While 2021 brought a lot of hope, I’m not sure that it’s really met the hype. As of today, I’m turning 27, and we’ve already been fighting COVID for over a year. Fortunately, lockdown has given me ample time to binge anime. As a result, I figured for my birthday this year I’d put together my official list.
Table of Contents
Obviously, no list of anime is every going to be ranked perfectly—except mine, of course. That’s why I figured it was time to grace the world with the official ranking.
All jokes aside, I’m a casual anime viewer, so I’m generally satisfied with most shows in the medium. As a result, I don’t take too critical of a lens with most anime—despite what my friends think. Though, my preference is for drama and horror.
As usual, this list will start with the 27th best anime and work our way up to the best anime of all time. Let’s dig in!
[#27] Kids on the Slope
Kids on the Slope is an anime I first saw during undergrad in anime club. I’m not sure I’ve seen the whole thing start to finish, and I find the art style a bit jarring. That said, I have an eternal soft spot for music anime, and there’s not nearly enough of them.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with this anime, Kids on the Slope is basically the story of high school kids coming together to play jazz. As is common in any good story, each character has some backstory that makes the jazz ensemble important to them.
Unfortunately, it’s been so long since I’ve watched it—somewhere between 2013-2016—I don’t really remember a lot of the details. However, I cannot possibly forget the most amazing cover of My Favorite Thingsd:
Overall, I think I rated this anime a 7/10 which is fairly low considering how highly I tend to rate anime. Luckily, we can only go up from here.
[#26] Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious
Generally, I’m not a fan of comedy anime because I feel like they lean too hard into the degenerate side of the anime fanbase. However, I quite liked Cautious Hero for a few reasons.
First, it’s a lot like One Punch Man in the sense that the anime does a great job of mocking common tropes of the genre. In this case, Cautious Hero makes fun of the Isekai genre by leaning into all the “die and be reborn in another world” clichés.
As the overly long name implies, this anime is about a character who is asked to save the world. However, rather than jumping right into his adventure, he chooses to train excessively, so he can safely take out tiny enemies. As the story unfolds, this silly concept results in a somewhat heartwarming plot.
Overall, I was fairly pleased with this anime. If it were just funny, I probably would have rated it a 5/10, but the story elevates it to a 7/10 for me.
[#25] A Place Further Than the Universe
A couple years ago, a cute anime about four high school girls coming together to travel to Antarctica was released. It was called A Place Further Than the Universe. Back then, it was touted as anime of the year for a lot of people, and it’s even ranked 82nd overall on MAL.
Now to be fair, the anime is quite good. In particular, the art is very pretty, and I think the idea of going on an adventure can be really inspiring for folks working during a pandemic.
That said, I feel like this anime was pretty forgettable. It reminds me a lot of Made in Abyss in that way. Like I remember enjoying it, but I don’t really remember the plot. As a result, I also gave this one a 7/10.
Ugh, Erased is an anime that I’d love to rate highly. As someone who loves when an anime takes a premise and tests its limits, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Erased.
Put simply, this anime is about a guy who has the ability to travel back in time to stop crime—usually only needing to travel back a few minutes. Somehow, he gets caught up in a murder mystery revolving around his youth. This sets off a pretty interesting cat and mouse where the main character tries to solve the murder as a child attending school.
There are obviously challenges with an anime like this. First, time travel in general is messy. Second, the idea of an adult living in a child’s body invites all sorts of ethical issues (see ReLIFE). That said, I’m a sucker for dark storylines and science fiction, and this time traveling murder mystery really hit the spot.
Overall, I really, really enjoyed this anime. Unfortunately, the ending is perhaps one of the most disappointing endings I’ve seen in an anime, so my overall review falls to a 7/10.
[#23] Azumanga Daioh
When I was pretty young, I got into anime through Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z. By middle school, I had graduated to anime like Yu Yu Hakusho and Kenshin. Certainly there were others, but many of them I have already forgotten.
One anime that always sticks out for me is this cute comedy called Azumanga Diaoh. In short, it’s an anime about a 10-year-old girl transferring into high school, and the running gag is how much smarter she is than her peers.
As a kid myself at the time, I really enjoyed this anime, and it led to a ton of great memories. Even now, I remember the “cooking is so fun” song (yes, I watched this dubbed):
These days I relish in that nostalgia through the Azumanga Diaoh Pic Bot on Twitter:
Of course, this is one of those shows that I’m hesitant to go back and watch. I’ve seen a few scenes recently, and it’s a bit of a rough watch. That said, I still give it an 8/10 on nostalgia alone.
Keeping the comedy trend going, I figured next up in the list would be KonoSuba. If you’re interested in checking out Cautious Hero, KonoSuba is all that and more.
In short, KonoSuba is yet another Isekai. Much like Cautious Hero, KonoSuba is about subverting the genre by capitalizing on all of the Isekai tropes. Also, it’s a bit of a harem as the main character is surrounded by various women with exaggerated character traits. In general, KonoSuba does a great job of making fun of anime as a medium, and a lot of folks love it for that.
In terms of story, there’s nothing really special here. That said, if you need a good laugh, you might enjoy KonoSuba. I ended up watching both seasons, and I’d recommend them to anyone: 8/10.
[#21] Mirai Nikki
Oh, Mirai Nikki. This anime really messed me up. By the time I finished it, I had to go for a bike ride to clear my head.
So, what’s this life altering anime about? Think Hunger Games but with the concept of fate woven in. In English, Mirai Nikki translates to Future Diary which is a device given to every member of the battle royale. These diaries provide insights to each person about how they might be attacked or even killed.
This concept is really cool to watch, and the animation is quite pleasing. As a mentioned before, I love dark stories, and the idea of people trying to survive a tournament style purge is thrilling.
In general, my biggest gripe with this show was the annoying main character. Likewise, the ending is pretty disappointing. I believe the studio released an OVA just to resolve the ending, but I was messed up by it for a little while.
That said, I’d recommend it—even if just to check out one of the most well known yandere. Overall, I rated the anime an 8/10 and even recommended it to a few friends. Of course, this is another show that’s hotly debated, so proceed with caution.
[#20] Yu Yu Hakusho
One thing I’ll say on repeat throughout this list is that I’m not a huge fan of shounen. In general, I find them very predictable, and power scaling is a huge issue. If there’s no cap on power, what’s stopping a character from reaching One Punch Man levels of strength?
Incidentally, this is also why I don’t care for cat & mouse anime (*cough* Death Note *cough*): each character continually shows their trap card forever.
That said, there will always be anime in genres like shounen that I actually like. That’s absolutely true for Yu Yu Hakusho. Basically, it’s a 90s shounen about a high school kid who dies and is brought back to life on the condition that he serve the spirit realm. Typically, this involves finding and fighting evil spirits with a handful of friends.
Sure, some of my love for this anime is nostalgia, but I actually went back and watched the whole thing a few years ago—all 112 episodes. And, you know what? It’s pretty good!
Generally, the fighting is pretty underwhelming by today’s standards. Granted, I love a good spirit gun:
However, I really enjoy the characters in this anime. It’s hard not to enjoy watching each of them grow and develop as the story progresses.
Perhaps an even bigger selling point is how well the villains are written. Rather than painting characters like Toguro as purely evil, the writers do a nice job of making sure you relate to them in some way.
Overall, I really enjoyed this anime, but I do feel like it overstayed its welcome a bit. As a result, I gave it an 8/10.
[#19] Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
One thing I already mentioned is that I’m a sucker for a good premise. In Bunny Girl Senpai, that premise is the idea of Puberty Syndrome. This syndrome is basically a manifestation of a teenager’s insecurities—often in a supernatural way.
Ultimately, the story ends being about a teen who assembles a harem of girls experiencing puberty syndrome. His job is to help them solve their issues. For example, one of the characters ends up disappearing both physically and in people’s memories. This leads to the famous bunny girl scene:
Overall, this anime isn’t anything special, but I really enjoyed it—even if it was a bit episodic for my tastes. Also, it left us with this amazing OP by the Peggies:
Overall, I gave this anime an 8/10. I would definitely recommend this to anyone into romance and/or supernatural anime.
One anime I feel like is criminally underrated is ReLIFE. Again, this anime comes with a really cool premise: what would happen if losers had another chance at high school? The catch is that no one will remember you after you finish, and you’ll go back to your old life.
Like I said with Erased, there’s some problematic issues that can arise from a scenario like this, but the premise was still really interesting to me. In general, I’m huge fan of rehabilitation and reintegration, so this anime sort of put a supernatural spin on those concepts.
Unfortunately, this anime didn’t get the love it needed to thrive, so all we got was a single season and a few OVAs. That said, I’d still recommend it to anyone interested in watching people get a second chance at life. Overall, I rated ReLIFE an 8/10.
[#17] Demon Slayer
Perhaps the most recent anime I watched on this list is Demon Slayer. To be honest, this anime is probably ranked lower than it should be, but I felt like the first season had a lot more to give. I’m excited to see where the story goes in the future.
For those of you that haven’t seen it, it’s yet another shounen. That said, I think Demon Slayer is a bit less kid friendly than your typical shoenen. Within the first few episodes, we see the murder of an entire family, a character become a demon, and a Hunger Games style survival game.
Also, the OP is an absolute banger, and some of the later episodes bring on the tears. If you have any interest in samurai, demons, or amazing animation, I’d recommend Demon Slayer.
That said, the show up to this point has been pretty slow. I’m excited to see how things heat up in future seasons. For now, I give it an 8/10.
One anime that I’m most excited to talk about on this list is Noragami. Honestly, I think it’s a bit underrated, and I’m kind of surprised more people aren’t into it. That said, it’s not my favorite anime, but I love the premise.
In short, Noragami is an anime about Japanese gods who rely on their notoriety to survive. Notoriety is tied to wishes that the corresponding deity must fulfill. Naturally, humans make all sorts of wishes ranging from fame and wealth to theft and murder.
Of course, the world of the gods isn’t what makes this anime so interesting. Instead, it’s the dynamic between the three main characters: Yato, Hiyori, and Yukine.
Yato is a a relatively unknown god trying to build up his notoriety. Hiyori is the girl who attempts to save him. In her efforts, her spirit becomes “loose” causing it to occasionally drift from her body. Finally, Yukine joins the mix as a young spirit boy.
Much of what I find appealing about this anime is the development of the characters. Each of them spends each day trying to better themselves while many obstacles get in the way. It’s an awesome story about dark pasts and growth and development. Also, there’s a lot of cool concepts explored like regalia which are spirit weapons.
At this point, I’m all caught up with the show through two seasons. After the first season, I was satisfied but not really impressed, so I rated it an 8/10. However, the second season really opens up the world and adds a lot of interesting dynamics and concepts which forced me to binge the whole thing. As a result, I have to give the show a 9/10.
[#15] Sword Art Online
As we get closer to the top of this list, I am guaranteed to confuse some folks with some of my ratings. Perhaps the first anime to raise questions about my taste is Sword Art Online. As popular as the series is, it’s received quite a bit of backlash over the years, and I’m here to sing its praises.
First, however, we need to talk about how bad the first season is. As someone very excited about the prospect of a gaming anime, SAO delivered. However, season one is probably one of the most rushed anime seasons of all time: ignoring some of the most recent Tokyo Ghoul stuff anyway.
That said, as I kept watching SAO through its various seasons and arcs, I found myself enjoying the show more and more. For instance, the gun gale story is not bad, and it introduces us to several additional characters that continue on into my personal favorite part of SAO: Alicization.
While everyone else has been sleeping on SAO, I’ve continued watching, and I feel like that has finally paid off in Alicization. Not only is the concept of artificial souls interesting, but I’m a huge fan of Kirito losing a bit of the spotlight.
See, the one of the biggest problems with SAO is how overpowered the main character is. There’s never been a moment in the series where we doubt his abilities. Then, Alicization comes along, and we get to see Kirito start over. Not only that, but by the Underworld portion of the series, he becomes completely inanimate while the rest of the series is carried by the likes of Alice and the usual supporting cast—plus plenty of new folks.
Beyond that, the animation is just spectacular. Combine that with the unique sound design, and you get some amazing scenes like this (#Spoilers of course):
There are definitely better fights, but I figured I’d spare you the spoilers. At any rate, given where the series is at now, I have to give SAO a 9/10.
Alright, now we start getting into the “you gonna cry?” anime. I have a confession to make: this is my favorite genre by far. Ultimately, an anime has to make me feel something. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time.
Anohana starts off with a simple premise: what if your dead friend’s ghost followed you around but no one else could see her? Turns out that she can’t rest until her final wish is granted.
Obviously, the premise alone is a bit sad—though I could see a horror interpretation. That said, what makes this anime so sad is that the process by which each of the characters grieves their ghost friend. Only when everyone moves on does the ghost get to rest.
One thing I love about this anime is that it’s short and sweet. In 11 quick episodes, you’re guaranteed to grow attached to the characters and cry at the ending. Of course, if you’re dead inside, this anime will do nothing for you.
While I really enjoy this anime, it’s pretty forgettable which is why I hesitate to give it anything higher than a 9/10. That said, the music is great.
[#13] One Punch Man
No anime list is complete without the absolute meme that is One Punch Man. Despite its generic name, OPM is one of the best anime you can watch for a laugh mixed with constant adrenaline.
For the uninitiated, One Punch Man is the story of a guy named Saitama who got so ripped that his hair fell off. Now, he spends each and every day trying to find a being strong enough to withstand more than a single punch. To Saitama, fighting is for fun.
While the premise alone is pretty funny, OPM really gets its charm from its animation. Let me give you an example:
I can’t say much for the story, but it’s hard not to enjoy watching the absurdity of this anime. Leaning into the infinite power trope of shounen turns out to be a lot of fun to watch.
Unfortunately, there’s one major problem with this anime. When the original studio turned the series over for season 2, the quality of the anime dropped dramatically. Saitama doesn’t even punch anyone, and that’s the literal name of the show. As a result, I have to give a 9/10 out of sheer disappointment.
[#12] Angel Beats
Much like Anohana, Angel Beats is one of those sad anime that I used to fill the void for something sitting in the number one spot on this list. That’s not to say it’s bad by any stretch. After all, it’s 12th on this list!
In case you’ve never heard of Angel Beats, it’s basically the story of the afterlife. In particular, it’s the story of a boy who passed away and is trying to regain his memories. In the process, he joins a club of other dead children as they try to fight off a mysterious girl.
I particularly like this anime because it doesn’t immediately give away its secrets. For awhile, you’re just like the main characters trying to figure out the events of their lives. Only later in the story do they unveil the truly depressing reality.
Overall, I find this anime a bit forgettable, but I remember exactly how I felt when I watched it. If you’re looking for a good cry, look no further than Angel Beats: 9/10.
If you keep up to date on anime, then you know the second season of Beastars is airing right now. You can guarantee with this anime being ranked so highly in my list that I’m watching the latest season right now.
That said, what’s Beastars all about? Well, it’s basically an anime about a world where animals have a human-like society. Naturally, they have similar sets of problems such as conflict between the different types of animals. For example, there’s a major conflict between carnivores and herbivores, so a black market exists to serve carnivores.
While the world building in Beastars is excellent, the animation is incredible. It’s perhaps the first time I’ve seen 3D animation done successfully, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested the next stage of anime. Take a look:
Overall, I think Beastars is an excellent anime, and I would recommend it if you’re interested in trying something a bit different. Overall, I gave it a 9/10, and I’m hopeful for season 2.
[#10] Madoka Magica
Now that we’ve gotten to the top 10, I’m going to take a bit more time to talk about why these are so great. To kick off the list, there’s this famous anime called Madoka Magica.
If you head over to My Anime List, you’ll see that Madoka Magica isn’t that popular. Currently, it ranks about 170th which is significantly worse the a few anime I’ve ranked lower than it. That said, everyone has their taste, and I couldn’t help but put this in my top 10.
Madoka Magica is an anime about magical girls (i.e. Mahou Shoujo). Of course, if you watch it, you know that this concept flips on its head by episode 3—an excellent example of the three episode rule. In this anime, being a magical girl is work that could cost you your life.
What makes this anime so good isn’t the perspective of reality. While that’s a great premise, it’s the entire magical girl ecosystem that’s the selling point. In most magical girl anime, the magical girl part is a given. In Madoka Magica, however, that assumption is provided a very dark foundation.
In this anime, witches are responsible for all that is evil in the world (e.g., suicide), so it’s the role of the magical girl to kill witches. Of course, there’s a cost to this cleansing process which manifests in the girls themselves. Ultimately, the question of whether or not someone should become a magical girl is more complicated than a discussion of risk and reward.
Overall, I was quite pleased with this anime for a lot of reasons. For instance, the art is beautiful and interesting. Naturally, this is nicely complimented by the music which gives a sense of purpose to every scene. Finally, the anime is very emotional, and the story takes a lot of interesting turns.
That said, I stopped myself from giving this a perfect 10 because it didn’t speak to me in the same way as some of the anime that follow. Of course, I would absolutely recommend it to anyone.
[#9] Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
Winter 2019 was the first time I started to watch seasonal anime, and I’m not sure I could have picked a better time to start. Back then, we were met with some of my favorite anime of all time including Kaguya-sama and The Promised Neverland.
Being someone who had never tried to watch an anime week-to-week (except maybe as a kid), I wasn’t sure what to expect. That’s when I was graced with the excellence of Kaguya-sama, a romantic comedy about a small student council.
On its face, the concept is pretty dull, and I’m honestly not sure what I decided to give it a try. That said, I’m very thankful I did because this anime is hilarious, charming, and addicting. There’s just something about watching two characters try to get the other one to admit their feelings in a battle of wits that’s really enjoyable.
At this point, Kaguya-sama has completed two seasons, of which I’ve only seen the first. That said, the second season is rated even better than the first, so I assume it can only get better. That said, it’s impossible for me to share how great this anime is without sharing the Chika dance:
Also, I think the sheer absurdity of this anime is its best quality. For instance, here’s a scene about Chika eating ramen:
Like, there’s enough hype in this scene, you’d think you were watching a tournament arc.
All that said, Kaguya-sama falls short for me just from a genre perspective. As funny as it is, it’s mostly forgettable because it doesn’t really have the emotional impact that I look for in anime. As a result, I have to give it a 9/10.
[#8] Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
At this point in the list, we start to get into masterpiece territory. See, I’m a bit biased because I think anime is generally a better medium for storytelling that most western options. As a result, I find most anime to be pretty good in comparison.
That said, there will always be anime that rise above even my biased expectations. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of those anime.
If you head over to My Anime List, you’ll find FMA:B ranked #1 all time. This is not a mistake; it’s an absolute masterpiece. So, you’re probably wondering why I’ve ranked it 8th. The answer is a bit complicated.
FMA:B is an anime that one of my best friends had recommended to me for a really long time. Of course, the problem is that I’ve put it off because it’s quite long. In total, I believe there are about 64 episodes, and it starts out pretty slow.
Basically, the story kicks off with two brothers: one with a mechanical arm and leg and the other in a suit of armor. Turns out, these two brothers paid the ultimate price while trying to perform alchemy to bring their mother back to life. Now, their quest is to try to find a way to get their bodies back.
What unfolds in the remaining 60 or so episodes is akin to the same style of story told in Attack on Titan. A small quest unravels into a series of challenges that are even bigger than the characters themselves. By the end, you’ll wonder how you even got there.
While I think FMA:B is excellent, I couldn’t rank it any higher because of personal taste. As much as I love these epic storylines, I felt this anime was a bit childish at times—as if targeted at a younger audience. If it was a bit darker overall, I would have been sold for life. As a result, I give it a 9/10.
[#7] Tokyo Ghoul
Now, we start to get to the truly controversial part of the list. Let me start by saying that Tokyo Ghoul is one of my favorite anime of all time on principle alone. Execution is a completely different story.
There’s one thing that I always love to see in anime: nuance. Nuance is what makes characters great because it allows you to appreciate their flaws. Personally, I think Tokyo Ghoul does a great job of this through the premise alone: what happens if you allow someone to straddle the line of good and evil?
This idea is manifested through the main character who ends up becoming half ghoul through an organ transplant. Ghouls, of course, are creatures that eat humans, so their lives are completely at odds with humans. For a human to straddle that line is what challenges our ideas of morality. Are ghouls truly evil, or are they just trying to survive?
I rate this anime so highly because the ideas really got me thinking about nuance and lack of it in our society. At the end of the day, there are very few truly good and evil people: most of us are just straddling that line.
And if there’s nothing else, the music and art are spectacular. After all, the OP is probably one of the most popular anime songs of all time:
Unfortunately, despite how much I love this anime conceptually, the show really takes a nose dive from season to season with each season being worse than the last. So when I rate this series a 9/10, most of what’s holding that up is season one and my own imagination. For whatever reason, this will always have a soft spot in my heart—perhaps because it opened me up to the horror genre.
[#6] Attack on Titan
Interestingly, the issues described with Tokyo Ghoul are actually reverse for Attack on Titan: this show just keeps getting better with time (ignoring the final season).
For those of you that haven’t heard of AOT—though, it’s kind of hard not to have heard about it at this point—it’s an anime about three kids living through the attack of titans on their home town. What unfolds over the first season is the development of these three kids as they train to be soldiers.
When I first watched season 1, I was interested but not really impressed. Certainly, the anime is to my tastes in terms of darkness, but the story felt sort of shallow. Like, I’m glad that the main characters want to kill all of the titans, but that’s not very interesting as a premise.
What makes this show great is the exact same thing that makes Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood great: things are not as they seem. Over the next couple seasons, we get to learn more about these titans and their origins which raises questions about morality and good and evil.
By the end of the third season, we finally get all of our questions answered and all that’s left is all out war. That leads us to what’s airing right now: the final season.
Overall, I absolutely love Attack on Titan. From the story to the characters to the music, AOT is guaranteed to be another classic. The only thing that’s holding me back from giving it a perfect 10 at this point is the current season. Otherwise, it’s a masterpiece. I mean who couldn’t love this scene:
Here we are with yet another controversial take, but I couldn’t help myself: Rent-a-Girlfriend is a perfect 10. Don’t believe me? Let me introduce you to the greatest OP in anime:
To me, Rent-a-Girlfriend is a masterpiece. As the name implies, this anime starts with a simple premise: what would would happen if a guy decided to rent a girlfriend?
What follows is a series of complicated scenarios where the main character has to continue renting the same girlfriend because everyone believes they’re actually dating. It’s a simple idea, but I’m absolutely captivated by it.
What makes this anime so good is the characters. Very rarely in anime do characters feel real. After all, most anime feature supernatural elements like cat girls and quirks which just don’t exist in reality.
Rent-a-girlfriend, on the other hand, feels really genuine to me. The characters seem to get themselves into dumb scenarios that I’ve literally seen my friends and myself get into. Life can be messy, and I feel like this anime captures that well.
As someone who notoriously hates harem and romance anime, Rent-a-Girlfriend goes against everything I know. Yet, I couldn’t stop watching. It’s just too good.
If you’re interested in a comedy with real world elements, I’d definitely recommend this show. It would be even better if you didn’t check out the reviews on My Anime List and gave it a proper viewing. For whatever reason, those mouth breathers hate on this anime quite a bit. My suspicion is that there’s a lot of projection going on. Just read some of these sad reviews:
Kanokari might be the worst show I’ve ever watched. The story is built on a lie that snowballs out of control, told by a beta knucklehead that just couldn’t stop boasting, and filled with smooth brains that can’t act like adults. I spent half my time watching these 4 episodes cringing at the male protagonist Kinoshita’s actions and their consequences.
I’m not sure I can take anyone who unironically uses the word “beta” seriously, and you probably shouldn’t either. Trust me. Give it a go! Or at the very least, listen to the guys on Trash Taste hype it up:
One of the first anime I watched as an adult was Steins;Gate, and to this day it holds up as one of the best anime of all time. There is not doubt in my mind that this is a perfect 10.
For those of you that have never heard of Steins;Gate, it’s basically a time travel anime that devolves into race to save the lives of two characters. In general, it’s a very dark show that takes a sharp turn about halfway through.
What makes this show so great is the plot. First, time travel is discovered by the main character who uses it to modify the world a bit. Before long however, a government agency catches on which results in the death of one of the characters. The remainder of the show is spent undoing on that effort to try to save their friend only to lose another friend in the process.
This is a story of heartbreak, and it’s one of the greatest there is. According to My Anime List, Steins;Gate is the third best anime of all time. Naturally, I’ve seen it more than a few times, and it’s always good—despite some of the time travel oddities near the end.
If you have a particularly dark mind like me, you might even enjoy the “sequel”, Steins;Gate 0, which explores some of the time travel elements a bit further.
Overall, I’d say Steins;Gate is a masterpiece. If you have the time for 24 episodes, I’d definitely recommend you check it out.
[#3] My Hero Academia
At this point, we reach the final three anime. At number three, I had to go with my favorite shounen to date: My Hero Academia.
Back when I was working at GE, there was an intern that I worked with who mentioned My Hero Academia to me in passing. At that point, I had already been hyping up my favorite anime of all time, and he figured I’d enjoy My Hero Academia as well.
Boy was he right! Since then, I’ve seen the first 2-3 seasons at least 3 times. The first time I watched them alone, and then I brought my wife along for the ride. After that, I decided to watch them again with one of my best friends, and now I’m all caught up with season 4.
If you’ve never heard of this anime, it has a pretty basic premise: what if there was a mutation in humans that caused some people to begin manifesting superpowers (aka quirks)? What would society look like? How would it operate?
If you’ve ever seen X-Men, for instance, then you know what a world like this might be like. In the world of My Hero Academia, the quirks are a bit more prevalent with quirkless folks stuck doing more traditional jobs.
In this show, the main character, Deku, is quirkless—at least for a short time. That said, he still wants to be a hero, so he learns everything that he can about heroes. Through sheer luck, he finds himself in a predicament where he demonstrates his heroic temperament. This gains him the recognition of the best hero in the world. As it turns out, this hero has the ability to transfer his quirk which he passes off to Deku. The story then revolves around Deku’s and his classmate’s development as heroes.
What makes this show so incredible is the rawness of the emotions. There’s something about the way that each character develops and grows that is very relatable.
Also, it helps that the fights, art, and music are all amazing. By now, I’m sure you’ve seen this scene (spoilers obviously):
If that doesn’t hype you help, I don’t know what to tell you. Anime doesn’t really get much better than this.
[#2] The Promised Neverland
Around the same time I got into Kaguya-sama, I really got into The Promised Neverland. Having seen cat & mouse anime like Death Note before, I was a little wary of The Promised Neverland. After awhile, it can get really boring watching the characters continually outsmart each other.
Fortunately, The Promised Neverland is so much more than a cat & mouse horror. It has elements of something bigger like Attack on Titan and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. At the same time, it has a really dark premise with enough power to make me consider going vegan: what if humans were what was raised on farms for food?
Having seen the entire first season twice, I have to say that I’m very pleased with this anime and excited to see where it goes. Right now, I’m in the process of watching the second season, and I’d argue it’s already better than the first. In general, I’m really excited to see where the story goes.
That said, what makes this show so great? Personally, I think it’s because it’s not afraid to demonstrate the complete powerlessness of the kids on the farm. In fact, the show even kills off a main character in the first season. I very rarely see something with that much emotional impact in anime. The only things that comes close are anime like My Hero Academia and my all time favorite below.
In general, however, I’m not sure I can really put this anime into words, so here’s the trailer:
Oh, and I forgot: the music in this anime is phenomenon. Very rarely do we see composition of this caliber. For instance, I’m a huge fan of Isabella’s lullaby which is modified throughout the series to match the events as they unfold:
For me, The Promised Neverland is a masterpiece, and I’m excited to see where the story takes us.
[#1] Your Lie in April
If I had to pick one anime to watch for the rest of my life, it would have to be Your Lie in April. Obviously, as a musician myself, I’m a bit biased in the types of anime I prefer. However, Your Lie in April is much more than a music anime: it’s a story of tragedy and recovery.
If this is your first time hearing of this anime, here’s the breakdown. Your Lie in April is the story of a boy who plays piano—or at least used to before his mother passed away. However, his mother had been extremely abusive as she trained him to be an expert pianist. As a result, he loses the ability to hear the music he is playing.
Much of the anime is about this boy trying recover his ability to play the piano. Of course, this is of no effort of his own. Instead, he meets a girl who ends up dating his best friend. This girl, however, is also musician, and she makes it her life’s goal to get the boy to play piano again.
Outside of the obvious music influence, a lot of this anime is about friendship. I’m particularly a huge fan of the various characters that try to support the main character through his trauma. The would could use more friends like them.
I personally love this anime because of the depth of emotion that is written into the story. By the end, I really feel like I lived the lives of the characters, and I have a hard time finding anything to fill that gap.
Of course, even without the story, the music and art are incredibly beautiful. And, I love the stylistic way that the characters maintain their internal monologues. It reminds a lot of the way I spend much of my time in my own head.
That said, I can’t really sing the praises of this anime enough, so here’s a trailer:
No matter how hard I try to get people to watch it, they’re all afraid of being sad. Oh well, more for me I guess.
To Another Year
Well, that took me forever to write! At nearly 7,000 words, this behemoth cost me a lot of hours. At any rate, I hope you liked it. Looking forward to next year, I’m thinking about writing about anime OPs. How does that sound?
Anyway, thanks again for taking some time to learn about my interests beyond programming. Let me know if you watch any of these shows and feel free to recommend some to me as always.
Until next year! Happy 27th birthday to me.
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