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Halex

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Best Animes From 2004

This was a great year for anime with a plethora of genres & themes exploding and moving the anime forward with amazing ideas. I only included the animes I have watched from over these years. I'm not including Sequels when quality declines or when the story started in previous years. I am including Sequels where it makes sense to keep watching, in order to complete the story.
1 Bleach

Bleach

Bleach - Watching Guide

This is a great anime (just ask Gin LoL), it has something for everyone: the supernatural, comedy, action and a little bit of romance, with a good balance of seriousness and comedy. There are several moral parables through the story and it presents interesting ideas about living your life with a fulfilled soul.

However, I'm talking about Bleach without Fillers, as most of the criticism of this anime is toward them. It is really a different experience to see it without Filler episodes that often create plot inconsistencies and lower the quality of the main story, even spoiling some events to come. Therefore I strongly recommend you watch this anime without fillers first, and then you can come back to see them if you are really interested. You won't lose anything as the filler arcs are self-contained, and kind of happen in its own timeline.

Why Watch Bleach?

Despite this being primarily an action show, there is a lot more depth to the story, especially when you start to consider the rules that govern the worlds you are presented with. First, it will be wrong to think of Soul Society & Hueco Mundo as Heaven & Hell, because they are different from those interpretations, instead, the author presents us with new concepts for the soul. For examples of this see the watching guide.

The Dub is great!

2 Elfen Lied

Elfen Lied

Despite the overuse of sexual cliches for comedic relief and an incomplete filler ending, this story still comes through as amazing with a blend of styles and themes and will make you wonder if monsters are born or created from the way we treat each other.

'The series' title is German as well as Dutch for 'Elves' Song' or more formally 'song of the elves'' and takes its name from the song 'Elfenlied', which is featured in the story. Elfen Lied involves themes of social alienation, identity, prejudice, revenge, abuse, jealousy, regret and the value of humanity.' -Wikipedia

The beautiful theme song 'Lilium' was created for the anime and it becomes part of the story, although it sounds like it has been playing from medieval times.

The dub is ok, not great. I prefer the sub.

3 Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

The story of the count has produced great features most of the time and this adaptation won't disappoint! For starters every frame looks like it belongs in a museum of art, blending Western Impressionism and Japanese Ukiyo-e styles, fashion designer Anna Sui collaborated on costume designs and this created some amazing visuals with elaborate textures from the clothes to the backgrounds. The color palette is brilliant and the soundtrack is on par with all visuals. This alone makes it worth watching. Furthermore, the story is told with a fresh take on a futuristic setting. Do yourself a favor and don't miss this anime!

The dub is great too, this is one of the very few exceptions where I prefer the dub to the sub.

4 GANTZ

GANTZ

Depraved, violent, full of gore and might as well be the king of shock value! Gantz aims to portray the dark side of humanity, forcing you to question, Who are the 'Real Monsters' in the story? Furthermore, it places you in an impossible labyrinth which you cannot escape unless you believe Miranda! LoL

'GANTZ is a nonstop assault on the senses with scenes of attempted rape, nudity, and an uncountable number of death scenes which often involve implosions, explosions, and involve a variety of subjects including aliens, animals, old people, and children. Truly nothing is safe from the violence of GANTZ, and that definitely has to be the selling point of the series.' -sothis

Beware that the last 5 episodes (22-26), which account for most of the bad reviews of this anime are fillers. They are not terrible, but they destroy the original plot line and the filler ending is incomplete. Unfortunately, you'll have to read the manga if you really want to finish the story.

The Dub sounds utterly ridiculous, so watch the sub.

5 GANTZ:O

GANTZ:O

So I'm a little hesitant to recommend this because:

  • This is not a continuation of the anime.
  • 'They clearly expect anyone who's watching it to have read the Gantz manga, but clearly, it needs to be able to operate as a standalone so they took some well-deserved liberties' -derek1st
  • Therefore is confusing anyway you come from.

However, its a good action movie if you like anything Gantz, just don't expect to understand anything better than what you already know from other sources. Watch it for the action, that's it!

The dub is good on this one.

6 Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle

Studio Ghibli always strives to create great anime films and this is one of its best. With themes of anti-war, life worth living, love, loyalty, etc. The animation is beyond amazing as its norm for this studio and it becomes part of the story as it keeps you glued to the screen. This movie really has it all, don't miss it!

The dub is great as well.

7 Appleseed Movie

Appleseed Movie

This is a great action film with good pace and fighting scenes. Animation awesome in CGI that still looks good today (which is rare for CGI, as it tends to end quickly as technology advances).

Appleseed is from author Masamune SHIROW, creator of the Ghost in the Shell franchise, but this story is mostly focused on action rather than a complex plot.

I should mention that this film is not a sequel to the 1988 OVA, but more like a restart of the franchise. You don't need to see that ova to watch this film and it's not very good.

The dub is great!

8 Appleseed: Ex Machina

Appleseed: Ex Machina

Continuation, but also its own story.

Great CGI and good dub.

9 Monster

Monster

This anime has won several wells deserved prizes for its good quality and intelligent plot, with an original story & setting.

'Monster is a true gem and a rare anime masterpiece. Despite its daunting length, an exceedingly high standard of quality is consistently maintained in all 74 episodes. And because the writer does not get sidetracked with filler episodes or arcs, a single, coherent storyline runs through... Urasawa Naoki clearly left nothing to chance or improvisation in the creation of Monster. His meticulously conceived and astoundingly immersive plot is certainly the result of countless hours of historical, geographical and cultural research.' -Arcanum

The dub is great!

10 BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad

BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad

This is a great anime for people who love music. It looks a little outdated for the year but they definitely put their budget towards the music, which is what is all about. It has great character development.

'...unlike a lot of other shows around. It's mainly the style of presentation, the attention to the details of this musical world, and the fantastic characterization that allow the story to shine. If there were one literary word to sum up the entire story, it would be ‘engaging'.' -VivisQueen

The dub is great!

11 Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek

Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek

This is a good short with great animation and an interesting setting. The sound effects & music are great too.

'It's a nice creepy horror short, that presses just the right buttons to make for a quick and engaging watch when one is in the mood for a little snack of horror.' -Sianeca

The dub is good.

12 Desert Punk

Desert Punk

The unsung hero anime, I mean this dude really is a punk, willing to do anything to survive. Despite the depravity, violence overuse of sexual comedy and almost episodic feel, the anime completely changes at the end and will surprise you with something more.

The dub is good.

13 The Place Promised in Our Early Days

The Place Promised in Our Early Days

This is more of a slice of life, that plays a lot with feelings of nostalgia and themes of friendship and not losing track of your dreams. It also has some sci-fi elements to the story. It's quite unique and well made.

'As a whole, The Place Promised... is a soaring work, a stunning accomplishment that is basically a must-see for this year.' -vivafruit

The dub is good.

14 Samurai Champloo

Samurai Champloo

'This is one of those shows where if someone asks you ‘What’s it about,’ you have them watch an episode instead of answering. Because it’s about the style. ' -Masakari

It's from Shinichirō Watanabe, director of Cowboy Bebop and has similar style and characters.

The dub is great!

15 Major Season 1

Major Season 1

'...this an excellent sports anime, but it's an excellent anime full stop. Major's plot throughout is not just satisfying, but thrilling; it goes beyond setting some guy against a bunch of better guys with Rocky-style training montages in between, and instead adds layers of deep characterization and heart-wrenching back story.' -VivisQueen

This story is epic from kindergarten to retirement but this first season, is, in my opinion, the best of all, it won't regain its magic on further seasons, but its still good.

16 Major Movie: Yuujou no Winning Shot

Major Movie: Yuujou no Winning Shot

Although the beginning is from Season 4, the main events in this movie are between Season 1 & 2.

17 Major Season 2

Major Season 2

Continuation of the story.

18 Major Season 3

Major Season 3

Continuation of the story.

19 Major Season 4

Major Season 4

Continuation of the story.

20 Major Season 5

Major Season 5

Continuation of the story.

21 Major: World Series

Major: World Series

Continuation of the story.

22 Major Season 6

Major Season 6

Continuation of the story.

23 Major: Message

Major: Message

Continuation of the story.

24 Phoenix

Phoenix

'Bird of Fire' or 'The Phoenix' Series is an unfinished manga series, by Osamu Tezuka, whose 'pioneering techniques, and innovative redefinitions of genres earned him such titles as 'the father of manga', 'the godfather of manga' and 'the god of manga.''  -WikiPedia. He is best known for:

Opposite to the rest of his work, this series has more mature themes for a seinen audience, using the Phoenix to represent the cycle of death & rebirth of life. The series is a compilation of short stories that range from a fantasy setting to a sci-fi future, some are about the futility of life, others are about hope. But all of them are really interesting, presenting great ideas.

'...occasionally you find a gem which, for some reason, sucks you in and demands your attention. You can’t wait to watch the next episode, and tend to finish the entire thing in a day or two. I haven’t found many of these. Blue Gender, Gungrave and Berserk are three from the handful, with a newcomer to be added to the list: Hinotori. 

As the somewhat cryptic description suggests, Hinotori focuses on a central topic: life... Each of these tales spans a different time period, from an ancient tribal culture, to samurai times, to a dystopic future where humanity has been all but wiped out. Each story has a very different moral or tone (some are tragedies, others are hopeful), but all of them return to the myth of the phoenix in some manner.

Although life is the main focus, there are quite a few additional themes as well that are shown. Religion, war, sin and atonement, sacrifice; these are some of the things we see in a very bleak manner, to help us understand how life can survive even through such hardship. 

The reason why I scored this section so high is twofold: first, the overall flow of the series is beautiful. Although each series is not connected by plot, they all end up being connected in spirit, per say, by the theme of life. Regardless of the length of the arc, each tale has its own conclusion, leaving no loose ends behind, and leaving the viewer satisfied. Second, the stories themselves are wonderfully written and interesting in their own ways. The last arc (2 part story) is easily one of the best sci-fi pieces I’ve seen, and also one of the most moving, epic pieces as well...

Hinotori is one of those series that was breathtaking, and left me speechless. The animation was superb, the music was beautiful, but the premise itself was nothing less than inspiring. Those who enjoy a solid, interconnected plot need not apply for this series, but for anyone else that love to watch brilliantly tragic and hopeful pieces about humanity and where it is headed, you would greatly appreciate the watch.' -sothis

I should mention that this is a new series and older iterations of the Phoenix, created on the 80s are different stories that although they present great ideas, the execution has not passed the test of time. So if you watched some of the older series and were disappointed, then expect something new, deserving of your time.

The dub is great!

25 Fafner

Fafner

This is a great sci-fi adventure and much more than just a mecha anime, posing large questions of existentialism, evolution, human understanding with each other and making life decisions. It uses different characters to better explain different views of the main philosophy.

The Dub is good.

26 Yugo the Negotiator

Yugo the Negotiator

This anime is a statement for the plethora of themes in anime stories and a hidden gem. Its main theme is the understanding of people and different cultures, even when they don't want to talk to each other, Yugo kind of forces them to be open for negotiation and an understanding. Due to its uniqueness, it may not be for everybody.

'the most original hero: he deals with 'opponents' though his attention to understanding them and the sometimes-extreme actions he undertakes so that he can negotiate with them on their terms...' -Anime News Network

The dub is good.

27 Fantastic Children

Fantastic Children

This is an amazing story with mystery, sci-fi, and romance, that plays with the feeling of people knowing each other, even if its the first time they met. The ideas presented in the story about the soul are fantastic, and although the execution is not perfect with overly long stares and slow reactions for the characters, the animation is not great for its time either, but I think the story and the ideas presented are worth the watch. Give it a try, you may enjoy it too.

The dub is ok.

28 My-Hime

My-Hime

This anime extends itself evolving before your eyes from a cliche slice of life comedy into darker themes. It's quite unique in this respect and done well enough to make you forget its flaws.

'Mai HiME started out feeling like a 6 in my mind, with its interesting but fairly dull story, seemingly average characters and all around, an average magical girl type feel to it. Once the second half hit, though, it skyrocketed up to a 9 easily, and that’s where the score will stay.' -sothis

The dub is ok.

29 Kage

Kage

This is a good Ninja story, similar in tone to Ninja Scroll. It's serious and full of ninja action, violence & gore, however, its also hentai, so it's not for everybody. At first, the sex scenes serve to show how the female ninjas use sex as a weapon and how far they go in order to get close to their target, but the sex is overused later on the story. Even so, it is a good story for just 4 episodes. I found the sex scenes tolerable due to the fact that are part of the plot.

30 Nitaboh: Tsugaru Shamisen Shiso Gaibun

Nitaboh: Tsugaru Shamisen Shiso Gaibun

This is a good slice of life that feels very realistic. The description of the anime explains the setting well without spoiling it. If you like slice of life don't miss this story, it has thems of confronting social classes, doing what you like, family, survival.

31 Paranoia Agent

Paranoia Agent

Weird, crazy, experimental with a social message which brings taboos to the surface (like suicide), enlighting; this anime is all that but also very hard to recommend as it will depend on how much crazy are you willing to take in your regular cup of tea?

'Paranoia Agent is a brilliant, intelligent story that is extremely hard to explain without spoiling. The general story revolves around what you see above: people are being randomly attacked by Shounen Bat. But around episode 5 or 6, a new plotline evolves, which becomes very enthralling and in depth. By the end, fear not, the main idea of the story is revealed, but you are indeed left with many questions, twilight zone style. In general, the story is presented in an AMAZING way. It's hard to explain why the story flowed as good as it did. Each episode almost seemed like an autonomous story, but yet, in some cases they still ended up being connected to other stories in turn. Each episode was also told in an entirely different way, sometimes, but it still totally sucked you in and made you want to watch more.' -sothis

The dub is good.

32 Shura no Toki: Age of Chaos

Shura no Toki: Age of Chaos

This anime is not perfect and its mostly for people that enjoy fighting themes and has a unique plot line involving 3 generations of the main character testing its fighting style into the world, sometimes affecting events on Japanese history (although I'm not sure how accurate is this).

So the anime is broken down into 3 sections, one for each generation. If you like one segment you'll like the others, although it can be boring at times, it definitely has some good fighting scenes.

The dub is good.

33 Gakuen Alice

Gakuen Alice

Cute & funny comedy, it's not perfect but it may be interesting for people who like this genre.

'The series’ humor has a tendency to be hit-and-miss. When all the pieces fall into place, Gakuen Alice offers creative, original, whimsical humor backed up by understated wit and a divine sense of timing.' -therik

34 Naruto Movie 1: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow

Naruto Movie 1: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow

Extra mission with team 7, between episodes 101-106. This is a surprisingly good movie, especially if you enjoy Naruto series. It has good animation.

The dub is good.

35 Naruto Special 2: Battle at Hidden Falls. I am the Hero!

Naruto Special 2: Battle at Hidden Falls. I am the Hero!

Extra mission between episodes 19 and 20. Another good Naruto story, if you like the series you will definitely enjoy this short special.

The dub is ok.

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