I didn’t think that I’d ever make it this far, but whoa: this really is the 5000th post I have made on this blog. It took me six and a half years to get there, but it was worth it. It takes up a lot of my free time, but I still really enjoy keeping up with writing and keeping up with all ongoing series. In any case, I really wanted to do something special for this occasion, and what I came up with is a list of my favorite comedies. I already did one before, but I’m not too happy with how that one turned out. It was too rushed and short, and a lot happened to change my opinion ever since I wrote it.
Of course, comedy is incredibly subjective. This is indeed meant as the list of comedies that I personally find to be the funniest. Your mileage may vary for everyone, but I do hope that this manages to include some inspiration if you’re looking for something to laugh at. Also note that this is really about the funniest series I have seen: the top comedies, not the top series that have comedy in them.
#26: PaniPoni Dash!
I was debating whether or not to put Pani Poni Dash on this list. In the end though, I did love this series when it first came out. It just hasn’t aged well, due to Shaft repeating themselves over and over. Nevertheless, when it first came out Pani Poni Dash was fresh in its artistic direction and creative situations and running jokes. I would say that these still are some of the most fun characters of a Shaft comedy. Other characters, like the “Normal” girl were unfortunately milked out way too much in its sequel Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei (seriously, it’s the exact same character!).
#25: Detroit Metal City
Detroit Metal City made this list because of its ridiculous premise and ideas: a guy who likes innocent Swedish pop transforming into the heavy metal Krauser when he puts on a mask. There are times when the jokes could have been a bit less padded, but some of the ideas in this series are a hilarious and clever stab at the metal genre.
#24: Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z
I really did not expect anything from this series when it first was announced: turning the Power Puff Girls… into mahou shoujo. Who the hell found that a good idea? And granted, this series really does take a while to get going. After that though, I was really surprised at how funny this show turned out to be as it grew into a parody that made both fun of the mahou shoujo genre, as the power puff girls themselves. I myself watched way too much of the original cartoon when I was a teenager, to the point where I got sick of it, so seeing all of these jabs felt like a godsend to me, especially with the Octi-episode. Power Puff Z is one of those rare comedies that lasts long (52 episodes), and gradually gets better and better, quitting where it’s at its height. Do note that it’s a very childish series.
#23: Tantei Opera Milky Holmes
At first sight this seems like a generic moe show with the same recycled jokes over and over, however this series stood out with its huge amount of energy it puts in its delivery. This is a perfect example of a show made on crack. The first season has the jokes flowing very naturally and unexpected, while the second season is just balls to the wall insanity, using the most bizarre ideas to garner laughs. The animation for this series was really good and creative, and really helped the jokes along.
#22: Mahoujin Guru Guru
Mahoujin Guruguru is an interesting one. It’s a series that is unfortunately troubled by being too long. It’s got 50 episodes, and unfortunately not enough jokes to fill up all of that time. However, the jokes that it does have, are really, really good. It’s an RPG parody that pokes fun on all sorts of fantasy cliches and tropes. And the jokes can be quite clever and witty when they want to. If this series had only been 26 episodes long, it would have been a classic.
#21: Master of Epic The Animation Age
In the past, I played my fair share of MMORPGs, which is probably why this series hit so much home to me. Master of Epic is an MMORPG adaptation, but instead of trying to force in some bad storyline, the creators decided to parody the heck out of it, making it look as ridiculous as possible. The hilarity of this series lies in its setting, and how the anime creators actually created an entire world around just this concept. The show is nothing more than a collection of random sketches without even any sort of recurring characters (heck, it’s impossible to know which characters are recurring and not because of how everyone looks like each other, an awesome jab at the character creation process of these games). There is a lot of bad acting here, but the total picture that this series manages to paint is a wonderful parody.
Ben-Tou is an action-comedy. It is incredibly fun to watch, and about quite an unusual premise to boot: fighting over half-priced lunches. The jokes in this series are classic slapstick. They fall flat once in a while, but the ones that work are quite creative and really hilarious.
If there is one genre that’s over-saturated in terms of comedies, then it’s the school life comedy: the type of series that follows a bunch of kids at school… and that’s it. Out of those Hyakko is one of the best. It’s weird; it’s not the best animated series or anything and it does have a few one-dimensional characters, but the characters themselves made this one very funny to watch. They all have this natural charm, and in particular the lead character is fun to watch. This series also knows exactly when to quit, and even though there are stereotypes, they feel real. Things are added to them to prevent them from becoming too bland. This is a great example of a character-based comedy done right.
#18: Marie & Gali
This is the series that’s aimed at the youngest audience of this list. It’s meant as a series to show how fun science can be to kids, and they succeeded so well that they even caught me up in it. The characters in this series have a huge passion for what they do, and it really shows in all of the hilarious ways in which they end up toying with the basics of all sorts of science. The subs are also finally moving along a bit, so if you’ve got children and they know English, go ahead and give them a look at this.
#17: Cromartie High School
Cromartie has an amazing concept. When you first see this series, you might think that this series is about a bunch of delinquents doing delinquenty.. stuff. Yet, that’s not true at all: instead, this series is about a bunch of morons who look like delinquents. This series often has the characters talking about the most bizarre things, and some very weird characters pass the screen. This series has a lot of dry humour. If you’re a fan of that, then by all means give this show a chance because I can’t think of any other series that has more of it than this series.
#16: Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
This is very important: with this, I only recommend the first season of Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei. If you like it: don’t give into the temptation to check out the sequels, because they are notably less good and they repeat themselves way too much. Unlike Pani Poni Dash, I still contest that Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei is a unique comedy. Its big selling-point is its randomness, and the first season is just the right length for this to remain fresh. This series toys with depression in a delightful way, before it became a cheap gimmick in the subsequent seasons.
#15: Gag Manga Biyori
Out of all of the comedies I have seen, Gag Manga Biyori is without a doubt the one with the most energy. It is by far the most hyperactive. Yes, more than Gintama, the Excel Saga or any kind of Shaft work. It’s on a complete league of its own; it never takes a break. It’s 50 5-minute episodes of non-stop people talking incredibly fast, yelling hyperactively and trying to stuff as much dialogue as is humanly possible into as little time as possible; this show is on speed from start to finish. And on top of that it’s also hilarious. It uses its energy brilliantly in its delivery of some of the most bizarre jokes and set-ups, and it thrives on absurd humour.
#14: Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge
This is the ultimate parody of the shoujo genre. With 26 episodes, this series succeeded in making bishies look as ridiculous as possible, often dressing them up like catalog models and poking fun at a lot of genre conventions by pushing these to the extreme. Most of the bishie series nowadays are badly acted, but what also made this series hilarious is how well acted and over the top some of the characters are. Especially Sunako shines in her rants and how she’s the complete opposite of your average shoujo lead.
#13: Jungle wa Itsumo Hare nochi Guu
Hale Nochi Guu was for me one of the best examples of a comedy that thrives on sadism. The show pretty much consists out of the main character, Hale, being tormented over and over. Very often this gets old fast, but this series makes Hale a much more redeemable character, not to mention that the people around him are just hilarious and always manage to tick him off in new ways. The titular Guu in particular is a unique character, and I think I lost count of all the times in which she gave him a nervous breakdown, but the interplay between the two of them really was one of a kind that many comedies afterwards never really got close to.
#12: Dororon Enma-kun: Meeramera
The fanservice comedy is a genre that I am really not often into. I find that way too often, they’re just stuck in bad boob jokes, or try to out-pervert each other, or just turn into fanservice for the sake of fanservice. And then Dororon Enma-kun arrived. Its opening two episodes suggested that it was again one of those juvenile and dull fanservice flicks. And yet, the subsequent episodes elevated it to the absolute best in its genre. The amount of crack that the creators put in it is very impressive, The fanservice gets completely bizarre at times and it also has a lot to offer beyond just nudity, with some completely ridiculous premises for its episodes. The height of the show is its absolutely fantastic ending though.
#11: Sugoiyo!! Masaru-san
Overall, in terms of comedy directors, there is one guy who I really consider to be the best: Daichi Akitarou. He has quite a few other works on this list, but what really sets him apart is how many different series he has made, and how all of them are just hilarious. Sexy Commando Gaiden is the series where his style of comedy is the most apparent: very consistent, very hyperactive, but always sharp and unexpected. This show is a parody of the school life fighting genre, the episodes are only eight minutes long, but the crazy characters who just keep making new jokes over and over, never leaving in a dull moment are hilarious to watch. I really wouldn’t be surprised if this series ended up as the inspiration for series as Gintama that followed afterwards.
#10: Skip Beat!
Skip Beat probably was the last of the really good shoujo comedies to appear. Afterwards the genre has been in a bit of a slump and none has really been able to reach Skip Beat’s level of creativity in its jokes. It thrived on strange set-ups and taking these to the extreme resulting in very wacky situations. The comedy in this series is particularly good at combining the characters’ wide variety of emotions in the jokes. As it goes on the show does lose its spark a bit, but the parts that are funny really are hilarious.
#9: Ooedo Rocket
Don’t let the looks of this series fool you: Ooedo Rocket may be a fun and energetic series, but it’s also a very clever comedy that on top of telling its own story, has great fun at poking holes in the historical genre.
#8: Kodomo no Omocha
Kodomo no Omocha made this list because of its amazing consistency: 100 episodes of hilarity, and it never dulls in. Unlike Gintama, which diminishes at a certain point, it delivered an amazingly consistent series, and then quit when it was still fresh, leaving the best possible aftertaste for such an incredibly long series. The humour in this series is very character-oriented, and with such a small cast for so many episodes, I really have to praise the creators for developing them so well that they lasted so long.
#7: Cross Game
Cross Game has a unique sense of humour; that’s why it’s so high on this list. It’s always subtle, and tries to make things look bigger than what they actually are in some very smart ways. It depends a lot on the interplay between the different characters and because this works so well, it can be very laid back. I admit that my favorite type of comedy is the hyperactive kind, but this show won me over immediately with its incredibly subtle jokes, that it can actually keep up for nearly 50 episodes.
#6: Gosenzosama Banbanzai!
This is one of the oldest series on this list, but still: this show is still more than able to measure itself amongst the most stand-out comedies. Its sense of humour is also unique. Gosenzosama Banbanzai is a very intelligent little series about characters talking over and over, trying to rationalize some of the most surreal things. It’s hard to explain what makes this show so hilarious, but just take note that Mamoru Oshii was behind it. His unique sense of dialogue that just goes on and on is used for comedic purposes here with some hilarious results.
#5: Mobile Police Patlabor
This includes the TV-Series and the two OVAs that were released. And really: most of the episodes of Patlabor aren’t exactly a comedy. I just had to include this series in this list for the episodes that were intended to raise laughs, though, because of how incredibly well written they were. The build-up for most of the jokes was exquisite, and sometimes this series dedicated an entire episode, just to build up to one single joke. This series is more than 20 years old at this point, but the amount of series with as much wit as these episodes…. there are very few of them. On top of that, this series just has a hilarious cast of characters.
#4: Level E
Level E is a collection of short stories about aliens. Now, I said before that this list is about the best “comedies” and now the best “series that have comedy in them”, but what makes Level E such a fantastic comedy is how well it puts that into its different stories. Every single one of its stories is a legitimate, imaginative and interesting story with proper and unique characters, but all of them would completely fall apart if it weren’t for the comedy: it’s so well engrained into this series. The laughs in this series also very much rely on the cast of unique characters, and these people are hilarious to watch. Especially the prince (whose name is a wonderful easter-egg by the way – only look this up once you’ve already finished a number of episodes) always cracked me up.
Gintama hardly needs an introduction at this point. It’s a series that can make you laugh uncontrollably one minute, but cry manly tears the other. And it does so for nearly 100 episodes. Its dialogue in particular is side-splitting hilarious when it hits its stride, almost in a monty python-esque way. The reason why it’s placed relatively low on the list is due to only one thing: this series didn’t know when to quit. It’s shounen jump. It kept going on, even though it already made its best jokes. Because of that, it doesn’t really leave the best final impressions. It really hit its height at episode 100. After that it declines, and yet it goes on for 150 more episodes that you have to sit through if you want to finish it. The bad taste afterwards is a shame, but really: the first 100 episodes accomplished so much and generated so many laughs, that id’ be a shame to ignore this one just because of that.
#2: Excel Saga
The Excel Saga has a special place in my memory. Together with .Hack//Sign, it was the series that really turned me into an anime fan. This really is the parody of parodies: everything about it pokes fun at something. Every single episode is dedicated to a different genre, making every episode a completely different experience, and on top of that the entire premise, especially for its time and my personal experience, was comedic gold. The characters were all wonderful in their delivery of the jokes, from the self-insert Nabeshin to the rambling Excel whose monologues were delivered with an insane pace, to some of the best running jokes out there: Pedro and Menchie.
#1: The Law of Ueki
I watched this series six years ago, but in the end, there hasn’t been any comedy that managed to top this one for me. It’s not like this series is perfect from start to finish: there are a number of duller arcs. But the good arcs are absolutely hilarious. The concept of having a bunch of middle schoolers with some of the most ridiculous powers battle each other has been incredibly well developed in this series, and especially the creativity that it uses with nearly every single one of these powers has made this my favorite comedy for years now. I have no idea where they got them from, but the ideas in this series are just side-splittingly hilarious.