Top 10 Anime to Watch Before You Die

    We all have our picks of anime we consider top tier. Anime that transcends the medium and just becomes stories you can not miss out on. Anime that we tell people to put on their bucket list, so they don’t die without having experienced their amazing stories. And I am no different.

    But what makes an anime that good? What makes any anime a cut above the rest? Is it nostalgia? Or perhaps the shock factor? Or maybe an anime has to have amazing animation and big names attached to its production?

    Personally, it’s none of the above. For me, a good anime is one that I enjoy. The best anime are the ones that impact me so much, that I remember them and compare everything I watch from then on, to the story I experienced before. They become merit for other stories, not just anime, to aspire to.

    So, with that out of the way, here are some anime that you need to watch at least once before you kick the bucket.

    1. The Tatami Galaxy

    Top 10 Anime to Watch Before You Die | The Tatami Galaxy

    Ah, university life. Those bygone halcyon days that we look back on fondly and sometimes ponder over the possibilities that may have awaited us. Be it how we spent our time, the people we connected with, etc.

    The Tatami Galaxy follows our unnamed protagonist in his quest for the ideal university student life. Each episode showcases one of the many possible routes available to him at the start of his life on campus, ranging from joining the tennis club only to sabotage it due to his envy of the other members all being couples, to a softball club that serves as a front for a multi-level marketing Ponzi scheme.

    He is constantly told by others to simply relax and let life happens. That his constant search for the perfect life alienates him from actually enjoying his youth. It all comes together in the end, but you’ll have to watch it yourself to find out how things work out.

    2. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

    Top 10 Anime to Watch Before You Die | Anohana

    Grab your tissues and get ready for a real tearjerker!

    Jinta Yadomi is a shut-in, his days away from high school spent wasting away. Until one day, he encounters Meiko “Menma” Honma, who teases him about a forgotten wish of hers. But that can’t be possible, as Menma was his childhood friend that died years ago. Jinta is convinced she is a ghost, and he gathers his old friends to try to bring peace to Menma’s spirit. However, they will face each other after her untimely death pushed them all away, and must re-live the pain of the years gone by.

    Anohana is the story of death and all her friends. Grief, loss, and anger, all affect our young cast differently. The way this anime shows how death can impact us in its many nuanced ways, it’s both morbid yet beautiful.

    3. Samurai Champloo

    Top 10 Anime to Watch Before You Die | Samurai Champloo

    Samurai Champloo is a piece of history that echoes the future. That’s the best way I can describe the genius of this show that follows three strangers in the Edo period.

    Fuu is a waitress at a tea shop, where she gets harassed by some samurai. Enter Mugen, an enigmatic rogue, and Jin, a ronin, who come to Fuu’s aid and save her. Afterward, Mugen deems Jin a worthy rival and the two have a showdown, accidentally causing the death of Shibui Tomonoshina, the son of the magistrate. The two get condemned to death but with Fuu’s assistance, they can escape. But she has a condition: she wants to travel alongside them and look for ‘the samurai who smells of sunflowers’. They agree, promising not to fight each other until she has achieved her goal.

    If you’re a fan of the genre-bending epic that was Cowboy Bebop, this is an easy must-watch. The way it blends hip hop with samurai battles and this overall chill vibe, it’s brilliant.

    4. Legend of the Galactic Heroes

    Top 10 Anime to Watch Before You Die | Legend of The Galactic Heroes

    This nearly decade-long production has often been mentioned among anime viewers, sometimes with reverence over its storied history and the devoutness of its fanbase, other times with disdain over its dated visuals and absurdly long viewing time, clocking in at almost 3000 hours.

    Legend of the Galactic Heroes takes place in the future that these days seems to almost mirror eerily our own. Set several centuries from our current time, two space-spanning nations war with each other: one a dictatorship run under the control of the nobility, the other a federation dedicated to the ideals of democracy.

    This is an anime epic about the rise and fall of governments, ongoing debates between the effectiveness of two directly opposing ideologies, and the suffering of the civilians on both sides. All of this is neatly wrapped in a bundle of political intrigue. A must-watch, especially if you enjoy space operas.

    5. Angel Beats

    Top 10 Anime to Watch Before You Die | Angel Beats

    Imagine Limbo, but it’s actually high school. I feel like that’s more frightening than Hell!

    Angel Beats covers the afterlife of souls who passed away with lingering regrets. Such souls find themselves in this plane of existence, given another chance by an unknown power to put their past to rest before moving on proper. That said, a certain group has arisen in this place calling themselves the Afterlife Battlefront, who refuse to move on, preferring to take the fight against this power and its mysterious emissary as revenge for having been inflicted with trauma in life.

    The series strikes a fine balance between the typical high school hijinks and the melodrama that usually follows death. This anime might be slightly morbid but no less enjoyable.

    6. Cowboy Bebop

    Top 10 Anime to Watch Before You Die | Cowboy bebop Wallpaper

    The way this show redefined sci-fi for so many people, including myself. I never liked sci-fi before, and then came Spike Spiegel and his ragtag gang of Bounty Hunters.

    It’s the future and mankind has reached the stars. Following them, so has crime. These new settlements are riddled with crime syndicates carrying out smuggling, thefts, and hits.

    Spike Spiegel and Jet Black man the Bebop, a bounty hunter ship where the two intergalactic bounty hunters go around catching criminals to earn. Spike appears aloof but is scarred by his violent past. The duo later becomes a group of misfits, including Faye Valentine, a gorgeous, amnesiac con artist, an oddball kid named Ed, and Ein, a precious Corgi. Until a ghost from Spike’s past comes back to wreak havoc. And so, Spike must choose between revenge against this menace or the bonds of his newfound family.

    This is a classic for a reason. Not only is the soundtrack considered revolutionary, but how the Bebop crew grew to help each other out of their shell is just so heartfelt.

    7. Gintama

    Top 10 Anime to Watch Before You Die | Gintama

    How did a parody series end up being this good? Gintama is set in the fictional city of Edo where the “Amanto,”, an alien species, now rules over samurais. The shogunate is now defunct, leading to a rule where swords are prohibited

    Meet Gintoki Sakata, who is the founder of Yorozuya, a small business for odd jobs. Gintoki goes around providing his aid to those in need. He is flanked by Shinpachi Shimura, a bumbling kid, Kagura, a tomboyish girl with monstrous strength and an even more monstrous appetite, and Sadaharu, their giant pet dog.  Together they experience everything, from alien royalty to puppet conspiracies.

    Nothing is too much in this wacky show. And yet, for being a comedy it’s surprisingly earnest in some episodes. A masterclass in sarcasm and poking fun at yourself, this deserves a watch!

    8. Code Geass: Lelouch Of The Rebellion

    Lelouch x C2

    I am not ashamed to say that Code Geass is my favorite mech anime of all time. (Then again, my second favorite mech show is Megas XLR so maybe I shouldn’t be the authority here?)

    Welcome to Area 11, formerly known as Japan, a conquered state of the Holy Empire of Britannia. There have been resistance insurgences in a bid to regain independence but to no avail. And then comes Lelouch Lamperouge, a Britannian student, who encounters the mysterious C.C. during a crossfire. She bestows upon him the Geass, the ‘Power of Kings’; an ability that allows him to command anyone to absolute obedience. Lelouch begins parading as Zero, a masked vigilante that gathers the scattered insurgency forces under one banner against Britannia.

    With great animation and a plotline filled with diametric ideologies clashing, this anime is hyped for a reason. But my favorite part of Code Geass is how it builds its characters, where no one is black or white, not even the protagonist. Its character development is some of the best I’ve seen in the genre.

    9. Kekkai Sensen aka Blood Blockade Battlefront

    Top 10 Anime to Watch Before You Die | Kekkai Sensen

    After a portal to an otherworldly dimension opens in what was once New York City, the once-great metropolis is transformed into a crime-ridden cesspool with a high mortality rate as beings from a dimension beyond our dimension settle into the human world. Enter Libra, an organization of vampires, merman, and mafiosos. They use their powers to maintain the fragile balance in The Big Apple, now known as Hellsalem’s Lot.

    Leonardo Watch is the newest recruit with his All-Seeing Eyes of the God, joining to find a cure for his sister’s lower limb paralysis and blindness. What awaits him in this bizarre world?

    The pacing is brilliant here. One moment you have a heartfelt moment of genuine camaraderie between these strangers, only for the next episode to throw you into the journey of a mushroom demon experiencing the wonders of fast-food burgers. This show is a visual treat.

    10. Ouran High School Host Club

    Haruhi Fujioka Wallpapers PC

    Kiss Kiss Fall in Love! Meet Haruhi Fujioka, a hardworking student who has joined the prestigious Ouran Academy. She accidentally ends up encountering the famous Host Club: a club where girls from the academy are entertained by a group of handsome boys. But it is Tamaki Suou, the founder, who seals Haruhi’s fate when he startles her, and she ends up breaking an expensive vase.

    Thus, she is coerced to join the Host club to repay her debt! Haruhi, mistaken for being a boy, not only has to entertain multiple ladies but also deal with the eccentric Hosts and their many whims.

    This is such a joy to rewatch, even now. Nearly 2 decades in and none have done the harem genre better than the Host Club. This is one I implore everyone to watch because it still stands as one of the funniest rom coms out there!

    So, what anime is on your bucket list? Will you be adding any of your recommendations to yours? Or do you think we might’ve missed an important pick? Sound off below!

    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi is a writer, licensed dentist and certified Uchiha fangirl. When she isn't doing root canals or listing down anime waifus, you can find her screeching about her favorite JRPGs across social media.

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