I’m definitely not a ‘list person’, unlike some people I know, so it is always somewhat difficult to decide the order of different things. But anyway, here I’m trying to compose a list of anime series I like the most, with some explanation about the reasons I like them. And please remember before starting any flamewars that these are highly personal opinions…
Let’s start with number one, then:
1. Kanon (カノン, Kanon)
‘Kanon’ is a fairly conventional harem anime adapted from Key’s visual novel, and produced by Kyoto Animation in 2006. The main character is a high school student Yuichi Aizawa, who returns to a town he last visited seven years ago, but has next to none recollection of the events back then. The story also features everyone’s favourite taiyaki-munching air-headed girl, Ayu Tsukimiya (did I hear someone say ‘Uguu~’?), and lots of other pretty girls, who Yuichi helps with one way or other.
The reason Kanon is my number one anime series, and will stay that way, is the huge emotional impact it had on me… Can you imagine me, a grown-up man, crying over some animated stuff? The end titles scene with Ayu running in the snow still brings a lump in my throat…
…And let’s not forget the all-encompassing message of ‘Kanon’: “Whatever happens, you can survive with the help of your dear friends!”
2. Another (アナザ, Anazā)
‘Another’ is an adaptation of a mystery horror novel by Yukito Ayatsuji, produced by P A Works in 2012. The story revolves around a cursed Class 3-3 of Yomiyama North high school, whose pupils and their close relatives start to die mysteriously.
I’ve always liked mystery / horror stuff (After all, one of my favourite authors is H. P. Lovecraft), however, their movie adaptations tend to be on the not-very-good-or-downright-bad side. Another is a delightful exception to that rule. Let’s talk about the technical side first:
The drawing and animation quality is very good; attention to detail is incredible in some scenes – just look at the rusted railings on the roof of the school. But what really caught my attention is the audio side of the series – I happened to watch the first episode with my headphones on, which really shows off the quality of the sound design; 10/10 for that.
The storyline itself is perfectly balanced between action and horrendous deaths, and more tranquil scenes, with a agonising ‘whodunit-and-whosnext’ feeling in the background. The ending of the 3rd episode almost gave me a heart attack…
Besides, Mei Misaki is unbelievably moe…
3. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu)
‘The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’ is an anime adaptation of light novels by Nagaru Tanikawa, illustrated by Noizi Ito. Kyoto Animation made the first season in 2006, the second season was released in 2009.
I don’t think this series needs much introducion, it may well be the most famous anime series of the 2000’s. Anyway, if you have been living in a closet, the series centers on an extremely eccentric girl Haruhi Suzumiya and her friends in a club named SOS Brigade, as told from the perspective of Kyon, her friend and classmate.
Back in the VHS time, I watched classic anime titles like ‘Akira’ and ‘Ghost in the Shell’, but as a whole, Japanese animation didn’t leave much impression. Sure, it was better than contemporary American cr*p, but I wasn’t that much interested.
And then Haruhi happened…
I can honestly say that the Haruhi series is at least 95% responsible of all of my enthusiasm for anime, manga, figures, japanese food and other Japan related things.
Let’s talk a little about seiyū, the voice actors of ‘The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’: Tomokazu Sugita, my favourite male seiyū, is as convincing as always in the role of Kyon, Yūko Gotō does an incredible job as the voice of ‘big-titted moeball’ Mikuru Asahina, Minori Chihara, too, rose to stardom with her role as Yuki Nagato. I don’t have much to say about Aya Hirano, but at least her voice suits Haruhi…
4. Planetes (プラネテス, Puranetesu)
‘Planetes’ is based on a manga with the same name by Makoto Yukimura. The anime adapation was made by Sunrise in 2003. The story is set to a year 2075, and tells a tale of team of space debris collectors based on a debris ship DS-12 “Toy Box”.
I like Planetes very much because of its realism. It offers a refreshing contrast to the usual “wheee-lets-fly-into-space” approach of scifi anime. It could well be seen as a some kind of pseudo-documentary about a space pilot’s everyday life.
5. Steins;Gate (シュタインズ・ゲート, Shutainzu Gēto)
‘Steins;Gate’ is based on a visual novel developed by 5pb and Nitroplus, anime adatation is by White Fox in 2011. The storyline is set to Tokio’s Akihabara district, where a self-proclaimed ‘mad scientist’ Okabe Rintarō and his friends accidentally invent a time machine.
I’ve always been fascinated by stories involving time travel and time machines. Steins;Gate includes these with an almost-scientifically-possible way, which approach usually makes an interesting story. The plot is good, as are the characters; I find it always entertaining to follow the discussions between Okabe Rintarō and the lead female Makise Kurisu (tsundere vs. tsundere situation).
5+. Clannad (クラナド, Kuranado)
I had intended to list only the five best anime series here, but I just couldn’t leave ‘Clannad’ and its sequel ‘Clannad After Story’ out, could I?
Like ‘Kanon’, ‘Clannad’ is based to Key’s visual novel, and again made by Kyoto Animation in 2007. It tells a story about a delinquent high school student Tomoya Okazaki and his friend Youhei Sunohara, and their relationships with their (mostly female) schoolmates and other people (i.e. it can be classified as a ‘harem anime’).
Unlike most types of romantic movies, Clannad does not stop to the point where ‘Boy gets a Girl’, but instead continues to tell about the normal life after graduation from school: searching for a job, marriage, having a child and such.
My favourite character in Clannad is Kotomi Ichinose, the quiet and antisocial genius girl. The seiyū who is behind Kotomi, Mamiko Noto, has the most beautiful voice I’ve ever encountered…
(Please read part 2 here)