Stories impact people.
Stories are those things which are considered timeless, a series of events which some people consider important enough to keep on telling. They engage us, suck us into the lives of characters that aren’t even real, and teach us lessons that transcend the ordinary, and yet find real, true application. Stories are universal, experiences that bind us all together, and man, they’re freaking GREAT to experience.
Heyo, Aaron here, and as a bit of a celebration for the 100 post milestone, I’ll be sharing my Top Ten favorite Stories of all time. From anime, to manga, to western animations and video games, these narratives have been the most powerful, meaningful, and just straight up interesting stories that I’ve ever experienced. It’s a very personal list, not judged by the explicit “narrative quality” of the series, but rather, simply how meaningful they are to me.
That being said, let’s get it started.
10. Death Note
I feel like I’ve mentioned Death Note a HUGE amount on Reading Between, but hey, it’s a damn good narrative. Maybe as an engaging anime/manga, not so much, towards the end, but that doesn’t change how interesting the story is.
Death Note’s concept is known by basically anyone who’s even mildly interested in anime: if you had a note that would kill anyone in the world, by simply writing their name, what would you do with it? The power fantasy a Death Note would provide is absurd to think about, and leads to a world of possibility: one which the series takes to its hugely entertaining conclusion.
The story of Light Yagami is an engaging one, full of theological symbolism, and wrought with ethical conflicts and questions. It reflects the best and worst of human nature, a mix of reckless idealism with amoral ruthlessness, all wrapped up neatly in the format of a crazy psychological thriller. Beyond this, the conflict between Light and L is actually stupidly entertaining, and, although the last few episodes slow down quite a bit, the ending of Death Note has to be one of my favorites in all of anime.
With a note of theatric, thematic irony, Death Note’s ending–Light’s death at the hands of the death god that gave him the Note to begin with–acts as a perfect cap to the prideful story of a man who tried to become God. It’s a simple end to a rather complex story, but one that fits oh-so-freaking-well. Because of this thematic strength, Death Note, despite being only a decent anime, definitely earned a spot in my personal top ten.
9. Your Lie in April
Not a series I talk about too often, Your Lie in April is one of those anime that just…get me.
Making a name for itself through its emotional, tear-jerking story, as well as its very unique look at music, this series distinguished itself to me, simply because it hit a few points that I related to very, very heavily. As a percussionist in my free time, the emphasis that Your Lie in April had on expression in music was SO ON POINT, I don’t have words for how much I related to it. Expressing anger, freedom, happiness, such abstract concepts through music, are concepts that are extremely rare to see described in a story, and much more so to see an entire anime basically revolving around that idea. As someone who freaking loves music, the story Your Lie in April presented was wonderful to watch.
And on THAT point, despite criticisms I’ve personally heard against main character, Kousei, I’ve gotta say that I really enjoyed his progression. He wasn’t a stereotypical anime protagonist. Kousei is consistently portrayed as a quiet nerd, and isn’t very proactive throughout the story, dealing his own crippling personal issues. However, in many ways, Kousei’s admittedly less proactive lifestyle isn’t the focus of the story–rather, it’s how one Kaori Miyazano influences his life, changes it for the better, and he learns how to truly express himself and move forward.
On that note, Kaori was undoubtedly a fun character to watch. She was designed to be beautiful, a shining light, and from her mannerisms while performing music, to her casually optimistic and stubborn attitude, Kaori was always a high point of the series. It shows, both in Kousei’s interactions with her, as well as how the audience perceives her. Between her wonderfully done character, Kousei’s consistent, honestly relatable growth, as well as the amazing musical focus, Your Lie in April won my heart as one of my favorite anime series.
8. Steven Universe
The story of the young half-gem, half-human kid, Steven Universe himself, is one hell of an adventure.
This show, revolving around the adventures of the space-lady-rock-people, the Crystal Gems, and Steven Universe, is ACTUALLY fantastic. Despite starting off slow, providing stereotypical, Cartoon Network hijinks, Steven Universe quickly evolved into a show that confronted some very relevant, applicable social issues, addressing homosexual love, consent in relationships, and of course, the more simple lessons of how to deal with emotional issues, and learning how growing up works in general. The issues it confronted were tough to confront, but Steven Universe did so in, if I may so, a rather tasteful way.
Of course, social issues are one thing, and that’s fine and dandy, but Steven Universe goes beyond that, and provides some of the best character development I’ve seen in any western animation…well, ever. I have a thing for the growth of “innocent” characters, and this preference is catered to in every way, with titular protagonist Steven Universe. An all-loving, young, naive kid at the start of the series, we get to see as he grows- both mentally, and physically- to become someone far more mature. Dealing with the consequences of his mother’s decisions, bearing the weight of the Crystal Gems’ expectations, Steven learns that not everyone is a new friend, and that even the greatest of idols have their flaws.
Steven Universe as a story is all about a mix of character growth, and thematic strength, and damn, it does both so, so well. I’d be lying if I said it, as a show, touched me personally, but the quality of its storytelling can’t be denied. Crewniverse, keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll be with you guys every step of the way.
So, those’re my tenth, ninth, and eighth favorite stories respectively. Click down below, to see the next parts of the list, once they’re out!
10-8 — 7-6 — 5-4 — 3-2 — 1