Decisions are hard!

For all we gush about various anime each season – and we gush a lot – there’s still some which stand above the rest for us here at Random Curiosity. And now thanks to the request of our Patreon subscriber Mikhail Klakotskiy we (or at least the most active team members :P) have a reason to get off our lazy behinds and talk about them. That’s right, these are Random Curiosity’s writers’ top three anime of all time!

Quick note on the writeups below. Our picks aren’t ordered – i.e. the first choice isn’t necessarily our most favourite, just the one written about first – and yes, some of our choices trend towards more modern series. Remember we all have our own unique tastes and interests (not to mention different times at which we came to love anime) so keep that in mind before debating the merits of what we adore. And as a reminder, if you’d like to get us writing about something like this, consider becoming a Random Curiosity Patreon supporter!

Guardian Enzo

Seirei no Moribito

The list has to start with Seirei no Moribito for me. I didn’t even watch this series when it originally came out in 2007 (I caught on a couple of years later), but once I started I was immediately hooked. Uehashi Nahoko’s novels are great, but Kamiyama Kenji beefed up the character side of the story in a big way. Sublime writing, the most beautifully choreographed battle sequences in TV anime at the time (and maybe still), an incredible soundtrack (mostly) by Kawai Kenji – it’s all peerless in my book. Balsa, Chagum, and Tanda are as good a trio of central characters as you’ll ever see, and the rest of the series does them justice.


I often talk about anime that remind me “not just why I love anime, but why I started loving it in the first place”. And more often than not, I’m alluding back to FLCL – for my money, the most influential anime in history. Often copied, never equaled – though some truly superb series ride the inspiration to glory, like Kyousougiga. This is Gainax at its best (Production I.G. was really a passenger), and that soundtrack – well, The Pillows, I shouldn’t have to say any more. If all you know of FLCL is the hideous CN sequels – or hell, even if you watched one all the way through – delete your account.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

There are probably shows I’ve loved enough to rank them ahead of Neon Genesis Evangelion here, but… it’s Eva. If FLCL isn’t the most influential anime ever, then it would have to be Gainax’ other seminal masterpiece. Anno Hideaki’s signature work is certainly flawed (he keeps redoing the ending and it gets worse every time), but the original series is still probably the most transformative event in anime history. There’s a reason it remains immensely popular in Japan even now, both among hardcore otaku and the general public (bridging that gap as no other franchise ever has). On a personal level it would be impossible to overstate how formative NGE was for me as an anime fan – I saw it too early in my journey, to be honest, but it showed me in no uncertain terms that this medium was like nothing else I’d ever experienced.

Princess Usagi

Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon holds a fond place in my heart, having been one of the anime I loved watching as a kid. It stayed with me through the years and was one of the first series I watched after getting into anime years later as an adult. One of the things that means the most to me about Sailor Moon is how it celebrates being a girl in whatever shape or form it takes for each person. Girls don’t have to adhere to a particular way to be taken seriously, nor do they have to be defined by just one trait. Each Sailor Guardian had different personalities and skills but were not defined by one quality. For example, Sailor Mercury was the logical one, but she also cared about things like romance and cute clothing. As someone who doesn’t adhere to norms and hates being defined as just one thing, that hit home for me. The titular MC wasn’t a strong girl with unflinching confidence-she showed her fears (and tears). Wearing her heart on her sleeve didn’t make her a poor hero-rather, she used her feelings and friendships to work through her rough spots and come out stronger. Not through intensified training, but through her heart and friendships. I found this aspect of Sailor Moon (and of course the other characters) relatable. It encouraged me to work hard, face my feelings, and rely on my friends rather than doing everything alone. It was the first time I had seen a series with such a positive message like that and it has stuck with me since.

Mars Red

This series holds a special place in my heart, being one of the first anime I blogged about at RC. Of course, there are many more reasons besides that landing it in my top 3. I am fascinated by Taisho Japan (1912-1926), both in the fashions and the socio-political events. Unfortunately, there are not many anime that take place in that era-Mars Red is one of those rarities. For a huge history fan like me, it was exciting to see how they wove the history into the plotline, even introducing characters and events based on real life-you could see the care that was taken in their research. The art was also stunning-the rich, dark color palette and the lighting reminiscent of a stage drama. The stellar voice acting brought the characters and their emotions to life. Then, there’s the vampires. I love a good vampire story and this both acknowledged the genre and forged its own path in way that highlighted what I love best about classic gothic horror. As someone who loves an intelligent story and classic literature, I was immersed in the script writing which was smartly done and even included literary references to the likes of Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare. The references were not just dropped for brief recognition- they became a part of the story’s fabric in a highly sophisticated way. The plight of vampires living for eternity in a modern society was approached in such a philosophical way, it gave me plenty of food for thought. It’s always a good thing when I can walk away from a show still ruminating over it hours later.

Cross Game

I actually only just finished watching this series for the first time about a month ago, and it immediately became one of my favorite anime. The way it develops the characters and storyline is so real, so mature. Each character was given their own depth. It was rewarding to watch them grow throughout the series. It’s not often I see a series that treats its female characters with respect, which is yet another thing I loved about Cross Game. They avoided the typical tropes whenever there’s a female character involved. Aoba (the female lead) had a personality, goals, and strengths of her own. She didn’t turn into the character who existed only for the male characters to ogle at or to possesses-she was a character in her own right and the other characters in the show also treated her as such. Of course, it’s a baseball series, so I can’t forget the games. This series was a perfect balance between character development/plot progression and game time. Boy were the games exciting-some of them had me literally on the edge of my seat (and even jumped out of it once or twice, I was so invested in it). Then, there’s the handling of the story, how the characters carry their pasts with them and the delicate way in which it colors their emotions and psyche. It’s a tearjerker, but in a way that is natural, not contrived.


Legend of the Galactic Heroes

Simply put, no best of list for me is complete without LOTGH. While I came to this series comparatively late, it truly scratched an itch in combining space opera with realistic fantasy politics in a way few – if any – other franchise ever did. Just take the duality of benevolent monarchy versus corrupt democracy and the concept of anacyclosis, these are ideas you’ll usually only see in political science seminars, and yet LOTGH featured them in all their glory – and had me loving it all the more for it. A huge factor as well is the writing, or more specifically, the time given to let the story play out. This isn’t your usual adaptation affair, this was a show (and an OVA to boot) which did not waste a single one of its 110 episode run and indulged heartily on slow pace and prolonged development. Whether it lucked out on the time of production or the committee members involved, it achieved something few series ever do, and for me stands as testament of just what anime is capable of when given the necessary time and money. When it comes to grandiose space opera, there’s no better than LOTGH.

Code Geass

Although I started out like many anime fans with the usual childhood plethora of Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh, the anime which got me hooked was without a doubt Code Geass, and for that holds a special place on my anime shelf. At its core (and compared to some more recent series) it’s nothing especially astounding story or character-wise, but it offers up a combination of sheer popcorn entertainment, incredible melodrama, and top-notch pulpy Sunrise writing which results in a veritable whirlwind you cannot (and will not) avert your eyes from. And the voice acting; everyone loves Fukuyama Jun as Lelouche, but Jonny Yong is the only one for me and really takes the part well, plus Liam O’Brien as Lloyd is just too perfect. Although I’m disappointed with the latest Code Geass works and retcons (you know which one in particular), the first two seasons are still something I return to watch every year or so when in need of some holiday entertainment and will never be far from my best of lists. Sometimes all you need is a bit of over-the-top chaos, and Code Geass provides that in spades.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

There’s a lot of shows I could have round out my top three, but if going by memorability Fullmetal Alchemist wins the day. I had the benefit of watching Brotherhood right after binging the first (and anime original) adaptation, giving me both the fleshed out introductory arcs largely skipped in Brotherhood while staying true to the manga. And the result was love at first sight. From the vast array of interesting, complex, and hilarious characters to a tightknit story thoughtfully planned out and executed, Fullmetal Alchemist is for me the quintessential anime experience. Add on top Bones giving it the royal treatment and the English dub once again being a step above the rest (and rivalling the original Japanese) and it should be no surprise how this one wound up leaving a major mark on me.


Azumanga Daioh

If there has been one anime that’s consistently followed me throughout the past two decades, it has to be Azumanga Daioh. It has a perfect combination of surreal, off-the-wall comedy & laidback sentimentality that encapsulates some of the brighter moments of trudging through high school. Whenever I needed to open up a manga to pass the time or when the power was out, Azumanga Daioh was always there for me. While the manga still provides great laughs & cozy vibes, the anime was made exceptionally well and is, without a doubt in my mind, the greatest 4koma adaptation period. By being able to compile a small batch of chapters that seamlessly flow into each other, it carries the distinction of being one of the few 4koma adaptations that don’t feel like a series of out-of-sequence four-panel comic strips that were stitched together. The anime medium is used to amplify many of the scenes in the manga since they have the luxury to play with the timing of jokes and dedicate more time to certain scenes or jokes to help them land even harder. The cast is perfectly curated as well as each of the girls plays off of each other to such an impressive degree that it’s always amusing to see them react to activities & events that occur throughout their time in high school, whether it be gearing up for festivals & beach outings or dealing with regular ordeals like commuting & studying. Each friend serves a greater purpose as they quietly muse over the absurdity of their daily lives, get on each other’s nerves, and seek to gain new valuable experiences through their growing friend circle. It even manages to bring in an adult perspective through the vitriolic friendship between Yukari & Nyamo, who try to reign each other in while also being expected to be responsible teachers. It’s all just so funny, but also has a sense of sweetness as it never feels like the characters, even at their angriest, are ever out for each other’s blood in the same way it can be for other school life anime. I’m often quick to move on to watching new anime or reading new manga once I’m finished, but to this day, Azumanga Daioh is one of the few series I’ll go out of my way to return to, whether if it’s for old time’s sake or a quick laugh.


This was one of the harder ones to put up here because of how I wanted my remaining picks to be chosen. Rather than having to make the difficult choice of picking between the five runner-ups that I love to the same degree, I opted to pick one of the five that aired within the last 10 years. Ultimately, the one anime in my personal Top 5 that made it past the cutoff date and carried the most sentimentality for me was Nakamura Kenji’s 2012 sci-fi fishing dramedy Tsuritama. In my eyes, Tsuritama embodies what makes anime special as a medium. It has the emotional capacity to convey relatable themes like coping with loss and the pressure of living up to your expectations through a story about teaching an alien how to fish. Its pastel, dreamlike aesthetic feels like a distant summer memory that never existed, yet feels within our grasp as a tangible vibe. To me, what makes Tsuritama special is that it consistently maintains a bright, vibrant feeling, yet doesn’t mince words about the difficulties of life. Even if it ends on an overall positive note, it hammers home that there is a lot of pain and grief that our younger cast has to struggle through as they grow up. Between coping with the mortality of our older relatives, feeling trapped by our elders’ expectations of us, grappling with social anxiety, and the deathly fear of completely losing control of ourselves, it gets pretty rough on the cast. At the same time, what Tsuritama celebrates is both their efforts to overcome adversity and the strength that friendship has to uplift each of them. Where their lives were improved not by going it alone, but finding inspiration in one another and sharing precious time learning how to fish together. It’s always a miracle when an original anime has a complete story, and Tsuritama is no exception as our time on the lush island of Enoshima is brief and fleeting, yet cohesive and worthwhile. Tsuritama is one of those shows where I could confidently give it a 10/10 across the board, especially for its lush animation and endearing characters.

Sabikui Bisco

I wanted to zazz things up by having my third pick be a show from this year! If it was a standard list, #3 would’ve been a parking lot brawl between Cromartie High School, Katanagatari, anything Shaft made between 2005 and 2011, Trapeze, and Utena. But I thought it’d be more fun to go completely left-field and choose a new favorite that I haven’t stopped thinking about. Since I started reading the novels for Sabikui Bisco recently, so much of my experience with the anime is fresh in my mind. If a pick like Tsuritama was meant to highlight anime’s potential to express human emotions with stylish flair, Sabikui Bisco represents its capacity to provide the same high-octane thrill ride you could expect from an 80’s/90’s Hollywood action flick. There is such vivid creativity in how the world is crafted by taking a post-apocalyptic setting and infusing pops of color with its mushroom-infused trippy visuals, eclectic character designs, and bizarre lore. It shares Gurren Lagann’s passion for throwing rules right out of the window, but makes no qualms about it being a ridiculous story meant to be consumed like you would a Mad Max film. I also adore how this show has some of the most aggressively bi characters I’ve read/seen with how several characters alternate between thinking about girls and fawning over each other as partners who have reached the next step above bromance together. I can’t help but admire what the author has done by pulling off some of the bolder, crazier, and nonsensical decisions they make with the story with all of the fake-outs, action movie references, and kaiju battles. The books offer even more fun to be had, and I’d hope that the stories I’m writing share the same chaotic energy, eccentricity, and boldness that they embrace. I’m not sure if it’ll be as fondly remembered or highly revered in the future given how the seasonal anime cycle goes, but I’ll always remember how much of a great time it was to follow Sabikui Bisco, and hope that we managed to have as many original anime or adaptations with the same unhinged uniqueness.

FJ Freeman

Fullmetal Alchemist

What was the first anime you’ve ever watched? Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Sakura Card Captor, Naruto, or even maybe One Piece? What was the first anime you watched that truly mesmerized you with its story and magic systems? For me that was Fullmetal Alchemist – and sorry Brotherhood fans, I’m talking about the 2003 anime here. Something about the 2003 anime spoke to me on a profound level, I was taken aback by just how complex this world was, on top of that, I fell in love with Edward and Alphonse at first glance, and the dark story hooked me into its premise as nothing had ever done so before.

Fullmetal made my teenage brain realize that there were different kinds of stories out that could be darker in tone and still could produce wonderful results, a trend I would later discover is most prominent in the anime medium as no other type of entertainment even dares to go as far and beyond as anime does. Of course, there are exceptions, but most of the time, it’s not something we get to see outside of Japan.

On the other hand, the music of Fullmetal, from the likes of Porno Graffiti, L’Arc-en-Ciel, Cool Joke, and Asian Kung Fu Generation marked my playlist and listening habits from an early age, the single and CDs filled my iPod until the storage was all but full. While other people were listening to MCR. I was listening to READY STEADY GO, and having the best time. These songs hold a special place in my heart, and the vibe they give off is just something that hasn’t been easily replaced or made equal in recent memory. It’s also the animations of the OP and ED that make these songs so special and iconic.

Ultimately though? Fullmetal reminds me of school summers where we could just laze around and do nothing, have no worries, and just wish how hard we wanted to be adults, not knowing how hard it is actually to be one.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Now, I’m going to cheat a little bit here, and include all of Evangelion – yes including the Rebuild films. The original Evangelion has something special for sure, the raw emotion of it all, the way Shinji is traumatized, and how that comes off on screen, there’s certainly something there that is not easily replicated, something that isn’t easy to do twice. Even though Anno certainly tried with The End Eva. However, that film was meant to round out the story as it’s infamous by now that the original TV series ran out of budget. It’s raw and emotional and we love the original TV series and consequent movie for it.

But let me make a point for the Rebuild movies, to me those films, tell the same story as the original anime, but the lore and story have been cleaned up to a point where the presentation is almost shiny and smooth, Shinji is not so much depressed now, but is proactive and goes with the flow a little easier. I very much like the Rebuild Shinji a lot better if I’m being honest.

I appreciate Eva because it really wanted to tell its own story and wasn’t really interested in doing whatever it was that other anime was doing at the beginning of the 2000s. Anime has always been a place where stories can innovate and create new and wonderful things, sometimes it really sticks and becomes part of the collective unconscious or sometimes they are bound to step into obscurity. However Eva mixes what was popular back then and decides to create its own subversion of the genre, and that’s maybe one of the reason’s why all of Evangelion is part of this list for me.

Eva was and still is something iconic, and beloved by thousands of people, there’s just something special, and its rewatch value is second to none, as every time you watch it again, you understand something deeper about the lore and story. I appreciate Eva because it tried to create its own unique world, while at the same time pulling from mythology and sources that are well known by everyone.


What does it mean to be truly alone? To have so much space around you, the size of a Dyson sphere or a megastructure, but have no one around you? Thousands of levels upon levels, constructed one on top of the other, with seemingly no end in sight, no simple way to get out, and no connection to the outside world. Not even knowing what the outside world really is, because humanity has been living in isolation for so long, they’ve forgotten the concept of it.

That’s the basic feeling the original Blame manga tried to incorporate into its panels, while at the same time, telling a cyberpunk story about a guy who is simply trying to find a genetic gene that will let him connect to the internet. Along the way, he meets people who want to stop him in his tracks. As the Net has been sealed off by AI and those that can connect to it were seemingly eradicated. Now let’s try and not only capture the sense of dread you experience as you read through the pages of Blame!, the sense of loneliness, but also capture the movement and direction Nihei oh so effortlessly captures through his panels. Just alone in that task, it seems almost impossible to do so. However, that’s what the 2003 ONA for Blame! did, and it did so quite elegantly in my opinion. Even though not the most flashy of animation, the first adaptation of this underground manga is I think the best one.

In a time when studios could take any risk they wanted and probably get away with it, Blame! was just in its underground stage and gaining popularity fast via those that read the manga. Yes, Polygon Pictures would later come in and adapt Knights of Sidonia into a successful TV anime that would hit pop culture status and even get its own movie, it was Blame! that was sort of left by the wayside. Even though Blame! indeed also got a movie from this same studio, the CGI makes it look shiny and processed and it takes away loneliness in favor of more action-packed scenes. It tries to streamline the story, but the original manga is convoluted with little sense made at times, leaving a lot of things to the viewer’s interpretation. And its that ambiguity which I love about the most about the original Blame!


  1. Thanks for reminding me about how cute Tsuritama was! Also, Moribito and Blame! (ONA) should go back into my “watch soon” list.

    Great list, everybody! It was nice to get the back stories and personal aspects. 🙂

    My personal top three would be: Ping Pong: the Animation (my uncontested champion), Evangelion (all of it), and… probably Gurren Lagann.

  2. Currently making my way through Legend of the Galactic Heroes for the first time and enjoying it very much (I’d say I’m halfway through the show).

    As for my top 3, I’ll go (loosely) by genre:

    1) GTO (favorite comedy, and while others come close (Ranma, Konosuba, Kekkai Sensen), something about Onizuka just makes me laugh everytime)

    2) Shinsekai Yori (Just one of those WTF drama that always stuck with me. Berserk and Bebop are right behind it).

    3) DragonBall (I know, but its hard to pick a single B@lls to the Wall shounen with this, Hero Acamedia, Kimetsu no Yaiba, Shingeki no Kyojin, and more out there, but you never forget your first 🙂 ).

    1. Shinsekai Yori was one of the ones I was seriously considering including, but if I did then I’d have to include Ergo Proxy, Ghost in the Shell, and Shiki (as all four are list toppers for me) so I limited myself to anime which had a greater or more definitive impact on me.

      It’s part of the problem with best of lists, there’s always too many things you want to include XD

    1. I forgot! That would’ve been extremely close. Love how Kumeta’s artwork was adapted into this flowy animation style. The dramatic notes hit hard (I still tear up thinking about Yaichirou finding out about what happened to his dad), but the mellower moments have this fun charm to them. It helps that Yasaburou is a carefree protag who casually jumps into risky situations and meddles around with the people Benten is associated with. The second season is awesome as well.

      1. I’ve never watched a show that was closer to my heart and also embodied everything that I love about anime. It’s set in Kyoto, unique concept, sublime animation, great character work, very fun to watch, Heart wrenching episodes here and there, never a pointless moment, shows a lot of restraint, the dialogues were amazing. I just love that show beyond words.

        1. That one was always dear to me but even more so now that I live literally a few hundred meters from Tadasu no Mori, where the Shimogamo family lives. It’s not close to my all-time top three but the flashback episode about the father would easily make my top 10 episodes all-time.

  3. Picking just 3 is quite hard but I will give it a try.
    1st I would go with El Hazard – The Magnificent World OVA
    The beautiful animation and a well written story make it one near the top of my rewatch list.
    2nd I will go with Ranma 1/2
    7 seasons , ova & 3 movies filled with comedy and fun.
    3rd I will go with Steins Gate & 0
    Smart well planned story with characters one can become attached to.

  4. Uhm… if I should pick three

    Houseki no Kuni
    Ping Pong the animation
    Diebuster (Top o Nerae 2!)

    and many more! animation is fun!
    honorable mention: the melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
    + obvious Evangelion is kinda obvious.

    1. I believe it stands for Original Net Animation, but Netflix releases are considered online releases instead of home videos like OV(ideo)A’s so they wind up gaining the ONA distinction by association.

  5. Mine are: Legend of The Galactic Heroes, Crest/Banner of The Stars, Natsume Yuujinchou

    Legend of The Galactic heroes is pretty much a cliché on Top lists, but I watch it every single year, so it had to be in the list.

  6. Top 3 would be

    1) Evangelion is obvious , first anime to ever watch
    2) Puella Magi Madoka Magica
    3) Samurai X – see name

    Honorable mention is The Disappearance of Haruhi movie, that hit harder than anything.

  7. If I have my top 3 anime I love so much that holds dear to my heart, they will be:

    The OG Sailor Moon

    Dragon Ball Z

    Mobile Suit Gundam 00

    The first two are my gateway series to anime during their run in syndication in the US before being moved to Toonami and the last one was my introduction to Gundam.

    Custom 98

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *