When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with anime and manga. For various reasons, as I got older, my fanaticism began to recede, until it transformed from obsession to occasional, passing interest. I definitely have issues with a lot of the tropes found in anime, but it’s hard not to be drawn to the sheer creativity and triumph of imagination that a lot of anime brings to the table. Plus, most anime is so pretty! I really love animation so sometimes I’ll watch just to enjoy the pretty drawings. Anyway, here is a list of 10 (+1 bonus) anime that are high on my list of shows to watch once I find the time!
Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric search for the Philsopher’s Stone, hoping to restore their bodies, which were lost when they attempted to use their alchemy skills to resurrect their deceased mother. Edward, who lost only limbs, joins the State Military, which gives him the freedom to continue the search as he tries to restore his brother, whose soul is tethered to earth by a suit of armor. However, Edward and Alphonse are not the only ones seeking the powerful stone. And as they search, they learn of a plot to transmute the entire country for reasons they cannot comprehend.
I don’t think there is any anime fan left on Earth who has not at least heard of FMA; I don’t know how I managed to escape watching this, especially as it aired during the height of my anime obsession. For some reason I never got around to it, but I hear such incredible, amazing things about this anime in terms of plot and characterization, and it’s such an absolute classic on par with things like Inuyasha and Naruto that I absolutely must watch it at some point!
Nanami is a homeless high schooler until she accepts an offer to live at a shrine – making her the new local god. With her handsome fox spirit familiar, Nanami learns the ins and outs of godhood and meets more spirits – including two who vie for her love!
This is such a classic anime set up, and it sounds so utterly ridiculous, but I’m here for the human/yokai love story. I’m a sucker for the bubbly gir/closed off dude trope.
The Ancient Magus Bride
Chise, a 15-year-old orphan girl, gives herself up for auction and is bought by Elias, a mysterious sorcerer with demonic leanings who makes her his bride.
The summary kind of says it all, doesn’t it? I actually read the first few volumes of the manga and really enjoyed it, but the anime has the advantage of being colorful and absolutely fucking gorgeous. And again, it’s that human/yokai dynamic.
The Devil is a Part-Timer
Inches away from conquering the world, the devil is foiled by a hero and finds himself in modern-day Tokyo. With no real-world skills to speak of, the devil is forced to make ends meet flipping burgers at a fast food joint!
I don’t even know what to say because this summary is absolutely wacky. Though, to be fair, this is basically the plot summary of Lucifer, so I’m hoping it’ll have the same sort of charm. I’ve seen a lot of people on Twitter praising the clever humor. Though, from what I’ve seen so far of gifs, I have a feeling the blatant misogynist fanservice is going to bug me (and blatant misogynist fanservice is a huge reason why I was turned off anime in he first place). But it’s so ridiculous! And so bright and colorful! I’m irresistibly drawn to shiny and pretty things!
Witch Hunter Robin
Robin Sena is a powerful craft user drafted into the STNJ—a group of specialized hunters that fight deadly beings known as Witches. Though her fire power is great, she’s got a lot to learn about her powers and working with her cool and aloof partner, Amon. But the truth about the Witches and herself will leave Robin on an entirely new path that she never expected!
Witches!! This series is very, very old, as you can probably tell by the animation. I used to watch random episodes on Adult Swim when I was a kid, and I remember really enjoying the series, but I think a lot of stuff went over my head, plus I could never watch the series in its entirety, so I’d like to do that. Also, you’ve got an aloof mentor/mentee dynamic! Although, let me just say how hilarious I think it is that this main character is supposedly fifteen years old.
In a world where ghouls live among humans, they are the same as regular people in virtually every way — other than their craving for human flesh. Shy Ken Kaneki learns that the hard way when he goes on a date with beautiful Rize, who is only interested in him to eat him. After a morally questionable rescue, Ken becomes the first half-human, half-ghoul hybrid, which draws him into the dark, violent world of ghouls that exists alongside the world of humans.
This summary is kind of vague, but I hear this anime is very dark and violent, so I am absolutely here for it. Plus it’s a popular one; you hear it mentioned in anime circles all the time!
During the early 1930s in Chicago, the transcontinental train, Flying Pussyfoot, is starting its legendary journey that will leave a trail of blood all over the country. At the same time in New York, the ambitious scientist Szilard and his unwilling aide Ennis are looking for missing bottles of the immortality elixir. In addition, a war between the mafia groups is getting worse. On board the Advena Avis, in 1711, alchemists are about to learn the price of immortality.
I’m not entirely sure what this is about, except that it involves immortality and it takes place in a fictionalized United States. But it’s another classic! You hear about it all the time. And for an older anime the animation is really good!
D. Gray Man
Set in an alternate 19th century, it tells the story of a young Allen Walker, who joins an organization of exorcists named the Black Order, as they defend humanity against the Noah Family, reincarnations of Noah and his twelve apostles whom bear hatred towards humanity and God led by a man known as the Millennium Earl.
This is another series I watched intermittently as a kid but never really got around to watching properly. From what I remember, I wasn’t too heavily invested in it, but it’s pretty well-known and comes highly recommended. It follows a monster-of-the-week format, which can work well if you enjoy the characters and character dynamics (I’m a huge fan of this format on Supernatural), but can be tiresome if you don’t. The animation is gorgeous here too, so I really want to give this a go.
The war between humans (Terrans) and vampires (Methuselah) continues as a struggle between two factions: the Vatican and the New Human Empire. Yet, amidst the bloodshed and violence, many desire a peaceful co-existence between the two species. However, standing between them and this goal is the Rosenkreuz Orden, a group of extremists who manipulate the two sides and for their own gain.
Y’all know I can’t resist vampires. And this is a vampire show with some pretty intense worldbuilding. And it’s another old classic, and one that I think I may have watched some episodes of, as it’s from the Adult Swim era. The main character, Abel Nightroad, seems pretty intriguing.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki are regular middle school girls with regular lives, but all that changes when they encounter Kyuubey, a cat-like magical familiar, and Homura Akemi, the new transfer student. Kyuubey offers them a proposition: he will grant any one of their wishes and in exchange, they will each become a magical girl, gaining enough power to fulfill their dreams. However, Homura Akemi, a magical girl herself, urges them not to accept the offer, stating that everything is not what it seems.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t go near a cutesy looking show like this one, but Madoka Magica not only has received widespread critical acclaim, but is famous for being dark as shit; apparently the cutesy graphics utterly belie how violent and disturbing this anime can be, and of course that’s intriguing to me! I’m not a fan of the animation style, but we’ll see!
Bonus: Cowboy Bebop
In 2071, roughly fifty years after an accident with a hyperspace gateway made the Earth almost uninhabitable, humanity has colonized most of the rocky planets and moons of the Solar System. Amid a rising crime rate, the Inter Solar System Police (ISSP) set up a legalized contract system, in which registered bounty hunters (also referred to as “Cowboys”) chase criminals and bring them in alive in return for a reward. The series’ protagonists are bounty hunters working from the spaceship Bebop. The original crew are Spike Spiegel, an exiled former hitman of the criminal Red Dragon Syndicate, and his partner Jet Black, a former ISSP officer. They are later joined by Faye Valentine, an amnesiac con artist; Edward Wong, an eccentric girl skilled in hacking; and Ein, a genetically-engineered Pembroke Welsh Corgi with human-like intelligence.
See, I don’t actually want to watch Cowboy Bebop. This is another Adult Swim show, and one I tried to watch multiple times before giving up on it. But it’s a smash hit! Widely hailed as one of the best shows ever! I feel like I have to give it one more shot as an adult, if only to see what all the fuss is about.