Anime (originally called Japanimation when it came to America in the 1989) has been a focus of Japanese and American Nerd Culture since the release of AKIRA in theaters.
Hundreds of Anime came out during the time between the AKIRA and now, some were good, some were bad, and some we wish we could forget. However, few have become legendary and talked about since the final episode aired and the manga ended. So, for those who are interested in anime, who want some recommendations, or want to see where your favorites are; I have ten anime that are memorable and that every anime fan needs to watch.
For this list, I am including five shounen (anime made for a male audience) and five shoujo (anime made for a female audience). However, I will not be including long running anime such as Naruto, Bleach, or One Piece. This is because these anime are VERY LONG, and you would be spending a lot of time trying to catch up. These are animes that you can watch in a weekend or two. Give a chance to any anime that you see on this list, I will also be including places to watch it such as Netflix or Hulu.
FIVE SHOUNEN ANIMES THAT YOU SHOULD WATCH
1.) Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is the story of a group of bounty hunters in the year 2071. It follows Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, and Edward; through their adventures hunting down criminals all throughout the solar system for money. The characters are beautifully developed, having their own detailed back story which explains their motivations and actions throughout the entire moment. It's similar to an epiphany moment when you realize what you were doing wrong. It also has a great soundtrack, sounding like a mix of Jazz, Blues, and Rock. The perfect example of this is the ending track, 'The Real Folk Blues'.
Cowboy Bebop has a total of 25 episodes, each being a half an hour long. It was released in Japan in April 1998, and released with English Dubbing on Toonami in September 2001. It is available in both English Subtitles and English Audio on Hulu, if you have that service.
2.) Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist is a famous Japanese Manga Series, following the story of the Elric Brothers trying to find a way to restore their bodies to what they were. In this world, the ultimate science/magic is alchemy, which follows the law of equivalent exchange(one cannot gain without losing something of equal value). When Edward and Alphonse Elric attempt to revive their dead mother, they underestimate the value of a human soul, with Edward losing his leg and Alphonse losing his body. Quick to save his brother, Edward ties his brother's soul to a suit of armor and they start on a quest to restore their bodies.
Fullmetal Alchemist has two animes based off it: Fullmetal Alchemist and Brotherhood. However, the earlier anime had come out when the manga was still being written and has an anime only ending. Brotherhood follows the manga, which is why I prefer it over the original. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is available for streaming on Netflix in the subtitled Japanese and the English audio, as well as the original.
3.) Death Note
If I had to compare Death Note to anything, I would compare it to Hannibal or Dexter combined with Supernatural. It tells the story of how a rogue death god drops a notebook with the power to kill, and how it lands in the worst possible hands possible. Light Yagami is our 'protagonist' who finds the Death Note and uses the mortal power to kill convicted criminals in an attempt to become God. He is soon hunted down by the police and a special detective named L. Light is trying to kill L, but cannot do so without his real name.
Death Note has a lot of 'cat and mouse', enough where you forget who is the cat and who is the mouse. It has a total of 37 episodes, and is available for streaming on Netflix. It has both English and Japanese Audio for streaming. However, I warn you that this anime does have a major plot twist at around the halfway points. But no spoilers.
4.) Attack on Titan
If you haven't stepped in an anime convention or in a Hot Topic, Attack on Titan is a fairly new anime which is about a post-apocalyptic world. Titans, giant humanoid creatures who feast on human flesh, hunt after humanity. The remaining humans build a series of three walls to protect themselves and they have a century of peace. However, when a gargantuan 'Colossal Titan' kicks in the outermost wall, humanity is unprepared and hundreds of people die.
Our protagonist is Eren Jaegar, a fifteen year old boy who lost his mother in the attack on the wall. He enlists in the military responsible for fighting and annihilating the titans. However, he soon realizes he had the ability to turn into the very creature he despises. This anime has beautiful action scenes, a great soundtrack and opening, and beautifully developed characters. This 25 episode anime is available on Netflix in the original Japanese, and a second season is coming out next winter.
5.) Soul Eater
Soul Eater tells the story of seven teenagers who attend the Death Weapon Meister Academy. The students of this school are responsible for hunting the souls of those who are insane and killing the innocent in pairs. One of the pair can turn into a weapon, the other utilizes that weapon in battle. In order for a Death Weapon and a Meister to make a Death Scythe (the Death Weapon being powerful enough for even Death to use), the duo must kill 99 mortal souls and One Witch Soul. However, eventually a very powerful demon emerges, known as the Kishin Asura, and our protagonists must fight him before the world descends into Madness.
Soul Eater has great music and characters (if you can get over one character's English voice acting), as well as great fight scenes. This show is amusing with a lot of comedy and feels, that just sucks you in. It's a total of 52 episodes and is available on Netflix in English and Japanese.
FIVE SHOUJO ANIMES THAT YOU NEED TO WATCH
1.) Ouran High School Host Club (OHSHC)
You know the stereotypical girl daydream about six guys falling in love with her? This is NOT that show. OHSHC is the story of Haruhi Fujioka, a teenage girl attending the Elitist School, Ouran Academy, on Scholarship. However, when she accidentally breaks an Eight Million Yen Vase (80,000$ in US), she finds herself cross-dressing and working at a host club. A Host Club is a place where girls go to have guys flirt with them, serve them tea, and make them feel better. It's like a strip club, but with tea and no nudity.
This is definitely a Romantic Comedy, and it is one of the most amusing shows I have ever watched. You will find yourself wondering when will this girl ever repay her debt, and you will find yourself muttering about the rich while watching. It is a total of 26 Episodes and Available on Netflix in English and Japanese. I suggest watching it in English, it has funnier puns.
2.)Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Remember watching Sailor Moon when you were little? Yeah, imagine Sailor Moon, but a whole lot darker. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a dark deconstruction of the Magical Girl Genre, based on Goethe's Faust. It tells the story of Madoka Kaname, a girl who is approached by an alien named Kyubey and offered a wish of her choice, if she chooses to become a magical girl and fight witches.
Now, I have to warn you. This show is like Game of Thrones, but with teenage girls. Don't get attached to anyone, I learned the hard way. There are a lot of feels in this show, but it also has great action scenes. I highly suggest this show to anyone. Except for children.
3.)Sailor Moon Crystal
Now, Sailor Moon is indeed a classic. But, I am not speaking of the 90's Sailor Moon from your childhood. I am speaking of the remake that came out last year. It is much more streamlined than the original, and it actually is going to have Uranus and Neptune as a lesbian couple(rather than cousins)!
It is a great rendition of the classic story, but for a more adult audience. It is available and ongoing on Crunchyroll for streaming. It has 26 Episodes now, and is only available in Japanese. However, it's a really great flashback to your childhood, but is great for an older audience.
Black Butler is the story of Earl Ciel Phantomhive(age 13) and his butler, Sebastian Michaelis, in Victorian England. However, this butler/master pair are not the same as everyone in London. You see, Sebastian is a demon who entered in a contract for Ciel's soul (in exchange for revenge on Ciel's parents' murderer). Meanwhile, Ciel acts as the 'Queen's Guard Dog', eliminating all the Queen deems a threat to the public (example: Jack the Ripper).
Black Butler is the anime that got me into anime and I absolutely loved the historical feel, various characters and backgrounds, and the fight scenes. There are three seasons, but only two have been given English Audio and are available on netflix. However, I suggest you skip the second season, seeing as it ruined the ending of the first.
5.)Free! Iwatobi Swim Club
Free! is about a group of boys who all love swimming. However, when one of them leaves for Australia and comes back years later, angry and depressed. His former friends decide to put together their long abandoned Swim Club, to see him again.
The only reason I would suggest this to anyone is because of fanservice (when characters are given revealing poses and revealing coverage to get a reaction from the fanbase). Now, if that's your cup of tea, it's available on Hulu in both the Japanese and the English Dub came out last summer on Funimation's Streaming Site.
Do any of these animes seem interesting? Are you considering watching any of them? Have you watched any of them before? Tell me in the comments!