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Why Are You Not Watching Anime?

Note: this introduction is for people unfamiliar with anime.
If you're already a happy anime fan and you're just looking for something new to watch,
skip ahead to the anime list.



Anime is awesome. Seriously, why aren't you watching it?

Well, what exactly is anime to you?
Is it:

Guys with spiky hair screaming about power levels?


Girls with glittery transformation sequences and funny pigtails?


YOU TEACH ME AND I TEACH YOUUUU, POKEMON!


Or maybe Potato Girl?

Maybe you think anime is only a few of those things, but in truth:
Anime is all of the above, plus much more.
Imagine trying to put all of Western television into one category...

Is all of it made for children?
No, there are shows like Game of Thrones.

Is all of it fantasy, then?
*points to Breaking Bad*

Okay, so all of it is for adults?
Haha, try Dora the Explorer.

It's literally just as difficult to pigeonhole anime.

If you show this anime to children, it'll really mess them up.


This is not the least bit fantasy.


Some adults watch this but mostly it's for boys.

Anime even manages to come up with shows that defy categories:

Space trash collectors?!?


This one isn't even about humans!

Even after eight years of watching anime myself,
I couldn't begin to describe it.
The only answer I can give to "What is anime?":

Anime is EVERYTHING. In hopes of encouraging more Neopians to try anime,
I've made a recommendations list.
All of these are anime I've enjoyed watching.
I tried to cover as many genres as possible.
So how about you try some out?
You could discover something awesome. :3


Continue?

Action

Attack On Titan
Bleach
Code Geass
Cowboy Bebop
D. Gray-Man
Darker Than Black
Death Note
Fullmetal Alchemist
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Hellsing Ultimate
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Naruto
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Rurouni Kenshin
Samurai Champloo
Sword Art Online_
Yu Yu Hakusho

Adventure

Bleach
Cowboy Bebop
D. Gray-Man
Ergo Proxy
Fullmetal Alchemist
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
No Game No Life
Princess Mononoke
Samurai Champloo
Space Dandy
Spirited Away
Sword Art Online_
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
The Twelve Kingdoms

Sci-Fi

Attack On Titan
Cowboy Bebop
Darker Than Black
Ergo Proxy
From the New World
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Planetes
Serial Experiments Lain
Space Dandy
Steins;Gate
Sword Art Online_
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Fantasy

Attack On Titan
Baccano!
Bakemonogatari
Black Butler
Bleach
Code Geass
D. Gray-Man
Durarara!!
Fullmetal Alchemist
Hellsing Ultimate
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Naruto
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Neon Genesis Evangelion
No Game No Life
Princess Mononoke
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Spirited Away
Sword Art Online_
The Twelve Kingdoms
The World God Only Knows
Yu Yu Hakusho

Dark Fantasy

Attack On Titan
Bakemonogatari
Black Butler
D. Gray-Man
Death Note
Hellsing Ultimate
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Princess Mononoke
Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Modern Fantasy

Baccano!
Bakemonogatari
Black Butler
Code Geass
Death Note
Durarara!!
Hellsing Ultimate
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
The World God Only Knows
Yu Yu Hakusho

Mystery

Baccano!
Black Butler
Darker Than Black
Death Note
Ergo Proxy
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
Monster

Horror

Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
Monster
Perfect Blue
Serial Experiments Lain

Comedy

Azumanga Daioh
Hetalia: Axis Powers

Comedy/Action

Baccano!
Bleach
Code Geass
Cowboy Bebop
Durarara!!
Fullmetal Alchemist
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Naruto
No Game No Life
Rurouni Kenshin
Samurai Champloo
Sword Art Online_
Yu Yu Hakusho

Comedy/Drama

Bakemonogatari
Code Geass
Cowboy Bebop
Durarara!!
Fullmetal Alchemist
Naruto
Planetes
Rurouni Kenshin
Samurai Champloo
Space Dandy
Steins;Gate
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Welcome to the NHK

Comedy/Romance

Bakemonogatari
The World God Only Knows
Welcome to the NHK

Slightly Romantic

Baccano!
Code Geass
From the New World
Fullmetal Alchemist
Hetalia: Axis Powers
Naruto
Planetes
Princess Mononoke
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Rurouni Kenshin
Samurai Champloo
Spirited Away
Steins;Gate
Sword Art Online_
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
The Twelve Kingdoms
Welcome to the NHK
Yu Yu Hakusho

Weird

Azumanga Daioh
Baccano!
Bakemonogatari
Durarara!!
Ergo Proxy
Ghost in the Shell
Hetalia: Axis Powers
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Perfect Blue
Serial Experiments Lain
Space Dandy
Welcome to the NHK

Coming of Age

Bakemonogatari
Ergo Proxy
From the New World
Fullmetal Alchemist
Grave of the Fireflies
Naruto
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Princess Mononoke
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Spirited Away
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
The Twelve Kingdoms
Welcome to the NHK
Yu Yu Hakusho

Feels

Attack On Titan
Fullmetal Alchemist
Grave of the Fireflies
Monster
Planetes
Spirited Away
Welcome to the NHK

Fighting

Attack On Titan
Bleach
D. Gray-Man
Fullmetal Alchemist
Hellsing Ultimate
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Naruto
Rurouni Kenshin
Samurai Champloo
Yu Yu Hakusho

Conspiracy

Attack On Titan
Black Butler
Darker Than Black
Ergo Proxy
From the New World
Fullmetal Alchemist
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Japanese Culture

Azumanga Daioh
Bakemonogatari
Durarara!!
Grave of the Fireflies
Rurouni Kenshin
Samurai Champloo
Spirited Away
Steins;Gate
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Nerd Culture

No Game No Life
Steins;Gate
Sword Art Online_
The World God Only Knows
Welcome to the NHK

Historical

Baccano!
Black Butler
Grave of the Fireflies
Hetalia: Axis Powers
Rurouni Kenshin
Samurai Champloo

Mecha

Code Geass
Neon Genesis Evangelion

Post-Apocalypse

Attack On Titan
Ergo Proxy
From the New World
Neon Genesis Evangelion

Psychological Thriller

Death Note
Ergo Proxy
Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni
Monster
Perfect Blue

Swordplay

Bleach
Rurouni Kenshin
Samurai Champloo
Sword Art Online_

School Life

Azumanga Daioh
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
The World God Only Knows

Space

Cowboy Bebop
Planetes
Space Dandy

Time Travel

Space Dandy
Steins;Gate
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Oustanding Visuals

Attack On Titan
Bakemonogatari
Death Note
Ergo Proxy
From the New World
Fullmetal Alchemist
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Perfect Blue
Princess Mononoke
Samurai Champloo
Spirited Away
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Oustanding Soundtrack

Attack On Titan
Code Geass
Cowboy Bebop
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Princess Mononoke
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Samurai Champloo
Spirited Away

Miyazaki Movies

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Princess Mononoke
Spirited Away

Other Movies

Ghost in the Shell
Grave of the Fireflies
Perfect Blue
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Under 14 Episodes

Hellsing Ultimate
Bakemonogatari
No Game No Life
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Baccano!
Serial Experiments Lain
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

23-26 Episodes

Ergo Proxy
Black Butler
Durarara!!
Steins;Gate
Welcome to the NHK
Attack On Titan
Darker Than Black
From the New World
Azumanga Daioh
Cowboy Bebop
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Planetes
Samurai Champloo
Space Dandy

Attack On Titan

Alternate Title: Shingeki no Kyojin, AoT, SnK
Length: 25 episodes
Aired: 2013
Categories: Survival Horror, Action, Post-Apocalypse, Shounen, Fighting
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: A few centuries ago, humanity nearly went extinct at the hands of giants called "Titans". However, it was able to survive by building gigantic walls around a city, walls even taller than Titans. A young boy Eren Yaeger dreams of the world outside those walls and hopes some day to join the soldiers whose duty is to destroy the Titans outside the walls and protect humanity. When the city is attacked by a Titan larger than ever before, Eren may get his wish…
Notes: This is a great series for anime newbies. Attack on Titan is also packed with action and plot twists, and never slows down or bores you. Fair warning, it's also really over-the-top. Also, the story is unfinished, so be prepared to wait for the next season.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Azumanga Daioh

Alternate Title: None
Length: 26 episodes
Aired: 2002
Categories: Comedy, School Life, Slice of Life, Weird
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: The daily lives of a bunch of weird high school girls: Chiyo, a genius ten-year-old; Osaka, absentminded and bemused; Sakaki, a tall girl secretly obsessed with cute things; Tomo, hyperactive and determined; as well as their messy and pushy teacher Ms. Yukari.
Notes: This anime was adapted from a series of four-panel comics, so each episode is made up of several small storylines. There isn't much of an ongoing plot, just silly moments of everyday life. Much of the humor is based on surrealism, awkwardness, and cuteness.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Baccano!

Alternate Title: None
Length: 13 episodes
Aired: 2007
Categories: Comedy, Action, Modern Fantasy, Historical
Similar To: Pulp Fiction, Durarara!
Recommended Language: English (it does the 1930s accents).
Summary: Set in 1930s America, Baccano! focuses on a bunch of different characters at once: thieves, crime families, innocent bystanders, revolutionaries. An alchemist creates the formula for immortality and draws all of these characters into a chaotic series of events, told out of order.
Notes: Kind of like Pulp Fiction. Basically a Western story that happens to be an anime. Hilarious and twisty. But you need to pay attention to the story, or else it will be very confusing.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Bakemonogatari

Alternate Title: Ghostory
Length: 12 episodes
Aired: 2009
Categories: Comedy, Weird, Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Similar To: Nothing in this world
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: Koyomi Araragi, an (almost) ordinary high school student, meets a girl, Hitagi Senjougahara, when she falls from a staircase into his arms. When he catches her, he finds that beyond all laws of physics, Hitagi weighs almost nothing; it turns out she is possessed by a spirit. Araragi works to cure Senjougahara as well as various other supernaturally afflicted people he meets.
Notes: Very Japanese (lots of cultural references and references to other anime), not meant for anime newbies. Rapid-fire dialogue. Eccentric characters. Strange and surreal animation; instead of showing a broad shot of a character, it will often focus on one part of their body, like their foot, hand, or (in Araragi's case) hair. As weird as this anime is, it has such interesting characters and humor that it's entirely worth the watch.
Sequels/Prequels:
Prequel: Nekomonogatari
Sequels: Nisemonogatari, Monogatari Series: Second Season, Hanamonogatari


Black Butler

Alternate Title: Kurohitsuji
Length: 24 episodes
Aired: 2008-2009
Categories: Comedy, Dark Fantasy, Historical, Modern Fantasy
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: In Victorian England, the powerful Phantomhive family was wiped out, and their mansion burned, leaving only the young heir, Ciel Phantomhive. Ciel has managed to rebuild the mighty estate to its former glory, and gain power in London, but at a great cost: he made a contract with a demon, who now serves as his butler. The demon butler, Sebastian, cooks for Ciel, protects Ciel, annihilates Ciel's enemies, and obeys any order with absolute perfection in every detail. Ciel investigates the underworld of London to root out those responsible for his parents' deaths, but not all is as it seems.
Notes: First and foremost, Black Butler is about the um…very close…relationship between Ciel and Sebastian The butler plans to eat Ciel's soul at the end of the contract, and yes, all of the undertones of that are conveyed. So, if you don't like that sort of shipping, walk away right now and don't look back. If you're cool with that, or if you're actually a fan, this anime will win you over with its dark humor and funny characters. Also, Ciel's and Sebastian's voice actors are impeccable.
Sequels/Prequels:
Sequels: Black Butler II, Black Butler: Book of Circus


Bleach

Alternate Title:
Length: 366 episodes
Aired: 2004-2012
Categories: Shounen, Fighting, Fantasy, Comedy
Similar To: Yu Yu Hakusho, Dragon Ball
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: High school student Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see spirits…other than that, his life is pretty ordinary. But one day his family is attacked by a monstrous spirit called a "Hollow", and Ichigo is forced to borrow the powers of Rukia, a god of death, to have any hope of saving his family. Now that Ichigo has the powers of a god of death, he decides to grow stronger to protect Rukia, his friends, and other people from the Hollows and more powerful supernatural enemies.
Notes: One of the three super long, super popular fighting series (the other two being One Piece and Naruto). The main strength of this one is the fight scenes: they're smooth and the best are very engrossing. This anime doesn't have much to offer in character development or depth; most of the development happens to the main character and there are too many side characters for any of them to gain much depth But, if you're looking for some great action and humor, Bleach is a solid choice. Many of the episodes are filler, so if you want to cut down on the massive length of this anime, look up a filler list and don't watch those.
Sequels/Prequels:
There are some side story movies but none of them are canon


Code Geass

Alternate Title:
Length: 50 episodes
Aired: 2007-2008
Categories: Fantasy, Drama, Action, Mecha
Similar To: Death Note, The Count of Monte Cristo
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: A decade ago, Japan fought for its independence against Britannian Empire and its superior piloted mecha technology, and was defeated. Japan's once proud name was replaced by a number: "Area 11". Lelouch Lamperouge, an average Britannian high school student living in Area 11, is sick and tired of Britannia's constant discrimination against the Japanese (now called "Elevens") but too apathetic to do anything about it. But one day, he meets a mysterious immortal girl named C.C., who grants him the power to give commands that no one can disobey. Lelouch vows to use this power to overthrow the Britannian Empire.
Notes: You will either love or hate this anime. There is no in between. It's extremely exciting, flamboyant, and far far over the top. Fanservice abounds. Lelouch is an amazingly charismatic hero (or villain, depending how you see him) and watching him scheme to overthrow Britannia is intriguing. Every episode has some kind of twist; no one is safe for long. The downside to having so many twists is that some of them are full of plot holes…but for me it's so thrilling that those don't matter so much. The character designs are very anime-esque, so expect gigantic eyes, gravity-defying hair, and occasionally silly (but FABULOUS) clothes. The music is also excellent. This anime is similar to Death Note.
Sequels/Prequels:
Second season: Code Geass R2


Cowboy Bebop

Alternate Title:
Length: 26 episodes
Aired: 1998-1999
Categories: Sci-Fi, Comedy, Action, Drama, Space, Seinen
Similar To: Firefly, Samurai Champloo, Space Dandy
Recommended Language: I personally like English more (Spike's voice is amazing)
Summary: In the year 2071, humans have abandoned Earth and spread across the wide frontier of space. Someone has to hunt down the criminals hiding out on the many planets, so a new job has emerged: space bounty hunters, called "cowboys". Spike Spiegel, a drifter, and Jet Black, a retired cop, are two such cowboys, but they're constantly poor and hungry and running out of fuel for their space ship, the Bebop. On their journeys they pick up the saucy but beautiful gambler Faye Valentine, the bizarre child genius hacker Radical Edward, and a strangely intelligent Corgi named Ein, and slowly everyone's mysterious past is revealed.
Notes: Space western. There are very few typical anime-esque things about this story; it could easily be a live-action American show (and it's been suggested as a Hollywood movie). Bebop has real humor and real character depth. Many many people have started watching anime with this one, so it's ideal if you're just starting out. Special mention goes to the beautiful jazz/blues soundtrack by Yoko Kanno, which is responsible for half the series' awesomeness.
Sequels/Prequels:
Side story: Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door


D. Gray-Man

Alternate Title: DGM
Length: 103 episodes
Aired: 2006-2008
Categories: Dark Fantasy, Shounen, Fighting
Similar To: Blue Exorcist
Recommended Language: Japanese (English is pretty bad)
Summary: The Millennium Earl, bent on destroying the world, is building an army of monsters called "Akuma", which he creates from the souls of the dead, called back by their loved ones. Allen Walker, a boy cursed with the ability to see these departed souls suffering as the Earl's weapons, and blessed with a weapon to fight Akuma, called "Innocence". Allen joins the Black Order, a brotherhood of exorcists, and fights to save humanity and free the dead souls.
Notes: A pretty solid shounen anime, unique for its good character development and beautiful surreal art style.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Darker Than Black

Alternate Title: DtB
Length: 25 episodes
Aired: 2007
Categories: Sci-Fi, Action, Noir, Detective, Conspiracy
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: Ten years ago, a paranormal area called the Gate appeared in Tokyo, and triggered a small part of the population to develop supernatural abilities. Called "contractors", these people with abilities lack most human emotions and particularly a conscience, which led governments of many countries and various shadowy organizations to employ them as spies and agents. Hei, a contractor feared by other contractors, works as an agent and tries to unravel what happened to his younger sister when the Gate appeared.
Notes: The main strength of Darker than Black is its action sequences. Namely, the fights between the contractors. Hei is quite deadly and mesmerizing to watch. So if you want to see some really well-made animation and strategic fights, this is an anime for you. The plot has a few dead spots but is very exciting near the end of the season. A note about the sequel, Gemini of the Meteor: it isn't as good as the first Darker Than Black, so only watch if you really liked the first story.
Sequels/Prequels:
Sequel: Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor


Death Note

Alternate Title:
Length: 37 episodes
Aired: 2006-2007
Categories: Modern Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Drama, Psychological Thriller
Similar To: Code Geass, Zankyou no Terror
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: Light Yagami, a brilliant but otherwise average high school senior, is bored with life. One day he finds a notebook on the ground that reads: "any human whose name is written in this notebook shall die". And when Light tests the name of a criminal in the notebook, somehow, beyond all reason, it works. With this amazing new-found power, Light sets out make the world a better place by purging it of all evildoers, and reign over this new world as its god. But an equally brilliant and shadowy detective known only as "L" has a problem with that...
Notes: One of the best and most popular anime ever, and one of the best anime to start with if you're new around here. The psychological battles between Light and L are tightly plotted, full of twists and turns, and well-written. Occasionally a little over the top (like the scene where Light eating a potato chip is EXTREMELY EXCITING, not). Light is a fascinating villain, a master of manipulation and tactics, and L never stops surprising you. There's also plenty of action, and a little humor to lighten the ever-present tension.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Durarara!!

Alternate Title:
Length: 24 episodes
Aired: 2010
Categories: Action, Slice of Life, Modern Fantasy, Comedy, Coming of Age
Similar To: Baccano
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: Durarara!! focuses on the young boy Mikado Ryuugamine moving from the countryside of Japan to Tokyo to reunite with his childhood friend Masaomi Kida. As Mikado's friend shows him around the city, Mikado learns about the strange things in Tokyo, including an urban legend about a headless motorcycle rider, a man with a quick temper and a tendency to throw vending machines, a manipulative knowledge broker, a back-alley doctor obsessed with the supernatural, and an underground group called "Dollars" nobody knows much about.
Notes: Written by the same author as Baccano!, and it shows. Story is sometimes told out of order, and even though it's mostly about the headless motorcycle rider and Mikado, it spends time with a lot of the side characters as well. Great interesting characters, pretty funny, some good twists too.
Sequels/Prequels:
Upcoming 2nd season: Durarara!!x2


Ergo Proxy

Alternate Title:
Length: 23 episodes
Aired: 2006
Categories: Post-Apocalypse, Weird, Sci-fi, Dystopia, Cyberpunk, Seinen
Similar To: The Matrix, Serial Experiments Lain, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Recommended Language: Japanese
Summary: After most of the Earth's population was obliterated, humanity took shelter in domes sealed to the outside world. But these domes hold many secrets, like a computer virus causing the city's robots to disobey, and monsters shrouded in mystery known as Proxies. When Re-L Mayer, an intelligence officer, is visited by one of the Proxies, she becomes determined to unravel the secrets and lies of her home city.
Notes: Extremely dark, both visually and thematically, but stunning animation and backgrounds. Some parts of this anime are difficult to understand without a degree in philosophy, but it's still engrossing even if you don't understand.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


From the New World

Alternate Title: Shin Sekai Yori
Length: 25 episodes
Aired: 2013
Categories: Post-Apocalypse, Dystopia, Sci-Fi, Drama, Coming of Age
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Japanese (Eng actors not good at child voices)
Summary: Thousands of years in the future, in Japan, there is a small village closed off from the outside world, but tranquil and full of natural beauty. Everyone in this village can use psychokinesis, including Saki Watanabe. On a field trip, Saki and her five friends stumble upon some knowledge that shatters this peaceful world, and sets Saki on a quest to learn what her village and humanity really are.
Notes: The only weakness of this anime is an almost complete lack of action. Most of it is quiet, subtle, and psychological, so if you're looking for something very exciting, go somewhere else. That said, otherwise it is perfect. The art is magnificent, the characters are realistic, the world-building is fascinating, and the many twists in the story will blow your mind.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Fullmetal Alchemist

Alternate Title: FMA, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi
Length: 51 + 64 episodes
Aired: 2003-2004 and 2009-2010
Categories: Action, Fantasy, Mystery, Shounen, Fighting, Adventure, Comedy
Similar To: Avatar: The Last Airbender, many Marvel/DC comics, Harry Potter
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: Edward and Alphonse Elric, two young brothers curious about alchemy, lived happily with their mother, until one day when their mother fell ill and died. Stricken with grief, the brothers decide to break the greatest taboo of alchemy and attempt to resurrect their mother. However, it fails and backfires: Edward is forced to sacrifice his arm and leg, and Alphonse loses his whole body. In desperation, Edward calls Alphonse's soul back and affixes it to a nearby suit of armor. There begins the Elric brothers' quest to restore their bodies…but in their search, the brothers stumble upon a dark secret surrounding alchemy and the nature of their country, and they are caught up in the struggle to protect everyone from this darkness.
Notes: Fullmetal Alchemist has something for everyone: action, drama, comedy, tragedy, fantasy, brotherly love (no, not like that...well, it depends who you ask), characters with great personality, shocking plot twists, mystery, and much more. So, it's almost universally loved within the anime community. It's also responsible for introducing many anime fans, because it's easy for anime newbies to take in. If you don't watch it, you are missing out. That's all.
Sequels/Prequels:
Fullmetal Alchemist (2003): Original run of the anime; it has a different ending from the original manga, but is still very interesting and has a lot of good character development in the beginning.
Conqueror of Shamballa: Movie that resolves the cliffhanger at the end of FMA 2003.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009): This is the reboot anime, done because people wanted an anime faithful to the original manga. Its animation is better than the 2003 anime, and the storyline is more faithful (including the completely faithful ending), but it skips over some of the beginning of the manga and character development suffers a little.
My Recommendation
FIRST, watch the 2003 anime (plus movie). THEN, watch the 2009 anime. This way, you get all the character development of the first one, but finish with the faithful ending of the second.


Ghost in the Shell

Alternate Title: Koukaku Kidoutai, GitS
Length: 1 movie
Aired: 1995
Categories: Sci-Fi, Weird, Cyberpunk, Action, Detective, Seinen
Similar To: The Matrix
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: In the year 2029, society has become so absorbed in technology that cybernetic bodies are the norm. Major Motoko Kusanagi, a full-cyborg agent, leads secret government force Section 9 in investigating and capturing cyber criminals.
Notes: 33% breathtaking action sequences, 33% incredibly detailed and nuanced futuristic landscapes, and 33% philosophical pondering. A bit of trivia: this movie inspired a certain two brothers to write a certain classic cyberpunk movie involving a character named Neo—-in fact, the character of Trinity from that movie borrows a lot from the Major. The only relation between this movie and the 2003 anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is their shared source, the classic manga Ghost in the Shell; the anime is an alternate version, not a sequel.
Sequels/Prequels:
Alternate Version: Ghost in the Shell 2.0
Sequel: Ghost in the Shell: Innocence
Alternate Setting: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex


Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Alternate Title: Koukaku Kidoutai, GiTS
Length: 52 episodes
Aired: 2003-2005
Categories: Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk, Action, Detective, Seinen
Similar To: The Matrix
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: In the year 2029, society has become so absorbed in technology that cybernetic bodies are the norm. Major Motoko Kusanagi, a full-cyborg agent, leads secret government force Section 9 in investigating and capturing cyber criminals.
Notes: Like the 1995 movie, this anime questions the meaning of humanity and the role of technology in society in great depth, but scatters even more smooth action scenes throughout. The generous budget given to this anime ensures amazingly intricate and exquisite glances at cyberpunk Japan and the world inside the 'net. If you're looking for something beautiful and deep, this is for you.
Sequels/Prequels:
Alternate Setting: Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Sequel: Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2nd Gig


Grave of the Fireflies

Alternate Title: Hotaru no Haka
Length: 1 movie
Aired: 1988
Categories: Historical, Tragedy, Coming of Age
Similar To: Pick a tragic war movie
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: Near the end of World War II, a boy and his young sister lose their parents and it becomes the boy's responsibility to care for and find food for his sister, amid constant fighting and against the unyielding elements.
Notes: This movie makes most people shed at least one tear, if not a whole bucket of them. Stay away if you want to be happy, but if you want feels, climb aboard. It was made in 1988, so it doesn't have the most slick finish ever, but it still manages to be beautiful and it pulls at your emotions like almost nothing else.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Hellsing Ultimate

Alternate Title:
Length: 10 OVAs
Aired: 2006-2012
Categories: Vampires, Dark Fantasy, Action
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Both are great
Summary: The Hellsing Organization, founded to protect the world from undead monsters, employs the ancient and incredibly powerful vampire Alucard. On the night of a full moon, on impulse, Alucard offers innocent police girl Seras Victoria the choice of joining him in the night, or death. She chooses to be turned and enters a world of apocalyptic battle against other powerful creatures of the night.
Notes: A raging tempest of violence. The plot and the dialogue go all the way over the top, and loop around to go over the top again, and end up somewhere incredibly awesome and intense, supported greatly by well-animated battle scenes and some of the best voice actors in the industry (in Japanese as well as English). Some may find it corny. This anime is mostly ridiculous amounts of warfare, but near the end it also has some really compelling character development, so look forward to that.
Sequels/Prequels:
Alternate Version: Hellsing (2001 anime), not as good IMO


Hetalia: Axis Powers

Alternate Title: Axis Powers Hetalia, APH
Length: 52 short episodes
Aired: 2009-2010
Categories: Comedy, Historical, Weird
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Both are great
Summary: Hetalia (a combination of "hetare", meaning "useless", and "Italy") tells the story of World War II, but as a comedy, and with the countries represented by people. It centers on Italy, who loves to paint, cook, play music, and make friends, but is wimpy, clumsy, and gullible, and constantly drags down his allies, fellow Axis Powers Germany and Japan, in the war. Still, Germany can't help liking Italy, so he keeps him around anyway. APH also pokes fun at the constant quarreling of France and England, the tearful parting of England and America, the downfall of the great Roman Empire, and many other historical events.
Notes: The more you know about history, the more you'll like this; the countries' personifications match the real-life countries' actions quite well, and sometimes it references some pretty obscure historical events. But if you don't know that much history, it's still funny.
Sequels/Prequels:
Sequels: Hetalia: World Series, Hetalia: Axis Powers Paint it White, Hetalia: The Beautiful World


Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni

Alternate Title: When They Cry, Higurashi
Length: 55 episodes
Aired: 2006
Categories: Horror, Mystery, Comedy
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Japanese (narmy English actors)
Summary: Keiichi Maebara and his family recently moved to the rural village of Hinamizawa, and his life is pretty good—he's made a few friends at school, and is happy. But on the night of a local festival, something horrible happens to two people. After that night, Keiichi begins investigating the gruesome past of the village, and starts to question everything around him, including his friends…
Notes: A classic horror anime. Keiichi's paranoia is real, the mysteries within mysteries will keep you guessing. Also, it focuses on only a few characters, so the perspectives and motivations of these characters are explored in wonderful depth. A must see for any horror or mystery lover, period.
Sequels/Prequels:
Second season: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai
Third season: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei


JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

Alternate Title: JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken
Length: 50 episodes
Aired: 2012-
Categories: Shounen, Fighting, Fantasy, Adventure, Comedy
Similar To: Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo, Fist of the North Star
Recommended Language: Only Japanese available
Summary: Young man Jonathan Joestar, nicknamed JoJo, has a good life as the only son of the wealthy Joestar family, until a day when the family takes in Dio Brando as JoJo's adopted brother. Dio kicks JoJo's dog, hurts the woman JoJo loves, and schemes to take the family fortune; JoJo thwarts him, but at the last minute Dio uses an ancient relic to become a vampire. JoJo must learn how to use a special power called Hamon to stop Dio from taking away everything he holds dear.
Notes: Pure cheese, but delicious cheese. The main characters all have ridiculously perfect sculpted muscles and act and speak in extremely macho ways. Everything--clothes, backgrounds, eyes, hair--is bright and neon-colored. Many things do not make any sense, but it doesn't matter because this anime is fueled by whatever is awesome and manly. This is the perfect anime to not take seriously, even make fun of if you're into that.
Sequels/Prequels:
Second season: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Alternate version: Some older OVAs and a movie, but none as well-received as this 2012 version.


Monster

Alternate Title:
Length: 74 episodes
Aired: 2004-2005
Categories: Horror, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Detective, Seinen
Similar To: The Silence of the Lambs
Recommended Language: Japanese
Summary: One rainy night, genius surgeon Kenzou Tenma prepares to treat an orphaned boy with a head wound. But suddenly, a famous opera singer comes in for treatment, and Dr. Tenma is ordered to treat the singer instead of the boy. Sick of his hospital's corruption, Tenma defies his orders and miraculously mends the boy instead. While the boy is sleeping, Tenma sits by his bedside and wishes the hospital director would die The next morning, the hospital director is dead and the boy has vanished...
Notes: Very psychological, and at times terrifying, owing mostly to the supremely frightening character of the boy. Many twists, you will never figure out the mystery until it's all over. Even though this is through-and-through a horror anime, it's also very heartwarming in parts. Watch it in Japanese because the creepiness of the boy's Japanese voice actor cannot be beat.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Naruto

Alternate Title:
Length: 580+ episodes
Aired: 2002-present
Categories: Shounen, Fighting, Fantasy, Coming of Age, Comedy, Adventure
Similar To: Hunter x Hunter, One Piece
Recommended Language: English Naruto has some quirks (Believe it!) but is still good; either
Summary: Everyone in the Hidden Village of the Leaf, a village of ninjas, avoids Naruto. Naruto doesn't understand why, but in his loneliness gets up to all sorts of mischief. But one day, he learns why people distrust him: sealed inside him is a being of untold power and destruction, the nine-tailed fox spirit Kyuubi. Naruto decides that he's going to win the support of the people of his village and become the Hokage, the village leader and master ninja. Along the way, Naruto meets many friends, trains harder and harder, fights tough enemies, and eventually learns how to control the demon fox and protect everyone he cares about.
Notes: When Naruto is good, it's good---action-packed fight scenes, heartwarming, tragic death and sadness, characters with awesome ninja techniques and personalities. Sometimes the fights take too long, or you don't care about the characters who are fighting. Sometimes Naruto himself is stupid and annoying. But overall it's worth the massive episode count. This is one of the three most popular modern fighting series; the other two being Bleach and One Piece; Naruto is more centered on friendship and characters bonding than Bleach.
As you can see by the episode count, long anime is long. Many of the episodes are filler, and you can cut the massive length in half by finding a list of filler and not watching these.
Sequels/Prequels:
Second season: Naruto Shippuuden (Hurricane Chronicles)


Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Alternate Title: Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa
Length: 1 movie
Aired: 1984
Categories: Fantasy, Adventure, Post-Apocalypse
Similar To: Princess Mononoke
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: After jungles full of toxic spores and enormous insects have sprung up around the world, one of the few places humans can still live is the Valley of the Wind, a small village. When a huge airplane crashes in the village, the village princess, Nausicaa, has to find a way for the village to survive both the humans' hunger for war and the wrath of the giant insects.
Notes: Hayao Miyazaki's first major work. Like all Miyazaki movies, Nausicaa flourishes with picturesque landscapes, as well as sublime animation. Just a really solid sci-fi/fantasy with lots to say about the relationship between humanity and nature.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Neon Genesis Evangelion

Alternate Title: Shin Seiki Evangelion, NGE
Length: 26 episodes
Aired: 1995-1996
Categories: Sci-Fi, Mecha, Weird, Action, Coming of Age, Shounen, Post-Apocalypse
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: Shinji Ikari, an insecure teenage boy, is ordered by his father, a high-ranking commander, to pilot a giant armored suit and join the desperate struggle to protect his city from destruction at the hands of strange, overwhelmingly powerful beings called Angels.
Notes: There are two things you should know about Neon Genesis Evangelion: 1. This isn't one of those series where piloting giant suits of armor is cool and awesome and fun; NGE shows exactly how horrible life would be for such a pilot, in reality. 2. For various reasons, such as the creator's mental breakdown and a low budget, this anime sometimes takes a turn for the bizarre. Especially the ending. Don't say I didn't warn you. That said, even though some things about NGE are hard to understand without a psychology degree, it's definitely worth watching for the sheer emotional impact.
Sequels/Prequels:
Sequels: The End of Evangelion
Alternative Versions: Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone, Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance, Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, Unreleased 4th movie.


No Game No Life

Alternate Title:
Length: 12 episodes
Aired: 2014
Categories: Fantasy, Action, Comedy, Adventure, Gaming
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: Sora and Shiro, two gamers who play together as a team called "Blank", have never lost a game; not chess, not MMO battles, not poker. Though these two have mastered the world of games, they are hopelessly inadequate at living in normal society. Suddenly, when Sora and Shiro are summoned to a new world where all disputes are settled by games, they find a place in life and don't want to go home.
Notes: Really over-the-top, lots of fun, lots of laughs. Sora's charisma has no bounds, Shiro is adorable, and the victories that both of them achieve are spectacular and well-thought-out. The story doesn't conclude at the end of the first season, so be prepared to wait for the second.
Sequels/Prequels:
None yet


Perfect Blue

Alternate Title:
Length: 1 movie
Aired: 1998
Categories: Psychological, Thriller, Horror, Mystery, Weird, Seinen
Similar To: Black Swan, Serial Experiments Lain
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: Pop idol Mima leaves her successful trio of idols to start a new career as an actress. As she takes on her first role in a mystery, though, someone seems to follow her everywhere, sending threats to her manager and putting the people around her in danger. When a site appears on the internet describing intimate details of Mima's life as an idol singer, Mima begins to wonder which one is real: her old self as an idol, her character in the mystery, or her self as an actress.
Notes: Deeply unsettling, because as Mima steadily loses her grasp on reality, it becomes much harder for the audience to tell what is real and what is a product of Mima's imagination. You can really feel her paranoia and confusion. As a side note, if you liked Black Swan you will like this, because Black Swan is one long homage to this movie.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Planetes

Alternate Title:
Length: 26 episodes
Aired: 2003-2004
Categories: Sci-fi, Drama, Slice of Life, Comedy, Space, Coming of Age
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: In the year 2075, mankind has branched out to other planets in the solar system in search of energy. However, this exploration has a dangerous consequence: space junk, the debris that can destroy space ships if not collected. The story follows a group of space trash collectors, their relationships, their pasts, and their dreams.
Notes: Planetes is one of the deepest anime that ever aired. If you're looking for an escape from anime's tendency towards two-dimensional, cookie-cutter characters, this is where you will find it. In general this anime is also very intelligent, presenting a thoroughly realistic picture of the social and scientific ramifications of space exploration. If you want action, though, this is the wrong place; most of the episodes are quiet and slow-moving.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Princess Mononoke

Alternate Title: Mononoke-hime
Length: 1 movie
Aired: 1997
Categories: Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age, Weird
Similar To: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: When a tiny village in the countryside is attacked by a monstrous, angry demon, Ashi-taka, the strongest warrior and prince of that village, is infected with a curse. In search of a cure, Ashi-taka leaves the village to venture out into the world, and is caught up in a battle between a tiny metalworking village and the spirits of the forest defending their home. Ashi-taka meets a young, fierce girl raised by the wolf spirits, and tries to find a balance between the warring sides before it's too late.
Notes: Like a few other Hayao Miyazaki movies (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle), Princess Mononoke is not always easy to understand. Try to keep an open mind and focus on the emotional impact of the plot rather than wanting everything to make sense. Like all Hayao Miyazaki movies, this film has stunning images of nature and gorgeous animation, so you could also focus on that.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Alternate Title: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, PMMM
Length: 12 episodes
Aired: 2011
Categories: Dark Fantasy, Magical Girl, Tragedy, Coming of Age
Similar To: Sailor Moon, Princess Tutu
Recommended Language: Japanese (English Madoka is bad)
Summary: Madoka Kaname, an average middle school girl with no talent at anything, is approached by an adorable cat-like creature named Kyubey, who tells her that she has unbelievable magical potential. Kyubey makes Madoka an offer: if Madoka becomes a magical girl and joins the battle against nightmarish creatures called witches, Kyubey will grant her any wish. Even though Madoka wants to be useful and help people, she can't shake the feeling that she would regret becoming a magical girl. And for some reason, a mysterious girl named Homura seems determined to stop Madoka from making a contract.
Notes: All I can say without spoiling anything is: 1. This is not a typical light, happy, cute magical girl anime. 2. There are lots of twists, and you might not see them coming. Also, this anime does a good job writing believable female characters of all kinds.
Sequels/Prequels:
Sequel:Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion


Rurouni Kenshin

Alternate Title: Samurai X, RuroKen
Length: 94* episodes
Aired: 1996-1998
Categories: Fighting, Historical, Samurai, Comedy, Romance, Drama, Shounen, Shoujo
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: In 1878 Japan, the beginning of the Meiji era, drifter samurai Himura Kenshin meets feisty young female sword master Kamiya Kaoru, and instead of wandering onward_ decides to stay and help her. Kaoru discovers that the peaceful wanderer Kenshin is actually the fearsome Battousai, a deadly samurai who slew many men during the chaos of the revolution, and that Kenshin is seeking atonement for his dark past through the lives he saves. But as the battles get harder for Kenshin, he draws closer and closer to the ruthless manslayer he used to be.
Notes: RuroKen's best feature is the amazing characters. All of them are very three-dimensional, and much of the humor comes from the characters' well-established personalities. This being an anime about a samurai, there are lots of nice swordfights, maybe with a little too much commentary, but they're still very clever fights that don't rely on nonsensical power-ups. Tragically, the anime adaptation was canceled before it could adapt the last, and best, story arc. I'm hoping that it will get the same chance Fullmetal Alchemist did, and get another adaptation, but for now this is all we have. Some of the episodes are filler, so be sure to find a filler list if you'd like to cut down on the length.
Sequels/Prequels:
Prequel: Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuioku Hen (Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal)
Sequel: Rurouni Kenshin Seisou Hen (Samurai X: Reflection)


Samurai Champloo

Alternate Title:
Length: 26 episodes
Aired: 2004-2005
Categories: Fighting, Historical, Samurai, Comedy, Adventure, Action
Similar To: Cowboy Bebop, Space Dandy
Recommended Language: Both are very good, I like English
Summary: Samurai Champloo is set in an alternate version of Edo-era Japan overflowing with references from other time periods. It's about Fuu, a pretty, feisty young woman on a journey to find a mysterious samurai who smells of sunflowers, and about the two genius swordsmen she tricks into accompanying her: Mugen, hot-tempered, rude, and unpredictable; Jin, cool-headed, logical, and reserved. Together they travel through Japan searching for the sunflower samurai and bump into all kinds of strange things.
Notes: The first thing to note about Samurai Champloo is the music. While Cowboy Bebop, the earlier work by the same director (Shinichiro Watanabe), set space cowboy action against blues and jazz, Samurai Champloo mashes together historical Japan with hip-hop. Trust me, it works. It helps that the anime is full of references to elements of hip-hop culture that definitely didn't exist in historical Japan. The second thing to note is that this anime is hilarious. Third thing, the art style is unique and the animation very smooth and engaging. I've never met anyone who disliked this anime, so you'll miss out if you don't see it.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Serial Experiments Lain

Alternate Title:
Length: 13 episodes
Aired: 1998
Categories: Weird, Horror, Sci-Fi,
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: One day, Lain, a shy girl with no friends, gets a new computer. As she discovers more and more about the world online_ her room becomes a mass of cables and monitors as Lain transfers more and more of herself into the internet…and it slowly becomes less clear which world is real and which is illusion.
Notes: This anime is weird. If you don't like weird, stop now. I've seen this about four times and still don't understand everything. One would probably need a degree in psychology to be able to. Even though the meaning of the events is difficult to grasp, Serial Experiments Lain resonates well on an emotional level, and can be quite horrifying.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Space Dandy

Alternate Title:
Length: 26 episodes
Aired: 2014
Categories: Comedy, Weird, Sci-Fi, Space, Time Travel
Similar To: Futurama, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: This follows the bizarre galactic adventures of Space Dandy, a narcissistic, dim-witted, Casanova-esque bounty hunter with a pompadour, his outdated and meek robot companion QT, and a catlike alien who mooches off Dandy, Meow. The hapless trio tries (and usually fails) to find undiscovered aliens in return for a reward. On one adventure, Dandy accidentally breaks the time/space continuum, which sets up the rest of the series for all manner of timey-wimeyness. Not to mention the fourth wall does not exist. This is another work directed by Shinichiro Watanabe.
Notes: Hilarious and insane. It's episodic, meaning each episode has its own self-contained plot (with occasional two-parters).
Sequels/Prequels:
Second Season: Space Dandy 2


Spirited Away

Alternate Title: Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
Length: 1 movie
Aired: 2001
Categories: Fantasy, Coming of Age, Weird, Adventure
Similar To: Alice in Wonderland
Recommended Language: English Chihiro is very annoying. Go for Japanese.
Summary: Chihiro, an insecure young girl, is swept off into a world of spirits. As she tries to return to her world, she meets some odd people: the forbidding master of the spirit bath house, Yubaba, a mute but helpful spirit called No-Face, and a young, magically talented boy who helps Chihiro, called Haku. As Chihiro struggles to survive in this new world, she learns about who she is and how much she's capable of.
Notes: Lots of feels. Probably the most emotionally resonant anime on this entire list. Sometimes the plot developments don't make sense on the surface, but they do make sense symbolically. Also, because Spirited Away is directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the animation and art are flipping gorgeous, making it also probably the prettiest anime on this list.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Steins;Gate

Alternate Title:
Length: 24 episodes
Aired: 2011
Categories: Sci-Fi, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Time Travel
Similar To: Doctor Who
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: Rintaro Okabe is the secret identity of Mad Scientist Hououin Kyouma, and he conducts secret SCIENCE experiments with the members of his shadowy organization, the Future Gadget Lab. No…in reality, Rintaro is a college kid living in Tokyo's geek district, Akihabara, who has delusions of being a mad scientist and who made up the Future Gadget lab as a name for his group of friends: the obese and meme-obsessed "super hacker" Daru, and adorable but vague girl Mayuri Shiina. Most of their Future Gadgets don't work; however, one day Rintaro accidentally invents a microwave that can send text messages into the past. At first it's fun, but things get worse.
Notes: One of the best anime of the 2010s. A must-see for anyone who likes time travel or even sci-fi in general. Rintaro is also one of the funniest and most unique main characters in a long time. The anime takes a little while to get going; it's mostly comedic until about halfway through, when something very serious happens and humor gets tossed into the trash. So if you don't like the humor, just have some patience, it will become VERY epic.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Sword Art Online_

Alternate Title: SAO
Length: 40+ episodes
Aired: 2012
Categories: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Gaming, Comedy, Shounen
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: A new fantasy MMORPG has appeared: a fully immersive world which mimics the sensation of reality almost perfectly, with breathtakingly rendered landscapes and monsters. This is Sword Art Online_ Ten thousand players sign up for it, and experience its wonders…but the creator of the game, Akihiko Kayaba, reveals to the players inside the game that the game was a trap. No one is able to log out, and if a player dies in the game, they die in the real world. The only way to save the players is to clear the 100th floor of the dungeon. Kirito, a swordsman player with lightning-fast reflexes, resolves to fight and save people on his own, but meets a girl called Asuna and makes more friends along the way.
Notes: No anime could ever match the dizzying levels of hype given to this one, and this one certainly doesn't. For an anime about an MMORPG, it has too much humor/romance, and not enough action. Most of the battles that the characters fight to get to the 100th floor…happen entirely offscreen. Yeah. This disappointed a LOT of people who watched it while it was airing. However, it's still worth your time, especially if you're interested in humor and romance, and the few battles that we see are very epic. Also, the visual department went above and beyond in portraying the stunning landscapes of the Sword Art Online game, and the music is solid.
Sequels/Prequels:
Second Season: Sword Art Online II


The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Alternate Title: Toki o Kakeru Shoujo
Length: 1 movie
Aired: 2006
Categories: Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance, Time Travel
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: Makoto's life, mostly hanging out with her friends at school, is transformed when she suddenly gains the ability to travel back in time. At first she uses to ace tests and make it to school on time, but when she starts using it to deal with her relationships, her carefree life grows ever more dangerous.
Notes: Hilarious at first and later gripping, with smooth animation. In short an entertaining movie.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Alternate Title: Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu
Length: 14 episodes + 1 movie
Aired: 2006-2010
Categories: Comedy, School Life, Slice of Life, Drama, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Time Travel, Mystery
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Both are very good
Summary: Kyon, a snarky and cynical high school student, doesn't have a very exciting life. But on the first day of school, a new girl joins his class. This new girl, Haruhi Suzumiya, announces that if someone is not an esper, time traveler, or alien, she has no interest in talking to them. Kyon talks to her anyway, and Haruhi forces him to join her new club, the SOS Brigade, which is devoted to finding espers, time travelers, and aliens, and having fun with them. Kyon finds it all quite irritating and constantly complains, but soon three new members join. Kyon discovers these members to be an actual esper, time traveler, and alien, and his life becomes much more troublesome.
Notes: Haruhi Suzumiya is a classic, a staple for any anime fan. You might not like it but you have to watch it. You'll probably like it, though. Since Haruhi is a fan of any and all genres, the story about her throws many genres—-sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, cosmic horror, comedy, romance, slice of life, high school—-into a blender. The characters, especially Haruhi and Kyon, are very well developed. Also of note is the voice actors' outstanding performance in both the Japanese and English versions—but, as usual, the Japanese is better. Note: Watch the long version, the 2009 anime, rather than the original 2006.
Sequels/Prequels:
Short Version: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006)
Long Version: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2009)
Sequel (DO NOT MISS!!): The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya


The Twelve Kingdoms

Alternate Title: Juuni Kokuki
Length: 45 episodes
Aired: 2002-2003
Categories: High Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age
Similar To: The Vision of Escaflowne
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: Youko Nakajima is a well-behaved girl; she obeys her parents, and tries to please all of her classmates, even though they tease her. But one day her ordinary life vanishes when a white-haired man in strange clothes kneels before her and vows to protect her. Suddenly, a band of demons attacks Youko, and to get away from them she has to travel to another world, accidentally dragging two of her classmates along with her. The new world overflows with magic, strife, and fantasy creatures, both good and evil, and for some reason Youko can speak the language of this new world instinctively. She and her two classmates learn about themselves and their place in this new world.
Notes: This anime is twelve years old, so the art style, colors, and animation are a bit dated. But sometimes the fantasy world still manages to shine through, and Youko's story flows smoothly with rich character development. Twelve Kingdoms is a solid anime if you like fantasy.
Sequels/Prequels:
None


The World God Only Knows

Alternate Title: Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai, TWGOK
Length: 38 episodes
Aired: 2010-2013
Categories: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance, Gaming
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Under review
Summary: Keima Katsuragi, an average high school student on the outside, is known on the Internet as "The Capturing God" for his ability to "capture" any girl in a romantic simulation game. Keima is obsessed with 2D girls, but has no interest in 3D (real-life) girls, and is despised as a nerd by the girls in his class. One day he receives an email offering a contract to capture girls, and accepts, but the sender of the mail turns out to be an adorable demon named Elsie. Since Keima accepted the contract, he must now use his sim game strategies to make real-life girls (his greatest weakness) fall in love with him and heal the insecurities in their hearts.
Notes: Because the protagonist of TWGOK is well-versed in the typical plotlines of sim games, it's hardly a surprise that this anime takes every opportunity to name, evaluate, parody, deconstruct, and reconstruct many aspects of these games, especially the types of girls involved: aggressive tsunderes with a soft center, shy bookworms who need someone patient, and an idol singer who needs to learn confidence in herself. Keima is a diabolical mastermind when it comes to planning how to capture the girls' hearts, but he's also genuinely sweet and wants to help them. In short it's a hilarious anime about a very interesting character.
Sequels/Prequels:
Second season: The World God Only Knows II, The World God Only Knows: Tenri Hen
Third Season: The World God Only Knows: Megami Hen


Welcome to the NHK

Alternate Title: NHK ni Youkoso!
Length: 24 episodes
Aired: 2006
Categories: Comedy, Gaming, Drama, Romance, Weird
Similar To:
Recommended Language: Either
Summary: Tatsuhiro Satou is a hikikomori, the Japanese word for a person who withdraws completely from social interaction. Satou has delusions that his inability to interact with the outside world is part of a massive conspiracy orchestrated by the television channel NHK. One day, though, cute and mysterious girl Misaki shows up on his doorstep and tells him that she can cure his hikikomori problem. With her help, Satou tries to deal with his fears, but faces many setbacks along the way.
Notes: Equal parts hilarious, heartwarming, romantic, and tragic. Well-developed characters, no character is exactly what they seem and each one of them has many dimensions. Lots of "feels".
Sequels/Prequels:
None


Yu Yu Hakusho

Alternate Title: YYH
Length: 112 episodes
Aired: 1992-1995
Categories: Fighting, Fantasy, Shounen, Adventure, Comedy
Similar To: Bleach, Dragon Ball
Recommended Language: Either, if you don't care about Japanese names getting mangled
Summary: Yusuke Urameshi loves fighting, and constantly skips school and forgets about his work to quarrel with the other hotheaded delinquents around the neighborhood. But one day when a nearby kid wanders out into the street, Yusuke makes an impulse decision to push him out of the way…except, then Yusuke ends up dead. A reaper comes to bring him to the spirit world, and informs him that his death was an accident—they hadn't expected someone so selfish to sacrifice himself. But instead of leaving everything behind, Yusuke starts a new life as a Spirit Detective: someone who works for the spirit realm to stop evil spirits from interfering on Earth. Through each fight, Yusuke becomes stronger and has to train to protect the people he cares about.
Notes: If this sounds like a really cliche fighting anime, it isn't exactly, because it came before and inspired many of the later ones (Bleach in particular has a similar premise). It's from the early 90s, so the animation is not the most spectacular thing ever. But the fight scenes are often more clever than the fight scenes of some of its successors, and Yusuke and his group of friends get more character development than you typically see in fighting anime. Avoid if you dislike the whole "fight-train-get stronger" storyline, but if you like that then definitely check this out.
Sequels/Prequels:
Some non-canon side story movies


Where can I watch (insert anime)?

Many of the anime on this list are available for streaming in at least one place, but a few are…not. However, I can't tell you where to find any of these without breaking our benevolent overlords' content rules and risking my account. Use your resources.

Why isn't Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra on the list?

Avatar certainly has the heart, soul, and visual style of anime, but is not actually anime: it was made by an American company (Nickelodeon) for an American audience. It's faux-anime. But I love Avatar too and would put it on here if I could. : )

Why isn't (insert anime) on the list?

Your answer is probably on the Suggestions page.

What anime is the girl/background from?

Spirited Away

Where are all the shoujo/romance anime?

Sorry, I usually can't stomach shoujo and romance anime. I'll try to sit through one or two just for the sake of diversity, but…I might not live to write the review…

Why do you like anime so much?

First, because anime provides plenty of shows in my favorite genres. As you may have noticed from the overabundance of fantasy and sci-fi anime on this page, I love fantasy and sci-fi. However, due to high production costs and lack of interest, decent fantasy and sci-fi live-action television shows are rare. But in the anime world, it's always easy to find whatever type of fantasy/sci-fi story strikes your fancy: space western, post-apocalypse, cosmic horror, magical girl, high fantasy, low fantasy, urban fantasy, and on and on. It gives a fantasy/sci-fi connoisseur like me a very wide selection.

Another thing I love about anime is the long-running story arcs. In Western television it's hard to find many shows willing to put in the massive amount of work required to keep up a long-running plot, especially when shows with a small story each episode tend to perform better. But in the anime world, long, stretched out story arcs are the rule rather than the exception. A long-running plot focusing on the same few characters spends less time on shallow characters we usually won't see again, and spends more time helping us learn about and love each main character individually. Then, it's all the more traumatizing when that character dies horribly…hahaha.

Favorite anime?

Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Code Geass, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.

What language should I watch in?

Japanese with subtitles and dubbed anime each have their pros and cons.

The Japanese audio usually has better acting quality; in Japan, voice actors are as celebrated as film actors are in the West, so the voice acting industry has much more competition and requires more talent. Naturally, since the original director has final approval of the cast, the Japanese audio adheres closest to the original director's ideas.
Dubbed audio tends to have passable acting quality, with a few outstanding and a few painfully bad actors. Also, it's extremely rare for Japanese names and words to be pronounced correctly, and sometimes translations diverge wildly from the original dialogue. On the other hand, dub is easier to take in than subtitles and can help you become more emotionally involved in the anime.
The newer the anime, the closer the dub tends to be to the original source, and the better the acting and pronunciation of names. This applies in reverse; older anime tend to have worse dubs.
Personally, I prefer subtitles, but it's a choice every anime fan must make.

But first, some terms!

Anime: An animated story produced by a Japanese company for a Japanese market.

Manga: A printed comic produced by a Japanese company for a Japanese market.

Filler: Many anime (about 40%) are adapted from manga. To take advantage of popularity, an anime usually adapts a manga while the manga is still coming out. However, there's a big problem with this approach: often, the anime catches up to the manga and doesn't have any story left to adapt! Sometimes the studio chooses to end the anime right there, but sometimes it chooses to produce some non-canon episodes until the manga gets far enough. These non-canon episodes are called filler. Filler can never influence the "real" plot, and might write the characters in a way the original author never intended, so watching it is usually a waste of time.

Subbed/Subs: Anime in Japanese with subtitles is called subbed anime.

Dubbed: Anime with new, non-Japanese audio replacing the original Japanese audio is dubbed. Dubbing used to be extremely crude, with the dialogue not matching up to the lip movements of characters, or with entirely different translations, but nowadays dubbing fits the animation very well and usually remains faithful to the original dialogue.

Fansub: While an anime is going through its original airing in Japan, and doesn't have an official dub yet, there are usually volunteer groups that translate the Japanese and sync subtitles to the anime so that fans who don't speak Japanese can enjoy the sweet anime goodness at the same time as the Japanese audience. These free, volunteer subtitles are called fansubs.

Shounen: In Japanese, shounen means "boy", but a shounen anime/manga is an anime/manga aimed at a young (pre-teen or teenage) male audience. Shounen tends to focus on action or fighting, and shallow if any romance.

Shoujo: Shoujo means "girl" and refers to anime/manga designed to appeal to young (pre-teen or teenage) females. Shoujo focuses on romance and personal growth, but not necessarily at the expense of action, and usually has female main characters; though stories about relationships between men can also fall under shoujo.

Seinen: Japanese for "young man"; anime/manga aimed at male audiences of 18 to 40. Seinen is the older brother of shounen. Seinen dials down the often mindless action of shounen to focus more on what mature audiences want: character development, relationships between characters, and realism rather than idealism. Seinen tends to be dark, and feature characters who don't fit into a rigid definition of good and evil.

Fighting series: All fighting series are shounen. The focus of a fighting series is, well, fighting: typically, the protagonist (usually a young man) discovers some reason he must fight, and trains hard to face stronger and stronger opponents.

Mecha: A giant robot. Can be simply a remote-controlled robot, or it can have a pilot inside it (this is called a piloted mecha).

Slice of Life: A genre that gives a glimpse into the daily life of some kind of person: high schooler, rock star, astronaut, parent, etc.

Fanservice: Oh boy. Um. Fanservice refers to anything that isn't relevant to the plot, but in the anime/manga purely because the viewers presumably want to see it. Generally this means adult things, but it can also refer to exaggerated explosions or extremely cute animals.

Otaku: In Japan, this can mean any kind of obsessive fan, commonly of anime and manga but also of anything else. There, the term can have negative connotations. However, in the West, this refers exclusively to a fan of anime and manga, and is a badge of pride for many. Compare "nerd".


On to the anime!

Have Suggestions?

This page lists all the anime that will and won't appear on this list.
If an anime you love isn't listed here, please mail me and tell me about it, and I'll consider listing it.

Eventually To Be Added:

Akira, Aldnoah.Zero, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Dragon Ball, Fairy Tail, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, Howl's Moving Castle, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Kiki's Delivery Service, Knights of Sidonia, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Mirai Nikki, My Neighbor Totoro, Noragami, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Porco Rosso, Psycho-Pass, Sailor Moon, The Cat Returns, The Vision of Escaflowne, Trigun, Watamote, Whisper of the Heart, Wolf's Rain, Zankyou no Terror.

Not Yet Watched

Afro Samurai, Anohana, Bakuman, Banner/Crest of the Stars, Berserk, Clannad, Deadman Wonderland, Elfen Lied, Eureka Seven, Fate/Zero, FLCL, Fruits Basket, Full Metal Panic!, Gurren Lagann, High School of the Dead, Hunter x Hunter, Inuyasha, K-On!, K1ll la K1ll, Kara no Kyoukai, Last Exile, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Log Horizon, Lucky Star, Millennium Actress, Mushi-Shi, No. 6, One Piece, Paranoia Agent, Perfect Blue, Redline, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Soul Eater, Spice and Wolf, Summer Wars, The Devil Is A Part-Timer!, Wolf Children.

Rejected:

  • Black Cat - bad adaptation of a good story
  • Blood+ - frustratingly indecisive protagonist
  • Blue Exorcist - short, unfinished adaptation
  • Claymore - bad adaptation, boring
  • DNAngel - bad adaptation of a good story
  • Kyoukai no Kanata - really bad pacing
  • Noir - confusing/overcomplicated story
  • Pokemon - extremely repetitive
  • Tales from Earthsea - confusing story
  • Trinity Blood - bad adaptation of a good story
  • Tsukihime - terrible adapatation
  • Vampire Knight - frustratingly indecisive protagonist
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! - ridiculous (Abridged Series is prime entertainment, though!)

Appetizers

If you're tasting anime for the first time,
here are a few series to start you off:


Attack On Titan


Action - Mystery - Post-Apocalypse - Fantasy

25 episodes

A few centuries ago, humanity nearly went extinct at the hands of giants called "Titans". However, it was able to survive by building gigantic walls around a city, walls even taller than Titans. Young boy Eren Yaeger dreams of the world outside those walls and hopes some day to join the soldiers whose duty is to destroy the Titans outside the walls and protect humanity. When the city is attacked by a Titan larger than ever before, Eren may get his wish…

This is a great series for anime newbies, since it doesn't use any of the more ridiculous elements of anime. Also, it's packed with action and plot twists, and never slows down or bores you. Fair warning, it's also really over-the-top. Also, the story is unfinished, so be prepared to wait for the next season.

Cowboy Bebop


Space Western - Sci-Fi - Comedy - Action

26 episodes

In the year 2071, humans have abandoned Earth and spread across the wide frontier of space. Someone has to hunt down the criminals hiding out on the many planets, so a new job has emerged: space bounty hunters, called "cowboys". Spike Spiegel, a drifter, and Jet Black, a retired cop, are two such cowboys, but they're constantly poor and hungry and running out of fuel for their space ship, the Bebop. On their journeys they pick up the saucy but beautiful gambler Faye Valentine, the bizarre child genius hacker Radical Edward, and a strangely intelligent Corgi named Ein, and slowly everyone's mysterious past is revealed.

There are very few typical anime-esque things about this story; it could easily be a live-action American show (and it's been suggested as a Hollywood movie). Bebop has real humor and real character depth. Many many people have started watching anime with this one, so it's ideal if you're just starting out. Special mention goes to the beautiful jazz/blues soundtrack, which is responsible for half the show's awesomeness.

Death Note


Urban Fantasy - Drama - Psychological - Thriller

37 episodes

Light Yagami, a brilliant but otherwise average high school senior, is bored with life. One day he finds a notebook on the ground that reads: "any human whose name is written in this notebook shall die". And when Light tests the name of a criminal in the notebook, somehow, beyond all reason, it works. With this amazing new-found power, Light sets out make the world a better place by purging it of all evildoers, and reign over this new world as its god. But an equally brilliant and shadowy detective known only as "L" has a problem with that...

One of the best and most popular anime ever, and one of the best anime to start with if you're new around here. The psychological battles between Light and L are tightly plotted, full of twists and turns, and well-written. Occasionally a little over the top (like the scene where Light eating a potato chip is EXTREMELY EXCITING, not). Light is a fascinating villain, a master of manipulation and tactics, and L never stops surprising you. There's also plenty of action, and a little humor to lighten the ever-present tension.

Fullmetal Alchemist


Action - Fantasy - Mystery - Shounen

51 and/or 64 episodes

Edward and Alphonse Elric, two young brothers curious about alchemy, lived happily with their mother, until one day when she fell ill and died. Stricken with grief, the brothers decide to break the greatest taboo of alchemy and attempt to resurrect their mother. However, it fails and backfires: Edward is forced to sacrifice his arm and leg, and Alphonse loses his whole body. In desperation, Edward calls Alphonse's soul back and affixes it to a nearby suit of armor. There begins the Elric brothers' quest to restore their bodies…but in their search, the brothers stumble upon a dark secret surrounding alchemy and the nature of their country, and they are caught up in the struggle to protect everyone from this darkness.

Fullmetal Alchemist has something for everyone: action, drama, comedy, tragedy, fantasy, brotherly love (no, not like that...well, it depends who you ask), characters with great personality, shocking plot twists, mystery, and much more. So, it's almost universally loved within the anime community. It's also responsible for introducing many anime fans, because it's easy for anime newbies to take in. If you don't watch it, you are missing out. That's all.

There are two adaptations of the Fullmetal Alchemist story: Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009). The 2003 anime has a non-canon ending, but is interesting; the 2009 anime is completely canon but missing some character development at the beginning. My recommendation is to watch the original 2003 anime first, and then the 2009 one. At 51 and 64 episodes respectively, it's quite a commitment, but entirely worth it, I promise.

Samurai Champloo


Fighting - Historical - Samurai - Comedy

26 episodes

Samurai Champloo is set in an alternate version of Edo-era Japan overflowing with references from other time periods. It's about Fuu, a pretty, feisty young woman on a journey to find a mysterious samurai who smells of sunflowers, and about the two genius swordsmen she tricks into accompanying her: Mugen, hot-tempered, rude, and unpredictable; Jin, cool-headed, logical, and reserved. Together they travel through Japan searching for the sunflower samurai and bump into all kinds of strange things.

The first thing to note about Samurai Champloo is the music. While Cowboy Bebop, the earlier work by the same director, set space cowboy action against blues and jazz, Samurai Champloo mashes together historical Japan with hip-hop. Trust me, it works. It helps that the anime is full of references to elements of hip-hop culture that definitely didn't exist in historical Japan. The second thing to note is that this anime is hilarious. Third thing, the art style is unique and the animation very smooth and engaging. I've never met anyone who disliked this anime, so you'll miss out if you don't see it.

Spirited Away


Fantasy - Coming of Age - Mythology

1 movie

Chihiro, an insecure young girl, is swept off into a world of spirits. As she tries to return to her world, she meets some odd people: the forbidding master of the spirit bath house, Yubaba, a mute but helpful spirit called No-Face, and a young, magically talented boy who helps Chihiro, called Haku. As Chihiro struggles to survive in this new world, she learns about who she is and how much she's capable of.

Lots of feels. Probably the most emotionally resonant anime on this entire list. This movie makes a lot of references to Japanese folk legends that will go over Western heads; on the other hand, with art and animation by director Hayao Miyazaki, it's all exquisitely beautiful. Sometimes the plot developments don't make sense on the surface, but they do make sense symbolically.
I'd like the full menu, please



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