Synopsis : Tanaka Yukio, better known by his nickname Koyuki is a 14 year old who feels disconnected from life in general. Through the act of saving a mismatched dog, he meets guitarist Minami Ryuusuke, and becomes involved in Ryuusuke's new band BECK. Koyuki's life starts to change as the band struggles towards fame.
Thoughts : Seen by many as the Anime with the best Engrish, Beck is not only a fantastic music anime, but also a great coming of age tale of a boy that finds different kinds of love in the strangest of places. It's really one of those must see anime, just a shame the Live Action movie was so horrible.
Synopsis : Dr. Tenma Kenzou is a very talented Japanese doctor and he's praised by all doctors in Germany. But after he saw how a woman cried for her man who died because someone else got more priority, he changed. He decides he wouldn't let anyone pass; everyone is equal.
But one day, Tenma has to work on a little boy who was shot during the murder of his parents. He decides he will save the life of the boy, because he was first in line.
But then, the children disappear... and the murders begin. Tenma, feeling both guilt and worry, goes off to investigate the case since he feels that it somehow relates to him... and the horror begins, for both Tenma and everyone he meets in search for the children...
Thoughts : For many Monster is the Go To Anime if you want a psychological horror steeped in mystery. With easily one of the scariest human monsters around. If a thought provoking experience is what you are after, Monster will not dissappoint.
Synopsis : Yakitate means "fresh baked", but the word "Japan" is actually a pun - pan means bread in Japanese, so Kazuma is out to make Japan, a unique Japanese bread to compete with the best bread from around the world!
Azuma become obsessed with bread when he was six years old. His sister yelled that their family should start having bread for breakfast sometimes, but their grandfather refused to even consider it, as he would only eat natto, miso soup, and rice for breakfast. Kazuma agreed, saying he didn't like bread, but his sister kidnaps him and takes him to a bread store to show him the wonders of fresh-baked bread. Not only is Kazuma converted, but the owner discovers that Kazuma has the magical "Hands of the Sun" whose warmth makes them particularly suited to making bread. The owner packs up shop and goes to Tokyo to fulfill his dream of making Japan, but Kazuma continues his bread-baking dream as well, and ends up going to Tokyo himself when he's sixteen, to compete for a spot at the foremost bread store in Japan - Pantasia!
Thoughts : A word of warning, Do Not Watch this anime when hungry, you'll be craving bread in no time! Yakitate Japan is the reason I enjoy food based anime so much. It's a perfect mix of characters and jokes with the whole competitive baking edge that makes this such a joy to consume!
Synopsis : Tokiha Mai and her sickly younger brother, Takumi, have received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Fuuka Academy. On the way there, the ferry they are travelling on becomes the site of a destructive battle between two girls wielding apparently supernatural powers. This is only the beginning of their troubles, as Mai learns that she herself possesses these powers — the powers of a HiME.
Thoughts : Other than the controversial ending. Mai-HiME was a tour de force of emotions and action that really helped it stand out in 2004. And this was the year Gundam Seed Destiny came out. A great example of how a show with super charged battles with a bit of fanservice can work if done right. And don't forget the great soundtrack by Kajiura Yuki.
Koukaku Kidoutai S.A.C. 2nd GIG
Synopsis : The story continues to follow the adventures of Section 9's top members, Motoko Kusanagi, Batou, and Togusa. For this second season, Innocence-famed director Mamoru Oshii contributed with his ideas to the concept of the entire series right from the initial planning stages. The series maintains an episodic format and portrays Section 9 dealing with political issues such as invited refugees and nuclear intrigue. Another government institution, the Information Bureau of the Cabinet, comes up head-to-head against them. And a terrorist entity who calls itself the "Individual Eleven" joins the set. The in-depth storytelling of the series is likely to surpass the first series.
Thoughts : Almost everyone has heard of Ghost in the Shell, most anime fans and even non anime fans have even seen the movie. But the Stand Alone Complex series is the real gem, especially 2nd GIG. With hauntingly beautiful music from Yoko Kanno and the now sadly deceased Origa. Fantastic animation of a level now known for it's time and a mystery that grips you from the onset. Makes for not only one of the best anime of 2004, but probably All Time.
Making this list was extremely hard for me, as 2004 had SO MANY great anime, that I kinda wish I wasn't limiting myself to just 5...maybe 10 would have been better...or 15 even. Which anime from 2004 would you have preferred on the list? I'll provide an image below that you can just open in a new tab/window if you want a refresher of 2004.