#10 Macross/Robotech (1982) - In the year 1999, a gigantic spaceship crash-lands on Earth sparking a united Earth government to rebuild the ship and utilize the alien technology to develop their own new technology including fighter-planes that can transform into robots known as Veritechs! To most kids who grew up in the 80's like me who watched this little cartoon called Robotech and we had no idea it was our first introduction to anime! Although altered, diluted and Americanized from it's original format as Macross, it sparked a new popularity of anime in the 80's. The late 1970's brought "Gundam" and Starblazers to the U.S. while it remained virtually unknown, and did not seem to have the same affect, Robotech brought Japanimation to a more mainstream audience and of course the rest...is history!
#9 Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X (2000) - Set during the Japanese Meiji Era, ten years after the revolution, Hitokiri battousai, the Manslayer, the legendary assassin known as Himura Kenshin is now a wanderer who has vowed never to kill again. Armed with his reverse blade sword he finds himself protecting a small sword school led by Kaoru Kamiya. Along with a diverse cast of characters including Sanosuke, Yahiko, and Dr. Megumi Rurouni Kenshin is a delightful series full of action, comedy and romance. Also recommend Samurai X OAVs: Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal, Samurai X: Reflection and Samurai X: The Movie (a.k.a. "Requiem")!
#8 Vampire Hunter D (1985) - Set in the year 12,090 A.D., the Earth is overrun with vampires, werewolves and all manner of dark creatures. When a small village is terrorized by an ancient aristocrat vampire and his minions, a young woman named Doris hires a vampire hunter named only "D" after she is bitten. However, D is no ordinary vampire hunter...! Vampire Hunter D was one of the first mature anime movies I ever saw. I was fascinated by the mixture of dark, Gothic horror and sci-fi in the strange post-apocalyptic setting. D has always been one of my favorite animes and I was overjoyed when a sequel, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was released in 2000, but unfortunately it doesn't equal to the original, however it did spark new interest in D as recently both the original novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi, with art by Yoshitaka Amano and manga have been released in the U.S.!
#7 Samurai 7 (2004) - Based on the classic samurai film by director Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai (1954)), Samurai 7 is an anime adaptation combining both fantasy and sci-fi elements into a unique 26 episode series. When a simple farming village is threatened by technologically advanced bandits who take their crops every year, the village decides to hire samurai warriors to defend them. What they get is an unusual group of samurai including the experienced Kanbei, the young Katsuhiro and a clumsy cyborg named Kikuchiyo! Truly original and fantastic, I was already a fan of Kurosawa's films and found the anime adaptation to be an impressive and wonderful series.
#6 Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) - The year is 2015, after a catastrophic global event, the Earth is being attacked by alien creatures dubbed "Angels" and only one organization, N.E.R.V., is equipped to handle them with their own bio-mechanical mecha suits called Evangelions or EVA. Shinji Ikari, a timid teenage boy is summoned by his father unexpectedly to pilot an EVA along with two other children (Rei and Asuka) in order to save the world! This phenomenal series combined Judeo-Christian mythology with apocalyptic prophecies and giant robots to create one of the most popular anime series in the last decade. After several movies and a recent reboot Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0, there is also a live action movie in the works!
#5 Cowboy Bebop (1998) - Following the adventures of a rag-tag group of bounty hunters, Cowboy Bebop is an immensely popular and successful anime series with a huge following. This unlikely "team" of bounty hunters include Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, along with Ed and Ein the dog. Despite having only a short run of 26 episodes, Cowboy Bebop is action-packed and funny, with an amazing soundtrack by Yokko Kanno! Also see Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)!
#4 Mobile Suit Gundam (1978) - In the year 0079, the galaxy is caught up in a war between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon utilizing state-of-the-art mobile suit technology. When Amuro Ray, a young mechanical genius is caught up in the conflict he ends up piloting one of the Federation's prototype mobile suits called Gundam! Possibly THE most influential anime series ever, Mobile Suit Gundam has sparked over a dozen spin-offs (including the most recent: Gundam Seed) and several movies, not to mention a fortune in toys and models!
#3 Princess Mononoke (1997) - The animals and spirits of the forest are threatened by the encroachment of man and when Ashitaka becomes infected by a demon, he is exiled and seeks the Great Spirit of the Forrest in the hopes it will remove his curse. Along the way he meets San, a ferocious wolf-girl, a human raised by wolves, who is about to lead a major battle against the humans! Of all the films by master director Hayao Miyazaki, it's hard to chose a favorite, but considering Princess Mononkoe was the first of his films to earn immense popularity in the U.S. and is still the #1 film in Japan at the time! Princess Mononoke was one of the first Japanese animated films to have a wide release in the U.S. due to it's celerity voice actors and English script by writer Neil Gaiman. Also recommend other Miyazaki films such as Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo.
#2 Ghost in the Shell (1995) - Motoko Kusanagi, an advanced cyborg, is a member of Section 9, a covert security force specializing in cyber-crimes. While investigating a case she and her team are involved with the infamous "Puppet Master", an anonymous cyber-hacker, which will change her life forever. Based on the mana by Masamune Shirow (Dominion Tank Police, Orion), Ghost in the Shell is one of the most successful anime series spawning the sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and two anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and S.A.C. 2nd Gig, also the movie Solid State Society.
#1 AKIRA (1988) - 30 years after World War III where a massive nuclear explosion destroyed much of Tokyo, Japan; two young members of a biker gang, Kaneda and Tetsuo get involved in a huge, political cover-up dealing with psychic, mutant children. After a biker fight and crash, Tetsuo is abducted by scientists and experimented on, giving him psychic powers which will ultimately reawakens the most powerful psychic of all, Akira! Akira deals with love, friendship, government conspiracies, evolution and the power of the mind. Akira is written, directed and based on the manga series (1982-1990) created by Katsuhiro Otomo. Highly influential and beautifully animated, Akira is considered to be the most popular anime film of all time and is my #1 Favorite anime! "Kaneda!!! Tetsuo!!!"