need to bombard us with gratuitous cleavage or panty shots (which they don't; even her nude scenes are tastefully done), but because she is a genuinely endearing character that is easy to fall for. Her personality and interaction with Lawrence are just amazing, and she does a great job being a character the audience can both be entertained by and feel sad for. Yes, she is attractive and her teasing of Lawrence can sometimes take a sexual slant, but it all stays fairly low-key and never strays into what one would call "Fanservice". She's just such a great character; alluring, entertaining, deep and sympathetic...
The fact that it relies on neither action nor fanservice (two staples of the shounen genre) and still manages to make an excellent impression just shows how much thought went into the characters. Some people find the "merchant speak" to be an irritating obstruction, but it adds an element of fascination and intrigue. Holo is quite possibly the most charming Manic Pixie Dream Girl of all time, and one of the most memorable characters in recent memory, and Lawrence is quite likeable as well. Even the second season, which some say was not as good, provided plenty of food for thought, and if anything, the fact that Holo didn't have to turn into a Canis Major to make the story work added to the story's depth and solidified its position as a beautifully executed non-mainstream series.
The anime of Spy X Family managed to take an already exceptional manga, and make the story even better by expanding scenes and casting the perfect voice actors. The series has action, comedy, and wholesomeness galore, Anya is adorable and very accurate to how kids actually think, and the main couple are a Mr and Ms. Fanservice without being gratuitous. Undoubtedly one of the most elegant anime around.
No? No Star Driver? But it's awesome! It's colourful, the characters are awesome, the fights are spectacular and best of all, it's campy beyond belief. Definately worth watching.
Nobody has mentioned Steins;Gate? What a shame. Probably the most mind-blowing anime of Spring and Summer 2011, and is a time-travel series that is extremely emotionally gripping. Together with Madoka, this anime is, to this troper, one of the best anime of the year.
The Suikoden 3 manga is the best video game to manga adaption ever made. Its just a damn shame it didn't get an anime adaption either.
Sword of the Stranger. One of the best anime films produced in recent years. Possibly ever. Certainly some of the best action in animated history, with captivating fight scenes and utterly breathtaking choreography, well written characters and so much effort put into the whole thing.
It's a massive shame that the Tamagotchi anime (yes, the digital pet fad of the 90's has a TV show) doesn't get as much recognition in the West as it does in Japan, since it has genuinely enjoyable plotlines and characters on top of being absolutely adorable. It should be considered a crime that the short-lived English dub didn't get released in the United States at all.
For that matter, if you want a good chuckle now and again, you should check out the Time Bokan series. Yeah, they're kids' shows, and they're a little formulaic, but all the same there's that old school charm that you just can't ignore when watching them.
Twelve Kingdoms (Juuni Kokuki). This might just be the best fantasy anime ever made. Just look at the heroine! Inspirational to the point of person-cult-founding! And the despair! And the suffering! And yet Rosseau was right! And the soundtrack to boot! And novels for more! Juuni Kokuki should include an appointment with an anti-addiction-clinic!
The problem with this one is that there's just not enough anime of it.
20th Century Boys is incredible. Written by Naoki "Monster" Urasawa, it's an incredible plot that slowly unfolds, with each reveal drawing you in more and more and you never know where it'll go next. Incredible cast, such amazing tension and at times, incredibly heartwarming or completely frightening moments. A must-read, with one of the best written dystopia stories in manga history.
Seconded. This was the first manga that this troper actually finished, and it's pretty damn long. All in under a week. It's awesome. The twists, slowly building suspence, and the way it slowly builds in scope is great. Seriously, go to your usual scantilation site, find 20th Century Boys, get to at least chapter 20 or so, and see if you're not already hooked.
A Girl on the Shore is an incredibly underrated manga. It is one of the most genuine and realistic portrayals of modern relationships you'll find in manga, with all the heartbreak and uncertainty that comes from creating relationships where people are unable to commit or just want to use each other to fulfill emotional needs, not realizing that things usually can't be that simple. All the characters have an incredible sincerity to them and a spark of life that is very hard to find in even the best anime and manga. Certainly one of the great demonstrations of Inio Asano's talent.
Vagabond. It looks like a historic Japanese ink painting, and has a clearly written story that doesn't lose focus despite its 200+ chapter run. Most of its characters are quite deep; they are flawed yet are willing to develop. And the action...wow. It also helps that Takuan the monk is an Ensemble Dark Horse, able to dispense Zen philosophy and direct the main characters without ever being self-centered.
Vampire Princess Miyu deserves a mention. The anime is very well done with watercolor backgrounds and characters that look Japanese, but the plot is Sailor Moon meets Hellsing. The shinma keep getting darkerandedgier every episode, pulling One-Winged Angel after One-Winged Angel. The plot is episodic, so you can watch it in any order, and the English dub is extremely well done.
Emma: A Victorian Romance may not have the most original premise (it's a star-crossed lovers tale set in Victorian England), but it more than makes up for that with it's execution. There's just something about seeing Emma and William together that makes you smile, and the attention to detail- in both the setting and artwork- is superb!
The Vision of Escaflowne — it could have just been another Cliché Storm, but its good writing, realistic characters, and sumptuous visuals pushes this into at least one of the top 5 anime series of all time. (And the music. Ohhhh, the music... Yoko Kanno is a goddess....)
Folken Fanel is one of the greatest anti-villains ever. (And not just because he looks like Sting.) He's intelligent, subtle, sympathetic and, in his own way, a genuinely good person who's had to endure awful things but is actually trying to make the world a better place.
Even better? The series had a plot that was designed for a 39 episode anime - and that's how it was originally ordered. Yet when they only had enough funding for 26 episodes, they managed to compress the storyline PERFECTLY. Let me rephrase that - 1/3 of the run-time was chopped off, and they made the story without compromising ANYTHING important. What resulted was a superbly-paced story with an involving plot, great characters and a uniquely human exploration of themes in what might well have become just another typical fantasy/mecha anime. VoE is Awesome-Sauce.
The first season of Weiß Kreuz. Sure, it has it's own stupidity on occasions... but it's a living, breathing world, with characters who actually react exactly as they would react in such a situation.
Wolf's Rain needs more love. It's gritty and epic and incredibly awesome, and the one anime that rendered me mentally catatonic after its depressing but awesome ending. You can't go wrong when everyone in the main cast is a fricking badass. I'm including the humans, too—they may be obviously outshone by the wolves, but how many people have the guts to even TRY keeping up?
The World God Only Knows is made of awesome. That it manages to simultaneously parody the Unwanted Harem and Dating Sim tropes and play them completely straight gives it a unique charm, and all the characters are memorable in their own right. The Character Development is surprisingly well-written, and the fact that it doesn't rely on fanservice like so many other series of its genre is commendable. Despite being primarily a comedy series, it knows how to be heartwarming at the right moments, and the recent arcs have actually begun to develop a fascinating underlying mythos. To seal the deal, this series might have more Shout Outs than Lucky Star, and they're actually quite well executed in a way that doesn't detract from the story.
Yatterman Night is, in my opinion, one of the best anime Winter 2015 has to offer. Not only does it get its comedic timing done right, it tugs at your heartstrings in all the right places and doesn't feel forced at all! Sure, your main characters (Leopard, Voltkatze, and Elephantus) are essentially Spin-Offspring to THE Terrible Trio themselves- the Doronbo Gang- due to it being the distant sequel of a beloved children's classic in Japan (Yatterman), but they have their own separate identities from their ancestors and feel fresh and lively. And it is darker than its source material, but it doesn't feel too melodramatic and the references to its source are welcoming and fun.
Yokaiden. It's an OEL manga, but so, so amazing. It is hilariously funny and teaches you about Japanese yokai (or ghosts); the characters are well rounded and the art had me swooning. Give it a shot, guys!
You Are Umasou. The cutest and most heartwarming dinosaur anime film, ever. And has a Tyrannosaurus rex (that practices martial arts) as the main character.
The original Yu-Gi-Oh!: Powerful messages of friendship, fights that you don't mind take more than two episodes (or chapters, the manga is even better than the (two) anime), and an unbelievable main character growth arc from start to finish. An obvious amount of research put into the Ancient Egypt segments, mythological allegories, actually portraying certain mythological figures in a way that doesn't demonize them (like the Egyptian god Set and the man and his reincarnation that (sorta) bear his name).
No love for Yu-Gi-Oh! GX? The first and second seasons started out as light-hearted with serious moments, and even some minor subversions of tropes used awesomely. It got into the Mind-Screw season 3, with reincarnation of one lover while the other is immortal looked at logically (even though nobody's sure if that's how he meant it), it looked at everyone realistically. Even season four is good in returing back to its roots while still keeping the silly side.
Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL is mind-bogglingly good. The protagonist isn't invincible, the plot gets thicker and thicker with every episode, and it's full of callbacks to the original Duel Monsters anime. It also includes the protagonist nearly being defeated by tomatoes, Nightmare Fuel where you least expect it, and weirdly sympathetic villains.
Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V is one of the most popular Yu-Gi-Oh! series for a reason. Though many take issues with the final arc and ending, the series has a strong cast of likable characters, fantastic duels and decks, honors each and every summon method, and crafts an interesting and compelling story. Japanese fans even coined a term for people who are sad over the show ending: "ARC-V Loss Syndrome."