Favorite Anime

Let's talk anime, both shows, OVAs, and movies. As a reminder, we support the creators which means watching on legitimate streaming sites, seeing in the theater, or buying legitimate DVDs/Blu-rays. Fansubs are not okay because they decrease the revenue to the creators which makes it hard to make a living and justify more production (especially original concepts) and reduces the likelihood of shows being translated into English and released. Also, many DVDs are released as illegitimate copies from Malaysia on Ebay. The creators do not see revenue from these bootlegs. Please support creators by buying legitimate products.

Here are my favorites, in no particular order (other than No. 1). Also, I am reviewing all these in subtitles unless otherwise stated because SUBS over dubs!


Maria Watches Over Us (Maria-sama ga miteru) - My favorite anime of all time. The pinnacle of yuri and "Class s" anime. Some will argue it's not yuri, but that's for another post. This is the story of a catholic all-girls high school and the intimate friendships between older students and the younger students they take under their wing. It is focused on the members of the student council and their lives and development over two years. There is not room enough to describe how important this series is to me. It has wonderful drama, humor, character development, silliness, seriousness, etc...if you want a show that's all about the feels, then this is it.  There is only one character who is out as a lesbian and the other relationships really don't hint at anything more than deep friendships so many will not see this as a yuri series because there is no active relationship or pursuit of one in the series. However, I think that misses the point of yuri. Now, you can certainly also make the case that there is plenty of hinting at characters "wanting" relationships with each other. I'm a fan of Yumi x Touko (sorry Sachiko fans). Either way, the relationships are beautiful. One reviewer commented on how the show has no villians or antagonists and found it dull because of that, I think that's is success. It is a coming of age show, not a plot driven show. Every time I rewatch the series (which is many many times) I find more depth to the writing. This is simply the best, but I acknowledge that it is not for everyone.

Pet Girl of Sakurasou (Sakura-sō no Petto na Kanojo) - another show I have watched again and again and again. While it's austensibly somewhere in the seinen genre, it overcomes any tropey shortcomings due to extraordinary writing and a winning cast that all get lots of attention. It is the story about students in an arts-focused high-school who for various reasons are forced to live in the dorm for outcasts. They bond and rise to show the value of their uniqueness. It centers around a young man and a foreign young woman who transfers in. She is a classic "dream girl" (maybe not the manic type as she's more the forgetful, weird, but still sexy type) but again, even though she is a trope, the humor of the writing is so superb that one can forgive this and enjoy it as a truly worthy example of tropes being used for good. Due to her strange behaviors, the young man is put "in charge" of keeping her going on a daily basis because it turns out she's a world-class artist already showing internationally. Needless to say there are also the sparks of love, but in a subtle and fascinating way far transcending the obviousness of the setup. The side character stories and development are equally engaging. The plot is winning and has two real arcs that each conclude with feel-good outcomes. So many funny moments to go with the great characters. All I can say is..."Plan C."

Sakura Trick - based on a 4-kome manga (which isn't quite as good as the anime), this is the story of two best friends in high school that decide they need something special between them that will transcend any of their other friendships. When they do, they realize that their feelings are much more than friendship. It is simply the cutest, funniest, yuri series ever. Although it suffers from unnecessary fan-service, if you can ignore that, you will find some of the best comedy writing ever, the sweetest and cutest kissing scenes, and a truly joyous experience. I've rewatched it way too many times. 

Sweet Blue Flowers (Aoi Hana) - we reviewed this in the favorite manga section. The anime tells the first half of the story of a young lesbian, Fumi, and a friend from elementary school she reconnects with in high-school. It follows as Fumi is crushed by her first love, realizes her second love ultimately isn't really ready for a serious relationship, and ponders just what it is she really wants from her best friend. It's sweet, delicate, well-written, and beautifully animated. A true gem and the best true yuri anime out there.


Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) - Also reviewed the manga in the favorite manga section. This too is just the first half of the series. It is about an almost-in-middle-school-couple who meet as highschool students but they both aren't who they were. Will they still connect? Some incredibly tender scenes, particularly the one at night, in the cafeteria, during the leadership training program.

Fruits Basket - original series DVD

Fruits Basket
- one of the most beloved shoujo manga series of all time had it's first third made into an anime quite a while back. A new version has since come out, but we won't talk about that, and it's horrid art and wrong voices). In Fruits Basket, one lost but resilient young woman finds herself at the center of a very complex family with some secrets of their own. Through her love and strength, is healing possible for them all?

Ouran High School Host Club - Also reviewed the manga in the favorite manga section. This also covers just the first half of the series. A young woman, mistaken for a boy, is adopted by the elite mens club of the elite school she is on scholarship to. An incredible parody of multiple genres that then rises above parody on the strength of a great story, great characters, and worthwhile storytelling. A classic.

Kimi Ni Todoke: From Me To You - Also reviewed the manga in the favorite manga section. This covers the first part of the series, but the manga goes quite a bit farther. A wonderful high-school romance with minimal true drama and winning characters including the side characters.


Honey and Clover - Also reviewed the manga in the favorite manga section. A beautiful josei set with students in an art college as they transition to adulthood. Sensitive, brooding, funny, and sweet by turns. Great characters who all develop and some bittersweet moments that are very emotionally real. Well animated and acted. A classic.

Toradora - a scary looking but infintely kind and responsible young man meets a fiery, violent, pipsqueak of a young woman in high school. For various reasons he agrees to help her get the attention of the boy she loves. You see where this is going right? Well, it has what might be the best kiss in all of anime. I don't love the animation, but I get used to it each time I watch it and then it doesn't bother me. That doesn't matter because it's a great show with humor, sensitivity, an incredible mother-son dynamic, and a beautiful burgeoning relationship.

 Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions (Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai!) - a tragically underrated show. This is about what happens when a middle-schooler who loves fantasy becomes a self-conscious high-school student and runs into a young woman who still isn't self-conscious about her fantasy world. Will love bloom? Will he revert back to his old ways? Will he accept her as she is? It is incredibly funny, the imaginary fight scenes are amazing, and the Dekomori x Nibutani scenes are incredible. Rikka's sister also steals every scene she is in, particularly when she's with Yuta's little sister. Pure joy and sweetness. It's also probably the first anime with a significant amount of time focused on professional napping.

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day - a show about the lasting impact of losing someone too young. It is a melancholy but winning show about young people pulling themselves together after an unimaginable tragedy in their youth. Sweet, sensitive, great voice acting. 


Bunny Drop (Usagi Drop) - a josei anime based on a manga. I love the anime because it covers the first half of the manga. I don't love the manga because the second half goes in a direction I'm not totally comfortable with. Ignore the manga, and just watch and love this series. It follows a single middle-aged man who upon attending a family funeral takes in his young, newly orphaned, niece. It is simple and sweet as they become a family and he learns to be a father. 


Five high school girls smiling at the camera, sitting in their club room

- Two amazing seasons of four (and then five) friends who form a band and take the world by storm (sorta!). Cute characters, lots of funny moments, funny/cute songs, and lots and lots of cute moments to go with the funny moments. It's one of those series that will just make you happy when you watch it. 

Two women's heads, one in blue, one in oranges, one with eyes closed, one with eyes open. Snow on one, flowers on the other

 - the penultimate josei series (sorry "Revolutionary Girl Utena," I love you, but I love Nana more - although if Nana is the penultimate, maybe Utena is the "ur-josei?"). Nana is about two women with the same name who meet on a train. They are very different in many ways, but their lives entangle and each of them changes as a result. It's dramatic, it's realistic, it's messy, and you may not like the way it ends, but hey, that's life. It's moving and complex, and worth all the praise it's ever recevied.

Four girls joyously running on the dock next to a very large ship with a bright blue sky behind

A Place Further Than the Universe
- on a quest to find and connect with her mother, lost during an Antarctic expedition, one high school girl and her friends are about to have an experience like none other. As they con their way onto a new Antarctic expedition, they'll never be the same again. Friendship, daily life, funny, sweet, sad, and wistful, this show has it all.

A band of bishoujo magical girls stand ready for anything with a moon in the background

Sailor Moon Crystal
- a complete reboot of the classic series, this entry may surprise a lot of you, because I usually prefer the originals to the remake (don't get me started on that horrid Fruits Basket remake). Sailor Moon is of course the most famous shoujo manga in all of ever, and this series in some ways is more faithful to the source text than the original anime. Lots of people may complain about the animation, particularly the first season, but honestly it didn't bother me. They kept Usagi's original voice actress (which at first I didn't think was a good idea, but she has such an emotional range, it'll surprise you as the series goes on). I find this update infinitely more watchable than the original even with it's faults. And it's f-ing Sailor Moon, so of course it would be on this list.

A husband, wife, and child stand in a loving and happy family portrait

Spy X Family
- one of the best series to come out in the last five years. This anime is about three unlikely people thrown together into a fake family: a spy, an assassin, and a mind reading orphan. The sum is simply far greater than the parts. The show deftly blends action with comedy, romance, slice of life, and heartwarming connections. It's the complete and real deal. Quite unexpectedly lovely. (I've only seen the first season, so here's hoping the next one is equally great!).

A young woman spiritedly throws a karuta playing card, two young men stand behind her surrounded by bamboo leaves

- while the mangaka had some unfortunate plagiarism scandals in her career, the writing and art in this continues to be beautiful and fully realized. The anime is just amazing with incredible voice acting by the lead. A "sports" anime about Karuta, it some how manages to make those sequences incredibly emotionally intense and electrifyingly gripping. But you'll stay for the romance and the character development. Which boy will ultimately grab her heart, given that she loves them both as her dearest friends. 

a high school boy, stands on a red bridge, with a garden behind him, dressed in black pants and a white dress shirt with a complex look on his face

March Comes In Like A Lion
- from the mangaka who brought us Honey and Clover, comes a coming of age story set in the world of shogi. Moody, intense, joyous, heart-warming, funny, kind, soft. If you loved Honey and Clover, you'll love this. Just a beautiful and sensitive series.

Cowboy Bebop - the jazz infused, space bounty hunter series that was a huge factor in making anime more mainstream in the US. Billiant characters, brilliant animation, great stories, great music, great direction, it's the complete package.

Honorable Mentions: Anonymous Noise, Bloom into You, Inu X Boku Secret Service


A Silent Voice (Koe no Katachi) - Daring in its sensitive treatment of a young deaf woman. This is an incredibly affecting story about the impact of bullying and the path towards healing. I get shivers just thinking about how amazing this movie is. The manga is very good, but the movie improved upon it and is a perfect film. Great animation, great acting, riveting and moving story, and so much growth. It is a beautiful, important anime movie. Update 2019 - it's now available on DVD!

A high school flute player and oboe player sit with a single music stand between them. A picture of a woman and animals like from a fairy tale is behind them.

Liz and the Blue Bird
- possibly, but not quite yet, overtaking "A Silent Voice" as my favorite anime movie. Liz and the Blue Bird is a spin-off of sorts of "Sound Euphonium." However, it has a very different tone than that series. It's wistful, slow (very very slow - which I love), somewhat sad, pensive, melancholy, and a tad bittersweet. Just what are these two high school girls to each other? Just which one is holding the other back? A truly uniquely paced love story.

Two high school girls in uniform (one wearing a track jacket) stand in front of a flower shop with greens everywhere, bathed in sunlight

Kase-san and Morning Glories
- gosh how I love this manga series, and this is such a cute little OVA. Too short to be a full film, and picking up part way through the original manga run, it's still so special to see these two animated, with great voice acting, soft and adorable animation, and everything you would have wanted in a kind, happy, simple yuri story.

The Girl who Leapt Through Time - a time-traveling highschool romance movie with incredible comedy and a heartbreaking ending. Beautiful animation, great acting (even the dub!)


From up on Poppy Hill - my favorite Studio Ghibli film, which is saying a lot since it wasn't even directed by Hayao Miyazaki but instead by his son Goro who has an uneven directing history. About a middle-school aged girl whose father has not returned from a journey at sea. As she continues to come to terms with her loss, she encounters an energetic and bright young man and the school society he belongs to. As their friendship grows, so does a troubling potential connection between them. A great love story, great acting, beautiful animation, great soundtrack, just nothing but excellence from the greatest animation studio. Click here for my ranking of (almost all) the Studio Ghibli films.


Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) - A funny and romantic body-switching, time-traveling, action high-school romance movie. Beautiful animation, great acting, great story. It's the complete package and is considered a modern masterpiece.

Garden of Words - by the same director of Your Name, this short film explores two lost souls who connect in a park on a rainy day. It features the best "oh crap, I just let the love of my life walk away" scene EVER! Also staring one of my favorite voice actresses.


Wolf Children (Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki) - the sweet story of the children of a woman and a werewolf forced to move out of the city and into the country because of the children's rambunctiousness and what it means to chose your true identity. Sweet, funny, romantic, sad, melancholy, beautiful animation, great voice acting. It's the complete package for the family.


WOW! That's quite a list. But I'm sure I'll be adding more (updated again 2/20/23). Please check back and I'll post when I update this list. What do you like?

UPDATE: Click here for my ranking of the Studio Ghibli films.


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