Top 5 + Guest: Five Best Anime EVER!

If you were to try to create an objective list of the greatest anime of all time, what would you put in the top five?  Fullmetal Alchemist, perhaps?  Mushi-shi?  And would Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke be the Ghibli representative on the list?

It’s an impossible task – there are so many great anime and it’s so hard to be objective.  If we assembled together 100 anime “experts” (otaku, assemble!), we could probably craft a pretty good list, but no one would be satisfied with it.  I certainly wouldn’t, as I lean more toward series that I love – my favorites – rather than those I respect as ones I consider “best.”

But you know what?  It’s a fun exercise to see what everyone would come up with for their list of, say, the five best anime EVERRRRR.  And to that end, please check out some of our picks below!  We’re joined this month by Justin, the editor-in-chief and founder of Organizational Anti-Social Geniuses, a terrific blog of all things anime and manga industry-related.

Oh, and please share with us your top five in the comment section below!

Justin’s Picks

  1. Hunter x Hunter
  2. Kill la Kill
  3. Usagi Drop
  4. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
  5. Mawaru Penguindrum

hunter x hunter 1 copyConsidering I still have a long way to go in watching anime, I can expect this current Top 5 list to change 5 years from now, when I’m 30 and traveling to Japan for some random reason. But at this present time, these are probably my Top 5 anime, narrowly edging out Rainbow and only a paltry mention of Death Note to suffice. The 5 I chose I think are worthy though. Mawaru Penguindrum was the first Ikuhara anime I tried, and it was 24 (or so) weeks of absolute chaos, stress, and joy, and boy I was not sure what to make of this anime when I finished it the first time. I then watched it a second time some years ago and, instead of feeling conflicted, I’m convinced this is definitely a great show. It’s just narrowly behind Madoka, which I burned through in a day like a madman with its story, its imagery, and the themes it presented. However, these two shows, which aired in 2011, couldn’t knock off what was my favorite anime ever, Usagi Drop. The relationship between Rin and Daikichi managed to work, along with its visuals and sound, and considering I started taking anime seriously four years ago, this was a welcome anime to watch each week, then re-watch a year later. But it’s reign ended at my top only two years later, as two shows that ended in 2014 knocked it off its perch. The first was Kill la Kill. It’s frenetic, crazy pace made a big impression on me, and after its first episode, was entertained from start to finish. This just beat Usagi Drop from my top spot. Then, Hunter x Hunter happened. How can a 148 episode show be on top? Make no mistake, this was not a perfect show. It even had an arc where I was less than impressed. Yet, the more I think about how it ended, and the more I thought about the arcs where they were excellent, and the more I think back to episodes that made me realize why I became an anime fan, the more I couldn’t deny Gon and his crew from being at the top of my Top 5 anime ever despite some imperfections. I can’t profess to these being the very best, but if nothing else, they are one of the many best out there. 

Kaze’s Picks

  1. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
  2. 5 Centimeters per Second
  3. Mushishi
  4. Gunbuster/Diebuster
  5. Hunter x Hunter

lotgh 1aWhen I think of best anime ever, there’s LoGH at the top, and then everything else, making the rest of my order not too meaningful. It is by far the best anime I have ever seen, and nothing even comes close to it. Aside from that, I tried to judge and rank the shows based on originality, themes, and overall consistency in quality. There are a number of shows I can think of that if someone brought up, I’d immediately agree and change my mind. I have, however, re-watched every anime on this list (except for the recent Mushishi release), so I can say that at the very least, these all have very high rewatch value, not something I say often.

stardf29’s Picks

  1. Aria the Animation/Natural/Origination
  2. Clannad (including After Story)
  3. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
  4. Nichijou
  5. Silver Spoon

aria 1One look at my list, and you can probably tell that my tastes lean toward “slice-of-life” stories, including those with a dramatic element. I’m also quite aware that my favorites are not necessarily the “best” shows, but ones which are personally close to my heart: ones with characters and stories that I can connect to. That said, I do believe all of my top 5 are highly recommendable. My favorite anime is easily the Aria series, a classic of the “iyashikei” type of “healing anime” that’s become my favorite type of anime. It combines a wonderful setting and beautiful atmosphere with a truly great cast of characters and highlights everything I love about the anime medium. (On a side note, Mushishi, which seems to be on a number of these lists, is also a favorite of mine.)

Japesland’s Picks

  1. Mushishi
  2. Royal Space Force: On the Wings of Honneamise
  3. Grave of the Fireflies
  4. Only Yesterday
  5. Nichijou

mushishi 2aAsk me to pick my top 5 anime, and I can guarantee you that my list will differ each and every time. Ask me to give a top 20, and that might be a little bit more consistent (but even that is pushing it! Just take a look at my entire list!). This time around, I think my list best reflects my ever-changing focus of interest. With the exception of Honneamise, this list pretty well represents some genuine facets of Japanese culture (whether it has a fantasy twist, is ridiculous comedy, or is actually pretty realistic), which is what I have truly come to appreciate in some anime. Honneamise is simply a fantastic (stellar even, har har har…) film, and one that every anime buff should see. Incidentally, I’m also a huge fan of Justin’s #3-4, Kaze’s #2-4, and stardf29’s #1-2.

Samuru’s Picks

  1. Dragonball Z
  2. Rurouni Kenshin
  3. Slayers Next
  4. Sword Art Online
  5. Samurai Champloo

dbz 1This wasn’t an easy task for me, as I’m more of an old school anime fan and I am doing my best to catch up to the new stuff. Being mainly a gamer, I have more experience in gaming than anime, but I have watched over 70 series/movies/OVAs so I’m not doing too bad (here’s my list, I am sure I have forgotten a few titles so I am still adding them). Each of these series have impacted me in some way or another, even Samurai Champloo for it’s Christian references at the end. This list will definitely change this year, as I continue to catch up to newer series that have caught my eye. Slayers and DBZ were two series that I truly enjoyed, even though they aren’t high up there in the “hall of fame” of anime 🙂

TWWK’s Picks

  1. Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen
  2. Princess Mononoke
  3. Cowboy Bebop
  4. Toradora!
  5. My Neighbor Totoro

kenshin 6There is a perfect anime out there, and it is Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal (Tsuiokuhen).  When watched in context of the Kenshin series, it is powerful, compelling, and simply beautiful.  As for the rest of my list – Cowboy Bebop, as I’ve pointed out before, deserves all it’s praise.  And while I recognize Toradora isn’t at the same level of these others, it’s still extremely well-made and my personal favorite.  And finally, I included two Ghibli films on this list – Princess Mononoke was an easy selection, but on any day I might switch Totoro out for Spirited Away or my favorite Ghibli film, Whisper of the Heart.

So those are our lists.  Are we crazy for saying these are the best?  Tell us why we’re crazy below!  Give us your top five anime EVERRRRR!


49 thoughts on “Top 5 + Guest: Five Best Anime EVER!

  1. I am still extremely fond of Princess Jellyfish and the way they treat geek/nerd/otaku culture. I found it to be a rather moving story.

    1. Tenchi Muyo! Definitely one ofmu favorites – I have about ten series I’ve given my highest score to on my watch list, and the first OVA, as well as The Night Before the Carnival, are among them.

  2. The first three are easy:

    1. Haibane Renmei
    2. Serial Experiments Lain
    3. Dennou Coil

    There are at least a dozen series that I could place in the fourth and fifth slots. Today I’ll say

    4. Madoka Magica
    5. Mononoke

    but I could as easily have mentioned Shingu, Cardcaptor Sakura, Shin Sekai Yori, Millennium Actress, Spirited Away, Mushishi, Oh! Edo Rocket, Kill la Kill, Katanagatari, Paprika ….

  3. I’m really curious as to why these anime were chosen. I’m not criticizing or anything since it’s top # lists always have some degree of bias in them, but I like reading about why these particular anime stand above all the other anime you guys have watched.

    1. We each have a little explanation as to why, though I kind of intentionally kept these ambiguous. Are we giving favorites or beats? Or both?

      My list was a combination of those. I put series that I thought were of honest quality in writing, storytelling, characterization, and animation – but they also needed to be series or movies I found thoroughly enjoyable.

    2. LogH as my uncontested #1 is due to how incredibly vast its cast and themes are while still maintaining a cohesive story. It really doesn’t have any clear antagonist either; some characters are definitely less likable and more selfish than others, but at no point is there a single “boss” that is the cause of all conflict; rather, it is a mix of a ton of actions caused by many different sides, all with different ideologies.

      In the case of 5 cm/s, that is a HUGE bias on my part. I absolutely loved how it depicted its theme of naive love, and consider it a masterpiece of storytelling with as much bias as possible. Mushishi is episodic yet each episode feels it conveys a better story than most any other anime can do it their entire series. Gunbuster/Diebuster is a bit erratic of a choice for a top 5 ever (definitely top tier though). I credited it for being an earlier anime (at least in Gunbuster’s case) that does sci-fi really, really well. Most importantly, I felt Diebuster has one of the greatest ending scenes I have ever seen in a series. HxH is easily my favorite shounen of all time. Imo, Togashi really improved upon his earlier work Yu Yu Hakusho to create something that really stands out among so many trope-filled battle shounen. However, I do acknowledge the manga has its problems…which are not apparent in the anime.

      As I said, a top 5 is really hard. Aside from LoGH, there’re a bunch of anime that could’ve made the list, but these are the ones I decided to list for the above reasons.

    3. Warning: lots of text incoming.

      #5 – Silver Spoon: This is a show that combines a lot of things I really love about my favorite anime. You have a wonderful cast of characters with some great character development, and a strong storyline that explores all sorts of aspects about farm life and encourage you to think about things you might not have considered before, such as what it means to raise animals and then kill them for food. It’s also incredibly funny when it wants to be, which is always a plus. It really is a wonderful show overall.

      #4 – Nichijou: This show is, to me, a comedic masterpiece. It is easily the most hilarious show I have ever seen, helped by the fact that it loves to turn ordinary situations absolutely insane (a sort of comedy I am always fond of). There’s a lot of great animation at work, too. Most importantly, though, it also has some really nice little storylines about friendship that give the show some heart as well (something every good comedy should have at least some of).

      #3 – AnoHana: This one is more of a personal choice. It does have a great emotional storyline featuring a wonderful, well-developed cast of characters, so it has that going for it overall. For me, though, it’s a show that’s all about a group of childhood friends dealing with both growing up and with the loss of one of their own in the past, which is a storyline I really enjoyed (if my post on childhood friends is of any indication).

      #2 – Clannad (After Story): Where do I even begin with this one… The first season is already very strong, featuring some great character arcs and a nicely-developed romance, but it’s the After Story season, particularly the latter half, that really pushes this show into my absolute favorites. Without going too much into spoilers (though you might have heard them all already), I’ll say that very few romances go into the realm past romance and into actual family life, and this show does just that (and a bit more) to provide what is really not just a love story, but a life story.

      And I’ve already mentioned why I love my #1 so much, though I have a lot more I could say about it: things such as the fantastical elements that add some extra wonder to the setting, the great character relationships, the absolutely wonderful story development in the Origination season… I know my list is more of a “favorites” list than a “bests” list, but I do honestly believe the Aria series is the best anime series ever made.

  4. Anyone who knows me will know what is in my top spot:
    1. Ef – A Tale Of Memories
    but then it gets harder…
    2. Kids On The Slope
    3. Space Brothers
    4. Steins;Gate
    5. GunslingerGirl

    2 – 5 of the above subject to change – 2. could so easily have been Your Lie In April for example.

    1. A lot of classic shows there. I’m happy to see Kids on the Slope especially – it’s a show that a lot of anibloggers we disappointed by, but which I think is absolutely outstanding. I would’ve been proud to include it in my top five.

      1. I was debating to put Kids on the Slope on my list, it was a great anime. It ended wayyyy too quick for me, but I did enjoy the ending. It was one of those “classics” for me.

    2. I understand that there is (or will be) an animé for “A silent Voice”. If it’s as good as the manga it will go straight to number 2.

  5. Trust and Betrayal slipped my mind! I’m not sure it would’ve made my list anyway, but it definitely deserves a mention.

  6. 1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
    As said above, subject to change, but anyways:
    2. Steins;Gate
    3. Angel Beats
    4. Death Note
    5. Princess Monoke

  7. 1. Steins;Gate
    2. Clannad
    3. Trigun
    4. Gunslinger Girl
    5. Your Lie in April
    Before now this spot would probably be Kids on the Slope or Sword Art Online.
    This show has definitely been keeping me entertainment.

    1. I think that Steins;gate continues to rise in it’s acclaim – last I looked, it’s like #2 or #3 on Anime Planet’s rankings. I was happy to see that – it’s a tremendous, tremendous series.

      1. Yes it is its one of the few series i was willing actually shell out the money for the full bluray set. most of the time i stream, but I found it to be such a great series on so many levels that I couldn’t help but put it on top.

  8. 1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
    2. Neon Genesis Evangelion
    3. InuYasha
    4. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
    5. Tenchi Universe

    Evangelion could be #1, there’s not much to separate it and Madoka. The others are fun for me to watch, but not the masterpieces of those top 2.

  9. My top 5 are:
    – Mahou Shoujo Madoka Mgica
    – PreCure (all seasons)
    – Death Note
    – Binan Koukou Chikyu-Boeibu love
    – Orefuro

  10. 5. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
    4. The Tatami Galaxy
    3. FLCL
    2. Serial Experiments Lain
    1. Ashita no Joe

    1. Ashita no Joe? Check out Medieval Otaku’s first column article, if you haven’t already – he writes about the series!

      Serial Experiments Lain is terrific as well. I love the depth of the series, and the tone is unlike anything else I’ve watched.

  11. I have a top 5 on my MAL, but truly picking a top 5 is tough ;-;.
    1. Trigun
    2. Rurouni Kenshin
    3. Durarara!! (first season)
    4. Clannad
    5. Kyousou giga

    I can’t say with %100 that this is my final, especially considering I just recently finished Kyousougiga, but rurouni Kenshin and Trigun share a special place in my heart for having pulled me into the world of anime and the like, along with having great stories. Durarara might fight with Clannad, because I’m a sucker for After Story and all the feels thrown throughout both seasons (along with being a bit of a hopeless romantic XD). Durarara is simply interesting and fun, I am thoroughly enjoying the new season currently airing, and Shizuo has to be my favorite overpowered character that wants nothing to do with being overpowered, even if his temper doesn’t allow it. Kyousou Giga is odd. I stumbled upon it really randomly, decided to watch it, and I really like it. The opening makes me remember old fantasy-themed dreams I used to have, and the ending theme was probably picked for being so perfect for the many cliffhangers the episodes leave off on. As to the end, I’ll get back to you, but the show’s quality is rather high, so there’s that 😀

    1. My goodness, I just noticed Kaze mention katanagatari… Oh crap, sorry Kyousou Giga! DX I prefer katanagatari, it was awesome. Just, It was good XD

    2. Great list! Trigun and Kenshin both played important roles in my anime fandom as well. I tried to rewatch Kenshin a few years ago, though, and it just hasn’t aged well for me (even if I included Trust and Betrayal in my top five). Trigun, though, remains as enjoyable to me as ever.

    1. Nice list – a mix of classics and the new!

      Can you tell me what you like so much about FLCL? I’ve just never been able to finish it – I think I’ve watched the opening episode three times without getting past it.

  12. I just got into anime last year, but I do have a few favorites. 🙂

    1) Barakamon
    2) Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
    3) Angel Beats
    4) Sword Art Online
    5) Silver Spoon

    I wanted to put a few others there (namely Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun and Attack on Titan), but the above 5 have affected me the most. Which, personally, is something I love about anime. Sure, I’ve learned and grown because of Aot and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun but I’ve thought more about my top five more than I have about any other series. I’ve laughed, cried, and come to know myself that much more. 🙂

    1. Newcomer or not, those are all series that had such acclaim or popularity, or both. I immediately thought of stardf29 when you mentioned these (he beat me to the punch)! I do think I might get around to finishing Silver Spoon at some point, as it was a show I really enjoyed but didn’t have time to complete.

  13. I’ll second that Samurai X: Tsuiokuhen is a perfect anime. Perhaps some people would find it a bit slow, but it’s very deep, has a good dose of action, and boasts some beautiful animation. If only they were able to make the other two Samurai X movies as good!

  14. 1. Clannad + Clannad After Story
    2. Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
    3. Mobile Suit Gundam (TV + Movies)
    4. Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal
    5. Patlabor 2 the Movie

    I have so many favorites, that I’m not sure 3-5 are really fixed. But I think 1 and 2 are in my mind, 1 for just really having connected to me (especially reminding me of my late father, may he RIP), and 2 for being just an excellent war series, the MC really goes through a lot that I ultimately root for him, though he ends up badly (though not dead or serious injuries).

  15. My top 5
    2.The boy and the beast
    3.Wolf Children
    5. Noragami

    I surely also like a lot of Ghibli movies )))

    P.s. I am really passionate about Gintama , I mean I like it a lot .It is famous mainly because of its humor , but for me it’s something more ) I find many great things there aside from humor . I like it how characters seem to be not serious and careless but when smb need there help they are there to help , and I like how they just love their simple life , appreciate things they have and always are ready to protect it. I also like how a lot of bad characters can change their minds and go to good side. Also I like a lot of quotes from there , like: ““Happiness depends on each person. If you think you’re happy, then you must be happy.” and a lot more ))))
    Thank you if you read this , I wanted to share my thoughts about Gintama cause I haven’t seen posts there about it )

    P.s.2 It has been a while since I was actively watching anime . But recently I found this website and I was happy that such site exists )) Btw I watched anime The boy and the beast by your recommendation. It was awesome )))
    There are definitely more animes I like .There are some I could remember : Snow White with the Red Hair , Shoujo Nozaki kun , GTO)

    The main P.s Thank you very much for your amazing website and for your articles . I really like it .

    1. Thank you for sharing! I’m not sure if any of us have watched Gintama, despite its popularity. 😅

      And I’m super happy you watched and enjoyed The Boy and the Beast!

Leave a Reply