My Top 20 Anime List

-And what's the real lesson- Don't leave things in the fridge.-Cowboy Bebop Episode 12- Toys in the Attic.png

So this is an interesting challenge.

I’ve been a remarkably vocal fangirl and a friend of mine demanded that I finally put my money where my mouth is. He asked me to put on paper my top 20 list.

Now, this list is going to be weird because it’ll be heavily influenced by what influenced me. I’ve said before that I’m a Golden Age fangirl, so you’ll see lots of Golden Age series on this list. I’ll try to give a brief explanation as to why I like each series and if I don’t, it’s nothing personal and really I don’t even think it will be numbered so much as it’s just 20 anime that mean the world to me and I think if you haven’t seen, you should. So in no particular order, here’s my Top 20.

And while you read: enjoy a little mood music:

  • Cowboy Bebop
    • This is the perfect anime. Amazing story, amazing music and fantastic characterization, if you’ve never seen it: do it now. If it’s been a while, pop it in. Bebop is full of emotional twists and turns and some of the best animation ever put to screen. This one is a classic and won my heart almost immediately and very early in my anime career. Even though I said in no particular order, there’s a reason Bebop is top on this list. You won’t find a series I praise more than this tale of a few Space Cowboys looking to make their mark on a deeply fractured, imperfect but beautiful universe and find meaning, love and what it all means to be alive, human and happy. As far as favorite episodes:
      • Jupiter Jazz Parts 1 and 2
      • Sympathy for the Devil
      • Toys in the Attic
  • FLCL
    • What an amazing little series. It’s easy to discount it considering how crazy the story and lines are but upon each watch, I find something new to love about it. FLCL follows a kid trying to make sense of a world that makes no sense around him and I can absolutely relate. If you can’t get behind the story, get behind the amazing music provided by The Pillows and the beautiful animation that bridges plenty of influences and styles together for a witty, heartfelt and smart series.
  • FullMetal Alchemist
    • This series holds a very special place in my heart. I fell in love with all of the characters immediately. Can you imagine how I must’ve felt as a young woman dealing with the loss of my father? And then this serious little anime with characters that felt similar loss and handled their grief maturely and with conviction? Yeah, this one means the world to me. This series is heartbreaking and has some of the few episodes in anime that can make me cry every single damn time. That’s how powerful the connection is to the characters and to the story. On top of some serious research done into alchemy, religion and science, this is a series that if you somehow managed to miss it, watch it.
      Now, this is a good time to mention that I mean the original anime. There is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood which is closer to the manga and that one just doesn’t pack the same punch for me. I liked the manga, sure but I think the first pass of the anime was way more emotional and better done. But that’s just my opinion. Some favorite episodes include:
        • Fullmetal vs. Flame
        • The Flame Alchemist, the Mystery of Warehouse 13 and the Bachelor Lieutenant
        • Theory of Avarice
  • InuYasha
    • Now, I can’t say this one’s good anymore. It doesn’t always age well but if you wanna find the places where fangirl Amanda began to form? It’s with this series. The basic story shapes up like this: Kagome finds herself suddenly in Feudal Japan where she finds half-demon: InuYasha and hilarity, awkward romance and other much better side characters ensue.This series has probably some of my first serious anime crushes and at the time was beautifully voice acted, beautifully animated and had songs that are iconic now to the fan community. Episodes to watch include:
      • Only You, Sango
      • And basically just any episode with Sesshomaru
  • Naruto
    • I know, right? Another big shonen series? I didn’t say this list would be super original. This anime hit me at a time where I was finally finding myself and this show was full of great music, great characters and a wide variety of storylines if you can survive some of the filler nonsense.  What I loved in Naruto was a fantastic mix of characters that all had similar backgrounds. Many faced the similar fates of loss of families but everyone dealt with it differently. For someone like me who lost her parents at an early age, it was amazing to see what I could have become, what I was dangerously close to being and who I could aspire to be. Episodes to watch:
      • Assassin of the Moonlight Night
      • Kakashi: Sharingan Warrior
      • The Demon in the Snow
  • Big O
    • Remember how I said I don’t do mech? I don’t. But any time a series can be more than just overcompensating with giant robots, I’m sold. Big O centers around a main character, Roger Smith (who looks a lot like another eccentric, all-black wearing, playboy and detective). Set in a city without memories, Roger must complete his daily tasks as a negotiator and find out the many mysteries of Paradigm City and the sinister forces that keep the city clad in darkness. 
  • Code Geass
    • I don’t do mecha. I don’t do giant robots. Giant robots confuse me. Code Geass is so much more than just a mech series and it’s beautiful. The psychology, the tone and the drama all make this one hell of a great series. Code Geass focuses on a young revolutionary named Lelouch and his desire to free a captive Japan and restore the world to its proper state: ordered chaos. I can’t say this one always ages well and Lelouch is maybe up there in the top of the list of damn near insufferable main characters but this series transcended being a mecha and was a splendid chess match until the very end.
  • Bleach
    • This one’s strange. I didn’t actually like this series when I first saw it but upon further inspection and after hours, literally hours, of research I fell in love. The symbolism, the thought, the care put into this work is wonderful and if you’re like me and you love long shonen series, this one’s tops for a reason. Follow the daily adventures of a soul reaper in training, Ichigo Kurosaki, and his equally powerful (and some not so powerLookin’ at you, Renji +_+) friends as they battle Hollows, monsters and even other soul reapers. This series has some of my top favorite characters of all time (GASP! another possible list?) and despite the immense amount of tropes and cliches, I’m able to suspend my disbelief for fantastic music, fantastic action and beautiful character development.
  • Lupin III
    • This series is dated as hell now. But if you can handle this vintage humor and “unique” art style, you are in for a treat. Ever meet a character in an anime that’s smooth, cool and a ladykiller? He’s probably based off of Lupin. This series is based off of the titular character, Lupin, and his gang of thieves. They pull off some of the best heists seen in anime with a great deal of thought, humor and planning. We’re talking James Bond-esque gadgets mixed with Pink Panther levels of camp and absurd happenings. It’s perfect. It doesn’t always age well if you catch the original 1970s-1980s anime. But the reboot is grittier, prettier and is well-voice acted (as well as WAY more violent). I’m personally a sucker for the vintage model, much like Lupin would be himself, and it’s almost a must for any anime fan. You gotta know your history.
  • Trigun
    • One of the first series to really sorta break my heart with characters. Centered around Vash the Stampede and those who are fortunately unfortunate enough to be swept up by him, this series is more than just a gunslinger anime. There’s serious science, serious character development and one of the most interesting plots to come out of the earlier days of anime. It’s an oldie now, but worth a watch if you’ve never seen it.
  • Cyborg 009
    • Another mecha? I’m starting to sound like a hypocrite. But again, this was so much more than just cyborgs fighting. Notice how the number says 009? There’s 8 other fantastically interesting characters who all have amazing stories behind them.  Beautiful animation, great music and characters that you feel for as soon as you learn more. There’s not a single beat this anime misses.
  • Gravitation
    • Again, I don’t think this series is great. It does not age well. But heaven help me, this series did shape me as a fangirl and as a person. A huge amount of amazing characters, for the time amazing animation and a soundtrack: my gosh, the soundtrack. This one’s a boy’s love, so if you want to give it a spin, just be warned. This was one of the first times that I think I really connected to a bunch of characters in a series (which for a high schooler is probably a little worrisome since I found this series in my teens). I gotta say, the anime’s nice but watered down. For the real story, you have to read the manga. 
  • Antique Bakery
    • Another boy’s love but a wonderfully animated show with amazing voice acting and delicious looking cakes. I’ve cosplayed this series more than once and I fall in love with it every single time and If you love cake, slight drama and hopeless romance with some darker themes: this series is for you.
  • Axis Powers: Hetalia
    • What a funny and bizarre little series. It’s hilarious if you can get past some of the bright colors and fast talking but it’s worth it if you want to see the adventures or misadventures of a bunch of personified countries discuss their love lives, their history and the current state of the world.
  • Death Note
    • This show is dark, heavy and full of psychological twists and turns and I was alone for every moment of the ride. This anime was one of the last of the Golden Era series and what a way to close out an era. In a fantastic battle of wits, discover questions about ethics, morals and what it really means to be a god with genius, Light Yagami and the even more genius detective, L. I fell for the characters, the serious ethical inquiries and wonderful animation. 
  • Samurai Champloo
    • Talk about another perfect damn series. Just everything about this show is a plus and the flow and the story just takes it to the next level. Following Fuu, one of the few female characters I can stand in anime, and her unruly unwitting bodyguards Mugen and Jin through a beautifully creative Edo Japan. Combined with some splendid voice acting this series is inventive, new and has some of the best music in anime. I can’t recommend this hit enough. Episodes to watch:
      • Disorder Diaries
      • Cosmic Collisions
  • YuYu Hakusho
    • This anime sold me on the entire genre. Fast-pace, great character and animation that’s not to terrible made this a popular first for many up and coming otakus. Centered around a rather crass lead in Yusuke and his adventures as a Spirit Detective, solving all sorts of demon and ghost-related crimes, the plot’s pretty basic but I can never fault the series that sold me on this whole weird type of media. 
  • Dragonball and Dragonball Z
    • When I was a little girl, I had a religious experience with this show. I was 6 and with my aunts at a local college. Upon the biggest screens possible in that day, I saw this show. A kid with a monkey tail punched a dinosaur out of the sky and cooked and ate it. I was sold. I needed to know more and because of this amazing shonen anime, I gave my life to the genre and it began a now 20 year adventure in otaku life.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
    • What a beautiful series. What a beautiful, sad, dark series. If you haven’t seen this classic anime, give it a chance right now. It’s another almost mech but there’s so much more going on than just giant robots. I won’t reveal much because, seriously, if you haven’t seen this: just damn watch it. This one aged well but I wouldn’t recommend marathoning this one. Give it time. It’s heavy and you will feel things.
  • Pokemon
    • How many kids get to claim this as their first? Really, this one was a huge leaping point for me as a kid. I loved everything about the series, the game and the fandom as a child. Out of all the things in my life that has changed, Pokemon has been a beautiful constant.

Now, these aren’t the best anime in the world. These aren’t even all the anime that I like but these are the ones that if you had to sit down and put together the fangirl soul of Amanda, you’d find foundational pieces from all of these series. Now, these are opinions and aren’t meant to cause a flame war. But share any of your hits below. I may do another list because this is by no means all of the series I’ve watched and by no means all of the series I like to talk about.

Till next time.

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5 thoughts on “My Top 20 Anime List

  1. In fourth grade (2000-2001), we learned what “entrepreneurs” and “creatives” were. We had to give a report on one, and make a life-sized cardboard drawing of the person reported on. Mine was Satoshi Tajiri. All I can say now is that his net worth is $5.1 billion. Pretty damn good for starting a series based on your childhood memories of bug collecting.

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