18 of My Favorite Anime

I’ve always enjoyed animated shows and movies. People tend to have very strong feelings for or against animated entertainment, and when it comes to anime, those views tend to become even more black and white. All of these choices may not strictly fall under the heading of anime to a purist, but this is my list of favorites. They all share the same aesthetic that I consider anime. Maybe you enjoy anime too, but haven’t seen everything on my list. Maybe you’ve never given it a chance, and just need some recommendations to get started. Either way, I’m glad you’re here. Today, I’d like to share 18 of my favorite anime. I’ve placed them in alphabetical order because ranking them was getting too complicated.

A Certain Magical Index A Certain Magical Index – Boy meets girl. Girl beats up boy on a regular basis. Magic. Jiggly physics. Fate of the world at stake. Good trumps evil. Friends stick together till the end. Redemption arcs. These are all typical anime hallmarks, and this one has them all. What’s not to love?

AJin AJin – AJin shows us a very stylized, dark story set around the concept that certain people are really AJin hiding amongst humans. Their power manifests after their first death. Yep, first death. After that, they become a nearly indestructible force. AJin has epic battles, good v/s evil, the fight against prejudice just for being different, and beautiful visuals. I wouldn’t recommend this one for children, but for adults, definitely.

Bungo Stray Dogs Bungo Stray Dogs – Supernatural private investigators in service to the government. Epic battles. Amazing visual effects, and a kick ass sound track. This is the first in the list to display the concept of strangers coming together as a chosen family. Queer people understand this concept since our own birth families and society often force us to build our chosen family. Maybe that’s why so many on this list share that trait.

Castlevania Castlevania – I never enjoyed playing the Castlevania video game, but this series on Netflix is amazing. It is a beautiful retelling of the Dracula story as a dark romance. The visuals are probably some of the best you’ll see in this list. This show truly checks all the boxes. It doesn’t shy away from anything. Women on equal footing with men, magic, family drama, homosexuality, bisexuality, polyamory, good v/s evil, vampires, monsters, redemption…it’s all there.

Fate Stay Night UBW Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (UBW) – Mages form contracts with magical servants pulled from history’s greatest warriors to battle in the Holy Grail War. Fate Stay Night UBW shows us the events in the 5th Holy Grail War. All of the Fate series are wild and over the top. One minute things are life and death serious. The next minute there will be a joke worthy of any preteen boy or immature man.

Fate Zero Fate Zero – I should have probably combined this one with the previous entry in the list. Fate Zero follows the same formula. The differences here are that we get to see new historical figures as the servants, new competitors, and it is set 10 years before the events in Stay Night UBW. Fate Zero tells the story of the 4th Holy Grail War.

Fairy Tail Fairy Tail – “Do fairies have tails?” If you get that, then you understand why Fairy Tail consistently ranks as one of the best anime series of all time. Of all the ones on this list, it is only one of three that I’ve watched more than once. I think it is amazing. Magic, strangers become chosen family, jiggly physics, hot guys, a definite “love is love” vibe, epic battles, good triumphs over evil, redemption, and a story arc that takes you from the beginning of the Fairy Tail guild all the way through to the end of the series. Many of the songs have made it into my personal playlist as well. I highly recommend Fairy Tail to anyone.

Fruits Basket Fruits Basket (2019-2021) – If I had to pick a favorite on this list, Fruits Basket would be it. I’ve totally lost track of how many times I’ve watched the series. It is just an amazing story. I laughed and cried…sometimes at the same time. Fruits Basket tells the story of a group of broken people who learn to live and love again while facing their fears thanks to the efforts of one special girl who stumbles into their lives. Before Heartstopper came along, this was the show that I would use to pull myself out of whatever dark mood I was in. Fruits Basket is another series with a really great soundtrack too. Just like Fairy Tail, many of the songs from Fruits Basket now live in my personal playlist.

One Piece One Piece – What happens when you toss a bunch of pirates, a corrupt government, Devil Fruit powers, and the most ridiculously funny misfits that ever came together as a crew into one show? You get One Piece, that’s what. This series, Fairy Tail, and Naruto all follow the same format. A group of people come together, become family, get stronger through a series of battles, and then save the world in one epic final battle. I haven’t seen the final battle in One Piece yet. The English version isn’t all available on Crunchyroll yet, but I have no doubt it will end with them being victorious.

Kiss Him Not Me Kiss Him, Not Me – An overweight girl turns to manga for comfort. When she loses weight, a group starts vying for her attention. Since she learned everything she knows about romance from boy love manga, a series of hilarious events ensues. Watch this when you need the equivalent of bubble gum for your brain.

Naruto Naruto – This entry encompasses Naruto and Naruto Shippuden. I know they are two different series, but they are all Naruto to me. I described Fairy Tail, One Piece, and Naruto as essentially the same. Naruto takes the same formula and puts ninja and martial arts masters at the center of the story. You still get the friends as chosen family, supernatural powers, epic battles, good triumphs over evil, immature jokes, and jiggly physics…just with ninjas.

Ouran High School Host Club Ouran High School Host Club – Of all the shows on the list, I’ve watched this one the most. You think it is just going to be another silly show built around stereotypes and immature jokes, but it is more than that. There are real lessons about love, life, family, chosen family, and not judging a book by the cover scattered all throughout the episodes. The fact that all of this happens on the stage of a reverse harem with a cross dressing main character at the heart of all the fun, makes it even better. If the world was a bit more like the students in the Ouran Host Club see it, the world would be a better place.

RWBY RWBY – I know I keep saying the same things about these shows, but what can I say? I like what I like. Magic, epic battles, good v/s evil, love is love, chosen family, silliness for the sake of being silly. RWBY has it all too with amazing visuals to keep you coming back for more.

Tails of Arcadia Tales of Arcadia – “A life full of almost is a life full of never.” – Toby Domzalski. Okay, I did cheat here. One entry for several shows. The Tales of Arcadia tell the stories of events in one little town. It starts with Troll Hunters, then goes back in time a bit to tell the story of some of the Troll Hunters side characters in 3Below. Everyone gets pulled together with some new characters in Wizards, and I gotta admit, I didn’t even know about Rise of the Titans until I was putting this list together. Exciting stuff! You can check them all out on Netflix. I gotta say, even though that quote by Toby has become one of my favorites, 3Below was my favorite in this mix.

Vampire Knight Vampire Knight – This is an odd little romance telling the story of a love triangle between students at a special school for vampires and humans. I was drawn to it because it was an anime about vampires. It has some pretty out there concepts. Not everyone is going to like it. If you can keep an open mind and enjoy anime, then I think you’ll find something here to enjoy.

Violet Evergarden Violet Evergarden – A friend recommended I watch Violet Evergarden when he learned that I liked to watch shows that make me feel something. He did not tell me that I was going to end up bawling like a baby towards the end of the season. This show really hits ya in the feels. It is a gorgeous journey as we watch Violet learn to deal with her loss and pain while she helps others deal with theirs. You may not cry, but if you watch it without feeling something, then you should check your pulse. You’re probably dead.

Voltron Voltron – Robots, space travel, chosen family, epic battles, queer characters, and they save more than the world. This time they get to save the whole universe. I know there is more than one Voltron series, so let’s be clear. I’m talking about the remake that Netflix put out starting in 2016. Great show to watch.

YuGiOh Yu-Gi-Oh – Our last entry is actually the first anime from this list that I watched. I’ve always liked card games. Add in magic, animation, and a story line that weaves in elements from Egyptian mythology, and it was pretty much a given that I’d fall for Yu-Gi-Oh. I have not watched all of the spin-offs, and didn’t care for the ones I did watch, to be honest. The original show though, it definitely deserves a place on my list.

There you have it. 18 of my favorite anime listed out for your viewing pleasure. How does my list compare to yours? Do we have any favorites in common? Are there any series you enjoy that didn’t make my list? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new shows to enjoy. You might just have my next favorite.

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