Neon Genesis Evangelion was created in 1994 by Hideaki Anno and Gainax. An apocalyptic mecha series that focused on the military organization NERV as they fight beings called Angels, to save humanity. Primarily an anime series, Evangelion has expanded to include, merchandising, karaoke, music, manga and Pachinko. It’s currently owned by Khara Studios.
9. Yu-Gi-Oh! – $20 Billion
Yu-Gi-Oh was created in 1996. A Japanese manga series, written and illustrated by Kazuki Takahashi. The plot follows the story of Yugi Mutou as he tries to solve the ancient Millennium Puzzle. The manga has resulted in a massive media franchise that includes a trading card game, video games and a anime series.
8. One Piece – $21 Billion
One Piece is the most successful manga series of all time. Created in 1997 by Eiichiro Oda, the story centers on Monkey D. Luffy as he explores the Grand Line in hopes of finding “One Piece.” Having sold over 450 million copies, the iconic series has expanded it’s reach. With several movies, an anime, video games and merchandising the series has developed into massive revenue.
7. Fish of the North Star – $22 Billion
Created in 1983, the Fist of the North Star manga series was written by Buronson and drawn by Tetsuo Hara. 245 chapters were collected in 27 volumes by Shueisha. Set in a world destroyed by nuclear war, the series follows Kenshiro as he uses his Hokuto Shinken martial art to give his enemies a gory death. While Fist of the North Star has included games, merchandise, anime and manga, the series mostly makes money from Pachinko and arcades.
6. Dragon Ball – $24.3 Billion
Dragon Ball is the storied series from Akira Toriyama. Created in 1984, Dragon Ball started out as a popular manga series. Eventually Dragon Ball became the second highest selling manga series of all time. It was adapted into two anime series, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. Through several companies, Dragon Ball has developed merchandising, films, both animated and live action, collectibles, trading cards and many video games.
To celebrate my 900th blog post, I decided to make my top ten anime of all time lists. When coming up with the top ten I focused on series that had the most impact on me. At the same time I also choose anime that can and have stood the test of time (even from an animation stand point), and I would recommend to anyone. I don’t think any of these series are going to be surprise anyone, as most are mainstream to an anime audience.
[Note] One Piece, Naruto and Bleach aren’t on the lists because I prefer(ed) the manga.
10. Dragon Ball Z
If this was a list of the series that I was the most nostalgic about Dragon Ball Z would be number one. Most of my childhood was centered on DBZ . The Cartoon Network would torture me by repeating the same arc’s over and over again. I must have watched the Radditz arc at least 50 times before they moved on to the saiyan arc. The series has come to define anime for many anime fans and non-anime fans. It’s hands down one of, if not the most popular anime series of all-time. Dragon Ball Z has been often mocked for it’s constant screaming and it’s “inaction sequences.” My mother would often comment “did they start fighting yet” as she would walk past the t.v. Despite it’s iconic status, DBZ as a series had a lot of problems. This is mostly due to running up against the manga. DBZ had many bad fillers, dragged out fights and at one point took ten episodes for planet Namek to explode. Even with this, the series had some of the most epic fights and has clearly left a mark on anime in general. Dragon Ball Z still remains an anime series that I consider a must see.
9. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
A mecha anime series by Gainax, Gurren Lagann focuses on mankind’s rise from a subterranean existence to the galactic exploration. Taking place in a future where Earth is ruled by the Spiral King, Lordgenome, a young digger named Simon and his “brother” Kamina dream of reaching the surface. As they and Team Gurren make their way to the skies, they engage in epic, over the top mecha battles. Gurren Lagann features high quality animation, surprising deaths, fanservice, theme music power ups and cool mecha designs. Gurren Lagann resulted in another anime classic for Gainax.
8. Made in Abyss
My favorite anime genre tends to be shonen, but Made in Abyss made me appreciate the seinen genre more. Made in Abyss plays with expectation, if you think the adorable characters are going to have a fun adventure, you are wrong. While only having one season under it’s belt, Made in Abyss had a profound impact on me. Exciting, ruthless, filled with body horror, tear jerking moments and has a intriguing mystery to discover. Made in Abyss is not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth the emotional scarring.
7. Hunter X Hunter
For some reason I kept avoiding Hunter X Hunter. After running into a little bit of an anime drought, I decided to give the series a try. I wasn’t disappointed. On the surface Hunter X Hunter feels like a typical shonen series, but it’s more than that. Gon Freecss, the main protagonists, is a prime example of the undermining of shonen tropes this series does. I loved it’s complicated power system (Nen), character development, action and the uses of a narrator. Narration seemed unnecessary at first but I think it is an amazing addition to the series that adds to it.
6. Mob Psycho 100
An anime from web-comic creator ONE, Mob Psycho 100, is about a 14 year old boy named Shigeo Kageyama. He aims to be ordinary despite the fact that he’s extraordinary with telekinesis. He is a complicated young man struggling with his emotions and fear of his power harming others. Mob Psycho 100 main moral lesson is that despite having an extraordinary abilities you still need work to improve yourself as a human. Mob in particular embodies this theme. Despite his psychic powers he doesn’t think he’s better than anyone. That said, Mob Psycho 100 is still a shonen series with fluid animation, bright colors, humor, funny characters and epic battles.
5. One Punch Man
The creator of Mob Psycho 100 is also the creator of One Punch Man. The title is to be taken literally, as the main protagonist, Saitama is capable of defeating most monsters with one punch. One Punch Man is a parody of the shonen superhero series. It makes fun of the over the top and somewhat silly nature of the typical shonen anime, that results in the main character always defeating the bad guy. It’s surprising how satisfying you find Saitama’s one hit victories. The series does have interesting action, usually it’s other less powerful characters are doing the fighting though. Despite this the series does manage to keep us wondering, which monster can make Saitama hit it more than once. The first season is considered perfect, the second one, not so much. Still, One Punch Man remains an important series for anime fans to watch.
4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The story of the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse is a sad, tragic tale. Born into a world that practices alchemy, the brothers arrogance leads them to believe that they can break one of the most important rules of alchemy. Trying to resurrect their mother, Ed loses his right arm and left leg and his brother loses his entire body. The brothers go in search of the “philosopher stone,” so they can transmute without consequences. While maintaining a sense of humor, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, is full of themes like sacrifice, death, selfishness, what is truth, and the value of life. If you want to watch an anime series that balances dark themes, comedy and great action, FMA is it.
3. Attack on Titan
If you read this far it’s clear that I love anime series that manage to successfully combine dark, mature themes with great action and top animation. Attack on Titan is a series that lives up to those standards. What separates Attack on Titan from typical series is the level of dreariness. While the main characters are largely safe, you’ll never certain. Secondary characters and any other character are fair game. With characters that are constantly underdogs, failure is the most likely outcome. Often in anime you feel that everything will be fine, in Attack on Titan your surprised that half the squad is still alive. Attack on Titan has mystery, what are titans (weird giant humanoids) and why do they eat humans? Conspiracies, what is the government doing? As they fight for human survival, the scouts deal with trauma, lost and death.
2. Cowboy Bebop
For many Cowboy Bebop is the greatest anime ever. Considered to be a masterpiece, Shinichiro Watanabe blends elements of westerns with elements of film noir. The classic anime series Lupin the third was a visual influence and the three main characters of Cowboy Bebop are inspired by Lupin, Jigen and Fujiko from Lupin. The overall story is influence by Japanese cinema. Cowboy Bebop also uses a jazz heavy soundtrack that is iconic on it’s own, marking a major departure from the common use of J Pop. Cowboy Bebop focuses on mature themes like loneliness and difficulties escaping the past, it’s well animated, well (voice) acted and generally entertaining. Cowboy Bebop is considered a “gateway series” for anime, and I couldn’t agree more.
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion
When I first began watching Neon Genesis Evangelion it was for the epic and violent mecha battles. I couldn’t comprehend the more complex themes and imagery woven into the narrative. Evangelion is credited with revolutionizing anime as a medium. Set in the year 2000, a global cataclysm called the “Second Impact,” changes the world. Antarctica is destroyed and the planet’s axis shifts, causing flooding and a altered climate. After nuclear war, half the worlds population is wiped out. Teenagers, Shinji Ikari, Asuka Langley Soryu and Rei Ayanami pilot massive mecha called Eva’s. Their enemy are physic altering monsters dubbed Angels.
Evangelion explores complex themes like depression, human subjectivity, and child abuse. The series makes many references to philosophical, psychoanalytic concepts, as well as references to Kabbalah, Christian and Jewish religions. Evangelion even uses religious texts like the Book of Genesis within the series and the Angels share names found in religion like Sachiel. The series has been described as both a ” both a critique and deconstruction of the mecha genre.” On the surface, Neon Genesis Evangelion, is a mecha anime with distinctly designed robots that engage in brutal battles. However, the series has levels of deeper and more sophisticated themes that makes Evangelion one of the most well regarded series ever.
Dragon Ball Z: Movie 3, The Tree of Might (MAL score: 6.93)
The Saiyan named Turlus has come to Earth in order to plant a tree that will both destroy the planet and give him infinite strength. Son Goku and the Z Warriors cannot let this happen and duke it out with the invaders for the sake of the planet. (Source: ANN)
Let’s be honest some anime movies dramatically disappoint, particularity when they are from a popular series. Tree of Might is quite frankly mediocre. The real strange part of this movie is the relationship between the main villian Turlus and Goku. They look exactly alike, except for a skin tone difference. It’s a common trend in the Dragon Ball series to basically copy Goku and suggest some of the characters have no relationship to him.
To be honest the story in DBZ isn’t the most complicated or interesting. In this movie the dialogue is dub, but I liked the action in this movie. Granted the Z fighters get thrashed, but it does remind me of the good old days when DBZ wasn’t all about transforming into Super Saiyan’s. I also like the animation, which still holds up.
If you’ve wanted anime long enough you notice that during the battle sometimes an anime characters clothing will get damaged. Often this is a pathetic attempt to justify fanservice. Clothing damage in anime can ridiculous. Bleach for example has this problem, while it seems that only the male characters are susceptible to clothing damage. The main protagonists, Ichigo even stated that “his outfit changes when he assumes bankai, his shirt takes damage in proportion to how much spirit power he loses. As he rests, the robes mend.”
The most famous example is of course the Dragon Ball series. Goku in particular displays this troupe. You can often comically determine the point in the fight based on Goku’s clothing. If he’s still has his shirt on the fight cannot be over. Strangely enough his pants are apparently made of stronger fabric than his shirt. His pants may get torn, but they never get blow off like his shirt does.
Defeat means Friendship
In popular manga and anime, Fairy Tail, both Gajeel and Juvia join the guild after they are defeated. In the Dragon Ball series almost all of the Z team at some point tried to beat or kill Goku at one point. Krillin even stated that “all of the Z-Fighters were enemies with Goku at some point.” More specifically:
Piccolo, was an enemy of Goku until mutual respect for Goku’s fighting ability.
Vegeta, prince of the Saiyan’s was nearly killed when he and Nappa tried to steal the dragon balls. Through the series Vegeta slowly becomes a permanent member of the Z team.
Majin Buu, has about ten different forms. Fat Buu and Ubuu become members of the Z team.
Android 17 & 18, both were created to kill Goku. 18 later marries Krillin, 17 actually doesn’t even meet Goku until Dragon Ball Super.
In Naruto, Neji and Gaara are transformed after Naruto defeats them and changes their lives. The problem with this troupe is that it’s unrealistic. For example, Piccolo, Vegeta, Buu, and Gaara kill many people and seemingly go unpunished for it, other than being defeated in combat.
Not Worth Killing
It is common in anime that a hero or villian will conclude that their opponent is too weak to be worthy of death. This is clearly design to keep the average skilled friends of the main character alive when the “main” bad guy decides that they don’t warrant being killed. It’s also a good way to display the power of a villian while not causing the lives of heroes. However, we all know that eventual the hero will surpass that villian.
DBZ, Goku is notorious for leaving villains alive, hoping that they have “learned their lesson,” or even hoping that they comeback stronger because he loves the competition. He does this too often with Frieza, who then goes on to destroy the planet TWICE. He manages to kill everyone on Earth in “Resurrection F ” on for Whis to reverse it.
One Piece, even though this series features much fighting, it is rare that they end up in death. Luffy fights brutally but I can’t think of any situation that resulted in anyone being killed by him. This doesn’t necessary mean that villains learn from their mistakes or go to prison, in fact some villains end up better off. For example, Wapol, become “an incredibly wealthy toymaker and tyrant of another kingdom, and Eneru went to the moon like he originally wanted.”
Bleach, many of the fights in the series ends with the loser remaining alive due to being unworthy of death. Kenpachi leaves Nnoitra after defeating him, he turns around to leave and Nnoitra attacks him forcing Kenpachi to finally kill him.
Stock Shonen Hero
If your a fan of Shonen anime or you’re just aware of it, you should be able to easily identify which character is the main protagonist. Goku is the template for most of these hero types. They tend to share the same characteristics and are even created to emulate Goku as the creators were inspired by DBZ. The most famous characters that represent this troupe is Natsu from Fairy Tail, Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece and Naruto from Naruto. Some of the the characteristics are:
Simple mindedness that borders on stupidity
Have orange hair or clothing
A tendency to show mercy to enemies that have commit horrible crimes
A mastery of difficult techniques in short time
A need to train excessively despite quickly learning these techniques
Often fights for the thriller of it, and if necessary will surpass all limits to always win
Interestingly, Ichigo from Bleach shares many of these characteristics particularly in battle, however, he’s a smart student. Edward Elric shares personality traits of the typical Stock Hero but is highly educated due to his mastery of Alchemy. However, some characters subvert this troupe:
Boruto from Boruto is actually the opposite of his father, Naruto. While he looks just like him, he’s actually considered to be a “genius,” and wants to be like Sasuke, sharing more qualities with him than his father.
Saitama from One Punch Man also subverts this troupe, he does wear orange and trains a lot but because he became too powerful none of his fight thrill him and he’s now bald.
Shigeo Kageyama from Mob Psycho 100, is average in many ways, he’s emotionally limited, hates to fight, his usual hair style is a bowl cut and wears all black.
Izuku Midoriya from My Hero Academia, has a powerful quirk but his most important ability is his intelligence and ability to analyze and be strategic.
Alright, this post is already too long. I could go on and on. There are many other troupe that bug me, but these are some of the most obvious.