Warm, inviting, and bittersweet, Liz and the Blue Bird is a wonderful tale that serves as a satisfying spin-off as well as a worthwhile stand-alone film, even if its pacing is excruciatingly slow.
Dialing back on episodic plots in favor of beefier story arcs, Lupin III Part 5 delivers fully on its strengths and promises, making it one of the absolute best entries in the entire franchise.
An old-school adventure with modern sensibilities, this recent Lupin III TV series promises to delight fans of the franchise as well as newcomers to it, even if a few episodes lag behind in quality.
Both Golden Boy and Gunsmith Cats are beloved by old-school anime fans around the world, the former winning hearts with its top-tier comedy and the latter with its exciting action set-pieces.
Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond maintains the omnipresent sense of fun its predecessor had while improving on its presentation style to allow for an even more enjoyable experience.
Made in Abyss whisks us away on a grand, sometimes terrifying adventure with its lovable leads in a world brimming with awe and wonder. And then tells us to wait a few years for season two.
Bright and brisk, with an immensely likable cast, Scrapped Princess is a unique fantasy anime that was unfortunately far too ambitious for its own good.
A landmark in 3DCG anime, Land of the Lustrous boasts colorful and eye-catching animation to go alongside its thoughtful narrative that explores the theme of personal identity in a fresh new light.
While Steins;Gate 0 initially looks and feels like the worthy Steins;Gate follow-up we've long been waiting for, baffling decisions on all fronts have resulted in an incredibly disappointing product.
In This Corner of the World draws us in with warm and inviting visuals before mercilessly and repeatedly punching you in the gut. In all of the best ways, of course.
Violet Evergarden takes a few episodes to get itself up to speed, but once it does, this emotional rollercoaster comes packed with everything you could want a great anime to have.
Hampered only by the fact that it's not a complete series, Battle Angel Alita demonstrates 90s anime perfection with its gloriously-dirty aesthetics and brisk, hard-hitting narrative.
This poorly-aged comedy may not offer much to the average viewer, but many old-school anime fans still hold Airbats dear to their hearts, and those with similar tastes will easily find enjoyment here.
While its abundance of comedy falls flat almost all the time, Your Lie in April powers forward on the considerable strength of its sympathetic characters and its crushing sledgehammer of a finale.
While it does absolutely nothing for the uninitiated, apart from being a visual spectacle, the first entry in the Heaven's Feel trilogy contains many thrills and spills for fans of the visual novel.
More somber and thoughtful than its TV series predecessor, Tamako Love Story is an excellent tale of young love that, while certainly not revolutionary, earns full marks in terms of execution.
Tamako Market is a wonderfully warm and welcoming series that immerses the viewer in a comfy atmosphere of neighborly camaraderie, dampened somewhat by its adamant refusal to bring much depth to the proceedings.
Lacking in relatable characters, Paprika struggles to maintain the usual high quality Satoshi Kon was known for--luckily, its intriguing premise is backed by truly monumental visuals that more than successfully capture the surreal nature of dreams and the imagination.
Little Witch Academia is a treasure trove of lovable characters and bombastic animation, but you'll very quickly realize that the main plot shouldn't be the reason you keep watching.
Mob Psycho 100 stands above the crowd with its quirky aesthetic and its even quirkier characters, with a relevant message about being a well-rounded person that is sorely needed today more than ever.
Gunbuster is a masterwork of old-school anime cool, with its stylish aesthetic and meteoric plotline that takes us to the edge of the galaxy, and very few anime to this day have matched its ambition.
Wings of Honneamise is great for sci-fi fans and has a lot to love about it, but there are quite a few reasons it's fallen by the wayside to be remembered only by hardcore Gainax enthusiasts.
With its timeless Gainax charm and hilarious exaggeration, Otaku no Video is a celebration of what it means to go against the grain and follow your dreams, though its execution is far from flawless.
Season one left me lukewarm, uninterested in going on, but K-On!! rewarded my perseverance with more consistently funny jokes and character writing magnitudes wittier and more attaching than before.
Fantasy anime may be rare nowadays, but Yona of the Dawn already feels like a classic with its charming characters and a familiar plot that keeps itself fresh, though its first few episodes fall flat.
'A Silent Voice' utilizes top-tier aesthetics and memorable characters to present a powerful narrative, even if I personally felt it could have hit even harder.
Both visually and narratively stunning, 'Your Name' is an international hit that more than deserves its status as the highest-grossing anime film of all time.
'Snow White with the Red Hair' may be light on conflict, but its visuals and characters are so pleasant that it will easily win over fans of fantasy and romance.
Weaker than its pedigree would imply, 'Michiko & Hatchin' is still a roller-coaster ride of an anime with a unique setting, even if it repeats itself at times.
Haunting and harrowing, "From the New World" honors its dystopian sci-fi heritage by using an engrossing coming-of-age plot to deliver its brutal cautionary tale.
Giving us more of what made its first season great, 'Sound! Euphonium 2' continues to prove that the phrase "great modern anime" is far from being an oxymoron.
"Eureka Seven" aims to impress with its bold aesthetics, apocalyptic storyline, and colorful cast of attaching characters. However, its high peaks come paired with long, dragging valleys.
An engrossing rumination on the nature of mankind, 'Death Parade' oozes with dark style and heavy themes, allowing us viewers to take a long look at ourselves.
Breathtaking animation, high-octane action, and quirky characters are One Punch Man's specialty, giving us one of the most important and popular anime of 2015.
Boasting heart-achingly beautiful visuals and an entrancing high-school band story, Sound! Euphonium stands tall as another prime example of great modern anime.
Extremely lively and energetic, 'Blood Blockade Battlefront' packs a punch with its high-flying animation and entertaining cast. However, its story lacks coherence.
It's certainly not the most realistic romance ever made, but MY (Love) STORY!! pulls no punches when it comes to its lovable characters and appealing visuals.
Angel Beats! is a lively, attractive series with great comedy and drama alongside a plethora of likable characters, although its narrative stumbles at times.
While Solid State Society packs the usual pretty visuals and smart writing, its dialogue-heavy, action-light story feels underwhelming in a film format.
This continuation of Ghost in the Shell definitely delivers, with sharp visuals and an engrossing narrative that puts the rock-solid first season to shame.
Its slick visuals and thought-provoking story make Stand Alone Complex an essential action anime, though its flat characters and filler episodes weigh it down.
Ghost in the Shell has withstood the test of time with gorgeous visuals and an intelligent story, but its frigid, disposable characters can make it a tough sit.
Its historic legacy matched only by its eye-popping visuals, Akira is, sadly, another victim of a studio attempting to adapt a huge story into a two-hour film.
Boasting some of the best animation to ever grace the small screen, Unlimited Blade Works is an intense and bold series that far surpasses its source material.
The Big O's stylish aesthetic and mysterious setting are as cool as cool can be, although its ambitious narrative often leaves viewers wandering in the dark.
Slick and stylish, Tsuiokuhen is a timeless samurai drama with intense action and a moving storyline, even if it feels a bit cold and distant at times.
Slick, stylish, and packing an engrossing narrative, Psycho-Pass is an addictive and rewarding series for any anime fan needing to satisfy their sci-fi craving.
K-On!'s catchy music and likable leads have earned it quite the large following, though many will be turned off by its aimless pace and limited appeal.
Hailed by Satoshi Kon fans to be his greatest work, Perfect Blue is a chilling, intelligent film that pulls no punches, though it starts off a little slowly.
Rockin' tunes and one of the best dubs in anime set BECK apart from the common fare, though its inconsistent visuals and story keep it from achieving greatness.
Stylish visuals and a compelling main character are WataMote's greatest virtues, although many will likely be turned off by its uncomfortable brand of comedy.
This continuation of Steins;Gate is a little subdued compared to its TV counterpart, but there's more than enough substance for it to be considered essential.
Jin-Roh is a gripping and complex alternate-history film with crisp animation and a haunting score, despite the fact its central metaphor lacks any subtlety.
Persona 4: The Golden Animation may be solid in the visual/audio departments and have flashes of brilliance, but it contains very little else for non-fans.
No doubt one of the most ridiculous anime ever made, Kill la Kill embraces its insanity to deliver high-flying action and a kinetic storyline full of twists.
It's not the most innovative series around, but Bamboo Blade's memorable cast and pleasant visuals make it a rock-solid entry in the sports anime catalogue.
With bright visuals, catchy music, and extremely clever writing, Carnival Phantasm is non-stop comedy gold for Type-Moon fans far and wide.
Slick visuals and jazzy tunes notwithstanding, Episode 0 First Contact is a non-stop action thrill ride sure to please both fans and newbies to the franchise.
With powerful drama, attaching characters, and toe-tappin' music, NANA is a stylish and memorable series that fans will enjoy, even if its ending doesn't exist.
One of the better titles in the early 90s OVA wasteland, Plastic Little boasts great animation and fast-paced action, but very little else.
It may not be the most spectacular visual marvel in town, but when it comes to good writing and expert storytelling, Kino's Journey has very little competition.
It's not perfect by any means, but Wolf Children's vibrant visuals and heartwarming, almost fairytale-like story are more than enough to warrant recommendation.
While its constant retconning of the OVA can be frustrating to follow, Chronicles' focus on its many interesting characters proves to be its greatest virtue.
It is a bit spotty and cliché, but Record of Lodoss War is a worthy fantasy anime that reminds us old-school fans why we came to love the medium to begin with.
It doesn't add anything new, but Cowboy Bebop: The Movie delivers an exciting and surprisingly thoughtful story paired with great music and top-notch animation.
Outlaw Star is a fast and furious ride well-suited for newcomers to anime, but its age is showing and its thin story is stretched far longer than necessary.
The obfuscated themes and distant characters make it nigh-impossible to be drawn in, but Kara no Kyoukai's aesthetics and story make it well worth the effort.
While not the best adaptation, Clannad: The Motion Picture still boasts some nice visuals and carries enough dramatic weight to at least merit a viewing or two.
Though it was made by the team who inflicted New Challenger upon us, Rising proves that lessons were learned and that the franchise has returned to greatness.
Although it is little more than a standard filler episode, this OVA proves its worth with consistent comedy and all the fixings that made the series a success.
While not the perfection his previous film was, The Garden of Words further proves that Makoto Shinkai is not even close to running out of his creative steam.
Deciding to go a somewhat different direction, Makoto Shinkai proves he's more than capable of making an enthralling and exciting fantasy adventure film.
Considered by many to be Makoto Shinkai's magnum opus, 5 Centimeters Per Second is a visually stunning film that is both beautiful and deeply sorrowful.
Makoto Shinkai's first foray into feature-length films is a rocky one, as Place Promised delivers a powerful and poignant story in a poorly-established setting.
Immensely profound and emotionally resonant, She and Her Cat suffers only from very minimalistic animation as a side-effect of being one man's pet project.
Wondrous to behold, difficult to digest, Rebellion is an unpredictable and divisive film that requires as much effort to watch and enjoy as it took to make.
Continuing the example set forth by its predecessor, Eternal finishes off the recap material with just as much emotion and impact as the original series.
While it contains absolutely nothing new, Beginnings delivers its familiar narrative in a manner comparable to--or even surpassing--its original TV counterpart.
The third time's a charm for Satoshi Kon, as Tokyo Godfathers tells a gripping story with unlikely likable characters, though it relies too much on coincidence.
Beautifully intimate and deeply emotional, Junkers Come Here is a powerful and immersive film perfect for any audience, even if you're not an anime fan.
While the idea of a recap for the Persona 4 anime is welcome, adding nothing new and only reusing footage is not how you go about it.
Placing a greater emphasis on action, Unlimited Blade Works bests its predecessor with vibrant visuals and an intense story, even if it does rush itself.
With improved visuals, tighter writing, and perfect handling of the Eclipse arc, Descent is the first solid entry in the trilogy, and hopefully not the last.
This logical and seamless continuation of Chihayafuru gives us more of what kept us enthralled in the first season, though its touch has weakened somewhat.
While it revolves around an esoteric sport, Chihayafuru proves that sports anime are at their best when relatable, well-written characters are the chief focus.
Bearing no resemblance to its source material, this film version of Escaflowne squanders its hefty budget with inconsequential action and undercooked writing.
Though long-time anime fans will see exactly where it's going, Escaflowne overcomes its predictability with strong aesthetics and an epic scope.
While far from my favorite Ghibli film, Princess Mononoke boasts flawless animation and presents an environmental message that isn't purely black-and-white.
With its ambitious storyline, memorable characters, and visual perfection, Castle in the Sky sets the gold standard as Studio Ghibli's first official film.
Though more competent than its predecessor, The Lights in the Sky are Stars still fails to adequately develop its cast and tell its story properly.
While it retains the first half of the series' best moments, Childhood's End is ultimately a lazy cash-in that offers too little new material to be worthwhile.
Standing tall as Satoshi Kon's magnum opus, Millennium Actress features great animation, three-dimensional characters, and a beautifully bittersweet story.
Rebuild 3.0 sports the usual flawless aesthetics while making some extremely bold decisions in its story, but its ambition ultimately becomes its own undoing.
Backed by a tremendously beefy budget, Badlands Rumble is a fun and exciting Trigun adventure, even if it doesn't add anything new to the story.
Though it hasn't aged well and it does contain some terrible filler, Trigun still stands tall as one of the premier gateway series for new fans of the genre.
PSG is a riotous and stylish exercise in animated madness that strives for nothing less than to deeply offend anyone and everyone.
Summer Wars is a rewarding and entertaining film with great animation and vivid characters, but the story is bogged down by way too much deus ex machina.
Though it serves as the inspiration for the fantastic Fate/Zero, Fate/Stay Night itself is brainless harem anime garbage with some entertaining action scenes.
Though it takes strange turns and ultimately plays it way too safe, Planetes is still an interesting and rewarding anime with some great characters.
Of course it falls prey to the traps that all time-travel narratives do, but TokiKake still manages to impress with vibrant visuals and attaching characters.
Bunny Drop is a deeply heartfelt and bittersweet look at the trials and joys of being a single parent, despite its maddeningly-incomplete ending.
More than just a mere music video, On Your Mark tells an uplifting and beautiful story without needing even a single line of dialogue.
Intelligent, mature, and armed with an astronomical budget, Fate/Zero is a unique anime that more than deserves its reputation as the best anime of 2012.
Exciting, intriguing, stylish, and deliciously 70s, Castle of Cagliostro is a masterpiece that marks the start of Hayao Miyazaki's legendary movie career.
Though held back by inert characters and heinous recap episodes, Wolf's Rain still holds its own with beautiful presentation and an amazing, imaginative world.
Solid action, unique settings, gripping plot hooks, and likable heroes are a Sunrise tradition that Tiger & Bunny is more than happy to follow.
Though more competent than its predecessor, The Battle for Doldrey still features ugly 3-D animation and leaves many crucial scenes on the cutting room floor.
Expectations were high with this big-budget adaptation of Kentarou Miura's famous work, but only bitter disappointment awaited within.
Although it's a shameless display of style over substance, Redline is a riveting, adrenaline-fueled adventure brought to life with mind-bending animation.
There is so much wrong with Excel Saga, in terms of both its quality and its mental state, but there is almost no anime out there that is sharper and funnier.
Though it sometimes loses focus and strays into soap opera territory, Full Moon makes up for its flaws with top-tier pop music and a genuinely touching story.
Beautifully written and masterfully crafted by a single man, Voices of a Distant Star proves that you don't need several hours to deliver bittersweet genius.
Released independently as a DVD-exclusive episode, "True End" finally does the source material some justice with fresh changes and some emotional involvement.
Bold and unashamed of it, Black Lagoon delivers filmic action that captures both the testosterone-fueled machismo of the 80s and the gritty realism of the 90s.
Even though slice-of-life high school anime are now the subject of ridicule, AnoHana proves that there's still fire in this old and dying genre.
One of the greatest video game adaptations of all time, Gungrave's thick atmosphere and gripping character drama make it essential viewing for any anime fan.
Top-notch visuals and gorgeous music aside, RahXephon contains a handful of phenomenal episodes adrift in a sea of mediocre ones.
Subtle and serene, Haibane Renmei is a calming and refreshing anime to behold, even if it may test your patience to its breaking point.
After 8 years of failure after failure, Bee Train finally succeeds in making a solid anime, let alone one about assassins and conspiracies.
With top-notch visuals, fun characters, and a unique, twisting plot, Steins;Gate is truly a modern classic and possibly the best time-travel anime ever made.
Though you'll feel your manliness wither away, Princess Tutu delivers spectacularly in its gorgeous visuals, sweeping orchestral score, and unpredictable story.
Simultaneously subtle and ridiculously flamboyant, Astro Fighter Sunred is a one-trick pony whose trick is delivering comedy gold.
With its clever use of imagery and genuinely surprising twists, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a subversive yet loving take on the magical girl genre of anime.
Crude, rude, and often gut-bustingly hilarious, GTO is one of those classic series that every anime fan needs to see for themselves.
While FLCL contains a disturbingly high amount of unadultered insanity, its many merits will at least ensure that you enjoy every ridiculous moment of it.
Though it has its problems, Nadia is a loving homage to the works of Jules Verne and to the classic adventure anime the folks at GAINAX grew up with.
While there are many radical changes made to the Evangelion story, 2.22 knows when to keep iconic older scenes and when to create innovative new ones.
More than just a mere retelling, Rebuild of Evangelion 1.01 bridges the gap between fans old and new with a fresh take on the divisive franchise.
When fans clamored for a new ending to the Evangelion series, they should have been more careful with what they wished for.
While Evangelion was slated to be the greatest action anime of the 90s, budget problems and cancellation relegated it to merely being a mixed bag instead.
New Challenger had the potential to maintain the exceedingly high quality the franchise was known for, but decided to be awful just for the change of pace.
While I, and possibly every other Ippo fan, would've preferred another season instead of a movie, Champion Road is still a treat to watch.
With the perfect blend of character development, raunchy humor, and exciting boxing action, Hajime no Ippo triumphantly reigns as the gold standard for all sports anime.
With its multitude of relatable characters, Princess Nine is a surprisingly deep sports anime that has sadly been overlooked by many.
Midori Days' premise could easily have turned this into smut, but a smart focus on great comedy and a sweet romance make it a worthy and worthwhile title.
With its great characters, superb music, and die-hard fanbase, Cowboy Bebop stands as one of the most beloved, and most influential, anime ever made.
Though it contains one of the most infamous endings in anime, Berserk more than deserves its rightful place as a classic of 90s action anime.
Boasting both tremendous visuals and an engaging alternate-universe storyline, this titanic comeback for the franchise proves there's still gold to be struck.
Though it's pretty to look at and has its moments, the second season of the Haruhi franchise has mastered the course of "How to Alienate Your Fanbase 101."
Kyoto Animation's debut series, which launched an anime fandom revolution, delivers fresh new ideas and a quirky cast of iconic characters.
Sumomomo Momomo boasts a supremely-hilarious first half, but the second half is a grim reminder that most action-comedies should not try to be action-dramas.
Deceptive first episode aside, Now and Then, Here and There is a harrowing and powerful observation on war and how it affects the human spirit.
Though the character art can be physically painful to look at, Fantastic Children's many attaching characters and truly epic story make it a modern classic.
Though bogged down early on by leftover character arcs, the main ~After Story~ material remains some of the most powerful drama in the entire anime medium.
At times hilarious and other times touching, Clannad works only if you enjoy all the characters, and it serves merely as an appetizer for its sequel series.
Simultaneously following three entirely separate stories is no small feat, but Baccano!'s stylish visuals and lively cast make it a feat worth striving for.
Bee Train's debut series boasts some impressive style, but its slow pace, endless filler, and delayed character development fail to give us a reason to care.
Despite its infamous ending and rather flat leads, His and Her Circumstances is a great example of how clever directing can triumph over a low budget.
Quirky characters and a surreal brand of humor have made Azumanga Daioh one of the most beloved high school anime, and its many clones stand as proof.
Deciding to stay closer to its source material, Brotherhood does its predecessor proud with state-of-the-art visuals and a mesmerizing story.
Not to be unduly dismissed for its insane popularity, this modern anime classic delivers great visuals and an intriguing, if somewhat inconsistent, story.
With its masterful balance of humor and drama, Fruits Basket is a warm and captivating series that is nearly impossible to hate.
This epic cat-and-mouse thriller is enthralling in its bombast, but makes several grievous mistakes in its final stretch.
This obscure and rather surprising shoujo anime outing by Sunrise delivers some wonderful and unique postmodern material.
With ambitious animation and a story to match, Last Exile is a visual treat, though its bad habit of leaving you in the dark may drive you insane.
With flawless visuals, memorable characters, and an engrossing story, this acclaimed psychological thriller anime is as close to perfection as it gets.
This final Slayers adventure is a fun treat for fans, but it comes with tedious filler episodes and unforgivable retcons in its first half.
While it starts out promising enough, Slayers TRY is the unfortunate end result when an action comedy attempts to be an action drama.
Even though P4A faithfully follows the video game's story, what should've been one of the greatest adaptations of all time ended up being a mediocre bore.
With its dynamic characters and mind-bending action scenes, Gurren Lagann is a dazzling throwback to the sci-fi epics of yesteryear.
This anime classic is full of laughs and surprises, backed by memorable characters and great music, but its aged artwork may turn viewers off.
While one of my favorite anime series of all time, Slayers NEXT's great characters and comedy can't hide its aging artwork and bouts of storytelling mediocrity.