Top 5 Anime by Kristian (Honey’s Anime Writer)

Getting into anime as an adult is an odd experience, you’ve missed out on so many popular shows that it can feel like you’re constantly playing catch up. By the time I started really watching anime the Big 3 already had a terrifying number of episodes out and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was over 5 years old. Sometimes I wonder if Full Metal Alchemist will ever leave my ‘to watch’ list. Hey don’t look at me like that.

Living in England unless you had cable TV the anime selection was limited: Pokemon, Digimon and Card Captor Sakura was pretty much all you had access to. After considering shows like that to be pretty much all that anime was, being introduced to stuff like Clannad and Elfen Lied was eye opening to say the least, and something I wish so many other adults could experience as anime grows in popularity.

So from a fairly a fan of romance, comedy, and ecchi, who’s reasonably new to the scene, here’s a list of my Top 5 Anime. We hope you enjoy.

1. Clannad

  • Episodes: 23
  • Aired: Oct 2010 - Dec 2010

Tired and bored of his current high school life, Tomoya Okazaki spends much of his days ignoring what’s going in class and lazing about after school. But in a fortunate turn of events his attention is caught one morning, amidst a flurry of sakura, by Nagisa Furukawa and her mutterings of bread. Based on the visual novel by Key, Clannad follows the blossoming relationship of Tomoya and Nagisa, his best friend, and a number of cute girls at his school, as they deal with problems both painfully ordinary and curiously extraordinary.

Like all Key stories, Clannad is capable of making you feel both overwhelmingly sad and fantastically happy in a single episode. Despite having some supernatural elements to parts of the story, the problems that many of the characters face, particularly the main couple, are grounded and often relatable, something which many shows struggle to do properly. Additionally the sequel Clannad: After Story lets us see the lives of the characters after graduating high school, and how they cope with adulthood, something other romance/harem stories rarely offer.

Story aside, one of the most brilliant things about Clannad is its soundtrack, filled with emotion such that even by itself, it has no trouble pulling at your heartstrings. You could go as far as to say that without its soundtrack Clannad’s success would be nothing like it is today. As one of the first anime I watched as an adult, Clannad was an amazing introduction to how even through animation, such touching and dramatic stories can be told.

Clannad Series 1 Part 2 Trailer


2. Motto To LOVE-Ru

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Oct 2010 - Dec 2010

Rito Yuuki is in a ridiculous and awkward situation. See he likes his classmate Haruna, and she likes him, but then there’s this alien princess Lala who also likes him. But Lala has nowhere to live, so she lives with Rito, along with her two sisters who also like him. Then of course there’s the student council president, an idol, and a space assassin who all kind of have a thing for him as well. Now watch as Rito tries to maintain a semi-normal life, all the while dealing with a harem of weird, cute girls, and his incredible ability to end up in ecchi situations.

Now for something completely different, Motto To LOVE-Ru is a far cry from the emotional rollercoaster that is Clannad, but as a big ecchi fan remains a personal favourite. Although technically a sequel, the original To LOVE-Ru series deviates severely from the manga, and so isn’t a must watch. We’re not exactly here for the complex storyline now are we? The appeal of ecchi shows has been and will always be mindless fun, and Motto To LOVE-Ru does an excellent job when it comes to that. With regular and well thought out ecchi scenes, and some surprisingly good art and animation, it’s a show that knows exactly what its audience wants.

Rather than giving each girl an arc, the Motto To LOVE-Ru does something most harem shows don’t do and gives short stories, half to a third of an episode, to each girl. Not only does this keep things interesting by itself but it ensures you don’t go too long without seeing a particular favourite or watching a character you aren’t as fond of. To me, Motto To LOVE-Ru is great because it isn’t trying to be something it’s not, it’s not pretending to have a deep plot, or get overly dramatic, its silly ecchi fun that does exactly what it says on the tin.


3. Gosick

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: Jan 2011 - Jul 2011

A Japanese student at St. Marguerite Academy in the fictitious European country of Sauville, Kazuya Kujou is having a pretty hard time, being rejected by his classmates and so far from home. After being sent to the school library on an errand, at the very top of the tower like building he meets Victorique de Blois, The Golden Fairy, beautiful and doll-like in appearance, a sweets-loving tsundere underneath. Through an odd set of circumstances the two end up together, solving mysteries, travelling, and digging up a past that some people want left well alone.

Gosick starts off as a detective, mystery show but becomes so much more, filled with drama and romance, and doing an excellent job of balancing its comedic and serious moments. Something not always present in other detective style shows, Gosick puts emphasis on the reasons behind why certain crimes are committed, the dangers involved in investigating them, and the consequences of getting involved, which becomes more noticeable as the investigations get increasingly close to home. It soon becomes clear that the focus of the story is not the criminals or the crimes, but the duo's own lives.

Something that stands out about Gosick, is simply the fact that it stands out, there simply aren’t many shows like it. It combines genres that we don’t often see put together, namely the mystery/detective theme and the romance, and there’s something very satisfying about seeing it pulled off. To go with that, I personally like that it can be recommend to nearly anyone, I’ve yet to come across someone who has disliked the show in fact, and I think that says a lot in itself.

[GOSICK] the prior promotion video


4. Toradora

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: Oct 2008 - Mar 2009

Being born with a mean looking face is not an ideal situation and for Ryuuji Takasu, despite his kind heart, it causes people to make certain kinds of assumptions about him. But he’s nothing compared to the school’s “Palmtop Tiger”, Taiga Aisaka, a tsundere overloaded with tsun. After an epic screw up on Taiga’s part, the two end up telling each other who their crushes are, and decide to work together in their pursuit of love. But as time goes on the two get closer, and things become more complicated than they seemed at first.

One of the most famous romance anime, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t watched Toradora at this point. There’s something warm and innocent about the story, with enough realism in it to make the characters and situations very relatable. Toradora does a great job of balancing certain aspects of a teen romance story that other shows can struggle with, such as the awkwardness of characters and the danger of teen angst overload. This is likely one of the things that makes it a great watch for even those who aren’t fans of the romance genre.

The relationship between Ryuuji and Taiga is something that will never get old for me, watching the almost helplessness of the two of them as they fall in love. It’s interesting to see characters with such a clear lack of control over their emotions as they struggle to deal with them, alongside characters that think they have it all together but clearly haven’t. I don’t know about you, but those are both something I can definitely relate to.

Toradora! - Official English Trailer


5. Lucky Star

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: Apr 2007 - Sep 2007

It’s sometimes surprising how amusing and memorable the silly, everyday conversations and occurrences can be. An anime based almost entirely on that concept, Lucky Star follows high school girls Konata, Kagami, Tsukasa and Miyuki as they discuss chocolate cones, do homework, and play video games. With numerous other fun, witty, and air headed characters included, you may as well sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, because they sure will be.

You either get Lucky Star’s humor, or you don’t, there is no halfway. Made by otaku, for otaku, Lucky Star can throw people off if they don’t know much about the culture or Japan. This also means it can be very rewarding to re-watch, seeing if you can find jokes or references you missed before. In fact one of the best things about Lucky Star is its re-watch value. As it’s not plot based and so revolves entirely around its likeable characters and silly conversations, it’s a great show to chill out with.

Lucky Star is actually an excellent example of how creating likeable “moe” characters is enough to base an entire series on, and why so many shows years later are trying to do the same thing. I think series like this are great, for the same reason that I really enjoy Motto to LOVE-Ru, it’s something you can relax with and laugh at after a long day. So as magnificent as shows like Clannad and Gosick are, some days are just Lucky Star days.

Lucky Star Trailer


Final Thoughts

Having only watched fairly recent anime, sometimes it can be odd to see other people’s top lists filled with shows I’ve never watched, or even heard of before. In the same vein though, it’s surprising how many fans aren’t up to date with newer shows, and you end up in a conversation where neither person knows which shows the other is talking about.

But even only taking only recent anime into account, picking your top 5 is pretty tricky, and there’s definitely some bias towards whatever you saw first. There are so many shows I would’ve loved to put on here: Angel Beats, Bakemonogatari, From The New World, all amazing in their own right, but alas there is not space!

So which of these top 5 have you seen, if any? Maybe some of them are even in your own top 5. Regardless, we’d love to hear about your favourites in the comments below!

Kristian

Writer

Author: Kristian

British guy doing student things in Tokyo. Slice-of-life and moe anime are my speciality, though I think something good can be found in almost every show. Outside of anime I spend most of my time feeding on DotA 2 or studying Japanese in a quest to one day watch cute girls without subtitles.

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Top 5 Anime by Kristian