Thursday, June 1, 2017

100 Accessible Anime Guide for Fans (Part 4)

And with this post, we reach the end of this short series on anime.

This last list of 25 was the most difficult to compile. After 2004, the pickings got slim, and between 2007 and 2015 the industry was hitting lows in breadth of series and in general quality. I've already covered this many times by now, so I'll skip it here. You already know the last ten years of anime has not been the most accessible for older fans or your garden variety genre or cartoon fan.

But it's not all hopeless.

By 2015 the industry began to offer more content for the audiences they'd been neglecting. This later came to light that 1 in 4 studios are currently losing money (it was 20% between 2011 and 2014) which obviously means a change in focus is needed. The industry has been skrinking by design since 2007, and it has been proven a bad direction.

Despite that, there were some great series during this period, and I'm going to try to point out as many as I can. As always, if you have any other suggestions, please let me know.


76. Gungrave (2003)
Genre: Action Fantasy
Length: 26 episodes
Studio: Madhouse
Writer: Yasuhiro Nightow (creator, original concept), Yousuke Kuroda
Director: Toshiyuki Tsuru

PlotGungrave opens thirteen years after Brandon Heat is betrayed and killed by his best friend Harry McDowell. He is reborn through the use of necrolyze as Beyond The Grave, and begins a quest of revenge against the crime syndicate. The series then backtracks to Brandon's youth, and follows him and Harry as they rise through the criminal underworld, detailing the circumstances that led to their eventual falling-out.

Opinion: Featuring most of the Trigun staff (sans the director who was busy with Hajime no Ippo), Gungrave represents one of the few adaptions of a video game property that surpassed the source material. Partially because of the Trigun staff's involvement, Gungrave turns into a reflection of that series from the perspective of innocence to corruption and the possibility of redemption from the point of no return. Fans of Trigun would do well to see it, but it stands well enough on its own.

77. Last Exile (2003)
Genre: Steampunk
Length: 26 episodes
Studio: Gonzo
Writer: Koichi Chigira
Director: Koichi Chigira

Plot: The story is set on the fictional world of Prester, where its inhabitants use aerial vehicles known as vanships as a means of transportation. On this world which is divided in eternal conflict between the nations of Anatoray and Disith, sky couriers Claus Valca and Lavie Head must deliver a girl who holds the key to uniting the two factions.

Opinion: This really popular steampunk series received a lot of attention back in the day. It was one of the few that was promoted heavily in trying to get younger audiences into anime overseas. That was back when companies cared about that. The series features a lot of questions before it starts providing answers and might turn of the impatient. However, those that are willing to wait will be rewarded. This type of unabashedly old school design was already becoming rarer by 2003; there is little chance a series like this would thrive today.

78. Planetes (2003)
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 26 episodes
Studio: Sunrise
Writer: Makoto Yukimura (original manga), Ichiro Okouchi
Director: Goro Taniguchi

Plot: The story of Planetes follows the crew of the DS-12 "Toy Box" of the Space Debris Section, a unit of Technora Corporation. Debris Section's purpose is to prevent the damage or destruction of satellites, space stations and spacecraft from collision with debris in Earth's and the Moon's orbits. They use a number of methods to dispose of the debris (mainly by burning it via atmospheric reentry or through salvage), accomplished through the use of EVA suits.

Opinion: If you didn't know any better, I could tell you this series was written in the early '80s and you would believe it. This is par of the course with Makoto Yukimura who wrote this science fiction manga that felt equal parts adventure and philosophy lesson. It focuses on the wonders of life and hope while introducing a cast of characters you can't help but root for in a future bordering on creation and destruction. This was an anomaly back in 2003, but it in a good way. Unfortunately it's out of print these days and goes for for quite the penny. Here's hoping for a re-release.

79. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
Genre: Drama
Length: 92 minutes
Studio: Madhouse
Writer: Satoshi Kon, Keiko Nobumoto
Director: Satoshi Kon

Plot: One Christmas Eve three people, a middle-aged alcoholic named Gin, a former drag queen Hana, and a dependent runaway girl Miyuki, discover an abandoned newborn while looking through the garbage. Deposited with the unnamed baby is a note asking the finder to take good care of her and a bag containing clues to the parent's identity. The trio sets out to find the baby's parents. The baby is named Kiyoko, literally meaning "pure child" as she is found on Christmas Eve.

Opinion: Satoshi Kon movies are very hard to recommend due to how oddball and off kilter they are. This one is different. Essentially, Satoshi Kon was trying to make a Frank Capra movie, highlighting the importance of traditional families (as aggravating as they can be) and how we are all connected by coincidences we can't always understand. This is a film people who might not like Kon's works could even enjoy. If you haven't seen one of his films yet, this is the best one to start with.

80. Fullmetal Alchemist (2003)
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Length: 51 episodes
Studio: Bones
Writer: Hiromu Arakawa (original manga), Sho Aikawa
Director: Seiji Mizushima

Plot: The series follows the adventures of brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are searching for the Philosopher's Stone so they can regain the bodies they lost in a failed attempt to bring their dead mother back to life.

Opinion: Fullmetal Alchemist is an adventure manga about the laws of nature and playing God (or pretending to act in His stead) that was the progenitor of two different anime. I'm not going to get into the other series, but this one came first and is the one most people talk about so I will list this one here. The original series goes in a different direction than the manga, but it is nothing to shake a stick at. Needless to say, FMA was a phenomenon 14 years ago for a reason. It would be a long time before an anime exploded this big in the west again.

81. Monster (2004)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 74 episodes
Studio: Madhouse
Writer: Naoki Urasawa (original manga), Tatsuhiko Urahata
Director: Masayuki Kojima

Plot: The story revolves around Kenzo Tenma, a Japanese surgeon living in Germany whose life enters turmoil after getting himself involved with Johan Liebert, one of his former patients who is revealed to be a dangerous psychopath.

Opinion: Monster is one of my favorite manga series, and this is a perfect adaption of that story. A doctor is pushed to his breaking point and does a good deed that ends up causing horrific events years down the line. Monster is a battle against good and evil with a cast of memorable characters and twists that never stop coming. The only trick is to find this legally. It was dubbed entirely in English and yet the full series was never fully released over here. The manga is much more easily available, but the anime is still a great watch. If you can find it, give it a shot.

82. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad (2004)
Genre: Music, Slice of Life
Length: 26 episodes
Studio: Madhouse
Writer: Harold Sakuishi (original manga), Osamu Kobayashi
Director: Osamu Kobayashi

Plot: Beck tells the story of a group of Japanese teenagers who form a rock band and their struggle to fame, focusing on 14-year-old Yukio "Koyuki" Tanaka, who until meeting guitar prodigy Ryusuke Minami was an average teen with a boring life.

Opinion: This is a show made by rock fans and for rock fans. The original manga was known for making the music have impact on the reader without sound, but the anime adaption really adds a whole new layer to just what the bands are actually playing and how it shapes their lives and relationships with each other. Beck is a tale about how music affects as all in ways we can't always understand. It's a pretty unique show that hits every mark.

83. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (2004)
Genre: Science Fiction Drama
Length: 24 episodes
Studio: Gonzo
Writer: Alexandre Dumas (original novel), Shuichi Kouyama
Director: Mahiro Maeda

Plot: The story takes place in the far future of the 51st Century, during the year 5053. While visiting Luna for the festival, Viscount Albert de Morcerf and Baron Franz d'Épinay make the acquaintance of the Count of Monte Cristo, a self-made nobleman.

Opinion: This is like the book you remember, and not. The plot has many differences from the source material but it never shies from the main theme of the novel or the character's motivations. This is still The Count of Monte Cristo. That said, despite the differences, this is a fantastic adaption and one of the most unique. It was fairly popular back in the day, but who knows if anyone remembers it now. Give it a shot.

84. Paranoia Agent (2004)
Genre: Horror Thriller
Length: 13 episodes
Studio: Madhouse
Writer: Seishi Minakami, Saotshi Kon
Director: Satoshi Kon

PlotParanoia Agent is about a social phenomenon in Musashino, Tokyo caused by a juvenile serial assailant named Lil' Slugger. The plot relays between a large cast of people affected in some way by the phenomenon; usually Lil' Slugger's victims or the detectives assigned to apprehend him. As each character becomes the focus of the story, details are revealed about their secret lives and the truth about Lil' Slugger.

Opinion: Satoshi Kon's work is, as I said, hard to recommend without reservations. This TV show is probably the best distillation of his unusual style fleshed out to its fullest and best. Ostensibly about responsibility and the inability for the modern world to see things as they are, Paranoia Agent features a lot of strange happenings on top of its really odd imagery. It can also be surprisingly funny. There isn't anything else like it.

85. Honey & Clover (2005)
Genre: Romance, Slice of Life
Length: 36 episodes
Studio: J.C. Staff
Writer: Chica Umino (original manga), Yousuke Kuroda
Director: Kenichi Kasai / Tatsuyuki Nagai

Plot: Yūta Takemoto, Takumi Mayama and Shinobu Morita are three young men who live in the same apartment complex and are students at an art college in Tokyo. One day, they are introduced to Hagumi Hanamoto, the daughter of a cousin of Shūji Hanamoto, an art professor, who has come to live with Hanamoto and has become a first year art student at the art school. This is when everything changes.

Opinion: It's hard to find genuinely good romance series in the anime world. Chica Umino is well known for being one of the best with this series and the currently running March Comes in Like a Lion, and it is mainly do with how well she develops relationships and attraction without having to fall into perversion to get the point across. If you are looking for a good romance anime, this is what you're looking for.

86. Gurren Lagann (2007)
Genre: Mecha, Space Opera
Length: 27 episodes
Studio: Gainax
Writer: Kazuki Nakashima
Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Plot: Gurren Lagann takes place in the future where Earth is ruled by the Spiral King, Lordgenome, who forces mankind to live in isolated subterranean villages. The plot focuses on two teenagers living in a subterranean village, Simon and Kamina, who wish to go to the surface. Using a mecha known as Lagann, Simon and Kamina reach the surface and start fighting alongside other humans against Lordgenome's forces.

Opinion: I'm not the biggest fan of Gainax around, honestly. I find a lot of their material too self-aware and fetishistic. However, this show is remarkably over the top and honest about what it is to such an extent that it's hard to really dislike it. If you're a fan of mecha anime and over the top action, Gurren Lagann might just be what you're looking for. This is a show that earned its status.

87. Summer Wars (2009)
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 114 minutes
Studio: Madhouse
Writer: Mamoru Hasoda (story), Satoko Okudera
Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Plot: The film tells the story of Kenji Koiso, a timid eleventh-grade math genius who is taken to Ueda by twelfth-grade student Natsuki Shinohara to celebrate her great-grandmother's 90th birthday. However, he is falsely implicated in the hacking of a virtual world by a sadistic artificial intelligence named Love Machine. Kenji must repair the damage done to it and find a way to stop the rogue computer program from causing any further damage while dealing with Natsuki's family.

Opinion: This was a film that came out of nowhere. Essentially part action adventure and part family drama, Summer Wars is the type of anime film you don't see too often. It was also the first in a long while I could enjoy that wasn't made by Studio Ghibli. While Hosoda went on to direct some pretty good films after this, I'm still of the opinion that this is his best work. Summer Wars is good for nearly the whole family.

88. Tiger & Bunny (2011)
Genre: Action Adventure
Length: 25 episodes
Studio: Sunrise
Writer: Masafumi Nishida
Director: Keiichi Sato

PlotTiger & Bunny is set in a futuristic city where heroes fight crime whilst promoting real life sponsors, focusing on two superheroes, the old-fashioned Kotetsu T. "Wild Tiger" Kaburagi and the rookie hero Barnaby "Bunny" Brooks Jr., as they are forced by their employers to work together. But villains aren't always hidden in plain sight.

Opinion: This is a superhero buddy cop show like none other. Tiger & Bunny was a mega-hit in Japan. Superheroes, villains, and enough Silver Age to shake a stick at, this was clearly the best anime the year it came out and still works so much time later. This never got much exposure over here compared to Japan, but it definitely deserves more. The usage of CG for the suits is a bit awkward, but given how well it work with the comedy it fits well enough. Be sure to watch it. Now let's get season two already, Sunrise.

89. Psycho-Pass (2012)
Genre: Cyberpunk
Length: 22 episodes
Studio: Production I.G.
Writer: Gen Urobuchi
Director: Naoyoshi Shiotani, Katsuyuki Motohiro

Plot: The story takes place in an authoritarian future dystopia, where omnipresent public sensors continuously scan the mental states of every passing citizen. Collected data on both present mentality and aggregated personality data is used to gauge the probability of that citizen committing a crime, the rating referred to as that citizen's Psycho-Pass. Authorities are alerted whenever excessive ratings are detected, and officers of the Public Safety Bureau are dispatched with weapons called "Dominators", energy pistols that modulate their power in response to the target's Psycho Pass. The story follows Shinya Kogami and Akane Tsunemori among other members of Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau's Criminal Investigation Division.

Opinion: It had been a while since the last anime like this. This series was about due. Which makes sense, since the creators of Psycho Pass made it specifically because they wanted to create a series in the vein of Mamoru Oshii. You can expect similar types of themes and action from this show, but be wary of the second season which has a completely different writer and is more or less non-canon. Season 1 is what you want.

90. Kids on the Slope (2012)
Genre: Drama
Length: 12 episodes
Studio: MAPPA, Tezuka Productions
Writer: Yuki Kodama (original manga)
Director: Shinichiro Watanabe

Plot: The beginning of summer, 1966; because of his father's job situation, freshman high school student Kaoru Nishimi moves by himself from Yokosuka to Sasebo in Kyushu to live with relatives. Until then, Kaoru was an honor roll student who tended to keep to himself, but meeting notorious "bad boy" Sentaro Kawabuchi starts to change him. Through his devil-may-care classmate, Kaoru learns how much fun it is to play jazz and finds the first person he can call a real friend.

Opinion: Speaking of returns, it had also been a long time since we'd seen an anime series directed by the man behind Cowboy Bebop. This time he handled a coming of age story with plenty of music, religious undertones, and gut wrenching drama. But what I think really makes this work is the ending. I won't give it away, but it hits the mark in a way an anime had not in quite some time.

91. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (TV series) (2012)
Genre: Action Fantasy Comedy
Length: 26 episodes
Studio: David Production
Writer: Hirohiko Araki (original manga), Yasuko Kobayashi
Director: Naokatsu Tsuda, Kenichi Suzuki

Plot: The series focuses around the mysterious adventures of the Joestar family, beginning with an encounter involving Jonathan Joestar, his adoptive brother Dio Brando and a mysterious Stone Mask which all tie into the fate of their family line. This is the story of the ultimate fate of the Joestar family line.

Opinion: I'm going to be upfront, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is not for everybody. Basically, unless you like your anime wacky and insane while being clever at the same time, this might not be the series for you. I'm not the biggest fan of the franchise, but I have enjoyed what I've seen with Part 2 and 4 being my particular favorites. Each member of the Joestar line is a star of his own part, all of which have different approaches and styles to them, and this series contains the first two parts. Needless to say, it had been a long time since Japan put out a hotblooded action series. This was more than welcome. If you want to know if the franchise is for you, this anime is the best place to start.

92. Attack on Titan (2013)
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Length: 25+ episodes
Studio: Wit Studio, Production I.G.
Writer: Hajime Isayama (original manga), Yasuko Kobayashi
Director: Tetsuto Araki

Plot: It is set in a world where humanity lives in cities surrounded by enormous walls; a defense against the Titans, gigantic humanoids that eat humans seemingly without reason. The story initially centers on Eren Yeager, his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and childhood friend Armin Arlert, who join the military to fight the Titans after their home town is invaded and Eren's mother is eaten.

Opinion: This is only on here because this is a gigantic series with a lot of appeal to a lot of people. I'm not one of them. But if you like dark fantasy with crazy giants that eat people like zombies while flying around a lot, this is for you.

93. My Love Story!! (2015)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Length: 24 episodes
Studio: Madhouse
Writer: Kazune Kuwahara (original manga), Natsuko Takahashi
Director: Morio Asaka

Plot: The story follows Takeo Gōda, a tall and muscular student who doesn't have much luck with women. Every girl he likes ends up falling for his best friend, Makoto Sunakawa, who is charming and good-looking. This all changes when he saves Rinko Yamato, a petite shy girl who, above all other expectations, falls in love with Takeo, beginning a unique love story.

Opinion: The funniest part of this series is how it was touted as being something subversive. It's actually very much not. This is a series about how a manly man who doesn't understand women and a girly girl who doesn't understand boys meet and are attracted to each other by their corresponding traits. Neither are treated as inferior, but complementary in how they influence the relationships of everyone around them and how their relationship becomes something to aspire to. Forget modern anime romance, this is better than anything you'll see out of modern Hollywood.

94. One Punch Man (2015)
Genre: Action Comedy
Length: 12+ episodes
Studio: Madhouse
Writer: ONE (original manga), Tomohiro Suzuki
Director: Shingo Natsume

Plot: On an Earth-like super-continent planet, strange monsters and supervillains have been mysteriously appearing and causing disasters. To combat them, the world's superheroes have risen to fight them. Saitama is one such superhero, hailing from the metropolis of City Z and easily defeating monsters and villains with a single punch. However, he has become bored with his power and only gets truly excited when fighting strong opponents that can challenge him. Over the course of the series, Saitama encounters various superheroes, supervillains, and monsters. He gains a disciple in the form of the cyborg Genos and eventually joins the Hero Association in order to gain official recognition.

Opinion: Another supposedly subversive work, One Punch Man is a superhero story about a superhero who is too strong, but still maintains the heart of a hero. There's much comedy that can come from this, but there's still a lot of drama in just how the villains will be stopped or if Saitama will even make it in time. ONE is an indie manga writer with traditional sensibilities where no matter the joke, the bad guys are always bad and they always lose in the end, and good guys are always those to aspire to be. With season 2 on the way, hopefully more will begin to see that side of the series.

95. Ushio & Tora (TV series) (2015)
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Length: 39 episodes
Studio: MAPPA, Studio VOLN
Writer: Kazuhiro Fujita (original manga), Toshiki Inoue
Director: Satoshi Nishimura

Plot: Ushio & Tora centers around the travels and battles of Ushio Aotsuki, who is constantly being stalked and aided by a gigantic, supernatural, and sometimes invisible, tiger-like monster named Tora.

Ushio's family maintains a temple in Japan, where 500 years ago, his samurai ancestor battled Tora to a standstill, and eventually trapped him against a rock using a cursed spear called the "Beast Spear", which grants strength, speed, and endurance to the wielder in exchange for his soul. Ushio accidentally unsealed the cave Tora was trapped in which attracts monsters from the far corners of the world. Now they have to fight the oncoming darkness together.

Opinion: I've written a bunch about this series on this blog, but it really is as good as all that. From the director of Trigun comes an action series of light against dark in the ultimate battle to save the human race. There's plenty of action, adventure, and comedy to be had along the way, but there's also quite a few excellent plot turns on the way. Again, I'm biased. This is one of my most favorite anime series. There are few series as unabashedly bright, big, and positive, without reveling in irony or self-awareness as Ushio & Tora.

96. Blood Blockade Battlefront (2015)
Genre: Action Fantasy
Length: 12+ episodes
Studio: Bones
Writer: Yasuhiro Nightow (original manga), Kazunao Furuya
Director: Rie Matsumoto

Plot: The plot revolves around a young photographer named Leonardo Watch, who obtains "The All Seeing Eyes of the Gods" at the cost of his sister's eyesight. After the incident, Leonardo moves to the city of Hellsalem's Lot to join an organization known as Libra to fight several monsters as well as terrorists in the hope of finding a cure for his sister.

Opinion: Speaking of Trigun, here's the newest series by the creator! Blood Blockade Battlefront is a buddy cop show with supernatural battles at the edge of eternity. This series is better to watch dubbed so you can concentrate on everything going on, but it is one wicked ride to the end. And that ending is pretty close to perfect as you can get. Imagine an '80s police procedural meets urban fantasy meets serious theological concerns and you come close to what this series is. With a second season on the way, I can only hope for more of the same.

97. Erased (2016)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 12 episodes
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Writer: Kei Sanbe (original manga), Taku Kishimoto
Director: Tomohiko Ito

Plot: The story follows Satoru Fujinuma, a man who somehow possesses an ability that sends him back in time moments before a life-threatening incident, allowing him to prevent it from happening. When his mother is murdered by an unknown assailant, Satoru's ability suddenly sends him back eighteen years to when he was still in elementary school, giving him the opportunity to prevent a kidnapping incident that took the lives of three of his childhood friends, two classmates and one young girl studying at a school nearby.

Opinion: I still can't believe what a pleasant surprise this series was. It's a thriller about facing the past to shape the future with a surprising love of life, second chances, and a big focus on hope. I don't find the mystery all that mysterious, but the resolution at the end is well worth the entire trip. This anime was a blast.

98. Mob Psycho 100 (2016)
Genre: Fantasy Action
Length: 12 episodes
Studio: Bones
Writer: ONE (original manga), Hiroshi Seko
Director: Yuzuru Tachikawa

Plot: Shigeo Kageyama is an average middle school boy, nicknamed Mob (means “background character”) for lacking a sense of presence. Although he looks like an inconspicuous person, he is in fact a powerful esper. As he grows older, Mob realizes that his psychic powers are strengthening and becoming more dangerous. To avoid his power getting out of control, he constantly lives a life under an emotional shackle. Mob wants to live a normal life just like the others, but a barrage of trouble keeps coming after him. With the suppressed emotions growing inside Mob little by little, his power threatens to break through its limits.

Opinion: ONE once again knocks it out of the park. This is based on his long running online serial of the same name, and carries much of what people enjoy about One Punch Man including the over the top action, the unexpected comedy, and the surprising superversive themes in face of what could easily be a subversive bore. A series about the importance of family, friends, emotional control, mental and physical health, growing up, and good over evil, Mob Psycho 100 is as great as the animation is incredible. Now for the wait for season 2.

99. Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (2016)
Genre: Drama
Length: 25 episodes
Studio: Studio DEEN
Writer: Haruko Kumota (original manga), Jun Kumagai
Director: Mamoru Hatakeyama

Plot: A man is released from prison and becomes the apprentice of a famous rakugo performer. The story focuses on the backstories of the performers and their struggle to gain popularity. Whilst learning he befriends another performer who has a completely different style.

Opinion: I'm still not sure how to properly explain this show. It's a drama about regret and the end of an age, in more ways than one, involving the ancient art of Rakugo storytelling which is also dying. I'm not only surprised this got an anime (with hour long episodes at that), but that it got two complete seasons to finish the story. There are few dramas like this out there, so if this looks like your thing, give it a go.

100. My Hero Academia (2016)
Genre: Action Fantasy
Length: 13+ episodes
Studio: Bones
Writer: Kohei Horikoshi (original manga), Yousuke Kuroda
Director: Kenji Nagasaki

Plot: Izuku "Deku" Midoriya is a regular middle school student in a world where 80% of the people are born with superpowers known as "Quirks", and he is completely quirkless. However, he still dreams of one day becoming a hero. One day he meets his personal hero, and the greatest in the world, All Might, and Midoriya's fate takes a sharp turn.

Opinion: Speaking of Trigun (again), the anime for this hit manga is currently being penned by the writer behind that anime. My Hero Academia is the ultimate superhero anime. The team behind this show knows the main appeal of the source material and bring it out with big direction, bombast writing, grand music, bold colors, and larger than life themes. This series is a celebration of heroes as a concept and a truth. I couldn't think of a better series to end this list with than a series that emphasizes all the best of what came before. The sincerity of how the series treats the best thing about any story (the heroes) is pitch perfect. Here's hoping the currently running second season improves on the first just as the manga did. My Hero Academia is a classic in the making, and should be watched by any anime fan, past or present.

And that's everything. I decided to end this with 2016, since 2017 is still going and no series have ended yet. But there look to be a few good shows coming down the pipe later this year.

Anyway, the point is that anime has a lot to offer any fan of entertainment. It's not just boob jokes and wish fulfillment. There are genuinely great dramas, fantasy series, SF tales, thrillers, and action pieces on par with anything else aired on television or in the cinema. Especially these days.

So there you are. That's 100 examples of the best anime has to offer. Seen them all? Never seen a single one? Well, here's your chance. With online streaming so easy, there's never been a better time to get into it. If you're a lapsed fan then you have even less of an excuse! Go catch up on what you missed!

The industry might be having trouble, but there's still a lot to look forward to, and a lot in the past to learn from.

Here's to Japan for using animation to such a scale and ambition that few other countries have tried. And here's hoping they don't forget what they've accomplished.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I have an episode of My Hero Academia to catch.



    For the missing year 2006 I'd recommend the 24 episode Post Apocalyptic Sci-Fi "The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye."

    It follows young Honoka as she takes on odd jobs with her AI partner Bogie that runs the Sand Tank they live in.

    The world is ruled over by an advanced mutant race 'The Third' who can directly access a lot of tech through their third eyes, and regulate what tech humans are allowed to have so that another Great War doesn't devastate the world. Those who violate this 'Technos Taboo' can face grave consequences, up to having the blood hungry mech 'Blue Breaker' unleashed on them.

    The first arc has Honoka looking to obtain a piece of illegal tech to help w/ her work from her mechanic, who because of past run ins w/ the law can't live in town and has a mobile shop out in the desert. Things get complicated when on route she saves a mysterious unearthly man who is wandering the desert at night.

    One of my all time favorites. Despite the desert setting it is an overall uplifting show where a lot of the sci-fi presentation can be interpreted as spiritual analogies.

    1. Ah yes, this was a good series. It's been such a long time, but I had a blast with it.

      Thanks for reminding me!

  2. Blame, which just came out, was damned good, with a few "holy crap" moments in the mix.

    Of course, the original Manga was decades old.

    1. This one has been on my list for ages. Looks great.

  3. The movie version of Read or Die would be a worthy honorable mention, as it does X-men like superheroes and spy flicks better than most. The TV series, which follows different characters, slips into moefication, though.

    1. I really dug the original OVA. The TV series starts out decent, but falls off a cliff in the second half. It has the same problem of a lot of modern series of slowing the pace down, preventing characters from acting, and stretching out the obvious conclusion for no discernible reason.

      I would heartily recommend the OVA to anyone, however.

  4. I'd add Shingu: Secret of the Stellar wars, it's one of the last series done in cel animation which makes it bittersweet IMO. It's pretty light on action but the story is very good.

  5. Great list! Ever seen Hunter x Hunter?