As promised, these are the titles which almost made to my Top 40. Many of the entries feature comedy as the central theme (which might not be your thing) but some left me considering if these (Champloo, Fruits Basket and Lain, specifically) are actually better than the others in the main list. However, as the name of this post implies, my taste is rather subjective so I just have to back these entries with reason. Most of the shows here are lighthearted but will surely leave you feeling fuzzy or inspired after. Be warned though as this list is a mixed bag since some of these are really loathed (Hetalia – Axis Powers being the prime example) in the anime community.
65. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (2009) – Bones can pull a good drama if it wanted to such in the case of this series. If viewed as a story on how these people struggled to survive, this sure will give one heck of feels without the cheap manipulation. With the string of recent Earthquakes in Japan, it will be really hard for you not to get emotionally attached with Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. The characters are emphatic (this anime proves that anime mothers are just the best), the situation is believable (at least until that plot twist which kind of ruined my experience) and it presented a case on how characters should develop over a span of 11 episodes.
64. Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou (2014) – This is my version of effective comedy if we utilize psychologically doomed characters without the blood or the dark comedy. It is neurotic but also can give innocent fun and the jokes land solidly for the most of its run. In case you are still unconvinced with the joke, the slow but cute love story of Usa and Kawai will make up for that. The palette similar with 5 cm/second is the primary reason why it is here as it really looks pretty with the purple tinge. The first episode was not able to give justice with the consistency of the excellent subsequent ones though but you should not be discouraged to watch this show by that reason alone.
63. Tsuritama (2012) – To say that original titles fail to match the quality of adaptations is uncalled for especially with Tsuritama. The premise might put off others due to the fishing theme which it sticks through its run but this is one of the stories where pure fun is prioritized over character development or layered storytelling. I can also suggest this show as a recommended one if you are new to the anime genre for its very simple plot. Lastly, the visuals in Tsuritama is also A-1 Pictures in its artsiest which rival that of ERASED’s cinematic presentation.
62. Nichijou (2011) – If Hyouka is Kyoto Animation’s magnum opus in terms of lovely artwork and the ability to animate every minute detail in a screen, Nichijou is what this studio can do if it exercises creative freedom to present shows the way they want. Play this beside One Punch Man and you will see that Nichijou is still at par with the former despite being released four years earlier. My main beef? Nichijou’s humor is very hit and miss but its status as a visual juggernaut makes this a brand of KyoAni we wish to see more. It makes my wonder why is this Kyoto Animation’s biggest flop to date when Phantom World is just that bad.
61. Kimi ni Todoke (2010 and 2011) – You must see this show to know what’s good and bad in the shoujo genre. Tropes surround this series but the execution is pure perfection and can bring a stupid grin and warm fuzz in your chest. As long as standard romance anime stories are concerned, it will be hard to top Kimi Ni Todoke as its representative in this list. Beware for the first seven episodes of the second season though as these exhibit the worst tendencies of cliched romance animes.
60. Toradora! (2008) -Kimi ni Todoke is the pinnacle of standard romance teenage anime titles but Toradora! shows how high school light novel adaptations should be. We normally place low hopes for shows labelled as harem but it was able to mix comedy, drama and convincing character development over 25 episodes – with all female leads fawning over Ryuuji. Toradora might also be responsible for the explosion of tsunderes in the anime fandom as Taiga became a household name (well, aside from Rin) as far as this trope is concerned. The ending might be really rushed (and I am still infuriated by that, hence, it’s not in the Top 40) but the most of its ride is nothing short of exhilarating.
59. The Eccentric Family (2013) – As you can see, anime shows with central themes on family (Usagi Drop, Penguindrum and Kyouso Giga) ping high on my favorite list so it is not a surprise that I include this. Understated drama about coping with loss was fleshed out throughout the series which can be a real treat if you are a fan of this variant. Pacing-aside, it was able to mingle Japanese folklore, the modern society and the eccentricities of tanukis on myths. Lastly, this is a PA Works show, which I was really surprised given the drastic (but welcome) change in the artwork.
58. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (2008) – My uncanny similarities with Nozomi aside, this is Shaft at its weirdest and it was a fun ride seeing these mentally impaired characters do their antics in the screen. Before Monogatari, this is Shinbo’s favorite plaything in terms of head-tilts and overly weird OP and ED sequence. This is even weirder though – much more eccentric on that incest toothbrush scene. I heard the sequels are at par (though more nationalistic in tone) so I intend to finish everything in this franchise.
57. Hetalia – Axis Powers (2009) – Hetalia is one of the shows whose charm only worked for a season then subsequently baited its fans into the fujoshi lure. Not to say it went bad but its choice to poke fun at country stereotypes more than to screw history is a missed opportunity to be fun in the intellectual level. On the other hand, the first season embodies what Hetalia is at its best – a bunch of anthropomorphic nations goofing around the history and their homoerotic interpretations of treaties and conquest. By the way, my avatar is the ever repressed Germany who might or might not enjoy Italy’s uselessness in the series.
56. Arakawa Under The Bridge (2010) – Another show highlighting how weird Shaft can be, you should see by now that I will gobble any comedy show whose characters are totally nuts. It really did not go anywhere through its run but the colorful cast outshadowed its apparent lack of any meaningful plot progression in the end. Well, that was the main reason I cannot rank Arakawa higher in this list. You should watch out for Maria and Sister though, whose relationship is just pathetically funny.
55. Concrete Revolutio (2015 and 2016) – Its finale might have left an ugly note in terms of execution but this series did not lack in presenting a meaningful (and bleak) take on the superhero genre. More importantly, I fell in love with its clash of ideologies while having the meaning of justice as its central core. Character-wise, Jiro is one of the most sympathetic leads I saw so far (although Kikko is criminally underutilized) and it’s quite fascinating and sad to see his beliefs go down the drain over its run. Concrete Revolutio is perhaps the most haphazard series in the entire list in terms of storytelling. This really alienated potential viewers of this gem because of the jarring time skips. Do not be discouraged though – the series found its own groove several episodes later.
54. Nagi No Asukara (2014) – This is PA Works’ most gorgeous show to date and probably their best show if you do not like Shirobako at all. You still have to deal with Okada-isms which might irritate you at first but it goes better when the plot shows its grand nature in the second half and the tasteful love decagon that ultimately ended up in the right places. If you are not keen with the story, just stare at the beautiful artwork that ranges from serene to otherworldly.
53. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (2014) – A parody of romance stories, the lovely Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun used the power of 4-komas to present tear-inducing comedy that leaves you guffawing from beginning to end. The plot is not deep, the character sans Mikoshiba and Sakura are unexplored but darn, I do not need character development if they are that likable and the comedy (regardless if it is slapstick, fish out of water jokes or bathroom jokes) is just that potent for me to watch it again and again but still gives the chuckles I want. Who thought jokes surrounding boxes can be that fun? Nozaki-kun might be the weakest link among the lovable cast but he is not deterrent to the enjoyment of this show.
52. Death Parade (2015) – Engrossing and deeply flawed, Death Parade is an experimental show about the exploration of the human nature. I sort of wished we were shown the mechanisms on how the afterlife goes but the path it presented is nothing less than admirable. It also forgot to tie the loose ends but when it zings in terms of delivery, it really wowed us with its contemplative nature. The opening might be the most misleading that I watched but I cannot complain because it was so tastefully done.
51. Garo: Crimson Flames (2015) – What shounen shows wished to accomplish over 100 episodes is done with Garo’s 24. This is perhaps the most underappreciated in the list as it was ignored by many and dropped by others given the confusing first 13 episodes. However, its greatness became apparent in the second half when it decided to give the main plot. Character development was given in equal doses too. Leon got his much needed resolve, it humanized Alfonso other than the white knight and the former’s father was given complexity in his characterization. For the climax? It is nothing short of satisfying seeing the anime really ended in the right places.
50. Wandering Son (2011) – LGBTQ characters in anime shows are normally portrayed as promiscuous or flirty but the Wandering Son handled them with dignity and subtlety. It is a very slow ride in its 11 episode run but it has the tenacity to present how things go south when social deviants are mixed with normal people. Just like the reality, it was never that dramatic nor touchy to the subject matter. The dreamy artwork is also a huge plus for this show that somehow alleviates the heavy feeling you have when you watch this. Lastly, I cannot believe Okada is the main writer for this adaptation because it really presented a subdued drama contrary to her other emotionally bombastic works.
49. Ouran High School Host Club (2006) – Loud, annoying and ultimately funny are the terms I can think of whenever I remember this show. Let us also not forget that this is the anime that first poked fun at BL-mania and all other tropes you can think of. It’s heartwarming at times, thanks to Kaoru’s deep insights and Tamaki’s foolish antics but are just earnest but Haruhi ended up as my most favorite lead from a reverse harem genre for her consistently deadpan reaction. Now, when will Bones animate its second season? It’s been forever you know.
48. Un-Go (2011) – This is the smartest mystery series you could ever get in the most recent times without the sour ending of Rokka no Yuusha. While it looks really uncommercial, the execution is something I really like for other mystery shows to apply. A larger plot was introduced later to Un-Go which was well integrated to the previous episodes and not just thrown for the sake of having a serious tone. Deception of media to the main public as well as showing how treacherous some people can be are shown in detail with Un-Go. Lastly, a shota who can transform to a bishoujo is so unique that I was dumbfounded when it happened the first time.
47. Durarara!! Season 1 (2010) – Let us imagine the second season did not exist at all as some things are better left undone. The first season of Durarara!! demonstrated the knack of seaming events that look unrelated at first to a bigger whole. While Brains Base is never the best animation studio out there, it has more production values than that of its sequels which failed to generate the same buzz the original had. The original Durarara!! also feels slick and awesome in a way this anime totally leaned on what was hip in the time of its airing. Looking back, we should have not wished a season two for this already great show.
46 Fruits Basket (2001) – Perhaps it is a gross error in my part to overlook this show when I am making this list. It may not be as pretty as the other series here given its age. Moreover, the comedy is plain awful but other than that, it is never emotionally manipulative. While the artwork is plain mediocre and Fruits Basket is highly episodic, it succeeded in showing the complex things which make us human and these insecurities that lurk as inner monsters in our hearts. The somber parts sting really hard as Tohru’s wide eyed innocence endured whatever the bitterness of Sohma family’s curse threw against her. Acceptance to one’s self might be the central theme of this nice little series, whose sequel we will never see given the creative differences between the author and Studio DEEN.
45. Code Geass (2006 and 2008) – Aside from egregious plot holes and dull comedic episodes, Code Geass excels whenever it ramps the camp and delivered moments which are amusing at worst and stupendously great at best. For mecha lovers, this show is also a delight since it has awesome fight sequences. While I still think Lelouch’s strategy is quite simplistic only seen through a large lens, his development over the series (and so with CC) is one of the best things I witnessed on an anime series. His presence alone (a villainous protagonist) is enough for me to place it in this list.
44. Samurai Flamenco (2014) – Either a brilliantly written series or a massive train wreck, this show injected a unique formula to the rather stale superhero genre. Color me clueless if this is a deconstruction, or the writer went nuts during production and his staff supported him all the way. Just when you think this settled in a groove, it changes its nature the next episode after. Worry not, the concept of justice is also well-thought in its run. Nevertheless, Samurai Flamenco is a show full of likable (and developed) main characters and an ever changing plot that shouldn’t leave you bored.
43. Samurai Champloo (2003) – The only reason why is this show not in the Top 40 is due to its middling mid-sections. Other than than, everything that occurs at the beginning and in the last episodes are at par with Cowboy Bebop’s excellence. Mugen is also one heck of a character for being an awesome dude all around but Fuu might have stolen the show for me given her relatively complex stance. Are you an action-oriented anime watcher? The show has awesome lots of it from episode 1. Its contents might not be great all around but the direction and the execution remained solid from start to finish.
42. Serial Experiments Lain (1998) – Perhaps the most obscure in the whole list, Lain is what you can get if you philosophize the boundaries between the online world and the real one. It is very hard to analyze beyond its production values (which was good given the year it was aired) as this is open for interpretation. It felt like Serial Experiments Lain stayed on Evangelion’s mindtrolling in its run and I am honestly wondering what’s happening right in front of my screen. Me? I think this is a creepy homage for people whose perception of the virtual world and the physical one are getting blurry.
41. Psycho Pass (2012) – This series plays the situation where Siri is the judge of every people’s deed or a gauge of person’s tendency to become a criminal under a cyber steampunk setting. Character development might not be its strongest suit but Psycho Pass delivered a flawed world that is always fascinating to scrutinize and discuss with. You want some action? Kougami and Makishima are more than enough to satisfy your need as their chase is engaging and they are the complete opposites of each other. Akane is also a strong lead for presenting her ideals even if it failed in the end and for being steadfast despite those tragic setbacks. In my case, the Sybil system is the main reason why I love this series. It is scarily logical to the point of loopholes and its backstory is nothing short of shocking and horrific.