10 Anime That Will Change Your Life

10 Anime That Will Change Your Life

Only a handful of TV shows, movies, books or cartoons can be called “life-changing,” masterpieces that transform you and the way you perceive yourself and/or the world, or let you understand something you never did before. These 10 anime series will change you if you watch them. But it’s not a definitive list, so add your candidates in the comments!

1) Akira

When Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime masterpiece came out in 1988, it changed a lot of people’s lives — mainly because until they saw Akira, they had no idea that animation could be used for anything other than children’s entertainment. More than 25 years later, this tale of teens in Neo-Tokyo who run afoul of a militarised government and a secret experiment to unlock telekinetic abilities may have lost its shock, but not its power. Although purely Japanese, Akira’s tale of how modern society disenfranchises and co-opts youth into its faults and machinations is universal.

2) Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind

As a child, Hayao Miyazaki wanted to be a manga artist. But after he became the most acclaimed director in anime, he only chose to adapt one of his works into manga — that being Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind. The post-apocalyptic fantasy is set in a world so ravaged by war that nature itself has risen up and created giant bugs called Ohmu to begin the slow process of purifying the planet while the remnants of humanity begin another slow, maddening descent into war. Nausicaä isn’t so much a love letter to nature as it is Miyazaki’s apology for man’s foolishness, destructiveness and blindness, although it’s one that still has enough optimism to hope that we can see the error of our ways before it’s too late.

3) Neon Genesis Evangelion

A bold, brilliant reinvention of the giant robot genre. An examination of the id, the ego and superego. A massive exploration of Freudian psychology, Kabbalism, and the nature of the soul. It might be easier to explain what Evangelion isn’t about. But despite decades of the most crass merchandising possible, Hideaki Anno’s anime masterpiece still resounds with viewers of all nations and ages because of its primal storytelling power. Whether you accept the optimistic but troubling self-actualization shown at the end of the TV series or the movie’s far more nihilistic conclusion, one cannot watch Evangelion without being changed in some way.

4) My Neighbour Totoro

Although Spirited Away won Miyazaki an Academy Award, his truest masterpiece may be My Neighbour Totoro. A deceptively simple tale of two young sisters who move out to the countryside and discover a magical world of giant “dust-bunnies”, catbuses, and more, Totoro knows exactly how a child views the world, and presents it with the perfect amount of joy, wonder and mystery. It is impossible to watch My Neighbour Totoro and now remember how it felt to be truly young; and if you’re already young it’s impossible to watch the movie and not be mesmerised. And then want to own at least one stuffed Totoro.

5) Ghost in the Shell

When Masamune Shirow began putting out his cyber-police adventure Ghost in the Shell in 1989, it was hardly considered a masterpiece. But now Ghost in the Shell has become one of anime’s most popular franchises, and that’s thanks to Masamune Shirow’s dark (one might say dour), trippy, brilliant 1995 movie adaptation. Where Shirow’s manga was content to examine how technology and the internet would change crime, Oshii used cyborg protagonist Motoko Kusanagi to examine the meaning of life and consciousness in a world where the virtual was as legitimate as reality. Ghost in the Shell has inspired countless imitators, especially in anime, but none of them have had the effect or the staying power of the original movie.

6) Macross/Robotech

Whether you’re a fan of the original Japanese anime Super-Dimensional Fortress Macross or Robotech, the Americanized adaptation cobbled together from it and two other anime series, the fact is the Macross saga remains one of the greatest love stories of the 20th century. Only Macross is willing to show love in all its forms — the way it brings joy, the way in brings pain, the way it brings sadness, and the way it brings insanity. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Love is what makes the commander of the most powerful spaceship in the galaxy, Lisa Hayes, wash the underwear of a lowly Veritech pilot, Rick Hunter, while he’s chasing about an underage Chinese pop star named Minmei, who toys with Rick mercilessly while she pines for her cousin Lynn Kyle, who throws gin bottles at her. THAT’S LOVE, PEOPLE. And Robotech helped an entire generation understand love’s messiness, even if we were all still powerless before it.


Strange, surreal, bizarre — this barely begins to explain how weird FLCLis. This 6-episode OVA series was created by Kazuya Tsurumaki, who decided to throw everything he thought was cool into a single anime — baseball, bass guitars, Vespa, robots, and the Japanese rock band The Pillows. What he managed to create, though, was one of the great coming-of-age stories period, as 12-year-old Naota deals with the violent arrival of an alien girl named Haruko in his life and giant robots sprouting from his forehead. It’s not especially subtle, but that doesn’t make FLCL any less powerful or any more entertaining as Naota experiences the confusion, danger and excitement of growing up — via robot fights, girl troubles, and occasional beatings by Haruko with her bass. Also, it’s really, really cool.

8) Serial Experiments Lain

More experimental and surreal than most of the anime on this list, Lain seems to trod where Ghost in the Shell does — about the relationship between consciousness and technology in a world where a virtual network called the Wired connects humanity. But Lain isn’t as interested in technology as much as how communication and perception create Lain’s identity — whether it’s how she perceives herself or how other perceive her. There are multiple Lains in the Wired, all different aspects of her own personality, and not all working for her; but Lain’s sense of self is also informed by what and how she presents herself to others, and how she communicates with them. Eventually, Lain recognises her powers to control reality in the Wired, and essentially erases all memories of herself. Lain is troubled, yes, but the show’s exploration of self, loneliness and perception is only more powerful for it.

9) Grave of the Fireflies

There have been countless films about war — the cost of the war to those fighting in it, the cost soldiers pay when they come home, the cost to their loved ones. But no movie ever managed to show the cost of war to the completely innocent — namely, a 14-year-old boy named Seita and his younger sister Seita — who starve to death as a result of World War II and the actions on both sides of the conflict. Arguably one of the saddest movies ever made, Grave basically watches these children lose their mother, get ignored by relatives and other adults more concerned for their own welfare, and then slowly, inexorably, needlessly die. It’s the truest horror of war, shown uncompromisingly, and with no other desire than to make the viewer feel this pain, this loss — in hopes that it may never have to happen again.

10) Perfect Blue

Most of the late Satoshi Kon’s works examine the nature of reality and fantasy, and the thin line separating the two. But the director’s first film, Perfect Blue, does so in a manner more subtle than his other films, creating an unusual masterpiece that honestly could easily have been filmed in live-action. 1997’s Perfect Blue is about a pop star named Mima who decides to become an actress, but a series of murders where she appears to be the prime suspect — murders that echo the movie she’s starring in — loosen her hold on reality. It’s the Hitchcock film Alfred Hitchcock never made, as Mima tries to discern what is life, what is the movie, and what she has or has not done. The movie is actually more powerful for refusing to utilise animation’s possibilities, and keeping it “realistic” — the more seems both more and less surreal for it, enhancing the themes. And it’s a massively entertaining thriller to boot!


    • Also Slayers, featuring the incomparably named villain Ruby Eye Shabranigdo (pronounced Shabooranigoodoo!) and the most comical of flat-chested sorceresses Lina Inverse (poor Gourry).

    • +1 to this, one of the most influential anime to come out isn’t on here, yet the rubbish pseudo mystery perfect blue is?
      Akira also has a bloody stupid end.
      Excel Saga is also great (I prefer FLCL for my oddball comedy)

      • I love Akira. So much. God the ending is a mess. The Manga did a much better job though!

        • I never read the manga, I liked the bebop ones though.

          Another couple I thought were good:
          Shiki (nice to see vampires being vampires again although you can keep the stupid arse catboy) Another – great little ghost story although easy to pick who the ghost is early on.
          Future Diary – Ignore the little standalone episode set after the original, it’s a cop-out and is just fan service and nothing else.

  • Terrible list. I would add:

    1) Akira
    2) Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind
    3) Neon Genesis Evangelion
    4) My Neighbour Totoro
    5) Ghost in the Shell
    6) Macross/Robotech
    7) FLCL
    8) Serial Experiments Lain
    9) Grave of the Fireflies
    10) Perfect Blue

  • Interestingly Akira didn’t seem all that popular when I was living in Japan, most people there didn’t seem to think much of it.

    • I don’t know how popular it is in Japan but I get the impression it’s way more popular outside of Japan simply because it’s one of the first cinema quality serious anime movies English speakers had. Even with kids starting out with anime today it’s legendary status amongst western fans is infectious enough that they love it. It’s one of the first recommendations when they go off exploring on their own so they go from TV anime to Akira and it blows their mind.

    • I didn’t think it was that great either. A decent animated film but hardly a masterpiece.

      • Have in mind back in ’89-’90 there wasn’t anything similar in the TV/cinemas. It was way ahead of it’s time. Back then Warner Bothers and Disney’s cartoons were dominating the market, you open your TV and all you see was Mickey Mouse, Donald and Looney Toons. I would boldly say if you see the Parthenon now it will certainly not blow your mind, but it did back then to the Roman conquerors.

        • I definitely get what you’re saying, but in terms of western penetration, the Studio Ghibli movies were around starting in the mid-80s. Nausicaa had a 1985 western release and I’d argue it was a better example of quality Japanese animation than Akira. Of course don’t get me wrong, Akira was a good quality film, I just felt like it wasn’t on the same level as the 80s Ghibli films.

    • Akira is one of those right-place-at-the-right-time things. It was the first exposure to ‘mature’ anime for most of the USA, so it tends to show up in these sorts of lists. It was one of the major shows that paved the way for the 90s western ‘Japan is so cool’ bubble. Evangelion was the other big one for that, though it’s lasted far better as it was vastly more marketable and because it was one of the first to really market its characters, rather than just the robots.

      • Agreed. If you were a westerner when Akira released, you thought J-animation was Astroboy and Battle of the Planets.
        Enter stage left: Akira. Adult, nuanced, violent, inpenetrable, and iconic. Some brilliant design and great characters took animation to a place we’d never seen before.
        All the others on this list owe something to it

        • On the same page until “All the others on this list owe something to it”. Several of the others in this list predate it. 😛

          • Fair call, I got carried away. But my poorly worded point was not so much inspiration, but western interest/ awareness. Akira’s popular and commercial success opened the Western door and eyes to a lot of other material; In that way, it helped the others by lifting the profile from near zero.

    • I think a lot of Japanese movies/anime that are heavily inspired by western movies and are not highly regarded in japan. Cowboy bebop isn’t that big in Japan. Also Akira Kurosawa is considered one of the best directors of all time in the west but isn’t as highly regarded in Japan.

    • I think it was a revelation for western people at that time. Japanese animation was seen as goofy, poorly animated giant robot stuff, magical girls prancing in puffy dresses and kiddy adaptations of fairy tales. An edgy, post-apocalyptic young adult story with jaw-dropping production values and believable sci-fi mixed with socio-political commentary was unimagined and an eye opener to the possibilities of the medium. A game-changer.

      If you already have developed an appreciation and have seen other stuff, it’s easy to see its narrative flaws and unsatisfactory, almost pointless storytelling arc (as it is just a fraction of the whole story). I believe the same is true for Ghost in the Shell. It is held in similar reverence but is arguably the worse piece of narrative of the whole franchise (it’s still good, though).

  • Seems I haven’t missed much in the last 10 years since I stopped watching anime. Good to see FLCL on the list. Another excellent series is Excel Saga, it’s right up there on the weirdness scale, if you’re into that sort of thing.

    • Eh. FLCL had weirdness by the truckload but underneath, very well hidden, was a very clever story that was also a potent and heavy metaphor. Weirdness was the delicious, psychedelic icing on a brilliantly made cake.

      Excel Saga was all icing. Weirdness for the sake of weirdness, almost to the soulessness point, and I’m not one to shy from weirdness as my favourite anime comedy is the criminally underrated Jungle Wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu (check it!). Excel Saga made me chuckle several times, but I yawned more and eventually dropped it because I simply didn’t care for the characters or the pretence of a story.

  • Gurren Lagann is amazing.

    Samurai Champloo also amazing.

    And Death Note is actually not bad too (first season only).

  • I don’t think it finishes as strongly as it starts, but I really like Psycho Pass.
    I have to admit, when I saw Neon Genesis, I was the perfect age to have my mind blown away. Been debating whether the new movies are worth risking my nostalgia on.

    • Part 1 is exactly the same as the first third of the series. Part 2 changes a few things but is still really good. Part 3 is bad imo but i still have hope part 4 will redeem it.

      • I really hope Part 4 can pull it all back together. Part 3 just seemed to go back to the original series theme of “what the hell is going on?

    • Psycho Pass should take Ghost in the Shell’s place in the list IMO. GitS have its tremendous and undeniable legacy value going for it, but PP is superior in almost every respect.

  • Should have every Satoshi Kon if you can just throw up the entire Macross IP (Plus is da bes).

    I’d also mention Now & Then, Here & There, Ghost in the Shell Innocence broke all my expectations by being better than the first, but you should watch both and Wolf Children is fackin amazin.

    • All of Mamoru Hosoda’s films are great – The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars and Wolf Children. His new one is looking good too. Ghibli’s biggest mistake was letting him slip through their fingers.

      • Damn straight, I even enjoyed the two shorts he did that make up the first half of the first Digimon movie. Proto Wolf Children & Summer Wars.

  • Pretty good list. I would add.
    Berserk – Not necessarily life changing, but the atmosphere and world creates is amazing.
    Black Lagoon
    Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex – Deserves its own place
    And of course Cowboy Bebop.

  • Akira is plain awful, I didn’t like it or get anything from it.
    Neon Genesis was my first series and did blow my mind, but I can no longer tolerate it. Too much whingy Shinji

    If you want good anime that will change your life:

    1. Code Geass
    2. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
    3. Death Note

    Death Note and Code Geass are similar in theme, but Code Geass is widely considered to one of the best anime’s out there. Gurren Lagaan on the other hand is amazing tale of boy becoming man. “Don’t believe in yourself, believe in the me that believes in you!”

    • The Rebuild movies do a good job of toning down Shinji’s whining. People seem to criticise the third film but I’ve loved them all so far.

      Code Geass didn’t gel with me. Lelouch is annoying as shit.

    • Not gonna look it up but am going to watch Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann simply because I agree with Code Geass and Death Note on your mini-list.

      • It’s completely different to them both in that instead of being intellectual it’s just over the top unthinking pure enthusiasm. It starts off small and then rapidly amps it up every episode until the fights become galaxy sized. It’s all very inspiring and makes sense in the context. Watch the series and not the movie though, as the movie cuts out all of the important character development.

  • Geesh, no Paprika, no CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO!!! …and no Summer Wars either.
    It’s almost as if there’s a problem with arbitrarily limited top-ten lists. Also, given how often Gawker media gives the thumbs up to the Patlabors, where the heck. Are. THEY!?

    • Castle of Cagliostro was bloody brilliant. I think the car chase scene alone is one of the best chase scenes in any medium.

  • I have seen all but one of these and none of them have changed my life in any way. Ok, I lie, FLCL has pervaded many aspects of my life but the rest of them haven’t really had any significant impact if any. Almost like “life-changing” is a personal and very subjective term. Ergo Proxy and Azumanga Daioh would be in my list along with Nadesico, Escaflowne and Steins;Gate.

    • Yeah, many of these are genre-defining or highly important, but I don’t know about life-changing, and whether they are or not is going to depend on the person. For me, Evangelion had a huge impact on me as it got me into the medium. The rest? Eh. Princess Mononoke was the first Ghibli film I watched so it had more impact on me than Nausicaa (I do like Nausicaa though). Personally, the anime that had the biggest impact on my life etc. would be quite a different list. Evangelion was my gateway, but Rurouni Kenshin was what cemented it for me. Haibane Renmei was probably the point where I really realized the artistic potential it had. Denno Coil convinced me on stuff like Hololens a decade before that was even a thing.

  • As a child, Hayao Miyazaki wanted to be a manga artist. But after he became the most acclaimed director in anime, he only chose to adapt one of his works into manga

    Implies that he’s only ever done one manga, which is utter rubbish. Great bit list of the manga that Miyazaki has penned both before and after Nausicaa here:

    That said, the Nausicaa manga is absolutely amazing. Every page is in full color, highly detailed in his beautiful watercolor style (Miyazaki is an amazing artist) and it’s about 1000 pages long.

    One of the things he’s doing in his retirement apparently is working on a Samurai manga. Hope that gets published!

  • Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 (because it had the best future punk intro bar none).

    Also, the dystopian future with boomers (androids) treated as second-class citizens/slaves was fascinating.

    • Upvote for a great and undeservedly obscure title! The middle point was a bit dull, but boy the ending was unexpectedly epic.

      • Plus all the episode titles are song/album titles. My favourites are My Nation Underground and Atom Heart Mother (awesome titles!)

  • I hated Perfect Blue when I watched it many years ago.
    It had an interesting story and then it ended in such a crappy way that it didn’t make sense.

    Thinking about it, I wasn’t that young when I watch it (maybe early 20s?) so age had nothing to do with it?
    Might rewatch it again and maybe it’ll make more sense, but then again I’m old and more cynical now so I’ll probably hate it even more. 😛

          • It’s funny, I clearly remember that I loved the absolute shit out of that show. Yet I cannot recall a single thing about it. Kinda the same as Transformers actually, back when the first Bay movie came out I was trying to think back and I wasn’t sure I even knew anyone’s names outside of Optimus, Megatron and honestly I’m not even sure if I knew Starscream. Maybe I was just a super dumb kid who just liked the pictures.

          • Kinda like Teknoman. I remembered it being great… but nothing else beyond that. Was he slowly killing himself every time he used the thing? That’s about the only real detail I remember cause it shocked me so much.

  • I don’t understand all the love for Akira. That view is constantly greeted with confusion from film buffs everywhere who instantly question wether I “got” the metaphors (personally I think the very same metaphors were more interestingly explored in Astro Boy). Don’t get me wrong, technically the art is brilliant and individual sequences can be pretty stunning, but the characters are all totally unlikable and the plot is a mess because they really beat you over the head with the metaphors others praise as subtle (in my eyes, with a basic understanding of post WW2 Japan the subtext is far from subtle), and for those two reasons I just can’t get into the film at all. Ghost in The Shell though deserves all of the praise it gets, it’s soundtrack and environmental art alone put it right up there with any other animated work, add on a great plot and cast and you have a great film. Honestly though no anime has ever changed my life, I think only three films, maybe 3 games and roughly 4 albums could lay claim to that, the TV series that came closest would have been Les Revenants (the original french series The Returned, I don’t like using the Returned as it can be mistaken for the remake) while Avatar: The last Airbender would probably be the show that formed most of my views as they are, rather than changed any I already had (maybe that counts, but the impact it had on me as a kid was far greater than any other show now and it was a more formative than life-altering impact).

    • I also don’t get the love for Akira, much for the same reason you point out.

      That said, I also find Grave of the Fireflies woefully overrated and a miserable trudge that’s pretty predictable and seems purely designed to go “Isn’t it horrible? Isn’t it so sad?” I was never engaged.

    • definitely this, this was up there in the era of Akira and Ghost in the Shell.
      i remember watching this as a ten year old but my aunty had to record it off SBS for me coz we couldnt at home, and then she didnt want to give it to me, but my mum was like, yeah its fine its just a cartoon. BAHAHAHAHA

      • Haha watching Ninja Scroll at 10 years old would have definitely changed your life. Mummy why does that lady have a snake in her vagina?

        • yeah, i think a lot of the stuff went over my head back then, but i still remember it vividly now and i havnt seen it in about 15-20 years.

  • One of the things I hate about anime is the 1st year philosophical bull that is seemingly jammed in.
    Evangelian suffered for it as did the original Ghost in the Shell, Akira and many many others. Beat you over the head with any metaphor or question of reality and then don’t go into any actual depth on the concepts at all.

    • I agree that some anime use faux philosophic trappings to seem deep, but I’ll strongly disagree with the mention of Evangelion. Evangelion goes DEEP into the stuff using a masterfully orchestrated conceit. Hell, they even abandon the conceit entirely in the last two episodes to delve deeply in philosophic and psychiatric musings. I watched that when I was 17 and I could almost feel my brain being reshaped as I stared in awe and (initial) confusion. The part where Shinji has to consider that the people he thinks he knows are not actually that people but rather an imaginary figment of his making created from the intersection between his mind and theirs almost brought tears to my eyes because it was so wondrous to me.

      • The bit where it is explained to Shinji that there are as many versions of oneself as there are people who are perceiving you caused my 14 year old brain to short circuit

        • Yeah, that’s part of the same thing. Discovering that your perception of a person is not truly that person, but your own appropriation of their minds, filtered by your own and that it’s the same for the “you” in their minds was incredible.

          • Yep, that’s the first year shite I was talking about, that is as deep as it goes and it’s not a really deep concept. It uses the angels as the magical McGuffin that is never explained, tries to draw out an emotional response by being overtly melodramatic and then uses the psychotic stream of conciousness thing (which is a cool idea initially but just. keeps. going.) and tries to beat it into your head over and over.

            I think my problem is that they take these very basic ideas, often quite old idas and present them as something amazing and new and then repeatedly thumps them in over and over again. I was a bit older than you guys and had already heard a lot of these conjectures over two years at uni from every person in 1st semester philosophy repeating them like a mantra to stave off the dark.

            I like Evangelion, woeful last two episodes and the bible-bashing approach to any philosphical discussion I think lets it down.

          • Well then that’s a very personal review. For you, being at uni doing a degree that involved philosophy it may have appeared infantile, but for anyone who didn’t, it actually introduced interesting questions that had not been formulated before.

            Moreover, while the series, for budget reasons failed to explain properly all things, the movies and supplemental materials exposed a very coherent inner mythology that has everything making sense to the last detail. If you liked Eva but were dissatisfied with the ending and the unexplained story elements, I encourage you to look into at least a synopsis of the complete story.

          • I saw both original movies, read some of the manga and never did a degree in philosophy, my point is that a little common thought and you quickly move past the infantile philosophical concepts that it tries to really hammer. Unfortunately the more intriguing concepts and motivations (such as shinji’s father, the why of the angels and the rebels) are underdeveloped and are almost forced in and disappear or only jammed in right at the end as a deus ex machina.

            The point I am trying to make is that they keep repeating the same concepts from the very beginning, it does not develop, only advances slightly and does not really branch out at all, they had more episodes and more funding than most tv series at the time (and two movies) and it was (IMO) wasted on cheap moralising over the same issues (issues that had already been raised in shows like robotech, akira etc.) and a rushed ending.

            Hell even the first movie was more of a recap of the series and the last part of the second movie was a mix of shinji’s fantasy and blatant fan-service. There’s a good hour you could actually do some justice to some more advanced concepts.

            Like I said earlier I was older and had been taught critical thinking already, but this is only my opinion.

          • That’s the thing about Eva, you may not know it, but the plot of the whole story, the origins of the Angels and explanations for virtually everything exist and form a very coherent and compelling mythos. However, the information is dispersed among a variety of supplemental materials and extras and people really had to go out and hunt for them.

            I mention this, because I find interesting that having a whole story and a complex, detailed mythology to draw from, the series and manga consciously refused to present it all. Time spent by other series in lengthy exposition was used in Eva to provide snapshots of the fragile psyche of the characters or having them wax philosophic and even psychiatric. In that respect the series feels very personal, a playground for Anno to think out loud about the things he was going through at the moment.

            I’m guessing that for people who already had considered those things like you, such musings seems basic or childish, but for several people, they represented the first time they were exposed to them or were made to think in those ways. I dunno what was “your first” in that respect, but I suspect that you also hold it dear.

            btw, If you are curious about Eva’s whole story and have trouble finding a good summary, I’d be happy to elaborate.

  • Err.. Legend of the Overfiend.. May not be for the better but it’ll definitely change your life haha

  • Several good suggestions in this thread, I’ll try to name some that haven’t been mentioned.

    -Kaiba: An experimental, faux-retro anime that poses the question “if bodies and minds were interchangeable, then who or what are you really?” and explores the premise in several, beautiful and deep interconnected stories.
    -Spirited Away: Nausicaa is definitely Miyazaki’s best story, but Spirited Away is his best movie. A wonder of whimsy, fantasy and totally unforgettable characters, places and moments. One of the best animated movies of all history in my opinion.
    -Tokyo Godfathers: Satoshi Kon’s most humble (in terms of premise) movie is also the most deeply moving. One of the best anime movies to show you non-anime-fan family and one of the best Holidays movie ever.
    -Paranoia Agent: If Tokyo Godfathers is Kon at his humblest and most grounded, PA is he at the height of his powers of magical-realism narrative. (Well, to be honest, Paprika is the true height of those powers, but Paranoia Agent is, in my opinion a much more compelling story.)
    -Puella Magi Madoka Magica: A faustian tragedy thinly veiled in “magical-girl” dressing that quickly subverts your expectations and hides some of the most incredible twists in anime.

    and finally,

    The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: This one was actually mentioned by someone else, but this is the one with the longer lasting life-changing effect in my life. If you were given a time-travel device that acted as an “undo” button for your life, how responsible would be about your choices? If you can correct every single mistake and turn of bad luck in your life, at what cost to other people would it come? Truly, it is the best modern fable I’ve ever seen.

    • I didn’t even see this but ended up posting much the same. Totally agree with almost all you said.

    • Madoka has some good art and some nice subversions but everything else about it is just the worst.

      Fite me.

      • I would, but “the worst” is just to vague and subjective to give me anything, so I’ll just say, Nuh-uh, it’s the best, actually! 😛

        • Hehe. yeah. It’s not that superlatively bad. I just found it boring, the characters unlikeable and the central premise flawed.

          ie. it did an excellent job in only the areas that didn’t seem to matter to me (except art, it was very nice to look at.)

  • Agree with some of this, disagree with others. Nausicaa is amazing for its originality, but imo spirited away is by far the most well executed ghibli film. I don’t like the gits movie but the first SaC is amazing. Cowboy bebop was good but samurai champloo did the same thing better. Hated summer wars – dumb story, annoying chars, a terrible game world no one in their right mind would play. The girl who lept through time was infinitely better. FLCL was weirdness for the sake of it and just didn’t gel with me. Barefoot gen is grave of the fireflies done right. Would add code geass and card captor sakura (best mahou shoujo ever) for clamp stuff. Im sure I’m forgetting stuff but that’s a start.

    • Agree with you on Spirited Away. I tend to disagree that Samurai Champloo is better than Cowboy Beebop, but really, that might be heavily influenced by nostalgia. Both are masterpieces. Also loved Code Geass and CCS and I’m with you in considering Summer Wars Hosoda’s lesser work (still, gorgeous to behold).

      But I think that Fireflies was not “wrong” so Barefoot Gen is not a correction. They were aiming for really different goals and I can imagine why you prefer BG, but Fireflies is a story that needed to be told as unsatisfactory and depressing as it is.

      Last, I’d encourage you to revise your position on FLCL. I know it may give the impression of being just weird randomness and it’s kind of easy to completely miss the story (and the wonderful metaphor that it conceals) among the frantic happenings and disjointed dialogue, but it is there and if you take the time to carefully pick up the clues, you’ll find out it’s a really good one. I confess that I actually had to read an in-depth analysis of it before a rewatch to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for it, so it may benefit you as well.

      • I’m abit late hete, but thanks for the advice on FLCL. I might have to give it anothet shot.

        Agree that fireflies isn’t really a “lesser” compared to barefoot gen. They almost represent polar opposites – gen is a story of coping through a horrific period, grave of the gireflies is a story of not being able to cope, despite tremendous effort, through a terrible period. My preference is purely a personal perspective.

  • The most recent anime on the list is from 1998 as far as I can see – Serial Experiments Lain. Surely there’s something from this millennium that’s been worth watching.

    Now and Then, Here and there finished broadcast in 2000 so is still technically 20th Century.
    Paranoia Agent was 2004.
    Usagi Drop, in its own way.
    Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, in a somewhat different way; I think it’s the only anime I’ve ever watched with my mother that she actually got absorbed in.

    Hmm. Interesting; there really does seem to be a lack of more recent series that are “life changing”; lots of GOOD anime (and lots of bad), but not much that is revolutionary or really makes you re-examine your life.

    That said, several of the anime on the list don’t really fit that criterion either. Did anyone really watch Robotech and change the direction of their life?

    On the other hand, SE: Lain has you questioning the nature of reality; Evangelion has you asking what you’re living for; Totoro reminds you of what family is all about… and so on, almost everything on the list really is pretty thought-provoking.

  • This is my opinion but my top 3 life changing anime are 1) Fairy tail 2) Gurren Lagann 3) Code Geass all three of those anime have struck deep into my very soul hell im gonna get the fairy tail guild mark on my arm sometime this year hopefully but i just love all the messages all these anime give

    • Decided to marathon Gurren Lagann again this weekend. Still is and forever will be one of the greatest anime series ever. So much raw feeling in every line of dialog that it had me welling up inside multiple times. Pure motivation.

  • Evangelion, definitely. Lain kinda bored me…

    Steins;Gate and NHK ni Youkoso really resonated with me.

  • My first anime was Warriors of the Wind.

    It’s a bastardised western version of Nausicca that thankfully doesn’t lose any of the charm or wonder. From then on I knew I’d enjoy my Japanese animes…


    • Tried to watch KILL LA KILL and it just seemed dumb. I love Gurrenn Lagann but found KILL LA KILL’s action to be devoid of any meaning because the characters motivations don’t seem that well founded.

  • It may sound melodramatic, but the airing of the first 2 episodes of Evangelion on SBS over 15 years ago was the single most important hour of my ENTIRE LIFE (other than perhaps my own birth). I was so UTTERLY blown away by this show (I hadn’t seen anime since I was a child watching Mysterious Cities of Gold and Samurai Pizza Cats and others kids adaptations) that I was instantly hooked on it, and rapidly began getting further into anime. This blossomed into a fanatical obsession with Japanese culture in general, eventually resulting in me learning to speak Japanese, taking up playing the shamisen as a hobby, studying Japanese culture and history, and traveling to Japan. No other single thing has ever affected my life as much as the climax of episode 2 of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

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