This is my objective list. I have a subjective list that’s ranked in order of inspiration, relatability, and elicited emotion.
1. Monster: This is a cerebral thriller. Following the life of Dr. Tenma: a Japanese surgeon working in post WWII Germany. He has the perfect life until he throws it all away to save two twins with a dark past related to the Nazi regime’s experiments on the human race.
2. Death Note: Another thriller this one is about a highschool prodigy who finds a notebook that lets him kill who ever his heart desires at the drop of a dime.
3. Darker Than Black: Ten years ago, a mysterious spatial anomaly now known as “Heaven’s Gate” appeared in South America, shortly followed by the opening of “Hell’s Gate” in Tokyo altering the sky and wreaking havoc on the landscape. The real stars disappeared, replaced by false stars. During this time, people possessing various special abilities—called “Contractors”—emerged, each capable of different supernatural feats.
4. Naruto: The story of Naruto Uzumaki, an adolescent ninja who searches for recognition from his peers and the village and also dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of his village.
5. Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood: Two boys growing up in alternative universe set next to ours attempt to bring their mom back to life and end up losing a lot more in return. (There are two FMA series. Brotherhood is the one that follows the original plot. However both are amazing.)
6. Bleach: A highschool fuck up named Ichigo finds himself with new found powers after he dies performing his first unselfish act ever.
7. Samurai Champloo: Two polar opposite samurai accompany a girl named foo on an adventure to find the samurai who killed her father.
8. Attack On Titan: Giants have brought the human race to the brink of extinction.
9. Elfen Lied: Elfen Lied revolves around the interactions, views, emotions, and differences between human beings and the Diclonii, a mutant species similar to humans in build but distinguishable by two horns on their heads and “vectors”, transparent telekinetically controlled arms that have the power to manipulate and cut objects within their reach. (This is a classic aka must watch.)
10. Deadman’s Wonderland: Ten years prior to the start an explosion took place in modern Tokyo wiping out a lot of the city. Fast forward to the present a highschool boy named Ganta is charged with massacring his entire class and sentenced to serve his time at prison turned amusement park-freakshow aptly named “Dead Man’s Wonder Land.”
Okay so at the top we have Monster. Which is there because because of it’s unbelievable story telling. Naoki Urasawa crafted one unbelievable cinematic experience that really can’t be put into words. The twists…the turns all had me on the edge of my seat. What’s more is it’s based in the real world with no supernatural beings. It’s totally believable maybe because it’s based on real life history. A lot of the concepts, for example: the Nazi experiments, I had no working memory of. So I learned somethings watch Monster. The most potent I think was on human psychology however that’s a conversation for another day.
Following number one we have Death Note. Written and illustrated by Tsugumi Ohba. This one follows the course of pitting two genius’s against eachother as the main antagonist and protagonist. Something else that’s different is that the that Light the main character has all the qualities of the traditional bad guy and “L” our antagonist is an atypical protaganist character. Death Note’s pretty short compared to the rest of the shows on my list with only 32 episodes to it’s credit. Despite this it doesn’t really drag…at least until the two thirds of the way through the show. The grand chest match that is the show kept me pretty enthralled the whole way through back in highschool when I had time to binge watch shows or the shows were just better idk idk idk.
Number 3 is Darker Than Black. It’s a bit slow to start but once it’s on it’s on. It follows the Hei the led protangomist as he takes on the task of living a double life. The normalcy contrasts the super natural here so brilliantly. It’s gripping, inspiring, and breath taking. It has Ghost in The Shell vibes but is centered in pre-modern 90’s esque era where things were slightly simpler than now but not by a whole lot.
At number four we have Naruto which is pretty much the most popular anime of all time. Second only to Dragon Ball Z which isn’t included because it’s in a class all it’s own and everyone already seen it. Just like Naruto kind of. Naruto despite being super “mainstream”. I cringe at calling it that because it steals light away from the fact that it’s fucking amazing. Masashi Kishimoto is a genius simply put. Creating a 700+ anime universe, with twists and turns, and plot ties set up in the first episode that tie in to the 360th episode. It’s imaginative, colorful, and emotional. For real…
Five is the great work of Hiromu Arakawa: Full Metal Alchemist. This whole list has a lot of DEEP anime featuring plot lines that explore the reason behind human existence, emotion, morality, etc. But none do it quite as directly as Full Metal Alchemist. I grew up watching this show literally and figuratively. The conceptst that they use for God and the truth are beautiful; done all while subtly touching on the concepts of our alchemetic roots. As most great scientist for about 99% of human history were alchemist first. Never lacking actior nor truth this show is beautiful work of art.
Six is Bleach written by Tite Kubo. This show is another shoenen aka an anime written for young adults. They’re like the action movies of anime however they ussually feature a young adult male character with super powers and teenage angst. Bleach like Death Note features the Japanese concept of shinigami’s (death gods/soul reapers) similar to our American grim reaper these soul reapers are tasked with jobs that include shepperding souls to the next world. Despite being a shoenen which like I said are typically targeted at young boys bleach is not lacking in the depth department especially when it comes to creativity and universe building. Though it’s not a completely new univere like Naruto; Bleach in no way shape or form misses in it’s goal of keeping you completely enamoured in discovering it’s inhabitants secrets.
Samurai Champloo: another adult swim hit. This show really inspired me as a little black kid because it featured two of my favorite things. East Asian culture and hip-hop music. The show is really a study of balance and definetely one to relax to. It never gets two deep and features plenty of well done fight scenes. Masaru Gotsubo the creator also wrote the hit show Cowboy Beebop which isn’t featured on my list but is on plenty of other people’s.
Attack on Titan…hmm I struggled putting this one here and almost took it off a couple of times. However it is the best anime that’s been done in recent years in my opinion and it’s still on going so there’s hope. But it’s still here despite me having watching hundreds of shows over the years. That’s saying a lot. That’s because this show does a good job of creating something brand new and in doing so inducing curiosity. However in the highly anticipated second season it slows down so much I haven’t even finished it yet.
Number 9: Elfen Lied. This one’s a classic in the same regards of Akira. I really don’t know how they made these so time testable. Lynn Okamoto wrote this and features a female protangonist named Lucy. Lucy is the evolution of the human race. That’s all I’m gonna tell you in order not to spoil the rest of the plot. Just know that shit gets real.
Number 10: I had so much fun watching this when Toonami relauched a few years back. Bro I couldn’t fucking wait for each new episode to air on Saturday. The shows features an ominimous mysterious air that contrast it bright and futuristic looking art. The plot is stellar and the palletes all remind of the 90’s kid show Cubix the Robot but in 2D. Which is to say that it was childilishly brilliant. That’s no knock. I’m trying my best to tell you that the art here is fucking beautiful without outright saying the art is fucking beautiful. Guess the cat’s out of the bag now…
*This should be much higher in the list upon second thought.
Not Featured: DBZ* LEGENEDARY Status.
The Boondocks doesn’t have a central plot and it’s not Japanese.
Avatar again not Japanese but really I could have made an exception.
Yu Yu Hakushow: Bleach is the updated version. lol
Inuyasha…was never finished.