|Top 45 Anime Recommendations from the Last Decade (Final)|
Finally coming to a close, this is the last part of my recommendations for the last decade of anime. Thereís never been an order to them but I do consider these titles to be the cream of the crop. I believe thereís an anime out there that suits anyoneís tastes and these titles cater to a lot of them. Theyíre also a brilliant starting point for anyone getting into anime. Thereís Ghost in the Shell for the Scifi geeks, Skip Beat for the girls, Twelve Kingdoms for the fantasy buffs and a mixture of all the previous. So read on, find something you like, and enjoy what anime has to offer.
Article By: Bradley Beeck
Genre(s): Slice of Life, Drama
Description: Rakka wakes up in a walled town, surrounded by beings with ash coloured wings and halos. She doesnít know why sheís there, but it doesnít take long before she too grows ash coloured wings.
Opinion: Haibane Renmei deals with friendship and sin in a thought provoking, meaningful way and it has the potential to profoundly connect with its audience. The characters are very likeable and the pacing is very slice of life, slowly revealing character details and personal history. Itís a show that has a lot of depth and allusions to various religions. Youíll get out of it as much as you put in, which is one of the reasons why itís one of the greatest anime series of all time.
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama, Romance
Description: Kyoko loves her childhood friend, Shotaro, and even moves to Tokyo to support his burgeoning music career. However Shotaro is only using Kyoko and cruelly betrays her feelings. She vows revenge, and promises to be a bigger star than him.
Opinion: I love this show. Kyoko is a strong female lead and incredibly determined which is pretty damn rare. She reassesses her life down to the core so the story has a lot of emotional depth. Itís also funny, as Kyoko gets comically angry in a way which affects other characters. Some of the other characters also have similar emotional depth to Kyoko. The Ďscenariosí she eventually finds herself in are interesting in themselves and some of them look amazing.
Aria the Animation/Natural/Origination
Genre(s): Slice of Life, Comedy, Science Fiction
Description: Akari dreams of becoming an undine, a gondolier, on the planet Aqua. Mars was terraformed into a watery planet and renamed Aqua. To that end Akari moves to the new world and becomes an apprentice with Aria Company, in the city of Neo Venezia. Along the way to becoming a fully fledged undine she makes friends with other apprentice undines, Alice and Aika, and has many wonderful adventures.
Opinion: Three cute girls learn how to become gondoliers in a beautiful replica of Venice. Thatís all there is to it really, but somehow it manages to be interesting and very relaxing at the same time. Itís a rare combination that almost no other show matches. If youíre ever stressed out, just put this on and let your troubles float away down the canals of Neo Venezia
Description: A documentary maker tracks down his favourite actress, Chiyoko Fujiwara, to interview her. Sheís now an old recluse but he manages to get her to talk and what follows is a tale of life and dreams, where reality and fiction seamlessly blend.
Opinion: Itís Satoshi Kon at his best, telling a story where the barrier between fiction and reality is in the eye of the beholder. This is another title where you get out as much as you put in. Chiyokoís story is compelling viewing because it depicts her triumphs and failures in a way that makes her life seem real. For me the last line of the film really cemented Millennium Actress as one of the best anime of the decade, it drastically changed how I felt about Chiyokoís story.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Drama
Description: The Twelve Kingdoms is a land hidden in the sea, a land ruled by divine laws and populated by mythical creatures. The ruler of each of the Twelve Kingdoms is chosen by a Kirin, a creature that embodies godís will. Keiki is the Kirin of Kei and he has searched the lands to find the next ruler of his kingdom. After years of trying he begins searching outside the Twelve Kingdoms where he finds Youko. Youko must accept her new destiny and home in the Twelve Kingdoms. Her friends Yuka and Asano accompany her on this journey that will change them all.
Opinion: The Twelve Kingdoms is an exceptional show. It features a complex fully realized fictional world, on par with the Lord of the Rings, that is used to tell a multithreaded story. The characters truly live in this world and grow and change as the series progresses. In other words the Twelve Kingdoms is a triumph of characterization and a true classic.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Slice of Life, Drama, Mecha, Comedy.
Description: A star 20 light years away explodes sending shockwaves toward earth. The first devastates the planet but the next promises to be even worse. In response humanity builds space stations with a plan to defend the planet. Shima Katase enlists, along with many other students, to help protect the earth.
Opinion: This is another show with a wining combination. Itís heavily character driven, but has a strong over arching plot that involves mysterious forces. The characters are loveable and they have their own personal arcs, and that includes all the secondary characters. Stellvia reeled me in with its characters but kept me glued to the screen with itís mystery elements.
Story of Saiunkoku
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama, Romance, Harem
Description: Shuurei Kou wishes to be a Government Official. However the story begins with Shuurei being offered 500 Ryou of gold to go to the emperorís palace as a consort to try and motivate the emperor to perform his duties. The emperor, Ryuuki, recently ascended the throne and shows no interest in running the country. The setting is reminiscent of ancient China.
Opinion: The Story of Saiunkoku is a real gem of a series. Shuurei is a strong, compassionate girl that works hard to achieve her dreams. Sheís supported by a cast of Bishounen that keep her safe from a lot of the political machinations of the emperorís court. Although this changes as the show moves into its second season. Despite the serious backdrop the characters arenít uptight and the show has a gentle sense of humour. The music is also excellent and the first season has been released with a dub in North America, much to my surprise and delight.
Genre(s): Comedy, Fantasy, Action, Drama
Description: Edward and Alphonse Elric attempted the forbidden: raising their dead mother with the power of alchemy. They paid a terrible price, one more than the other, and now they seek the Philosopherís Stone in the hopes of undoing the damage. The Stone is said to have the power to turn even lead into gold, and is sought by all alchemists.
Opinion: When I think back on the last decade of anime this stands out to me as the defining moment of fandom in the west. It was a point when anime was watched by more than the otaku crowd, and was even mainstream enough to be mentioned in tv dramas. No show before or since has got this kind of DVD release in Australia, with its soundtrack, booklet and tin lunchbox. It was deserving of its popularity and anime today could take a leaf out of its book. It had great action, an interesting premise, engaging and humourous characters, good music, and a strong storyline. I have no idea why they decided to remake the series because this was so exceptional.
Genre(s): Drama, Slice of Life, Supernatural
Description: Tohru is living in a tent following the tragic death of her mother in a car accident, leaving her an orphan. Her situation is discovered by her classmate Yuki Sohma, and following a landslide that destroys her tent she comes to stay with him, along with Shigure and Kyo Sohma. Itís not long before she discovers the Sohmaís own situation Ė they turn into an animal from the Zodiac whenever a girl touches them.
Opinion: Fruits Basket is very funny, sweet, and real. The dramas that Tohru and the Sohma family face, though partially supernatural, are grounded in real life problems. The characters are also extremely likeable, each with their own distinct personality and quirks. The exchanges these characters get into are mainly where the humour comes from, rather than the situations Tohru finds herself in. Itís a highly memorable series although it only depicts a small portion of the manga.
Time of Eve
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Drama, Slice of Life
Description: In the future androids are common place and Rikuo has one in his household, Sammy. One day he sees a message in her log: ďAre you enjoying the Time of Eve?". Curious Rikuo tracks down the source of the message; a cafť called the Time of Eve. Going with his friend Masaki, he finds a little world where the distinction between humans and androids is blurred.
Opinion: Fresh, dynamic, and lively are not the words that come to mind when I think about science fiction. And yet, Time of Eve is all these things. I loved it from the very beginning, as it explored the interactions between robots and the other customers of the Time of Eve cafť. Sadly it ended before it fully revealed some of the background goings on, so I can only hope for more. The animation is also top notch and itís one of the best shows CrunchyRoll has ever streamed, legally or illegally.
Ghost in the Shell TV and Movies
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action
Description: Section 9 is tasked with resolving high tech crime. Kusanagi, the Major, is a cyborg who leads the team with her supreme abilities. Batou, a cyborg who served in the Rangers, and Togusa, an ex cop, as well Chief Aramaki, bureaucratic head, and a few others make up the rest of Section 9.
Opinion: Gits TV has the right mix of action and science fiction ideas and concepts. Itís cool to watch with a crack team of paramilitary agents taking down criminals, using optical camouflage and aircraft. At the same time it stimulates the mind with criminals hacking cyborgs and creating viruses. However some of the storylines are too complicated, and really hard to follow. The three movies, one of which came out during the 90s, are a varying bread. Solid State Society follows the TV series style perfectly and is awesome, and the 90ís film is reasonably close. Innocence on the other hand is terrible with characters constantly quoting things at each other, less action and a story that I couldnít even begin to explain let alone comprehend. Itís all the worst aspects of Ghost in the Shell magnified.
Banner of the Stars I & II & III
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Drama
Description: A new race of humans called the Abh is creating an empire among the stars. The planet Jinto Lynn was born on surrendered to the Abhís advance, and as part of the deal he was given noble status being the presidentís son. Sent away to learn about the Abh Jinto meets Lafiel, a princess of the Abh. Through partings and meetings the two form a bond, and serve together on the starship Basroil. The series continues the story from Crest of the Stars.
Opinion: This series has far more action than Crest of the Stars, which set up the Abh and Jinto and Lafielís relationship. The Abh are a very detailed race, which put most other SciFi to shame. Theyíre a true race of humans and have their own language and culture. Everytime I watch this series I feel a call to adventure and the OP song in particular just gets me pumped up. The relationship between Layfiel and Jinto is the core of the story, and I enjoy watching them. As I also really enjoy the huge space battles which populate this series.
Genre(s): Mecha, Drama, Fantasy
Description: Renton Thurston hates the city he lives in because itís boring and the only thing he enjoys there is lifting. He dreams of leaving and joining his hero Holland in the Gekkostate, a rebel group of lifters. One day his life changes when the typeZero and its pilot, Eureka, come crashing down on his house. Sheís a member of Gekkostate, and in Rentonís eyes very cute. He quickly decides to join but soon learns dreams arenít always what theyíre cracked up to be.
Opinion: Eureka Seven is an epic story, with excellent music and animation thatís absolutely worth watching. It doesnít waste a single episode, which is a feat considering it goes for 50 episodes. Every one exposes another nugget of information about the world or characters. Renton grows considerably from his brat beginnings as he faces a few harsh realities, such as guilt and understanding others. The series has a distinct premise Ė mechas that can surface the skies Ė that makes for some spectacular fights and the whole fictional world is quite unique.
Mezzo DSA TV
Genre(s): Action, Drama
Description: Mikura, Harada, and Kurokawa are the three members of the Danger Service Agency. They take on jobs no one else is crazy enough to touch, just as long as they get paid. Each team member has their own role: Mikura is the guns, Harada is the tech, and Kurokawa is the ex cop who brings in the jobs. These characters first appeared in the ova Mezzo: Forte.
Opinion: Fun rapid fire dialogue, interesting unique and mature stories and characters, and of course plenty of action makes Mezzo DSA one of my favourite series of all time. The first episode to this day is still one of the best episodes Iíve ever seen, because itís emotionally strong, unusual, exceptionally communicated and above all has meaning. Most of the seriesí 12 episodes are like that and the action is great as well; Mikura can really kick some ass. So Mezzo DSA is entertaining on all levels. Oh and donít be turned off by the opening animation, the show is nothing like that. I can only wish for another season.
Ceres Celestial Legend
Genre(s): Drama, Romance, Supernatural
Description: Aya Mikage and her twin brother Aki have just turned sixteen. Blissfully unaware of the terrible fate this brings the pair head to their grandfatherís residence. Once there a shattering family secret is revealed and Ayaís life will never be the same again.
Opinion: Ceres Celestial Legend is like a train wreck in slow motion, thatís how screwed up things get. The story is a tale of obsession and tragedy across generations, and thereís a powerful emotional force to the drama. Itís compelling stuff all the way through but itís hard to find on DVD these days.
There are some notable titles that got left off this list because I havenít seen them. However I know by reputation theyíre definitely worth checking out. They are: Baccano, Monster, Moribito, and Summer Wars which just snuck in at the end of the decade. Over the next year I hope to watch some of them, such as Summer Wars which is getting an Australian release later this year.
Read the other parts of my recommendations list: