My Top 5 Anime Series

The second part of my introduction posts – let’s talk about anime!

WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD!

5) Tokyo Ghoul (season 1)

Tokyo Ghoul, Studio Pierrot

College student Kenaki Ken gets more than he bargained for when he finally gets a date with the girl of his dreams. After an accident he has ghoul organs transplanted into him, turning him into a half-ghoul, half-human. Caught between two worlds, Kenaki struggles to hold onto his humanity when he discovers that the only thing he can eat to survive is human flesh.

Please note the season 1 in brackets at the end of the title – because I severely disliked season 2 of Tokyo Ghoul.

I mean SEVERELY disliked.

Like I really didn’t enjoy it. Much. At all.

Season 1 was a masterpiece. I got through that work of art in one day – straight through 12 episodes with only small breaks. Granted, I felt like becoming a vegetarian after finishing it in that small space of time (I didn’t help that I was cooked steak for dinner that night!), but the feels! OMG the feels!

My heart shattered over and over again when I watched Kaneki Ken trying to eat his favourite burger, and throwing it back up time and time again. Watching his personality change and warp over the series as he loses a grip on his humanity was heartbreaking.

The minor characters were also very strong – Touka being an awesome female character, and I loved how they made you change opinions about Nishiki, hating him in the first couple of episodes, but begging for him to stay alive by the end.

I loved the underground ghoul world that was created – how ghouls look like regular people, but then have extra powers (I wasn’t too fussed on those – to me they were just strange weapons sprouting from their backs that didn’t have much individuality), and can only eat human meat to survive.

4) The Devil is a Part-Timer!

The Devil is a Part-Timer!, White Fox

In the world of Ente Isla the Lord Satan is trying to take over the world. One day after losing the battle he and one of his minions are forced to retreat into the human world, where they lose their powers and are forced into the mundane real world. Lord Satan – now called Maou – gets a part-time job at a fast food restaurant with the dream of working his way up through the company and then taking over Earth, while working towards his other dream to returning to Ente Isla to finish what he started there.

This is one of the funniest anime I have watched.

This anime made my list because I loved how it takes the piss out of other fantasy anime. It’s the Futurama of the anime world, and does to fantasy what Futurama did for sci-fi.

I love how pathetic and helpless Maou and his henchmen become when they enter the human world – how the epic rivalry between Emi and Maou is reduced to nothing when they find themselves powerless, and having to support themselves with jobs. It’s just so original and funny.

I very much enjoyed Maou’s character development – how he starts off as a bad guy who wants to take over his world, but then once he comes to the real world and becomes mellowed out by a normal working life, he becomes less obsessed with achieving his original goal and just carving a life out for himself in our world. I also love how protective he is of Emi and vice verse, even though they are supposed to be enemies.

The only thing I dislike about this anime is the ending – I haven’t read the light novel (although I want to), but it seems like that had an ending that was more rounded than the anime, which just stopped. We never found out if Maou and the others made it back to Ente Isla, or if Maou took over Earth, or if Maou and Emi got together… There was just so many unanswered questions left that I seriously hope that they create another series, even if it isn’t based on the light novel.

3) Assassination Classroom/Ansatsu Kyōshitsu

Assassination Classroom, Lerche

One day half the moon is destroyed. The source of the calamity is a mystery, but not to Class E in Kunugigaoka Junior High School who are presented with a new teacher – a yellow tentacled octopus who can reach up to speeds of Mach 20 and who claims to have destroyed the moon, and says he will destroy the Earth at the end of term unless one of the members of class can assassinate him.  

This is a new anime to me. The housemate and I are currently watching it, and I have to say, I’ve fallen hard for it.

When you tell someone the premise of it, or show them an image of Koro-sensei you can just see the confusion building on their faces.

When I first heard about Assassination Classroom I was just as baffled – yellow octopus destroys half the moon and now a classroom of children have to kill him before the end of term otherwise he’ll destroy the Earth…?! Only in manga can something like this happen.

But the story line is just superb. I love the hidden messages beneath the plot – basically our education system is a pile of shit. I love how Koro-sensei cares about his students, how he is calling out that the education system is shit, how he wants his pupils to regain the confidence in themselves that they have lost by being thrown into the E class.

It’s a touching story between teacher and pupils that is rather wacky and out there at times – let us not discuss those awful jokes for openings – but has a depth and soul to it that only the most elite anime have.

2) Naruto/Naruto Shippuden 

Naruto, Studio Pierrot

Thirteen year-old Naruto has no friends and no family – rejected all his life by his village for a reason he doesn’t understand, he has a dream: To become the leader of his village so that everyone will acknowledge him. But things get complicated when he discovers he has the spirit of the nine-tailed fox trapped inside him, and that there are plenty of people out there who want him for that power. 

My housemate’s favourite anime is One Piece. This is the case because not only does she love the characters and the story, but also she watched it at the point in her life where she needed the comfort, where she needed something to pull her out of a funk.

Naruto has the same meaning to me.

I started watching it at a time where things weren’t great in my life and it gave me something to be happy about.

Not only do I love the characters and can get immersed in the plot, but it has a personal meaning to me.

It might be cliche that I have one of the Big Four on my top 5 list, but Naruto is big for a reason – because it’s good. Because you cry when the characters go through hardship and heartache (I sobbed my eyes out over Naruto’s parent’s backstory), because you jump for joy when they achieve their dreams and when your OTP (Naruto x Hinata in my case) FINALLY get together.

Every time Naruto spouted off his usual rant about how he never gives up, how he will do anything to achieve his dream, how you see him struggle to become stronger, to protect his friends, to bring back his rival so that the girl he loves will be happy…that’s why I love Naruto. I love it for the main character who is hardheaded but has a kind heart, and so much energy and determination that every time I watched an episode it felt like he was looking at me, and telling me that if I have the same energy and determination as he does, then I too could achieve my dream, that I too could pull myself out of the dark place I had found myself in and claw my way into a brighter place.

And you know what – he was right.

1) Free!

Free!, Kyoto Animation

Haru loves to swim. He’s a prodigy swimmer, having won dozens of tournaments when he was in middle school, but something happened that made him quit his swim club. Then at his penultimate year in high school one of the boys he used to swim with at the club turns up and suggests starting a new swim club at their high school. Haru isn’t fussed, but with persuasion, the return of an old friend turned rival (and the promise of being able to swim everyday) Haru is convinced and Iwatobi Swim Club is born.

Normally when people ask me what my favourite anime is I say, “Naruto.”

But after re-watching the first season recently, and because I stopped watching Naruto because of the GODDAMN FILLERS THEY WERE PUTTING IN I have to say that, in this point in time, Free! is probably my favourite anime…

Yeah…I’m not too sure how I feel about that either!

I think if I were to break it down even further I would say Naruto was my favourite manga-based anime, and Free! was my favorite original anime.

Still don’t know if that makes things better or not!

There is just something about Free! that makes me smile and can pull me out of the foulest of moods.

The characters are amazing – you can put them in any situation and know what they will do. Haru’s love for water, Makoto’s kindness, Nagisa’s energy, Rei’s vanity, Gou’s leadership and Rin’s determination – they’re such strong characters who you can easily grow to love and empathize with.

The other reason I love Free! so much is that it sexualizes men. As a girl can be rather tiring watching shounen anime and constantly seeing boobs and women in positions that are meant to give men a kick. But in Free! you don’t have any of that. Instead you have ANIMATED ABS EVERYWHERE! Gou appears once in a swimsuit and she’s covered up. You see the teacher, Miho Amakata, a few times in a swimsuit in more sexy positions, but in magazines that are part of her backstory. For once it was so nice to watch a shonen anime that wasn’t constantly providing fan service for guys.

Should I talk about the obvious homosexual sub-context that is lurking beneath the surface of Free!? Do I want to talk about it?

Well, in my personal opinion I accept it as canon that all the couples are together, that there are romantic feelings between them. There are so many moments, so many looks and words exchanged between Makoto and Haru, Rin and Sousuke, and Nagisa and Rei that you can’t think that they don’t have those kind of feelings for each other.

Because of Japanese culture I doubt that we will ever get to see kisses exchanged between the couples, or that there will be a formal announcement that they are canon – although I am crossing my fingers very hard that this will be the case in the Free! Starting Days film that comes out in December.

Free! isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely my kind of anime and I am seriously hoping for more installments in the franchise.

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