[PRE-POST EDIT: I just finished “Yona of the Dawn” and OH MAN. I enjoyed that. Just saying.]
I am terribly indecisive when It comes to “favorites,” and thus I don’t see how anyone can expect me to answer this question. There are so many other “favorite” questions over the course of this challenge, to boot! I’m terrible at favorites, just no good at all. It’s maddening! However, though my preferences may change, I think I can at least narrow down a few of my favorites for the purposes of answering this question. (I’ll try to keep it relatively spoiler free.)
When I think of my favorite shows, the very first that come to mind are “Hakuouki,” “Ouran High School Host Club,” “Black Butler,” and “Kamisama Hajimemashita.” I think that I’ll dedicate a portion of this post to each of these four titles, though some maaayy~~~ hold a greater place in my anime heart than others.
Oh, and we can’t forget about “Death Parade,” which was perhaps not my favorite, but something…different.
But anyway, to begin:
I’ve discussed in a previous post about voice actors how I stumbled across this anime, but now I’ll tell you why I stayed and fell in love.
If someone wants an example of shoujo done right (and basically josei, to be honest), I immediately think to this anime. It is the ultimate example to give someone who doesn’t like the genre; one episode in and I all but guarantee that the most diehard “action-only” fan will give it a reasonable shot, and ultimately fawn. If you haven’t seen it, I cannot recommend highly enough that you do so.* There is so much humor, tragedy, love, heartbreak, and far too many instances of heroics, stoicism, and determination to name. It balances emotional, touching moments with just enough action, and asks questions such as, “How far would you go to protect what you believe in?” and “What are the unchanging things in which you believe?” You will watch men struggle with their convictions and the bonds they hold to each other, asking themselves if they can carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. You’ll journey to the end with the Shinsengumi in this period drama based during the late Edo and early Maji Periods of Japan. You will smile. You will stay up late. You will cry.
*I have a watch order post up; look for it if you want a hand navigating the extensive Hakuouki media.
Ouran High School Host Club
Do you know someone who doesn’t like anime, refuses to seriously consider it, misjudges the whole medium as a den of perversion? Well, that was me, and “Ouran High School Host Club” changed all that.
The show makes fun of itself in the best possible ways, mocking nearly every dominant shoujo stereotype, type-casting the host characters but putting with them a heroine so unlike any other shoujo protagonist that you KNOW things are about to go down. Haruhi is a down-to-earth, capable, nearly gender neutral young woman who couldn’t be your self-insert even if you tried. (Which I love, because I don’t like self-insert and I’d rather see some personality, but anyway…) She’ll call the host club on their shenanigans, but still humors them; she tells them like it is, but cares for them; she is impassive to their seduction techniques (which are, again, all tropes), but still…might she slowly fall for one of them? No, no, no, not their facades, but THEM?
You’ll be rolling in the first few minutes, and be touched several episodes in. The show is humor and heart, wrapped in a broadcast package and twincest. (Don’t freak out yet. It’s a ploy, I promise you.) Go watch it if you haven’t already.*
As so it seems with all my favorites, I have a post about Black Butler as well! More than once have I rambled on about this show, to be honest: we’ve touched on a review/watch order and on interpreting the show’s amazing music. Because of this, I won’t spend too much time on it here, although my thoughts on it could basically fill books. What I will say is that this anime holds no romance whatsoever. I ship in all media, and I have since long before I understood that shipping was “a thing.” I have too many “One True Pair”s to name. (Is that even allowed?)
But I ship no one in Black Butler. And it still makes my top 5. And that should tell you everything you need to know of its quality.
Give it a chance even if the first few episodes seem too “silly.” It isn’t light, and you won’t regret it in the slightest.
Oh, Tomoe, you tsun tsun. What would we do without you? I have a comprehensive post on Kamisama Kiss available for your perusal, but I’ll just note here that, if you’re looking for a supernatural shuojo romance between an outgoing human girl with some real personality (no self-insert to be found, yay!) and a bad ass but tsundere fox yokai, you’ve found the right anime.
Lastly, I’d like to include this bonus:
Did you know that, when you die, you’re taken to a bar to play parlor games while an arbiter decides the fate of your soul? But these aren’t regular games, and the arbiters are anything but human.
Yes, a being without human emotion or understanding gets to judge your essence and choose your destiny: heaven, reincarnation, or hell.
Decim of the Quindecim bar is one such arbiter, and he does his job…efficiently. But what happens when a woman with no memory of her past walks into his life and teaches him what it’s like…to feel something?
Can an arbiter be effective, be expedient, if he can feel?
A psychological thriller so far removed from shoujo that it doesn’t inhabit the same planet makes the list. You’ll squirm, cry, and find yourself captivated. It isn’t the easiest show to emotionally process, but it’s a doozy, I guarantee.
I’ve mentioned two reverse harems, a supernatural romance, an examination of good vs evil, and a psychological horror/thriller. What are your favorite anime titles?
How could I not include at least a mention of “Clannad: After Story?” It’s been so long since I’ve seen it, but it’s feelings evoked are so real.
“Clannad: After Story” delves into the adult life of Nagisa and Tomoya. This title deserves a post all it’s own, but I will leave it here just saying that as of the most emotional titles I’ve ever seen, it’s a show I’ll never forget. You will laugh and cry in a context that’s all too…possible. The realism is what makes the biggest impact.
I don’t know that the show as a whole with or without including “Clannad” (season 1) is one of my favorite titles, but “After Story” has some of the most poignant moments of any show I know. It isn’t my favorite title of all time, but I do think it worthy of praise and a shout out here.
I’ll need to watch the whole show again to see where the series as a whole lands. But, can I take the tears?
Until next time,