Top-FiveLOGO3Top Five Anime Series

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

This week, we prepare to battle, translate the words, and reveal our favorite anime series.

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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. Right out of the gate I’m going to take a page from Matthew’s book and cheat.

    5: Wakfu – Wakfu is a French cartoon in the anime style, thus my cheating, which is at a basic level a pretty straight forward “a heroes journey” fantasy show. But what it does is constantly subvert tropes, while delivering some very funny comedy and compelling drama. Wakfu may be French, but in my book it’s as anime as anything else. I have to watch it in French though, the English dub is terrible… Specifically both the old man and the young boy sound like they are 20. Bleh.

    4: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Stephen covered the other version of the show, so I won’t say a whole lot. I’ve seen and loved both, but FMA:Bro is far better in my book. The series splits about 1/4 of the way in, and has a much much more satisfying conclusion.

    3: Soul Eater – Soul Eater is a show about crazy people who turn into demon weapons to be wielded by slightly less (or more) crazy people against evil witches, monsters, and even a God of Madness itself. All the while riffing on other popular anime/manga. Black*Star is defiantly not Naruto at all… Nope.

    2: The Familiar of Zero – FoZ is a classic tale you’ve no doubt heard it before. Girl accidentally summons boy with her magic, Girl binds Boy as her familiar, Girl gets mad at Boy for being bad familiar, they go to war, fight some bad guys, fall in love, get embroiled in a 7 part love polygon, and by the end get married… three different times. FoZ has a lot of action, heartfelt drama, humor, and great music. As a disclaimer it is rather risqué in it’s comedy.

    1: Accel World – Accel World is a show that resonates with me like nothing else. It’s the sequel series to Sword Art Online, that was published before SaO, and written in parallel, staring at least two characters who are the children of characters from SaO. That’s not important however, that’s just how I found the series. Accel World is a show about teenagers who play a secret AR/VR videogame which gives you super powers. The show is solid, the novels its based off of are fantastic, I’ve become kind of obsessed.

  2. Since making a top 5 anime series list for me is quite hard (I have many favorites!), I’ll do a quick top 5 best time-traveling anime series in honor of Stephen Schleicher.

    5 – Future Diary: This anime is pretty crazy and has many ridiculous plot events, but the anime is essentially a battle royale style show with 12 characters who each have their own type of “future diary.” Most of the diaries are on their phones and basically tell the future about one specific aspect (i.e. their surroundings, police reports, a specific person, actions they take, etc.) and they use this information to try to kill each other. If they take action, they can prevent the events in their diaries and avoid DEAD END. Crazy story with wild plot twists and a very memorable ending.
    4 – ERASED: This anime came out earlier this year and was looking to be an all-time favorite of mine until certain character things happened that are really spoilery that I wasn’t a fan of. Its a story about a middling manga artist in his late 20’s gets sent to his past to try to solve a kidnapping/murder case, and he has to do it as his younger self. I’ll just leave it at that :) Still, the series is beautifully directed and I really loved the specific time-traveling mechanic.
    3 – Garden of Sinners: Spiral Paradox: I’ll cheat a little and pick the 5th movie of an 8 movie series. The movies play out like a long series with varying length episodes, so that should still count! Anyway, the Garden of Sinners series is probably one of the most gorgeous animations I’ve ever seen and Spiral Paradox was my favorite out of the series. I wasn’t really sure what was going on for most of it, but by the end I was loving every minute of it. There is a lot of slick editing and cinematography that really informs many scenes that makes things make more sense upon reflection and re-watching.
    2 – Madoka Magica: One of the magical girls has the power to stop time. The less you know about Madoka before watching the better!
    1 – Steins;Gate: If you like time travel stories, Steins;Gate is probably one of the best anime has to offer. It starts out with you as the viewer not totally sure if the main character is actually a genius scientist or not until he stumbles across some interesting discoveries. Then, well, you just have to see it. The way this series uses time travel is excellent and it has many different types of time travel theories that it utilizes. It all comes together for probably one of my favorite conclusions to a series, which is usually pretty hard when you’re dealing with a subject matter with easy plot holes.

    As a long-time anime fan and Major Spoilers supporter, I was pleasantly surprised to see an anime related podcast. I’m glad you guys had a nice mix of genres and time periods represented. Good job!

  3. I was really hoping someone would mention “Boogiepop Phantom” aka Bugīpoppu wa Warawanai Boogiepop Phantom.
    Stephen, It’s the next step if you liked Serial Experiments Lain.
    I had to watch it three times for the whole thing to make sense, since it’s not told in chronologial order.
    Each of the 12 episodes drops a few puzzle pieces while still raising more question, leaving you on the edge of thinking to know whats going on.

  4. James Humphries on

    Well, unlike most of the casts top 5’s, all of my anime comes from the last 10 years.
    5) Bleach- This was the first full extended series I’ve ever watched, all the way from “normal” highschool kid days, to having to suffer through fillers, to regaining his powers- including all three movies. I had to add this one simply for that fact.

    4) Log Horizon- As much as I enjoy Sword Art Online, another anime gets this slot. While also a story about gamers stuck in a game, this event happens during a patch update, when everyone currently playing right before the update, as often happens with hardcore gamers, get absorbed into the game as their characters. The story follows one of the most notable PCs, Shiroe, as he gathers players together to help build a world they can survive in, and possibly escape. And the best part is, the seris is still ongoing, with season 3 promised, but no airing date as of yet.

    3)Ef: a tale of memories- A Tale of memories is a beautiful, tear jerking story about a boy who’s only goal in life is to be someone’s hero. As he grows older this starts to become a problem, as reality makes it obvious this just doesn’t happen: until he meets a girl with a type of amnesia that wipes her memory every 24 hours. The series goes through the ups and downs of there relationship as she tries to always remember him, and he finally becomes someones hero, along with supporting stories of other relations.

    2)Aldnoah.Zero- A beautiful series, full to the brim with trechery, betryal, and war, and the human race has been split in two; Terrans and Martians, as the Martians feel that Earth is keeping their abundance of resources to themselves, peace is destroyed as the Crown Princess of Mars is assassinated in a truly explosive manner. If you love psychothrillers, mechawarfare, and shows you can turn into drinking games, then this two-part series is for you.

    1) Another-As #1s should be, this is my absolute favorite series of all time. Another is a horror psychothriller, focused on a cursed classroom. Many, many years ago, a student of the senior highschool class died. To deal with the stress of losing a fellow student so swiftly, the class pretended the deceased was still alive until graduation. The next year, the class had one extra student, and students started dying. And so the curse starts, continuing to the time of the series, when a transfer student changes the balance of the class and triggers the curse. Follow the protaganists as they discover who the true ghost is and how they can end the curse- at least until graduation.

    I hope that you enjoy my list, and that I have given you something new to watch.

  5. Creigh Brigman on

    I don’t really tend to order my favorite anime in any special way, so I’m just gonna give some of my favorites that have not yet been mentioned, and stand out for me in their particular genre. You can watch most of these on either or Hulu.

    5. Hibike! Euphonium (Sound! Euphonium) – Music: So one of the things I love about anime is that it can make anything in the known universe interesting. So even if you think a drama about a high school brass band trying to make nationals sounds lame, don’t dismiss Hibike! Euphonium so easily. This show is MAGICAL. That would be my adjective of choice. The animation is far better than it has any right to be. Certain scenes in this show will always be unforgettable to me. Needless to say, the music is amazing as well. The tension between these band members drives this story and makes you care more about Brass Orchestra than you thought you should. The second season will be airing this summer so this is the perfect time to hop on board.

    Honorable Mention – Your Lie in April; I really only was able to put Hibike! over this because it has a second season coming up. If you like classical music, romance, and want to cry, watch this show.

    4. Katanagatari (Sword Story) – Shonen: Set in a strange historical Japan. The twelve deviant blades are mythical swords capable of singlehandedly turning the tides of wars. Togame, a young strategist for the shogunate enlists the help of Yasuri Shichika, the son of an exiled swordsman who fights with the secret Kyotoryuu style, to gather these legendary blades. Every 45 minute episode consists of the duo gathering one of these legendary weapons, andmy god is this show badass. It has fantastic character development and dialogue between our protagonists. The writer, Nisio Isin, is probably the best in the business when it comes to dialogues between two characters. And I won’t spoil too much but this show definitely has some dramatic twists that you will want to stick around for. The art style is also refreshingly unique and really makes the characters stand out in your mind.

    3. The World God Only Knows – Romantic Comedy: So I watch a lot of anime, including comedy harem anime, and there are a lot of them. Most of them unfortunately, while entertaining, are easily forgettable as the repeated tropes all blend together in your mind. It’s for this reason that The World God Only Knows stands out among the others. Our protagonist Katsuragi Keima is fully aware of every single romance trope that exists, and is known as the “God of Conquest” when it comes to Japanese dating simulators. When he makes an accidental deal with the devil (not the kind you are thinking), he reluctantly must use his knowledge to save real female instead of virtual ones from ‘lost souls’ from hell that come to inhabit their hearts and cause emotional distress. Sounds ridiculous right? This is show is not only hilarious but is completely unique in the realm of romantic comedy. Keima is probably the greatest male protagonist of any show I’ve seen.

    2. Kuroko no Basket – Sports: I know I know, a sports show? This is nerd terriotory, keep your jock stuff outta here! But seriously, Japanese sport anime are actually one of the most hype and intense kind of shows you can ever watch, and Kuroko no Basket is one of the ultimate sports shows. This is less a story about playing basketball and more about a group of superhumans that just happen to use their powers on the court. It’s intense, and there is hardly ever a break in the action. Like with Hibike! Euphonium, don’t write this show off because you aren’t familiar with sports. These shows MAKE you like stuff you didn’t think you’d like. Kuroko no Basket and other sports anime speak the universal language of hype.

    1. Anohana – Drama: This is a fantastic coming-of-age story about a group of childhood friends called the Super Peace Busters who went their separate ways after one of their members, Menma, died accidentally. Years later, in high school, our protagonist Jintan begins seeing a ghost of Menma, which will lead him on a journey to reconnect with the Super Peace Busters and deal with the remorse all of them still carry. This show will make you cry, and cry hard. It is short, emotional, and sweet, and will make you go teary eyed just remembering it.

  6. General0wnage on

    Wow, this was a great episode, guys. Honestly. Lots of nostalgia factor for me, I appreciate it.

    Here goes:
    #5: Fate/Zero. The long awaited prequel to a great action/based anime of the mid-2000s, Fate/Stay night: unlimited blade works. Sheds so much light on the base story that I actually recommend watching it BEFORE the other anime it is based on. Beautifully done action sequences, well thought out characters, and the first episode actually made me chuckle amongst the awe at the great heroes being summoned when I realized that the whole thing was going to become a one-upping contest. Then I was proven wrong, and that’s why this anime makes the list.

    #4: DragonBall Z. Specifically Z, so as to exclude the scars that GT has left me, but my therapist says are mostly gone. The quintessential action anime of my childhood, this was airing in america right around when my family finally got cable, and I only missed the raditz saga, which… if you were gonna miss one saga of DBZ, might as well be raditz. There’s nothing else to say about this series that hasn’t been pounded into the earth by a million fanboys, but it will always be what introduced me to anime the very first time.

    #3: Fullmetal Alchemist. Honestly, I was torn as to whether or not I should say brotherhood instead of the original here. I ended up going with the original for two reasons. First, everybody mentions brotherhood, because “objectively it’s the better anime” and “it follows the manga”. These aren’t things I get hung up on. I care about how a show affected me watching it. Which leads me to number 2, the fact that this show was what really steamrolled my preference for anime over cartoons for all time. To correct/clarify for stephen, the end of Fullmetal Alchemist reveals that the other side of the gate is OUR world, circa 1920s in germany. Fun times to be had. This anime introduced me to anime as an art form.

    #2: Yu Yu Hakusho. I own this entire anime on Blu-Ray, and there is a reason for it. All in all, this is just about the perfect anime. Great fights, good romance, some humor. It’s more grounded than DragonBall Z, but the amounts of power at play do get a little ridiculous still. But when they do, you know that it is serious and that some really painful stuff is about to happen. GREAT songs and overtures within the show, orchestral most of the time. Also, some of the best voice acting I have ever heard. This is just about the only anime I’ve ever seen where I actually prefer the sound of the English dub. “A mulberry is a tree, and Kuwabara is a man, and I have a sword!”

    1. ONE PUNCH MAN! Matthew, I am disappointed that this only made #4 on your list. By far, and I mean BY FAR, this anime is the best thing I have ever seen. Not the best anime. Literally, the best thing ever. This is a comedy, disguised as an action, but secretly, it’s a tragedy. Poor Saitama can never be challenged again, and it makes me so sad… I genuinely feel for this character. Add that to his massive amount of deadpan reactions and sassy remarks, and this guy runs the full spectrum of an audience’s emotions. Also, last but not least, THE BEST, MOST HYPE THEME SONG EVER MADE! Seriously. Listen to it. Turn on hulu RIGHT NOW and listen to the song for the first episode. I’ve said all I can.

    Honorable mentions: FLCL, The melancholy of Haruhi suzumiya, Hellsing Ultimate, is it wrong to pick up girls in a dungeon?, and so many more…

  7. 5. Trigun: This was one of the first animes that I ever sat down and watched all the way through. The combination of humor, serious drama, character development, and mystery immediately drew me in. One of the few times I preferred the dub over the sub. Wolfwood still remains as one of my favorite tragic heroes to this date.

    4. My Little Monster: A story of two opposites falling in love, it sounds cheesy but the romance in this anime is done really well. In a way I see it as a deconstruction of the typical romance anime, the characters both care for each other but their so confused and frustrated over their new feelings that they don’t know how to deal with them or each other. The focus is a lot less on them falling in love but more on them dealing with new feelings and experiences, and at the end of it all they may not be the perfect match, but at least they are their for each other.

    3. Macross Frontier: More Space Opera, well not so much an opera but more of a Space Jpop concert. I will admit that the story is confusing and honestly I still don’t quite understand it, but goods Gods do I love the music in this show. This show is the only time where I went out of my way to buy the albums for the show. The fight scenes are fantastic and high paced in normal Macross fashion and one of the few times I’ve ever seen a love triangle that I didn’t find forced it integrates into the plot smoothly and ultimately makes me care more about the characters rather than less.

    2. Irresponsible Captain Tylor: Going old school on these last two. This anime while not the prettiest is by far entertaining in the fact that the titular character is either the greatest strategist to ever strategize, or the luckiest idiot to ever live. A good mix of comedy and action, the characters mesh so well with each other that I just keep getting drawn back to it, watching it over and over again as Tylor deals with the world in his own carefree lifestyle. All so he could get a hot meal and have cute girls fall in love with him.

    1. Great Teacher Onizuka: Another old school anime, a good comedy with just enough drama to make the story interesting and develop the characters. Also Steve Blum voices the main character, always a plus. Onizuka’s hijinks get crazier and crazier as he tries to win over his students and teach them some lessons about real life that only someone who’s live the hard knocks life can give. Onizuka is a man who starts out with simple and somewhat perverted intentions, but by the end of the show comes to legitimately care for the students he’s been entrusted with teaching and gains the respect of his peers.

    Honorable mentions go to Gankutsuou (A space opera with actual opera, how wonderfully decadent), Hellsing Ultimate, Cowboy Bebop, Fate/Zero, and Bacanno!

  8. 5. Dragon Ball Z – like many people, DBZ was my first exposure to anime ever. While it is no longer my favorite, and parts of it aren’t even very good, I could not make a top 5 list of anime without including it. If you haven’t checked it out, I recommend watching the DBZ Kai version, cause it is much better.

    4. Samurai Champloo – great for all the reasons covered by Rodrigo.

    The next 3 are all tied for #1, as I can’t decide which one I like better.

    Outlaw Star – I always try to sell this one as “Firefly the anime.” It follows the crew of a star ship as they pull jobs, hunt for treasure, fight pirates, and kick ass. Awesome character designs, a unique take on spaceship combat, and magic. Fingers crossed for blu-Ray release.

    Berserk – by far the best example of an antihero I’ve ever run into in all of fiction, Berserk follows the story of Guts as he starts off as a lone wolf mercenary, gains friends, is betrayed, and sets off on revenge. New series coming out in July! NOT FOR KIDS

    Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – in many ways a reconstruction of the giant robot genre, TTGL runs on the rule of cool. Great characters, awesome designs, and more cheer out loud moments than any anime I’ve ever watched, everyone should check this one out.

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