Hail to the anime community that grew bigger and stronger during the quarantine. Anime series and movies can always keep us company whenever we feel like it. A whole different world from what we are used to, the anime (and manga) world has many many different shows, and after taking a look around, we can find something that we’re interested in. Before we get started, let a humble anime watcher try to answer some basic questions.
What is anime? In broad terms, when we talk about anime, we actually refer to any animated show or movie that uses signature aspects of Japanese-style animation. Some of those aspects have to do with facial expressions and vibrant colors. Even if the word anime refers to any cartoon in Japan, hardcore anime watchers will disagree, claiming that the context is very different, and they are probably correct. Plenty of anime series are not suitable for children, especially because of extreme violence and, in some cases, inappropriate jokes. However, there are child-friendly anime shows that people in their twenties have definitely got a glimpse of before (e.g. Pokémon). Oh! Let’s get one thing clear: “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is not an anime. The show is actually a cartoon TV series, produced in the United States. Its style is a blend of Western and Japanese animation but it is not originated from Japan. Ergo, not an anime.
Why is anime suddenly so popular? Why is everyone slowly getting into it? Anime has been around for at least two to three decades, which means that it has the unique ability to grow with its viewers. We could say that as a genre, it has a special nature. The storylines are very intense and their endings are very unpredictable in comparison to regular TV shows. The popularity of the genre is vast, and that is confirmed by the fact that anime shows are even on Netflix, one of the most popular streaming platforms worldwide. Netflix contains plenty of anime shows and even makes the so-called “Anime Originals” like “Devilman Crybaby”. Furthermore, the anime culture is currently in trend. People make art inspired by anime and sometimes even imitate the characters’ signature looks.
Being a full-time anime watcher myself, I made a list with a few popular anime that have influenced the anime society to a great extent and that are definitely worth watching. So let’s get into it, shall we?
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Steampunk, 2009-2012)
The story is about two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who search the Philosopher’s stone in order to achieve their goal: To restore their bodies, which they lost while trying to resurrect their deceased mother using alchemy. However, their journey is full of danger and surprises, as the two brothers are not the only ones looking for the precious stone.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion (Sci-Fi, Psychological Drama, 1995-1997)
The story revolves around an organization called NERV that uses large machines called Evangelions to kill terrifying beings called Angels. These large machines (mechas) are controlled by the protagonists of the series. While the first episodes focus, to a certain extent, on religious symbols and references to the Bible, the later episodes go deeper into the souls of the characters, uncovering their emotional and mental issues.
- Tokyo Ghoul (Supernatural, Horror, Dark Fantasy, 2014-2018)
A college student named Kaneki Ken was living his life timidly, until a ghoul, a human-like creature with superpowers that feeds on human flesh, attacks him. When things cannot get any worse, Kaneki Ken receives an organ transplant from a ghoul, and now is a monster himself.
- Code Geass (Action, Sci-fi, 2006-2012)
The Holy Empire of Britannia has conquered Japan, which is now called Area 11, and its residents, who are no longer able to self-govern, are now called Elevens. The strong Empire is tyrannical and uses powerful weapons to ensure control. However, an outcast prince who was given a mysterious power to control others starts leading a rebellion against the Empire.
- Hunter x Hunter (Adventure, Fantasy, 2011)
Gon Freecs, a 12-year-old boy with great potential leaves his island to become a hunter, the most prestigious and strong profession in the world. His ultimate goal: to find his father Ging, whom he has never met. During the Hunter Exam, he makes true friends, but he also makes enemies. Gon becomes inseparable from his friend Killua, and together they train to get stronger, throwing themselves into a new adventure every time.
- Death Note (Supernatural, Thriller, Mystery, 2006-2007)
Light Yagami is an ordinary college student and the son of a policeman. One day, he finds what looks like an ordinary notebook entitled “Death Note”, which he later learns has magic powers: When one writes a name on it, imagining the person he refers to, this person dies. Light Yagami is soon drunk with power and starts killing people who he believes are unworthy of living until detective L comes into the picture.
- My Hero Academia (Sci-fi, adventure, comedy, 2016- )
The story takes place in a world where people are born with superpowers and learn how to develop them to become heroes. However, Midoriya Izuku, an intense fanboy of every existing hero, doesn’t seem to have any superpowers at all. While he is being made fun of by his peers due to his inability, Midoriya never stops believing that one day he can be like his role model, Allmight. An unexpected turn of events makes him quite powerful and qualified to attend the most prestigious high-school for heroes.
- Demon Slayer (Dark Fantasy, Adventure, 2019- )
Tanjiro, a young boy, is the eldest son of his family which he loves very much. One day, he comes home only to find out that his whole family is slaughtered except for his sister Nezuko, who becomes a demon. Being saved by a demon slayer, he decides to become one himself. His goal: to protect Nezuko and find a cure for her.
- Attack on Titan (Drama, Thriller, Fantasy, 2013- )
Hundreds of years ago, humanity was exterminated by Titans, tall giants with great strength who seem to kill only for their pleasure. A small percentage of humanity was able to survive by walling themselves into a city protected by walls taller than the Titans. The story takes place 100 years later and revolves around a teenage boy called Eren Jeager, his foster sister Mikasa and his friend Armin, who witness horrific events while the walls are being destroyed. After seeing his mother being eaten alive by a Titan, Eren vows to murder every Titan and take revenge for all mankind.
- Naruto and Naruto Shippuden (Action, Adventure, Comedy, 2002-2017)
The setting of Naruto is the fictional world of Shinobi, who are divided into 5 big nations. Naruto Uzumaki, an orphan living in the Hidden Village of the Leaf, is hated and feared by the villagers not because of something he did, but because of the power that lies inside him. Naruto decides to become the greatest ninja of all, and Hokage (the leader of the village), in order to gain the love and affection he never received. The road to becoming Hokage is filled with pain and betrayal for Naruto. While he trains to become stronger and to able to control the monster within him, he also tries to save his best friend Sasuke.
At this point, while drinking coffee from my Naruto mug and wearing my Attack on Titan hoodie, I want to say that the list above is a little bit subjective. Of course, there are other popular anime series like One Piece, Bleach, Dragonball Z, and One Punch Man. Even though the most popular ones seem to belong to the sub-genre of adventure and action, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any rom-coms or slice-of-life anime out there. Plus, there are also some great movies that are not related to anime shows like “Your Name” and “A Silent Voice” that can really give you goosebumps.
So, if you are interested in anime or even curious about it, I’m sure that you can find something you like. It doesn’t really matter how old you are or what you do for a living. Anime is for everyone. Give it a go, will you?
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