I come from a time when anime was actually foreign and mysterious. The only way we could ever see it, without buying it, was to enter Blockbuster's special interest section and convince your parents it wasn't some weird type of pornography. Although, sometimes it was! Anyways, this is my top 10 list of some of the best anime ever, in no particular order.
ATTACK ON TITAN:
I love it. It's edgy, dramatic, and is pretty unique in a sea of copycats. Sure, giants aren't a new concept and neither are titans, but the creepy way this all goes down with a science fiction twist has me hooked. It's still early in the show's life, and it's hard to say if it will continue to impress me, but consider it something current for this list.
I think this embodies the late 80s / early 90s anime scene. It combines the edgy gore, violence, and sexual content with compelling storytelling. When I think about shows from this era, I'm reminded of GRAPPLER BAKI, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR, BASTARD, WICKED CITY, AKIRA, GUYVER, and even the STREET FIGHTER 2 animated movie. But to me, NINJA SCROLL was the epitome of badass, and that's what this time was all about.
A tale of two brothers united in their occult studies. A world where alchemy took placement over modern science and the strange is somewhat normal. There are plenty of heart wrenching scenes and a great balance between comedy and drama. Usually, you don't see shows that have so much care put into the writing get so many episodes, but it remains consistent, only growing stronger to the end.
It really took me by surprise how much I ended up liking ONE PIECE. Earlier in the show, it comes off as a DRAGON BALL clone, but it turns out being much more. The world where it takes place is filled with more mystery and more adventure. Also, the characters don't always come out on top. Overall, I think it succeeds in many aspects where DRAGON BALL failed.
This one will always have a special place in my heart. Long ago, I had frequented the anime section of a Suncoast store where TRIGUN was recommended to me by author John Sanford's son, Roswell -- who ended up helping my mother purchase it as a gift, after I was in a terrible accident that left me bedridden for weeks. It quickly became one of my favorites of all time. The animation, the characters, the music, and the story are all compelling, human, and have a subtle depth and dimensionality that is seriously lacking in Japanese storytelling.
Gritty, dark, and visceral, BERSERK explores the primal side of our nature. It walks the exploitative tightrope a bit, but it balances it out with strong character complexity and development. Unlike other anime in a similar style, the violence isn't just there for shock value.
This is the OAV for RUROUNI KENSHIN. And outside of having the same lead character, they are completely different. This one is far darker and filled with very powerful imagery.
There are a lot of shows that fall into the high fantasy adventure realm: SLAYERS, MAGIC KNIGHT RAYEARTH, RECORD OF LODOSS WAR. But unlike the others, DOT HACK approached the escapism, hedonism, and existential boundaries of these alternate realities inside our video games. And that made it more than just another show about magic and big swords.
VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST:
I debated adding this one a bit, but it is superior to the original. Growing up, Yoshitaka Amano was one of my favorite artists. His captivating and inspiring artwork for the FINAL FANTASY series was what got me interested in VAMPIRE HUNTER D as he was its original artist. But BLOODLUST took VAMPIRE HUNTER D to another level, on par with NINJA SCROLL, and that's because they were both directed by the same guy, Yoshiaki Kawajiri.
Once in a great while comes something so clever and so weird that it blows my mind. And this is one of those shows. If I had something to compare it to, it would be the BBC's SHERLOCK. It's riddled with paranoid obsession compulsion, and plays out like the world's most advanced chess match. Also, L is my favorite anime characters ever created.
Honorable mentions: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION, SERIAL EXPERIMENTS LAIN, PRINCESS MONONOKE, ESCAFLOWNE, BLACK HEAVEN, and CODE GEASS.