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Top 5 + Guest: 5 Best Popular Anime Series

There’s a not-so-invisible chasm on the Internet between folks who tend to mostly watch popular series – such as those that air on American television – and viewers who watch a wider slate of shows.  Unfortunately, I think the latter group sometimes comes off as snobby (oh, your favorite series is Naruto, huh?), even though both sides are equally avid about their hobby.  Further, there are a lot of anime that are both popular and excellent.  And that’s what we’re focused on today – popular anime series that we also consider to be very, very good.

Our guest for today’s column is Anime Reporter, who over the past year and a half has developed a terrific aniblog with a huge index of anime reviews covering series old and new, popular and niche.  Check out his site – the Anime Reporter puts a lot of work into his excellent reviews!  And he also put a lot of work into his contribution below – one much lengthier than those we normally post from guests, but it’s worth the read (and maybe somehow appropriate when we’re talking about some series that have 10+ seasons in the books!).

Anime Reporter’s Picks

  1. Death Note
  2. One Piece
  3. Pokémon
  4. Attack on Titan
  5. Naruto

death note 1For me, a good anime is a good story, or at least one that resonates with the viewer personally. While each of my choices on this list were chosen primarily as top examples of popular anime series, each of them also ranks highly on my overall list of anime. Here’s why: Death Note is the immediate go-to when I want to draw a non-anime fan into the wonderful world of Japanese animation. Death Note is dark and driven, it’s twisted and tragic and it has exactly the right mix of psychological thriller and supernatural suspense to draw in viewers who are used to seeing the likes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead on Western television. Death Note is the top of this list because it’s not only a phenomenal example of a popular anime, but an exemplary piece of storytelling. Full stop.

One Piece is next on my list because it’s a great piece of anime in exactly the areas that Death Note isn’t. In all respects, it meets the criteria to be a pretty traditional Shonen. It’s got the virtuous, though not too bright hero, the seemingly impossible quest that makes up his life-goal and a series of intense, escalating battles. What sets it apart from other series is the blend of sheer hilarity, dysfunctional but deeply likeable characters and an acute awareness of exactly how and when to take itself seriously. The One Piece story spans years, even decades and it’s still very much the simple tale it was at its beginning but its characters and their goals have been allowed to grow and develop without dragging the story back. Good clean fun and a story that grows over the years, what more could you want?

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Something More: God and Soul Eater, Anime and Serving, Madoka and Salvation

Frank dives into episode 13 of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, examining that episode’s ideas about servanthood, as well as that topic in relation to God. [A Series of Miracles]

Annalyn begins to watch Soul Eater, and draws comparisons between God and Lord Death, reminding us of God’s nature. [Annalyn’s Thoughts]

Cytrus responds to Nick Calibey’s comments about Puella Magi Madoka Magica and salvation by expressing his beliefs about how Madoka’s gift of salvation works through a Buddhist perspective. [Yaranakya]


As part of the Something More series of posts, each week Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality.  If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included. 

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Godless Haibane, Saints for Anime, and Faith in Madoka

This has been an exemplary week for religion/spiritual/Christian themed post in the blogosphere.  While I usually post links to articles that sometimes only briefly mention connections to spirituality in anime, there are a number of well-written post this week fully dedicated to the topic.

Alexander, whose no stranger to blogging about his transition from Christian to atheist, takes an interesting approach to Haibane Renmei, departing from his usual episodic posts to explain how the the series rather espouses his Humanist beliefs. [Ashita no Anime]

Nick Calibey uses hermeneutics in writing a wonderful essay to Orthodox Christians explaining the value that can be found in watching anime. [A Rather Silly Blog]

Nick also begins a series on Madoka Magica, introducing the series and particularly defining faith and discussing it in terms of Madoka’s relationship with her mom. [A Rather Silly Blog]

Draggle outlines Inaba’s confession and redemption scene in episode 10 of Kokoro Connect, comparing it to Paul’s gospel message in the Book of Romans. [Draggle’s Anime Blog]

Ladybacula examines how clergy are portrayed in anime, using Justin Law of Soul Eater and Apocryphos of D.Gray-Man as examples. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

John Noel has a fascinating post comparing Sword Art Online to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave; he also mentions Christian symbolism in the show. [chaostangent]

Landon dives into the, er, “[messed up] theology” of Hells. [Mecha Guignol]


As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere series of posts, each week, Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality.  If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included. 


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