Thu
Nov 17 2011 1:00pm

Ten Anime Series You Should See Before You Die

Ten Anime Series You Should See Before You DieFirst off I’d just like to say a huge thank you to everyone that read my list of ten anime films you should see before you die—the response has been phenomenal—not just the number of people who read it, but also those who took the time out to get involved in the following discussion. Some people loved my selections, some people thought I was well off the mark, but it was clear that there was no way I was going to be able to avoid putting together another list, this time of TV series.

It has been a far harder list to compile. Not only because of the vast selection to choose from, but also because I knew from the start that I would be leaving out some shows that a lot of people hold very dear. As such, I hope that at least some of you will read the next paragraph first before scrolling down the list to see what is missing and getting upset.

Just like last time, the aim of the list is not only to present ten examples of the anime medium that showcase the art form at its greatest, but also ten examples that are accessible to those mature viewers for whom the scene is new or even completely alien. They are works that I would show to those friends that turn their noses up at anime—we all have them—to prove to them how utterly wrong they are. To do this they must be not only masterpieces of animation, direction and storytelling, but immediately accessible to any viewer. As such, I have had to leave out popular fan favourites, slice-of-life comedies and high school dramas that are aimed too directly at the otaku demographic and which rely on an understanding of the genre and Japanese pop culture to fully appreciate. Similarly, for us older fans, I’ve left out some longer series that I personally hold very dear—groundbreaking shows like Patlabor, Legends of the Galactic Heroes and VOTOMS—just because the commitment involved in watching such epically long series is probably too daunting for new anime viewers.

Again: The below picks are in no particular order, the term “mature” is kind of loose—seeing as at least two are really “kids” shows—and this is purely personal opinion. If you disagree, see you in the comments section.

 

Cowboy Bebop (1998) - 26 episodes

When it first hit Japan at the end of the 90s, Shinichiro Watanabe’s seminal Cowboy Bebop broke new ground for anime on TV. An overly stylistic take on the established space opera genre, it’s the story of a disparate bunch of planet-hopping bounty hunters struggling to make a living. It gave Watanabe a chance to shamelessly take influences from all of his favourite pop-culture sources—from Star Wars and cyberpunk literature to Hollywood westerns and Quentin Tarantino movies, all set to Yoko Kano’s eclectic, vibrant jazz infused soundtrack. The result was an international hit; one of the few shows of the period that found itself transmitted not only on U.S. TV but also across most of Europe, spawning a theatrical movie, various different DVD releases, merchandise, and giving shameless inspiration to Buffy creator Joss Whedon to pen his cult favorite Firefly.

It’s easy to criticize Watanabe’s direction as style over substance at first glance, but in reality it’s Keiko Nobumoto’s skillfully crafted scripts that are the reason for the show’s success. Throughout the 26 episodes Watanabe manages to do the impossible—combine outlandish plots and settings with believable, empathetic characters that the viewer feels a genuine, true attachment towards. For all the choreographed fight scenes, orbital dogfights and John Woo style shootouts, Bebop’s true heart lies in its dry humour, sexual energy and the gentle, masterful unfurling of its characters’ back stories. If I had to pick one episode of one anime to show a non-believer, it would be episode 17 of Cowboy Bebop “Speak Like a Child”; a perfect 25 minutes of script writing that starts with gentle comedy and ends in emotional heartbreak. Watanabe tried to recreate the vibe with his Chanbara-meets-hip-hop follow up Samurai Champloo, but the characters and plots were limited by the setting, and although Champloo is ingenious and riveting throughout, Cowboy Bebop still remains his masterpiece and one of the most exhilarating, watchable works of anime ever made.

 

Paranoia Agent (2004) - 13 episodes

The term “auteur” is often overused by critics—especially in anime circles—but if there’s one director that truly lived up to the title then it was arguably the late Satoshi Kon. After completing his masterpiece trio of experimental, reality-bending films—Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers and Millennium Actress—Kon found himself with an abundance of new ideas and desiring a break from the long production cycle of high budget anime features. Turning to television the result was the Madhouse produced Paranoia Agent; a dark, deeply twisted story of two cops tracking a mysterious teenage hoodlum dubbed Li’l Slugger by the media. As the two detectives investigate the case, the lives of Slugger’s seemingly random assault victims become the series’ initial focus and soon there appear to be no truly innocent bystanders. But just as Kon leads the viewer down one apparent path he, of course, pulls his usual reality-shifting, mind-bending, plot-twisting trick with the show’s surprising climax. Paranoia Agent is an unusual, brave and at times challenging example of what anime can achieve, and perhaps what no other art form can. Even just a few years after its first broadcast it seems hard to believe that it was made for television—especially in today’s recession hit, conservative climate.

 

Gunslinger Girl (2003) - 13 episodes

It’s impossible to deny that the vast majority of anime and manga rely heavily on established genres, well-trodden clichés, recycled storylines and archetypal characters. Which is why it’s refreshing when a show like Gunslinger Girl comes along to challenge the accepted standards of the medium. Set in modern day Italy, it follows the activities of the Social Welfare Agency, a shadowy government group that uses abused, brain-washed young girls as trained assassins to eliminate political rivals, and focuses on the relationship between the girls and their older, male handlers. A story about over-cute, teenage girls turned cybernetic killers is nothing new, but writer Yu Aida (who also penned the original manga) turns it into a chilling, scathing deconstruction of anime’s moral values. Everything is questioned—the over sexualisation of young girls and their idolizing relationships with older men, the continued, accepted association of children with violence. The celebration and stylisation of that violence is challenged in the most brutal, disturbing, and heart-wrenching of manners. Gunslinger Girl holds a mirror up to anime and it’s moe obsessed otaku followers, asking them to look at what they find so titillating and exhilarating, as if the blood and consequences were real and in their hands. Its challenging plot and message is backed by strong production values and its gentle European ambiance, making it one of the most controversial anime productions of the last decades. It splits anime fans even now, with many refusing to see it as anything more than fan-pandering—interestingly (in my experience) a reaction seldom seen from viewers from outside anime fandom.

 

Neon Genesis Evangelion (1994) - 26 episodes plus various OVA releases and alternative versions

Few anime franchises have had the lasting impact on anime and wider Japanese pop culture that Gainax’s Neon Genesis Evangelion has had. The story of giant mecha battling strange, powerful creatures, it is yet another show that takes standard anime clichés—angst-ridden teenage pilots, over-the-top battle sequences, end-of-the-world scenarios—and uses them to try and tell a different, deeper story. Focusing largely on the lives of the children that are forced—at times against their will—to defend earth from this unknown, mysterious enemy, it moves from being a simple coming of age story to dealing with psychoanalysis, mental illness, and the essence of human nature.

Similarly, in amongst the teen drama and city-leveling action sequences, Hideaki Anno’s script plays with Christian and biblical symbolism to explore philosophical and spiritual concepts, as well as questioning the nature of reality itself. As such, it has become one of the most widely discussed and analyzed anime ever produced. As if the series wasn’t complex enough, an OVA—The End of Evangelion—was released that gave an alternate telling of the series’ climax. While its philosophical explorations have helped it to stick in Japan’s collective consciousness, its visual style also played a massive role in revitalising the medium, on mecha and character design in particular, spawning not only many imitators but also a current movie series retelling. It is still the original TV run that remains compelling and essential viewing.

 

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002) - 26 episodes


Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell manga had already been a huge hit in Japan before Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 film version turned it into a global cult hit, so the idea of it also spawning a TV show must have been circulating at Production IG for years. It wasn’t until 2002 that it finally happened, and along with allowing the powerhouse studio another chance to mine the property, they also took it as an opportunity to appease disgruntled fans that felt Oshii had strayed too far from the source material. The series recaptures the more lighthearted, action-driven feel of Shirow’s manga, but still remains a dark, serious story of high-tech special forces tackling hackers, terrorists, corrupt government regimes, and rogue AIs. Each episode is densely packed with complex plots that can, at times, be tough to follow, but are backed up by another eclectic, brooding Yoko Kano-directed soundtrack and probably the best depiction of Shirow’s distinctive weapon and technology designs, including the now iconic Tachikoma mechs. Those that can’t commit to the entire 26 episode run can try the Laughing Man compilation film, that edits together key scenes to tell the series’ over-arching main plotline, but you risk missing out on some of the more interesting standalone episodes. And for those who get understandably sucked in, there’s always the second season—Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd Gig—which is as equally well crafted, complex, and even more politically challenging.

 

Future Boy Conan (1978) - 26 episodes

A good decade before they turned Studio Ghibli into the internationally renowned animation powerhouse it is now, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata were making shows for TV, most notably amongst them Future Boy Conan. After global catastrophes have threatened mankind with extinction, a man and his 11-year-old grandson Conan, the only survivors of a group attempting to flee Earth, become stranded on a remote island after their spaceship crash lands. Believing themselves to possibly be the only remaining humans, their world is turned upside down when a young girl is washed up on the shore, pursued by mysterious military forces.

What’s fascinating about watching the show now is how distinctly the 30-year-old production feels like a more contemporary Ghibli classic. All the elements are there. Despite the obvious low budget and simple animation, the visuals exude the Ghibli magic, with the character and aircraft designs so clearly Miyazaki’s and pacing and background vista shots so blatantly the product of Takahata’s storyboarding. Even more importantly, it foretells the pair’s stunning gift for storytelling, with many of the themes of Ghibli’s output—environmental destruction, industrialisation, conflict and children facing up to their roles in the world—prototyped here. It’s a magical series that somehow manages to feel as much fresh as it does nostalgic, and one that should be shared with the whole family.

 

Planetes (2003) - 26 episodes

Sunrise’s Planetes manages to accomplish something that few sci-fi TV shows, animated or otherwise, have done: Convincingly combine slice-of-life soap opera, humour, a realistic scientific basis, and an analysis of global politics into accessible, polished entertainment. Set at a time when mankind is first venturing into living permanently in space, it shows you the high frontier from the bottom of the social ladder as it follows the lives of the crew of the Toy Box, an aging debris collection ship—basically the orbital equivalent of a road sweeper. Their mundane work gains more danger and significance as their orbital world is threatened by downtrodden third world terrorists. It’s here—and in it’s grim portrayal of the very real threat of cancer to those who spend too long in space—that the show questions the real importance of and celebrates human space exploration, accusing it of not only being politically and economically divisive and a waste of money and resources, but perhaps also biologically unnatural. It’s beautifully drawn throughout, with obvious visual nods to NASA, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 and classic sci-fi literature, but it’s Ichirō Ōkouchi’s always tight script and believably fleshed out characters that are the show’s winning assets. While frequently mature and serious, it is paced with well-handled comedy and subtle romance that makes it a joy to watch. It’s this skillful balance and its compelling plot that make Planetes not only perhaps my favourite anime series of all time, but one of the best examples of science fiction that television of any form has produced.

 

Serial Experiments Lain (1998) - 13 episodes

Set in “present day, present time” according to the show’s opening scrawl, psychological thriller Serial Experiments Lain focuses on Lain Iwakura, a teenage girl living in suburban Japan, and her introduction to the Wired, a global communications network similar to the internet. At a time when internet use was blossoming amongst young people and online subcultures were first cohering, Lain was the first anime series to truly try and capture the emotional and social attachments that are so easily formed to virtual worlds, and how reality can seemed blurred when you divide your time between them and the actual world.

But it didn’t end there—Lain went beyond looking at the psychology of internet culture to touch upon themes of philosophy, theology, mental illness, depression, and existentialism. Director Ryutaro Nakamura and writer Chiaki J. Konaka set out to create a show that would deliberately be open to different interpretations, and they certainly succeeded, with Lain being the most vigorously analysed and discussed anime since Neon Genesis Evangelion in both academic and fan circles. With so much going on thematically it’s easy to forget the series’ visual impact; the angst-ridden character design would influence not just anime but also Japanese and gothic fashion for years afterwards, and the slightly trippy, surrealistic background art questioned the constant quest for realism in animation at the time. A challenging work at times, but ultimately a rewarding one.

 

Denno Coil (2007) - 26 episodes

In many ways Mitsuo Iso’s Denno Coil covers similar thematic ground to Serial Experiments Lain, but from a refreshingly different perspective. Centered around a group of Japanese elementary school children, the show is at first glance apparently aimed at that age group, but with closer inspection that’s about as useful an assessment as dismissing My Neighbor Totoro or Spirited Away as just kids films—and the comparison between Denno Coil and some of Ghibli’s better crafted output is a wholly deserved and justifiable one. Set in 2026, it tells the story of young Yūko Okonogi, who moves with her family to the city of Daikoku, the technological centre of an emerging half-virtual world, created after the introduction of internet-connected augmented reality eyeglasses.

It isn’t merely the age of its protagonists that gives Denno Coil its fresh perspective compared to Lain, however, it’s also the decade between when the two were written—DC’s understanding of how networked technology has become so interwoven with our daily lives means that it often succeeds where Lain tried but failed. One of my strongest beliefs is that good science fiction always makes social commentary on the time in which it was written, and it is here that Denno Coil excels, presenting a world where children are more in touch with technology than their parents, are obsessed with video games and Pokemon style fads, and where peer pressure and owning the latest gadgets can become almost disturbingly important. Truly a classic series that exudes subtlety and elegance, and not to be missed.

 

Mononoke (2007) - 12 episodes

In 2006 Toei released their eleven episode series Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales, an anthology of three separate stories based on traditional Japanese myths, written and produced by three separate teams. The show was only a moderate success until the third and final story about a mysterious traveling medicine seller caught the fans’ imagination, largely due to its unique visual style, which mimics traditional Ukiyo-e art. A year later Toei expanded the character into his series, and the breathtaking Mononoke was born.

Given a larger budget and 13 episodes to work within, director Kenji Nakamura was able to push his vision to the limit. The result was one of the most stylish, visually compelling series to emerge from Japan in decades. His use of traditional colours animated over an exaggerated textured paper effect, sprinkled with frenetic action and psychedelic sequences, all held together by a masterful eye for framing and direction makes every single second of Mononoke a mesmerising joy to behold. But again, it’s not just a case of style over substance; Mononoke combines sinister plot lines and minimal, subtle sound effects to create a truly chilling, creepy horror story experience, and an anime series that genuinely feels like no other.

 

So, what have I missed out? Gundam? Flag? Macross? Think I’ve completely missed the point here, and I should be trying to convert non-anime fans by subjecting them to 12 hours of Lucky Star? Hit the comments below and tell me what a fool I am. Go on, it’ll be therapeutic. For both of us.


When he’s not writing about anime Tim Maughan writes science fiction — his critically acclaimed book Paintwork is out now.

211 comments
FennNaten
1. FennNaten
I think that's a great list, thanks for sharing !
Of course we all have our favorites, I guess I would have put in Samuraï Champloo, Escaflowne, Chrno Crusade and Baccano!... and maybe Hellsing too.
But as you said, that's so hard to pick up only ten out of so many!
David W
2. DavidW
That's a good list but I would add Ergo Proxy. Ergo Proxy is such an amazing show story-wise, animation, everything.
FennNaten
3. Orange_Hollow
I've seen 5 of those titles and agree with them being among the best anime ever made. Especially Paranoia Agent and Cowboy Bebop. So I guess I have to watch another 5. (And Planetes I even already downloaded own)
Also, the idea about non-anime fans and 12 hours of Lucky Star sounds really great!
FennNaten
4. INCyr
Escaflowne is one that I would throw in that list as well. Such a fantastic series, I've been meaning to go back and watch it again for a while now.

Just make sure that people know to stay FAR, FAR AWAY from the god-awful movie. Holy hell is that thing a piece of crap.
FennNaten
5. Ben Applegate
I think that your argument about Gunslinger Girl as a black satire of moe would hold up more if the designs didn't conform completely to moe fan expectations. The animators didn't take advantage of the medium to communicate that message in any way at all. They could have, say, made the character designs much more brutally realistic during the hits or switched to a rougher, more visceral style during the violent scenes. That would have driven home a "there is something wrong with you, the viewer, for being turned on by this" message much more by deliberatly playing against the viewer's expectations. They could even have filmed the hits in live action. A real child actor in some of those scenes would have been incredibly shocking. As it is the show at best is trying to have it both ways, seeming to be satirical for smarter viewers while still pulling in the oblivious pervs, and that's what I have a problem with.
David Thomson
6. ZetaStriker
Glad to see you back with another list, and this time I think you were spot on with your choices for the most part. Honestly I haven't seen half the series you've listed; Gunslinger Girl in particular I'll have to give a second look since you've said it deconstructs the offensive tropes it presents at first glance, and I'd never even heard of Denna Coil or Mononoke.

Two series that I cannot suggest enough that failed to make your cut I feel a need to mention here though. They hold top positions on my favorites list without any real opposition, and are inherently accessible to Western audiences in ways that most Anime are not. Those series are Gungrave and Baccano!.

Gungrave itself is really a story of two very, very different parts, as shown by the misleading first few episode. We open on a sci-fi fueled action vignette, with re-animated corpses and monsters battling in the streets as "Gungrave" appears to set out for vengeance against a Harry MacDowell and his Millenion organization.

We quickly flash back, however, to a time long before this. From the quiet streets of a 1940s-era slum, in a setting so different it almost feels like a different show entirely, we witness the slow rise of Brandon Heat and best friend Harry MacDowell from street punks to high ranking members of the mafia, and slowly build towards what we know from the opening to be an inevitable betrayal that will drive the two friends apart, leaving Brandon dead to eventually reanimate as the eponymous "Gungrave".

Overall, these two settings build into a very enigmatic whole. The first half is almost entirely character exploration, while the more traditional action-driven second half is heavily influenced by the strong characters and emotions divulged upon the viewer by the preceding mafia story. With plenty of twists and turns and a wholly satisfying and unexpected ending, it remains my absolute favorite anime every made on those Eastern shores.

Baccano! fits into a similar genre, in a way. Like Gungrave, it is at its heart a mafia story, although in this case it fits much more firmly in a Western influenced setting. Taking place in Prohibition America simultaneously across 1930, 1931 and 1932, the non-linear story jumps between the three periods with ease while respecting the viewer's intelligence enough to give them the clues to figure out what is happening where, rather than spell it out. Other than a handful of characters shared across the three timelines, the series explores the movements of "immortals" who have drunk from an alchemical elixer of immortality, and how they intersect with the competing mobs of the era.

Mixing healthy doses of humor and some really dark action to make a well balanced whole, Baccano! is an over the top exploration of one of the most romanticized eras in American history this side of the Wild West. The characters are vibrant and exciting, making it hard to choose favorites, and vary from a several hundred year old Russian immigant turned mob lieutenant to a psychotic assassin suffering from a severe case of solipsism. With one notable exception, there really isn't much in the way of good and evil, meaning even sadistic characters like Ladd Russo can evoke some empathy and interest, and I've always been of the opinion that gray paints a better picture than black and white. The series is chaotic, exciting, and overall unique, which is sadly a rarity among most Anime these days. I just wish we'd gotten more of it.
Aeria Lynn
7. aeria_lynn
Haibane Renmei is one of my favorites, although not as mindbending as seriel experiments Lain, which is my favorite.
FennNaten
8. mattishii
I don't think Mononoke fit in with the rest of your list. The other anime all sort of mesh well with American sensibilities, and were all fairly popular with the American anime community. It seems like an anime that would go on a "Ten Great Anime You've Never Heard Of" list. In any case, my addendums to this list are:

Now and Then, Here and There: A standard 'boy gets warped to a fantasy world' story, where the excitement of a strange world quickly gives way to a story about the brutality of war.

Kaiba: A strange, dreamlike scifi, animated in a style reminiscent of the Jetsons, this anime is about a world where memories and bodies are freely interchangable, and a boy who wakes up with no heart.

Nana: A soap-opera about a group of 20 year-olds, several of whom are trying to hit it big as musicians. Lots of sex and rock n roll, no drugs. Has a pretty feminine sensibility. Just a really great soap opera.

Baccano!: A frustratingly non-linear story about mobsters and immortals clashing in Depression-era New York, this story is frenetic in the best way. See @6 ZetaStriker's post

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: This anime was huge all over the world, and should be watched if only for that reason. That said, I love this anime. It's about a normal guy getting swept up into a world of time travellers, psychics and aliens by a manic girl bored with the world. It's hard to describe the sensibility of this show, but it's unique, and doesn't fit what you're imagining from that description.

Last one I promise.

Gurren Lagann: This is the apotheosis of all Giant Robot anime. About a group of rebels fighting against an evil overlord, what really makes this show memorable is its bombastic visuals and over-the-top story. This is a show that'll really get your blood pumping.

Sorry about the length, I got carried away. My list got more mainstream as it went on. I'm not sure if I really captured what made those anime great, but they're all fantastic.
David Thomson
9. ZetaStriker
Now and Then, Here and There was fantastic, I'll admit. It gets my "More Depressing than Grave of the Fireflies" award. XD

Escaflowne doesn't hold up quite as well though in my mind. It was good, and certainly worth watching, but the ending didn't hold up as well as the first half did in my mind.

I know we were straying away for longer series, but I have to put out a mention for Code Geass as well while it's on my mind - if Gurren Lagann was a conglomeration of all the best aspects of mecha anime, Code Geass was a deconstruction of the genre. Set in an alternate history where the American Revolution failed and the "Britanian Empire" has become the world's penultimate superpower, it takes place in a conquered Japan where the Japanese are second class citizens to the Britanians that had established their colony in the region.

So far, so normal, but it doesn't take long for Geass to stray from the genre's roots. The terrorist-held Macguffin turns out to be an immortal woman instead of a robot, the lead is a physically weak tactician and exiled Britannian prince who wants to see the world burn, and the cast of revolutionary "heroes" are manipulated by him to serve his own ends across the bredth of the series. The plot is full of twists, rarely going in the direction you expect it to, and the main character's obscured motives and questionable morality make for a very interesting watch. The second season loses sight of some of these ideals for a minute before the absolutely perfect ending, but on the whole the series easily sneaks into my top five.
Daniel Goss
10. Beren
Not that I think this is one you should show to people new to Anime (unless, of course, they are on some strange diet consisting of only psychotropic substances) but I really feel like everyone should see FLCL at least once. If nothing else, you could watch it after an Evangelion marathon as a pallate-cleanser.
-Beren
FennNaten
11. rattledbone
The two series I usually suggest for anyone new to anime are Cowboy Bebop, because its action sequences are perfectly tailored to suck in new US viewers (in fact, my anime viewing was in a near decade dry spell when CB first arrived-- it got me watching again), and Planetes, which really has so much going for it to hook the casual, less action oreinted viewer. I'm glad to see them both on this list, particularly Planetes, which I find that even most seasoned anime fans have never seen and it's a shame.
FennNaten
12. Draken
Surprised not to see a mention of Basilisk. Bleak and uncompromising. Certainly not archetypal in this fashion, if in others.

But ZetaStriker, totally agree with CODE GEASS. Most definitely one of my top 5. In terms of sheer storytelling, I can't think of anything better. Every episode works, in some way, even if light hearted (and hilarious), towards the resolution of the story arc that forms the series - NO FILLERS! It deals with high issues and low: second-class citizenship, colonialism and imperial power, morality, sacrifice and the greater good, inter-familial strife/hatred/rivalry, etc., while being immensely enjoyable and thrilling to watch.
Superb.
Tim Maughan
13. TimMaughan
Thanks for all the comments guys - some great suggestions. Keep em coming!
Thomas Jeffries
14. thomstel
My most recent favorite is Natsume Yuujinchou. It's a little slice-of-life, a little supernatural, but very introductory in its presentation. The main character's relationships, friends, development, etc. are all spelled out, with a focus on his realizations about life, not about moe, evil spirits/deathgods, human evolution, or any other big concept thing. People who don't watch anime because they don't want involved with that sort of stuff have watched Natsume and told me it was pretty enjoyable once they got familiar with enough of the Japanese cultural elements.

Highly recommended.
Fake Name
15. ThePendragon
I second Escaflowne and would like to add Rahxephon and Heat Guy J. Because I'm lazy, here are the Wikipedia descriptions:

RahXephon anime series about 17-year-old Ayato Kamina, his ability to control a godlike mecha known as the RahXephon, and his inner journey to find a place in the world. His life as a student and artist in Tokyo is suddenly interrupted by a mysterious female stalker, strange planes invading the city and strange machines fighting back.

The central elements of RahXephon's plot are music, time, archetypal mystery, intrigue and romance. The series shows influences from philosophy, Japanese folklore and Western literature, such as the work of James Churchward. The cultural background of the series is dominated by Mesoamerican and other Pre-Columbian civilizations.


Heat Guy J chronicles the adventures of a young Special Services officer named Daisuke Aurora and his android partner known simply as "J". The pair live and work in the fictional, futuristic Metropolis of "Judoh" (Jewde), where the understaffed and underfunded Special Services Division of the Bureau of Urban Safety has its headquarters.
David Thomson
16. ZetaStriker
Rahxephon . . . I so wanted to like Rahxephon, but ended up being totally creeped out and dissatisfied by the end of the series. The reason being that central relationship of the series, at least post-plot twist. Spoilers - The simple fact that Haruka waited twelve years without ever getting over Ayato just strains my disbelief beyond the point of return - she comes across as a emotionally unstable stalker rather than a genuine love interest, and seeing them together triggers my pedophile detectors in ways that make me physically ill. It was just wrong, on so many levels, and it left me absolutely disgusted with the series as a whole. I understand others may not feel that way, but it was overpowering to me.

It doesn't help that the ending was kind of a narrative cop-out too.
FennNaten
17. Guruj
I'm a little surprised Full Metal Alchemist (either version) didn't even warrant an honorable mention. Those first episodes in particular are killer.
Chuk Goodin
18. Chuk
I don't really watch much anime (the occasional movie maybe) but my son got me watching Code Geass, so I'll agree with that one, too.
FennNaten
19. Draken
Honorable mention: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
20x better than the first vers. btw.
That Chimera episode tore my soul a little.

Death Note would have gotten a mention - deserves a mention - but for the ending, which was so poor it wrecked the entire anime.

But
Sunny Lollygag
20. GoodbyeNavi
I agree with the earlier comment about adding Ergo Proxy. Being the scifi lover that I am, it would have made a perfect addition to the list. Not sure about Mononoke, haven't seen Denno Coil so cannot speak on that. I will give it a look. I don't agree that Code Geass should be on this list although I did like it, it didn't keep my interest to the end and I felt the characters weren't fleshed out enough. I also completely agree with FLCL. Its one of the series that I have watched more than once.

Nice list, bro.
FennNaten
21. Petar Belic
An odd list, mainly because of the omissions.

Essential anime series not mentioned here:

AstroBoy (80's and recent series)
Macross (Original & Plus are the best)
Full Metal Alchemist
Last Exile
Wolf's Rain
Lost Cities of Gold

All of these are accessible, extremely popular, and omitted in the original article.
Jack Flynn
22. JackofMidworld
Last Exile & Full Metal Alchemist are defintely ones that I'd agree with adding to the list.

One of my favorites, even if it's from the cliched "girl who kills monsters" line-up, is Blood+. It was a sorta-spin-off of Blood and also one of the first ones that I watched when I started watching anime a couple of years ago, so it's got a special place in my horr0r-black heart.

I love these articles, as well as all the ones added in the comments that follow. I'm guaranteed to find at least a couple that I end up queuing up on Netflix.
FennNaten
23. RemyP
If I had to choose only one anime series to show people, knowing it could be the only show they may ever watch, it'd have to be Boogiepop Phantom. I have a total soft spot for strange shows with twisted storylines and unique characters, and I can't even begin to count how many times I've watched it or how many people I've talked into watching it. Definitely my honorable mention.
FennNaten
24. Cain S. Latrani
Shikabane Hime, fr me at least, is a routine re watch. I never get tired of it.

Gai Rei Zero is also a fantastic show, with such heart and sorrow.

Last, for me, a must watch, El Cazador De la Brujah. THe final two episodes are beautiful.

That's my list, shows that touched and moved me. There are MANY more, but those are pretty much my top three.

Okay, four. Fruits Brasket. I don't know anyone who's seen FB and not fallen in love with it.
FennNaten
25. Fenric25
Of this list, I have seen Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion and love them both, great series that I enjoy watching whenever I get the chance. Of the ones not mentioned, Fullmetal Alchemist is definitely my favorite (the second version, Brotherhood, which adheres more closely to the manga, is the better of the two by quite a bit in almost every way (especially in animation, music and story), though the first anime series is definitely a fun viewing experience as well.). Also add to the list Trigun, Code Geass, FLCL, Death Note, Gurren Lagann, Baccano! and its sister series Durarara! (this one is modern day, though still the same world as Baccano, takes place in Ikebukuro, Japan where there are gang wars, a motorcycle-riding Dullahan who's lost her head, a crazily aggresive bartender who throws vending machines at his sleazy information broker nemesis, and a creepy red-eyed Slasher who attacks people with a mystical katana from the shadows, not to mention a group of bizarre pyromaniac otaku, teenagers with the usual high school romance problems, a black Russian sushi vendor who's a pacifist yet is also incredibly strong and gets involved in stopping many of the crazy fights that occur, and a pharmaceutical company involved in human trafficking. The series starts off slow but gets good quickly and has lots of fine character study to go with the crazy action and strange humor. If you can't tell, this series is the one I'm currently engaged in and definitely one of my new favorites) Glad to see the continuing interest in anime here on Tor.com, hope there's more to come...
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26. Goggolor
Nice article, but please, for god's sake, go back and proofread the thing. Pay special attention to apostrophes.
Tim Maughan
27. TimMaughan
@26. Goggolor

Thank's - I will! Its a weekness of mine, I must confess.

:P
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28. KaosNoKamisama
Well... What a nice list you put together. I'm very glad o see that someone values content before form; something your recomendation clearly show.

I totally agree on your view of Cowboy Bebop being able to combine masterfully designed characters with highly emphatic level (gosh knows how much I cried in the "Hard luck woman" episode), with a mindblowing (and believable) environment. I also like your analisys of Gunslinger Girl a lot. It's an incredibly good and dark take on futility and comodification of life, but, as you point out so well, it's also a potent critique on the way the anime-industry relates to its audiences.

I'm very glad you included Lain, but I think you undervalue it a bit. While I agree that by today's standards the view of global networks is maybe bit outdated, I feel that the topics of blurring limits and the even more present question of the socio-psychological construction of the identity are masterfully boarded in the series. Without uttering any spoilers, the final twist of the plot isn't even so much a twist as it is a reflection on social constructivism and individual identity. There's even a innuendo of political critique on the uses of technology as powerful tool.

As some have pointed out before, I would also recomend Ergo Proxy, even though all of its potential is revealed only after a closer re-watch. The series contains a lot more than it reveals and most of its incredibly complex and interesting topics (dealing mainly with sociological and psychological issues) are only revealed once the symbolic layers of the show are craked. If there are some Spanish readers here, I'd recomend this analysis (mor of am analytical deconstruction) of Ergo Proxy:
http://elnomadailustrado.com/?p=438 (that's part 1, part 2 is on he same blog).

I would love to have seen Escaflowne in the list, but understand that the overall atmosphere of it (the list) is more charged towards darker, heavier mostly sci-fi related stuff. Even so, I believe Escaflowne has many merits to enter any must-see list. First of all, it's probably one of the first series that challenged the whole strict audience specific model of the anime industry. It tells a story of fantasy and war, of heroes and sacrifices, but with an ongoing love story that turns into a triangle (and several other polygonal figuers). In my opinion it surpasses Macross by far in this regard. They even choosed on purpose a more "shoujo" (girl-oriented) visual design for an at-first-glance "shonen" (boy-oriented) series. During the series there are so many twists and turning points, so many discoveries that add layers to the characters, that it mannages to keep the interest. Another thing that I value is that, what starts as an apparently clear good-guys/bad-guys kind of plot, evolves into one much more complex, tainted by human feelings and the clash of idealism and pragmatism.

Also as sugested, I would include Haibane Renmei, a wonderfull and weird story where the symbolic is strong and many things are left untold in the best possible way, challenging the audience to leave their usual role as passive consumers of stories and become a bit of a creator themselves. Last Exile is also a must! Not only because it's one of the most wonderfully crafted steampunkish worlds ever to appear in anime, but because its one of the last complex and challenging stories that came out before the "moecalyps". Much like Haibane, it uses the "untold" as a tool. In LE the world is given, not fool-proof explained. Many have found this confusing and bothering... Personally, I think it's a way of confidence in the inteligence of the audience. Last Exile seduces by presenting a world and characters that have a much greater background than we are told (this allways reminds me of he feeling I have when watching Porco Rosso; where you can imagine so many stories that came before and will ome after but you are not told). of course, this complexity has nothing to do with the ready-to-serve logic of hollywood and mainstream-anime storytelling logic.

If I may add a series I am really fond of, I would say Kino no Tabi, the anime based on The Wounderful World novels. In mostly stand alone episodes we follow Kino (a rather androgynous girl) and Hermes (her "talking" motorcycle) in her journey around a world that is as diverse and surprising as it can be. The strength of the show is not in the characters or even in the settings, but in the reflexions about human nature it presents using Kino's travels. Unlike other shows on the list, Kino is a much less dark series, since it does not present a harsh critique or a worldview so much as it offers a contemplative (but not passive) look at out nature. It is probably the closest thing I could imagine to an animated ethnograpy.

I'm really happy to see how your lists encourage the serious talk about anime that has forsaken most of the anime-loving comunities in the world.
Chris Meadows
29. Robotech_Master
Glad you mentioned Future Boy Conan. (Though I think you might have pointed out that it's actually based on a western SF novel, The Incredible Tide by Alexander Key. Having read the book (written at the height of the Cold War), it's interesting to note the differences, including the way Miyazaki, at the time an avowed supporter of Communism, flipped the ideology of the two nations from how they were presented in the books: Industria goes from Communist gulag to hyper-capitalist dystopia, and High Harbor goes from mom-and-apple-pie bastion of democracy to a farming commune.

But I think the big series you missed out on is another Conan: Meitantei (Great Detective) Conan, known in the US as Case Closed. Among other things, it has to be one of the longest-running anime out there, dating back to the 1990s; the fansub community just today released episodes 634 and 635 (which aired recently in Japan). The manga has been running for a couple of years longer.

The premise is that a renowned high school detective, Kudo Shinichi ("Jimmy Kudo" in Funimation's dub of the early episodes) witnessed a shakedown by members of a mysterious criminal organization. Those organization members got the drop on him and decided to off him with an experimental poison, that ended up de-aging him by ten years instead.

With the aid of an inventor friend of his who is in on the secret, Shinichi adopts the moniker of "Edogawa Conan" (a portmanteau of mystery authors Edogawa Ranpo and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and goes to live with the family of his girlfriend, Ran, who is the daughter of inept detective Mouri Kogoro. (The idea is that, living in a detective agency, he'll be in the best position to find out more about that mysterious organization if any details should surface.) However, if that organization should find out he is still alive, they might come after him—and anybody close to him. So he can't tell anyone his secret—including (especially) his girlfriend, Ran.

In order to raise the profile of Kogoro's detective agency, Conan takes to solving mysteries behind the scenes—and using a tranquilizer dart wrist watch and voice-changing bow tie that his inventor friend made to knock Kogoro out and announce the solutions to the mysteries in his voice. This leads to Kogoro becoming known as the celebrated great detective (meitantei) "Sleeping Kogoro." The series is mostly composed of picaresque mysteries Conan and company solve, with the occasional linked arcs devoted to his continuing encounters with the mysterious criminal organization.

What are the appeals? Several.

For one thing, Detective Conan demonstrates that anime isn't all space ships, giant robots, and tentacle monsters. It's a relentlessly reality-grounded show (with a few minor exceptions, like the experimental poison and the professor's inventions) in which all the crimes are solvable (and, usually, solved) and (nearly) every strange phenomenon has a rational explanation. It's an anime twist on the classic whodunnit (or occasionally "howdunnit") that mystery fans of any nationality should be able to appreciate.

For another, it's fascinating to trace the cultural changes across Japan in the last decode just by watching the show. For example, at the beginning of the show, Conan uses his voice-changer tie and pay phones for a lot of calling, and one of the professor's neat gadgets is a microminiaturized cell phone hidden in a clip-on earring. (Why it should be considered reasonable for a 1st-grade boy to be carrying a clip-on girl's earring is one of the few mysteries the show never clears up!) But over time, cell phones seen in the show get smaller and smaller, and eventually Conan switched to using a pair of ordinary flip phones (one for his Conan identity, and the other for Shinichi).

There's just so much of the show out there that Funimation never bothered to dub much past the first hundred twenty episodes or the first several movies. The rest has largely been carried by digital fansubbers (and they've gotten really good at their work, too, seamlessly localizing signs and written text to where it appears to have been originally animated that way—and recently they actually translated, subbed, and released an episode in less than 24 hour s after it originally aired!); the manga has been scanlated too.
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30. jason e
The first East of Eden movie. watch it!
Joseph Isaac
31. joebuu
I see Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood has been mentioned which is one I would recommend. I just finished introducing this series to my GF. By the end she was the one wanting to marathon the climax.

For myself my favorite anime series is Rurouni Kenshin. I wouldn't place it on this list, but it is close to my heart so I always include it.
David Thomson
32. ZetaStriker
Last Exile is definitely a good choice; it's one of my favorites, and I'm even using elements of its setting mashed up with Mistborn for my current campaign setting. Alex Row makes up a big portion of my enjoyment of the plot though - as much as I loved the (at first) lighter plot of Claus and Lavie, Alex was such an immensely charismatic and mysterious figure that I couldn't help but be drawn to what he was doing in every scene. A lot of important elements were being moved by him in the background, right from the beginning, which did an excellent job of setting the stage for everything that would come by the series' close.

Haibane Renmei I also agree with, although it's been so long since I've seen it I can't really engage on any rational discussion on the subject . . . other than maybe saying "yay" in my best derp voice while others make poignant comments.

Another good series that comes to mind now, and is also fairly obscure even among the greater anime community, is the Count of Monte Cristo retelling Gankutsuo. Right from the start, it gets major credit for taking the original spin on the tale by making Albert, the son of Fernand, our point of view character. With a futuristic backdrop and a unique art style, the series will seem familiar to those familiar with Dumas' original story, but I found that the story carried a lot of additional weight by following the perspective of Albert, whose faith in the mysterious Count is betrayed as he is eventually forced to scramble and save what he can before everything he cherishes crumbles to dust at his feet. And the Count makes for a very charismatic villian, let's face it - to the point it's hard to call him that even when you're on the receiving end of his plot for vengeance.
Michael M Jones
33. MichaelMJones
I'd suggest Revolutionary Girl Utena. Multilayered, complex, stylistic, and so very hard to put into any one box, it's a real mindtrip of a series.
It really plays around with gender and sexuality, desire and growing up, and it leaves an impression.

And it has some nifty dueling scenes.
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34. Shellywb
The list above is excellent. Here are my top 4 anime series of all time, that I watch again and again:

Revolutionary Girl Utena - bends every notion about gender and sex and shoujo that you might have.

Princess Tutu - It seems a typical magical girl series, and it is for the first half. Then it stops and rips all the cliches and your expectations to pieces and shows you what it means to write stories and be in them.

Natsume Yuujincho - a quiet unassuming series of tales about a gentle boy who learns to be a friend and family member by first befriending the spirits his grandmother once enslaved. It's emotionally beautiful, and I've fallen in love with it.

Baccano! - others have mentioned this, but it's witty and fast-paced and unexpected and fun, and it remains that every time I watch it.
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35. KaosNoKamisama
I seriously didn't enjoy Baccano that much. Maybe I had to high expectations... It's not that the show wasn't good 8actually it's very well made), but I felt that it was an ttempt to cover too much (too many stories, too many characters, too many timeframes) and failed at getting things tight enough as to be coherent. In the end, imho, the show just duct-tapes all its loopholes by using a generous ammount of blood. Even being a nice show, I feel it is miles below the standards of the ones in the list (a bit like what has been said about Samurai Champloo, that is an awesome show, but doesn't quite live up to the ones in the list).

Now to something completely different... Usually most people (including myself) have a rather disenchanted view on what the anime industry has been delivering in the last ten-or-so years. Even so, there have been some very interesting shows and I'd like to point out Puella Magi Madoka Magica (I know... the title sounds totally stupid). Just like Princess Tutu, it may seems in the beginning just another genere iteration, but it turns quickly into one of the most interesting excercises of deconstruction Japan has delivered lately, mainly because it takes one its most beloved genres, the magical girls, and sistematically (and cruelly, sometimes) subverts its codes ands cliches. Much alike Gunslinger Girl, watched through the right lens, it becomes a very interesting meta-reflexion on the industry and its modus operandi.
steel bound
36. steelbound
A pretty decent list but it definitely shades towards SF series a little too much.

I can't comment on four of these titles since I haven't watched them; of the other six I definitely agree with Paranoia Agent, GiTS:SAC, Planetes and Dennou Coil being placed. I won't quibble with Cowboy Bebop because so many other people like it but I finally saw it after Firefly and Firefly was the much better show.

You seem to include Evangelion because of it's importance to the medium more then for the show itself which seems counter to the intent of the list. Evangelion is definitely one show I wouldn't show to perspective anime fans since Shinji is quite possibly the most annoying in anime ever.

A much better pick for Evangelion's spot would be a fellow Gainax production - Gurren Lagann. Other picks that should at least qualify for an honorable mention: Baccano, Haibane Renmei, Natsume Yuujinchou, Steins;Gate, Bartender, Kino's Journey and Shiki.
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37. NathanC
If these anime proposed in the comments are supposed to appeal to those new to the genre, then anime notable for it's subversion of typical anime trope is out. It will just be confusing to those unfamiliar with this genre of entertainment. I don't watch anime, and I found the descriptions of Planetes, Cowboy Bebop, and Paranoia Agent most intriguing of the lot. Just giving a friendly reality check.
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38. Keni
Nice article! It is hard to narrow down favorites, especially for the specified audience. One of my favorites is Elfen Lied. It is a beautiful anime.
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39. Eugene R.
While I am a stone Bubblegum Crisis (described as "What if Joan Jett and Coco Chanel became New Wave terrorists?") fan, the series I usually point to is the 3-episode prequel, AD Police Files, an emotionally charged anthology that dissects the connections and intersections of violence and sex ("gore-nography") in popular entertainment. The third episode, "The Man Who Bites His Tongue" is what Robocop only wishes it were.
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40. Roceal
It may be a slighly obscure choice, but Mushishi is honestly one of my favourite series ever. I think it's worth a watch for anyone as a thoughtful, imaginitive, and varied series. My only complaint is that it wasn't long enough. I'd love to get my hands on the manga if I could!
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41. Giftess
My vote is for Jubei Chan!!!
geniusinmaking
42. geniusinmaking
I love to watch animation movies and love anime too and i have seen some of these and would like to add Final Fantasy series as well.
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43. Roquefort
What about Death Note???
It is a very intense thriller that everyone should watch.
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44. KBKarma
@40 Mushishi is amazing, and I'm kicking myself for not picking it up cheap when it was available in my local DVD store.

@TimMaughan You may want to point out that Dennou Coil was never released outside of Japan; the only way to watch it (unless I've been out of the loop for WAY too long) is fansubs.

Your list is pretty good, and I understand why it veers more towards sci-fi (namely, the fact that most of the people here are sci-fi fans). However, I'd have added Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Baccano!, and Last Exile to that list instead of Eva (not a fan), Paranoia Agent and Gunslinger Girl (never watched the last two). More fantasy than sci-fi, except in the last case, but still really really good.
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45. Saterade
No one would watch any of this if not for dragonball and mobile suit gundam. Both should be on the list. 'nuff said!
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46. theRemix
Go watch Elfen Lied

I vote for death note too
David Rodriguez
47. strakul
I add my vote for Mushishi (see 40. Roceal). That is the only anime where I've watched one episode (on Hulu) and immediately went out to buy the box set. It is absolutely gorgeous.

In a completely different note, I also recommend Death Note and also Code Geass (like Death Note, but with Gundam-style robots). Both are intelligent and fun, if a bit dark sometimes.
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48. Clovis
Hi Tim,

You are very good at reviewing a title, I really enjoyed reading this article and the other one about anime films.

But as a long time anime fan, the selections did not reflect what I expected to find after reading the title.

IMHO the ten above is more of the "ten examples that are accessible to those mature viewers for whom the scene is new or even completely alien" than "ten examples of the anime medium that showcase the art form at its greatest".

The selections are also single minded, I mean they all have something in common and a person who liked 3 or 4 titles in the list will almost likely a fan of all 10. There are several types of people, and you might want to consider titles you don't actually like but a lot of your friends do.

Maybe it would be better to make two lists instead. This list should have a new name to reflect it's nature.

There are several series that started or topped sub-genres, they are those timeless titles that showcase the art form of that sub-genre at its greatest. Some of these titles might not have been released outside of Japan, but you can find it in the internet if you look hard enough.

One of the comments mentioned Meitantei (Detective) Conan, in which I agree that it was on top of the mystery sub-genre.

There are also culinary/cooking sub-genre, which you might want to choose between Cooking Master Boy or Born to Cook among others.

Saint Seiya with it's many series is a sub-genre by itself, although there are some followers.

Evangelion is one of my favorite all time series, but although it have giant robots in it, should belong to a different sub-genre. Giant robots should have their own representative in the top 10, just choose one among a very long list of Voltes V, Mazinger Z, Jeeg the Steel Robot, Getter Robo, etc.

To be fair, there should also be at least one or more series that is intended spesifically for female audiences in the top 10, I don't watch many of those because - well, I'm male. Gunslinger Girl in your list is not a member of this sub-genre, it have quite a lot of male fans. Perhaps something like Candy Candy or Minky Momo is a better representative.

There are other sub genres like sports, music, comedy, historical, etc that will supply strong contenders to the top 10.
FennNaten
49. Vulpine
A couple titles you missed that really caught my attention were:

Witch Hunter Robin
Wolf Rain

Both of them were very limited series, as far as I can tell and each had very 'addictive' factors that make you want to know what's going to happen in the next episode without being so progressive as Dragonball, Bleach or even InuYasha (which really started with a great concept.)

A third that I find personally very intriguing is Trigun and a fourth is Big O, again limited series and I believe far more interesting for it. Personally, I like for a story--especially a series--to have a true finale and quit, rather than dragging the thing out so long you lose track of the original concept.
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50. Neekaneeks
I think when making a top 10 list it's always up to the writer to take on what is considerably a pretty large range of series and condesnse them down based off personal preference. So I have to say I respect and enjoy this list.

I would just like to add though honorable mentions though because they are on my top ten list (in no particular order): Kino No Tabi, RahXephon, Mushishi, Kemonozume and Kaiba.
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51. StevenAnderson999
Where in the world is Clannad/After Story?
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52. StevenAnderson998
Watch Legend of the Galataic Heroes before you kill yourself
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53. Qrxn
I can't believe Rurouni Kenshin is not on here...that was one of the series that really brought me into anime.
Brandon Daggerhart
54. BDaggerhart
I have a hard time not putting Trigun on any "best" anime lists I make, though I'm more than aware that a lot of my love of the series likely comes from the nostalgia of being the very first anime serial I ever watched (well, minus Dragonball Z, but that show isn't really worth bringing up in conversations like this).
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55. PatronusX
I really liked your anime movie list and even though they were not all in my own top 10 picks, I could accept that they were indeed worthy of being there. I'm afraid I'm having a bit harder time accepting of your anime series list as presented. I honestly can't see Paranoia Agent or Gunslinger Girl deserving to be listed, as I found both to be shallow and uninteresting. I'd probably replace them with the popular (and much better!) alternatives Haibane Renmei and Escaflowne. I'd be tempted to include Elfen Lied or When They Cry in place of Mononoke or Lain, but honestly to really appreciate either show the viewer need to be familiar with many of the common tropes from Magical Girl, Harem and High School anime they they play upon to truly appreciate them.
L K
56. ayo
I have to agree with the comments suggesting that Fullmetal Alchemist (either one) and Last Exile be on this list. I'd also add Morito: Guardian of the Spirit, which is one of the best anime series I've seen and is something I think would be very accessible to someone who has never watched anime before.
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57. MBWJoe
To borrow Remy's first line:
If I had to choose only one anime series to show people, knowing it could be the only show they may ever watch, it'd have to be...

Monster. Specifically if you're trying to "convert" someone with European or North American "sensibilities." It's a long series, but the plot is airtight, the pacing is brilliant, the animation is movie quality, the storyline grabs you tight... and every couple episodes it throws you up against the wall and punches you in the gut.

It's a "film noir" Fugitive, animated (and 10 times better).

There are ton of animes I love more but not even my favorites could, even at the first viewing, hold me at the edge of my seat and focus my entire being like Monster.
J Dalziel
58. BunnyM
There's some good recommendations here, both in the article itself and in the comments.

I'll definintely have to look up Baccano! and Gungrave, the recommendations listed have piqued my interest indeed.

I'm rather surprised no-one has mentioned Crest of the Stars or Banner of the Stars, especially given the inclusion of Planetes and Cowboy Bebop. Like these two SF series, it does a great job of insiring interest in and identification with the lead characters, but unlike Bebop, (and to a rather lesser extent, Planetes,) Crest/Banner really draws the viewer into the feeling of a vastly bigger world happening around and away from the viewpoint characters with a war between multiple star nations.

Without taking the simple path of just labelling one side or the other as 'the bad guys' or even implying that anyone involved is less than human or less complex. And it still manages to instill the sense of identification with and desperation of the characters that all the best (anti)war stories do.
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59. CaptnEcks
Where's Inuyasha?
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60. Geckomayhem
Cowboy Bebop - definitely agree. Loved it.Paranoia Agent - sounds good; had never heard of it, actually.Gunslinger Girl - heard of it but wasn't interested; it does sound good, though.Evangelion - bleh; heard bad things about its humanistic, nihilistic views.Ghost in the Shell - I liked the movie and would definitely give it a shot.Mirai Shounen Konan - had never heard of this, but my eight year old daughter saw the picture and knew what it was. >.etty much for good. Might pay to look into what is out there these days, not just the oldschool stuff that has stood the test of time. ;) My list would include Irresponsible Captain Tylor, Rahxephon and, for two series with way too many episodes to simply sit down and watch, Ranma 1/2 and Dragonball Z. :D

There simply is just too much out there to watch everything you want. Back in the day, I watched everything in any given season that piqued my interest. These days, there just isn't enough free time to commit to any given TV shows, anime or otherwise.
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61. Geckomayhem
Cowboy Bebop - definitely agree. Loved it.
Paranoia Agent - sounds good; had never heard of it, actually.
Gunslinger Girl - heard of it but wasn't interested; it does sound good, though.
Evangelion - bleh; heard bad things about its humanistic, nihilistic views.
Ghost in the Shell - I liked the movie and would definitely give it a shot.
Mirai Shounen Konan - had never heard of this, but my eight year old daughter saw the picture and knew what it was. Miyazaki does high quality stuff.
Planetes - definitely heard good things about this, but never got around to watching it.
Serial Experiments Lain - I vaguely recall trying to watch this a few years back, but couldn't get into it.
Denno Coil - no thanks. Gave up after about two episodes. It lacked... fun.
Mononoke - sounds intriguing. Might have to check it out sometime in the next 50 years. :)

Good list. I used to watch a lot of anime, but since moving to Japan really gave it up - pretty much for good. Might pay to look into what is out there these days, not just the oldschool stuff that has stood the test of time. ;)

My list would include Irresponsible Captain Tylor, Rahxephon and, for two series with way too many episodes to simply sit down and watch, Ranma 1/2 and Dragonball Z. :D

There simply is just too much out there to watch everything you want. Back in the day, I watched everything in any given season that piqued my interest. These days, there just isn't enough free time to commit to any given TV shows, anime or otherwise.
FennNaten
62. any
It's a nice list ( i really should watch mononoke and paranoia's) but you really seems to appreciate just SF themes...(even when you list the ones you thought you've missed: gundam etc.)
Anyway, even if SF-centered, i loved to read it.
My personal list would have included Last Exile of course (i love steampunk sooo much), and maybe Ergo Proxy and Wolf's Rain ...and Death Note too.

just one other note:
you wrote that you wanted to include series "accessible to those mature viewers for whom the scene is new or even completely alien."
How can Evangelion fit in that description? I surely liked it but the character are such a mess of extremized personalities (they remind my of dostoevsky sometimes) ... I'm not sure it fits for an un experienced audience, but tha's just me!

Thanks for your work again!It was nice to read and think about it!
(ps. sorry for my english, it's getting a bit rusty)
James Kehr
63. Jammrock
Serial Experiments Lain ... really? That show was so boring. Bleh.

Replace that with The Vision of Escaflowne (the real Japanese version and not the bastardized one they butchered for American TV) and you've got a pretty good list.

The rest I either agree with or haven't seen so I can't commen, but if it were my list I would add The Record of Lodoss War somewhere. That is probably the best anime title from the 90's.
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64. HTD
If you are trying to show people who have a preconceived notion about anime a show that will entice them in, my usual plan of action is to show them something serious like Monster or Twelve Kingdoms.

I showed a girl Monster and she ended up watching the entire series over the course of 4 days and gushed over how awesome it was.
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65. Ann_louise
The first Fullmetal Alchemist - because it made me care more about it's characters than most live-action shows ever could.

And I know it's not an immortal classic by any means, but Record of Lodoss War is still endearing for doing its Tolkien-esque thing with complete sincerity, accompanied by one of the best themes ever done by Yoko Kanno.
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66. Levine
That list if flawed.

Heroic Age, Escaflowne, Last Exile, Raxephon, Shura no Toki.

These you should watch before you die.
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67. socrates187
Inuyasha!! I love the titles in your list and I think some of the comments add some good ones. ... but how can you not include INUYASHA? Based on the Manga series it lasted 167 episodes and was truly epic, it also spawned 4 movies. If people here like Full Metal Alchemist I think you will really enjoy Inuyasha, if you are more of Cowboy Beebop fan I think you'll still appreciate the battles of good and evil but some of the relationship stuff will probably feel "little kiddy." I think everyone will enjoy the art work in this fantastic series.

I would also recommend the Guyver series of movies, maybe not a top ten all-time canidate but some darn good anime. (warning: Guyver definately reaches adult levels of violence and gore, ok for a well adjusted teen in my opinion but not something good for little kids to see.)

Any Gundam fans? There are so many spin off series I haven't even seen them all but the ones I have seen are pretty good Sci-fi Robo/Space themes.

Don't know if anyone mentioned Trigun, but that is another good Sci-fi Western series I have enjoyed. I do think Gunslinger Gril is better though in general.

Hope you all like my recommendations.
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68. allisonb56
Fullmetal Alchemist is the show that turned me from being a turn-up-my-nose-at-anime person to a wow-anime-is-awesome freak, so I definitely think it should be on here!
FennNaten
69. --
"I should be trying to convert non-anime fans by subjecting them to 12 hours of Lucky Star?"

Did that and it was hilarious
(the person in question now watches series like bebop or azumanga so it was a success!)
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70. Rubi-kun
One small error in the article: Speak Like a Child is episode 18 of Bebop, not 17. 17 is Mushroom Samba (which can also serve as a successful introductory episode, though not as representative of the whole show).

The original Fullmetal Alchemist is definitely worthy of this list. At 52 episodes it may be more of a commitment to watch the whole thing, but really, after episode 3 I don't know how anyone can not want to know what happens next.

Kino's Journey is incredibly underrated and definitely appealing to a wider audience than just anime fans. If you like arthouse films or The Twilight Zone, you'll probably like Kino.

Fruits Basket was one of the first anime my family really got into. Now it might not be for everyone and the shojo artstyle might put some people off but the show will make you laugh and cry and feel really good about life. A must-watch perhaps most for tweens/teens, particularly girls, but their parents if they give it a chance should be able to appreciate it too.

Big O, the first season at least, is very high on the accessibility scale even though it's not the greatest show in the world and thus perhaps not "should see before you die" territory. Batman with giant robots. Who can't enjoy that?

And FLCL, of course.
Joseph Lee
71. Tomoya
I'll mention this and tell me what you think of it if you watched it. Koi Kaze; I feel it's fantasic and definitely not typical. It's characters are real and then not so much. I can't describe the feeling it gave me properly. Closed minds be warned.
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72. dasragon
i'm disappointed to see so little people mention Code Geass, it definitely mathes that list's quality and intention, as well as Gurren Laggan, even thought it depends a bit on the anime tropes, etc...also i'd like to throw in a very obscure one, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
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73. Colin P
Tim, Really enjoyed the two lists you created (tv and film). (and from comments)

I have a really hard time finding 'new' anime that is of a higher calibre. Nothing beats an anime (or movie) that keeps you thinking about it after the credits roll...
Ria Bridges
75. Bibliotropic
Definitely a good list, and though I hate to be a naysayer, I kind of feel like I should point out that like anything else, anime depends largely on taste. Personally I would say that Yami no Matsuei is one that most people should take the time to watch, but for people who don't enjoy a dark tale of the supernatural, that might not carry much weight. Ditto Wolf's Rain (post-apocalyptic setting) or Juuni Kokki (historical fantasy). Fantastic shows, all, but there are plenty of people they wouldn't appeal to no matter how good they are. I could never get into Cowboy Bebop, for instance.

Definitely want to give Denno Coil a watch, and Mononoke is on my To Watch list. They both seem pretty awesome.
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77. R.E.
I've seen four of the anime on this list (Cowboy Bebop, Gunslinger Girl, Evangelion, and Mononoke), and have heard great things about all of the others. Evangelion was actually what turned me from just some random kid that watched Dragonball Z growing up into a total anime fan. Cowboy Bebop was seriously awesome as well, and it made me completely obsessive for a while. Gunslinger Girl...is pretty well done, but it wouldn't make my top ten.
I was really surprised and delighted to see Mononoke on here, because it's not very well known, but I do love it so. For those of you that haven't seen it, it's worth all six and a half hours you spend watching it.

What else should be here? I gotta agree with the recs for FMA:Brotherhood, Utena, and Trigun. HOLY CRAP TRIGUN. I've only seen the first four episodes of Wolf's Rain, but from what I've seen, that should be on here too. I'd add Darker than Black (the first season, I haven't watched the second yet because I have...60+things in my to watch list and several more in my head) as well. Post-apocalyptic with an interesting premise, starts out relatively simple and gets more and more intense and complicated.

I'm sorry to whoever mentioned it, but I really don't think Blood+ deserves a place on this list. The premise is nice, but the pacing is odd, sometimes it drags a lot and then leaves you wondering what just happened in others. Most of the characters lack any sort of depth, even the protagonist, and frankly, it was an incredibly poor successor to Blood: The Last Vampire. It lost the entire mood of the original, and it turned Saya from a complete badass into a cowering, clueless puddle of goo that's almost completely dependent on Haji (or any other male that happens to be close by) outside of the times she's in monster mode. It's one of the few series that I can honestly say I couldn't finish, not because I had issues finding it (I run into that with obscure series at times), but because I just couldn't do it anymore.
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78. RSRDAMAN
I second everyone here on Gurren Lagann. That anime needs more praise of how intense and astounding the storyline was. The second main character (Kamina) literally difined GAR in modern time. Thats probably the only reason its not more well known; anyones own manliness is completely crushed by this anime, making them feel like a little girl...

To be truthfull, what else could you possibly want in an anime? Big ass robots, hot women, crazy battles, HUGE explosions, GAR GAR and more GAR, great storyline, epic death, big guns, inter-dimesional space travel....

Seriously, what else do you people want?
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79. AlliKat
Overall seems like a pretty good list. Although I hate that Hellsing and Samurai Champloo aren't on here. Though Hellsing is mostly fun, it doesnt really make you question anything. Another I find to be great was .hack//SIGN-because if you looked deeper it had quite a message to send about isolation, being different, prejudice, and human bonds. I also think Mushi-shi could've been on a list too, but its is true- its hard to narrow it down to just ten.
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80. Jasmine
I really love that you included Gunslinger Girl in this list; it's such a great anime! However I felt that it was more about the price of government secured peace and about how sometimes children are the ones that are used as tools for the safety of the masses. But I can sort of see your thinking because though these girls are drawn in the typical cutesy anime style their lives are very sad and even sinister and violent. I just don't see the sexual aspect as much. It would be cool if you could elaborate. :)
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81. mark zima
Ranma 1/2
Oniisama e...
Child's Toy
Marmalade Boy
Bleach
Nodame Cantabile
Bakuman
Blue Green Years
Glass Mask
Rozen Maiden Traumend
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82. ezwelchman
my only complaint would be EDEN OF THE EAST....no question needs to be on here somewhere

I'd add in a bunch of others, but I get where you were going with this list so they probably wouldn't fit.
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83. Nando
You should add Claymore to that list
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84. Zomby
Great article, although I am not in full agrence I still feel you stated ech of the cases well. Thanks man for taking the time.
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85. latexsanta
@Nando: While I love Claymore too, if I was going to go for a darker "Fighting Monsters" anime I'd have to put Berserk up instead. The last two episodes - while not at quite the same gore level as some of the manga - are just sensational. It takes quite a lot to finish a series on that kind of note, and I feel that as a whole it makes a very good analysis of the human psyche.

P.S I'd also have to add Helsing, but only because everyone should see how a real vampire fights...
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86. AprilK
I was thrilled to see Ghost in the Shell on this list, and there are two or three others listed that I would love to try. Food for thought, though, I thought I'd list my favorite anime series for your future perusal:

1. Black Butler
2. Claymore
3. Afro Samurai (American, I know)
4. Mushi-Shi

That last one in particular is very interesting. Slow-paced, but the plot and execution are top-notch.
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87. JulieD
I'm happy to see Cowboy Bebop on your list. I've watched up to episode, I think, 14? And it's definitely becoming a fast favorite.
Someone mentioned Fruits Basket. And while I love the manga, last time I checked the anime series was incomplete at only 26 episodes. So as much as I would have loved to see that on your list as well, I don't think it would work.

So far I've completed Gunslinger Girl, Paranoia Agent, and Serial Experiments Lain. The first two I couldn't really get into, though I can appreciate why they are on your list. I just didn't like them much. But Lain was a mind trip. At first I didn't think I would like it at all. The animation is weird and it's pretty vague. But really it was amazing. It really makes you think. And I really like how they ended it, leaving it open.
So, next is Mononoke. And while I'm not really thrilled about it, I'm trusting you because so far I haven't been disappointed.
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88. Azn Guy
Some of my favorites:
Gundam SEED
Gundam 00
Other Gundams are pretty good too
Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Code Geass
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89. Dikastis
How about Baccano's spiritual successor, Durarara?
It's an eerily gripping series that presents a fairly shallow facade and then tears it away, episode by episode, to reveal the immense depth written into every character... With wonderful humor and stylish animation, to boot.
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90. Lbutlr
I can't imagine all of those are better than Ergo Proxy, which I rank as one of the best tv series, not just best Anime series. I will say that I don't really have any need to see it again though, while I've watched Cowboy Bebop several times and listened to the soundtrack incessantly, so there's that. Look forward to finding and watching the 4 On your List i havent seen Though
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91. Impeachedgravy
love the list agree on almost everthing apart from pokemon fad that hurt man
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92. Isha
I only agree to a few of these because I find other anime's as a much more of a watch than some of these.
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93. Pushkin
Cowboy bebop was amazing, but samurai champloo according to me was nothing less. Fullmetal alchemist was also one hell of an anime, along with death note.
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94. Covarr
None of these are the best anime of all time, Lupin III. I am disappoint.
William Fettes
95. Wolfmage
Far and away my favourite on your list is Ghost in the Shell 1 & 2. Maybe it's a conventional a choice - but it's easily the most captivating to me. I like that it's adult cyberpunk and arguably the closest visual realisation ever to the gritty universe popularised by Gibson. It's got a cool distinctive art style that I love, the technology and culture is seamlessly integrated, and the story is solid. The writing ranges from workman-like to excellent to obtusely philosophical, but it is often deep, hilarious, witty and even poignant at times - like Mr Bato in Chinks in the Armor of the Heart.

Not sure why there aren't more anime like GITTS. Why is everything
prepubescent teens with perpetual angst, soap-opera or fan-service?

Other anime series I like include Trigun and Outlaw Star. Maybe not highbrow stuff - but they are well executed and certainly have the swagger and style down. I particuarly like the Outlaw Star ship and caster gun. Great concept.

Would love to see Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust made into a series - I loved that movie. The barbarois abilities were uber cool.
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96. Ninjadragon
Here's a good one that no one's probably heard of: Black Cat. It may have some stereotypes in it, but it more than makes for it with its light humor and its sense of morals. The anime presents viewers with the question: is it ever right to kill another person?, and fleshes it out with believable characters.

It follows the story of Train Heartnet, a Bounty Hunter or "Sweeper" who used to be Black Cat, a top assassin in the Chronos organization. Train wants to leave his old job behind, but he gets drawn into the conflict between Chronos and the Apostles of the Stars. Creed Disketh (the leader of the Apostles of the Stars) on the other hand, wants Train to join the Apostles because of Train's amazing skill. One of the interesting things about this anime is it doesn't just box its characters in a "good" grouping and a "bad" grouping. Instead, it paints them in shades of grey. Neither the Apostles of the Stars nor Chronos are wholly good or bad. This allows characters to be more than just punching bags for other characters. Without a doubt, Black Cat is my favorite anime series ever.
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97. Explosivedrip
I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned FLCL but it definitely one of my all time favorites. It may be a short series but it doesn't take much time for you to fall in love with the characters. I have also just recently taken a liking to Mushi-shi. I watched the first episode and was instantly hooked! I definitely reccomend it. :)
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98. Explosivedrip
I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned FLCL but it definitely one of my all time favorites. It may be a short series but it doesn't take much time for you to fall in love with the characters. I have also just recently taken a liking to Mushi-shi. I watched the first episode and was instantly hooked! I definitely reccomend it. :)
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99. mukit
like da list...........
but i think 'FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST:BROTHERHOOD' should have been there too. it's also something u have to see befor u die! think about it!
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100. Runawaygirl
What about Uresei Yatsura?
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102. SpectresShadow
Totally agree with bebop and eva. However, I'm disappointed that Vandread, Heroic Age, Big O, Burst Angel, (Dot).Hack, Betterman, Samurai X, and a couple others that were shown on G4/TechTV's Anime slot (wish I could remember their names, and that was were I first saw Betterman) didn't even get mentioned.

(Dot).Hack was the first anime that I watched everytime it was on, it was my gateway to the wonderful world of anime. I would have also mention my sixth favorite anime series if it weren't for the overexposure of so many renditions of Gundam. My favorite Gundam series was by and far Gundam Wing.

That being said, Really disappointed about no Vandread, Betterman, or Burst Angel. I could re-watch those three series without getting bored of them. All three have a good mix of action and deep story. If you've never seen Betterman, there are twists you'd never expect throughout the series. Once you think you have it pegged, BAM, whole new curveball thrown your way. Burst Angel does have a bit of a cliffhanger end of the series though, so not a good first anime for someone to watch. I would actually recommend that people new to anime watch Vandread, which also happens to be my favorite series. That show is hilarious and deep at the same time. There's one episode that would make any grown man cry, I choke up everytime I watch it, and it is by far my favorite episode.
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103. fiftybuckz
i would've add tengen toppa gurren laggan just for its sheer awesomeness
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104. PaleBlueDot
Here's a pruned down selection from anime that I've listed as a "10" on my anidb.com profile over the years:

Baccano!
Black Lagoon
Bokura no
Cowboy Bebop
Code Geass
Denno Coil
Death Note
Eden of the East
Elfen Lied
Ergo Proxy
Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son)
Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka? (Is this a Zombie?)
Katanagatari
Kemono no Souja Erin (Beast Player Erin)
Kino no Tabi (Kino's Journey)
Last Exile
Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Lovely Complex
Mawaru Penguin Drum
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
Mononoke
Monster
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit
Mushi-shi
Natsume Yuujinchou (Seasons 1-4)
The Daughter of 20 Faces
Nodame Cantabile
Phantom
Planetes
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Rainbow
Rocket Girls
Samurai Champloo
School Rumble
Spice and Wolf
Steins;Gate
Tentai Senshi Sunred (Astro Fighter Sunred)
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
The Twelve Kingdoms
Time of Eve
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Trigun
Usagi Drop

There are many many more in my list that are absolutely worth watching, but it's quite a chore to sort through it all, haha. I've bolded a few of my absolute favorites, but all of these shows are great!
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105. Fireplasm
I second these, with those to those who have mentioned them before:
Natsume Yuujinchou
Full Metal alchemist (all right, so I only read the manga)
Case Closed (Great Detective Conan)
Dragon Ball Z (the anime is a bit difficult to sit through because there is a lot of time-filling dramatic waits, but the manga is one of my favorites)
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106. Satchmo
Yeah, Ergo Proxy is pretty awesome, always thought the conciousness "Cogito" virus thing was pretty cool. Though I'm not sure that'd be a goodun for an anime initiate. Samurai 7 and Eureka 7 are both pretty bossome. though E7 is pretty damn long. I guess maybe you were trying to leave out the really long - running ones? Cause there's definitely a few really good full series (50 ep or more) that I would call must see, such as Code Geass or either of the FMA's. Gantz is a really good horror/scifi.
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107. Satchmo
OMG, just saw it and can't believe i forgot it, it's my personal favorite anime of all time, and that's Gurren Lagann! Who the hell do you think I am!!! - Favorite catchphrase from anything ever.
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108. Tasha77
Gurren Lagann is really good, I'd really reccomend Code Geass, it's got such great art, plot, and character development.
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109. Henna
Overall, this is a good list. My only criticism is that the majority of the titles are sci-fi, and that it doesn't represent the broad spectrum of stories in the anime genre for people who don't like sci-fi. Of course I have to list some shows which I think should of been included, but I agree with the list and can't wait to watch some of the ones I haven't seen yet.

Samurai Champloo, Mushi-shi, D.N. Angel, Black Cat, FMA Brotherhood, Kino's Journey, Last Exile, Paradise Kiss, Wolf's Rain, xxxHolic, and Bakemonogatari because it's just so visually interesting. And though it's not the best out there, it's the one series I fangirl, so D. Gray-Man.
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110. Robertoo
WHERES NARUTO?
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111. WhiteFannG
The top 3 slots must be Clannad,Deathnote and Code Geass.
Any top anime list is not complete without these three.
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112. Doomsaer
There is no Dragonball Z >:|
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113. Defy60
I would have put outlaw star on the list and maybe some of the other shows streamed on Toonami back in the day, because after all those were some of the first anime experiences a lot of people in america received.
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114. Kamui
I think Kamui Gaiden can also be added to this list. Damn, I love it. Especially the back ground score and the screenplay.
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115. TigerOnTheProwl
This is a good list but really a top 10 sort of thing isn't nearly enough to list anime series's. There's just so many that are absolutely amazing, that it's impossible to pick just 10. With that said, my top 10 are:

1. Elfen Lied
2. Fullmetal Alchemist (and Brotherhood)
3. Dragonball
4. Excel Saga
5. Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan
6. Soul Eater
7. Death Note
8. Bleach
9. D. Gray-Man
10. Blood+
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116. Kimi
I'd like to add my vote for the twelve kingdoms. Anything that can get my dad to sit down and watch anime has a lot going for it, story and style wise.
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117. KevKev
You forgot the following:
1. Wolf's Rain
2. Trigun
3. Animatrix
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119. dhruv rai
i don't understand....
where's naruto shippuuden,one piece or bleach????
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120. aldino frassinelli
I love your list and also look forward to viewing the few on there I haven't seen.

I also would put Trigun on my list. It hits on many of the 90s genre pieces of post apocalyptic universes, intense action scenes, completely whacked out/frenetic humor, and while it opens up very episodic after about the 10th episode or so (something i felt happened in NGE as well) it takes on this deep story of sacrifice and love and loss and humanity that is extremely touching. Well scripted, good animation, a fun soundtrack... i think it has enough to make MY top ten anyway lol.

I'm so happy someone mentioned Irresponsible Captian Tyler as it is one of my favorite series i forgot i loved. Might not be the best show out there, but it's one of my favorite space animes (a la nadessico which i also enjoyed) and is just funny as all hell

also, personally, i will never write a top 10 list without adding Berserk. Murio is still churning out a volume every... month or two. and by volume i mean a shonen jump section not a volumed collection. snail's pace babaaaay. show was awesome though, absolutely brutal and creepy but with characters you loved/hated.

Honorable mentions to Last Exile and Hellsing too.

for some comedic fun, i'd also suggest perhaps childs toy (kodomo no omocha), the Tenchi Universe (well maybe not GXP), Love Hina, excel saga

One of the better romance animes (dont' know how well this has dated, but liked it alot when i was a teen) was Kare Kano, probably the only girly Gainax product I've seen.

and i love that people are repping the outlaw star! where's season two?
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121. Ghost
You should've put down One Piece, but that's just my opinion. :D
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122. NewScents
I'd just like to throw Eureka 7 out there for consideration. It might just be me, but the puppy love romance between Renton and Eureka almost makes you forget about the mecha aspect entirely.
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123. Horsemonkey
I'll add these to the discussion:
House of Five Leaves, an Edo era anime with the subtlety of Mushishi
Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad is essential for musicians and music lovers
Alan Courchene
124. Majicou
It's been said that the purpose of lists like this is to spark debate. That still holds.

Planetes, I think, gets much less recognition than it deserves. Not that people unfairly dislike it, but that it's unfairly unknown.

RahXephon... I think I could have enjoyed RahXephon if Eva didn't exist. When the two occupy the same universe, though, RahXephon is a weak, character-for-character knockoff of Eva. Even the elements that were moderately original--the use of music as a plot element, for instance--did nothing for me. For one thing, I hated the score, and when the robots go into battle with music, they each sing a single note over and over. Ooh, interesting. They even used Borodin's Polovtsian Dances--a piece that Anno wanted to use as the main theme for Eva originally. Hm.

Minor quibble: End of Evangelion was a theatrical movie, not an OVA. Ditto Death and Rebirth.
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125. FUFUCACA
HEY! FUCK YIKSJAIOUSIFJKAHE HABAHBAHAAAHAHABAHABA
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126. cervan
EDIT: needs moar haruhi!
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127. 5abunnylover
The best anime of all time has to be Full Metal Alchemist (And Brotherhood) It is so well written, and the dub is so good that you can watch one episode in Japanese and the next in English and it doesn't affect how much you love it!
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128. subaki
hi, you totally forgot FULL METAL ALCHEMIST DUDE! you have to see this before youd ie for sure^^
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129. Smiley120
Samurai Champloo should definitley be added! :-)
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130. Anime fan
BEST ANIME OF ALL TIME!!!!!


1) ONE PIECE

2) BLEACH

3) FAIRY TAIL

4) DEATH NOTE

*5) OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB

6) KIMI NI TODOKE

7) NARUTO

*8) NEGIMA!?

9) DRAGON BALL
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131. Snowman
Great list - this'll keep me busy for a while...

Tack on my votes for Baccano! and Mushishi.
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132. BrianH1988
I must admit these are all good animes in their own rite. One I would strongly recommend may be controversially considered an anime, since it's three rolled into one, but for certain the first 36 episodes of it deserve note- Robotech, speecifically what's known as "The First Robotech War" or "Macross Frontier". It speaks volumes about our own humanity and is easily a timeless masterpiece for the ages. It's quite mature on so many levels- the main themes are survival, peace, and the "what are we fighting for" mentality that makes it so compelling. Also, it is, for the majority, Macross Frontier itself- truly an artistic hand-drawn gripping show. The style is immediately presentable, and the very thing that lays its weaknesses is its strength- the simplicity of the themes, as they so doggedly prick away at every serious facet of it within the series- perhaps not as well as Cowboy Beebop and Outlaw Star after it, but the ground-breaker, to be sure.
Craig Barnett
133. Ommadawn
@BrianH1988, I concur. Robotech (Macross especially) was one of the first "anime" series I watched as a kid in the 80's, and is totally responsible for my affection with anime to this day. Even though it was a heavily modified version of another anime, it's mature themes and excellent characters still draw me after all this time.
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134. Grillparzer
A good list and quite a response! Very impressive! I recommend Black Lagoon, it makes that leap from a "girl who kills monsters" to girls who kill just about everybody. It has good music, tight plots, and some of the most interesting characters of violence, chaos, and mayhem ever drawn.
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135. verystoica
Apart from Spirited Away, I've never had any exposure to anime. Though after reading your Top 10, I'm seriously interested to give it a go and see what I can find.

So here's my question. I'd like to buy Mononoke, but I can't find it on the standard US anime retailers like Amazon, etc. Anyone have an idea how I can get my hands on it?

Thanks!
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136. thatguy431
This is a great list, my only concern is WHY NO MUSHISHI?!?! Though...you can ONLY have 10, so whateva. But I love that show and everyone should see it. :)
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137. FOREIGNER666
pos yo sumaria un anime que fue muy bueno en japon en su momento no se en el resto del mundo y es great teacher onizuka, es ilarante, pervertida y profunda hasta mas no poder, sin ir muy lejos con tecnologia, disparos, vampiros, mechas, espadas, meramente como es la realidad.
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138. Ares23
I'm not gonna go into specifics, but I will just give a general list of animes I love that weren't mentioned in this Top 10, these are not in any particular order:
Mushishi
Code Geass
Death Note
Clannad/After Story
Angel Beats!
Monster
Birdy the Mighty Decode
Kanon
Rurouni Kenshin
School Rumble
Full Metal Panic/Fumoffu
Black Lagoon
Darker Than Black
Basilisk
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139. Ares23
Just remembered another important anime, one that helped to get me hooked on anime when I was younger:

Yu Yu Hakusho
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140. raiko_star
So the list is pretty epic. Has Anime I feel are the best I have seen. however I am not a fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion or Ghost in the Shell, but to each there own. Animes I would Suggest would be Black Rock Shooter and Durarara ! as well as FLCL and Gungrave
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141. HeatherTsuki7659
You forgot Sailor Moon. Not only am I a fan, but that show was one of the main ones to open the door to shojo; and she helped to start the magical girl gene.

Other than that, I've seen a few on your list and now there's a few I'm gonna have to check out.
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142. Laxpolilla
I have 2.
Revolutionary Girl Utena/Adolescence of Utena: Now, I'll admit the show is not that great. Fun to watch, but not "greatest anime ever made" list material. It involves a group of students competing in duels to win the "Rose Princess" who has the power to bring revolution to the world, and a girl named Utena who gets mixed up in them in an attempt to find and realize her romance with a prince she met as a child.

The movie, however, was extraordinary. Incredibly difficult to follow without having watched at least a portion of the anime, but totally strips reality away at the seams. It turns the character arcs of princess and prince on its head, explored naivety vs. maturity, the nature of love, seduction, and incest. All of this in a trippy, beautiful rendered world reminiscent of a Dahli or MC Esher painting.

My second pick: Straight Jacket.
It takes place in a world where magic out does science and is used in every part of life, from agriculture to medicine. However, it has nasty side effects, and over exposure to magic can cause users to become Daemons, which are incredibly more terrifying than their name implies. The movie follows both a rogue daemon hunter and a legitimate daemon hunter working for the police. It also involves a terrorist organization.
What's amazing about it isn't the main plot line, but all of the little subplots that take place, and how everything is woven together at the very end. I thought it was a great story telling experience, and the way its drawn gives you that sinking, pit in your stomach feeling of dread the entire time, always keeping you emotionally connected.
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143. Thadude
.YU YU HAKUSHO..........
that show is a must watch for any anime viewer like..omg
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145. sarah b
can we all just take a moment to note how Fullmetal Alchemist ISN'T on this list?!!?!
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146. Rouffian
I would add Steins;Gate into the mix. I loved the way that you sort of dislike the lead character at the beginning, but begin to love him as you realise why he acts like such an irritating prick. The story pulls no punches and the convoluted time travelling mechanisms with their inbuilt limitations are a fabulous hook an which to hang this tangled story of love and betrayal and heroism and freindship in a time-travel matrix of some complexity.

Watching Okabe Rintarou decide who among his friends he can save while trying to defeat the evil organisation SERN is heart-stopping at times, and without trying to offer spoilers, his failures are heart-breaking. Even the happy ending is only happy for a subset of the characters, but still happy enough to be satisfying without being 'American'. Some individuals' stories are incomplete, but that was deliberate, and we are adults after all; we know that life isn't a movie.

It's definitely in my top 10.

Anyway, Tim, thanks for the list. Your reviews of the ones I have seen indicate that the ones I haven't will be worth a try, at least, and thanks also to the other commenteers who have also given me a few ideas to check. I am definitely going to look into Baccano! and probably Black Lagoon.
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148. 45asunder
CLAYMORE and HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES....
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149. shelagh
WHAT ABOUT DEATH NOTE!?!?!?!?
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150. KittyGirl981
this is to every1 out there who wrote all of these comments: thank you, you have helped me figure out what animes i should watch and remember some of the names of some that i have watched and will rewatch but i also have a reconmendation(i have no idea on how to spell that word, if i got it right then i will be happy :D ) to every1 out there, right at this current moment i am 14 years old and have rewatched this one anime over 6 times and i still find all of the jokes funny as all hell so to every1 out there please watch shugo chara

-KittyGirl981
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151. dwin
Samurai champloo?
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152. clairyRockbell
the best anime may not be the one thats got the most character development, or even sometimes the best plot. it the one you enjoyed watching the most and stayed up all night to watch :)
wow so many great anime but my top ten list would have to be:
15- Bokura Ga Ita
14- Kodocha
13- Darker Than Black
12- Yumeiro Patissier (and season two YP pro)
11- Romeo X Juliet
10- Uninhabited Planet Survival
9- One Outs
8- Gundam Seed
7- Fullmoon Wo Saga
6- Glass Mask
5- Valkyria Chronicals
4- Prince of tennis
3- Code Geass
2- Legend of basara
1- Hunter X Hunter
italics = psychological genre
bold = main character genius/superstrong/hidden talents
underlined = ememies falling in love/forbidden love genre
>i know i said 10 but there were 15 animes i thing everyone should watch especially girls but if u dont mind a few girlyer ones then guys too will like all
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153. Stellmarine
Quite the varied list. ^^

A lot of my favourites wouldn't make it on the list... stuff like Natsume Yuujinchou, Kara no Kyoukai, Terra e and Baccano, etc... though awesome, none of them are really stuff you SHOULD HAVE SEEN BEFORE YOU DIE.

I'd propose:

Then And Now, Here And There:
While the show starts off deceivingly upbeat with a maybe not so original main character (courageous, energetic, never-give-up boy is magically transported to another universe... seen that before?), it quickly evolves into a rather harrowing tale about war and its horrors. The art is deceptively simple and "cute", never is blood shed explicitly, there is no "action" and no fighting so to speak of, yet the anime drives its point home without ever overdramatising. In talking about war, it covers a lot of ground: war, blind obedience, child soldiers, rape and unwanted pregnancies... in the end, you feel like you have been served a true tale, you think: yes, this is war.

Mushishi:
Is a personal favourite. 26 standalone stories about supernatural events set in the Japanese countryside of the past. Something you should have seen before you die? Hmm, don't know. Maybe. I hope so. For the years since I've seen it the first time, I've been carrying the mood of the anime around with me. It just resonates with something that I need and want. While that might not be what everyone could find a use for, some would certainly feel the same.

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
If I had to display the possibilities of anime, I'd choose Gurren Lagann to do it. Everything is over the top, exaggerated, silly,... and if you didn't know the tropes from a hundred other anime, maybe you wouldn't quite get the underlying irony. The plot, though simple and silly, is tight, the drama is well-played, the fun is really fun - the show never wastes a moment (except for episode 4) and knows exactly what it wants and how to get it. This anime throws realism out of the window, and who cares? This is animation! Everything is possible. Everything is justifiable, if it serves the story. This story aims to inspire and it will stop at nothing to achieve that aim. When I feel down, I watch Gurren Lagann and listen to Libera Me From Hell and think: Who the hell do you think I am?

For honorable mentions: I think Fullmetal Alchemist is a beautifully crafted story that sends shivers down my spine every time I read the conclusion, but in my opinion the anime draws everything out too much (I'm talking about Brotherhood) and I enjoyed the manga much more where I could read the story at my own pace. Bokurano is a great manga, I don't know if the anime does it justice.

As an aside: for everyone who loves crazy storytelling and/or art, check out the noitaminA slot.
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154. BarryA
Superb list Tim, much appreciated. I look up anime lists way too much (like daily) and this has got to be one of the best...no the best. Kudos +you have now converted me to tor. m(_ _)m
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155. JeuelJanica
My top 10 best anime is - (particular order)

1) Fairy Tail - I really like it because it has actions, drama. romance and many more.

2) Sword art Online - I don't like the hentai much but it has a very interesting story about love.

3) One Piece - Many Epic moments. I like how they protect each other

4) Yamato Nadeshiko - Old but still Nice :)) But for me, this anime never gets old

5) Naruto Shippuden - Naruto is nice and cute but really strong. He's adorable,too. I ike how he convince Sasuke.

6) Bleach - I don't know. I just like Ichigo.

7) Katekyo Hitman Reborn - Tsuna and the others are so, so, I son't know.. maybe hilarious :))

8) Death Note - Elle is so handsome :))

9) High School of the Dead - It's so challenging

10) Full Metal Alchemist - Edward is so cute :)

Worst Anime Ever : HENTAI - I don't like it ..
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156. Motoko Kusanagi
You seem to have quite similar taste to what I do, so I thought I'd share my top 10 for you to check out the ones I believe you are missing out on:

10) Ghost Hound
9) Kino no Tabi
8) Berserk
7) SE: Lain
6) Ghost in the Shell SAC
5) Monster
4) Cowboy Bebop
3) Mononoke
2) Planetes
1) Shigurui

Shigurui is a must watch. If some friend with a wall full of Criterion and Arthaus movies asked me for one anime to watch, that would be the one. Even if Michael Haneke and Gaspar Noe were to produce a deconstruction of Bushido and samurai honor codex, it could not be done any better that this. It's a tense, no-nonsense, and confidently paced bonecrusher.

The most common critiques:
1) It's slow: Yeah, so is Tarkovsky and Kurosawa. I said confidently paced. If you are looking for a sugar rush, this is not for you.
2) It doesn't have a proper ending: Neither does Sopranos. It ends midway through the manga. And it doesn't need one. Btw, It's better than the manga, because you get no internal dialogue or omniscient writer to spell things out for you.
3) It's violent for the sake of violence: No, it's just real. The most disturbing death in the series has not a single drop of blood, and the most grotesque one is perhaps the only comic relief in the whole series.
4) The story is not original: It's not about 'story', or nesting "surprising" plot twists. It's a meditation on honor and duty.
5) There is no supernatural powers or fireballs or ninja's jumping 30 feet in the air: Good (ok, I added that one)
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157. Hunterevz
Uuuhmmm... There is absolutely no hentai in Sword Art Online JeuelJanica... So good luck with that. There's just some very mild Ecchi here and there... And Sword Art Online is pretty great, it's really starting to become one of my favourites... I've also just recently started trying Code Geass and so far it's quite intriguing, unfortunately I've been told some pretty big spoilers so that's kinda lame... And oh, I'd have to say my favourites are Bleach by very - VERY far - then it's probably Death Note and I'd put Highschool of the Dead on number 3... It's true, I haven't watched too many old anime series' but I'm working my way towards them... Thanks for the list by the way... Now I can move some things to watch to the top of my list..:)
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158. William in DC
Since everyone is commenting -- from this list I've seen Gunslinger Girl and Ghost In Shell. Agree with both. For Gunslinger Girl, I'd add the 2nd season (Il Teatrino) too, although the art is different and some of the character turns are a little different too, together with the OVAs the story is really developed more.

I'm going to share my top 8 and ask for recommendations on what to watch based on the list.

My top 8 (series only):

Baccano - Think of the movie snatch. This is like if Guy Ritchie or Quinitin Tarantino directed an anime. Over TEN MAIN characters? Check. Non-linear story telling? check. Fantastic fun.

Gunslinger Girl (both seasons

Gankutsuo -- One of the greatest classic stories retold with unique 3d art, and from the perspective of a future sci-fi setting.

Gungrave - One of the best mob stories of all time in ANY genre. Even the stupid plot events of the first event, and the later half of the show can't stop this from being instant classic.

Darker than Black (all three seasons) -- The Batman of anime. Hei's just such a bad-ass kick as hero.

Samurai Champloo - Not considered a classic by many, but I have it hear for the soundtrack alone. Hip-Hop in Anime!

Nana - Yes it's a chick flick. Yes, lot's of drama. But damn, is it addictive. And as a bonus, if you'd like hook a skeptical girlfriend onto anime, this one will do it for you. This is the only anime 10/10.

Saint Seiya (Hades Sanctuary) / (Lost Canvas) - I like the whole Hades Arc of Saint Seiya as well as Lost Canvas (although it's a prequel). Much of this is nostalgia, as I grew up in France watching Les Chevalliers Du Zodiac. I like the new graphics and art in the newer series. I'm NOT liking the look and synopsis of Omega though.

If there's anime similar to the above, please feel free to suggest!
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159. Rick Who Is Right
This is the longest comment thread I have ever seen on an anime list. The article itself is spot on. The majority of comments list anime series with great popularity and story/visualizations.

I judge anime by the effect it leaves on me away from the screen. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R1 are some of my absolute favorites to watch... but away from the screen I don't think about them much. Rahxephon was beautiful in its own way, but post-plot twist things were just a little "meh". Nonetheless... it was one of my favorites.

More than those boredom curing anime solutions... there has been only ONE anime series that sticks with me during my regular (and not so regular) days. It isn't an organized story-line and isn't galactic on any scale, but the subtle joy and curiosity it causes me when I see mundane things that everyone sees everyday is one of a kind coming from anything animated.

That anime is called: "Mushi-shi"

Beautiful art, haunting stories that are lighthearted, creepy, sad, happy, mysterious or just peaceful, music that perfectly complements each tale... "Mushi-shi" is an uncommon and not-so-often recognized treasure in the anime kingdom. Plus, it helps me relax and fall asleep. I think about the "Mushi" sometimes and imagine that they may exist in this life and for those thoughts and feelings... I give this anime a trophy and place at the top of any list.

Another similar feeling is when I go outside at night and imagine the Totoro hiding in the trees or playing his ocarina in the moonlight. :)
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160. grant2.0T
GREAT LIST. I would have added

FULL METAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD

and put it at the top of the list. Number ONE!!!
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161. Pride
Also;
Gantz
Angel Beats! (Esp. for newbies)
Ghost Hound
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162. watevs300
good list i havnt seen 3 of these but i still think deathnote sould b in thea. i love misamisa... NOT! but ryuk is a cool character :)
Rachel Deierling
163. Rainphase
Four favorites are Cowboy Bebop, Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist and Durarara!! Most of the ones mentioned in the comments I haven't seen, but I've added some to my to-watch list. Mostly, I want to be sure to avoid cutesy juvenile series like Sailor Moon or something
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164. Ramiro
Great list!

Just consider also:
Death Note
Gantz
Sgt. Keroro (yeah, is cool :-)
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165. wracious
what the heck cant beleive no one said Kenshin or beserk both equally great in their own style but awesome and my favorite is still trigun and those of the higher anime appreciation no noobs is Gasaraki which is a Military/Spirit/thriller and gets really good toward episode 6 the first episode are detsiling you on the factions and the ppl who they r and so forth
but definitey for anime lovers give gasaraki a chance and u might be surprised its definitely not mainstream
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166. JehutyNinja
I think Great Teacher Onizuka deserves a mention
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167. JehutyNinja
Ooh, and Hajime no Ippo (Fighting Spirit)

It's not fancy at all, but I like story and violence of course...plus the what all the characters say about their junk, just hilarious.
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168. Pepper
Great list! My only trade-off would be GitS for FMA: one bored the shit out of me with consistant over-spouted political babble while the other had dynamic characters and a captivating plot. I don't know anyone at all who likes that show. Just saying.
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169. BlueFire
Clannad/After Story is not in the list.. o.O

Maybe you haven't yet watched it or the list prepared before the Clannad came out. :D
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170. NappaWasAPunk
I loved this list and even got a few that I hadn't taken the time to watch. I am a life long anime fan, I was introduced to anime, like so many others, by Dragonball Z... and while I don't think the best way to convert a non-believer is by sitting them down and having them watch 276 episodes and 14 movies... Episode 1 through the end of the Frieza saga has definitely converted a few friends.

Gungrave is another wonderful piece of work. I loved this series from start to finish and wish I had the opportunity to see more.

Hajime no-Ippo is another one of my absolute favorites. I grew up a Rocky fan and this just happened to fall perfectly into my tastes. I would recommend this one for anyone that is a fan of boxing obviously.

However, when it comes to transforming non-believers... I have one solid and trusty go-to... Berserk. It has never failed me and remains, to this day, one of my favorite series of all time. I know that they did not stay 100% true to the manga... actually... they strayed pretty far from them, but still manages to weave a beautiful story filled with everything an anime fan could ever want.
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171. frick
samurai champloo best hands down.
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172. Kermit's
I would add:
1. Code Geass R1 and R2 (soundtrack, art, and plot are stunning)
2. Detective Conan
3. D. grayman
4. NANA and Paradise Kiss
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173. Capt Elias
Sure these are great, but the one I use to intorduce new people is Serei no Moribito, known in my house as "Balsa-crack"... another anime that is pure fun, and pokes at nearly every genre there is, is Nichijou. I am surprised that that one does not get mentioned.
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174. AnimeGuru
Where the hell is OutlawStar?

Where the hell is Samurai Seven?
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175. Sly
Any list that mentions Cowboy Bebop but omits Lupin The Third (a clear influence on Bebop) has no merit in my opinion. Sorry.
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176. CrimsonKing
Great list had the anime that made me the fan I am today(Eva). Like the others I believe gurren lagan and code geass should be on it. But wheres Clannad? Wheres hitman reborn? Fairy tail? One piece is definitely not for beginners but it deserves a mention.Angel beats isnt the best anime but damn is it good for newbies and damn is it just good. While I enjoy scifi fantasy will always be my favorite and needs to be recognized more on this list
Btw I don't see how you couldnt like evangelion sure shinjis a little whiney every once in a while that's because his mother died and his dad didn't really care about him after that, except to pilot the eva
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177. chdrey
hajimme no ippo... please give it a try
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178. Random User
Neon Genesis Evangelion is 1995, not 1994.
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179. Ayrton146
well i think i could die in peave without watching those anime titles, honestly i tried watching them.... but i lost the feel to it after the first or second episode, not every one is into science fiction and what not, some people like that harem ecchi romance stuff (me)
Alexandra Hollingshead
180. Ophiucha
Good list. I still haven't seen three or four of them, but the ones I have seen were at least influential if not excellent in their own way. Planetes definitely deserves the mention, it is such a fantastic series. And for those of you who read manga, I recommend the author's other work: Vinland Saga. Not SFF, but given that it is set in the Viking era, there is some crossover of interest. Brutal, rather historically accurate, and it has fantastic art, too.
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181. Southern Cross
Before I mention anything about the List, I feel I have to mention something about the commenters. It appears that most commenters just skipped down to the list without reading the purpose of the List. This is not a straight TOP 10 list. Its also not just for ppl who are already anime fans. This is a must see list for EVERYONE, to show them what anime CAN be. Just because an anime is good doesnt make it a must see. Now that thats out of the way, heres my 2 cents about the list and whats there or not there.

Angel Beats has to be added to this list. It fits in well with the purpose of the list and should be on every top 10 list reguardless.

FMA: Brotherhood , And Code Geass 1+2 Are both excellent anime that should be seen by everyone. That being said they shouldnt be seen by ppl who are not fans of anime. Why? Because thier length makes them inaccessible to ppl not used to watching anime. If there was a list titled "TOP 10 Anime to show my friends now that I got them hooked" these 2 would be #1 and #2.

Clannad/Clannad After Story ...See Above...

Eva - The almost obsessive compulsive desire to add Eva to every anime list truely astounds me. Its good there's no denying it. But please dont show it to your friends. Everyone should find out about it on thier own kind of how Neo found out about the matrix.

Lain + Dennou Coil Watch Dennou Coil first. I think its the better show. but definatly see Lain. I believe this is an instance where the spiritual successor should actually be seen first.

Trigun Is an exciting and fun show and as such should be watched by every anime fan. If you get asked "Hey do you like anime? Have you seen Trigun?" if you answer "yes,yes" then you have made a friend forever. However the show really needs to be taken as a whole. After you watch the whole thing you will lean back and say" wow, I really saw something there".

Ergo Proxy Great show. Is defianatly better on a rewatch. But again should be only watched after you've logged 100+ hours of other good anime shows.

Witch Hunter Robin Good show. Nuff Said

Naruto, Bleach, One piece, Fairy Tail, etc.. I dont know where to begin here. These bloated behemoths shouldnt be watched by anyone. Whether they are good or not doesnt matter. War and Peace is a good book, but you wouldnt recomend it to someone who just started reading.

Sword Art Online Great anime, I enjoyed it a lot. You get more out of it if you are a fan of MMO's though.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica This is such a good deconstruction of the magical girl genre that you really need to know something about it to engoy the pure awesomeness that it is.

Theres actually alot more great anime than you would be led to believe by just looking at top 10 lists. But if anyone ever says "I'll watch 1 anime show and 1 only" then you should definatly make that show Angel Beats! Its guarenteed to change thier mind.
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182. Liz Gr17
In my case everything began with Inuyasha, so of course I would've put it in my list, but I do realise it has way too many episodes for a 'newbie' so to say... there are other older animes which made an 'animeholic' : Yu Yu Hakusho, Slayers, Kaleido Star, Read or die, Spiral, Kiddy Grade etc. etc.

Now, the list of the animes I've actually searched for, descovered on the internet AND really liked aaaand got kinda obsessed with more than one for quite some time :)) ... :

Cowboy bebop - the only one I've watched from your list; that soundtrack!

Black Butler- aku made tsuji desu kara!

Death Note- twists ans twists and twists and whoaa gotta follow but MUST watch.

Vampire Knight- i should find the words to describe it somehow, but but I' m tired so watch it. period.

Paradise Kiss- you just accept it as it is, cuz it's awesome

Trigun- the awesomeness in it... Vash you baka :))

Nana- hachiko! :)) etoo saaaad rocker Nana ending

and the most recent descovery and so very imensly kawaii and still mysterious and with a pretty good storyline, including history stuff and fantasy and stuff :D:D:D I present to you :

GOSICK ^^

the art is just so pretty, and the main character's, Victorique's dresses have a victorian beauty..
I want a library like that, ghiaaaaaaa!!! : ((((

P.S: I'm really surprosed I actually wrote a comment, don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with it, it's just that I'm more like a 'watch from the shadows' person... soooo if you find it a bit weird, well.. just take it as it is ... :)) .. I can think of no other suggestions...
besides i like wierd, well not creepy weird, but different weird... I'm a wacko hahaha :)).... Geez, I think a should jujst stop typing ... @@
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183. Vivit
A hidden gem is Haibane Renmei.
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184. luca vascon
How cool...
Yes,
trigun
Ergo Proxy
harui suzumiya
nhk
usagi drop
mushishi
kino no tabi
kaiba
Casshern Sins

projekt freedom
durarara
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185. kubagami
No one Ever mentoins future boy conan so you get Mad props for that, but you lost most of you cool point for putting LAIN on your list. Lain Is incredibly boring and it makes no sense.
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186. Akima
I think FMA:B and Rurouni Kenshin deserves a spot there.
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187. AnimeNewbie_girl93
Hi! I know it's kinda random to ask here, but can you list some of mystical animes for me? ^_^ Sorry to bother even though you won't be replying any time soon. And thanks for taking a time to read this. :)
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188. Ghost
I enjoy romance anime, and usually don't watch them unless it's under the genre. Unfortunately, I don't see alot of this here. I mean, there are many really good anime out there that don't have romance. One of my favorites would be Psycho-Pass! This is one of my most favorite anime out there. Another would be Ghost Hunt. These have left a really big impression on me, and I believe that at least 80% of people who enjoy anime will love these. The reason its not 100% guaranteed is because there is alot of blood, gore, ect. If you can handle this, I STRONGLY recommend them.

Back to the lacking romance aspect, there really aren't any romance related anime on this list. One anime I think all the conrtibutors to this post would like that does have a romantic twist is Gosick. I'm actually truly dissapointed that no-one mentioned this anime!

One romantic manga I HAVE to add to this list would be Dengeki Daisy. For those who dont know, manga is bascially a comic you read from right to left. It isn't completed, but it's totally worth the wait. I'm sure 50 something chapters will keep you busy for a while anyways. Now, I know the beginning is kinda not like all the other anime mentioned here, but the farther you read, the more complex and interesting the story gets. You really have to think a bit. #recommended
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189. Nycteris
Cast my votes for Mushishi (that I did run out and buy even before I finished watching it online), and Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which takes the whole "magical girl" genre and turns it inside out. Really dramatic and fascinating. Full of consequences.
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190. CIAgent42
I was expecting Bebop, Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell, but not Planetes, Lain, Paranoia Agent or even Gunslinger Girl. This list brought out some of the classics, and maybe even some lesser-known anime. The only thing I can yell at this list for (trust me, that's saying a LOT) is the lack of a Fullmetal Alchemist on the list. Really? But with that asside, this is still a very well written and thought-out list.
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191. Befu
I agree that everyone should wath Haibane Renmei; I also have to add a plug for Fruits Basket. Both have a great message that is very hard to come by these days, without any added sex, immodesty borderlining Hentai, nor heavy gore.
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192. Mother of Dragons
I'm really surprised Trigun wasn't on the list. Allong with Cowbow Bebop it's generally considered one of the most beloved anime of all time. I'd also suggest Full Metal Alchemist, Hellsing: Ultimate, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
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193. Michael St Louis
People are makin stupid comments, obviously hadn't read the paragraph the author asked them to. Nice list, and I've only seen one tittle on here. So I have some things I can check out.
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194. Emummy
I too would add Escaflowne. such a great series made even better by Yoko Kanno's soundtrack. In fact just about any anime she has scored deserves a watch. (Like cowboy bebop and Stand Alone Complex and Macross Plus)

also:
Monster - there is no reason for this show not to be a great live action show on cable, but it's an anime.
FLCL - great visual sensibilities, killer soundtrack by The Pillows
Macross Frontier - another Yoko Kanno soundtrack - truly hits all the nostalgic story points from the original.
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195. KrisF
I would add black lagoon and samurai champloo which are the ones I use to turn people that dont get anime, but other than that from the ones ive seen on this list id say its quite decent. Im not sure if people consider the boondocks a legitimate anime otherwise id add that too
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196. KrisF
Oh yeah, almost forgot, the anime I use to turn girls! Clannad ugh, the only anime to ever make me actually cry, also pretty much the only slice-of-life where the characters have legitimately serious problems at home that affect every aspect of who they are, that arent completely typical of the genre. okay sometimes thats not true, but for the most part it is
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197. Dikhukpa
havent watched single one of them, made me feel like i've just wasted my whole life watching random animes :(
oh well gonna start with cowboy bepop :)
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198. dat
good, but there are some better animes (different tastes also could make the list), i personaly would add madoka magica (i see it as a must watch)
p.s. liked your comment and the and of the post ;)
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199. kasumaasuma
You missed clannad and clannad after story.EPICS
Anna Hivoina
200. nya_anna
It's a shame but i never ever heard about any of these anime series. The only one i watched was Death Note and after this wanted to see something else but never found decent one. Thank you for making the list, will try to see some of them :)
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202. Lyra
Mushishi
Seirei no Moribito
Kemono no Souja
Kaiba
Now and Then Here and There
Saikano

I would add them besides the ones that you have here.
Still, great list!
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203. Aioria
I like yur list! You have ex.cellent taste!
I never really heard of Denno Coil and Mononoke though, I'm definitely watching those sometime
It's interesting you included Gunslinger Girl, it's a great series imo, specially because the soundtrack and the animation are superb, but as usual the manga counterpart is better. I wouldn't show it to my non anime loving friends though.

My own list of favorite series and that I share with my friends:

-Monster: just as good as the manga. Superb storyline.
-Cowboy bebop: classic.
-Planetes: everything that anime should be.
-Haibane Renmei: thought provoking, great art.
-Trigun: truly enjoyable and packed with great morals, I'll show my kids this series one day!
-Gankutsuou: a retake on one of my favorite books.
-Last Exile: love it. Sadly, the second series came to explain many things left unexplained but was poorly executed.
-The Vision of Escaflowne: classic. This is the standard to which anime series should be measured against.
-Samurai Champloo: really cool.
-Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostrio: it's a movie but it it represents the best that the series offers. One of my favorite movies of all time.
-GTO: simply hilarious. The manga is better, but seeing Onizuka's face animated is gold. Not to mention the soundtrack is really memorable.
-Kare kano: Girls love this.

Berserk and FMA have better manga counterparts.
HxH and One Piece, should only exist as manga series! Naruto and Bleach shouldn not exist at all!
Ergo Proxy is very good too.
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204. gitsman
Great choices here, my favorites are all the Ghost in The Shell collection, Darker Than Black, Mushishi, Evangelion and Fullmetal Alchemist. Three to check out are Akira, Casshern and Eden of The East
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205. Andrew Howell
Thanks for the refreshing list of anime. It seems like most guys who write these list haven't matured yet. Anyway i'll definitely be looking into some of these. I appreciate the post.
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206. Galaxystarrx
Great list but I would have added FLCL in there somewhere. Hands down the best anime tv series for its art, music, comedy, and surreal feeling all through the crazy story. Surely not one any fan should miss!
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207. Elijah L. Armstrong
I suggest Mushishi as well.
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208. Unorthodox
I know this discussion is probably dead alreadly but I atcually like most of the picks for this list. The animes I haven't seen before will undoubtly be getting hunted down and viewed. Though, I think Death Note should have made an appearance I have no problem with the list above.
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209. venator
Probably a bit too late but anyway i just wanted to thank everybody in the comments for the tips. Been watching anime for th elast threel months based on the references posted here, what a ride!

Briefly, a few comments on the ones that have left a big mark on my soul.

Haibane renmei: a delicate flower, full of mistery.
Puella magi: an intense, fiery deconstruction of the genre.
Mushishi: a masterpiece, made with a deep understanding of japanese folklore and ancient metaphysics.
Garden of sinners: a clever study on the deep impulses of murder and a riveting story of imposible love.

And last, but not least, my favourite: Steins; Gate.
It begins slowly, so slow and dumb that you find yourself wondering what the hell are you doing watching such rubbish... And then, out of the blue, tragedy strikes, drame enters and grabs you by the troath and squeezes your heart until you burst into tears. From then on, you just cannot let you eyes off the screen, glued to the sofa, often grasping for air, enthralled and horrified at the torture and sacrifices our dear "lab members" have to endure. El psy congroo!!
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210. gregx
Hi, good list, especially Mononoke. Impressed you featured that, I think the first couple episodes are among THE BEST IN ANIME EVER, but of course it drops off a tad after that. When you first see all that crazy art and the way they animate the show it really spoils your eyes. It would be somewhere on my list for sure.

Mononoke is a good series to help you understand the art of anime, it's truly an everyman series, no shoujo, no niche audience, no fanservice otakuing, just downright anime the way it's meant to be done, not that that extra stuff is bad.

I've seen a lot of people mention Gurren Lagaan. It's a good series, not a great one, and is totally aping MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO. Let me point out for all of you that as good as the first oh 8ish episodes of GL are, MSN is for the entire series, equal quality but spread out for all 25/26 eps. I've been looking at a lot of these online anime lists and it's understandable that most of them feature all the cartoon network favorites. MSN was never featured on Toonami and few have heard of it, it seems, but I seriously think this is one of the best ever. A total masterpiece to add to Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion (especially the movies, not the first basic one but---anime fans know---the WEIRD ONE, The End of Evangelion, which is likely one of the best MOVIES I've ever seen, even if I wasn't a huge fan of the series) and others.

I'm going to eventually compose my own list, but Trigun is definitely in my top three anime, among the 30 or so I've seen. Last Exile is quite accessible and unmissable. Berserk is another masterpiece, but the manga is better so you'll just be catching up on it anyways. Fullmetal Alchemist is overrated as hell, the first series isn't hardly any good. I have yet to see Brotherhood.

Paranoia Agent is amazing, and I recommend Paprika, the movie, too. Ghost in the Shell SAC is VERY good and features one of my alltime favorite episodes, featuring a chatroom theme. Ninja Scroll, Lupin III Caste of Cagliostro, Porco Rosso, Naausica, Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro. And definitely Monster, one of the best series you'll ever see.

Fruits Basket/Escaflowne ftw.

(I'm reading FMA manga right now and when I finish I'll watch Brotherhood, so no offense)
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211. Afreen
Loved mononoke !!! Great animation and story and presentation. Excellent !! Thank you
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213. 3Jane
Thanks for the list. Most I'd seen and loved, but "Mononoke" was new to me and I'm currently enjoying it.

Many of the recommendations from others are series I've seen and enjoyed as well, and some rate very highly with me, but I'm not sure I'd call them "Top 10" material. Many of them start strong, but then deteriorate rapidly (e.g. Bleach).

I would definitely second the addition of "Last Exile," and "Samurai Champloo" on their respective merits. I'd also include "Kaiba" and "Tatami Galaxy." :-)

(And as long as they don't mess up with subsequent seasons; "Attack on Titan" should probably be on the list too.)
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214. Alissa Wong
Hey there ^^ Great list :) I recently found a really good anime that you should add/check out ^^ Shamanic Princess
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215. seamus o'flattery
Thank you so much for putting Monoke on here. It's brilliance is always overlooked.
Could have added Mushishi but Mononoke is basically Mushishi so there's that
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216. SailorTsukino
Why not add Sailor Moon, Pokemon, Mew Mew Power, Bleach and Wedding Peach? They are awesome.
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217. proxy
nice list...but add these too

house of five leaves and mushishi..and now it's complete

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