Such a collection of anime shows, but which is number one?
52 anime series reviewed… I still can’t get over how much time that is. There’s so many, in fact, that we’re going to split this countdown into smaller, more manageable pieces!
First up, here’s 52-42, what I’m calling the Unrecommendables! These shows are okay – good enough for me to watch the whole way through, as I explained – but all have much
better versions of themselves later in the list that I would recommend over these:
52. Arpeggio of Blue Steel (Action)
51. My Little Monster (Teen/Rom-Com)
50. Occult Academy (Teen/Action)
49. The Asterisk War (Teen/Action)
48. Blue Exorcist (Teen/Action)
47. The World God Only Knows (Teen/Comedy)
46. Sword Art Online (Action/Sci-Fi)
45. Deadman Wonderland (Action)
44. Say “I Love You” (Teen/Romance)
43. Re-Life (Teen/Slice-of-Life)
42. Aldnoah.Zero (Action/Drama)
Don’t get me wrong, those shows will have fans – Sword Art Online remains one of the biggest franchises there is in Japan – they just kind of float past without much impact.
The next group, shows 41-33, I’m calling the Stickers. Like the earlier shows, these also have better shows in their genre further down, but these shows are good enough to stick in the mind once they’re over:
41. Toradora (Teen/Rom-Com) – Solid teen-comedy with good characters and colour.
40. New Game (Teen/Slice-of-Life) – A cute, light-hearted take on the workplace series.
39. Danganronpa: The Animation (Drama) – Good mystery and developed storyline.
38. Alderamin on the Sky (War) – Solid, well-plotted strategy drama.
37. Kiznaiver (Teen/Drama) – Bursting with colour and good animation.
36. God Eater (Drama) – Unique animation style sets a decent fantasy-tragedy.
35. Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon? (Comedy) – Very tongue-in-cheek, with a strong collection of characters.
34. The Lost Village (Mystery/Horror) – Excellent mystery, well told.
33. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Action) – Dark, exciting animation sets off this high-speed action series.
These next shows, I’m calling the Eye-catchers. These shows, again, may not be the leaders in their genres, but are certainly some of the most attractive shows I’ve seen. From this point downwards, I wholeheartedly recommend all of these shows!
32. Flip Flappers (Fantasy) – Takes fantasy to another level with some of the best animation you could find.
31. Occultic;Nine (Mystery) – This unique, incredibly fast series is as funny as it is engrossing.
30. Black Lagoon (Action) – A very mature series with hardcore action and characters.
29. No Game No Life (Comedy) – A uniquely irreverent series bursting with colour.
28. Konosuba (Comedy) – A back-chatting lead and useless sidekicks create one of the funniest series there is.
27. Terror in Resonance (Drama) – A very sophisticated anime with superb animation and music.
26. Assassination Classroom (Comedy) – A staple of the comedy genre, with great colour, fantasy and comedy elements.
25. Fate/Stay Night: UBW (Action/Drama) – A classic battle-royale with some of the best action scenes there is.
24. Noragami (Action/Drama) – An exciting show that is bursting with colour and personality.
23. Wagnaria!! (Comedy) – Sets the standard for workplace comedies, with a lively cast and honest scenarios.
22. Fate/Zero (Action/Drama) – Same as UBW above, but also has a sophisticated, mature storyline.
21. Nisekoi (Teen/Rom-Com) – A classic love triangle filled with incredibly exciting characters sets the tone for this fast-paced series.
Now we’re in the top 20 anime shows reviewed at The Culture Cove. 20-11 are the Pacemakers – these shows are the leaders of their genres, all-round superb stories that are unmissable!
20. Bakuman (Slice-of-Life) – A series with a timeline and character development like no other. Incredibly easy to get along with, yet still exciting and poignant.
19. Tanaka-kun is Always Useless (Comedy) – Incredibly simple and easy-going, with beautiful animation and characters.
18. RWBY (Action/Fantasy) – Incredibly vibrant, with more unique characters than you could possibly keep track of, makes for a great fighting series.
17. Orange (Teen/Romance) – Beautifully delicate and honest series, with one of the best lead characters you’ll ever see in the genre.
16. Food Wars! (Action/Comedy) – An incredibly funny series bursting with character, but also dramatic and human enough to keep you hooked to the story.
15. Bungou Stray Dogs (Action) – Fantastic animation and an imaginative storyline – propelled by some amazing characters – set this up as one of the best action series you could hope to see.
14. Yuri on Ice!! (Drama/Comedy) – A show full of heart-warming moments, this is a fantastically upbeat take on the ‘competition drama’ genre.
13. Steins;Gate (Sci-Fi/Drama) – Sets the bar for time-travel stories with a fantastically written storyline full of great characters.
12. Akame Ga Kill (Action/Fantasy) – An incredibly vibrant and exciting series that can also deliver real moments of tragedy and drama. Has possibly the best cast in the genre.
11. Cowboy Bebop (Comedy/Drama) – One of the coolest shows you’ll ever see, this 90’s classic delivers funny moments with great characters, while also delivering a great storyline with a knockout finish.
Now, the top 10. These next shows, I’m calling the Flag Bearers, because, for me, they define anime. these are the shows that I would show to someone who has no experience with the medium, a pristine collection of engrossing series that set the standard for both
story and visual departments.
10. Mob Psycho 100 (Action/Comedy) – Defines unique. Mob delivers a fantastic action comedy, excelling in booth departments, while also remaining completely irreverent with boringly normal heroes and a uniquely ugly animation style that brings the series to life.
9. Shiro Bako (Slice-of-Life) – This series is the epitome of the fabled Slice-of-Life genre, telling the story of a girl’s hopes and dreams through the lens of anime production. Some of the best, cleanest animation you will ever see, along with some incredibly voice acting that turns this simple world into
something incredibly special. It’s impossible to not care about these people!
8. Tokyo Ghoul (Action/Drama) – Certainly the best YA, dystopian series in anime. An engrossing, dangerous world on its own, the series is taken past the level of its competitors by some incredible characters, and a moral ambiguity that is seldom seen.
7. Re:Zero -Starting Life in
Another World- (Fantasy/Comedy/Drama) – A show that combines so many elements, hence the three genres. A series that is just another fantasy anime on the outside, but quickly drags you into a dark and gruesome world in which there appears to be no salvation. Probably the best direction you’ll see in anime, with incredible use of pace and mystery. Also contains one of anime’s new favourite characters in Rem, and some incredibly memorable scenes.
6. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (Drama) – With some of the best animation we’ve ever seen, Anohana tells a touching and honest story about a group of teenagers. A slight fantastical element sets this series off perfectly, creating a beautiful world, populated by characters that find the perfect balance between excitement and honesty.
And now, the top 5. The Elite: unconquerable stories that are not just the best animation I’ve seen, but some of the best stories I’ve witnessed, in all mediums, full stop.
5. Psycho Pass (Sci-Fi/Action)
This is a superb dystopian series, and probably the only show that I’ve seen where I couldn’t find any major fault in! It ticks every box, as a sci-fi series and in terms of general drama, with a fantastically developed and twisting story, led by a collection of believable, exciting characters with their own stories!
4. Your Lie in April (Drama)
One of the most beautifully told stories I’ve ever seen, this is a touching series that will live long in the memory. What appears on the outside to be a classic high-school coming-of-age tale develops into one of the most mature anime series I’ve ever seen thanks to beautifully delicate animation and probably the best writing for an anime series I’ve witnessed.
3. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (Action/Sci-fi)
There’s a lot of anime out there that try to do what Code Geass did, but I’ve not seen a single show that’s come close to matching this incredible war drama. Code Geass not only features fantastic action scenes that are expertly directed, but also delivers really strong, really tense drama that will always leave you wanting more. Almost every character has sub-plots and double-identities, particularly the incredible title character, which leads to tension on another level to any other anime I’ve seen. Also, this show features one of the best individual episodes of anime I’ve seen: Episode 22 – Bloodstained Euphie.
2. Durarara!! (Slice-of-Life/Fantasy)
One of the most surreal shows you are ever likely to see, Durarara expertly combines basic but effective slice-of-life traits with an almost fantastical storyline. Put simply, this is a story about a young kid from the country who hopes for a more exciting life in the city. The reality is a character-filled story about criminals, fairies and demons played out across a city district. Durarara takes the much-loved slice-of-life genre, and mixes it with a story worthy of the most esteemed mystery series.
1. Attack on Titan (Action/Fantasy)
While this was probably the tightest race for first place there’s been so far, Attack on Titan remains the best anime I’ve ever seen. Not only is it a series almost without fault – this is a series that is almost the best in every department. Truly an epic series, Attack on Titan has some of the best action there is. However, it’s so much more than that. The story is as deep as I’ve seen in an action series, but what makes this show stand out more than any other, primarily, is that this is actually an incredibly tragic story, a story where the good guy – humanity – frequently and disastrously loses. One of the best soundtracks, some of the brightest animation and some incredible directing bring this piece together. Attack on Titan is – and is seriously likely to remain – our number one anime series.
You might be wondering why this ranking came so late. Well, it just so happens that season two of Attack on Titan has just begun, carrying on exactly from the end of season one (reviewed here) which finished 4 years ago! It was super close between this and Durarara and Code Geass, and I was prepared to demote this if the new season wasn’t as good as I remember the first season (rose-tinted glasses and what-not). However, season two has started tremendously, and I love it now just as much as I did the first time I watched it!
And that’s it for our 52 Anime Review! If you haven’t seen yet, we handed out more awards a few articles ago, so check out who won Best Animation, Best Fantasy, Best Sci-Fi, Best Series for Western Audience and more here.
This will probably be the last awards season we do for anime. Otherwise the next one would be 75 series, or something, which is just outrageous! Instead, there will be a permanent, frequently updated Anime Ranking page on the blog that every anime reviewed will be added to, so keep an eye out for that soon!
With this finished, Anime Pocket Reviews will be returning with full force! We actually have a backlog of reviews ready to go, for the first time ever, so make sure you’re subscribed for a wealth of anime reviews coming very soon!