You will notice some of the titles have two names. The first name is the North American title. The other is the Original Japanese translation. In the case of Ah/Oh! My Goddess!, you can blame the Anime. The Manga uses “Oh!” but the Animes and Movie use Ah! so…yeah.
Also: As of 2/15/2015, I own all the Anime on this list on DVD or Blu-Ray.
Technically, After Story is simply a continuation of Clannad. Well, except for the last six episodes, which are all set in Alternate Timelines (See the Clannad Forum for the details). Anyways, After Story exists thanks to the HUGE following Clannad has and it was more or less a no-brainer to continue the series. I literally watched all 25 episodes in succession non-stop. After Episode 15 (which I won’t get into due to the MAJOR spoilers), Clannad officially became my all-time favorite Anime. See this thread for the long version of how I decided that. To keep it short here, I’ll say the Anime did everything right to tell a beautiful story. The few cliches in the Anime were appropriate and well-timed. To further sweeten the deal, every genre is represented from beginning to end.
The first half of the series (pre-After Story) focused heavily on Tomoyo’s relationship with his new friends and how he helps them with their problems. I admit I didn’t fully understand why so much emphasis was made on that until I watched After Story. Tomoyo is pushed to the very brink of despair after tragedy strikes not once but twice and in a short amount of time. I can’t say any more than that without spoiling things and as you know, I like spoiling stuff. If you really want to know, either watch it yourself or check out the Clannad Wiki.
…By the way, the two playing Nagisa and Ushio in the above pictture are related. I know the one playing Nagisa is a regular at Anime Boston so…yeah.
2. Death Note
Until July 15 2011, Death Note held the #1 spot on my all-time favorite Anime List. Seeing as its fanbase stateside is as big (if not more big) as its Japanese fanbase I’ll assume you either know of it or have at least checked out the Death Note Forum. Suffice to say Death Note more than earned the right to hold the #1 spot on my list for almost 5 years. I bought most of the episodes and Manga in the last 2 years despite having a limited budget at the time. I actually finally bought the first two movies (original storyline based on the Manga) and am still in the hunt for a replica Death Note. Maximum the Hormone’s What’s Up People?! is my most played Japanese Song in my Music Collection (despite having listened to Stereo Pony for almost 5 months straight!) and in fact, it’s what got me into Japanese Rock.
As of August 2014, I have the series on DVD. And it is awesome =O
3. Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
I doubt there’s anyone who HASN’T heard of this Anime. From the creators of Death Note came an Anime that has been a smash hit on both sides of the Pacific since it was introduced to the world in 2013. With a live-action movie and a Marvel cross-over comic in the works, Attack on Titan may just be the biggesst Anime to hit the American Mainstream since Pokemon. Bleach, Naruto and Dragonball Z were hugely popular (the last one getting a Hollywood movie that bombed) but there’s something about Attack on Titan that puts it in a class of its own.
And it’s just getting started.
Season 2 was confirmed to be in the works last year. Aside from the Marvel Cross-over comic and live action movie, there’s also a prequel manga series and a spoof manga series out there. I have little doubt Attack on Titan will enjoy popularity for years to come. You can watch Attack on Titan on Crunchyroll and Netflix though currently, the Dub is only airing on Toonami.
4. Persona 4
The Anime adaptation of Persona 4 is spot-on. The English cast from Persona 4 Golden reprised their roles for the 26-episode Anime. If you are a fan of Persona 4, you owe it to yourself to watch this. It’ll cost you as it’s available only via an online store (iTunes, Xbox Live, Playstation Network, etc.) or DVD/Blu-Ray.
5. Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple/History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi
It took reorganizing the Anime Section of the main site to realize I knew more about this Anime than Tears of Tiara. The main reason for the swap is I’ve only watched Tears of Tiara once whereas I’ve seen KTMD several times. Mostly because I have KMD on DVD but yeah. Like most of the Anime on this list it’s based on a Manga. It follows the story of Kenichi Shirahama, whose exploits parellel The Karate Kid–The old movie series, not the Jaden Smith remake. Kenichi is trained in five different styles of Martial Arts at the same time, each by a different master: Karate, Muay Thai, Kenpo, Kung Fu and Weapons. What he lacks in natural fighting ability and potential he makes up for with his never give up spirit–most of the time.
The Anime ends with the fall of Ragnarok (my favorite member being Natsu Tanimoto) but the Manga continues the story past that point. The Anime goes into some detail with some fighting techniques but not enough for say, a teenager to emulate what they’re watching. Common sense dictates I say the Martial Arts IS serious business. Those who don’t take it seriously end up getting hurt. Having said that, it’s still a great form of self-defense!
You can watch this Anime in its entirety on Netflix and Hulu Plus currently =D
6. School Rumble/Schoolrum
When I first started watching this Anime I didn’t think I’d like it. by the 6th Episode of Season 1 I was in. There’s just something about Harima that makes you want him to hook up with Tenma. Almost every episode will have you laughing to tears and the best part is there’s little to no Fan Service. It’s a down to earth watch that focuses on the reverse love triangle involving Tenma, Harima and Karasuma.
Explaining would be grounds for Major Spoilers so we’ll leave it at that. You can catch both seasons of School Rumble on Netflix. It’s lengthy (52 Episodes total) but well worth watching from beginning to end. What makes this Anime extra special for me is my two favorite female English VAs–Luci Christian and Caitlin Glass–voice the lead female characters (Tenma and Yakumo).
7. Ah/Oh! My Goddess!
One of a small handful of Anime I took a liking to after just the first episode. Having read almost four dozen volumes I can say for sure they were choosy with what they drew from the Manga. For example Velsper (The demon Belldandy’s life force is linked to via the Doublet System), Lind’s Angels (Cool Mint and Spear Mint) and Keiichi’s parents (Keiima and Takano) appear in the Manga but are absent in the Anime. A few things were changed as well. For starters we’ll go with Hild’s first official appearance. In the Manga she visits the temple to help Peorth, who was turned into a child by Velsper. The problem is Velsper was turned into a cat and can’t change himself back (interestingly, he was turned into female cat). In the Anime she’s called by Urd after her Goddess and Demon selves are improperly fused back together. Hild was an important character so naturally they’d change how she’s introduced.
I’m hoping there will be a Season 3. The movie actually preceeds the TV series and although Season 2 was done more than 8 years ago, perhaps renewed interest will spawn one more season! Seasons 1 and 3 are on Hulu Plus.
I doubt there isn’t anyone who is even remotely into Anime who hasn’t heard about this legendary series. InuYasha reruns have aired on Adult Swim/Toonami for almost 20 years. As of February 2015, I own the entire series plus all four movies. InuYasha is an Anime that has withstood the test of time. At least 3 whole generations of Anime fans grew up watching InuYasha. It’s importance in Anime history could not be said enough. With 193 episodes, despite its length it’s a classic you’ll want ti see from beginning to end.
This is definitely one of those animes that falls into the category of not judging the book by its cover. I had to watch it all the way through from start to finish to fully appreciate it. I bought the entire series via Zune Marketplace after watching it on Netflix. It was the first Anime I bought after getting my new Computer and thus that makes it extra special to me. Like any Anime with a largely female cast there there is some Fan Service (Perverted fan clubs, bath house scene, panty shots, etc.). Fortunately it doesn’t take away from the Anime. If she sounds familiar, Nerine’s English voice actor is Caitlin Glass, who also voiced Winry in both Fullmetal Alchemist Animes as well as Yakumo Tsukamoto in School Rumble.
The major draw for me with this anime is despite watching it a couple times already, advancement is hard to predict. For example, you’d have never guessed Asa’s mother was from the Demon World until the reveal–more so when everyone assumed she died years before. Even though the plot is mostly about Rin being “forced” to chose between Sia and Nerine, once Rin and Kaede’s dark past is revealed suddenly it’s not just a choice between the two otherworldly girls. Nerine’s past seemed more like a convenient plot hole at first until Primula’s part in the equation is fully revealed. Sia’s, on the other hand (without spoiling of course) was obviously forced–more so since you were given no indicators from her father before, during or after the reveal.
This Anime is available on Netflix so if you haven’t yet, go check it out =D
10. Ouran High School Host Club
…The irony about this Manga-turned-Anime is it’s Bisco Hatori’s only non-Yaoi/Yuri series. There’s alot of teasing and a reverse harem (female surrounded by males. A harem is a male surrounded by females) involved. Due to the sexual innuendos this would probably never make it to Adult Swim/Toonami. You can watch it on Netflix and Hulu Plus currently.
Other Anime I highly reccommend if you haven’t seen them yet include:
Sword Art Online
It was just announced Season 2’s English Dub’s world premiere will be at Anime Boston 2015. Not surprised given the premiere for Season 1 was at Anime Boston a few years ago.
Tears to Tiara
I watched it on Netflix for the first time two years ago and like the Anime in the #3 Spot I took a liking to it on after the first Episode. Several elements I usually see in an RPG or Visual Novel: Misunderstood “Demon King”, Evil Empire, etc. Overall it’s a solid Anime I’ve enjoyed. A variety of other Anime could have easily taken this spot but this one fills a certain niche. The battle scenes are stylized but not over the top. The main characters are nicely balanced and are pretty down to earth. You can still catch it on Netflix currently.
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
I admit I love FMA:B exponentially more than the original Anime series. As I’d been told at Anime Boston 2011, FMA:B drew more from the Manga than the first Anime. It leads me to believe FMA:B was made because Square-Enix wasn’t happy with the original series like much of the Fanbase. Given the lame ending the original had, I have to agree there. FMA:B focuses more on character development than the original series. Not only that’s it’s far less predictable. The final episode aired on Adult Swim two months ago but I watched the final 6 episodes via Zune Market Place. Awesome ending overall. It felt complete compared to the first Anime.
Honestly, IMO the series was boring until the Visords Arc. My problem with it up to then was the end result of each Arc and movie was too damned predictable. In the U.S. it seems Funimation found itself in the situation where it has two incomplete Arcs. The first is of course the ongoing battle between Kisuke Aizen and the Soul Society. At present, Head Captain Yamamoto was about to join the fight. The other is the new Renegage Zanpakto Arc in which the Soul Reapers’ Zanpakto turn on their masters. This makes it hard to watch stateside consistently because you don’t know if you’re going to get the next episode or a reboot of the season to buy time. This problem is easy to solve by making Bleach an hour long. They wrapped up Kekkaishi and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood last year so…yeah.
You can only find the English dub at an Online Retailer or Hulu as well as Xbox Live and iTunes. For some reason, the dub was never released on Netflix.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
In my opinion, this was Johnny Bosch Young’s best work as a Voice Actor for an Anime (Overall Honors going to Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World for the Wii where he played two main characters at the same time). There’s no doubt his work with Bleach will ensure he’ll never have to worry about money for the rest of his life but I digress. Code Geass asks a very suggestive question: If you had the power to command anyone to do whatever you want, would you use it to take it a step further, how would you use it? The banished Prince Lelouch Vi Brittania decides to use the power of Geass to change the world. Adopting the alter ego Zero, Lelouch leads a ragtag group of Japanese resistance fighters in a war against the Holy Brittanian Empire. Using the power of Geass, Lelouch leads his forces to victory and ultimately becomes Emperor of Brittania.
Going any further would be major spoilers so we’ll leave it at that. Throughout the anime, other Geass users are revealed. Each Geass works differently depending on the person and what they desire. I can’t name the others due to spoilers so I’ll stop there. Code Geass is a solid Anime and at last check can be watched in full on Hulu.com.
A pretty interesting Manga-turned-Anime I saw for the first time on Adult Swim. I bought the entire series via my Platstation 3 so I can watch it anytime.
Spice & Wolf
Like another Anime on my top 10 list (Death Note), this one doesn’t stray too far from the Manga it’s based on. They keep it short, sweet and to the point. The hit manga turned anime follows the adventure of Kraft Lawrence and Holo, a Harvest Goddess in human form. Simply watching either season’s OP will tell you why despite its runoff popularity Adult Swim said NO to airing it: Holo has a nude scene in almost every episode of Season 1. It wasn’t entirely Fan Service, it was more or less because technically she doesn’t need clothes in her Wolf Form (which is, in a word AWESOME) and doesn’t usually wear clothes unless she’s with humans. Unlike many of the older Animes out there, each season is only 13 episodes long. I watched both seasons this year–the second before it was available on DVD. Relax, I didn’t “steal” it. I bought it (and later Season 1) via Xbox Live.
I’ve been hearing rumors there will be a Season 3 sometime next year. Considering I found out about Season 2 purely by accident I hope it’s true. I’m hoping I can learn a bit more at Anime Boston 2013. For the time being, you can watch both Seasons on Netflix. You only see Holo’s true form in a brief flashback in Season 2 but she and Lawrence start behaving like a couple. Like the #1 Anime in this list you can’t help but think of when the world was a simpler place watching this. It’s a very down to earth Anime I have enjoyed.
…I will let you know via regular blog posts if a new Anime is added to my top 10 or Honorable Mentions list.