Seriously, please don’t. It’s a question I actually hate getting asked. Wait, hate? Why? Don’t you watch a lot of anime?
Well, I would say I watch “a fair bit”. Given that I’ve only been doing it for three years and the only “classic” I’ve seen is Evangelion, I think it’s a little early to say “a lot”. Nonetheless, I don’t have a favorite anime of all time. And no matter how many times I get asked that question, I don’t think my answer is going to change. If you were to ask me my favorite anime of a specific genre of series, that’s usually something I can answer. I say “usually” because occasionally I outright don’t have a favorite for a season, or it’s a tie like the Spring 2013 season that just ended. I’d say both Gargantia and Oreimo 2 were my favorite from last season, but for completely different reasons.
With that in mind, OK, you can ask me what my favorite anime is, but don’t expect a short and sweet answer. While it may be starting to seem like every anime is pretty much the same, I think there are still some original ones out there (again, keep in mind I’m still fairly new here). Sure anime has plenty of slice-of-life, mecha, or if we want to go down a darker path, harem, and while I will not dispute that there is overlap in anime these days, there are plenty of hidden gems out there. Now that I’ve “survived” a few anime seasons, trust me when I say don’t try to watch every show of the season. Every season has its fair share of pure crap. Spring and Fall seem to always be the season with way over-hyped shows. Now, I in no way discourage watching the show “everyone” seems to be talking about (there are plenty of good ones), but if a season looks like pure shit to you, rewind a couple of years a find what was popular then. Or, what I personally like to do, find the show that only a few people are talking about, either now or then. Doing that led me to Gosick, Dennou Coil, and Time of Eve. And I very much recommend watching those three.
So why can’t I pick an all-time favorite? I like to think of anime as more than one genre. This will no doubt be the worst analogy in the world, but anime is like the reference section in a library (can you tell I work in a library?). Hear me out though. Like the reference section, anime is pretty huge (OK, yes that depends on your library, so anime might be bigger), and like the reference section, anime has groups within it (sorry dictionary section, but I like the mecha section more than you). While it may seem like all anime is the same (it took me about a year-and-a-half to start picking up on the genres), even with overlap, there are enough differences to categorize anime into groups (and I mean beyond must-watch and wtf-am-I-watching) that once you’ve done that, you begin to appreciate anime based more on what genre of anime it is. And (usually) each genre has its own quirks. Enough so that while I could compare Gargantia and Oreimo, even if you know nothing about them, I think you’d realize I’m talking about two different genres of anime. And enough so that I wouldn’t pick between Oreimo and Gargantia for a favorite, I’d compare them to other anime in their respectful genres (spoiler alert: Oreimo 2 can fall into a different genre than its first season).
So no, I don’t have an all-time favorite. I would, however, consider Eureka Seven to be my favorite mecha, and while Evangelion is one hell of a mindfuck, I’d still call Madoka Magica the most messed up series I’ve watched (as such, my favorite downright fucked up series). So yes, please feel free to ask my favorite anime of a genre or (again, usually) a season, and I’d be happy to answer you (and suggest a few bonus titles). But please, don’t ever ask me what my favorite anime is. My answer, as it has been for the last three years now, is still that I don’t have one.