Netflix has added some fantastic anime titles to its repertoire in the last year. In addition to classic series, there is a slew of originals holding their own against well-established franchises.
With plenty of action, comedy, and romantic shows to choose from, the streaming service made a point of introducing a varied selection of genres. With so many options, it’s difficult for beginners to know where to begin, and Netflix doesn’t help matters by lumping its whole library into the general genre. Like live-action television and movies in the United States, anime encompasses a broad spectrum of genres and subgenres, appealing to a vast demographic and taste base. I know it may seem overwhelming, but have no fear. We’re here for you if you’re ready to explore even the strangest corners of Netflix in search of binge-worthy entertainment (and you should be).
Hunter x Hunter
Numerous shonen (and even American TV shows) revolve around a group of youthful characters who solve problems utilizing magical skills and deductive reasoning. Hunter x Hunter is a unique find among this homogenized pattern because of its attention to detail and emotional engagement. This anime is full of amusing subplots that don’t always culminate in a significant event but show that the characters in this universe existed before you started watching them.
Hunter x Hunter follows Gon Freecss as he embarks on his quest to become a Hunter. He’s your usual shonen saviour-figure hero, but thankfully he keeps the boring, repeating chants to himself. His dedication to others drives the plot, and his determination to see the best in others becomes a marvel of the series. He befriends a young child from an assassin family, and their polarizing dynamic forges a bond that propels the tale forward.
You become emotionally invested in this powerful friendship between these two lads. Togashi presents them against much older, more experienced adversaries, highlights their youth and inexperience, and adds great mentors to help them grow. He is rigorous in matching his characters’ abilities to their personalities, but strives to show everyone derives power from resolve. The incredible feats of willpower you’ll see in this anime will transform your life. Togashi has been battling a medical problem for several years, yet he insists that the manga is far from finished. Hopefully, a seventh season of the remastered anime will be released shortly.
Neon Genesis: Evangelion
Thanks to the plethora of branded items and frequent mentions in popular media, most individuals have at least a passing familiarity with Neon Genesis Evangelion. However, when it comes to a show as ingrained in the animation canon as Evangelion, the way we discuss it is constantly evolving.
Initially hailed as a significant deconstruction of the mecha popularized by Gundam and Macross, the franchise grew bloated and riddled with irrelevant content, much like the melodramas-as-merchandise, they mocked years before.
Evangelion’s effect, however, is evident, with a cultural overlay that can be observed everywhere from Persona 3 to Gurren Lagann, resulting in phenomena that appear to outstrip the show’s literal content. Hideaki Anno, the franchise’s original inventor, has lost control of its growth and has predicted the end of anime as we know it, saying once that Japan’s animation sector is “moving by inertia.”
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Brotherhood is often regarded as the pinnacle of the anime genre, and it’s easy to see why. Brotherhood, a more authentic version of Hiromu Arakawa’s mega-popular manga series, deals maturely and uniquely with loss, grief, war, racism, and ethics and is ahead of its time in practically every manner.
Furthermore, the show is excellently paced, with neatly wrapped arcs that flow into one another and support a more prominent global storyline on specific subjects. Brotherhood is just the ideal length, never lingering too long and demonstrating how adaptable shounen anime norms can be.
The drama uses these shifting dynamics to create factions, alliances, and foils that flow in various directions, mirroring the complex, always unpredictable nature of human connections during combat. Brotherhood has a large cast of characters, all of different nationalities and ideologies, with motivations that often oppose one another. Ed and Alphonse, the Elric brothers, are two alchemists funded by the dictatorial Amestris military, and their predicament lies at the heart of the show’s emotional core. However, this isn’t your typical military drama, as Ed and Alphonse rapidly discover Amestris’ dictatorship.
Brotherhood excels in the sympathy it exhibits for each character as they strive for their ambitions and deal with their faults, with a particular focus on minorities and women’s plights. After attempting forbidden alchemy to resurrect their recently departed mother, Ed and Alphonse deal with the consequences. Winry, their childhood buddy, is later depicted as a hero for performing valiantly as an emergency midwife.
Scar, who was first presented as a ruthless serial murderer, is one of the last remaining indigenous Ishvalans, an ethnic group cleansed by Amestris during a colonial war—his narrative becoming increasingly poignant as we move farther into a post-terror world. It’s why the series continues to astonish audiences: it avoids cliches to make compelling insights about human cognition.
This 25-episode seinen, directed by Ei Aoki, follows a group of wizards as they participate in a battle royale called the Fourth Holy Grail War over a mythological chalice (not the Cup of Christ, but bearing its name) capable of granting the possessor’s wish.
Three families of mages have traditionally fought for control of the Grail. Even so, each war is fought by seven mages (called Masters), who summon Servants (inspiring figures from legend and history) to fight as their representatives in the conflict—which means adrenaline junkies who have always wondered who would win in a battle between King Arthur (again, it’s not that) and the Servants (inspiring figures from legend and world history) can now find out. The slightly insane idea is counterbalanced by a lovely animation style, nuanced character development, and genuine heartbreak story twists.
Baki is an exhilarating demonstration of hyper-masculine titans executing an iconic scenario of a young fighter training to outperform his father. This high-octane shonen is chock-full of dramatic showdowns amongst the buffest men on the planet.
Seriously, a short video of all the shots of males flexing and tensing their muscles might be its own episode if Netflix published it. If the forces and hyper-tough voices weren’t enough, these characters’ knowing smirks and sneers help them capture the series’ rugged guy tool spirit. Baki maintains traditional notions of strength but questions their relevance to kindness and liberty.
This shonen has excellent fighting skills. This anime will capture your interest with its massive magic system and sophisticated, smoothly animated hand-to-hand combat. Excessive flashbacks and monologues are a turnoff in this series, but that didn’t stop it from establishing its distinct iconography in popular culture.
Naruto is a tense high-school romance that teaches every adolescent that decent people may turn wicked and relationships fall apart. Before he breaks up their family far too soon, Masashi Kishimoto introduces us to a community of ninjas who live and die to preserve their village. Naruto’s primary focus in the novel is losing Sasuke and pursuing him down to return him home. Still, the writers also emphasize the community Naruto already had at the leaf village.
The emotional foundation in this metaseries addressing unconditional friendship, retribution, and the forgiveness that is the only road to peace includes the Hidden Leaf Village’s solidarity in the face of conflict and terror. This anime serves as a prequel to Naruto: Shippuden, laying the groundwork for a network of spies, conspiracies, and (secretly) related subplots that will be realized in the second series. Just keep an eye out for filler.
Anime is distinct from animation and art worldwide, but it has always been a part of a positive feedback loop of cultural influence. Much of the anime available on Netflix and other streaming services have been influenced or impacted by television produced in the United States and elsewhere. All of this is to say that you should give anime a try if you haven’t already.
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