I am sure everyone has heard of a bucket list, it is a list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. Today I feel that I have nailed down a fairly accurate list of what animes that an anime fan should see before they die. Some of these are fairly new, others are relatively old. In an attempt to remain unbiased I have compiled this list from input of several other anime fans who generally agree with this list, though could never settled on an order. So thus, there is no order for this anime bucket list.
If you are new to anime or not an anime fan at all, you may not recognize these names. However, I believe I have accurately captured the essence anime. If you are not an anime fan and believe that these cartoons should be dropped after puberty, I can personally guarantee that any single anime on this list will change your ignorant ‘anime is for kids’ viewpoint.
The below are decorated with beautiful art, detailed and complex storylines, and littered with intense human emotion. The exception would be Love Hina as that made the list because it captures traditional anime humor.
23 episodes + Sequel + Movie + 2 Alternative Settings
Clannad follows the main character Okazaki Tomoya as he is bogged down with apathy and is set on wasting away his school years by sleeping through class and skipping school. On a chance, he meets a girl Furukawa Nagisa who has been held back in school because of her illness. Tomoya begins to notice her more and more and eventually befriends her. As he helps Nagisa and her friends overcome various problems, Tomoya begins to realize that school life is not as dull as he thought.
Clannad is one of those animes that give anime a bad name. The girls have that cutesy generic anime look to them and that wards a lot of people off of it. With the amount of girls in it, the anime fan will often mistake it for a harem anime where many girls lust after one boy. However, there is surprisingly little romance in it. Clannad is more about developing friendship and overcoming various drama.
The sequel to Clannad, called Clannad: After Story is where the romance flourishes and then kind of punches you in the heart. This made the anime bucket list because of the variety of emotion that you feel throughout the series. It really makes you realize how important living your life is as opposed to just coasting through it.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (1996)
26 episodes + Movie (summary) + Movie (sequel) + 4 Alternative Setting Movies
In the year 2015, Tokyo is terrorized by giant alien war machines that they refer to as ‘Angels’. Mankinds only hope for survival lies in Evangelion, their own giant fighting machine developed by the government agency NERV. However, Evangelion can only be piloted by a handful of teens that were all born 14 years ago after the Angels first appeared. The story follows one such teen named Shinji Ikari who is the son of the leader of NERV. He is wholly compatible with Evangelion and is thrust into battle where is is forced to confront his own inner turmoil.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a long standing classic in anime. Anime fans would rage were it to be left off any list of anime that one should watch in a life time. The story is very thought provoking and filled with liberal amounts of twists and suspense. Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the first animes to create believable characters; at parts in the series you can forget they are not real. Eventually you stop caring about the Angels that are ravaging the Earth and start caring about the characters and their drama.
It is one of the best animes in terms of character development and growth you will ever see. The only downside is that Neon Genesis Evangelion can be frustratingly unsatisfying at times, especially near the end.
Amazon Price: $329.99 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 29, 2016)
Angel Beats! (2010)
13 episodes + 2 side stories
Otonashi wakes up in a strangely empty school only to be told that he is dead by Yuri, a schoolgirl that wields a large sniper rifle. The only thing he can remember is his name. Yuri tries to recruit him into the Not Dead Yet Battlefront who fights against a being called Angel. Otonashi does not believe any of her claims and goes to talk to this Angel, but ends up being stabbed in the chest. He wakes up the next day uninjured and joins the Battlefront but finds that he is oddly drawn to Angel. While trying to regain his memories, Otonashi learns more about this ‘afterlife’.
Angel Beats! is another anime that people pass over because of the cutesy generic girls. They pass it up before even reading the intriguing plot that sort of draws you in. Angel Beats! is amazing use of today’s animation technology that makes it look so smooth and beautiful.
And the soundtrack…Oh, man. The soundtrack is amazing. However, that is just my own personal opinion.
Angel Beats! has an amazing duality to it. It’s part comedy that can so easily surprise you with perfectly timed jokes and gags to make you literally laugh out loud. It’s also part drama where it can leave you tearing up. A common theme in the story is regret so there a lot of backstories that involve that. However, most of the backstories are not just the generic ‘my dog died’ sadness. They are very original and very sad.
Cowboy Bebop (1998)
26 episodes + special +movie
In the distant future Earth is ravaged by meteor showers on a daily basis and humanity is spread throughout the universe. Spike and Jet run together as a bounty hunting team that are just trying to make ends meet. As they travel, they deal with their own pasts and the several crew members that come to join their bounty hunting team.
My synopsis of the story probably does not due this anime justice. However, like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop is a long standing classic that anime fans would hate to have left off a list. What sets Cowboy Bebop apart is the original Space Western setting that it takes place in. One would think that the plot structure of hunting down a new bounty each episode would get boring, but one would be so wrong.
While their bounties almost always get away, you never get away without learning something new about the main characters and their complicated pasts.
Amazon Price: $85.00 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 29, 2016)
Paranoia Agent (2004)
Paranoia Agent revolves around two detectives that are trying to solve the case of Lil Slugger, a young boy that rollerblades around hitting people with a bent golden baseball bat. However, this case it not as it seems.
Paranoia Agent was the first and only anime series done by Satoshi Kon who is famous for making absolutely mindbending anime films. You can expect a lot of mindbending from paranoia Agent as well. Satoshi Kon’s art style is superb for giving everything a sense of realism and showing you how ugly people are. There is definitely a great blur between reality and fantasy. It really makes you think. There is so much symbolism and depth to the plot that if you have a good time finding hidden meaning in books, than this is perfect for you. All of Satoshi Kon’s films are perfect for you too.
Amazon Price: $1,199.99 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 29, 2016)
Spirited Away (2001)
On the way to their new home, Chihiro Ogino’s family stumbles upon a deserted theme park. Intrigued, the family investigates the park, though unbeknown to them, it is secretly inhabited by spirits who sleep by day and appear at night. When Chihiro’s mother and father eat food from a restaurant in the street, angry spirits turns them into pigs. Furthermore, a wide sea has appeared between the spirit world and the human one, trapping Chihiro, the sole human, in a land of spirits. Luckily for her though, a mysterious boy named Haku appears, claiming to know her from the past. Under his instructions, Chihiro secures a job in the bathhouse where Haku works. With only her courage and some new found friends to aid her, Chihiro embarks on a journey to turn her parents back to their original forms and return home.
No matter how much I wanted to, I could not leave a Hayou Miyazaki film off the bucket list. They are by far the most well-known of all anime and are good in their own right. I am personally found of the style of animation, everything is so fluid. Other than that, I find Miyazaki a bit overrated. I will concede that his stories are some of the most imaginative in all of anime though.
Samurai Champloo (2004)
Fuu is a young girl that dreams of setting out on the road to find a mysterious man that smells of sunflowers. However, samurai era Japan is not a safe place for a young girl travelling alone. Mugen is a scoundrel who fights dirty and does what he wants, when he wants. Jin is a disgraced ronin who tries his best to just mind his own business. After the two clash, they are sentenced to execution. Fuu saves them with some clever planning in exchange for the two warriors escorting her to her samurai that smells of sunflowers.
Samurai Champloo is a great epic adventure that is littered with humor and amazing action scenes. The art style, with it’s thick lines and graffti likeness, fits well with the hip hop music that overwhelms the soundtrack. Samurai Champloo is a elegant mixture of old world content with new world music.
With the three characters with different personalities that are thrus together is presents with a very entertaining adventure with lots of hilarious little hijinxs.
Dragon Ball Z(1989)
291 episodes + prequel + sequel +13 movies + many specials
Goku is back with his new son, Gohan, but just when things are getting settled down, the adventures continue. Whether he is facing enemies such as Frieza, Cell, or Buu, Goku is proven to be an elite of his own and discovers his race, Saiyan and is able to reach Super Saiyan 3 form. He meets many new people, gaining allies and well as enemies, as he still finds time to raise a family and be the happy-go-lucky Saiyan he is.
Dragon Ball Z is a blood boiling, bicep pulsing, adrenaline rushing adventure for all ages. Dragon Ball Z seeps out so much manliness girls could grow facial hair from it. It is just one of those things that you cannot help but enjoy. It is the anime equivalent to watching a superhero movie.
Lots of people make fun of it because the fights can go on for episodes or the plot just follows the same ‘good guy defeats villain’ cliché. You can hate all you want, but you cannot deny that this anime is a classic for a reason. It makes you feel like you can take on the world.
6 episodes + sequel + side story +alternative setting
In the year 2023, a huge swarm of bug like aliens are crossing the universe and destroying anything in their path. As the swarm draws dangerously close to our solar system, humanity develops space faring ships and giant mechs to combat them. These mechs are piloted by the best and the brightest.
Enter Noriko Takaya, one of these prospective pilots. While her father was a famous space captain who died in battle with the aliens, Noriko is not so impressive. However, her will to become a pilot will not be compromised.
Gunbuster is a whole lot of greatness packed into a very short amount of time. Gunbuster explifies the classic space/mech genre that was very popular during the 80’s. The whole human versues alien plot is not exactly new, but I don’t enjoy Gunbuster for the plot. I enjoy it for the very realistic characters and the sheer amount of inspiration that it inspires. Noriko’s struggles throughout the series can easily be related to real life. Her will to never give up makes me never want to give up.
Love Hina (2000)
24 episodes + sequel + 3 side stories
Meet Keitaro Urashima, when he was a boy he promised a girl who moved away that they would meet again someday at Tokyo University. However, during the entrance exam, he placed 27th from the bottom. As his parents prepare to make him give up his dream, he moves into an all girls dorm in his grandmothers’ bathhouse where he becomes the manager.
This is the most debated on the anime bucket list. This is a genre that many fans hate, the pure harem/fan service genre. This means there are a lot of perverted situations and sexual comedy. I picked this one purely because it represents the humorous side of anime. A decent bit of anime humor is about sexual situations and this anime show cases it the best.
For a harem anime, it has a fairly decent story and an abundance of amusing characters. This is also a really nice romance anime in the sense that it represents a boy’s point of view. Most romance animes take places form a girl’s point of view.