Anime That Surprised You

This has always been something I liked talking about, especially around this time where we have time to reflect as the new year approaches. I’ve been watching anime since *meow-meow* years ago. Ok, late 1970s. 😉 Its pretty easy for us to say what anime title first got you into this expensive fandom. But, what’s usually hard to pinpoint is that anime title that you thought at first sucked major donkeys for whatever reason but after you watched three or four eps, you start craving to see more episodes and hoped the show’s production didn’t stop at 12, 13 or 15 eps. We have all seen our fair share of great titles and fantastically bad ones sharing the same shelf space. But, this post is really about celebrating that anime title that surprised you. I’m going to share with you a few that surprised me so far.

One title in particular that really surprised me when I was watching it was “Wolf’s Rain”. That title really surprised me because its a slow series. And when I mean slow, I’m talking about story and character development taking shape at a turtle’s pace. You literally could get turned off by the series if you didn’t make it to episode 8 or 9 because your watching and thinking what the hell is this show about? After episode 9, things pick up pace and its off to the races and I got sucked into watching the series to the end. That was quite a surprise. Here’s a trailer:

Another surprise was Detective Conan…I mean, Case Closed 😉 You think its a kids show because there are kids solving murders and mysteries. But nooooooo. People don’t realize until they’re watching it that the series has overtly adult overtones and some adult violence that it somehow became a show for all ages. I found my parents watching the series. They really love it. And they are not devoted anime viewers by any means. But they just loved the episodes and the crime solving.

Ushio & Tora. 10 episodes + one omake episode. I wish there were more. Its the kind of show you hope some production house would greenlight and produce more new adventures. They are an unlikely duo – a human and a demon-tiger. I mean, its not like their relationship went off on the right foot. *SPOILER ALERT – [spoiler]Tora wanted to eat Ushio just because he’s pissed he’s been locked away for so long. But Ushio keeps Tora in line with that Beast Spear that it also enhances his fighting spirit.[/spoiler]* But the series got my attention and I think the manga is still ongoing????

One more…

I will have to say…Gundam SEED. Well, it was a toss up between that and Gundam Wing or any of the older Gundam series for that matter. I didn’t think I was going to like the series but the character developments for the show were really good – especially when some characters went crazy and you were surprised by how some people died in the series. It actually convinced me that I should go ahead and license Gundam SEED Destiny for VOD. I liked how the series continued its storyline, unlike Gundam Wing and its somewhat open-ended character development (don’t Relena and Heero get together officially???), Gundam SEED has characters with multiple flaws and you just can’t help watching how they interact.

I’ve got a few more but I think you guys kinda get the idea. Remember, its about celebrating that anime title that surprised you so don’t worry about what company released what. Pretend you had no idea who released it. Just focus on what made that title earn your love.

Here are some honorable mentions (in no particular order – just my brain crankin’ ’em out):

Emma: A Victorian Romance


Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars



Sgt. Frog

Ikki Tousen

Naruto (uncut)

Naruto Shippuden (uncut)

Bleach (uncut)


Azumanga Daioh

Code Geass

Big Windup!

Alright your turn. What anime titles surprised you so far in your life?


46 comments on “Anime That Surprised You”

  1. I actually did a feature this year on anime I watched in 2009 that was better than I expected:

    Conversely, I also did one on show I expected to like but didn’t 😉

    In the longer term? Hm…I was surprised by FMA, actually. I had always conflated the name with FMP, which I had little interest in, so when a friend had me actually sit down and watch a couple episodes of FMA I was kinda like, okay, wow, definitely not what I expected!

  2. Dragon Ball is one that suprised me, who knew it would be a anime about Yelllo-haired fighters?

  3. Arc the Lad. I was not expecting much from this show due to it being based on a video game. It totally blew me away. There’s a scene right in the middle that particularly affected me and will always be remembered as one of the most dramatic scenes I’ve ever seen.

    Big Windup was surprising as well. I got the first season for free (because the folks at Funimation are awesome) and I kept putting it off until I saw the second part on sale at RightStuf Since it is usually highly rated, I ordered it and then watched the first half pretty much straight through non-stop. I haven’t watched the second half yet and I have a feeling it’s going to leave me wanting more – the pace of the show is fairly slow.

  4. I definetly agree with you completely about Wolf’s Rain I almost did stop watching at episode 7 but instead watched it to the end and loved it.

    One Piece atually gave me a real surprise I started watching the first 10 episodes and didn’t really get it into it because it seemed a bit too slow paced but when it got to the Don Krieg fight it really blew me away the fight was AWESOME and the backstory for Sanji was really well done. Then when it got to the Arlong Arc that moved me completely to tears and everything else afterwards has just been AMAZING.

    Another was Cardcaptor Sakura each epsiode always felt really nice and the character development was done so well.

    and also Hoshin Engi (Soul Hunter) I was initially put off at the start of the series but towards the end it just really surprised me. Mainly becuase of the time period it was set in and the way it showed relations between the rulers of the different lands and such. Plus the main character Taikoubou was really likable.

    and I guess I few others as well:
    Ah My Goddess
    Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
    Death Note
    Romeo X Juliet
    and i’ve only just started watching it this week but xxxHolic is pleasantly surprising so far.

  5. Big O. When you advertise a mecha show as Batman meets Gigantor you polarize your audience. I wanted nothing to do with this show. However, my friend would come over and we would chill on Saturday nights, and he would turn on adult swim and sure enough start playing this show.

    I found myself starting to watch it too, then really like it, become absolutely abhorred from the ending, and watch Cartoon Network co-produce a second season to finish the story. Great times.

  6. Midori Days. Reading the plot synopsis I was expecting one thing, and got something entirely different (and better.) One of the funniest and sweetest romantic comedies I’ve seen.

    Emma. Not only is it a Victorian period piece (which I couldn’t care less about) it is subtitled only which means I’m going to have to pay a little closer attention when watching (which means it would normally have to be a show I was sure about before purchasing.) Still, I heard good things about it and they were all true.

    And finally, Kenichi. I went into this show expecting to dislike it. I fully planned on spending most of my time making fun of how bad it was, but it turns out, I couldn’t. There’s just something about the show which is charming.

  7. I’m currently surprised with this blog topic: We talk about anime that’s not attached to FUNi’s hip. ^_^

    Since the end of the millennium’s first decade is ending with a gigantic THUD to the outside world; I might as well just list the 3 positive surprises I received via the teamwork between the anime industry and its licensors:

    #1: Busou Renken. Japan has this incredible problem making anime like this anymore. It plays both the goofy and serious role without catering to the “we hate reality” loser crowd.

    #2: Princess Mononoke. It’s basically “Dr. Suess’s Lorax, The Bloody Version.” And I liked when Hayao Miyazaki was breathing down Walt Disney Pictures’ collective neck; making sure the dubbing had been done right. Hayazaki’s the Last Good Anime Director (besides Yoshiyuki Tomino).

    #3: [spoiler]Fight! Ippats! Juuden-chan! Because 99% of anime now consists of (fanservice and) beating shounen up. For once I’d like to see (fanservice and) the shoujou beaten up by the shounen for a change. This show will never get licensed (and dubbed) by a respectible company in the US. 😦 [/spoiler]

  8. I like how Gundam got part of this. But I think they should have gone with Wing instead of Seed. Both are great but Wing far out performs Seed. FUNimation_Channel, Relenia and Hero never seem to get together but Hero seem to keep tabs on her at the end of Endless Waltz.

    @ Tyrenol
    Curious, Is FUNimation not a respectible enough company to licence Juuden-chan for you? If you ask me, they’er basicly the only company to do the job and do it right.

  9. Well, one anime that surprised me was xxxholic. The reason being, the anime’s style kinda turned me off and it looked like one of those anime’s that i just would not like but, after I watched a few episode I was hocked.
    Another anime that surprised me was fruits basket, the character development was so slow in the biginning that i almost stopped watching it in episode 8 but, when i continued on watching, it got a better pace and at the end it was so dromadic and i felt sentimental torward’s the characters life’s and what they had to go through.A very well done series.
    Another surprise i got was with Spice and wolf. Who would of thought an anime mixing fantasy and economics would be be so good. By the second episode i was hocked. I’m getting this hidden jem soon 🙂
    Last one i’m going to post that surprised me was death note, who would of thought a guy killing with a notebook would be so awesome to watch.

  10. @ Dragon0:

    You notice how FUNi had been overtly “otaku-ish” as of late?

    Plus: I can’t put my trust on anything that’s too unpredictable. Remember? “Stabmarks on my back?”

  11. Clannad: I can go on forever about this one I have before so I won’t again I will control myself. Best Anime ever.

    Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei: I ran into it like 6 times before I was like ok fine ill watch. I watched for 5 Minutes and was hooked and I am still hooked I watch a random episode every once in a while just because the Despair Sensei is just made of Awesomeness

    Seto No Hanayome: Judge this one by the opening and it took me 2 months to actually watch it. This is GONZO at there best its guaranteed that you will laugh at this show its the funniest thing I have ever seen and I am so looking forward to that Damn DVD… Hurry up!!!! 😡

    Toradora!: I went in to this one thinking it was gonna suck (Seriously) but after the first 2 episodes I knew it was something special and it took my #4 spot for favorite Anime.

    Ghost Hunt: I bought this off of a trailer I thought it was gonna suck because when I started to watch it I saw the opening NOTHING was happening I was like 😦 what did I do…. But this is the Anime that taught me not to judge a show by its opening.

    NANA: I was gonna ignore this one but I was bored at my moms house one day and I was watching random stuff on FUNimation Anime on demand and I ran into NANA I must say I feel in instant love.

    Monster: Another one I was gonna ignore but I saw it on the SyFy channel and after a couple of episodes I decided to watch it every week not because I like it but because :sorry: I MUST KNOW what happens next.

    Kodomo No Jikan: Yeah I said it Maximum Loli to the 5th power!

    Stuff like One Piece, Naruto/Shippuden, Bleach, and DBZ are stuff that don’t surprise me because I go in expecting to like those and none of them disappointed me (except for something going on in one of them that is leaving me in Despair >_>) One Piece being the best of the four. I have been surprised by shows that I think is suppose to be good but end up sucking or being not as good as people say (Trigun sucks and Cowboy Bebop is meh) (Yeah I went there).

    (Now what pisses me off) Naruto and Hinata. Hinata is an EASY target she confesses her love to him sacrifices her damn life for him (Right in front of him) and he is still like ”I gotta bring Sasuke back no matter what” Completely ignores what was brought to the table and continues chasing after a Dude that will be killed if brought back to the village all it all it being a waste of time. Naruto get a damn clue Hinata is hot, Sasuke is a dude who wants you dead he is not your friend anymore. (Ha ha look at me talking to things that don’t exist. Whatever I stand by it) Its time to sit down and have some Buyakugan 9Tailed babies. I hope Sasuke gets killed and Sakura dies with him.

    Sorry Goku I couldn’t find one with you in it.

    Edit: The picture thing don’t work no more?

  12. Kanon and Air surprised me, I never expected going into the series that it would be so tragic, but that’s what made me want to keep watching, genually caring/wondering what happens to the characters 😀

  13. First of all: Kudo points go to you for saying Detective Conan and mentioning Emma. That was pretty sweet. Now to wrack my brain:

    Shingu: I was pleasently surprised by this show. It seemed like a rather boring series that didn’t give much emotion, considering aliens were inhabiting earth and the fate of the planet rested on how a few kids could handle what I believe is an alien mech. I was pleasantly surprised how the show’s laid-back nature really seemed to work, and it’s one of the few shows I can find on tv for the millionth time and still turn it on and enjoy it.

    One Piece: Naruto was a bore, and try as I might I just could NOT get into Bleach, but One Piece is an odd little show that decided to grab my attention full force. I’m waiting for the voyages to come out in complete sets before I invest (432 eps and counting… yeah, don’t have that kind of cash) But until then, I’m LOVING the dub eps on your website.

    Wild Arms: Bought this box set four years ago when it was on sale for $7. Didn’t expect much out of it, but was surprised how interesting it was.

    Goldenboy: This series was the biggest shocker because IT OFFENDED ME SO MUCH I WAS ABOUT TO GO KILL THE FRIEND WHO MADE ME BUY IT… but the end of each episode was so HILARIOUS, it made up for everything. Not recommending this to anyone under 18, though. 😳

    I have a big list, so here are the rest:
    Crest of the Stars
    Ouran Host Club
    Blue Seed
    Mahoraba (Not Maburaho. Completely different show.)
    Phantom: Requiem

    …can’t remember the rest off the top of my head.

  14. This blog is right up my alley, hah. I’ve had a lot of anime surprises for the past two years. I used to HATE “mainstream” anime, preferring to stay in my comfort zone of titles no one else I knew had heard of. I wouldn’t even give a popular title the slightest chance. However, this all changed two summers ago, when I caved and decided to watch an episode or two of Fullmetal Alchemist.

    Yeah, that one spur-of-the-moment, boredom-induced decision opened an entirely new dimension of opportunities, along with giving me a new passion for fiction and fantasy. I’d never before been so moved by a series that I actually felt empty when it ended.

    Soon after I let myself explore Death Note, Ouran High School Host Club, even Naruto (of which I was an avid hater) and fell so deeply in love with these and many other series.

    Even now I’m still consistently and constantly surprised by almost every series I watch. The most recent one that has completely caught me off guard is Nabari no Ou. I started off thinking, “Well this is just a more aesthetically-pleasing modern Naruto,” but goodness was I wrong. The incredible amount of detail in design, storyline, and animation seen in this series blew me away, as well as the ridiculous amount of emotion I felt towards the characters. Heart-wrenching and beautiful, I’d recommend this series to anyone and everyone that likes a well-paced action/drama anime with a freaking elite dub. (I’m mindlessly in love with Joel McDonald thanks to this show, as well as Baccano!, another masterpiece.)

    But anyway, enough of my rambling. There are more amazing series to discover, I should be off! 😆 *poofs*

  15. Gintama was a brilliant surprise because I checked it out because I liked the main character’s hair and instead stumbled across comedy gold.

    FMA: My expectations for that show could never have been high enough.

  16. When I gave Kodocha a shot, I thought it would just be another lame comedy series. But boy, was I wrong! It’s a perfect mix of great comedy and tear-jerking drama, it’s a must-see for any comedy lover.

  17. Hmmm…
    One I would definitely say was Mushishi. I admit that the show is definitely not for everyone because it is pretty slow paced and is very quiet in tone. But this show really impresses me with its simple style and interesting stories that are individual to each episode.

    Another would have to be AIR. I really am not into “moe” or cutesy anime of any kind. But this series was really a good one. I enjoyed the story and the movie was also really good.

  18. Interesting topic. At first glance I didn’t think there were many because most anime I read reviews online about them before I give them a shot, and often I hear about them from friends or a general buzz.

    I definitely have to give the cake to Detective Conan… er Case Closed. The first Adult Swim run I didn’t bother giving it a shot, as it can easily seem childish. And while yes there are some adult situations/scenes, I rather like how the series tones down what could be much worse. The show can stay a children’s show (awesome characters with an interesting premise), while being for the older crowd as well, forcing us to be eagle eyed to catch clues, and rack our brains to put the pieces together. Very rarely does an episode disappoint me, and I’m always on the edge of my seat trying to put it all together.

    At first, Conan was an after thought. The second run through on Adult Swim I managed to catch a couple episodes, and with my sister also into mysteries, I got her to give one a shot. After that, we were both hooked. I picked up all the singles, and that wasn’t enough. Had to wait patiently for the season sets, and seasons 4 and 5 didn’t disappoint. I never considered that Conan would start as a passing thought to catch after Inuyasha to a “decent series” to one of the top 5 series I’ve ever watched. And probably the #1 series right now IMO that HAS to be finished in the US.

    I even got some of my students hooked. That says a lot already. Granted, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but anyone who loves mysteries and logic with interesting characters needs to watch Conan. You’re missing out otherwise. It’s a series I’d recommend to even non-anime fans.

    Suzuka also surprised me in many ways, namely because it didn’t get as favorable reviews as many other series I’ve tried out. The story seemed interesting, and after giving it a try, it easily made it in the top 5, and brought back immediate anticipation for the next DVD release of the series, something that very few series do for me now (Conan being one). Being able to get into Yamato’s, Suzuka’s, and Honoka’s thoughts and capturing the back story to put it all together made for a captivating and realistic story, something that you don’t see all that often in anime these days. The realism and the multidimensions of the characters drew me in, and that the series’ events could actually happen in real life only adds to it. And it’s great that it isn’t like every Shonen series out there that the protagonist ALWAYS defies crazy mathematical odds and wins… very realistic there.

    Another series would be Fruits Basket. This was entirely Score Entertainment’s fault (they made the card game). I was enlisted to review the card game for a magazine, and after viewing the first few episodes on a teaser DVD with a behind-the-scenes of DBGT, I was instantly hooked. Never thought something so endearing could exist, but I was quickly proven wrong. It might be targeted for shojo, but it’s a series that can enlighten everyone with an intertwining back story, unique characters, and Tohru just being… so likeable.

    I’m sure there are a few more, but these are the first that come to mind. Conan and Suzuka had (and have) me anticipating for the next DVD and searching online for any news or Japanese merchandise I can pick up, which is not something very many series do for me. They make me realize why anime captivated me in the first place.

  19. Definitely agree with you on SEED. The unpredictable bits in the last ten episodes had it secure its place as my favorite Gundam series thereafter. (Let’s not talk about Destiny though.)

    Other series that surprised me include: Ouran High School Host Club, which absolutely floored me with how hilarious it was because it was poking fun at so many tropes while simultaneously employing those same tropes to succeed with flying colors. Blew my mind.

    Darker than BLACK was another surprise, especially since it took me 5-6 episodes to really get into.

    I was shocked by how Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 turned out. For such a short and seemingly predictable series, it really threw me with its turn of events. ;_;

  20. Fruits Basket-Was a surprise only in the sense that it was the first show I watched dubbed from start to finish. Back then I was a sub purist, but I thought the bold white subtitles were distracting me from the visuals, so I gave up and tried the English version. The dub acting was so wonderful, it made me open-minded to dubs, and now if it’s not a sub-only release I tend to watch the dub version of everything, Funimation especially.

    Witchblade-It seemed to be another fanservice show, but it was on IFC so I thought I’d check it out. I was so unprepared by the genuine, touching mother-daughter relationship. The story had a huge heart to it, and the ending really stayed with me.

    Haibane Renmei-This is a beautiful series through and through, and in my opinion the greatest Anime series ever made. But it turned out to be the very first Anime that had a climax that actually had me cheering out loud, which really shocked even me. The next series that did that was:

    Death Note-I was ready to give up this series early on after watching Light committing the disgusting and despicable (seriously, who in their right mind would really secretly root for Light?). Instead I stuck with it, and when Light got his ass handed to him in the end, I just went crazy.

    Clannad-I finished the After Story sequel a while ago, and I can’t justifiably explain how amazed I was at how wonderful this whole series was. You’d have to see it for yourself.

    Princess Mononoke-this movie surprised me in a different way; while it’s everybody’s favorite Miyazaki movie, I found myself hating it. I gave it three chances/tries, and it irritated me with each viewing (in short, everything the boy hero did made the forest spirits more and more vulnerable to the industrialists, whether intentionally or not).

    When They Cry-Just brilliant, and it’s not until the second series that the real story starts, when we find out the reason why the characters go through the reboot and we’re rooting for them in their fight for a happy ending.

    Gudam Seed-the first long-running series that had me hooked from start to finish despite its occasional campiness.

    Big Windup-I’m not a sports fan, but this show made me have better respect for baseball as we get to go into the characters’ heads in their strategizing and leaving everything else to chance.

    Revolutionary Girl Utena-should go without saying

    There are plenty others, but I think this is good enough from me.

  21. One Piece – I’d avoided it for a while, despite liking other shonen shows, mainly due to the 4Kids dub. But then I finally got around to watching it and it is a slice of fried gold. I haven’t watched a show and had such sniffled (in a manly fashion) so much in… well, ever. The fights are cool, but the characters are so awesome. You want to hang with them! Er, rock on, One Piece.

    Eureka 7 – Like Wolf’s Rain, it starts off slow, arguably not really getting rolling until about mid-way through the run, but when it takes off? Man. And it has a satisfiying ending. Two of them. How often do you get that?

    Bamboo Blade – This was way more charming and funny than I thought it would be. It’s terribly engaging, a little like Azumanga Daioh with shinai.

    Sgt. Frog – THE ENGLISH DUB IS THE FUNNIEST THING EVER. Please keep it coming.

  22. Simoun – The show starts out really slow and it’s hard to relate to any of the characters. It also doesn’t help that it throws around tons of vocabulary that only pertains to the show. I found it really boring at first but it gets so good later on. It has so many surprising plot twists and turns that I couldn’t stop watching. One of the best shows I’ve seen in the last few years.

    iDOLM@STER Xenoglossia – The problem with this show is that the plot summaries make this show out to be something completely different. If you go on places like wiki or ANN it says this show is about protecting the earth from falling asteroids, which has already been done in other anime like Stratos 4. On top of that the first episode is really cliche and uninteresting. But this show is not about destroying asteroids. Xenoglossia is by the same team that worked on the My Hime anime, and if you ever seen My Hime you know it’s full of plot twists, likable characters, and pitting likable characters against each other. Xenoglossia does the exact same thing. It’s definitely worth checking out because this show is really underrated.

  23. @ Tyrenol
    Hey whatever floats your boat.

    Fate brings up a point. Air. That show and the movie suprised me with the idea that the guy has the abillity to sace the girls with wings and she still dies. Whats up with that. The only other thing I can think of that suprises me with anime is how it strays from the manga at times.

    @ Mario1-7
    Naruto hasn’t even gotten to that part of the story yet. But I hear ya.

  24. @Dragon0@

    Dude have you read the Manga? Viz Media released it already and the America Naruto Manga is like neck an neck to the Japanese version so go read my friend.

    or look here. (I hope that this isn’t illegal just look at this page then click off.

  25. Ghost Stories. My first reaction was just “Wow, the club’s actually showing a dub?” By the point of “HaveyouacceptedJesusasyourpersonalsavior?” I was pretty much sold.

    Haibane Renmei and My Neighbor Totoro were surprising in a negative way, but that was more about my personal feelings. Most of my anime I choose based on recommendations, and those usually include lines like “Don’t be fooled by…” if there’s something misleading about it.

  26. @ Mario1-7
    I actually reed it when its released every week. All I can say right now is……..GOD just KILL SASUKE already. I never liked his character. But Itachi on the other hand is one of the sweetes characters. Along with Garra and Haku. Thats just me though. Haven’t invested into purchesing yet, but working on it. Along with Bleach. I read these two and several others on a regular basis.

  27. I’ll be short and name just one (of many): Mushi-Shi. The breathless atmosphere is produces hasn’t been matched in any other anime I’ve seen.

  28. There’s others that I enjoyed more and surprised me more, but this one just because I’ve been watching it and I just saw the last episode earlier tonight: Sora no Otoshimono.

    This was a strange one… I’m not into ecchi and fanservice stuff much. I’ll tolerate it if there’s a good story behind it, but if it’s all just for show, it’s not something I’ll watch. The first couple episodes almost completely turned me off. I almost stopped watching it. The fanservice was way over the top, there was almost no plot, and although you did learn important things about the characters, it was very small things that they didn’t need an entire eposide about nothing in order to tell you. But the premise of the show was intriguing, so I kept watching in the hopes that they might actually start telling a story at some point. As each episode went on, that got harder. Then suddenly at episode 4 they started telling a story. The level of fanservice dropped to just enough to make it comedic without overshadowing the story anymore. And it was a good story. One that actually had me wishing for more when the last episode ended tonight.

  29. And on to the longer term stuff:

    Clannad. I had no idea what I was in for when I started watching this show. All I knew was I’d heard the title thrown around quite a bit as a game and a manga, so there must be something to it. The show itself blew me away. Simply one of the best stories I’ve ever seen animated. I’ve never wanted a dub of any show so badly before. I was thinking “this is something my wife would love, it would be fun to watch it with her”. But she hates subtitles. When it was announced that the DVDs would be subtitle-only, it was a huge let-down. Maybe with FUNi’s outlook looking a little better now than it did then, there’s still hope? I can dream…

  30. Dragonaut – I had nothing really much to go on besides negative thoughts from people. But ridiculus fanservice aside, and lack of overall direction. The romance, action, drama and the overall feel of the show really picks up towards the end of boxset one. It’s becoming a likable show to me, if only because it can be exciting, it can be likable, even when it let’s itself down storywise 🙂

  31. Without a doubt, Hunter X Hunter was the series that absolutely surprised me the most (to date). I can distinctly remember watching a few minutes of an episode smack in the middle of the series awhile back on the funi channel and thinking to myself, I would never watch something this stupid. Sure enough, not a month later I found myself completely glued to the screen wishing it would never end. Too bad the greed island stuff took it into such a ridiculous realm. I could watch a show with the spiders non stop. Bring em back!

  32. I’ll second some of these:

    Original Gundam/Gundam Seed: both suffered from the same problem, the early episodes were too much “Amuro fights Char” and “Kira fights Athrun”. Thankfully, around the end of the first third, things begin to mix up some and the shows take off.
    Hunter x Hunter: talk about an unremarkable beginning. Only when the riddles/puzzles and all 4 main characters met up did the show get interesting.
    Naruto: decent beginning, but nothing special. Then, the climax of Haku/Zabuza came…..
    One Piece: Luffy, his hat, and a tearful Nami. Hooking point defined.

    Surprised the FUNi guy mentioned Code Geass and Azumanga Daioh, I thought those two got engaging very quickly.

    And others not mentioned:

    Gundam 00: things didn’t get really interesting until episode 9. Then episode 16 came, and I was hooked. And of course, episodes 18-25 are just one jaw-dropper after another.
    Beck: first episode had me thinking, “this is A+ material?!”, but the good things came. Now, it’s easily in my top 20 anime list
    Baccano: first episode wasn’t bad, but it took the introduction of Issac, Miria, and Ladd to really get me involved. Also, episode 9 twist = pure win.
    Cowboy Bebop: first 4 episodes = good/decent. Episode 5 and beyond = incredible

  33. I remember Toradora really surprising me. I went into it thinking it was gonna be your typical moe jaunt – not that that’s a bad thing, I love moe – but it wound up having so much more depth than I expected. Very sweet and very genuine.

  34. This is a very interesting question. I was personally first introduced to anime many moons ago with some of the classics, such as Transformers, Pokemon, Sailor Moon and DBZ. However, I didn’t get into anime collecting until one certain title and it’s still my number 1 to this day.

    Gundam Wing – This title really surprised me and it was the one that got me into anime collecting. What surprised me was the content. It was complex, it had an excellent story (especially after reading Episode Zero), nice character development and it was really violent. Not to mention, the title reminded me quite a bit of Transformers, that I watched when I was a kid.

    I have seen many anime titles over the years (808 DVDs in my collection) and this list could be very long. However, in the end I was able to knock it down to 6 titles. The next two on the list round off my top 3 favorites, while the other two are just plain unique.

    Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo – This was another surprising title, because it took a popular novel and recreated it into a Sci-Fi story. Add in some very impressive visuals and both my tastes and artistic sides are pleased. This is the title, that I show and recommend to those that are new to anime.

    The Twelve Kingdoms – This title feels like a Miyazaki film and has all of the key ingredients to become a JRPG. Twelve Kingdoms is a fantasy title, that follows a girl named Yoko. She was swept away into another world and becomes the Queen of a kingdom. This is one of those rare titles where we see the main character be directly involved with the politics and her decisions creates one heck of a conclusion. In fact, episode 39 of the show is still my favorite episode of all anime I’ve seen.

    Kino’s Journey – Another unique title, that follows the story of a traveler named Kino. What really surprised me here is that each town Kino visits has its own unique culture and traditions. What’s more Kino also has a very interesting past. Throw in some very beautiful landscapes and an excellent art design and you got me hooked.

    Flag – This title was very unique, impressive and very surprising in many ways. The story is about a war photographer and the whole story is told threw her camera lens. Add in mecha and a bit of other sci-fi elements and it’s really interesting. However, what really surprised me was the pacing. You thought that Wolf’s Rain was slow, this one takes the cake. However, the unique concept keeps you interested.

    Spice and Wolf – A more recent title that I’ve seen and really impressed me. It had that Twelve Kingdoms vibe to it, but instead of wars and politics. We are dealing with economics as we see the story of Lawrence the peddler and Holo (the wolf) travel town to town selling merchandise. It was very unique to say the least and a was a nice surprise for me.

  35. It was Higurashi/When They Cry for me. I thought the first episode was painful to watch and would have quit watching if my friend didn’t completely assure me that it got better.

  36. Actually I would say it’s a series I’m watching right now: Haibane Renmei. The entire of concept of the series is very mysterious,it’s very good-looking (especially for an older show), the dub is excellent, and the characters are very likeable. I was expecting to be kind of indifferent towards this show, but I’ve been completely enthralled since I started watching it.

  37. Le Chevalier D’Eon was both the most surprising anime that I’ve ever seen, and the one that really got me watching hardcore. I’m a history buff, and I had watched a few animes before (namely, Death Note and Ouran) and I had thought that anime was mainly somewhat girl-y looking men doing strange things in some fashion, but the historical atmosphere and realistic looking characters hooked me. When my sister first sat me down to watch it I had no idea what was going on, but by the end I was completely and utterly emotionally involved in the show, something that I did not think I would be.

  38. kodocha surprised me, but not because i thought it was bad or anything. i was just surprised that such a good series with such devoted fans would have to stop because of lack of sales that were caused by poor advertisement. its not the fans fault!! you guys should finish it i assure you that you’ll benefit! it was (and will be) such a good series and has just the right combination of funny and serious and a sprinkle of romance! its the perfect series!! if only it was advertised better!

  39. The big ones for me were Ouran, Hunter x Hunter and Big Windup.

    Ouran was the biggest surprise for me. I started watching an episode, decided it wasn’t for me, and then tried it again with the English cast a few months later. Very excellent dub and I fell in love with the show. It’s one of my favorites.

    Hunter x Hunter was another one…I was unsure when I first started but was hooked, especially when all four of the main characters were together.

    Big Windup was also a surprise because I don’t usually like watching baseball, but this was another very solid dub and an overall entertaining story.

  40. i like fruits basket….at first i thought it’s a girls show…but it’s really not…it’s for everybody…i really like how i was reminded of different morals in life regarding interpersonal relationships…it’s actually the reason why i want to watch more animes…i want to encounter another one that will etch some memory on me i will never forget…

    naruto also made an impression on me….i’ve been asking why would naruto save sasuke if the guy doesn’t want to be saved….and somehow in real life it could be true….it made me think…

    onepiece which is my favorite of all time has all the aspects of anime i want to see….comedy, drama, mystery, love, friendship, everything you can think of…it’s got everything to reimagine life….yes it made me laugh and cry sometimes….

    and i never really thought that these moving pictures can affect your way of thinking of real things in this real world….

  41. i also watched the classics “the adventures of tom sawyer” and “the adventures of huckleberry finn”, “my daddy longlegs”, “heidi”, “the three musketeers”, “ranma 1/2”, “kimba the white lion”, “yu yu hakusho”, “romeo”, and a lot more….these were my first exposure to anime when i was in the philippines….when i got here i was looking for english dub versions of most of them….and so far…there’s only yuyu, and ranma that’s dubbed…but it’s still a good thing though than not being dubbed at all….

  42. i’m surprised that kodocha is such an awesome series because i remember a long time ago i watched it in the middle of it’s series and it was funny but confusing so i gave up and then it went back in even later and i saw it and loved it! somehow it all became clear! and then i was a trapped prisoner under the spell of kodocha and i don’t want anyone to ever free me… KODOCHA RULES!!

  43. Gankutsuou – Everyone always said this was a great anime, and I never beleived them. Checked out the first episode on your online player, and still was not sold on it. It felt very boring and dry. Then I got to the end of that episode. OMG!!! It blew my mind! This show is amazing! One of the most suspenseful, sophisticated, and interesting animes out there! I love the shwo to death, but almost gave up on it before I finished the first episode. So now, a couple months later, I proudly own the DVD box set 😉 .

    Death Note – Thought this was another over hyped, popular show that would be stupid, and I wouldn’t enjoy. Boy was I wrong. I almost didn’t even check it out. I hate a lot of Shounen Jump anime, but this…this I was blown away by. It’s one of the best thrillers out there. Incredbly smart, suspenseful, and not over hyped, that’s for sure.

  44. I have to say Big Windup! I hate sports, and normally sports anime like Prince of Tennis and many others bore me. In fact, I only started watching it because you guys had preview episodes of it up and more importantly it had Sean Teague and Greg Ayres in it. Although once I started watching, I couldn’t stop. It had me so hooked I just had to buy it. Even while rewatching it I still surprise my friends with how worked up I get while watching it.

  45. Spice and Wolf and Eureka Seven, both for the same reason. Both start off as uninteresting as can be, but as Lawrence and Holo, and Renton and Eureka grow in their respective relationships, I was glued to my screen to know what would happen next.

  46. Welcome to the NHK- the show is one of the best i’ve seen…i like the voices in the english dubbed version….i thought at first i’m gonna be bored by the main character’s problem of being a hikikomori but episode keeps building up to the extent of seeing myself in the main character’s role…it’s funny yet somehow sad at the same time…this is the reason why anime can be really good…you see your self portrayed somehow and been given a chance to remind us what’s supposed to be done.

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