What Anime Caught You By Surprise in How Much It Moved You?

Buddhist or Christian, Pagan or Muslim, spiritual or areligious, one thing that connects the readers of this blog is that anime is a medium that stirs something inside of us.  Here on Beneath the Tangles, we sometimes explore powerful themes that anime can have in common with Christianity and even how anime can change how we live out our faith.

Not all anime moves us so powerfully, but still, it seems as if even mundane episodes of a show stir our souls.  And sometimes, a show will catch us unexpectedly.  This is an email I received from a frequent reader, Albert:

A very nice anime that I’ve recently seen is The iDOLM@STER. When I first heard of the premise (12 girls work to get to the top of the idol industry), I figured it would be another fanservice type anime and wasn’t very interested. However, a friend told me otherwise so I decided to check it out. What I got was a heartwarming series with excellent character development and no fanservice in the slightest. I was pleasantly shocked, really. I highly recommend that you guys at least take a look at the series.

After stalling on one episode of iDOLM@STER, I’ve now decided to return to it.

What about you?

What anime caught you by surprise in how much it moved you? 

Did it warm your heart?  Did it anger you?  Did it make you go want to change the world?  Did it simply change you?

Please share with us.  Feel free to leave links if you’ve written something that gives more details about such an experience.


98 thoughts on “What Anime Caught You By Surprise in How Much It Moved You?

    1. Beautiful series. I’ve only watched maybe half a dozen episodes of it (caught it while I had the Anime Network), but it’s definitely a show that hits the heart without having to pull any punches.

    2. Agreed. I never thought an anime could bring me such a peace of mind. I felt like every time i watched Akari, I became a better version of myself. I wanted to feel every one of her emotions, to laugh, feel warmth, love every new encounter and place.

  1. Kino’s Journey did a fair number on me, at least the ending. On a scale of 1 to Fry’s Dog, it was about three shy of Fry’s Dog levels of blubbering.

  2. Glad to hear you are giving the iDOLM@STER another try. It took a bit for me to warm up to it, but eventually it turned into one of my favorite shows from last year for reasons like the ones in the email.

    As for your question, I would say that my recent experiences with Clannad fits the bill. It is too early to say for certain whether it has changed me, but it did get me thinking.

    1. I almost stopped watching it again, but episode three was significantly better than the previous two, so I remain hopeful.

      I was thinking someone would say “Clannad”! But, I thought it’d actually be “Clannad After Story” rather than the first. Certainly, that one did it for me. And I think if you end up enjoying the first part of the series at all, you’ll just have to watch “After Story” – it’s very moving.

      1. Well, to clarify, I sometimes make the mistake of referring to both series as Clannad despite the fact that they are two. I would say the first season was moving in its own way, but you are correct, After Story significantly stronger than series one.

        1. Ahhhh, okay. Well, then I can stop trying to avoid spoilers. 🙂

          Clannad isn’t one of my favorite series – it’s not even my favorite Key production – but it might be the one show that has moved me the most. Episode 18 has done something that only one other film or series has done – made me cry. As a father, I really connected to that particular episode.

          1. I actually read your post on that episode (which was quite the touching piece itself) after I finished watching the series and I would have to agree wholeheartedly. That episode was incredible and I was very moved by the end of it. I can only imagine how much more so for an actual parent.

  3. Probably #1 in that category for me, as everyone must by now be sick of my saying, is Oofuri. Well, #1 or #2. Fruits Basket is up there also, and like many, I could only wish the entire manga got animated.

    Clannad doesn’t qualify for this category, because thanks to you and to others, I expected it to be moving. 😉

  4. I have to say, Naruto and Bleach, oddly enough. A lot of the philosophy in Bleach appealed to me and moved me. Naruto, it wasn’t so much the anime itself, as it was a lot of the fanfiction that took the premise of the show and dug deeper into just what is “Good” and “Evil” and what being a trained assassin since the age of 12 would do to you. Stories like “Never Cut Twice” and “Perceptions” really taught me a lot.

    1. Fanfiction! I’m glad you brought that up. What WE bring to the series, as an individual or community, certainly helps evoke these emotional responses.

      For me, i liked Digimon, but I LOVED the fanfiction for the series. The show never really moved me, but I was certainly moved time and time again by Digimon fanfics.

  5. I was going to write this really long comment but I realized I wrote something quite extensive:

    Hot-Blooded Sentimentality: A Reflection on Manly Tears

    But I’m perfectly able to cry girly tears in a gurgling mess without shame, for moments in ARIA: The Origination, and K-On!!

    What’s so moving? I think there are memories within us (me) that are many things at once: afraid, ashamed, damaged, healed, put back together, thankful, hurt, and painted in bright colors. They’re there, and when we see something even so unrelated as some alien girls paddling tourists, or being great at being with each other (over sweets) whatever that thing is inside is yanked from us through our mouths and nostrils and we just lose it.

    I know I did, and I look forward to shows that can do this to me.

    1. Thanks for the link – I really enjoyed the post, man! I can’t say I’ve cried so often as you while watching anime, but I do the whole “tearing up” thing. If I count that, there’s too many series to count that hit me like a sledgehammer.

      So what’s with ARIA? You’re the second commenter to mention it – are there certain powerful moments in the show, or is it the general feel of the piece? I’ve seen only about a half-dozen episodes…

      1. ARIA didn’t really move me to tears until Origination, which I felt used every meaningless episode from the first two shows to fire its decisive weapons aimed at your chest.

        This is not to say that the first two seasons aren’t moving. I think I kind of lost it near the end of Animation. You’ll know it when you hear it.

  6. Tiger&Bunny, definitely. Never thought I’d ever cry so much for a show.

    I was pleasantly surprised by the Idolmaster too, it was much better than I thought it would be, I’m glad I watched it

    1. Tiger & Bunny? Really?! I’ve heard that I’ve been missing out, but I didn’t realize the show had emotional depth. Thanks for the rec!

      1. Yeah really, I was really surprised myself too.
        But in the end, the show is that moving because the two main characters are struggling with the loss of their loved ones. Everyone in the show is struggling with problems on their own
        And they’re all really greatly written, that helps too

  7. Ga-Rei: Zero surprised me in how I was emotionally moved near it’s end.

    I seek out this aspect in anime though, and many of my highly rated series have a strong emotional impact.

    I certainly didn’t expect Steins;Gate to go awesome the way it did. The ending arcs have great emotional impact.

    Hotarubi no Mori e was another one that stands out as having caught me by surprise.

    GITS:SAC (2nd gig?) has a Tachikoma moment that really touched me as well. Look up in the sky.

    Kurau Phantom Memory has a moment between Kurau and Christmas that made me think “That’s like how God loves us”.

    There are a few others in my 9+ that have surprising emotional moments (one in Kemono no Souja Erin, for example), but they were either small and brief, or (like Nana and Clannad After Story) I knew that I was getting into an emotional show.

    1. I haven’t seen a lot of the shows you mentioned, Adam (though I have seen Steins;gate and totally agree), but I certainly evaluate my anime in a similar way. These big emotional moments, where I’m genuinely moved, connect me to that piece and for that, I’ll raise my score, as insignificant an action as it is.

      I especially like when you don’t see the moment coming. I’m pretty paranoid about spoilers because I don’t want even a hint of such a moment so that I can enjoy them fully when they come.

  8. For me, it would definitely be Summer Wars. At first watch, I was very much amazed by the story and production quality, but it never really connected to me on the same level as it did when I watched it a second time, this time under the context of going through a rough stretch with my grandmother passing away.

    I still miss her, but Summer Wars came out of nowhere and helped me move on without ever forgetting the great things she has done for my life.

    1. Wow, thanks for the comment – I appreciate you sharing. It’s funny how personal experiences color series so that they mean something entirely different for one person than for another.

      I mentioned this above, but Clannad After Story was more significant for me, I think, because I have kids.

      Have you thought of writing an Anime of a Diary Lived post about this? I think you’d touch a lot of people if you shared:


  9. Throwing something “serious” into a comedy always gets me. Things near the top of inushinde’s “1 to Fry’s Dog” scale…

    3) the mini-Ika episode in Squid Girl season 1
    2) the first episode of Usagi Drop
    1) the (mumbledon’twannaspoilit) episode of Sugar, a Little Snow Fairy

    1. I’ve only seen Usagi Drop, and yeah, that first episode’s a powerful one. In fact, I’ve written a post about it that’ll go up in a couple of weeks.

      I think you’ve hit on something, too – when you have a sudden change of tone, that can often hit us hard.

      Thanks for sharing!

  10. I know this is a really boring, “oh not you too!” pick, but I’m going to have to go with After Story. After reading reviews of it, I had huge expectations for it…and it lived up to every bit of it. I choked in some particular scenes.

    And then that godawful misfit ED, Torch, would start and I would rage like there’s no tomorrow.

    1. Key knows how to turn all the right dials, and even though there’s some cookie-cutter contrivances involved, and even though it’s all fantastical and unrealistic, and even though we know it’s coming, they do it so well that we’re hit hard, despite it all. This is why I love the anime based on their games (and why I’m looking forward to Little Busters!).

  11. Like you, I was extremely surprised at how much The iDOLM@STER moved me, particularly Miki’s arc. I wanted so badly for her to realize how much she truly loves performing, and that moment when she jumped on stage after her break gave me my biggest smile of the series.

    Another anime besides the previously mentioned ARIA that surprised me with its depth is Juuni Kokuki. I hated Yoko as the protagonist for a good portion of the beginning, up until she met Rakushun. Their friendship is one of my favorite things about the anime.

    1. I’m surprised at just how many people enjoyed iDOLM@STER. With so many ways this show could go bad, I’m really anticipating seeing how it’ll deliver.

  12. Many shows I expected to move me, and moved me they did. From Usagi Drop, to Twin Spica, from the last episode of Chrono Crusade, to the Christmas midseason showing of Read or Die TV, from Madoka’ final episode, to the Maon’s episodes in Tamayura Hitose, or every episode of Natsume.

    But the unexpected ones, I will have to say Someday’s Dreamers Summer Day was powerfully moving in the very end. The characterizations are so human. I think it is an experience that cannot be described but must be felt.

    1. Ah, so many series I’m familiar with. That Christmas episode or Read or Die you mentioned, for instance, is one of my favorite anime episodes – it’s also the only R.O.D. episode I’ve ever watched.

      Usagi Drop and Madoka are favorites and certainly two series that are very moving. And I’ve been wanting to watch Natsume, finish Tamayura Histose, and read Twin Spica.

      Someday’s Dreamers Summer Skies, hmm? I watched the first episode and enjoyed it. However, I then started the other series instead and dropped it only a couple of shows in. Yet another series I should return to, especially since you describe it in that manner.

      1. I would certainly recommend it! The ending is very much worth it.

        You know what this post reminded me to rewatch? Mamiina’s last few episodes in Simoun. Somehow the tears couldn’t stop.

        1. Ah, Simoun. I really wanted to watch that series, but the yuri was just tooooo in my face. I just couldn’t. I’m sure I’ll give it a go again sometime in the future, though.

  13. At first, I didn’t think Chihayafuru would be interesting at all. Boy, was I wrong about that.

    Fairy Tail was another show that gave me a pleasant surprise. I heard a lot of “generic shonen show/ One Piece-ripoff” comments that initially turned me off from the anime.

    1. Thanks for the comments. I think I felt similarly about Chihayafuru – I wasn’t sure about it going in, but man, was it a terrific show. It delivered week after week, and somehow, I kept being surprised at the show’s quality.

  14. I’ve been regularly reading your blog since you began posting, but I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment before; shame on me. =) I guess I should more frequently express my appreciation for the thought and the effort you put into this. So…thank you!

    I really enjoyed reading all of the comments on this post, though, so I thought I would drop one of my own. The anime that really caught me by surprise and left a deep impression on me was Natsume Yuujinchou, which I watched on a whim after seeing some of the promo art for the first season. I watched the first episode and wasn’t terribly impressed, but for some reason continued on to the second…to my surprise I found myself getting misty-eyed a few minutes in and by the end of the episode I was sobbing in front of my computer. By the time I reached the end of the first season, for reasons too long and personal to get into here, my life had been changed.

    The other series that really caught me by surprise was the manga Amatsuki. I assumed, after reading the premise, that it would be a fairly generic and probably under-average sci-fi adventure story; but it completely blew me away by being one of the most personally affective fictional stories about family relationships, choices and consequences, and unconditional love I have ever encountered.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! And thank YOU for sticking it out so long. It couldn’t have been easy reading a lot of those earlier posts, hehe.

      Ah, Natsume Yuujinchou. Although you have a personal connection to it, I’ve heard others who perhaps didn’t have such a connection feel similarly toward it. I really should dive in.

      Also, I’d love to hear your long and personal story about your life change, if you’re ever willing to share! 🙂

      Amatsuki also sounds interesting. I read so little manga (I have trouble keeping up with the few series I’m currently reading), but your description of this series has really caught my eye – maybe I’ll carve out some time to check it out in the near future.

      1. Oh no, no, of course not! I’ve always enjoyed reading what you have to say, though you’ve certainly gotten better with time. =)

        Natsume Yuujinchou is generally pretty highly regarded by most viewers, and with the recent third and fourth seasons it has gained a lot more popularity than I ever thought it would. I would definitely recommend it; though be warned, it is a very slow and very quiet series. On the other hand, while I consider Amatsuki to be a very good series – one of my very favorite stories ever – I have a hard time recommending it to people, due to the convoluted nature of the storytelling, which tends to drive a lot of people away because it is “too confusing”. The anime adaption is a lot more straightforward, but unfortunately doesn’t have any heart and soul, and ends after the introductory arc without doing anything at all. I think the manga is well worth the time, because it hit me so hard, but to be honest, I don’t think many other people would agree with me. =)

        1. Thanks for the recommendations – a lot of what I’m been watching these days has been disappointing, so I’m certainly ready to try something higher quality.

          Also, I read the synopsis for Amatsuki and it sounds really interesting! I might give the manga a try, as per your rec.

          Thanks again, also, for commenting! Your replies are very thoughtful and add a lot to the discussion! 🙂

  15. Now and Then, Here and There. The first episode looks like fluff but its level of depth as it explored the horrors of war just blew me away.

    1. I’ve heard that series is a difficult one to get through. Right Stuf was selling the complete series for something like $8 during its 12 Days of Christmas sale a few months back…I was tempted for days to buy it, but eventually decided to save my money. I don’t know if I’ll be able to resist if a similar sale happens again this year.

  16. I’m not sure if I’d say it moved me (well, excluding the second to last episode in this final season, which left nearly every fan weeping profusely when a certain character bit the dust), but a show that caught me by surprise by how engaging it was would be Shakugan no Shana. Though I suppose you actually could say it moved me, since it’s what caused me to be so absorbed in anime. I had never seen such an imaginative setting before.

    But excluding that fact, it looks like any standard action-comedy in a fantasy setting on the surface, but no show has managed to draw me into the characters so much. They all have really clever internal conflicts and motivations that grow, change, and occasionally clash against each other that I just can’t help but find incredibly fascinating to watch.

    Now that it’s over, it’s like there’s… a void in me. I guess you could say it’s the journey itself that moved me. I was so happy to cross the finish line, but now I can’t help but miss the rush that came with being in the race.

    Also, I second the guy/gal that recommended Tiger & Bunny. Excluding the fact that it was a great show, I’d be willing to throw money down that you could write a few posts on the show. Mainly one on Lunatic. Not exactly sure what the content itself would be specifically, but I bet you could come up with a post-length amount of stuff to say about his personality and motivations.

    …Sorry for the essay; I really need to keep my rambling in check.

    1. No problem for rambling – it’s what you do, after all! 😛

      I like what you brought up about the void we sometimes feel when a series concludes. You know a show has left an impact on you when you feel this sense of emptiness after it finishes. I feel a little bit of this with various anime series, but I can’t think of any that really left this kind of impact on me – I think maybe it comes strongest with a long-running show like Shakugan no Shana.

      But I do know that feeling when it comes to live action films – I very much felt that way toward the final films in the Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings series. It’s such a strong feeling that when I think about these films, I still feel a tinge of nostalgia connected to my first viewing of each final film.

  17. Let me put my lot in iDOLM@STER pool, too. ^^
    One of the best line I’ve found in anime:
    “Your life doesn’t get an encore. It’s a one-shot live performance.”

    Higurashi no Naku koro ni.
    The curse can’t be broken. Miracle won’t happen. Unless …
    (not telling you ^^)

    Mouretsu Space Pirates, ep #5. Not really “moving”, but definitely surprising. I didn’t think watching space battleship duel can be that entertaining WITHOUT being shown much fireworks.

    Gundam Unicorn, ep #2, around 00:51:41.

    Now I wish there were HD remakes of ARIA …

    P.S. You wrote a post about medical circumstances a while ago. How’s it going? Everything’s ok?

    1. Thanks for the list of moving moments! I’ll certainly be looking for that line, now, as I watch iDOLM@STER.

      And thanks for asking about my health. Things are okay right now – I’m waiting on healing and will find out in a couple of months if everything is okay. I feel good, though, so that must indicate something. 🙂

      1. You won’t find that line being said in the conventional way, but you can’t miss it – it’s not hidden or something like that. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. ^^

        P.S. Laughter is the best medicine, they say. So I suggest you take a daily dose of Tentai Senshi Sunred (http://myanimelist.net/anime/5005/Tentai_Senshi_Sunred) for a speedier recovery. Or cats.

        1. Thanks for the rec. 😉

          I did have a cat once…it was either relaxing me or infuriating me. 😛

          I’ll probably stick to prayer and good times with my wife and kids! And medicine. Oh, and I’ll check your rec out. 🙂

  18. Definitely, Kaleido Star. Yes, Kaleido Star…XD

    I watched it for the first time when I was 7 years or so…and then, for the second time at 18 years old, regretting why I had to read this review and thinking it would be a complete waste of time (not to mention a very girly waste of time…XD ).

    It’s main message may be described as an “ode to naïveté”… “It’d be glorious! Glorious!…..but….You’re not a child anymore; you’ve seen the real world; don’t be foolish, people will eat you for dinner”…this is what we all think after having some of the greatest ideas of our lives. And Kaleido Star manage to show us the return of naïveté to people (especially the apparently rock hearted Layla – “When was it, I wonder…I have felt this emotion before…” ).

    I guess I really could say that it changed my life… of course, I’ve been disappointed a lot with this reasoning…but you know what? It’s fucking worth it!

    “The fool is still aiming for a sky high goal” – Fool, Kaleido Star

    1. Interesting…so are you saying that Kaleido Star’s message is that naivete is a good thing? We should live with a sense of wonder and innocence? That certainly sounds like a message that would be conveyed in anime and one that, if lived by, would bring hurt to a person, but also a lot of joy.

      1. With time, we learn what could be the outcome of something, what the people involved would/could do in some occasion….and we act in a way to protect ourselves, so to we don’t get hurt ( we don’t accept “I will pay later” as a reasonable guarantee, for example….and there is a reason for that, people don’t pay back. ) But….and those who honor their deals?

        Those will thank you for your trust in them and will try not disappoint you. Maybe Sora can’t make a “Stage without conflict”…..but why don’t try?

        1. Thanks for sharing – those are certainly wonderful ideas and it’s nice to hear you live a lifestyle where you put them into practice!

  19. It’s simply called “Rainbow” on Funimation, and it was an anime I decided to check out on a whim. I thought it would be an interesting historical anime. It is – and it’s the story of seven boys that go through hell in order to reach their dreams. It brings in the social aspects of why those boys are mistreated, the effects of the war on their lives and survival, the ways authority is often misused and abused… I think I cried almost once an episode at how powerful and beautiful that anime is.

      1. It’s not a popular/well-known anime, because it deals with some issues that a number of people find disturbing. That really drives up the rating is that there are two brief semi-graphic scenes of pedophilia, from an official within the prison and from a caretaker from when the boy was younger. Thankfully, at least one of these people gets his comeuppance, and it was a fantastic scene. It also deals rather frankly with the effect of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on those who survived cia one of the boys, and since that can be considered a little bit… politically delicate, that probably factors into it.

        1. Heavy indeed.

          I’m fascinated by Hiroshima and Nagasaki (my grandfather came in with the U.S. Army and helped clean up Hiroshima after the atomic blast). Those events were just so…unbelievable in their devastation. I’m definitely interested in seeing how an anime might portray some more personal stories related to those events.

          The abuse would make me more uncomfortable, but I’m glad to hear there’s an anime willing to deal with such a difficult subject, and I also want to see how it would deal with this and the psychological effects on the children after such trauma.

          Thanks for the info!

  20. This is a tough question!!! I’m gonna include manga here, too, since I haven’t seen all the anime for these….

    One would definitely have to be Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (this also includes the manga, since the anime didn’t cover everything). All the hell they went through, and the sacrifices they made for each other….it’s just so amazing! And although outrageous scenarios like that could ever happen in real life, in my opinion it really makes you think if you’d be willing to sacrifice everything for someone you loved. Fullmetal Alchemist also makes me think that. You have two brothers go through hell, and Edward, even though he wants his original limbs back, cares more about getting his brother’s body back more than anything! These were surprising ’cause, from Tsubasa’s synopsis, I knew from the start that it’d be tragic, and with FMA, I had to be encouraged to try it out ’cause I wasn’t so sure if I could handle the violence in the series (plus, for some reason, the trailers didn’t make it seem appealing to me).

    Another would be “Kimi ni Todoke”. It just show how far just a smile and simply saying “hello” can impact a person. Kazehaya’s kindness towards Sawako made her more confident, and open up. All because of one boy’s simple kindness of smiling and telling her “good morning” every school day. It was unexpected because when it was recommended to me as being a really good, clean shoujo manga, I wasn’t expecting it to be so heartwarming. It also reminded me of something my Grandpa told me his mother experienced; when she was a child, she saw this girl, and she could distinctly remember her smile towards her. Even in her old age, that smile was a crystal clear memory. “Kimi ni Todoke” I feel is encouraging because it shows how we treat people can really impact people.

    Claymore so far has impressed me, from what I have seen. I heard it was going to be good, but I didn’t know that it would be touching. As I stated in one of my comments before, that scene near the end of episode 4 was so moving. The “evil” (her yoma blood) did not take hold because Raki wasn’t willing to let her be killed, and if she had to, he wanted to die with her. It made me think of how love conquers all.

    An extremely surprising one for me is “Bakuman” that I am currently reading. Sure, it’s nothing deep or anything, but it’s about dreams. Making a decision not to just sit around, gonig through the motions, but actually contribute something to the world. Even if it is outrageous, it’s a goal….and it’s better to chase an outrageous dream then just sitting around doing nothing, don’t you think? I felt God spoke to me through this, because I had been lazy with my manga, and when I read this I was like “Uhhh God, are you trying to tell me something?”

    That’s about it for now. ^.^

    1. Whew, thanks for the comment!

      Though I haven’t seen Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles and I have yet to finish FMA: Brotherhood (I dropped the first series and the manga years ago), I certainly know from where you speak for the other examples.

      Kimi ni Todoke really caught me off guard also. I just didn’t think it would be as good as it was, despite the rave reviews I’d read. There’s so much to be said about both Kazehaya’s and Sadako’s hearts and how they treat people. It’s quite moving.

      Claymore is an interesting pick also. I remember that scene as well. As the series continues on, there’s a shift in focus to connection through camaraderie, almost like a sports anime or manga – but I think it continues to be impactful.

      And I think Bakuman is a great example! Again, I stalled on this series quite a while ago, but from what I’ve read (which is quite a bit of it), I get the feeling that readers, like myself, really feel the two leads’ passion. It’s stirring, because it builds such feelings in us and maybe makes us wonder what our passions are.

      Thanks for your comments, as always!

  21. Graveyard of the Fireflies. I was completely caught off guard with that one. It was so grippingly powerful, the scenery was surreal, I was shocked by the ending. I believe it was the only anime that made me bawl, feel such sadness, but be utterly moved. I absolutely loved it.

    1. There were two series I was waiting for people to mention: Clannad (several have) and Grave of the Fireflies.

      Of course, the film is powerfully made – anything less can’t be expected from Ghibli and Isao Takahata. But more than that, the power in the film is in its realness. Even if the film was entirely fabricated, we as the audience know that lots of little children had to endure similar circumstances during World War II (how much more tragic that so many suffered near the end?).

      But we also know that it’s based on a true story. I can almost feel the guilt that the brother, who wrote the novel upon which the story is based, felt…it’s a painful movie to watch. Even though I purchased and watched it about ten years ago, I haven’t been able to watch it again. I feel similarly about “The Passion of the Christ” and “United 93.”

      1. So I am not alone in terms of a rewatch. I have not been able to get myself to watch it again, it was too haunting. Definitely the fact that it was based off a true story makes it all the more sorrowful. I feel like I should watch it again. It’s the closest I have ever gotten to really understanding the horror of World War II on the Japanese side.

        1. Barefoot Gen might be another to watch that’s in the same vein. I haven’t seen it, but it’s also considered a classic; it revolves around the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

  22. The most recent example, for me, would be Madoka Magica. I watched it on the recommendation of this blog, actually, and I’m so glad I did. I found myself tearing up quite a few times near the end.

    Trigun was another one that took me by surprise (obviously). I was fifteen when I watched it, and I figured it was going to be your typical shonen anime, but it had so much heart and depth to it that it’s stayed with me for almost ten years now.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed Madoka! It took me a while to join in and watch, but as you know, I also enjoyed it a whole lot. The end, particularly, really hit me.

      Trigun’s a great pick. There’s something, particularly, about Vash. His decency and self-sacrifice really speaks to my heart, and I think to many others as well.

      1. Once I finished Madoka, I went back and read your posts on the series. I thought they were excellent, and helped me appreciate the show even more. 🙂

        Yeah, Vash is the main draw for me (other than Wolfwood and the Insurance Girls). Just a great bunch of characters.

        1. I’m glad!

          Yeah, Vash is such a tremendous character…but it’s one heck of a supporting cast. Wolfwood, Meryl, and Millie are among my very favorite anime characters also, and so many of the side characters are also excellent!

  23. I think in terms of sheer scope, the anime that moved me the most was The Tatami Galaxy. I’ve watched a solid amount of anime in my life, and gone to some strange and fantastical places, but to this day it is the only series that made me honestly evaluate my life and how I was living it. It’s very difficult for any kind of media to make me cry, but the final episode brought me to tears over a major epiphany that the main character has.

    I also want to second Now and Then, Here and There as a powerful experience, though it is extremely dark. It’s a fantastic series and I’m glad that I watched it, but it deals with some very disturbing subjects and it left me feeling awful about human nature for a while.

    1. I’ve heard that Tatami Galaxy is pretty amazing. I didn’t realize, however, that it was a series that could have that kind of impact. Thanks for sharing.

      I find it amazing how an animated series or movie can move us so strongly. I think most of us who’ve seen enough anime have a series or two that affected us in a way similar to how Tatami Galaxy did with you.

    2. Tatami Galaxy- man, that was a great show. It had a similar effect on me since I am (was halfway to graduating when it was airing) a college student. It acutally inspired me to get out and join and really be involved in one of my clubs. It really did make my life better for it!

      1. I wasn’t fortunate to watch it until I had graduated and started taking continuing education courses, so my experience with the show was kind of bittersweet and reminded me of missed opportunities. Still, it made a very good point for making the most of future opportunities and I feel I’m a more active and social person for having seen it.

          1. Without spoiling anything, I would say that Tatami Galaxy is the tract (you know, that usual mini booklet) for anime otaku/ hikkikomoris, particularly those “who think too much”.

              1. What I meant is, if you have a friend who is happen to be a heavy anime watcher & also thinks too much (“is this the best route for me?”) to the point where s/he are paralyzed enough and not picking any route at all, you can help by showing him/ her Tatami Galaxy. In other words, Tatami Galaxy can be useful in such a case.

                Of course, having a real friend yanking you out physically from your room can do wonder, and faster, too 😀

              2. Ah! xD I would think that Welcome to the NHK would be a better pick since that deals directly with an otaku who’s socially paralyzed. The protag in Tatami Galaxy doesn’t really have that problem.

  24. Angel Beats.

    I know it was corny, and Otonashi screaming Kanade’s name in the final episode was mocked pretty routinely by fans after the series ended…but that goodbye scene had me BAWLING. I’ve watched series that made me shed a tear or two, but never outright sob that hard. I’m a sap, sue me.

    1. Did they mock it? Well, then I’m corny, too. That definitely got to me. I thought just about everything regarding the conclusion to Angel Beats was pitch perfect.

  25. Tekkonkinkreet

    I went into it thinking it would be the stereotypical “lol make trouble for da grownupz”. In fact, the only reason I downloaded it was because it was on iTunes and I had a long flight. What i got was so much better. It was happy go lucky at first sure, but then everything quickly spirals downwards and became very dark when the 3 assassins showed up and even darker yet after black battles with the Minotaur. At least the ending was happy I felt like it was setting me up for a tragedy.

    Weird animation style though. Amazing Backgrounds.

  26. One of those shows was Code Geass. Although the setting itself might too exaggerated to even be compared to our world, the truths are there. Justice and injustice playing tag-of-war with each other, having delegates on each side. Although Lelouch’s initial motivation was something more personal than something that concerns the rest of the world, his pain and desire were too strong I was really kept glued on the screen. In the end, the series made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough to make an impact to the world, or at least on my surrounding. There’s so much in my immediate community that I want to change, yet until now I still haven’t done a thing.

    1. That’s great that Code Geass made you feel that way! I think a lot of us have series that have made us want to change who we are, and certainly Lelouch is a character that, if we take his actions to heart, could make us want to do more than what we currently do.

      Thanks for sharing!

  27. I’m going to throw you a curveball here: Space Brothers. The animé ran to 100 episodes and every one of them had something in there. almost all the characters develop, grow, change, are 3-dimensional and reflect upon life and react to each other (and not just to the MC) in ways that are wholly believable. And once the series is done the manga is ongoing and that is just as heart-warming as the show (and both are available on CR if you have a premium membership). It deals with difficult subjects (depression, illness, loss, grief, hardship) in a way that lets you believe that if the characters in the show can cope then you can too. Did it change my life? Hard to say but I spent two years watching the animé week by week so it had to mean something, right? 🙂

    And a show that has made me laugh and laugh (and shed some tears of happiness as well) is Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou (A Kawai Guide to Manors and Complex Behaviour). Again, the animé is “finished” but the manga is ongoing and provides simple joy which is a much under-rated thing these days. The characters are flawed but wonderful and the show is full of love in the best way. Did it change my life? It made it a lot better by letting me laugh properly and sincerely when I was having a difficult time in many other ways. That’s a gift you don’t forget to say “thank you” for, believe me.

    And I will never not recommend Ef – A Tale Of Memories because it’s so /wise/ in unexpected ways: ways that make you stop and say “Oh! /That’s/ what has been bothering me! They just said it, right there. I feel better about it / recognise it and can accept it / realise it’s a problem I also need to deal with in my life now.”. And the music is lovely 🙂

    1. Ah, typo: Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou is known in English as “The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior ” It’s a pun on Manners and Hostile Behaviour…

    2. Thanks for the recs! I’ve certainly heard a lot about how wonderful Space Brothers is. I hope to watch it one day.

      Ef is a favorite around here – it’s one of Japes’ favorite series.

  28. Just saw the Idolm@ster! As I wholeheartedly oppose the very idea of a teen idol (that sexualized undertone, teens going through overloaded schedules, the gossip, the news, the risks, the obligatory disguise in public, the things whose goal is to get attention, the “celebrity” status at such a young age and the danger of infatuation, the inherent division and harshness of a world where everyone competes for volatile personal popularity), you could say it was a surprise for me to enjoy it so much.

    This is the noblest (and healthiest) approach to the “idol” role I´ve ever seen: a professional popular hero/inspiration who is loyal to the team and cares for others, being humble and working hard to give good artistic performances. Its message reminded me strongly of “Ping-Pong, The Animation” (which is a very different, somewhat experimental show). I found all the characters and their interactions fascinating, and even if the idol world is somewhat idealized, some quite difficult issues were adressed in a very moving way.

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