the real top 25 must visits

AnimeFringe used to run a top 25 list of “must visit” anime websites (03, 04, 05). They have long since ceased operations, and the online anime ecosystem has changed greatly since.


So I stumbled across activeanime‘s bastardization of AnimeFringe’s feature. I was almost appalled at the level of self-serving and 1990-era links. Seriously? The Haisho is on this list but not AnimeSuki?

My biggest problems with these kind of lists are that they are just the whims of the person who writes them. When I write them, it’s really no different. Now, taking a look at activeanime, I can see why it chose the sites that it chose. The site is definitely a lap dog of the DVD industry. But is anime just DVDs or is anime out there irregardless of DVDs? I’d like to think that. The online anime ecosystem is complex, and it doesn’t just mean DVDs. While DVDs are the commercial face of anime, there’s a lot more to anime than just shiny collectible boxsets. So in that spirit of making a “must visit” anime website list, I’ll keep that in mind. And, of course, when in doubt, Potemayo and spiral energy leads the way.

A few points before I begin:

1. One thing that bothered me about activeanime’s list was all the commercial site links. I’m not sure if they’re gunning for referral credits or just plain think that way, but if I’m visiting a website, I’m doing so either for entertainment or for information. While commercial websites are fine, I visit them for prices and buying stuff– hardly must visit. I don’t consider a sale or shipping FAQ to be must visits. If that’s the case, why wouldn’t Amazon or eBay be on the list? They sell shitloads of anime and manga, and eBay is one of the few places to find rare collectibles, such as my Powered Natsumi figure (new, in box still). So I forgo shopping sites.

2. I thought about what “must visit” means. Does it mean “must visit” because it’s popular? Because it’s hip and cool? Because it’s wacky and unknown? I’ll just take it to mean the “Swiss Army Knife of Anime Websites.” But, for leisure and hobby… as anime is my hobby. So in that vein, I generally included more popular sites and sites that are in my bookmarks or my RSS reader. There are very few “Hey, this is cool” anime websites because I think most are copied pretty quickly.

3. Individual DVD companies and fansub groups… I wouldn’t say any of them are “must visits.” Like if I thinking of going to Washington DC, a “must visit” might be the Jefferson Memorial. A DVD company or a fansub group is more like a Macy’s in terms of their utility. Studios… a bit different.

4. The politics that might go into a list like this in incredible. Thankfully, I’m not a lap dog of any company, any organization (except The Church of Melonpan), or any else. Derailed’s an independent site, and I’m proud of that fact.

5. A lot of my picks are really “category” picks. Like I gave a spot to Mirror Moon, which I’d be hard pressed to answer if it is more of a “must visit” than Baka Tsuki, RenPy, or NNL. But what these category picks do show is that it’s a vibrant part of anime fandom, just no one really separated themselves from the field.

5a. In categories with a lot of popular websites, I tended to just go with the most well-known or granddaddy of them all. For instance, even though there’s a BCS, the Rose Bowl is still special. Much like 4chan, only if the Rose Bowl were full of meme, anonymous, and Suigintou.

6. Two of my favorites mentions in activeanime’s list were the specialized series sites Rumic World and I honestly love It’s well-done and informative. Is it a “must visit” over a site that handles many different series? What if you don’t give a rat’s ass about Ghibli and only care about One Piece? At least with Wikipedia and 4chan, those sites encompass a lot of series and aren’t specialized. Maybe if I were tossing together “top 25 anime series websites” I might include and Rumic World, but for a general list? Not so much. And, again, it depends a lot on individual taste. Like I feel Gunota Headlines trumps them both in terms of specialization and news worthiness. So I also considered the scope of a site. Will it appeal to hardcore fans or casual fans or just fans of Ghibli?

7. Despite the fact that I am a blogger, I can’t really say that there are “must visit” bloggers. They’re all too similar, and too many of them either just toss up summaries or just try to be smart alexes (to varying degrees of success). I think for bloggers, it’s just akin to your tastes. I really should have just done something snarky and just post NetNewsWire, since a good RSS reader is all one really needs to cover all the blogs, and a good RSS reader trumps all the aggregators out there (something I quickly realized when I ran blogsuki).

So, finally, in the spirit of AnimeFringe’s Top 25 Must Visit Anime Websites, this is the real list.

The AnimeFringe Memorial Top 25 Must Visit Anime Websites

Hop Step Jump

The biggest failure of activeanime’s list (amongst many) is that it doesn’t include any anime blogger on the list, let alone any relevant anime blogger. I’ve always liked Jeff’s blog, mainly because he’s more FDR, and I’m more Teddy. Doesn’t mean I can’t still rag him for his questionable taste.

(This is really the “plug in any anime blog you like in this spot” choice, except for RC, which we’ll eventually get to. I picked Jeff because I was feeling sorry for his Valentine’s Day post and felt he could use some traffic.)

Anime Expo

By far, the largest and most influential anime convention. Only I don’t go to cons, except Nekomimi Meido Kyou Con, but that’s just in my head.

(Really an “insert your favorite con” choice. I’m easy that way.)

Anime Lyrics

Great site for anime song lyrics. They’ve since added YouTube linkage, which only makes it better. They mean business / No time for sissy pig.


Egads, another category type pick. I think the anime studios who create the anime are more interesting than the stores that sell that anime. I always enjoyed visiting Gainax’s website from time to time just because they cycle nifty images. And also for tidbits like “hiring for new secret series.”

Tinami Japan!

Great Japanese directory of artists. You could easily waste an afternoon here, even if you can’t read Japanese very well.


I’d like to think so. ;) There’s a lot of strong parallels between anime and Ben Wallace. Or so I think.

(Joke pick for probably every other anime blogger other than myself. For myself, dead serious.)

mahou Showtime!

Real time data on when anime is going to air as well as other important information (like studio and episode numbers). I find it useful, and it answers nicely the, “Wait, did my favorite series just get pre-empted for baseball?” question. Oddly enough, ESPN doesn’t tell me that.

2ch Japan!

The granddaddy of grandddaddy imageboards. The anime subculture before and after imageboards is much like the NBA before and after slam dunking became popular. For people who don’t understand Japanese, there’s a helpful English translation of all the menus.

Manga Updates

The AnimeSuki of manga. I picked them over Manganews for this slot just because they don’t wipe an entry out of their database if the series has been licensed. Definitely a category pick.


Tokyopop is not on this list because they have done more for manga and graphic novels in the US than any other company. While debatable, their decision to flood the market with cheap, non-flipped manga volumes did a great deal to spread manga’s popularity in this country. They are on this list because they are one of the few resources for English language people to break in the business. While Japan does have a plethora of creative people, I know that the US has a few too. But don’t confuse “must visit” with “best” because I still do not forgive them for the blasphemy that was Initial D.

(Pekopon… Pokepon… WTF?)


Once a premier anime website, time is passing it by. Reading DVD reviews without screenshots feel so… so… 1990-ish. In the 21st century, we have bloggers and review sites who actually– egads– post screenshots, and as anime is a visual medium, I always have felt that this is important. The community for AoD is its real strongpoint, but it shares a lot of members with AnimeSuki’s and other sites.

The Fansub Wiki

Who subs what? Great concise list of shows airing as well. If anything, it lets me plan things like… mmm… spring 2008OH GEASS YES!

Random Curiosity

Definitely best place for spoilers. I don’t think of RC anymore as an anime blog. It’s really become AnimeSuki Lite. Like when I read the comments left for Omni, very few of the comments are about what he wrote. Most are about the episode… a lot like a forum with each “series episode #” post being a forum header. This is not a bad thing as people who like to discuss about episodes irregardless of spoilers seem to congregate there.

(But I wouldn’t trade any of my YTAMR for all the spoilers in the world.)

Mirror Moon

Really another category pick. I feel like visual novel translations are the next frontier, much like landing men on Mars, cheap renewable energy, and hardcore gay sex on Fox.


I decided against including any individual DVD companies on this list, so the same logic goes for fansubbing groups (fansubbing groups also come and go much faster). But has provided a consistent and great tracker since the early days of bittorrent. I’m not sure how interesting a tracker is for “must visit,” but a great deal of links from TT come to this one, and it’s always fun to browse their site if only for the dead anime fansub groups. Oh, look, ANBU. Weren’t they like huge like in 2004? And groups I’ve long since forgotten… Onigiri?

Anime DB

Love their meticulous organization of anime, and I love the reader rankings and comments. Best archival site of “who subbed what?”


Pretty much the granddaddy of all tournaments. Just from running march madness one year, I know the time and effort it takes… and I loathe to do it again. Since Saimoe is the original one that really gained a large following across the world, it gets the #9 spot.


Greatest. Image library. Ever. Have a sample:

Moonphase Japan!

Moonphase is a Japanese site, but it’s pretty much the worldwide source of anime news, links, and rumors. Maybe it’s not something the average English speaking anime fan has in their RSS reader, but it’s a good visit from time to time, especially when you make out a broken katakana headline like “グレンラガン 2nd シーズン!”

(You can also argue for a Moonphase / Heisei combo as Shingo points out some of the more interesting Moon Phase items.)

(Though I just visited Moonphase for this post, and I noticed that Ikkitousen is getting another season. I’m definitely making a “Why… why… WHY!?” face right now.)

Anime News Network

Last great relevant English language anime news site now with Anime News Service being inactive. I like their database, which is top notch, their new stories, and their community. What I don’t like: the ads, their podcast, and Answerman.


Strong community (one of the most knowledgeable) + Quasi-legal selection of torrents = #5 on my list.


ZOMG SAUCE! The masses and the collective knowledge of the masses is what makes 4chan… uh…. 4chan. A CAT IS FINE TOO! Considering that 4chan is one of the top 500 or so websites in the world, it’s pretty much the 9,000,000 pound gorilla of English anime subculture. ITT: LUCKY STAR! Err, nevermind.


The first place to go for information about a series. The masses and the collective knowledge of the masses is what makes Wikipedia great. And that’s probably why anime makes up about a quarter of all Wikipedia queries. Now if we can only get a single template going for seiyuu pages.

Tokyo Toshokan

I think mirc-x and Tokyo Toshokan have done more to popularize anime around the world than any other website. It’s that kind of popularity that leads to dumb mistakes like companies licensing Avengers, Coyote Ragtime Show, and other dreck. But for modern anime fans, this is a must for their RSS readers.


Tissue Princess? Gurren Lagann Konami? Parodies, music videos, clips, full episodes, whatever the fuck people can come up with… what really makes pushes YouTube to the top spot is that it does everything, and it houses a gigantic warehouse of user-created content that still mystifies me in both “How do they come up with this stuff?” and “Where do they get the time?”.

Post Game Wrap-Up

Honestly, two of the most popular and visited websites in the world, Wikipedia and YouTube, also doubles as great anime websites. They probably get more visitors looking for anime news or entertainment than AnimeOnDVD, ANN, and all the specialized anime sites put together. That counts for something, right? I would also toss Google in, but Google’s more of a tool nowadays than a website. I don’t think any anime website with the exception of TT and 4chan can come close to the impact that Wikipedia and YouTube has on the community.

Most of the top ten sites I list rely on anonymous fan contributions, which show that the fan community in general is much stronger, much more interesting, and much more knowledgeable than a single person. After writing this blog for years, I think that’s more than just the case. There’s a lot of great fans out there. Even if some of them might have, uh, looked up the Mako-cakes image with great interest.

Also, there’s only three sites that my list has in common with activeanime’s: ANN, AoD, and ADB. Plus I generally rank them lower. Anime is not just commercial interests, and I think one should give props out to the people who really care and really enjoy anime. I mean, I think that most anime bloggers out there are better marketers and salespeople than those who run the huge commercial sites. And then there’s the power of anonymous.

I am a bit disappointed that I don’t consider any online comic or online artist for the English speaking anime world a “must visit.” There’s a lot of decent to good to “I shouldn’t link because I’ll be accused of playing favorites,” but nothing like the Japanese community (like Tony Taka and others). Though it’s only a matter of time before someone breaks through.

Also disappointed that there’s really no “must visit” podcast. I complained about anime podcasts before, and it still stands. Most are too long and have too much filler and don’t focus in on anime enough. I think if someone can come up with something like NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” or Bill Simmon’s “Are You Worried Yet, Johnny?” that’s all I can ask for. I think my ideal anime podcast would involve Shannon Sharpe reading my twittered posts. Yes, self-grandizing… but Shannon Sharpe reading lines like “Kyou in gym shorts and thigh high socks never gets old. Never. Toss in the ponytail she has in this episode… and… whoosh! Utter derailment. And Dictator Kyou is pretty impressive… on par with Haruhi on that front.” But only with the Shannon Sharpe dialect that only Shannon Sharpe can do. Like you wouldn’t want that.

Looking at AnimeFringe’s original list, most of those sites are no longer active or even relevant… like the Save Our Sailor Scouts! and Planet Namek. Feels really like 2001 when I read it, and, oddly enough, it makes for a great time capsule of the day. Back in 2001, some of the trends in anime were the birth of online communities such as SOS and the start of the DVD revolution. Looking back on this 2008 list in 2015, what would it tell? I’d hope it’ll convey a sense of not a digital revolution but a digital ecosystem. Anime, for most fans, has moved on beyond just DVDs and fansubs. It’s imageboards, YouTube, and anonymous contributions and sharing. Specialized anime sites, DVD sites, and personal fan sites are in the decline with blogs, databases, and straight from Japan news taking their places. I wonder in 2015, if what we do now will be considered just as archaic. But, in the meantime, sage.

39 Responses to “the real top 25 must visits”

  1. Isn’t posting links to Tokyo Toshokan like promoting piracy, which will probably get it shut down harder and faster than Hongfire was? ;)

    I’d probably have added one of the anime blogging aggregators to that list, however, just to give people a wide range of sources to pick from. I don’t hit Random Curiousity as much as I used to, since Omni stopped doing big commentary and reviews of series I was interested in. Tastes change, and aggregators like the Antenna or AnimeNano are useful.

  2. You should have added yourself to the list. You’re my number 1 source for mellonpan and delicious thigh meat news. FEEL HONORED!

  3. “There’s a lot of strong parallels between anime and Ben Wallace. Or so I think.”

    I now want to see a picture of you with an afro, just for a superficial comparison. And strangely, now I want to see Mako-cakes with an afro. :/

  4. I think that your thin slicing posts are a great service to the fan community so in a way that is a sort of must read every season as a one stop shop for series that might have gone otherwise unnoticed. If memory serves me right wasn’t it you who pimped out Muteki Kanban Musume or at least one of the prime movers? If nothing else your eye for anime series does not suffer a huge minute of arc and remains superbly accurate in my point of view. Then again I am lazy about doing a new season sample and rely on hard working blokes like you to do it for me.


    We need more MKM or more Sketchbook.

  6. There’s a lot of strong parallels between anime and Ben Wallace.

    They both get traded a lot?

    They are both overpriced?

    They both get featured on the cover of video games?

  7. This “sample” merely serves to reinforce my belief that if Mako-cakes doesn’t make it into the next SaiMoe and gain a decent foothold against the other contenders, then all integrity will have been lost.

    But anyway, nice list. Hit most or all of the important ones. Although I do wonder if Nico Nico Douga could have been up there as well, even with the language barrier. Not like it’s terribly hard to get an account though…

  8. >> Isn’t posting links to Tokyo Toshokan like promoting piracy, which will probably get it shut down harder and faster than Hongfire was?

    They were shut down by ADV like 3 years ago or so. I think most people already know about it, but, oh well, I’ll change the URL for that entry to something more fun.

    >> Although I do wonder if Nico Nico Douga could have been up there as well

    Thought about it, but really YouTube’s the king of the category. Plus, a lot of whatever is on Nico^2 ends up on YouTube.

    >> They both get traded a lot? They are both overpriced? They both get featured on the cover of video games?

    Man, I set you up perfectly for that like Nash to Amare. Next time I write this post, you’ll get the 25 spot. Just remind me in 2015… ;)

  9. I am personally hoping for more FMP or more Suzumiya Haruhi myself.

  10. Spouting memes outside of 4chan…. well at least I believe /a/ will have better quality ever since the implemented changes. Though I do bet that /jp/ won’t even last a week, with so many Touhou threads and whatnot.

    >>#18 2ch
    >>>>desu tane デス種 — Abbrev for Gundam Seed Destiny.
    OH GEASS NO. I was conversing about Destiny with my friend (he finished, I’m on ep20). He seems to agree Destiny is shit. My other friend thinks it’s okay. I’M TORN.

  11. >>There’s a lot of strong parallels between anime and Ben Wallace.

    We’re still wondering if they can rebound? (R1 industry)
    They like to wear headbands? (Naruto lol)

    The anime version of “Johnny are you worried yet?” should feature a Sunrise fan (on that note aren’t the parallels between the Yankees and Sunrise uncanny or am I still high?)

    Nico^2 should be on the list for its extended memes, excellent ranking system and peanut gallery.

  12. Lol Onigiri… ~_~;;

    Kono Minikukumo Utsukushii Sekai 01-12 [AonE-Onigiri]
    UL : 2
    DL : 6
    Wow i remember this series… I can’t believe its still being seeded.

    Sighh I always though the community was more fun back in the day before BT… but maybe that’s just me =P

  13. Btw, Jeff’s blog is called Hop Step Jump (not Hot).

  14. I really wanted to be Eleanor.

  15. I love the ESPN pick. Much like you while trolling the Internet I do read your blog and the sports guy. You right on Hot Step Jump You are more Teddy and he’s more FDR. That’s probably why I read you more than him. LOL anyhoo I’m guessing you love that Ben Wallace trade (or you just feel happy Cleveland got a got for LeBron so he won’t leave town in a couple of years) Also how come you didn’t mention the second biggest anime con in America Otakon. What’s with this West Coast Bias. Do I need to bring my New York Laywers down to see you???

  16. Sorry I got distracted by Kyou x Tomoyo!

  17. oh and i cant japan culture lulz without
    soooo good

  18. It’s not strictly an anime site, but I’d love to see more recognition of the greatness of the TVTropes wiki. Where else can one find such encyclopedic descriptions of anime character types, cultural references, plot devices and the like, all done up in a breezily entertaining (i.e. nonpedantic) style? The only caveat is that the site is so addictive that it can take time away from the actual enjoyment of the anime it celebrates.

  19. ^Thanks for bringing that up, haven’t thought of that.

    Yeah, you can definitely waste an afternoon in here.

  20. In my effort to find a decent example, here’s a gem:


    This is better. Any post that includes Mizuho, Jun, and Mako-chan (the trifecta which broke Jason) is automatically better.

  22. Is it wrong that the hottest image in that post is of Makoto…

  23. The active anime list does have a blog listed: #6 Okazu Blogspot. It’s not just anime (in fact, she covers manga more than anime, but blame that on the dearth of yuri anime) but it is a blog and it is related to anime.

  24. Yes, Mako had me paralyzed… makes me wonder if I should base my cognitive dissonance paper on Mako-cakes. Thankfully, KyouXTomoyo service brought me back.

    Nice list ^^

  25. Tomoyo X Kyou ? !!!@@***

  26. Hi again Jason, love how ur still doing ur blog, hate to hear you gonna quit. :D
    Not sure if this is up yet, but no longer lists fansub groups. I registered an account there some time ago but even when logged in I dont see sub lists/fansubber listings.
    I only use anidb to get a quick image/synopsis of the show when f.ex recommending “ef” to my nerd squad.

  27. ANBU loves you

  28. Amen Jason…

    Onmi’s and your blogs were the first ones I ever visited almost 3 years meanwhile I was searching for good info about some series at that time (Full Metal Panic! TSR and Shakugan no Shana); since then all my free time has been involved around anime (and reading). For some reason this year I’m reading more and watching less anime (maybe I’m not motivated enough to do so for now); but reading your blog and some other good friends of mine keeps me on the good track.

    Bye for now…

  29. Not sure if this is up yet, but no longer lists fansub groups.

    Yes they do.

  30. Jason, I’m disappointed. You should’ve TOTALLY Rickrolled the TT link.

    As for that final YouTube link, for some reason I got the “Wow, this reminds me of Kodomo no Omocha’s OP.” feeling. Only KnO never had anything close to resembling a SSD (Southern Symmetrical Docking) procedure.

  31. Nico Nico has better video/audio quality, it seems that they don’t have the 350kbit/s limit, which really sucks for a video. My mp3s are 320kbit/s

  32. The Active Anime list was submitted by readers. Those are the top sites people VOTED for.

  33. quick anime singles link:

  34. I think should be on that list.

    Heck you should read the Clannad After Story in the teasers page translated by Velocity7… Needs more Kyou…

    And yeah they just finished translating CLANNAD visual novel @_@.

  35. >Yeah, you can definitely waste an afternoon in here.
    As a frequent abuseruser of TVTropes,I will say that this is a severely conservative estimate. It’s more like weeks.
    One of my favourites.
    And one of my favourites:

  36. One more. This one’s mine:
    I am a sick little monkey :D

  37. I think you jumped the gun here. If you look closely, Active Anime don’t sell anime or manga, they review them. They don’t even list the price on their review data.

    The Top 25 were submitted by the readers and not selected by folks at Active Anime, just as HitokiriShadow wrote.

  38. Great site for anime song lyrics. They’ve since added YouTube linkage, which only makes it better.

  39. I would replace you tube with stage 6, save for the fact they they had to shut down for being too awesome. The DMC pretty much gets it’s rocks off by attacking any new and wonderful technology they can find. Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of pretty streaming divx. *watching you tube makes me want to cry now*

Leave a Reply