The Best Character Development

1.) The Twelve Kingdoms

When I watched it years and years ago it was the first time an anime blew me away with its character development and it will always have a special place in my heart.

Youko's growth is wonderful.

2.) Anohana

And I actually didn't realize how good the development of the characters were in Anohana until recently, because it happens so seamlessly.

But then, in preparation for the dub's release, I went back and rewatched the first episode, and realized just how good they were. I honestly want more episodes!

The series felt so short and I didn't feel like I got to fully understand the characters.

3.) My Hero Academia

It was incredible watching Izuku grow from a very insecure guy to the madman that he has become was captivating. Then there is Todoroki, who has good character development as well, and if the anime keeps adapting the manga I can say that many more get developments that will rock the story to its core.

Avatar the Last Airbender

Avatar the Last Airbender is on the line between anime and western animation but I think it has some of the absolute best an animated series has to offer. No matter what you look for in a series you will find it in ALA and this includes character development.


Coming of Age


Naota's life is confined to going to school and living with his father and grandfather.

The usually boring life in Mabase is rudely interrupted by the arrival of Haruko Haruhara, who bursts on the scene by running Naota over with her Vespa scooter and hitting him on the head with a blue vintage Rickenbacker 4001 left-handed electric bass guitar. Later, Naota is shocked to find Haruko working in his house as a live-in maid.

Haruko's search for the alien being, Atomsk, puts her at odds with Medical Meccanica, the monolithic industrial corporation. At the same time, Naota is being watched by Commander Amarao. The Commander believes Haruko is in love with Atomsk and that Medical Meccanica is out to conquer the galaxy.

The combination of circumstances get Naota involved in a three-way battle between Haruko, Amarao and Medical Meccanica.

It seems like it should be impossible for something only 6 episodes of FLCL long to be jam packed with so much meaning, characterization, and great animation yet Kazuya Tsurumaki pulls it off so well.

I’ve written about the coming of age story at the heart of the show in the past and I still find new details I hadn’t noticed before every time I rewatch it. And even if you don’t want to analyze and dig for the deeper meaning of the show it can be enjoyed on a purely surface level.

The animation on display from the Gainax/Production IG duo is truly something to behold.


The first half of the story takes place primarily at Hikarizaka Private High School, a fictional school located in Japan. Outside of the school, frequented locations include the bakery run by Nagisa's parents, and the dormitory where Youhei Sunohara lives.

Throughout the story, glimpses into an Illusionary World are shown. This world is devoid of all life except for a young girl, though she later makes a body out of junk pieces through which the player can interact with her. The remaining half of the story takes place in the same city, after the conclusion of the first half.

While the town's name was never directly mentioned, one can infer that the town's name is Hikarizaka based on the many companies and establishments that share this name.

So how does a simple romance show beat out the epic adventure that is Gurren Lagann? Well for me Clannad does it by being so relatable and consistently focused on its core message: family.

That’s not to say Clannad is perfect because there is an arc or two I don’t really care for. But the core story of Nagisa and Tomoya does develop nicely, eventually leading to After Story where the show really sets itself apart and shows the two in a relationship after high school, moving on into adulthood.

There are many lines and moments that struck a chord with my own life and by pushing Tomoya and the audience through a roller coaster of joy and tragedy, it’s able to achieve an emotional catharsis that nothing else can quite compare with.


Ryuji Takasu is frustrated at trying to look his best as he enters his second year of high school. Despite his gentle personality, his eyes give him the appearance of an intimidating delinquent. He is happy to be classmates with his best friend Yusaku Kitamura, as well as the girl he has a crush on, Minori Kushieda. However, he unexpectedly runs into "the school's most dangerous animal of the highest risk level"—Taiga Aisaka—who just happens to be Minori's best friend.

Taiga has a negative attitude towards others and has a habit of snapping violently at people. She takes an instant dislike to Ryuji, and it turns out she is living in an apartment facing Ryuji's house. When Ryuji discovers that Taiga has a crush on Yusaku, and Taiga finds out about Ryuji's affections towards Minori, they make an arrangement to help set each other up with their crushes.

Over the course of the series, Ryuji and Taiga try to set up romantic situations to help each other get to know their friends, but many of the situations backfire. Their classmates observe that they are spending a lot of time with each other, leading to rumors that they might be a couple.

Although Ryuji and Taiga try to dispel the rumors, they find that they do enjoy each other's company, with Taiga visiting Ryuji's house to share meals, and Ryuji checking up on Taiga to get her to school, and cleaning for her. They meet Yusaku's childhood friend Ami Kawashima, a popular teen model who transfers into their school. She appears to be friendly and is a self-proclaimed ditz, but beneath her facade is a rather mean and spoiled brat, and she quickly finds herself at odds with Taiga. In spite of this, Taiga tries to put up with her antics as Yusaku wants them to all get along, and Ami begins to grow fond of Ryuji.

The series follows the lives of the five, as seen primarily through the eyes of Ryuji, with the characters growing and developing through their interactions with one another.

Toradora stands as one of the best anime romcoms because it avoids much of the melodrama of its contemporaries and approaches its characters as actual high schoolers working through their tangled feelings.

Taiga and Ryuuji spend much of the show as good friends legitimately helping each other through tough times. The romantic side of their relationship is slow to develop but it feels satisfying due to all the time they spend together.

Not to mention that the comedy is on point too, particularly with Minori.


English Dub!

My favorite English dub is for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya but there have to be mor, right? Sure:

  1. Death Note
  2. Fate/Zero
  3. Code Geass (except for Nunnaly)
  4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  5. Cromartie High School

But seriously, check out Haruhi Suzumiya if you are looking for a great watch! Also you might want to start the list off with a re-watch of Ghost in the Shell the English dub for the movie is not as good as the other's that I have listed, but it will help you move into Stand Alone Complex, which is much better.


Three Anime for New Viewers


Steins;Gate is set in the summer of 2010, approximately one year after the events that took place in Chaos;Head, in Akihabara. Rintarō Okabe attends a conference on time machines when he discovers the bloody remains of Kurisu Makise, a renowned researcher whom he met earlier.

Following this incident, Rintarō experiences various unusual events, leading up to his urge to test a machine he created to — apparently — travel back in time.

I will say this first, this is the best time travel story I’ve ever seen.

Despite all of the alternate timelines and sci-fi pronouns Steins;Gate keeps its story relatively easy to follow and stays true to its world’s rules without making any plotholes.

That alone is impressive but it wouldn’t matter so much if you didn’t care about these characters. Though I do like the second half more than the first, the slower first half needed to be there in order to get you attached to all these people so that the dramatic second half would have the necessary weight and emotional impact.

Okabe makes for an entertaining protagonist who can have you on the floor laughing one second and in tears due to his suffering the next. Like many others on this list Steins;Gate covers a wide range of tones.

This series offers a number of iconic moments I will not soon forget.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood adapts all 27 volumes of the manga, unlike the first television series. Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric are raised by their mother Trisha Elric in the remote village of Resembool in the country of Amestris. Their father Hohenheim, a noted and very gifted alchemist, abandoned his family while the boys were still young, and while in Trisha's care they began to show an affinity for alchemy.

However, when Trisha died of a lingering illness, they were cared for by their best friend Winry Rockbell and her grandmother Pinako. The boys traveled the world to advance their alchemic training under Izumi Curtis. Upon returning home, the two decide to try to bring their mother back to life with alchemy. However, human transmutation is a taboo, as it is impossible to do so properly.

In the failed transmutation that results, Al's body is completely obliterated and Ed loses his left leg. In a last ditch attempt to keep his brother alive, Ed sacrifices his right arm to bring Al's soul back and houses it in a nearby suit of armor. After Edward receives automail prosthetics from Winry and Pinako, the brothers decide to burn their childhood home down (symbolizing their determination and decision of "no turning back") and head to the capital city to become government sanctioned State Alchemists. After passing the exam, Edward is dubbed the "Fullmetal Alchemist" by the State Military, and the brothers begin their quest to discover the nature of the fabled Philosopher's Stone, under the direction of Colonel Roy Mustang.

Along the way, they discover a deep government conspiracy to hide the true nature of the Philosopher's Stone that involves the homunculi, the alchemists of the neighboring nation of Xing, the scarred man from the war-torn nation of Ishval, and their own father's past.

The first couple of episodes of the Brootherhood series are what got me into anime in the first place though I didn’t finish the whole show until years later. What I did instead was begin reading the manga before subsequently discovering Brotherhood, which showed me how good shonen adaptations could be.

They don’t have to be drawn out and full of filler, you can take the Brotherhood route and adapt the full manga with gorgeous animation and solid pacing that communicates the scale of the story without being needlessly lengthy.

Brotherhood has a bit of everything, good action, characters, romance, mystery, voice acting, adventure, darkness, inspiration, comedy, music, and epic moments galore.

Gurren Lagann

Gurren Lagann takes place in a future where Earth is ruled by the Spiral King, Lordgenome, who forces mankind to live in isolated subterranean villages. These villages have no contact with the surface world or other villages and are under constant threat of earthquakes.

Selected villagers called diggers are conscripted to expand their homes deeper underground. Simon, a meek young digger ostracized by his peers, finds solace in his best friend and older brother figure, an eccentric delinquent named Kamina. Kamina encourages Simon to join his gang, Team Gurren, to help him achieve his dream of visiting the surface world. One day, Simon unearths a drill-shaped key called a Core Drill, followed by a small mecha resembling a face called a Gunmen.

Shortly thereafter, a huge Gunmen crashes through the ceiling and begins attacking the village, followed by a girl named Yoko, who attempts to repel the Gunmen. Simon uses his Core Drill to activate the smaller Gunmen (which Kamina names Lagann), and it is used to destroy the larger Gunmen and break through to the surface world.
Read the rest of the plot

The most inspirational piece of media I’ve ever encountered.

I remember watching the two recap movies back to back with friends and the palpable excitement and energy in the room after it was over. The show rises to such ridiculous heights yet it stays focused on that core theme “believe in the you that believes in yourself.” Simon is utterly confident that humanity can constantly evolve little by little and surpass any obstacle in their path.

The hype is off the charts, the action is amazing, the characters are likeable, and the show has a strong thematic core.

Add that all up and it is hard to beat.


The King’s Avatar

Have you heard of The Kings Avatar?

If you are like me and love anime you may have heard about it. A lot of my friends were talking about it and I was not sold. Finally I broke down and put an episode on and I have to admit this show is so good.

It's that the chinese cartoon. Yet, I really do not think that you can tell. It looks like it could just as easily come from Japan – I know, heresy! I went in with zero expectations and I have really enjoyed every moment of the series.

Check it out!


The Dubs

Mawaru Penguindrum is one of those dubs that you feel like it could be so much better. It's very clear that the English actors were not in the same recording room together, since since almost all of the voice inflections seemed off and unnatural in some way.

Furthermore, Himari's voice seems too old for the girl she's playing, and her pronunciation is legitimately cringeworthy at times.

Normally, I'd say stick with the dub anyway, but coupled with the very strong sub performance in Mawaru Penguindrum so far, I have to advocate for the sub on this one. Still, I didn't think many of the american VAs record in the same room/at the same time.

That's mostly a Japanese thing, yet, I feel it the most on Mawaru Penguindrum.

  1. Wolf Children
  2. Afro Samurai
  3. Fooly Cooly
  4. Paprika
  5. Kids on the Slope
  6. Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra
  7. Michiko & Hatchin
  8. Grave of the Fireflies
  9. 5 Centimeters per Second
  10. The Girl who Leapt Through Time
  11. Colorful
  12. Madoka Magika
  13. Welcome to the NHK
  14. Redline (If you're looking for an intricate plot, this isn't the movie for you, but if you want something beautiful and with a kickass soundtrack, you're good to go.)
  15. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
  16. The Dissaperance of Haruhi Suzumiy
  17. The Big O
  18. Blue Submarine No. 6
  19. Lucky Star
  20. Eden of the East
  21. Steins;Gate (This is best in english dub in my opinion and I dislike Okabes voice in subbed)
  22. Princess Jellyfish
  23. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
  24. Summer Wars
  25. Samurai Pizza Cats

And while we are on the topic of SPC, it is the best "joke dub" in existence.


Super Dimension Fortress Macross

Sometimes, I just… Big. Robots. Mecha. Drool! I think it was because my brother and I got into anime back when much of what was available here was just that.

Now my tastes have widened and I see anime for what it really is. A format.

But there is still a place in me that enjoys… Big. Robots.

And so, Robotech will always have a place on my shelf even if I don't watch it that much.

The interesting thing is that it is basically the english dub of Super Dimension Fortress Macross – I firmly believe the Macek dub is better than the original Japanese track in just about every way possible. (Put down those torches!)

Only the original series, and from that I might point out, the very first 36 eps, are all really well done.

Some reasoning before I get attacked by rabid Macek haters.

What you will notice in the original is that different voice actors were used for the same character in the Japanese track – really throws you in some flashback eps.

Not just that, but there are some great original songs in the english version. But Gloval and some of the other characters feel like they have more depth in the english dub which makes it all the more rewarding.


Baccano = Lost On A Train

It's still a phenomenal show though I will warn you that the first few episodes are confusing.

The first novel was released in February 2003 under ASCII Media Works' (formerly MediaWorks) Dengeki Bunko imprint, and as of March 2013, twenty novels have been released. The novels were adapted into a sixteen episode anime television series directed by Takahiro Omori and produced by Brain's Base and Aniplex. The first thirteen episodes were aired on WOWOW from July 26, 2007, to November 1, 2007; the final three were released direct-to-DVD.

The series was also adapted into a two-volume manga, an adventure video game for the Nintendo DS and two drama CDs. An additional novel was released with the first drama CD and two gaiden novels were released in parts with the DVDs of the anime adaption.

Funimation has dubbed the anime episodes in English, and has licensed them for release in the United States and Canada. The series was also licensed by Manga Entertainment for English releases in the United Kingdom, and by Madman Entertainment for releases in Australia and New Zealand.

The entire English-dubbed series was streamed through Hulu during October 2009 and English-subtitled episodes continue to be streamed. Funimation streams English-subtitled and English-dubbed episodes through their website. The series has also aired in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia on Animax Asia. On January 25, 2016, it was announced that the streaming and DVD home distribution rights for the North American distributor of the anime, Funimation, would expire, which occurred on February 8, 2016.[1]

I love Baccano ever since I first watched it on Hulu years ago!

Check it out!


Liking Anime Is Like…

Liking anime is the same as anything else. There will be people who don't like it, don't have the same taste, or simply think that you are weird because of your interest.

For everyone that does enjoy anime, yet feel like your tastes are off. If you have a favorite then that is your favorite so no one has the right to say otherwise.

For the haters that just don't like it, you are allowed to have your own interests. And your preference against it, is your opinnion, you just don't need to share it with us.


Introductory Anime

I think that it is hard for people to get into anime, but the same could be said about any form of entertainment. Anime in that sense is no different. Yet, it somehow turns people off, even if the subject matter is something that they would enjoy.

That is why I am careful when I introduce somebody to anime.

Because . . . .

There is no "best" anime we can recommend with so little information.

As I have already said, it depends entirely on the person's taste.

Also on their age plays a role in how the whole expereince goes.

Chances are they're not going to be happy if you introduce them to anime with something like Berserk or Ninja Scroll. (Try instead: Wolf Children or Mother's Day.)

A lot of people trying to introduce others to anime make the mistake of trying to push what they are interested in instead of considering what they person they are trying to introduce it to is interested in.

You might be able to introduce them to anime, but that doesn't mean they'll ever have any interest in watching the same stuff you enjoy either. Different people like to watch different things and that is okay.

Anime is not a genre, it's a medium.

There's bound to be something that would probably interest them if they actually bothered to sit down with it.

If you want to start with something "familiar" I would try Cowboy Bebop, the reason is simple, it is the most Western of the good anime series and can be a good starting point.

Some other good introductory films/series:

  • Mushishi
  • Natsume Yuujinchou
  • Fune wo Amu
  • Usagi Drop
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
  • Anything Ghibli