Anime is a genre that many people are scared of. It is looked down upon in many circles, and for good reason. Anime has more perversion and ‘mature’ content that you would think possible, so it is dangerous to find one worth watching.
However, I care about story. I care about action scenes. I care about characters and their development.
And it just so happens that, so does a lot of anime.
There are several worth watching, so I want to walk you through my experience with the animes I have watched and given time to. If you see one you think you might like, give it a watch. American TV falls short in a lot of ways that anime excels at, to be honest, and it may be the breath of fresh air that you may be looking for.
Understand that I usually prefer the subbed (subtitles) over the dubbed (English voice actors) which is an intense debate for some. However, I think a lot more of the original story and dialogue is preserved with the subbed, and it feels more natural to watch.
Understand that my tastes are not law, nor will they most likely line up with yours.
Understand that every anime has its problems, like any TV show, and I would recommend being careful which kinds of anime you watch. Different people have different kinds of temptation and preference.
And also understand that below is either original posters or fan art, and none of it was drawn or belongs to me.
So with that said, lets explore just how good an anime can be.
The Honorable Mentions
Pokémon is the first honorable mention. I love Pokémon. It is full of variety, strategy, and creativity, but I was not allowed to watch or play it when I was a kid. I started playing the games in high school, and by then I was a little too old for the target audience that the anime was reaching.
Although I never really got into it, I enjoyed the episodes I saw and even appreciate the most recent series for the Sun and Moon games. Team Rocket was hilarious and Ash had some cool fights now and then.
It never made it to my favorites simply because I didn’t really follow it, but it will always hold a special place in my heart for nostalgia, if nothing else.
I watched Captain Earth all the way through, but it ended up being pretty forgettable. Some episodes had some flare, and the characters were fairly interesting, but it was pretty predictable and cliché mecha anime.
Buddy Complex was only slightly better, only because it had some time traveling elements and better fights. Still not one I would probably recommend, but it was a fairly entertaining mecha anime that was innocent enough to follow. I do not believe it got a full second season, but I would not revisit it sometime to rewatch some highlights of the series.
Ah, Gurren Lagann. Probably way better in my head than it is in reality. It was an over-the-top mecha anime with lots and lots of shouting. It was fun, though, and I enjoyed it all the way through. I refuse to go back and watch it again, simply because I would probably remember how bad it actually was. But, man, those were good times.
Fairy Tail is, in my opinion, the biggest disappointment of any anime I have ever watched. I loved Fairy Tail. A few years ago, I would have told you that it was one of my favorite shows, but then it kept going, and a pattern was revealed. It got predictable, fake tension was used far too often, no one EVER died, and if they did then they came back in a few dozen episodes. That, and the fan service was way to consistent and constant.
There was a time when Fairy Tail was amazing, and I have pulled a lot of inspiration from it. I may even revisit some of the earliest arcs, but the majority of the show I would not recommend. It will let you down.
Akame ga Kill is a show about a bunch of assassins taking on an entire kingdom. It was cool, but very confused. I had no idea what genre it was, because, while one person used a medieval axe, another would use a mecha suit. The characters were awesome, though. But due to the disappointing ending and the amount of blood and gore, I probably would not recommend it unless you need some inspiration for a few action packed characters.
The first season was a lot of fun, and got pretty intense at times. Very surprising, very fun, and very funny, if you can get past some iffy bits of humor. I would love to watch season 2, but I have yet to find the time.
I may revisit Tokyo Ghoul. I watched the whole first season and really liked it, despite it being quite gory and a horror/action anime. But season two really confused me, and it traded a strong conviction that the main character had for better action scenes.
I sometimes do get the itch to finish the story, and I do plan on it someday. But seeing as I have not completely finished it, I decided to leave it out of my favorites.
To clarify, Sword Art Online is a hit and miss anime. The only arc I truly loved, and would recommend, is the very first arc. After that, I would call it disappointing garbage, and I think a lot of other fans would say the same. The first arc was one of my very first animes, so it has this ‘guilty pleasure’ element if nothing else. The protagonist was generic, but the fights scenes were intense and action packed. And although the action scenes never got bad, the story and character development got worse, and that was what killed it for me.
One-Punch Man is an odd, odd anime. But man, it is cool. It makes following a completely overpowered and rather invincible super hero interesting, and the fight scenes are exaggerated and flashy. Its oddness takes some getting used to, though, and I am still not a complete fan of it. I would, however, recommend it to mature audiences. It’s a bundle of fun, and you will definitely have some good laughs along the way.
Heroic Age is hard to explain. But, in an attempt, it is a space odyssey full of aliens, space monsters, and the true value of home. The fight scenes are intense, and the finale is excellent.
I would highly recommend giving it a watch if you have the patience for a lot of outer space and talking.
My Hero Academia is an amazing superhero anime. Never before has an anime made me feel so pumped for so many unique and developed characters. It has you voting for the underdog, and at the edge of your seat through action packed fights and some of the best character arcs I have seen in an anime.
If you like super heroes, or just need a boost to your morale, watch My Hero Academia. It may rise higher up on the list depending on how the story continues to develop.
Fate/Stay Night is a gem, recommended by a good friend, and one of my all time favorites. It is, however, a little hard to keep track of. It was shown as a TV show in 2006, and then got a remake for a movie in 2010. The best one, however, was the TV show that was made from the movie in 2015. That would be the one to watch (because they all have the same plot, just presented in different ways).
Being able to summon heroes and legends from a past age for a war of specialized fighters is just too cool of an idea to pass up. Fate/Stay Night has the best fight scenes I have ever seen in an anime (which is saying a lot), and it has been a favorite ever since I saw the 2006 version.
I will always recommend this one. It has some disappointments in it, and there is a few scenes that hold it back from being my absolute favorites, but as far as action goes, it is hard to think of anything better.
Attack on Titan was another that was recommended by a friend. It is another action/horror anime, but it has an intense style that makes the blood and intensity passable for me. What is really brilliant about Attack on Titan, however, is the tension. Very few TV shows, anime or otherwise, can create an environment where you have several likable characters that could literally die at any moment. The titans are mysterious and unpredictable, and it has you on the edge of your seat throughout.
Season 2 is here, and words cannot describe how much I had missed the show. A serious and enjoyable anime.
Fate/Zero is a dark, rough anime. As a warning, it is probably only bearable if you have first watched Fate/Stay Night. But the goofiness of a typical anime is scarce, and it feels more like a more serious movie. But just like Fate/Stay Night, the action scenes are amazing, the characters are cool, and the story is gripping.
It has a goofy side (mainly thanks to good old Alexander the Great), but it is feels like a more respectable story. The protagonist is more of an anti-hero, and his character development and inner turmoil is excellent.
I would love to watch through it again sometime, and I would readily recommend it to anyone who enjoys Fate/Stay Night or more mature shows.
Fullmetal will always be at the top. Nothing can do better. It is a longer series, but the writing is clever, the plot is well developed, the characters are interesting, and the ending is the most satisfying ending I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing in stories in general.
If you like fun, action packed adventures full of complicated magic and dangerous foes, or if you just like story in general, watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I have watched through this series around three different times, and I still want to watch it more.
For me, it is the Lord of the Rings of anime. Nothing will get any better, or hit home quite as hard.
Don’t count anime out when it comes to smart stories and interesting plot. Have an educated, smart, and careful look at a series and give it a try. It can be fun, engaging, and can hold a ton of inspiration that could improve your knowledge of story as a whole and give you an appreciation for something that American television falls short on far too often.
So there you go. Grab a snack and finds some engaging anime to watch.