I used to have a running list somewhere of all the animes I love but I’ve since lost track. I have also lost track of which one(s) were amongst the first, but I think I got into Inuyasha before Sailor Moon. I never gravitated towards the shows that were incredibly bloody. And I always seemed to get into the popular animes after their time, and I always, always without fail, gravitate towards the ones where the guy has to save the girl – with exception of a couple of them. So this is my Top Ten list, in no particular order, because each of them have their own pros and cons. But I’ll try not to spoil them, in case you haven’t seen them yet! I think I’ve developed a good list of ones with balanced action, humor and life lessons. Most, if not all, are based on mangas or light novels which are then made into animes. In fact I think the entire list is that way. The Japanese have a tendency to follow the manga à anime à live action route (and now I want to rewatch Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Live Action…crap!)
Ghost Hunt (2006)
I went through a period where I loved anything that dealt with the unknown, paranormal, and supernatural. No I never did a séance or go on an actual ghost hunt myself, but I always thought it was intriguing.
Ghost Hunt follows high schooler Mai Taniyama as she inadvertently becomes involved with a company named Shibuya Psychic Research, (or SPR for short, as she consistently reminds us). SPR is run by Kazyua Shibuya, a narcissistic genius who thinks he knows everything and can shore up anyone who tries to challenge him. Fellow members include Lin Koujo, Hosho Takigawa, Ayako Matsuzaki, John Brown, Masako Hara, Osamu Yasuhara, and Madoka Mori, not to mention the many others they assist in their cases.
According to the storyline, it’s not surprising that Mai ends up with this dysfunctional group of researchers, mediums and priests. In the very first episode she’s pictured in her classroom with two of her friends telling ghost stories after class. The show ran for twenty-five episodes, revealing how each of them come to be involved in the supernatural and how they work to better the lives of those that ask them for help.
Sword Art Online (2009)
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
SAO takes place in the near future, where gaming technology has developed to the point where one can physically insert themselves into the gaming world of their choice. I became interested in this one back when I used to play MMORPGs, namely one called Shaiya, on and off in college. It was followed by Sword Art Online The Movie and a second season also based on the light novels.
VRMMORPG’s in Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya’s time used a device called NerveGear that physical connected the player to the game. SAO, the name of the game (and, of course, the series), is in its testing stages when our story begins. If they don’t successfully fight their way out of the world, as warned by the game’s creator, Akihiko Kayaba, unleashes the terror as there are many young players who signed up to be a part of the test run. The storyline initially follows Kirito, Asuna, Heathcliff, and Akihiko, later including others as the plot deepens.
Sailor Moon (1992)
Magic, Action, Adventure
I have to say I’ve met very few anime fans who haven’t loved Sailor Moon in one way or another. Sailor Moon can be considered as being one of the flagships that introduced the Western world to the genre in the 1990s. Close behind it are Pokemon and Dragonball Z. In my opinion, it’s got the action of Dragonball and the adorableness of Pokemon’s character interactions all rolled into one. But of course it’s still in a realm of its own.
If you’re reading this list it means you’re most likely already familiar with Sailor Moon, but here’s at least a little snippet for those who aren’t as versed in Japanese manga. The title of this series is originally translated as Pretty Guardian Sailor (or Solider) Moon but was shortened to Sailor Moon for American audiences. Even though there are distinct differences between the anime and the manga, it still follows the same basic timeline. Like Ghost Hunt, it follows a high schooler named Usagi Tsukino and her friends as they discover that they have the ability to harness the power of the planets to protect Earth. Their powers are derived not only from their past reincarnations as Queen Serenities guards but from the Silver Crystal, which is constantly being sought after by multiple enemies.
There are far too many storylines, monsters, main villains and episodes to cover in one synopsis, but it is one of those shows that should be watched from the beginning. There is, of course, the age-old debate of which version to choose – the English or the Japanese – and then which order (because some seasons weren’t even aired in English). It’s almost as confusing as which order to watch the Star Wars films in. The original three or the second trilogy followed by the original…
Sailor Moon is currently in remake production under the title, Sailor Moon Crystal.
Romantic Comedy, Action, Supernatural
I first found Inuyasha during one sleepless night when I was channel surfing in the living room and I came across it on the Toonami network. And it was obviously not one of the first episodes, or in Japanese. If I hadn’t been a natural night owl at the time then I never would have found it.
As with Ghost Hunt, Sailor Moon (and all these animes actually) it follows a high schooler named Kagome Higurashi who is magically transported to Feudal Era Japan via the Jewel where demons ruled the land and brought terror to the human residents. Inuyasha was one such demon, half-demon namely, who wanted the crystal himself in order to become a full demon like his father. Through a series of unfortunate events the Jewel becomes shattered into thousands of shards and, with the help of Shippo, Miroku, Sango and Kirara they track them down. Kagome learns that, in her era, she is the reincarnation of a powerful priestess and can sense shards whenever they are close.
This combination drives much of the plot and angst between the two protagonists. Inuyasha goes back and forth between wanting to be with Kagome but is still stuck on the priestess from whom she gains her power. There are 167 episodes and four movies, so if you choose to start this one be prepared to be in it for the whole thing.
Ouran High School Host Club (2006)
Drama, Romantic Comedy
Haruhi Fujioka is a very smart, bright student who prefers to do things by herself until one day when she is thrown into the world that is the Ouran High School Host Club. Haruhi is a poor student amongst the rest of her rich classmates, a fact that the boys in the club never let her forget. But it is what endears her to them, and they latch onto her naivety when it comes to things the rich tend to do. During their initial meeting each boy takes a while to figure out she’s actually a girl, dressed in a boys’ uniform, because she couldn’t afford the normal female dress. The only one who already knew her true identity is Kyoya who thoroughly enjoys watching the others freak out when they discover it. In the end Haruhi is forced to stay with the group in order to pay back a debt, and through misadventure they build deeper relationships with each other
All right, so this post is going to have to be broken up into two separate ones. It’s 2 AM but I want to post it – however I am only halfway through! And even though I took a three hour nap this afternoon I still want to go back to sleep. So goodnight for now. I hope you’re enjoying this list so far! Part 2 will come some time this weekend!