Recommended Anime?

OK, so here’s the deal — I used to be big into anime, a looooooong time ago. “Back in the day”, as the hip kids say. We’re talking late 80s – early 90s. Hell, it was why I started studying East Asian languages.

Back when I was into it (when we had to walk uphill, in the snow, both ways), it was something that you could really only get at conventions, or if you were on good terms with your local Asian market who carried bootlegs. “Fansubs” were dot-matrix print-outs from USENET that you read while watching.

Most of what was available was space-opera-mecha-sci-fi, or cyberpunk-action-sci-fi, or ninja-riffic. Now, though, there’s a wide array of genres, and it’s all very available, whether legitimately or via Teh IntarTubes.

So, here’s your chance. Give me recommendations of fairly recent anime that you enjoy. The more unique the better. Be sure to tell me why you like it.

31 Replies to “Recommended Anime?”

  1. Witch Hunter Robin. Limited scope series (26 eps, I believe). The style of the storytelling was unique in that for the first eleven episodes, it seemed each ep was a stand alone, then round about the twelfth/thirteenth episode, a huge story arc began and you realized that there were things in the first eleven episodes that are all key to what’s happening in the arc. It’s intricate, layered storytelling.

    My husband really likes Fullmetal Alchemist.

  2. Kashimashi: Girl meets Girl.
    Nice, slightly nebbish guy is killed accidentally by aliens, who then bring him back to life – as a girl – and then announce it to the whole planet. After which the new she gets involved in a love triangle with two girls. Interesting view of relationships, and it’s a romantic comedy.

    Le Chevalier D’Eon'Eon
    Interesting conspiracy and adventure anime set during in mid-18th century France.

  3. Last Exile: steampunk with airships. The story revolves around Claus Valca and Lavie Head, a young courier pilot and his navigator, and their adventures in the floating world of Prester. In this romantic sky world based on stylized Victorian fashion and society, two countries, Anatole and Dysis (sometimes phonetically rendered as Anatoray and Disith), are engaged in a long and bloody war under the supervision of the mysterious Guild. Claus and Lavie, piloting their vanship (a small wingless aircraft) find themselves involved in a plot surrounding a mysterious little girl named Alvis Hamilton, whom they must deliver as “cargo” to the much-feared neutral battleship Silvana.
    Wolf’s Rain: Genre? Not really werewolves …takes place in a post-apocalyptic time when much of the world has been ecologically devastated in a form of fimbulwinter and most people live in poverty. A legend is told in the “Book of the Moon” that wolves are mystical beings who came to the world from a place called Rakuen (楽園, Rakuen? Paradise), at the dawn of time. In the future, wolves will find a way to return to paradise. They must first seek out the Flower Maiden (花の少女, Hana no Shōjo?) (a being created from the essence of lunar flowers) to guide them to paradise. This legend is nearly forgotten because wolves were thought to have been hunted to extinction nearly two hundred years earlier. Some wolves, however, have found a way to survive by coexisting with humans and blending into society.

    Samurai Shamploo: Feudal Japan… Sorta’. Wacky offbeat modern houmor… you have to see this one to appreciate it. Like Cowboy Bebop with swords. Have you seen Cowboy Bebop?(both were directed by Sinichiro Watanabe) Animated by Kazuto Nakazawa (kill bill) Coolest of the cool. and a neat Trip Hop sound track

  4. Samurai Champloo – Kick-ass fighting set to hip-hop…by the makers of Cowboy Bebop – which also kicks ass. :)
    Also, if you want a cool angels vs Demons in Tokyo…check out X!

    I also like alot of Shojo stuff – Fushigi Yuugi, Tokyo Babylon, Revolutionary Girl Utena…

  5. Le Chevalier d’Eon (I picked up the first two discs just based on the jacket a week ago). Fan-fucking-tastic stuff! Political intrigues, possession and the magic of poets in the Court of Louis XV with historical characters, curious cabals, excellent swordplay and unravelling mysteries. Fictional exploits based on Chevalier d’Eon, a French spy, diplomat, solider and freemason who spent the first part of his life as a man, and the second part as a woman (in the series, he’s possessed on occasion by his dead sister’s soul).

  6. Cowboy Bebop remains one of the coolest series I’ve ever seen. It’s noir in space a la Quentin Tarrantino, with bounty hunters and the music is brilliant. I have the entire series and the movie, if you’re interested.

    Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and GiTS: SAC, 2nd Gig. Great series, sort of like the police end of Law & Order in unique cyberpunk / AI-Law cases.

  7. I have to definitely second the steampunk pseudo-Victorian brilliance that is Last Exile.

    Also nifty is “Read or Die” (I can’t speak to the TV series, but definitely the 3-episode OVA). Bookish spies with superpowers who work for the British Library Special Operations Division. Cooler than it sounds and oh so pretty. Originally saw this as a fansub.

  8. Ok, something even I recommend. Trinity Blood is damn cool. A Futuristic version of the Vatican fighting off vampires. Hella cool.

    Ghost in the Shell is something that I’ve seen part of and LOVED so while I haven’t seen all of it, I’ll throw a recomendation into that hat as well.

  9. Read or Die: TV builds on the awesomeness that is the OAV series, turns the knob to 11, breaks the knob, and then goes and gets the pliers so they can turn the knob up further. :)

  10. Ha! I was just logging back in because I smacked myself for forgetting to recommend ROD! Totally! Secret agents with super powers! Loooove it! I also have not yet seen ROD tv, but it is in my Netflix queue because my anime group says it is fantastic! :)

  11. Steamboy is a good one, mixing elements of a early 20th century and late 19th century with high (almost magical) technology in steam.

    Jin-Roh (Wolf Brigade) – This is an awesome one about social revolution and conflict in the near future. It is set in the 1950’s in a parallel world Japan. Kind of the whole “what if WW2 was wone by Germany”. I believe there are a few of them, movies I mean. Go find this and watch it, you will not be dissapointed.

    Before I continue I would just like to say I prefer movies over series, mainly due to my time constraints.

    Armitage the Third: These are good, they follow the plight of an android female. It is a good movie, netflix it.

    Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star: These two are both series’. They are cool, I actually like Outlaw Star a little better, minus the cat people… I can’t stand the cat people in any anime.

    Ghost in the Shell: Awesome movie. A little slow in a couple parts but great movie overall. Go, Go Netflix. You can actually watch this one through the netflix movie viewer.

    Spriggan: This is a pretty cool movie. I liked it. It is about a corporation trying to recover or destroy some artifacts and the people that get caught in the middle of it all.

    I used to watch anime a lot and still do… streaming from netflix. I used to get a lot of ideas for my games from them. I actually wrote several races and classes based off of some of the “movie worlds” from anime. That was a few years ago. Working for the newspaper, raising my son and going to school while trying to get my own gaming company off the ground give me little time to watch anything… I haven’t sat down to watch a movie with my wife in a couple months. Soon to change though…. soon to change.

  12. Yeah, I’ve seen Bebop — I actually own the first disc of the series (got it used somewhere a while back).

  13. I’ve got the first disc of Bebop, actually — and I’ve seen GiTS:SAC (both on a friend’s disc, and on the “Adult Swim” airings).

  14. I checked out the teaser of the first episode of Trinity Blood on iTunes. Interesting….I might have to check it out.

  15. Saw it, but didn’t think it was a good as Otomo’s other work (notably AKIRA). It was gorgeous, but reaaaaaaaally slow moving.

  16. Haven’t read any other comments yet. I recommend:
    Cowboy Bebop. Simply the best anime show ever made. I highly, highly recommend it.

    Outlaw Star – Another good series.

    Ummm, yeah, they’re both about bounty hunters. In the future. I’m seeing a trend :).

  17. I couldn’t stand Steamboy.

    For some action, awesome graphics, lots of power armor and even walking fortresses I’d recommend Appleseed and, of course the classics, Ghost in the Shell 1 & 2 (you’ve probably seen the first, check out the second).

  18. Yeah, the ROD OVA is great fun, and I think it’s fun in a way that in particular might appreciate.

    My favorite is, of course, The Slayers, which is a western fantasy (think D&D) comedy series. I like that it is truly funny (in a way that is accessible to Westerners – it does not rely heavily on cultural references), but it also has coherent long-term storylines that I find interesting and compelling.

  19. Death Note. i honestly think the manga was better, because it is seriously intelligent and requires a lot of layered thought. but the anime is good as well!
    it involves a high school student who finds a deathnote, a book that gods of death use to end peoples life. he uses it to create a new world order of sorts that is structured on his own beliefs of right and wrong. the interesting part starts when he is pitted against a young guy his own age who has serious brains and intuition developed solely for catching criminal masterminds.

  20. Kami-Chu! Junior high school girl wakes up one day shes become a god…

    anything by miyazaki…which i have to assume you have seen at one time or another.

    planetes…semi hard science of debris collectors in low earth orbit.

    Gankutsuo…retelling of the count of monte cristo set in a fabulous looking future.

    Licensed by Royalty…british spies in a alt world where its known as avalon and the entire series is made of beatles puns.

    Shingu…the oddest first contact story ive ever seen…centered around a town of aliens hiding out as humans.

    Full Metal alchemist…a million cosplayers cant be wrong.

    Samurai 7…retelling of the classic movie set in the future with cyborgs…its better than it sounds…honest.

  21. Here is a list of Anime that I recommend:

    Honey & Clover – Calling this show a slice of life comedy about the relationships of art students would be doing this masterwork a disservice. It is heart rending and hilarious, an animated window into a slightly absurdist real life, but isn’t every life a bit absurdist? The watercolor styling of the animation is breathtaking.

    Hataraki Man – The adventures of a female magazine editor trying to make it in a world dominated by men. It is a slightly serious take on Mary Tyler Moore, in the vein of the aforementioned Honey & Clover.

    Haibane Renmei – Lovingly animated, and wonderfully acted. This show about Angels with no memory invokes both Myazaki and The Prisoner. It is both heartwarming and creepy.

    Kurau: Phantom Memories: Imagine a odd super hero show that is a mix of the Incredible Hulk TV show, The Fugitive, and the Andromeda Strain and you are getting close to the concept behind Kurau. It is exciting and engaging in a way few shows are.

    Monster: This show runs on a single axiom, no good deed goes unpunished. A brilliant Japanese Brain Surgeon working in Germany decides to save the life of a little boy rather than the life of an important Official. This decision ruins his life, not to mention the boy just might be the Antichrist, or at the very least another Hitler. Years later, a string of murders leads the Doctor to begin trailing the now grown boy, hoping to erase his mistake.

    Jinoku Shojo(Hell Girl): There is a website that appears at midnight. If you find it, you can ask the Jinoku Shojo to ferry a single person straight to Hell. The price for this service, your immortal soul will spend eternity in Hell. Wonderfully spooky, and beautifully animated, this show drips with Japanese Horror.

    Genshikin: It is a show about an anime club, in the way Clerks was a movie about a convenience store. If you are a geek, it hits painfully close to home.

    Ergo Proxy: Trying to describe this show is like holding smoke in your hand. With an ending theme by Radiohead and animation by Production IG, it is lavish in a way that few television animes are. It is simultaneously one of the strangest and most depressing shows I have ever watched.

    Berserk: This black sword and sorcery show has every cliché in the anime playbook; nudity, graphic violence, and blood by the bucket full, however it masks a subtle story of love, betrayal, loyalty, and corruption worthy of the Bard.

  22. Seconding on Gankutsuo – A great re-telling of the Count of Monte Cristo = the animators employ a wild visual trick throughout that grows on you.

  23. Seconding recommendations for Samurai Champloo, Read or Die OVA, and Witch Hunter Robin.

    I’d also recommend Black Lagoon – it’s a series about a group of mercenaries who live on a boat. I haven’t seen it all yet, but it definitely maintains interesting, rounded characters while avoiding the Pit of Japanese Angst a lot of anime seems to fall into. Plus, a lot of the incidental characters are absolutely hysterical (drug-smuggling nuns, killer nannies, etc.)

  24. Third or fourthing Samurai Champloo. How old is Cowboy Bebop? Furi Kuri/Fooly Kooly/FLCL/whatever is… interesting. Otomo (i think it was him) directred a bunch of shorts collected on a DVD called Memories which I quite enjoyed.

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