It’s easy for the uninitiated to think that anime are nothing more than strange-looking cartoons reserved for children. In fact, that’s what most people think, especially if they’re adults. However, if you’re willing to give them a chance. it’s likely you’ll be surprised at the difference between the cartoons you expected and what they actually are. Unlike people’s perception, usually anime delve into heavy subjects like death, religion, sex, family, politics; much more darker topics that are usually reserved for shows like Game Of Thrones and Breaking Bad in the West. While the creators don’t hold back on plots or the characters, where anime truly shines and separates itself from any other animated genres is the way it is drawn. So, here’s Crizic list of 10 greatest anime of all time:
Chronicling the journey of the titular Naruto Uzumaki, Naruto explores the themes of brotherhood, friendship and combat as we see Naruto maturing from the brat that he is at the start of the series into the mountain-toppling mature youngster by the time Shippuden reaches mid-way. Anchoring his emotions is his loyalty to his village, his desire to see Sasuke (his best-friend gone rogue) and his unbending Ninja Way, Naruto strives to become the Hokage, the leader of his village.
Borrowing the best elements of DBZ and incorporating them alongside epic battle sequences and moments of extreme vulnerability, Naruto excels as a gateway anime and as a treatise on power and its consequences. Naruto also deals with some pretty heavy themes including war, pain, will and the finality of death and it does this with finesse as conversations such as the one between Naruto and Pain (An arch-villain) make for one of the best moments of modern anime.
Possibly the most famous anime on Earth at this moment,Naruto; for its brilliant storyline, depth of characters and an atmospheric soundtrack, finds its place on number 10.
Simply put: DBZ+Amazing Characters+Epic action= Naruto.
9. Slam Dunk
A list of the best animes couldn’t go without giving a nod to probably the best sport anime ever. Slam Dunk debuted at a time when basketball as a sport was highly unpopular in Japan, and when sport anime wasn’t worthy of serious consideration.
Slam Dunk changed all of that with its nostalgic storytelling, extremely relatable lead characters and tense matches, all with a flair for pulling unthinkable wins and defeats out of nowhere. After Slam Dunk aired, Basketball popularity in Japan grew and soon became one of the most played sports in the nation, every other guy wanting to emulate Sakuragi Hanamichi.
The series follows Sakuragi Hanamichi, who tries his hand at basketball to impress a girl, only to fall in love with the game. Given intense competition by the super-rookie Rukawa, Sakuragi climbs a steep learning curve as Shohoku High School Basketball Team battle the toughest teams in Japan, culminating in a finale that leaves everyone in tears. Of joy. And of sorrow.
Tying up the spirit of rivalry with camaraderie and fortitude, Slam Dunk remains one of anime’s finest achievements ever.
Simply put: A Girl, a Dream and a Man.
8. Berserk (1990)
Probably the finest of what medieval fantasy in anime has to offer, Berserk follows the story of Guts, an orphaned mercenary and the leader of one such mercenary outfit, Band of the Hawk.
Human nature is explored through events that transpire to bring the best and the worst out of characters, questioning the existence of honor, brotherhood and virtue. Intense action, a deft script and pervading questions about the nature of good and evil make Berserk one of the best animes of all time.
Simply put: A lot of blood, and then some. With philosophical undertones of a monk.
7. Death Note(2006)
The psychological thriller that taught audiences what could really be acheived when anime, the term “psychology” and the term “thriller” come together. Implosion, that’s what.
Coming in at number 7 is the anime that had every human who watched it on the end of their seats, fidgeting with unkempt excitement, wondering how they could have ever thought of this as just “another” show.
Death Note fuses pride, ambition and the concept of a showdown into an explosive mixture that, without landing so much as a puch visually, uppercuts your jaw for a home run.
Death Note doesn’t need cars, fast cuts or high octane chases. No. It instead tells us the story of Light Yagami, a school prodigy who obtains the power to kill anyone just by knowing their name and appearence, and the subsequent development of his ego and its consequences. Drunk with power, Light seeks to create a ‘new’ world, free of crime and evil; a world ruled by him as a benevolent dictator.
Balancing out the madness on the scales is L, the world’s finest detective who makes it his priority to catch Kira (The name given to Light by the vox populi.). Only that both of them are evenly matched. And that revealing one’s identity to the other will result in certain death. Death Note follows these two characters as they metaphorically clash in the greatest battle of wits anime has ever seen, resulting in episodes that persist in the memory long after the series has ended (“Confrontation”, “A New World” , “Rebirth”).
Taut as a crossbow, with moments that will make you gnaw your fingers off, Death Note is a modern cerebral masterpiece that showcases human fragility and the consequences of pride rather too well.
Simply put: Cerebral Dynamite.
6. Full Metal Alchemist (The Original,2003)
Set in an alternate world where chemistry advanced more than physics did, Full Metal Alchemist is the dark, gritty tale of two brothers out to seek redemption and the consequences of disturbing the natural order.
FMA announced its quietly majestic entrance into the anime world with a starting intro that haunts everyone who watches it and forces one to meditate upon man exceeding his reach. Cut beautifully, written masterfully and edited with the finesse of a ballet artist, FMA is a critical juncture in modern anime. It’s style of storytelling follows traditional rules, and at the same time treats the script in an entirely original way.
FMA’s moments of terrifying action and sequences of melancholic lull give it a texture that’s easily palpable and sadly beautiful. Combine that with its finale, and you have a show with a dark sense of humor,a magnificent plotline and subtle class.
Simply put: The Philosophy of Causation, Life, Death and everything in between. Also, 7 deadly sins.
5. Attack on Titan (2011)
While still not completed, Attack on Titan has already proven to be the most groundbreaking anime of this decade.
Set in a dystopic world where the remnants of humanity live in a walled off city out of fear of giant human devouring humanoid creatures known as Titans, the story follows a young Eren yeager, who sees his mother being killed by a titan right in front of his eyes. His relationship with his adopted little sister and his ambition to destroy the Titans forms the primary plot.
AOT is richly woven with human emotion, with the treatment meted out to side characters being top class. The world Attack on Titan bases itself in is replete with an atmospheric touch of doom, a brilliant soundtrack and extremely well edited action sequences.
Alongwith Code Geass, Attack on Titan stands tall in the anime world as a modern beacon of cinematic excellence.
Simply put: Walking Dead’s anime cousin. Only, more terrifying.
4. Ghost in the Shell (1989)
A largely forgotten masterpiece, Ghost in the Shell follows the story of Motoko Kusanagi, a major in the counter-terrorist department of mid 21st century Japan. A cyberpunk iteration of the future, GITS is set in a world where cybernetic humans (fully cybernetic and partially cybernetic) are commonplace and someone hacking into the interface of this cybernetic system is generally considered the greatest terror.
A commentary on human will, life and quiet melancholia, GITS comes in at number 4 for being the carefully crafted, finely written artwork that it is.
Simply put: Retro-anime’s finest.
3. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion(2006)
Coming in at number three is Code Geass, the anime that took the first decade of this millenium by a storm.
Code Geass follows the story of Lelouch vi Britannia as he tricks, plots and conspires his way to obliterating the Britannian empire, the largest on Earth primarily with the help of a witch named C2 who grants him one, deadly power.
Code geass is artistic, merciless and downright thrilling. It revitalized the Mecha genre (Mecha got lucky two times. More on this at number two.) and set new standards for visuals and direction in anime.
More than an anime, Code Geass is a spectacle. Think Raiders of the Lost Ark. Now amplify that a hundred times. With an unforgiving plotline, a profound meditation on cause and effect, stunning visuals,epic action and an unforgettable finale, Code Geass keeps you on the edge of your seat and your morality for the entirety of its two seasons.
Simply put: War, Oppression, Terrorists, Knightmares and a protagonist(?) that makes Light Yagami look quite sane.
2. Neon Genesis Evangelion(1995)
By the time Neon Genesis debuted on Japanese television, the mecha genre had grown stale. It was filled with series’ that treated the subject so badly, one wouldn’t have been surprised if it had just up and vanished.
NGE had different plans though. A sci-fi epic, it follows the tale of a young pilot(We know this is an oversimplification.), whose mecha stands as the last frontier between the planet-invading Angels and certain extinction.
While the premise may sound a little trite, NGE’s method of treating the plot line is incredibly touching, while the action sequences will see every mecha fan throwing money onto the screen. That, combined with human vulnerabilities and failings, the thrill of victory and instant relatability to lead characters made NGE an immediate success.
With alternative endings that had people all over the world agitated, NGE followed up with a movie to tie up the series in a neat bow. A masterwork in its entirety, NGE is one for the ages.
Simply put: Teenage pilots, existential conundrums, sci-fi goodness and maurauding Angels.
1. Cowboy Bebop (1998)
In the late nineties, when one thought of anime, bright flashy pulp with little substance predominantly came to mind. With the exception of animes like Slam Dunk and Neon Genesis, the anime world was either filled with trite Dragon Ball rip offs or titles with flashy, loud mouthed protagonists. On the whole, the Western world didn’t take to anime well.
Cowboy Bebop debuted on television.
Starting slowly, it became a rage; something you would talk about in an art gallery, something you could watch ten times over and still find something new. With infinite poise and masterful elegance, Cowboy Bebop showed what an anime could truly become. It transcended traditional genres of anime and forever changed perceptions of what could be achieved with animation.
The plot follows a byronic bounty hunter named Spike Speigel who, alongwith a retired police officer, a ten year old kid whiz and a greedy woman named Faye Valentine, earn their living by taking down known renegades aboard their ship Bebop. How Spike comes to terms with his crime-syndicate past and how the relationships between all main leads twines and twists forms the anime.
Cowboy Bebop succeeds magnificently on human and cosmic scales. It owed its instant and international acclaim to the way it treats fundamental questions of existence, the quiet vulnerabilities of the leads and masterful editing. Almost no other video artwork, anime or otherwise can look Bebop in the eye as far as soundtracks are concerned;this, and the smoothness of pacing, the existential overtones, the melancholic undertones combined with the depth of its plot make Cowboy Bebop what it is.
The primary source of inspiration for generations of anime-artists to come, Cowboy Bebop stands heads and shoulders above anime,reinvents it, blurs every line ever laid down by art and easily ranks amongst the top 5 achievements in video history, anime or otherwise.