Anime Recommendations for the Reluctant and Unaware

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I recently read an interesting post on buzzfeed.com which can be found here : http://www.buzzfeed.com/anjalipatel/gateway-animes-guaranteed-to-get-you-hooked#.txJvmnMdb. In the article it lists ”Anime to watch if you have never seen any”. I thought this was a great idea and, although I didn’t personally agree with every choice made, I thought that this sort of thing is exactly what anime culture needs to try to influence the reluctant and unaware public to watch anime for the first time… hence the reason for this post. Below I have listed, under common television categories, my top 3 recommended anime series. This should make them easily accessible and give you an idea of what may interest you. Also look out for some honourable mentions which didn’t quite make the cut but are well worth your time should you wish to work your way through the lists! I hope this can help newcomers to discover something they can enjoy as (most anime fans will tell you) it only takes one great anime to start you down the path to becoming a serious Otaku.


 

ACTION


 

3. Black Lagoon

Rating : 18+

Available to buy

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Overview:

This series follows a group of pirate mercenaries as they smuggle and steal their way through life .Okajima Rokuro, a small time businessman, finds himself taken hostage by the group, however, he soon finds that there is more than initially meets the eye. This show is one of fast-paced action, guns, violence and excessive profanity. So if you like that sort of thing Black Lagoon could be just the anime for you.

2. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Rating: 15

Available to buy

Available to stream on Netflix

Overview:

After two brothers try to bring their mother back to life using methods of ‘Alchemy’, they both lose more than they bargained for. As a result they find themselves on a quest for the ‘philosophers stone’, the power of which can return what was once lost. This show does have some fantasy elements to it, however,  it also has some of the greatest action, animation and plot twists of any show I’ve seen to date. This is not to be missed and, as it is also currently available on Netflix, there is no excuse to not at least watch a few episodes. There is also an older version of this show  which was released in 2003 but in my personal opinion Brotherhood is the better option.

1. Cowboy Bebop

Rating: 15

Available to buy

Overview:

Originally released in 1998, this show has recently been remastered meaning now is the perfect time to pick it up. Hailed as an all-time classic anime I personally think everyone should watch at least some of this show before they die. It follows a group of bounty hunters in space and their resultant adventures… there isn’t much more that needs to be said! With one of my favourite soundtracks of all time, Cowboy Bebop is the perfect blend of old and modern styles with the basis of the show set in space and a contrasting soundtrack of mostly jazz based music. Bebop just oozes style and it really does live up to the hype.


 

CRIME/DRAMA


 

3. Death Note

Rating: 15

Available to buy

Available to stream on Netflix

death

Overview:

Shinigami or death gods really do exist and when they write your name in a Death Note your life is over. However, when a shinigami named Ryuk loses his Death Note in the human world, a young boy named Light Yagami finds it and our world will never be the same again. Death Note is perhaps an anime you may have heard of before and for good reason. It is always a show which is highly recommended and for that reason I won’t say much more about it. Just be sure to go and find out what the fuss is all about for yourself.

2. Psycho Pass

Rating:15

Available to buy

Available to stream on Netflix

(Props to Shane Gregory aka Fire Visuals for the video)

Overview:

In the future a new system can distinguish between potential criminals before they have even committed a crime. Enforcers then hunt down, arrest and even execute these latent criminals based on their statistical analysis. This show, although not an all-time classic like Death Note, is a much more current show and has resultantly higher production quality hence the higher ranking. It is a largely intelligent show which explores morality and the dangers of technology. So if you’re in the mood for something thought-provoking, Psycho Pass is a great choice.

1. Baccano!

Rating: 18+

Available to buy

Overview:

Set in 1930s America, I have yet to see a show quite as interesting and individual as Baccano! and probably never will again. Gangsters, alchemists, murderers, thieves and immortals are just some of the characters you can expect in this series which is told for various points of view. This can make it quite difficult to follow at times, however, as all the pieces start to fit together you can truly appreciate the genius behind this production.


 

SCI-FI


 

*Honourable Mention* – The Girl Who Lept Through Time

Rating: PG

Available to buy

girl

Overview:

As can be expected with time travel there are always complications as Makoto soon finds out for herself. This is a romance film with elements of science fiction for good measure. Made by the wonderful director Mamoru Hosoda this is one of my favourite ever anime movies and stands the test of time considering it was made in 2006. I’ve seen this film on sale for as low a price as £3 so if you ever happen to find it definitely pick it up!

3. Steins; Gate

Rating: 12

Available to buy

Available to stream on Netflix

stein

Overview:

Based on a Japanese visual novel, Steins;Gate is a bit like Marmite. It follows the wacky adventures of Hououin Kyouma, a self-proclaimed ‘mad scientist’ who invents a microwave which can send text messages to the past. If that hasn’t peaked your interest I honestly don’t know what will.

2. Ghost In The Shell 

Rating : 15

Available to buy

Available to stream on Netflix

ghosy

Overview:

Set in a futuristic Japan, Section 9 of an anti-cyber terrorism organisation led by cyborg Motoko Kusanagi are on the hunt for an illusive hacker known as the ”Puppet Master”. This is often referred to as the definitive sci-fi anime and therefore should be given a chance at least don’t you think?

1. Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)

Rating: TBC

Yet to have a UK release.

mirai

Overview:

Someone may hate me for placing this above GITS, however, although I can appreciate the genius of that show, I honestly enjoyed Future Diary more. This anime is a sort of ‘battle royale’ in which the current God of space and time has orchestrated a contest to choose his successor. Each competitor has in their possession a diary which holds a specific power with our main protagonists diary holding entries for 90 days into the future. What follows is a fight to the death between various diary holders with the victor earning the role of God.


 

FANTASY


 

*Honourable Mention* – Wolf Children

Rating: 12

Available to buy

Overview:

Another masterpiece film by Mamoru Hosoda, Wolf Children is a fantasy adventure with characters that you can truly feel for as you watch them develop on-screen. It follows the life of Hanna, a single mother to two werewolves. Yep….that’s right….

3. Fate/Zero 

Rating: 15

Available to buy

Available to stream  for free on Crunchyroll

Available to stream on Netflix (US)

Overview:

The 4th Holy Grail war has begun with candidates summoning seven great spirits to battle for possession of the grail and the wish that is granted to the victors. This series has  HUGE production quality and some of the best animation as can be expected from studio Ufotable. With a follow-up series of Fate/Stay Night also currently streaming on Crunchyroll there is certainly plenty on offer here.

2. Studio Ghibli

Rating: PG

Available to buy

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Overview:

Studio Ghibli is a studio well-known for masterpiece films that are great fun for all the family. They always capture the imagination of the viewer and never fail to provide the highest quality entertainment. My personal recommendations can be found in my TOP 5 Ghibli films articles on this blog under the TOP 5 category. I would also recommend films such as Ponyo and The Wind Rises which were released following my short listing.

1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Rating : 15

Available to buy

Available to stream on Netflix

Overview:

What may appear to be, on the surface, a childish and light hearted adventure is actually a series that brings more depth to it than most in modern anime. It may have a generic ‘magical girl’ set-up but Madoka Magica has an ending that with leave your mouth agape. I’m reluctant to say much more on the subject so I will let the show talk for itself. All I will say is that Madoka is a series that can be re-watched many times and is a visual spectacle not to be missed. Also with the coming release of the three movies by Manga Entertainment I would highly recommend you get up to date.


 

”FEELS”

*( Anime that invoke certain heart wrenching emotions)*


 

3. Your Lie In April

Rating: PG/12

Available to stream for free on Crunchyroll

Overview:

Arima Kosei is a musical prodigy who can no longer hear the music he plays following a traumatic childhood incident. When he meets Miyazono Kaori a spirited young violinist, his life changes forever. This series is a very recent one as it only ended this year! It is one of the most beautiful shows I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing and with a wonderful soundtrack it certainly ”brings the feels”.

2. Anohana : The Flower We Saw That Day

Rating: PG/12

Yet to have a UK release

(One of my favourite opening themes)

Overview:

A group of children all become estranged following a painful shared experience. Now in adolescence they must band together to face the demons of their past. I don’t want to give too much away but if you ever get the chance watch Anohana! Be sure to have tissues at the ready though as it will have you crying like a baby.

1. Grave of the Fireflies

Rating: 12

Available to buy

grave

Overview:

I may have already covered Studio Ghibli but this is one of their stand out films for being so different from the norm. This is certainly not a Ghibli family film as it follows the lives of two children in Japan during World War II. Expect controversy, heartbreak and plenty of tears for this one.


 

HORROR/THRILLER


 

3. Satoshi Kon

Rating: 18+

Available to buy

Perfect-Blue-Image

Overview:

Satoshi Kon is now sadly a deceased animator and director whose work has inspired many. Anime such as Paranoia Agent and the masterpiece film that is Perfect Blue are perfect examples of psychological horror anime. He will have you thinking and questioning everything and that is something I have yet to experience since.

2. Elfen Lied

Rating: 18+

Available to buy

Available to stream on Netflix

elfen

Overview:

Elfen Lied may not strictly be a ‘horror anime’ but it certainly delivers in terms of gore with the opening episode producing some of the most violent scenes I’ve ever witnessed in anime. It is a fairly short series following a new species known as Diclonius. It mostly centres around the darker aspects of human nature and our behaviour towards people who are ‘different’. I have also written a full review of the show which can be found here: https://animeobsessed64.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/elfen-lied/

1. Berserk Movies

Rating: 18+

Available to buy

Available to stream on Netflix (US)

Overview:

Yet again Berserk isn’t strictly a ‘horror anime’ however, if all three feature films are taken into consideration I think it does represent some of the darkest themes and situations in anime. For example, film 3 ‘The Advent’ has one of the most horrific endings I have ever witnessed. Following a young warrior named Guts on his quest for military prowess and fortune, Berserk has a certain Lord of the Rings/ Game of Thrones vibe to it. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this anime will not be forgotten any time soon. Also, in my personal opinion, I honestly feel that the movies are the most accessible method of experiencing Berserk, however, there is also a 25 episode series which preceded these movies in 1995 for anyone interested.


 

 

Thank you for taking the time to check out my anime recommendation list! I’m sure there will be some difference of opinion but feel free to comment below with your personal recommendations too !

 

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