After lots of editing I’m incredibly excited to finally be able to release this list! This is no means a definitive best of list, but I wanted to create a list that reflected series I personally love and that have affected me. A lot of the series on this list come with stories and wonderful memories that make them very special to me. I hope that you enjoy reading about my experiences with these series and that you discover some new and exciting shows to watch through it.
- Cowboy Bebop: Cowboy Bebop changed my life in so many ways. The first time I saw this show was during middle school at a friend’s house. I ended up seeing this show on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, and instantly fell in love with it. This was also my first experience watching Adult Swim, before it became super popular, and way before Toonami became a part of Adult Swim and streaming anime online was common. Cowboy Bebop was still a relatively new program at that time, and Adult Swim had a special marathon showing the entire show in one night. I was memorized by less than half way through the first episode, and I stayed up until around 3AM marathoning all of it. I had and have yet to see a show with so many amazing features and that set so many major standards for the US anime industry. Cowboy Bebop’s animation is mind blowing, the plots of each episode vary greatly in tone and yet are often masterpieces despite being radically different, the characters are cool and detailed with each character having their own interesting story arcs developed throughout the show, and the music is also radically varied yet mind-blowingly amazing.
This anime series is also a masterpiece because it is largely responsible for setting the standard for what a series and an English dub could be. All the voice cast was top notch, fit with their characters seamlessly, and helped push for a higher standard of translation and voice acting. Another element of this show that had a major impact on me was how it introduced me to many important and life changing topics such as how complex and important gender identity can be, and the complexity within various relationships. To this day I don’t think I’ve seen another show that has had the same impact on me as Cowboy Bebop. This series a must-see series, and a rare instance where the English dub is a must watch.
- Gankutsuou: the Count of Monte Cristo: Gankutsuou is an anime series that draws inspiration from one of my favourite books. At the beginning of undergraduate degree I was loaned a copy of Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo and ended up falling in love with Dumas’s ornate tale of revenge and loss. The Count of Monte Cristo is epic filled with drama, excitement, and a tale of love and hate, and it amazed me with how the drama in the story seemed to contrast my personality and how I felt my life was at the time. Gankutsuou manages to stir up those same feelings found in the novel, while adding its own twists to the tale and making the story its own. By changing the focus of the story from the Count to the naive son of one of the men that the Count seeks revenge against I felt a real sense of how mysterious, painfully driven, and larger than life the Count appears. Somehow the addition of a science fiction theme, the odd animation style that overlays fabrics, the new characters, and change of focus really does work in this series, and doesn’t detract from the originals themes, but instead is done carefully in a way that enhances them while setting the series apart from a mere retelling. This series is one of the best retellings of a classic work that I have ever seen, and whenever I watch it I am left by the end of the episode amazed and always eager for more.
- Wolf Rain: Wolf Rain is the sort of anime that people usually either love or hate, personally I love it. Other than the director many of the staff for Wolf Rain had just come from working on Cowboy Bebop. It was clear that they wanted to create an even more mind-blowing style of animation and it shows in Wolf’s Rain. Wolf Rain looks amazing and stands up still as one of the most beautiful looking series of all time. Also returning from Cowboy Bebop was composer Yahko Kanno who provided an appropriately different, but just as breathtaking mostly symphonic orchestral score. This series once again had an incredible voice cast and script with many amazing dub voice actors continuing to uphold a high standard (including the amazing Steve Blum). These technical elements were combined with an interesting and complex show mixing folk tales with science fiction into a journey of discovery. While I know that this series is not for everyone, I would recommend that everyone at least give it a try, because those who enjoy this show (like me) usually love it, and even those that don’t like it will at least appreciate the technical elements that went into Wolf’s Rain.
- Sailor Moon (original): Sailor Moon has had a huge impact on me not only as an anime fan, but as a person. When I was young before transitioning, Sailor Moon played a huge part in the self-discovery and affirmation of my gender. Despite being teased by my family about it, I would often watch the DIC dub of Sailor Moon usually in secret on Toonami when I could. I would day dream about having the female body I needed, being a part of the Sailor Moon world, and going on adventures while wearing beautiful outfits.
Sailor Moon also provided a story and world I could relate to. While some people feel that Sailor Moon has too much monster of the week material, I personally found the format great for getting to know the cast. Often the most important element of the show for me was getting a chance to know each of the characters, to the point where I felt like I knew how they would react in many situations. The Sailor Moon series balanced the action and the cosmic, with the mundane and everyday life well, keeping both interesting, fun, and exciting. It also maintained its feel and elements, while adding exciting and at the time cutting edge elements such as LGBTQIA characters. On top of that the series has an excellent and stylized hand drawn look and a musical score that always gets me pumped. Even without the nostalgia glasses and with the personalized impact this show has had on me, I still think that I would declare it one of the best Magical Girl shows of all time.
- Ranma ½: For a lot of older anime fans like me Ranma ½ was a very generationally significant show. Early in US anime fandom Ranma ½ was one of the most popular shows of its time and was a show everyone was talking about and watching. I grew up during the tail end of Ranma’s immense popularity and really got into Ranma during Viz’s second printing of the manga. I was quickly hooked and made Ranma ½ the first manga I consistently collected, despite having only a small allowance in High School. Its comedy, action, world, and concepts all drew me in, and it also became another part of my day dreams and a place of escape from difficulty of the world as a teenage transgender woman.
While I don’t think that the anime is nearly as good as the manga, the anime series has also had a huge impact on me. Despite not being as good as the manga, the anime series was something that I spend a lot of time watching. Ranma was one of the first anime series that I actively purchased, before DVD’s or streaming anime existed. I vividly recall purchasing a fan translated copy of the 2nd Ranma movie at a local used book store near my grandparent’s house and watching it with my brother. That experience has always stuck with me as one of the most important and enjoyable experiences I have had with an anime. After that I would sometimes find VHS copies of Ranma at Goodwill which I would purchase and watch religiously. While the world has changed a great deal from when I was first buying and watching the Ranma ½ anime, it still has a unique charm to it with a memorable and unusual soundtrack, and an interesting hand drawn style that reminds me a lot of Sailor Moon and early cell animation. It also remains important to me as a series. I continue to love watching the Ranma anime series, OVA’s, and movies to this day. Ranma ½ for me is the sort of show that I don’t view so much on an empirical level, but rather as an important part of my life and an important experience for me as an anime fan.
- Haibane Renmei: Despite my first complete viewing of this series being less than five years ago, this show already holds a special place in my heart. Haibane Renmei is like no other anime series I have seen. Despite being a fantasy series based around coming to another world, Haibane Renmei couldn’t feel more different from most series of these kinds. Haibane Renmei explores an over arcing plot about personal salvation and saving others emotionally, but it is also often slow moving and typically focuses on everyday life for the characters. Haibane Renmei has a lot more in common with shows like Mushishi and Kino’s Journey then it does other coming to a fantasy world based shows that proceeded it like Sword Art Online and Log Horizon, which drew more strongly from shows such as .Dot Hack Sign. I appreciate Haibane Renmei’s slow emotional feel and can relate to many of the internal struggles and questions the show poses about life and death. This show helped me get through my first breakup and a bout of major depression during my busiest period of graduate school. This show also helped me find a way forward through these struggles. For those looking for a series that is smart, relaxing, emotional, and takes its time crafting a detailed and thoughtful story Haibane Renmei is the perfect series to view.
- Spice and Wolf: Horo is one of my favourite anime characters of all time. From her design as a red wolf young woman, who is cute while also remaining wild and free; to her personality, which combines extreme wit with a sense of animal like danger, but also a helpful warmth Horo is a character that appeals to me greatly. In many ways she reminds me of the sort of person I want to be or at least be friends with. That isn’t to say that Horo is the only element that I love about Spice and Wolf, the merchant Lawrence’s often laid back, cynical, and deal making personality nicely contrast Horo’s personality and helps develop an odd relationship between them. The plot about changing times, religious shifts, and medieval economies are all fascinating as well, and are highlighted well with the series style and memorable score. This is a great anime for those who love Kemonomimi like me or those who want an unusual anime about economies and changing traditions.
- Space Captain Harlock: I’m hard pressed to think a character more badass and iconic than Captain Harlock. Though Leji Matsumoto’s works have largely been forgotten or seen as relics in the US, it’s hard for me not to admire the work and story that went into this classic series. Its passionate music and striking scenes are burnt into my mind. Captain Harlock is a series that I personally think holds up as one of the most important Space Opera epics of all time despite its age. Harlock is a character who is larger than life and represents the importance for standing up for what you believe in and being free to be yourself. He and his crew of misfits sail the stars as pirates fighting for what is right, rather than what is easy. These messages I think are largely timeless and have held up for me in a profound way, which makes it one of my personal favourite shows.
- Wandering Son: Finding an anime series that seriously talks about being transgender is nearly impossible. Often transgender characters are at most side characters or comedy reliefs, and their lives aren’t explored fully. As a transgender person I often feel sad that transgender people are often underrepresented or to be treated like a punch line within media. Wandering Son’s treatment of transgender people, however is very different. Staring two transgender kids growing up, this show beautifully explores what it is like to be transgender and young within Japan. Wandering Son takes itself seriously, exploring the perspective of how transgender kids deal with a strictly gendered society. Wandering Son is very emotional in this exploration, and doesn’t stray from talking about the confusion, fear, awkwardness, and sadness as well as the happiness and personal triumphs of its cast. I found myself as a transgender woman sucked into this narrative and the shows gorgeous animation style.
Seeing a realistic and positive transgender story that presents transgender kids and people’s narratives was so important for me. It felt as though this show was created to give transgender people a voice, and to try to express the complex feelings of being transgender. It’s very hard to explain to others what it personally is like surrounded by a world that often doesn’t see or witness the feelings, challenges, and needs of transgender people, especially transgender children. While no one representation could even cover the transgender experience in its entirety and although this show focuses specifically on the experience of transgender children in Japan, I do feel that it has a universal quality to it that talks directly and frankly about the transgender experience. I think that this show does an excellent of job of trying to represent what it is like to be transgender and can speak not only to me on a personal level, but also to those who aren’t transgender and seeking to understand some of the transgender experience.
- Paranoia Agent: Paranoia Agent is a show that I was sadly wrong about when I was younger. When the show first premiered on Adult Swim the advertisements seemed to suggest it was a gritty crime drama about a boy with baseball bat and roller blades who went around whacking people. In some sense I couldn’t have been more wrong about this show. Paranoia Agent like many Satoshi Kon works I would later see is about mental illness, where the story is far deeper and more complex than how it appears on the outside. It wasn’t until years later that I saw this show on anime streamer’s channel and lamented my previous misjudgement. It was so much better than I initially had anticipated based on the ads and was like no other series I had ever seen. Paranoia Agent was the show that pushed me to read and watch ever other Satoshi Kon work I could get my hands on because of its complex plot blending the real and surreal, and the deep characterization of its cast.
- Bubblegum Crisis: While I was picking up Ranma VHS’s at Goodwill I also stumbled upon this 80’s gem of a series. Bubblegum Crisis is a science fiction anime classic that drew from so many different and interesting sources, combining them into a thrilling world. It included dystopian science fiction, 1980’s culture, terminators, mech suits, and a powerful female superhero team taking on a powerful and evil corporation. This series set the stage for so many series to follow it, and presented a new urban science fiction style.
I was most impressed by how interesting and powerful the lead women were in Bubblegum Crisis. During the time I was first watching this show, the United States rarely had any empowering female role models, and I hadn’t seen anything as empowering and rocking like Bubblegum Crisis. Girls and women on TV were at best typically relegated to helping male leads or as tokens. Women in U.S. cartoons at the time didn’t usually kick ass or have prominence in the same way they do today. It still sticks with me just how cool and empowered the characters in Bubblegum Crisis were. This series is worth watching if for nothing more than its historical significance and rocking soundtrack, but I feel it is much more than just a historically important show and should be checked out by all superhero, action, and science fiction fans as well.
- Ghost Sweeper Mikami: Ghost Sweeper Mikami proves that not all anime shows must be deep, entirely original, or artistically unusual to be a lot of fun and memorable. Despite being the latest show on this list that I have watched, Ghost Sweeper Mikami earns its place here due to how much fun I had watching it. Mikami clearly draws a lot from Ranma ½’s style of slapstick and action, mixing it with an interesting exorcism-based plot. It didn’t take long before I was drawn into the series wacky humour and characters such as the money hungry Ghost hunting expert Reiko Mikami, her pervert and cowardly assistant Tadao Yokoshima, and the underpaid naïve ghost assistant Okinu.
What really made this show stand out for me was just how well it executes its jokes. Ghost Sweeper Mikami’s constant references, wacky scenarios and comedic timing reminded me a lot of why I loved Ranma ½. On top of this the show has an amazing opening, a wonderful stylized hand-drawn animation (I’m a huge lover of the hand-drawn style), and interesting characters designs. Despite an interest theme of ghost busting, the primary draw of this series for me is how entertaining it is, and how well it adopts and adapts familiar comedic traditions and material. I have been having a blast watching this series, and feel it is one of the best hidden gems I have stumbled upon and one well worth checking out.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena: Revolutionary Girl Utena is a show that very weird and very good. Utena stands out because of its imagination, drawing from many unusual themes such as Yuri, Surrealism, comedy, tournament action, apocalypse, drama, and a show with psychological elements. Trying to explain Utena in terms of these genres though is very difficult. For those who haven’t seen this series the best way of describing it would be that it stars a female prince, who is sent to participate in sword fighting contests in an upside-down castle to win the hand of the Rose Bride. Utena ends up quickly “winning” the Rose Bride Anthy Himemiya and tries throughout the season to help Anthy break free of her demure personality and to protect her against other duelling students, including the school’s student council.
There is no show quite like Revolutionary Girl Utena, which also stands out due to its unique elements of animation style, score, opening, and plot. I think it’s once again this uniqueness that draws me to so much to this series and makes it one of my favourites. One episode in Utena could be deadly serious, while the next could be about boxing with Kangaroo or body swapping curry. I always get a sense with this show that it’s never clear what will happen next, but that whatever does happen will make sense within the series context. I applaud Revolutionary Girl Utena for taking chances, doing so many original things, and doing those things in a way that worked and enhanced the show. Those looking for something different and interesting will not disappointed if they watch this series.
- Princess Jellyfish: Princess Jellyfish is another show that makes my top 16, because it can effectively blend multiple elements. The story of a Jellyfish loving nerd, working together with other super nerds and a cross-dressing fashionista in order to save their apartment building from redevelopment, this anime blends weird yet relatable comedy and drama together spectacularly. I can’t get enough of this series both in sub and the surprisingly great English dub. Of all the series I have watched this is probably the one I am most hoping gets another season. Every moment of this series was great from seeing the opening of this series which has the most movie references I have even seen in an anime opening, to the final episode that left me wanting more. It is a shame this series has been largely forgotten by others, because it does so many things right and leaves such a great impression.
I first got to see this show when someone shared this series in anime club, and I was immediate captivated. This show was so good that it ended up becoming something as a club that we would watch each week, and I was fortunate enough to get to see it start to finish. While I have seen and learned about many amazing shows in anime club such as Madoka Magica, Space Captain Harlock, Space Dandy, and Hajime No Ippo this show stands out as one of the best shows I was introduced to. I enjoyed this show so much that I waited with bated breath when this show was licensed and immediately bought a copy of the series at Comic Con after it was released. Surprisingly seeing the series again on my own with the English dub did not diminish my experience with the show. The dub was solid and enhanced my feelings about seeing the show again, which is something that rarely happens.
- Princess Tutu: Princess Tutu is a show that I watched after several anime reviewers recommended it, and I can safely say that it deserved the hype it was given. Princess Tutu is one of the best children’s anime and magical girl series I have ever seen with great animation, unique characters, and a fantastic classically themed score. I was also quickly drawn into its uses of fairy tales, dance, and classical music to tell a beautiful and complex story, while also drawing from magical girl shows. Princess Tutu is especially exciting because it doesn’t talk down to its viewers. Despite being aimed at children, Princess Tutu has complex themes, emotions and many twists that would feel at home in a great more adult aimed anime like Revolutionary Girl Utena, while retaining a classical magical girl feel. While many other magical girl shows are based on a formula, Princess Tutu did something incredibly original by including its stylized music, dance, and story book elements directly into the story. Princess Tutu is the perfect example for me of a show that lives up to the hype and blends its themes directly into the story.
- Urusei Yatsura: Originally, I was planning on making sure that this list of my favourite picks was limited to fifteen shows. I wanted to tell stories and talk about the impact that only the most important anime had on to me. At first, I had thought that I had established the list and I didn’t have this pick on it or the honourable mentions. When I saw more of this show with my girlfriend Hana though, I was reminded why this is one of my favourite series and adaptions of all time. After watching this series, I knew it had to be on the main list somewhere but wasn’t sure what I would drop too keep it to fifteen. I realized that although I felt this series needed to be on the list, I also couldn’t bear to move any of the other shows to the honourable mentions or remove any show from my fifteen. In the end I ended up finally caving in and adding this series to the list as number sixteen, which is something I do not regret.
Urusei Yatsura is a comedy where it feels like anything can and will happen, and that the show makers took great care to capture the manga’s series feel. Though the animation has not dated as well as Ranma, I feel that empirically this show does a better job of capturing the originals off the wall slapstick humour and wacky characterization. This show is mainly on the list because it is so incredibly wacky and funny. Takahashi clearly had a lot of fun writing the show’s many odd setups and plots, and this adaption captures that joy perfectly. Urusei Yatsura is a show that I often get lost in, where I’m always wanting to see more of and lose track of everything else. As a fan of all things Takahashi and growing up reading her comics the manga for this series was one that I always wish I could have read more of. I’m super excited that the manga is being reprinted so I can finally read it and I hope that this release will help to get the anime’s license rescued by Discotek or Viz.
- Magical Emi: As many of my readers and friends know I love obscure magical girl shows, especially from the 1980’s. Magical Girl shows in the 80’s were often aimed at young girls, and often featured more emotional content and less violent conflict than the magical girl most people are now generally use to today. Of all the shows of this genre from the 1980’s so far my favourite has been Magical Emi. Magical Emi is a cute show with an interesting premise. It stars the girl Mai who gets the power to transform into the teenage stage magician Magical Emi so that she can help her grandparents magic act. Like many 1980’s anime series this show is very simple and focuses largely on Mai working to promote her grandparent’s magical act when it becomes noticed by a TV producer, while also working out her feelings for her teenage love interest Shou Yuuki. The series is so powerful because it is so simple, fun, and sweet, but stands out because of its focus on stage magic which presents a wonderful twist on the 80’s magical girl genre, while also exemplifying it.(Blank)
Magical Emi captures the essence of magic, heart, and wonder found in 80’s magical girl shows effectively, making it one of my personal favourites of the era. Despite this show being my favourite of the 80’s, I tend to love the wonder and awe that many other Magical Girl shows of the time also represent. Shows of this period bring me back to the joy I felt as a child watching and exploring exciting fantasy worlds filled with love and the magical. While I appreciate the diversity, creativity, and action that later Magical Girl shows have, many shows recently have taken more violent, cynical, and sexualized content, and dark routes. There is definitely a place and was a need for these twists, and diversity of content and themes, but I still feel an attachment for 1980’s style of show that tends to be simpler and more focused on more positive emotions.
- CLAMP Anime series: I thought long and hard about which of the many series created by the all women creator group CLAMP would be on this list. I was finding it hard though to pick just one out of the many amazing series I have seen. Each series by this team has something unique to offer, and a good reason why it might have belonged individually on this list. Magical Knight Rayearth has a beautiful design, an amazing blending of concepts, a surprising plot twist, amazing music and a cute Chibi aesthetic; while XXXHolic has wonderful characters, a dream like aesthetic, and does a great job of contrasting animation between characters to define them; Angelic Layer was a great adaption with lots of heart and an amazing blend of Shonen tournament and Shoujo drama themes; while Chobbit’s features an unusual story and a conversation on the human relationship with technology; Card Captor Sakura is an amazing Magical Girl show with two amazing series, a more gentle and emotional aesthetic, and an interesting take on relationship dynamics; while Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles featured amazing dimension hopping stories and mind bending twists. All these shows and more have been very important to me, so much so that I found it impossible to choose just one. Rather than filling up and expanding my honourable mentions list or having to make the difficult decision of choosing only a limited few CLAMP work’s, I instead decided that it would be best to put all the CLAMP series I have seen into this one spot. CLAMP as a group has had such huge impact on me and the anime industry, which is why I wanted to highlight all their outstanding works in this entry.
- The Laughing Salesman: The Laughing Salesman makes it on this honourable mention list alone for its title character’s frightening appearance. Moguro Fukuzo’s unnerving huge smile, and gleefully sadist eyes and laugh helps to make him one of the scariest figures of all time. What is even more frightening and effective about his two series though is how the salesman antagonizes his victims. The Laughing Salesman takes pleasure in destroying people by getting them to destroy themselves. He often gives people exactly what they want or think they want, knowing that they will either be consumed with their passion and/or that they will disobey his conditions and suffer for it. He then departs each episode with a disturbing grin on his face and his terrifying signature laugh. This is one of the strangest and most disturbing horror anime series of all time relying on physiological horror within rather than with graphic violence or nightmarish imagery.
- Mononoke: Mononoke is series that immediately stands out for its artistic nature. Not only does its animation stand out with a style similar to a surreal woodblock painting, it also presents a unique for the way it focuses on traditional styles of Japanese storytelling. Mononoke is like Japanese traditional ghost or Yokai stories blended with mystery. Each story is slow and thought out, designed to take advantage of an otherworldly tension. As a fan of Japanese folk tales and artistic anime, this series immediately caught my attention when I first viewed it and drew me into its unusual aesthetic, making it one of my favourites. After first seeing this show in my college anime club I sought out and purchased this series when it was first released at Comic con, and happily marathoned it. This series is one of the best anime series for fans with an acquired taste and is hidden gem series there are and is well worth trying out.
- Monster and Master Keaton: Naoki Urasawa is a genius and nowhere is this more apparent than with two the anime adaptions of his series Monster and Master Keaton. Both did his amazing stories justice, directly adapting them brilliantly to an anime setting. Whether bringing to life the nail-biting story of the doctor who accidently saved a human monster or the down to earth story of an amazing multitalented man, both series capture the complex characters and design used by Urasawa in his comics. What is most incredible about these adaptions though is how they handle the story. Somehow, they both capture the pacing and plot of the original manga, but do not come off as inferior copies or as ill paced. It’s incredible how well these two series handle Urasawa’s incredible work, breathing life into them while showing great respect.
These series were too good not include on this list for this reason. I grew up reading Urasawa and consider him one of my all-time favourite manga creators. I remember when the book store chain Border’s was going out of business buying all of his manga series Pluto, and then not being able to put it down till it was finished. I always admired how he made the dramatic feel real. Nothing in his writing even when it fantastical feels forced in, and even the best and worst characters in his stories often feel very human. These anime series capture that humanness, recreating his manga and adapting their tone carefully. It’s clear that a lot of work went into capturing the original’s vision, and that work really pays off in the Master Keaton and Monster anime series.
- Land of the Lustrous: Generally, digitally animated anime not only doesn’t interest me, but feels pointless and ugly. In most cases I find the cg style is needlessly distracting, something that could be done better in traditional animation, and something that interferes with the story. None of these things, however are the case with Land of the Lustrous. This series feels like it strongly belongs in the digital style which fleshes out its world and character designs, without hurting the plot or being distracting. Not only is Land of the Lustrous the best digitally animated series I have seen, but it is also quickly becoming one of my personal favourite anime series. The only reason this series wasn’t included on the main list is that I have yet to finish it, and it is still such a new show for me.
I not only admire Land of the Lustrous for its physical aspects though, I also love its story. Like many wonderful anime series like Gankutsuou, this show’s science fiction story continues to grow and develop, and always ends on a suspenseful cliff hanger. Land of the Lustrous also is interesting in that its characters lack a defined gender, and although they are humanoid they have unique properties depending on how they evolved. This series is probably the closest one on this list at the moment to making the main list
- Case Closed: It would be impossible to talk about some of my favourite anime series without talking about one of longest running and best mystery shows Case Closed (Detective Conan). While I have had more experience with the Conan manga series and prefer it over the anime series, I still very much admire the anime’s adaptions. I love mysteries and am a huge fan of classic mysteries novels such as the Maltese Falcon, Sherlock Holmes, The Fiend with Twenty Faces, and the Long Goodbye (to name just a few). This series pays great tribute to these classic books and holds up with the best of them. Often despite having very short format, Case Closed managed to get me gripped by the mystery unfolding and trying to solve the crime along with the show’s lead Conan. The mysteries are well written and often offer just the right amount of challenge to keep me guessing, but also are not so obscure that they make me feel cheated by the conclusion. Case Closed is so much fun to watch and is something that I could pretty much watch forever, with constant new episodes, movies, and manga stories continuing to be released despite the series starting back in 1994.
- Sherlock Hound: Miyasaki’s anime adaption of Sherlock Holmes holds a special place in my heart. I first got to see this series as a kid, where I would rent Sherlock Hound VHS tapes from my local video store in Storrs, CT. I was the perfect age for this humanoid dog version of Sherlock Holmes, and I loved the classic light mystery and action feel. What immediately stuck out at the time as unusual about this show was the fantastic English dub. Not only did the dub far exceed the typical dubbing quality of the time, but it also used English voice actors with realistic traditional English accents. Sherlock Hound was also great because it was filled with creativity, drawing from its source material and adapting it for a Japanese children’s action show with the help of famed director Hayao Miyazaki. This show remains one I have a lot of fond memories of, and that I still to love to watch.
- Mister Ajikko: Food Wars owes a lot to Mister Ajikko, a cooking show from the 1980’s that originated many of the cooking contest tropes. Personally, as much I love Food Wars, I prefer this show to it. Mister Ajikko’s over the top competitions and characters, mixed with interesting cooking information is something that I don’t even think Food Wars tops. What I really love about this show is how its lead Ajikko is directed so much towards a dream. Despite his skill and his desire to continue his father’s restaurant and legacy he continues to be dragged into competitions where he helps people in his neighbourhood, learns, and grows.
I feel that Mister Ajikko has a slight edge on Food Wars for several reasons. First, because the lead character is younger and more localized than in Food Wars, we get a chance to learn and become invested in his family and have them be an important direct part of the story. As the viewer I want Ajikko to succeed, because he tries to help others around him while continuing to follow his father’s dream. It also it doesn’t hurt that the eventual villain of the show becomes an evil cooking group run by Dracula (he has both the castle and cape) and that his young rival is basically a younger version of Ryoga from Ranma 1/2. Another reason I love this show is because it was one I watched along with my girlfriend Hanna. We got to share the joy and excitement of this series together. It was always so much fun talking about the various characters and contests, while watching the show at the same time as she was. While I know that cooking contest shows are an acquired taste, this is show that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys Food Wars and other similar cooking competition shows.
- Maison Ikkoku: I don’t think it is a surprise by now that I love the works of Rumiko Takahashi. While there are many adaptations of her works, those adaptations can be very hit or miss. Maison Ikkoku is without a doubt one of the hits. This show does a great job capturing romance and drama, along with Takahashi’s zany slapstick provided by the lead’s obnoxious neighbours. Unlike series such as Ranma or Urusei Yatsura, a large part of Maison Ikkoku is serious romance and drama. Blending these with slapstick is a challenge, thankfully this adaption is up to the task. While this is another series that I have read more of the manga than I have seen of the anime adaption, I don’t feel the anime lags in any apparent way when compared with the manga. Both do an excellent job of telling a story that is both heart-warming and funny. Watching this series always makes me smile, and I’m glad I get to share my love of it with others.