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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.