For the most part these have no order. Except for RahXephon, which will always be my favorite anime series of all time.
Number One: RahXephon
Yes, I love this show. Mostly because there are so many ways to enjoy it. It’s a romance. It’s a mecha show. It’s a mystery (that gets solved). It’s an existential journey of one young man to find meaning. You don’t need to enjoy all those aspects to enjoy the show either. Any one of them will do.
Number Two: Twelve Kingdoms
This is the single best fantasy anime that I’ve ever seen. The world has depth, interacts with the characters, causes most of the plots and does it all without being heady or preachy. Not to mention that unlike some other shows where a girl gets transported to a magical kingdom (Fushigi Yugi) there isn’t any really lame love story.
Number Three: Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex
Yes, specifically the first season. But I’ve always had a thing for cyberpunk, and this show is all that and a bag of chips. The way the theme is handled is subtle without being overbearing. The action is good. The plot moves quickly and doesn’t get bogged down. All in all, it’s an intelligent, sexy show that doesn’t act like it knows that it’s an intelligent, sexy show.
Number Four: Gungrave
If Trigun had an older, darker brother, it’d be Gungrave. Now there’s so many reasons to love this show. The biggest being that it ends “right”. There’s no Deus Ex Machina so people can walk away happy. Beyond that characters grow and change. And it’s got zombies. What more could you ask for?
Number Five: Kenshin
It’s rare to see a shounen fighting show that rises above it’s traditional roots to tell a story where the primary tension is that the main character can’t kill. Not only that, Kenshin starts off as the badass and doesn’t go through a bunch of power-up stages so he can whomp on the big bad guys. Yes, there are parts that are a bit cliche, but over all it’s still a show that I will continue to love.
Number Six: TBA
Number Seven: Planetes
It’s rare to see a straight drama in anime. Usually it’s got to involves three or four girls trying to get with a single guy, or robots, or swords or all three of those things. But what makes Planetes different for me is that these people are “real” people. They don’t have super-powers, they aren’t locked in the middle of world-changing conflicts, they are just trying to live their own lives. And that’s admirable and interesting. Also the politics of space offer up some other interesting stuff.
Number Eight: Wolf’s Rain
It’s hard to define why I love this series so much. But I think it comes down to Hub and the Old Man. There are two characters which in any other anime would have been thrown out and they get developed. Hub is still one of my favorite characters of all time.
Honorable Mention: Last Exile
Okay, fighter planes, flying ships and epic battles (no matter what anyone else says). Last Exile is easily one of the most epic and fun shows I’ve ever seen. And it’s got a bad guy that I can really despise.
Last Exile used to be on the list, and may return to it later. For now though, it’s here.