Challenger new Author Appears!
Hi There! As a new contributing author to level potato and as my first blog about anime ever, I figured what better way to give a semi-introduction to who I am and what my interests in anime are by listing my favorite anime thus far. I originally had written this to be a top 10 anime, but found myself being forced to rank them. It’s hard to quantify these in any order as they all are vastly different from one another. On another note, my “completed” list on myanimelist.net has barely broken 100 and there’s a lot of popular anime on my “plan to watch” list that could at some point knock some of these off my list.
I’ve been a fan of anime since my introduction to it in the 90s; but it was put on the back-burner for awhile — I watched a few series here and there over the years, but this past year the intensity of watching anime has exploded tremendously. I’ve been keeping up with current seasons as well as exploring older anime’s at the same time. But anyways, here’s my list so far:
Sailor Moon (90’s)/ Sailor Moon Crystal
Sailor Moon was the “gateway drug” to my addiction and obsession with anything Japan. Seeing this after coming home from middle school was something I looked forward to. Magic-Girls fighting crime in sailor suits. Not only were they powerful strong women, but they were beautiful too! The romance story between Mamoru and Usagi is fairy tail like. Not to mention the role is reversed as, Usagi often has to save a kidnapped the “damsel in distress” Mamoru from the evil doers. I loved everything about this anime – characters, story, music. It’s because of Sailor Moon I developed an interest in art and drawing, and would spend hours trying to replicate screenshots. I list Sailor Moon Crystal here as well since it’s pretty similar to the original –I just started it, but I like the direction that Crystal takes as a more mellow yet serious tone compared to it’s 90’s counter-part. I could go on and on about the impact of Sailor Moon, not just on me but on its female audience; but I’ll save that for another post.
The Trigun series is probably my first “action” anime that I fell in love with. The art itself had drawn me in due to the character designs as well as the cities that they occupy, and the space ships! What else more do I need to say?
Vash the Stampede is number 1 of my top 5 all-time protagonists. There’s something endearing about his silliness and his “peace and love” motto in the first arc of the series, as it turns more serious in the second arc and we see how extremely flawed he actually is. His happy go lucky attitude is clearly a façade to hide the pain he’s enduring. I mean the scars on his body and metal patches barely holding him together? That scene alone had me completely disturbed yet enthralled with his character. Seeing him in this state to me was as if he was atoning for the sins his brother has committed – or maybe his own sins for having unwillingly destroyed the town of July. Obviously this show still has a million plot holes — where did Vash and Knives come from? What purpose where their powers for? How are the beings inside each “plant” really related to them? I could go on and on, but it doesn’t take away from this being one of my favorites. As of right now, Trigun is the only manga I own and am collecting.
Psycho-Pass appeals to me on several different levels. The premise of the story is what caught my attention. Something so heavily politically nuanced made me think what was this supposed to be a commentary on? A future where a dystopian Tokyo exists and is under the surveillance of the SIYBL System, a system that is constantly scanning your mental status and if your mind is clear (healthy) or is on the it’s way to being cloudy – where you’re bound to commit a crime and you’re labeled a latent criminal.
Akane Tsunemori is the lead, but the spotlight is on her subordinate Shinya Kougami (one of my top 5 favorite characters as well). He was once an inspector like Akane, but as he investigates the “specimen case”, he becomes obsessed with catching the culprit causing his mental hue to discolor causing his him to inherit latent criminal status where he was then demoted to an Enforcer. He’s got brains and brawn, but overall he’s just one of the most badass characters I’ve seen in awhile. I feel like this show is incredibly underrated. Unfortunately when this was released it was overshadowed by other more popular anime.
Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi No Uso)
“The moment I met [her], my life changed. Everything I saw, heard and felt. All the scenery around me started to take on color. The whole world began to sparkle.”
This scene was what completely drew me into this anime; on top of the poetic romanticism that your whole world could change with one encounter. Kousei Arima takes the first step out of a monotone world into a vividly bright landscape as he goes to meet Kaori Miyazano. Until he takes that first step you never really notice how dull the colors in his world view are because it’s done so subtly. This scene blew me away.
That scene among others is one of several reasons as to why I absolutely ADORE this anime. The art is gorgeous: a beautifully drawn vibrantly colored Tokyo in spring. Paired with a story about friendship and a blossoming love that’s based on a small white lie pulls on the heartstrings. The
band geek musician inside of me really loved this anime based on the OST alone. Not only was the background music incredibly emotional, but the piano pieces that were showcased by each character were amazing performances in their own right. “Did I reach you? I hope I did,” an ongoing phrase that is echoed throughout the show–trying to reach someone emotionally, trying to connect to another person through music. It’s definitely a theme that resonated with me as a performer. This anime constantly had me in tears; I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much during a show. Overall it touched upon many themes spanning from: loss, hope, growth, love, and confidence.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena was something I picked up when I was taking a “Japanese Pop Culture” class at UC Santa Cruz. Our class consisted of analyzing the context of anime and japanese pop culture in alignment with what was going on in the world. Best class ever right? We watched anime in class and analyzed it and considered the context of the world at the time.
Utena was one of the first anime’s I had ever watched when it came to gender-bending. The protagonist Utena was a young girl when a travelling prince came along and consoled her at the funeral of her parents. Typically the princess (often depicted as a damsel in distress) then falls in love with the prince and the story starts there. But Utena, so impressed by the prince that she vows to become a prince herself as she promises to meet him again someday. This is the basic premise of the story, it becomes a little more twisted as the show goes on, as duels are incorporated and the prize is a girl named Anthy who is called “The Rose Bride” as she has some kind of mysterious powers. The art of Utena is fantastic. Each character is beautiful – girls and boys alike. Then you have the school that this story is set in. It’s very intricately detailed and exaggerated — inspiration clearly drawn from the castles of fairy tales and european influences. I plan on writing about the architecture of this anime in my personal blog as well — maybe even share it here. This is a coming of age story; a story that challenges the ideals of fairy tales, gender, sexuality and identity.
Haikyuu is one of my current favorites and the first of the sports genre I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I mean, I also really liked Kuroko No Basket and Free! but Haikyuu! is just on a whole other level. I’m sure it’ll become a classic at some point due to its popularity. I love this anime because while telling the stories of the deuteragonist (dual protagonists) they manage to weave how the game of volleyball is played quite seamlessly into the plot. As someone that’s not familiar with the sport and the positions that are played we are explained the rules of the game through the eyes of their clueless club advisor Takeda Sensei or even at times with Shoyo Hinata. I enjoy this series because it shows that individually everyone has to grow in order to create a stronger team as a whole and they don’t want to entirely rely on a sole character’s skills; which I feel is the case for Kurorko No Basket. I also thoroughly enjoy this anime due to the character development of Tobio Kageyama. So far the progression of Kageyama’s character in the story has been really satisfying in terms of pace and story. Currently Kageyama is one of my favorite characters, and I plan on writing about Kageyama’s character in depth at some point too.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
This is probably one of the newer additions to this growing list. I like UBW for a number of reasons, and at some point I may write a review on this.
Let’s be real, the fate universe especially in the fate/stay night series is confusing and complicated. I had to do some research to figure out the differences between the 2006 Studio Deen version of Fate/Stay Night and Ufotables’ UBW. I probably messed up by not seeing the 2006 version first, but I did manage to watch fate/zero first. I really enjoyed fate/zero, but I enjoyed Unlimited Blade Works so much more. Maybe it’s my “thing” but it appears that I am drawn to the broken main characters that are badasses in their own right (and not to mention very cute – i.e. Vash, Shinya Kogami). I loved and hated Archer and questioned his motives throughout the entire series, and even after the series has ended I still am curious about Archer’s outcome. I also enjoyed UBW because of the role that Rin Tohsaka plays; I was drawn by her introduction in fate/zero and was actually glad she had a major role in UBW. However, I do wish she had been the M.C. over Shirou since fate/zero also played just as huge of an impact on her character as much as it did to Shirou. The relationships between Archer/Rin and Shirou/Rin are my favorites, so yes I would ‘ship either one. Despite the flaws that UBW has in its story, you can’t deny that the animation of this show is top-notch and fluid in it’s action scenes and depiction of magic.
Ouran High School Host Club
Another classic. Well, at least in my eyes it’s a classic. I like this one not just for the bishounen boys but because the main character Haruhi, doesn’t give a crap about gender roles. She doesn’t care whether the host club sees her as either boy or girl. This is just an overall good slice of life feel good anime that you don’t have to take too seriously. I really wanted the relationship between Haruhi and Tamaki to progress — but that’s something I’ll have to look to the manga for.
Please Save My Earth
This was probably the third anime I’d ever watched in my childhood. Definitely a lot more mature than Sailor Moon and Pokemon (which is my second anime ever watched – sadly it didn’t make the cut because I ended up dropping it at some point). I first saw this show I was drawn to art and the complexity of the story. I really wished that this series had been expanded into more than just the 6 episodes we were given.
This anime has such a charming, heartwarming story. I recently just finished this one and have already claimed it as a favorite. Barakamon is a slice of life comedy about Handa Seishu, a young calligraphy artist, who is sent to live on an island after punching the director’s lights out after the director had some harsh criticism on Handa’s style ( even though he had one first place); calling it boring, uninspired and that he was surprised such a young artist would hit a wall so early in his career. He uses the time on the island to find his own style rather than mimic the beauty that’s found in his father’s style. As a designer that struggles with my own ideals of style Handa’s character and story really resonated with me. Not to mention the cast of kids in this show that never disappoint in terms of humor and peeling off the layers of Handa as he rediscovers himself throughout this anime. The image on the right is easily my favorite scene and hopefully it isn’t too much of a spoiler to the show. It’s easy to be knocked down by the harsh criticism of others when it comes to your work that you’ve pulled your heart and soul into — I personally have lots of experience with this as it has happened plenty of times in architecture school. But overcoming that and bouncing back is even more satisfying.