The Best Anime Ever: My Divine Picks and Favorites

Sep 18, 2003 (Updated Jan 3, 2010)

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The Bottom Line These are the best of the best when it comes to anime movies and series.

Anime is a strange thing really. Before this last summer I pretty much kept my distance from the stuff; it seemed just a little strange to like something just because of the animation style used. What I didn't realize is that it isn't the animation that draws so many people in, but rather the rich storylines that tend to have much more flavor than your standard Western style cartoons. Once I got addicted though, I was really into it. One of my friends has been into anime since he was 12, but he says that my constant obsession is beyond anything he has seen with anyone when it comes to the medium. I became so addicted, that I've already spent hundreds and hundreds of my hard earned money on the stuff, but that's not to say that it's cheap, because it really isn't, trust me on this. Well just like with anything else I have very particular preferences, and so I thought it would be interesting to take a break from watching, and just to process my thoughts. And so here it goes: the best anime movies and series ever.

Before I begin though, I will give some background information on my experiences with anime. First off, like many other people out there, the first anime series I ever started watching on a regular basis was Pokemon. As I got older and the series was dragged out more and more, I actually stopped liking it. As a matter of fact, I now hate it after seeing it so often. the next anime series that I really got into was Yu-Gi-Oh. Now despite this series' many similarities to Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh is superior in almost every aspect, and to this day I still watch and enjoy it. Yu-Gi-Oh wasn't enough to get me interested in anime though, and it wasn't actually until watching Rurouni Kenshin that I actually became an anime fan. Unlike most people, Dragon Ball didn't have anything to do with me becoming an anime junkie.

Even though most of my money does go to anime, I still have a very healthy social life; anime is more like a pasttime for when I'm bored or just feel like watching it. This is why I don't claim to be an anime master through any measure, as there are hundreds (thousands, even millions) of people out there who know about ten times as much about anime as I do and are much more devoted than myself. You can learn many things through people, and so here are my recommendations for series and movies.

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#10.Magic Knight Rayearth - 1997
Type: Series / Fantasy
Magic Knight Rayearth for Saturn Full Review

Magic Knight Rayearth is a cute little anime series that took me entirely by surprise. I'm not a fan of manga powerhouse Clamp's usual fare, but there's something about this series that I found particularly unusual - it kept my attention all the way through. The story follows three girls as they are transported from our world to that of Cephiro. It is here that they become the legendary Magic Knights in order to revive ancient machines in order to put an end to the exploits of a powerful wizard named Zagat. This is one for those that are looking for something that's fun and not particularly serious.

#9. - The Vision of Escaflowne
Type: Series / Fantasy
Full Review Coming Soon

Giant mech battles are one of the things that non fans often associate with anime. I for one am not into the whole Gundam thing, it's not that I have a problem with giant mechs, but it's just something about an anime basing the entire storyline on fighting robots. The Vision of Escaflowne is the only anime series (besides Blue Gender) that features the normal inclusion of these bots. The Vision of Escaflowne features a very fantasy-ish setting. The main character, Hitomi is transferred to a world seperate of Earth; this world is called Gaea. Mech Fighting, love triangles, and more ensue in this wonderful series.

#8. - Trigun
Type: Series / Action Sci-Fi
Full Review of Trigun

Trigun is one of the first series that I really got into. During the time when I was just looking around for series to try out, I came across Trigun on the adult swim block of cartoon network. This is yet another science fiction entry into the list, but with a twist. Trigun's setting is the futuristic wild west on another planet, with saloons and cowboys, but also with space ships and the like. The series stars the famous outlaw known as Vash the Stampede, who has $60,000,000,000 on his head. Rumors about him have gotten out of hand about him, as he is actually a kind hearted doofus. A perfect anime series for just about anyone, it's even good for beginners.

#7. - Perfect Blue - 1997
Type: Movie / Horror
Full Review of Perfect Blue

What happens when you mix the world of anime with the world of horror? Perfect Blue is a thriller in a classical sense, with a plot style that is similar to that of Alfred Hitchock or Dario Argento. Perfect Blue tells the story of a pop singer named Mima who quits her singing career for the promise of a future in acting. Things go downhill from there when she starts seeing her former pop star self in hallucinations, and she actually starts talking to the hallucination. Things also go bad when everyone who crosses her begins turning up dead. Definitely one of my favorite anime movies. I really couldn't leave this one off the list.

#6. - Princess Mononoke - 1997
Type: Movie / Action Adventure
Full Review of Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke was the first anime movie that I saw, and even though I didn't have much respect for the medium back then, I was still able to give this movie the appreciation it deserves. Princess Mononoke is really a work of art in animation disguise; it's amazing to watch in motion. Princess Mononoke stars a young man off to find a cure for a curse. What starts off as a simple adventure eventually leads Ashataka to a war between miners and forest dwellers, and as you may guess Ashataka ends up right in the middle. Again, this is an anime that pretty much everyone can enjoy, and it's even good for beginners.

#5. - Yu Yu Hakusho
Type: Series / Action Adventure
Full Review of Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho is a unique series. Not because the main character dies at the beginning of the very first episode, but it's uniqueness stems from the subject matter in the storyline. Yusuke Urameshi is just an ordinary middle school bully until the day that he is killed while saving the life of a small boy. From this point forward, Yusuke begins his quest under the watchful eye of a baby named Koenma. Yu Yu Hakusho is mainly about action, but this doesn't make the storyline weak by any degree. This was one of the anime series that really got me into the medium, and so I think it would sit particularly well with people curious about anime.

#4. - Oh My Goddess!
Type: Series / Romantic Comedy
Full Review of Oh My Goddess Collector's Suite

In the middle of my beginner to anime stages, I found many recommendation lists that all gave high praise to one thing; Oh My Goddess. Luckily for me, one of my friends actually possessed all the episodes. So one day I sat down and watched the whole series (it's only 6 episodes long). I found something in this series that I haven't been able to find in any other, it's the kind of magic that really makes you appreciate the work that went into it. The series is about a guy named Keiichi Morisato, who, after attempting to order take out is confronted by a beautiful goddess that claims she can grant any wish that he wants. Thinking this is merely a joke, Keiichi wishes for a girl like Belldandy to be with him forever. What Keiichi doesn't know, is that this is no joke, and from that point forward Belldandy is devoted to being with him.

#3. - Rurouni Kenshin
Type: Series / Action, Adventure
Full Review of Rurouni Kenshin

As I mentioned earlier, Rurouni Kenshin is the anime series responsible for transitioning me out of what I like to call the DBZ/Pokemon faze of fanism. This is a very long running series consisting of 95 episodes, and you'll want to watch every single one of them, maybe even twice. Rurouni Kenshin stars a red headed samurai by the name of Kenshin. This character has had a rough past and has slain hundreds of men. Not anymore though, as he uses a sword incapable of killing with the blade on the reverse side. Kenshin's past won't stay in the past as much as he wishes it would, even with him making friends and starting a new life in Tokyo he just can't seem to find peace. Rurouni Kenshin is a very deep and philosophical series that may require a little bit of anime background to fully appreciate.

#2. - InuYasha
Type: Series / Action, Adventure
Full Review Coming Soon

After getting into Rurouni Kenshin and Yu-Gi-Oh you could say that I was still a bit thirsty for anime. This is when I found Inuyasha. This series featured some of the most interesting and lovable characters, and although it took me a while to completely realize the genius behind it, once I was hooked though, I was completely addicted. Inuyasha is about a demon of the same name, well he's actually a half demon and he lives in feudal japan.. After attempting to steal the sacred jewel; the Shikon no Tama, Inuyasha is sealed to a tree by a priestess named Kikyo. Now cut to the future, Kagome Higurashi is a typical Japanese school girl in modern day Japan, until one day she falls down a well and is magically transported back to the feudal ages. It is then that she releases Inuyasha from his seal. It turns out though that Kagome is the reincarnation of the very priestess who sealed Inuyasha in the first place. Definitely high on romance and action; Inuyasha blends pretty much all genres perfectly. If there is one series on this list that you should give a chance to, than it's this one.

#1. - The Grave of Fireflies - 1988
Type: Movie / Drama
Full Review of Grave of the Fireflies

Some movies can leave an impression in your mind forever. There are several of these movies for me, but since this list is all about anime, the subject right now is the beautiful masterpiece known as the Grave of Fireflies. This is one of the saddest movies I have ever seen. The Grave of Fireflies is one of those few films that I would show to non fans and even anime haters. The movie takes place in World War II era Japan as a brother and sister fight to survive against hunger and neglect. These two children are forced to go through a lot, as they lose their mother, and are forced to live with their aunt who mistreats them. Eventually they are forced to live in a cave, and are pretty much forgotten by the world in which they live. What's really unique about this film is that right in the beginning the ending is given away by a ghostly narrator, and so the viewers are pretty much just waiting for the inevitable. The Grave of Fireflies is a completely beautiful movie, and is the closest a movie can ever come to being a work of art. This is definitely not a movie to miss out on.

Well that's the list. Still haven't gotten your anime fix? Well then check out part 2 of this list:

The Fifty Greatest In Anime

The Best Anime Ever Part 2: Reach Anime Nirvana With These Picks

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