I was born in the 90’s, right into the boom of anime in the West. With two older brothers watching anime since Mazinger Z and a mother fan of western comics and Candy Candy anime; I can say I was raised in an otaku family. This, together with my degree in animation makes it very easy for me to pick top 5 anime based purely on animation techniques, story development and character designs. After uncountable hours of watching anime I have come to the conclusion that there are many great anime but that most of them are left at that, just great shows. Other anime, even with many faults, reach deep inside your very soul, they move you, change you and influence your life.
Since these are my personal top rated anime, I will list the anime that became the definition of me, the ones that helped me shape my life, the ones tattooed in my memories.
5. AnoHana [ Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai]
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: April 15, 2011 to June 24, 2011
If you ask for my personal favorites, the last spot is always open to the literal best anime I have seen, as in a technical point of view. I was in a real struggle between One Punch Man, Death Note, Attack on Titan or this. Well, One Punch has not ended for me to quite tell yet, I simply love overly complex anime, so let's remove AoT. Death Note was my pick but, there is something about crying that I like. No, not because I like being sad or anything but, an anime that can make you cry is just great. I mean, how can fictional 2D characters make you cry? And not even from sadness… that’s like freaking magic right there.
AnoHana is about a group of childhood friends separated by the death of the one who was the glue of the group, a little girl they used to call Menma. Best friends becoming strangers, linked only by a painful memory none of them dare to let go of. Jinta, is one of those friends, and the only one that can see and hear Menma’s unrested soul. A strong bond, an unblossomed love and a promise links these two; Jinta sets on the bittersweet quest of regrouping the old group and put Menma at rest. But, after a beautiful goodbye, Menma is still there. She still has a purpose among the living, to find out, you’ll have to watch it. It’s short and to the point with only 11 episodes but, I know you you’ll remember this story for life.
I innocently clicked on this anime, unaware of everything. The first episode hit me like a truck, and by episode 10, I already had my third or fourth existential crisis. In the end, I called all my friends and even literally Skyped with my cat and told everyone how dear they were to me. Before, I wanted to one day write a cool story for a manga about games like Dot Hack, but after this I said: “Nah, I want to collect people’s tears and rip hearts like AnoHana did” so, I am currently aiming to write a story as moving as this, wait for it!
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2, 2008 to March 26, 2009
I remember I started watching this because a close friend from high school texted me “Dude, you gotta watch this, they made an anime about us.” It was still ongoing but in the first 3 episodes, I could already tell what he meant. Taiga and Ryuuji had the same personality as us, and an almost similar story. A neat freak, secretly in love with one of our friends and a moody girl who can’t even boil an egg, figuring out high school love together.
Toradora! is just about that. Ryuuji likes Taiga’s best friend and Taiga likes Ryuuji’s best friend but none of them dare to take the leap. They try different methods of helping each other but all this planning and living literally next to each other only helped them cook the oldest recipe in the book of dating: falling in love with each other without realizing it. Every day trying to resolve life’s little problems together, you’ll see how their love and dependency on each other grows a bit more every time and how they settle in a little corner of your heart. It’s clear that by the end you’ll love these two, but, will they clearly show they love each other?
I enjoyed this anime a lot because I saw my friend and I instead of the characters. I have to admit that some things that they tried in the anime we tried ourselves, haha, I even treated him like my dog and made him clean my room. We didn’t live so close to each other, but still not far. We would meet at nights to discuss how to arrange events where they could end up alone together or in the same school trip pictures. In the end, we didn’t fall in love though, but our plans did work. His crush accepted his prom invite and I ended together with my crush. It’s like an alternate ending to Toradora! but, he had to move out of the country and a year later is when he contacts me again with this anime recommendation. Thanks to watching this theoretically “together” while it was airing, it brought us closer together and until today, we remain close friends; well, not AS close as Ryuuji and Taiga.
3. Pokemon: The Origin
- Episodes: 4
- Aired: October 2, 2013
Pokemon! Pokemon is life! I am a Pokemon freak, some people even say I’m a Pokemon myself. I have everything Pokemon! Why be such a peasant and use white toilet paper when Japan sells Pokemon paper!? Okay, I’ll stop being freaky. But you get the point. I am SO SUPER GLAD that they made Pokemon: Origins because I personally detest the new Ash; why the heck is he STILL always losing? Pikachu deserves a better master. OMG I need to chill out and remember this anime is for kids… BUT no, NOT Pokemon: Origins! This one is about Red, the original Pokemon Master. I played the game more than I watched the anime, and that is why Origins is my pick.
The first few seconds of this anime made me shed tears of bliss. What a time to be alive! I mean, if you ever touched a Pokemon game, watch this, no seriously, now. Again. This anime will knock you back to 1995. It’s an exact replica of the story of Red from the first game versions. From when he picks Charmander and Green Picks Squirtle, beating the Elite Four, all the way up to catching the legendary Mewtwo from that cave back in Cerulean City. They did taint this masterpiece with a mega evolution but, black Charizard is mad cool anyway. I seriously stopped writing this and watched all 4 episodes again, now it’s 2 a.m but I regret nothing.
2. Card Captor Sakura
- Episodes: 70
- Aired: April 7, 1998 to March 21, 2000
Named “Card Captors” in America, this anime changed my life forever. Sakura became my childhood role model, I even cut my hair like her. I remember waking up early before school just to load an episode of this using my really crappy dial up connection for when I came back from school. It teached me so many things at such a young age like the “modern lifestyle” of my beloved Japanese culture. It taught me about homosexuality and other complicated love relationships in a simple and subtle way. If you are wondering, Tomoyo x Sakura, Touya x Yukito, Meiling x Shaoran, family love and so much more. It sparked my interest in researching the links between Japan and China, as well as in Japanese Lolita and Moe fashion and why the word Sakura had such a strong connection with Japan.
So the story is way more simple than I’m making it sound, I’m just looking at the small details; it goes like this:
A Mahou Shoujo anime about a young girl named Sakura who one day finds a mysterious book full of magical cards. She releases the power of the cards by accident, along with the keeper of the book, a magical being called Keroberos. These cards are related to the sorcerer Clow Reed, linked along with it comes a little boy from Hong Kong called Li Shaoran to rival her. Sakura together with her best friend Tomoyo sets on the quest to seal again the personification of the magical cards into the book, but always one step behind comes Shaoran, later accompanied by his problematic cousin Meilin, to try and seal the cards under his name instead. The adventures end up in numerous entanglements of love, comedy and drama. In the end, Sakura and Shaoran turn out to be one of the best anime couples of all anime history, a romance so pure they had to create an alternate version of it many years later as the anime Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle.
But, the true life-changing fact is that for my 12th birthday I really wanted a CCS cake, but no one knew what it was. My mom said the baker asked for a picture and I just ran out of ink in my printer so somehow it crossed my mind to try my best and draw it. There, I did better than I thought, it was super fun drawing Sakura and I discovered for the first time that I was really talented at drawing anime. Thanks to CCS I discovered the talent I would devote all my life to.
1. Rurouni Kenshin
- Episodes: 94
- Aired: Jan 10, 1996 to Sep 8, 1998
This is the flame that started my burning passion for anime. I watched the spanish version of this anime at the age of 7 and it sparked a world of curiosity in me. I fell in love with everything in this anime, the samurai stories, the kimonos, the scenery, the story. I always dreamed of living inside the world of this anime. I remember telling my mother this as a child and she laughed and asked how was I getting all the way to Japan, since it’s so far away. Her question echoed in my head for a long time, little did I know Japan was a real place on earth ( Yeah, I didn’t pay much attention to the world map in class ) . Since I was around 8 years old, I already started planning out my life and how I would reach Japan. I read everything related to Japanese history available on the internet back in 1998; becoming a Japan tradition guru at the age of 10.
The best part about Rurouni Kenshin is that it’s not entirely fictional, it’s based on real historical facts, characters, Japanese traditions and lifestyles. Most of the characters are somehow related to people that existed in real history, the fighting styles, the political and ninja clans all existed; the most important part in Japanese history is perfectly captured and mixed with just a dash of fiction to create a perfect balance. The very essence of traditional Japanese music is captured majestically in all of the series along with some late 80’s rock.
I’m not even going to bother explaining this anime, as one of the best anime of all time you must have seen it. If you have not, then you’re missing out in life. If you want to know Japan: watch this anime, if you want to know history: watch this anime, if you want to know the best samurai story: watch this anime. Just go watch it, it’s not only me treating this series as an animation god, it’s everyone. It’s been released multiple times, re-mastered, re-drawn in many art styles and the most recent addition, the live action movie which is just exquisite.
All that is left for me to say is thanks for looking at my personal top 5; hope that in the future you enjoy more of my writing on Honey’s Anime. I look forward to reading your comments. If any of these anime are your favorites too, or if they changed your life in any way, let us talk about this wonderful experience any time. I always love to hear how people’s lives are influenced by anime!