10.) DRAGONBALL Z
A top ten anime list will never be complete without the immortal Dragonball Z (let’s just pretend that Dragonball and Dragonball GT do not exist, okay?). I liked DBZ, but not to the extent that I really became a die-hard fan. Yes, the series entertained me much, but, seriously, it’s kind of ridiculous. Characters are too powerful. The plot is so annoyingly slow-paced sometimes – heck, an entire episode can go on with just the two combatants staring at each other. There are times that the story would be predictable (i.e. Goku will be resurrected again by the Dragonballs after being killed for the nth time).
But it does have its moments of epicness and badassery (in fact, a lot of it). Moreover, it’s probably the most popular anime in the world, so it at least gets my number 10 spot.
9.) CINDERELLA MONOGATARI
Ah. I really love this when I was a kid. The greatest reinvention of the Cinderella fairy tale. This is what I wrote some time ago about Leonard (the prince) and Cinderella:
With no "love at first sight at the Ball" nonsense, they started as friends and had their bond strengthened by several adventures together, which ultimately blossomed romantically in that Ball.
Each episode was refreshing to watch because of this.
I love the premise of “Vandread.” In the far future, space has been colonized by humanity. But during this time, in a specific system, the battle of the sexes become literal as males and females are alienated and at cold war with each other. A crew of female pirates attacks and takes over a male battleship, and takes three male prisoners. Then the living core of the ship fuses the male ship with the pirate crew’s own ship to form a hipper but mysterious ship which is later named “Nirvana”. Nirvana suddenly warped far away in distant space. Aside from the ship, the Vanguard (a male-designed humanoid robot) that was in the male ship and three Dreads (female-designed fighter spaceplanes) of the pirates are also changed as well that enable them to combine into a Vandread mecha (thus, the title). In their journey to go back home, the males and females in “Nirvana” learn to co-exist. The experience planted the hope of men and women possibly living together again. And, oh, they also have to fight human-harvesting AI machines along their way back (and to warn their people – men and women – about the incoming danger)…
7.) ONE PIECE
I was hesitant to include animes that are still ongoing since I won’t be able to evaluate it in its entirety.
I had considered adding “Naruto” and “Bleach”, but though I love these two for years already, I still think it’s too early to add them to this list. Especially with “Bleach”. I really considered it because it contains mindblowing twists and has some of the best action you can find in anime. But it also has annoyingly long irrelevant arcs that are not related to the main story, which put it out of discussion.
One Piece, however, deserves to be in this top 10. Among the “Big 3” – hottest manga/animes today – composed of “Naruto”, “Bleach”, and “One Piece”, “One Piece” is the best. Characters and storylines are interestingly conceptualized, and filled with humor and action and adventure that will never tire the fans. Obviously, its ranking will definitely rise in a future list.
A robot cat from the future that aids an elementary boy in his daily struggles (e.g. school, girls, bullies,etc.) by loaning him farfetched gadgets? A sure winning formula for comedic scenarios. And this show effectively delivered just that.
5.) SLAM DUNK
This anime was one of the reasons I started to get interested in basketball. The Shohoku High team is the centerpiece of this anime, detailing its journey from a non-playoff "one-man" team to one of the elite teams of their district. I really love how the action and excitement of the basketball court was translated by this series. It’s just a bummer that the national tournament never made it to the anime.
4.) YU YU HAKUSHU
This is the anime that got me interested in anime as we know of today. Yu-yu Hakushu – or “Ghost Fighter” as it is known in these parts – was my favorite anime back then. It has excellent characters, action, and storylines – a formula that future anime series would emulate. Others had perfected that formula since then, but Yu Yu Hakushu is the first of its brand of anime.
3,) GENSOMADEN SAIYUKI
Gensomaden Saiyuki is a hip reinvention of a Chinese classic novel called “Journey to the West” (published around the 1590s). This anime featured the greatest foursome in fiction (Yup, I consider Sanzo’s Party better than even the legendary foursome, the Fantastic Four). And they are a big part why this show was awesome. Each episode is a guaranteed performance of badassery and coolness by the four of them. They’re always on a roll and unstoppable. Aside from the charisma of the main characters, the show’s success is also attributable to its animation techniques that greatly enhance the already superb storytelling and music scores (especially “For Real”) that effectively stir the emotions of the viewers.
2.) SAMURAI X (RURUONI KENSHIN)
Samurai X features one of the best anime fight choreographies ever. It tells of a former infamous samurai, Kenshin Himura, who made a commitment to not kill again after being known as “Battōsai the Slasher” during the war. He became a peaceful wanderer, and eventually settled down in the Kamiya Dojo (where his adventures during the show’s run start). To be able to enforce his vow of non-killing, Himura make use of a unique “reverse-edged sword”. This had become a disadvantage for Kenshin in his fights, but he continues to beat the odds without breaking his vow. This theme has been constant in all the show’s storylines.
1.) CODE GEASS
Greatest anime ever. Hands down in a landslide, “Code Geass” gets the top spot. Deep and interesting characters, exceptional concept and themes, plenty of mind-blowing twists, and a superbly constructed story… in fact, this anime is one of the best pieces of fiction I have ever encountered.
I don’t want to reveal too much since it’s really really worth seeing for yourself. But, here’s the story in a nutshell… The story revolves around a high school student named Lelouch, who is secretly the notorious rebel leader “Zero” who desires to take down the Brittanian Empire and free Japan from its clutches. Zero is granted a geass that can mind control people by a mysterious immortal named CC. With his geass and CC by his side, Zero also has the Black Knights – freedom fighters – under him to help him in his goals. Lelouch has his own selfish reasons on fighting the Brittanian Empire. But in the end, his goals would realign and he would bring out the best of his talents in strategy and manipulation to create the universally coveted world peace. Watch the show on how that came about. It’s worth it.
Honorable Mention (i.e. other animes considered for the top 10): Cowboy Bebop, Hunter X Hunter, Nadia: Secret of Blue Water, Dual, Gundam Wing, Detective Conan, Lupin III, Full Metal Alchemist, Robotech (The Super Dimension Fortress Macross)