Top 10 First Episodes of Anime

At the request of someone, and my own personal interest, I behold unto you the top 10 first episodes of anime. Now, there are a few stipulations for this list. I didn’t pick any ‘introductory’ episodes (with the exception of number 10). In other words, episodes that get the story off to a start with and introduce the characters in a high-energy way that may not pervade into episode 2. That’s because while those episodes are great, I’m looking for episodes that are one of the outright best in the whole show. First episodes that may be the first thing that even comes to mind when the show is brought up. I had to rewatch several of these episodes to get the order correct, but I’m confident in my results. Lets go!

10. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – I piled up all of the ‘introductory’ episodes out there, and I think this was the best, closely followed by the likes of Code Geass and Coyote Ragtime Show. It’s a very high-octane fun-and-action episode replete with awesome fighting, sexy fanservice, and character introductions that already have you in love with the cast. Gurren Lagann is the best simply for being so non-stop and so huge – it’s the first episode, and we already have a little floating head taking on a massive robot head thing. Many of the show’s famously awesome quotes are featured and plenty of excellent, giffable moment like Kamina kicking the huge sword around his neck or Yoko swinging on a rope while offloading rifle ammunition. Ultimately, it’s just something that makes you need to see the next episode.

Watch it Here.

9. Texhnolyze – This episode is legendary for being possibly the single most pretentious first episode of anime ever. It’s like a giant sign saying ‘don’t watch this show unless you are a masochist’ and those pretentious fools who are tricked by the possible ‘interesting’ nature of the episode get shackled into a show that never stops being a long, hard, pretentious journey through hell. The episode has no dialog for 14 minutes and very sparse music. The whole episode is a shade of grey and black as far as locations (though they be highly detailed.) The whole episode makes almost no fucking sense whatsoever. Nothing is introduced, no plot emerges, nothing. Just a couple of extremely strange scenes of weird, slow shit happening. There’s even a major gunfight where we don’t see anyone actually firing or getting hit. I doubt any episode before has turned away so many potential viewers or lured in so many unsuspecting ones. (and somehow, this fucking show is one of my favorites.)

Watch it Here.

8. Ga-Rei Zero – (spoilers, but I mean it’s the first ep. Watch it and then read.) This episode had already rocked my sock by the halfway point. It had a lot of solid action with great designs and animation, cool atmosphere and music, and plenty of casualties. The whole episode was great, but we all know the real reason this is one of the best hooks ever – within the last couple of minutes every fucking character we were just introduced to is violently murdered. It’s pretty much the god of all OH SHIT moments. You’re already in shock when the first two guys die, but it keeps rising as you watch the other two, all the while thinking ‘oh no way, are they killing all of them?! Seriously?!’ It’s even more crazy when you watch the shit uncut and see the insane amounts of blood.

Watch it Here.

7. Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight – It’s almost a bit unfair to have this on the list because the first episode really increases in worth the second time you see it. though that’s just me, No Name tells me that when the show first aired he watched this episode 5 times before the second came out (and thus when we watched together, he could recite it >_<) The episode is a little offputting as an introductory. Firstly, it seems to employ a bunch of loli fanservice, and secondly, 3 minutes are dedicated to Manabi singing. However, if you’ve seen it twice and know what to expect, you get a high energy burst of fun with some interesting subtext and a ZOMG awesome 3 minutes of singing that sends chills down your spine and may or may not make you cry. So yeah, watch it like, more than once.

Watch it Here.

6. Xam’d ~Lost Memories~ – This is quite similar to Ga-Rei Zero, really. Immediately noticeable is the interesting setting, superb art, ridiculously great animation, and instantly catching tone. The episode was already winning on style and intrigue alone, then a really cute girl blew herself up. There’s a panic and frenzy and the main character enters one of the single coolest transformations of all time as he is melted into the Xam’d. This ep turned a hell of a lot of heads and for me was worth rewatching several times until the second ep came out.

Watch it Here.

5. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – You’ve probably seen it already anyway, but more importantly, I’ve already made a post about it. So read that. Otherwise uh, great animation, amazing directing, superb parody, all-around good idea, and an instant hook.

Watch it Here.

4. Mouryou no Hako – Oddly enough, the only episode that makes any fucking sense! XD This episode is amazing, but really, it might just be pandering too much to my tastes. It has yuri and psycho/philosophical bullshit, which is enough for me to watch anything, and tops it off with superb directing and great experimental animation. What sold me, though, was the scene of the two girls dancing in the moonlight. This is one of the most spectacularly animated and jizz-in-your-pants fuckwin moments in anime history for me – so much that I had originally declared it the second-best first episode of all time, though my aforementioned rewatching of other 1st eps made me change my ideas on that. This show is a total mess, only lovable to pretentious freaks like me, but even if I didn’t like any of the show, this first ep will live on for me.

Watch it Here.

3. Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpuchou Tou – This episode is a perfect cinematic experience full of extreme levels of awesome, and none of the rest of the show comes close to living up to it. It’s a perfect blend of dark, supernatural horror and suspense with way over-the-top anime styling (high school fighters who jump out of three-story windows and hop across rooftops) done wholly with su-fucking-perb directing and an excellent cinematic sense like you’re witching a movie. It switches between a lot of things going on at once to keep things interesting but remains coherent and great fun. It does a great job of introducing the characters as far as not only their personalities but their relationships to each-other. The animation is way great, especially in the fights, and the music is used perfectly. It’s stylish with an immense sense of ‘cool’ and so complete feeling that it could be a stand-alone episode and kick as much ass as the whole show.

Watch it Here.

2. Futakoi Alternative – This show is determined to make it onto every list, which is a definite sign i should rewatch it’s entirety sometime soon. This is, simply put, the manliest first episode ever. It hilariously starts off with 2 minutes of totally unrelated action happening with two cute lolis who are fighting a big blob thing with great intensity and many guns. Then it jettisons into an episode dealing with yakuza, insane cops, adorable action-twins, extremely delicious croquet, and other things that may lead a helicopter to crash into a boxing ring. The episode is insane, but still manages to introduce all major and minor characters and give us the run-down on their personalities without stopping for a breath. In between inviting us to what is instantly a very fun and tightly nit community, there’s cute girls blowing shit up and the most GAR harem lead of all time kicking the ass of a dude twice his side while still keeping himself humble and quite likable. The episode ends with him on the bed with two hot young twins in his arms. It simply does not get manlier than that. If you watch this episode and don’t have fun, there’s something lodged way up in your ass that you may want to move.

Watch it Here.

1. Mnemosyne – To quote myself: This is an episode that simply has everything. Style, badassery, amazing animation, great music, tastefully placed nudity, lots of blood and torture, sadists, SHOTGUN GLOVES, zombies, the most classic death ever, and moving on to what’s really important, tons of yuri and FUCKING GALNERYUS. Pretty much, this episode was an orgasm.

Watch it Here.

Comments, complaints, additions, below.

Oh, and you may have noticed these all came out in the past decade. I swear, it seems like good first episodes were only a recently conceived concept.

20 thoughts on “Top 10 First Episodes of Anime

  1. In no order,

    Neon Genesis Evangelion

    Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei


    Kare Kano

    Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (yeah baby, with a title like ‘Gundamjack’ you can’t go wrong)

    Macross Frontier

    I agree with TTGL and Xam’d.

  2. “Top 10 First Episodes of Anime”

    “It doesn’t even have the sixth episode of Honey and Clover”

    Is there some in joke being told here that I’m missing?

  3. Serial Experiments Lain: hello, wtf, how are you today?

    Cowboy Bebop: I think I was hooked fifteen seconds into opening, never mind the actual show

    Yes, Futakoi Alternative, yes, Haruhi.

    Dennou Coil: oh, look, it’s Lain for kids!

    Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei

  4. Definitly agree with Xam’d and Haruhi. Both their first episodes were far better than the rest of the actual series.

    Just my honest opinion, two of my picks would be Kaiba and FLCL because they both said very clearly ‘welcome to something completly new’. And I suppose the first episode of Pale Cocoon doesn’t count…

  5. @ghostlightning: Evangelion almost made the list, Zoku Zetsubou almost did but I wasn’t sure if I could list sequels, Mazinkaiser is a good first ep but Giant Robo blows it away, Kare Kano? really? 0083 I haven’t seen, and Frontier is an intro ep and not as good as TTGL IMO.

    Micheal: 6th episode? Are you a fucking idiot? Also Elfen Lied ep 1 is all ZOMG but the latter half of it is pretty meh.

    Ian K: I’m wondering that too

    @dm00: I had fully intended to put Denno Coil on the list, but I rewached the episode and it just didn’t hold up the second time. Lain is a good first ep, but I like Texhnolyze’s more. Cowboy Bebop’s ep is as good as any from the show, but not one of my favorites. As mentioned, it had to be a ‘best ep’ to make the list.

    @5camp: lulz. As for Kaiba, for me it was like interesting, but turned me off because I’m not a fan of arthouse. FLCL I thought about choosing, but kinda the whole show’s like that.

  6. “Yes, Futakoi Alternative, yes, Haruhi.” <– What dm00 said here. And yes, Ga-rei Zero. I’d say Yes Xam’d too, but I was spoiled already as to what would happen, so that kills the anticipation about not knowing what happens yet.

    As already said, Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.

    Detroit Metal City: Birth of the Metal Devil?

    Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s, though that wouldn’t necessarily count as it’s a continuation.

    For me, Jinki: Extend, though the rest of the show falls flat. :P

  7. @bigN: I don’t think it has to be surprising tobe a great moment. after all ive seen the ep 5 times, lol. DMC has agreat first ep but it’s byno means one of the best in the show. I may have to check out that jinki extend ep.

  8. Pretty much any mindfuck anime will make this list for me, but yours is pretty accurate. For shows like TTGL and Ga-rei, the rest of the show dwarfs their respective first episodes, which is saying a lot, since the first episode of both those shows are kickass to start with.

    Seriously though, you make Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight sound like the cure for cancer. Manabi is now on highest priority as of immediately.

  9. The first episode of Ga-rei Zero feels pretty flat to me because I don’t like the super Hollywood action wroom wroom energy music style it’s adopted so the awesome ending isn’t enough to make up for the rest of the episode.

    I’d definitely place Kurozuka’s pilot in my top ten list because, while the show’s overall quality steadily decreases towards the finale, the first episode is amazing in its visual grandeur.

  10. Yeah, NGE and FLCL had great first eps. Haruhi was definitely cool. Mnemosyne, actually, I dropped halfway thru the 1st ep. something about the art bothered me…

  11. Yeah, of ones you didn’t mention NGE and FLCL had great first eps. Haruhi was definitely cool. Mnemosyne, actually, I dropped halfway thru the 1st ep. something about the art bothered me…

  12. Does the first episode of 5cm/second count? If so, that’d have to be mine because the scenes contained within were really poignant and I thought that the narration was really compelling in the way it draws you in that you can feel for the main character. It also doesn’t hurt that the artwork is drop-dead gorgeous either.

  13. Seriously though, you make Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight sound like the cure for cancer.

    That’s because it is. :P

    But seriously, it’s a fun show and I hope you enjoy it.

  14. I hated the first [non-chronological] ep of suzumiya haruhi. dumbest junk ever.

    and ga-rei0? It did have natsuki v2 but still..

    Infinite Ryvius’ first ep was such a puller-in

  15. Somehow I missed reading this earlier. I must concur with Futakoi, Haruhi, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and with those who suggested Sayonara Zetsobu Sensei. The opening of that is so audacious. @lelangir, Haruhi’s first ep was a turnoff but that was part of the sense of humor of the show’s creators.

    In terms of other suggestions: Black Lagoon‘s first episode was pretty wild; I’d put it in the bottom half of my own top ten. Tsukihime‘s first episode was utterly awesome, but the show was ruined later on. This could be my own bias for disjointed existential narrative, though. Evangelion intrigued me with ep 1 for similar reasons. I think Ghost in the Shell: SAC lets you know its general premise in its first ep as well, giving the viewer a serious look at conspiracy and dystopia.

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