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10 Anime Reccomendations

This post is intended as a summary of the anime that I would use as initial reccomendations.  It is intended as a quick reference for those who stumble across my site and find that they have tastes and preferences that are similar to mine.  These do not represent what I consider to be the “best” of anime nor are they ranked in any particular order.



Mimi wo Sumaseba / Whisper of the Heart (Review Link)

Whisper of the Heart is a film by Studio Ghibli featuring the story of a young girl named Shizuku and a schoolmate, Seiji, and is among my favourite films.  Whisper is essentially an ode to the minor joys of life – a wholesome celebration of friendship, family, love, kindness, and most importantly: dreams and curiosity.   A quote from director Hayao Miyazaki sums up the motivation for the film: “It is easy to cynically declare that wholesomeness is a fragile concept…..Even so, it seems to me that it also ought to be possible to express….how wonderful the quality of wholesomeness is. ”  And in pursuing that simple goal, they produced what I consider to be a timeless coming-of-age story.

Princess Mononoke (Review Link)

Princess Mononoke is a rich, mythological epic which tells the timeless story of a battle between man and nature. The film maintains a delicate balance between the large scale battle and the more personal story of the main characters, and also presents very beautiful images of nature and spirits which I find to be among the most unforgettable settings in animated filmmaking altogether. If there is ever an anime that I would suggest as an introduction to the potential of animation to tell unparalleled stories, this would be the one. It could simply not be done in live action with the same effect.

My Neighbor Totoro (Review Link)

My Neighbot Totoro is a gentle and heartfelt ode to childhood, imagination, and family.  It is a film for both children and anyone who has ever been a child.  At moments it is joyously imaginative, other times it possess a tempered tinge of sadness, but from beginning to end it is a truly poignant story about being a child – one of the rare few films that can make such claims in honesty.

Millennium Actress (Review Link)

A story across generations, where Satoshi Kon takes us through the entire life of an aged actress currently living in seclusion.  Through his atypical approach to storytelling, we literally live through her experiences as a child in a prewar era through her entire life, driven at every turn by what seems at first to be an inner longing to find a dissident artist she had helped save in her youth but which gradually reveals itself to be something more complex and more bittersweet.   It is a mature and poignant story with an emotionally challenging ending and fantastic direction.

Grave of the Fireflies (Review Link)

Grave of the Fireflies has opened the minds of countless viewers and critics alike as to the potential of animation to tell serious, dramatic stories.  The film tells the story of a pair of orphaned children during World War 2, and the emotional toll it takes on the viewer will be extremely heavy.  However, I firmly believe it is an important story that should be seen by everyone at least once.


Televised Series


Although I don’t tend to watch many televised anime series and don’t claim to be an authority on them, there are quite a few which I have a degree of fondness for.  Among them are:

Maison Ikkoku (Review Link)

A classic series from the 80s, following university-bound Godai as he meets and develops what starts as an immature infatuation for, but gradually a reciprocated and genuine affection,  his widowed landlord, Kyoko.  The show ranges from light-hearted comedy to some very effective scenes of low-key drama.  It is a series best watched over a long period of time, where the effect of growing attached to the characters works best.

Kemono no Souja Erin (Review Link)

A gently told fantasy story of a girl who attempts to discard society’s codes and forge a new relationship with beasts who have been treated as tools.  Although the premise is idealistic, the series maintains an ambiguous view of this goal while at the same time delivering very satisfying character growth as well as a rewarding climax which pulls several plot threads together.  It’s a story which can easily be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Planetes (Review Link)

Acompelling sci-fi show which presents a gripping and emotional character drama within a realistic vision of a space-bound (near) future for humanity.  The first half is a little more slice-of-life oriented, allowing us to bond with the crew, while the second builds up to an dramatic and emotionally intensive climax, shaking the characters’ beliefs to their core and delivering some of the most satisfying character development I’ve seen.

Natsume Yuujinchou (Review Link)

Natsume Yuujinchou is about a teenage boy who can see and talk to spirits.  Though the premise brings several generic ideas to mind, the show uses this starting point instead to explore some very touching themes of loneliness, friendship, and kindness.  It is told in an episodic manner, with Natsume, the main character, discovering a new spirit and their background with each “arc”.  Nearly every poignant episode manages to hit an emotional cord in the viewer and it is a wonderful show for family viewing.

24 responses so far

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24 Responses to “10 Anime Reccomendations”

  1. hashion Sep 16th 2009

    Nice list, but also a good example of how even people with similar taste have different preferences.

    Maison Ikkoku, yes. Banner2, yes. H&C, yes. And clearly I have to watch Touch. But Natsume Yuujinchou and Ookiku Furikabutte just never clicked with me. I’ll have to try again. Whisper of the Heart and Byousoku 5cm are my favorite anime movies. Princess Mononoke and Fireflies are below those somewhere, for me.

    I guess it’s time for me to think about what my list might be. Last time I did that, a couple of years ago, I had a lot fewer titles to choose among, lol. Thanks for the post.

  2. Theowneon Sep 16th 2009

    I can understand Ookiku, I suppose it is a bit of an acquired taste (particularly the ten episode long play-by-play baseball match). I an unashamedly a fanboy for Natsume Yuujinchou, though. I just love the warmth of that series, nearly every episode was moving at some point or another, in a very gentle kind of way. For me, it’s one of a kind.

  3. lelangiron Sep 16th 2009

    I need sum planetes rewatch….and by that i mean more nono fapping

  4. Ian Kon Sep 16th 2009

    From this list, it seems that stories with strong dramatic elements (especially romance) are what resonate with you.

    My tastes tend towards adventure, mystery, horror, etc, but I do appreciate how well done drama can help such stories. As a result, I would recommend the following:

    Mushi-shi – My favorite anime, tastes mentioned above notwithstanding. Similar in some respects to Natsume Yuujinchou, but superior to my mind because of its excellent visuals and more mysterious, fantastic atmosphere.

    Jin Roh, The Wolf Brigade – Set in an alternate historical timeline where Japan was occupied not by America but Nazi Germany. However, the setting is really incidental to the storyline, which is about a secret policeman who, after seeing a girl blow herself up in front of him, falls in love with her sister. A much darker version of Little Red Riding Hood than most of us are used is also threaded through, and parallels, the story.

    Kino’s Journey – About a traveler and her talking motorcycle who travel from city to city, spending no more than three days in each. This thought provoking show has a somewhat surreal, fairy-tail-like atmosphere, but there are no simple morals.

  5. ExecutiveOtakuon Sep 16th 2009

    Natsume Yuujinchou sounds like something I might have to check out sometime. Much agreement with Honey and Clover, it’s at the top of my list too. Personally I kind of found the anime version of Planetes disappointing though, but maybe that’s just because the manga is just that good.

    Speaking of manga vs anime, how do the Crest of the Stars/Banner of the Stars anime compare to the manga? I’ve only read the manga and watched a little bit of CotS.

  6. Theowneon Sep 17th 2009

    I wasn’t even aware there was a mange. I know that it follows the original novels very well.

  7. Ian Kon Sep 17th 2009

    In light of what you’ve said above, you’ll probably feel similarly about Jin-Roh as to the other two I mentioned. The romance is between two people who are hiding in shells, so the drama is not very overt.

    A few less emotionally detached stories:

    Eureka 7
    Gunslinger Girl
    5cm Per Second

    The first three all have Science Fiction and Action elements, but all have very strong relationships at their core. I would guess that especially E7 and 5cm have a chance to make it onto this list someday (assuming you haven’t already seen them).

    As for the Crest/Banner of the Stars manga, my understanding is it is a direct adaptation of the anime, with one volume for each of the series. I would expect that a lot is left out, and that the anime would be a much richer experience.

  8. Ian Kon Sep 17th 2009

    Oops, I just found you MAL list and saw that you’d already seen 5cm. Never mind.

  9. ExecutiveOtakuon Sep 17th 2009

    Yeah, I have all three volumes of the Seikai Trilogy, and when I found out that there was a season per manga volume I had to think that a lot was left out (or added into the anime). I guess I’ll have to watch it eventually, but there’s just so much I need to finish first.

    Just a bit of odd trivia, they switched illustrators for Banner of the Stars II for some reason. It was an obviously different style, but it wasn’t jarring (I’m kind of glad that the latter artists didn’t try to imitate the former’s style.)

  10. ExecutiveOtakuon Sep 17th 2009

    Oh, PS @Theowne: Just noticed that you’re in Toronto. What a great city! I need to make another trip up there sometime.

  11. Milk-Ton Jan 16th 2010

    Hi,This is an international message…
    I’m glad to hear that you seem to like the anime ‘true tears’very much.Because I’m like it too.And I also viewed your piano sheet on Natsume yuujinnchou,I have already downloaded it and planned to play it in my vacation.
    At the very first time I got here,I was a little surprised that Canadians(hope I am right)can be very familiar with Japanese Anime.I usually thought that European and American culture is very different from Eastern culture…..
    Now here is my point:Since you know about the anime ‘Ture Tears’,and also you are outstanding on piano , why don’t you write some piano sheets about True Tears?And I am sure that lotta peaple would appreciate and admire you (including me…)
    Thank you for having my message…

  12. Theowneon Jan 16th 2010

    I typically write piano music only for anime music that impress me very much. Unfortunately, none of the True Tears music impressed me. As I have a pretty busy schedule, I don’t know if I’ll be writing any sheets any time soon =(

    P.S. I didn’t know this was a surprise, but Japanese anime has fans all around the world. From Canada to India to Japan to Australia.

  13. Milk-Ton Jan 20th 2010

    Hi,me again.
    First to say,when it comes to anime my only thought are about Japanese anime,have to admit that i am very unfamiliar with American anime,except for such thing as Mickey or Tom and Jerry…The reason that I’m surprise is that ,in the field of PC games,I often hear fans of Japanese games and American games arguing a lot(while i like them both)…
    Secondly,Natsume youujinchou has got beautiful opening music as well as ending music.but on the other hand,I think maybe you thought True tears’ OP and ED are too ‘happy’ for you so you are not impressed,but i do think some of the True Tears’ backgroud musics are really impressive,such as ‘yichi jin no kaze’,I don’t know whether you have listened to it.
    at last,i’m feel really sorry about your busy schedule.Obviously not your bad.maybe I should learn to write sheets on my own some day….
    Thanks again.

  14. Theowneon Jan 20th 2010

    I never mentioned American animation…. This is getting confusing…=P

  15. Laicaon Feb 28th 2010

    Hi! also from Toronto. (Did you watch the hockey game? Canada got gold. :D)

    I am about 10 episodes into Planetes, and although I haven’t finished it yet, I have to agree with you about its quality. I love how different it is from most sci-fi, that it focuses more on the human aspect than on mind-blowing technology. And the poignancy of it depiction of the loneliness of space, of the costs of scientific progress, of the dark side of tech… really moved me. Plus the relationships are subtly drawn but real, and emotional. I’ll have to see what I think about the climax.

    I have watched the live-action movie made based on H&C, which I really enjoyed. The anime is on my list, because I liked the movie for the same reasons you mentioned here.

    Grave of the Fireflies definitely belongs on any top-ten list. Also, I am never watching it again.

    I tried watching Maison Ikkaku because I’m a fan of Rumiko Takahashi, but the first episode didn’t grab me. Maybe it’s that while I love RK’s storytelling, I don’t like her art style much at all, and for me that can make or break the experience.

    Thanks for the list! I might check out some of your recommendations that I’ve never heard of. You seem to look for similar things as me in anime. I also feel like it has to move me for me to love it.

  16. HataZakion Apr 14th 2010

    Great list Theowne!

    I am about to start watching Maison Ikkoku, and I was wondering if you watched in with subtitles or dubbed in English originally, and which you would recommend.


  17. Theowneon Apr 14th 2010

    I haven’t really watched the English dub of MI (and I don’t usually watch dubs altogether), so I can’t say that I’m a good person to ask. My default answer is to watch the original language as that’s what I’m used to =)

  18. Naziaon May 9th 2010

    I would like to recommend ‘Clannad’ if you haven’t seen it yet. Personally I liked ‘Clannad After Story’ better. And thanks a lot for the piano pieces of Honey & Clover, it was excellent.

  19. Acidburnon Jul 7th 2011

    Well, your top 15 list is interesting because you keep focus on one specific genre – which is basically the “family” films. However, I miss there some “adult” Japanese films and anime, such as Ghost in the Shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade or Serial Experiments Lain.
    Also you may update your list sometimes because there are new excellent films which you would like too I think. Have you already seen the Place Promised in Our Early Days, 5 centimeters per second or a Voices of a Distant Star? What do you think about Sky Crawlers? And why I miss the Nausicaa of the Walley of the Wind in your list? I know it is hard to choose only 15 films but if I can post here my top 15 anime list (without the order because it is cross-genre list):
    – Place Promised in Our Early Days
    – 5 centimeters per second
    – Colorful (not the pantsu one)
    – Girl Who Leapt Through Time
    – Chobits
    – Ergo Proxy (rather than Nausicaa)
    – Ghost in the Shell
    – Neon Genesis Evangelion (together with the End of Evangelion)
    – Sword of the Stranger
    – Sky Crawlers
    – Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
    – Grave of the Fireflies
    – Death Note (to the point where L dies)
    – Eden of the East
    – Air
    Also i can add a Serial Experiments Lain, Basilisk or Macross Plus, maybe also Tsubasa Chronicles or Lucky Star, if I need some optimistic films.

  20. Acidburnon Jul 7th 2011

    It was also difficult to choose between the Sword of the Stranger and Seirei No Moribito – it depends whether you have time to watch the 26 episodes of Moribito or not. Other problem was whether to include Spirited Away or not. I rather chose Girl Who Leapt Throug Time – because it is oriented on teenagers rather than ten old kids.
    From your reviews I figured out that you prefer “calm” films without the bloody violence. I must admit that I dislike the violent purposeless anime such as Elfen Lied or Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni but I can deal with some amount of blood (or else) in the movies.

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  22. Canneon Jul 29th 2011

    With Whisper of the Heart topping the list, you’ve just become one of my biggest anime friends! This anime has been on my all time favorite list for almost 10 years now.

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