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19. Shinsekai Yori
Shinsekai Yori is basically tailor-made for fans of fantasy and scifi novels. Heavy on worldbuilding and questions of human nature, its story unfolds on a scale far greater than most anime, exploring a compelling dystopian society by following one generation from childhood through adolescence and well into adulthood. Though I often feel its characters fade into the background of its storytelling pretensions, it all works in service of an incredibly compelling central narrative, and its devastating conclusion justifies everything that came before. It’s a rare and valuable thing – few shows work on the scale of Shinsekai Yori.
Unless KyoAni performs some tremendous about-face in priorities, it seems like Hyouka will stand as their masterpiece for a long time to come. Not that that’s a mark against it – Hyouka is a fantastic show, and easily makes best use of KyoAni’s mastery of small character moments and subtle, human animation. It’s a mark to how impressive I find this show’s character work that I enjoyed it in spite of not really caring about any of the mysteries – of course, the fact that the show’s ridiculously gorgeous and filled with lush animation doesn’t hurt, either. If you’re in the mood for a more meditative character story, Hyouka’s as good as it gets.
Hyouka has sadly never received a western release.
Considering I haven’t seen Toradora since it actually aired, its position on this list may be something of an open question. But if memory serves, Toradora certainly deserves it – it’s basically the high school romcom/drama all other such shows wish they were, populated by multifaceted characters, driven by relatable, human drama, and crescendoing in a long line of iconic moments. Its conflicts emerge naturally from the base nature of its well-drawn protagonists, and perhaps most importantly, its writing actually understands the fundamentals of banter and chemistry. Anime could use a lot more shows like Toradora.
16. Kids on the Slope
After nearly a decade’s absence, Shinichiro Watanabe returned to direction with a serious change of pace – an understated period drama/coming-of-age story. Surprising as that was, perhaps even more surprising was how good Kids on the Slope turned out to be. Its postwar setting is compelling, its characters act like people, and it, perhaps more than any other Watanabe show, beautifully demonstrates his love affair with music. Every element of this production exudes polish, and when its characters come together for a performance, the results are always transcendent. Though it’s not among my absolute favorites, I’d consider Kids on the Slope one of the most “perfect” shows I know – every element is used well, every character leaves a mark, and its understanding of the tension, release, and even unfulfilled longing of youth is remarkable. And those songs!
Anime doesn’t really have the best track record with horror – there’s just something inherently difficult about portraying visceral dread in animation, and few shows manage to pull it off. Fortunately, Shiki neatly avoids falling into any “this isn’t scary” traps by being more about creating an oppressive atmosphere, and focusing less on visceral horror than on the horror of human nature. Its slow-burning story depicts the breakdown of an entire community from basically every possible position within that community, making for a remarkably well-realized cast of dozens of characters. And its runtime is peppered with stark moral questions, thrilling twists, and moments of pure adrenal shock. Its themes of community and the meaning of a monster are classic ones, but Shiki infuses them with vitality and modern relevance, along with a sense of campy fun that almost tricks you into embarking on one of the darkest rides the medium has to offer. Shiki is a vivid, tense, and deeply angry show.
There’s a whole lot to love in Kyousogiga. It’s a family story, populated by a diverse set of characters and full of personal reflections on sibling and parental relations. It’s a world unto itself, a beautiful fairy tale city filled with evocative details. It’s an exercise in aesthetics, with top-notch direction, visual design, and music. And it is all of these things at once – its central conflict of a family that has fallen apart and must come back together makes brilliant use of all its aesthetic strengths, and the world they inhabit fills every frame with personality and color. It also has the best brother-sister relationship I’ve seen in any show, and as the brother of two sisters, I can really appreciate how well this show understands people.
13. Cowboy Bebop
Shinichiro Watanabe’s first and arguably best original production, Cowboy Bebop has a venerable and well-deserved reputation as a classic. Its stylistic mix of noir, western, scifi, and jazz feels so natural that it’s hard to believe it was basically invented by this show. Its direction is fluid and assured, its stories are incredibly varied and regularly poignant, and its characters are as iconic as they are relatable. It’s cool and funny and confident, diverse enough to have an episode for everyone, and ambitious enough to aptly demonstrate anime’s strengths as a medium. It’s as remarkable today as it was fifteen years ago.
God bless you for putting Spice and Wolf in there. 100% agree 🙂
I was just about to put up an angry comment saying something like “how can you make a greatest anime of all time list without putting evangelion in it” when I was nearly reaching the end of the list
where’s CODE GEASS?
Where the fvck is Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood?
Yes love psycho pass but also nature, inuyasha, free, parasite, tokyo ghoul, hakuouki , High School of the dead, Hiro no kakera, wolf girl and black Prince, say I love you, kamisama Hajimimashita, kamigami no asobi, inu x bokuss, amnesia, brothers conflict, vampire Knight, Uta no prince sama, kaichou wa maid sama, devil is a part timer, noragami, my little monster, blue exorcist, attack on Titan, black bullet, black Butler, Working XXX, and more,…
What the f, I thought these are all originally anime (not based on LN & Manga). Considering no Gintama, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, SAO, OPM, AOT, DanMachi, Mahouka, DanMachi, MS Gundam, High School DxD (haha), etc., this list is based on personal selection rather that what actually should be.
some great here but most of them are not good enough for top 30 not even top 100, and no FMA Brotherhood, Code Geass, Death Note, Ghost in the Shell, Clannad, not even one Gundam series, Kaleido Star, Bersesk, Haikyuu, Kuroko, Angel Beats, ERASED, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso… so yeah not a good list.
No Gintama????Really????..one of the animes which made me watch it when I woke up and when I went to sleep,I am not even exaggerating yes it is not everyone’s cup of tea and that any”top” list is subjective Gintama would definitely be top 3 on my list.For those who have not watched it and are scared of the 300+ EP count do give it a try atleast first few episodes since it takes a little time to get going but one it does it churns out some great episodes and the comedy is on point most of the time also all the OPs and Ends are awesome…yes I am a fangay of Gintama and the Yoruzuya trio…scrape that I am a fangay of all the cast.
This list is made by a NEWB. There’s so many other animes that way above these. How do you not have Clannad, Angel beats, Erased, Elfen Lied, Hellsing, Full metal alchemist, Eureka Seven, etc, etc, etc. there’s maybe like 10 at most that i’d say totally deserve to be on here.
Great article ! It mostly featured anime I haven’t seen, but based on your wonderful and insighful descriptions I want to discover all of them now 🙂
I don’t care that it didn’t include mainstream anime popularly recognised as “awesome”; your choices were well argued, and each person has their own taste after all.
If you enjoy stories about people and human dramas, then I recommend you check out Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. It’s an amazing anime, and I’m sure it would make you revise this top 30 list in its favour.
A great list! Glad to see there are no pretentious series like Death Note and Code Geass in it :’) also the overrated series like Clannad and Shigatsu (*cough cough* Erased, AoT, And thank goodness a list without the mainstream shounen)
If you remove series like Chunnybyou, Hyouka, Toradora, Psycho Pass etc. and put more series like Escaflowne, Monster, Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, Kemono no Souja Erin, Akage no Anne, Nodame Cantabile, Honey and Clover, Twelve Kingdoms, Rose of Versailles, Princess Tutu etc.
No natsume? Disagree
Ridiculous list these animes are good but not the best . looks like the person who made the list has only seen these animes . there no naruto,fairy tail,bleach,one piece ,death note ,hunter x hunter ,dragon ball z and many more are there better than most of the animes in this list.
Give me one good reason why anime like Naruto, One Piece, Bleach(these three were once called the top 3s in world of anime) and there father Dragon ball(a fucking godly anime) are not in this list.
is this bobduh from wrongeverytime.com or the author of this article just coppy and paste his top 30
wish Mushishi got a higher place
You Need to Update The List
there’s tons of Masterpiece Anime just made like Made In Abyss, Houseki no kuni, March Comes in Like a Lion etc.
Unless there is no Mob Psycho 100 in this list, it is not legit.
First of all thank you for putting this Top-list together. Usually they do not keep me really interested, because 9 out of 10 are kinda the same.
But your’s is different. I was reading it while sitting in the waiting room of a clinic to get a surgery for my shoulder and i was like nervous as f*ck.
But the list got me so captivated that the time i was waiting to get my negative corona-test result so the surgery could start went by the fly.
There where so many great shows in this list and even some I never even heard of! (gotta check them out)
The only thing i think it’s a pity is that you did not include Code Geass.
And while I understand that you where going for a different type of list, I personally think that there is no more perfect anime than that. (Though Madoka Magica comes pretty close.)
Especially the end was perfection in itself because everything was so well thought out and strung together. Gotta love that show. Haha
Well just my opinion again thank you very much you made my day so much less worse than it could have been.