This isn’t your parents Saturday morning cartoons. Japan might not have the best television shows but in one area of entertainment they have no peers. Japanese anime is now more popular than ever, but finding the diamonds among such a huge library of material can be daunting. This list isn’t every single great anime and as befitting my gender is slightly skewed toward action. However, not a single anime on this list won’t leave you wanting more and isn’t that the best compliment?
(In no particular order)
1. Jormungand – Named after the world eater snake from Norse Mythology, this is a story of when boy meets girl. Except of course the boy is a former child soldier, and the girl is the world’s most dangerous weapons dealer. Thoughtful and reflective, but unashamedly bad-ass as well.
2. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – In this digital era we are about to enter, there will soon be cops whose only mandate is to stop cyber crime. Ghost in the Shell is one take on what that world will look like and how it will defend itself from the criminal element no matter what price the suit they wear. Flashy, fun, and but always with an eye to hard science, Ghost in the Shell is not to be missed.
3. Black Lagoon – Enter the nice proper Japanese man. He is young, a worker in a sea of worker bees. He is intelligent, hardworking, the perfect company man; too bad they just threw him to the wolves. What will that man become as he copes with the loss of everything he worked for and joins the small rag team of mercenaries who kidnapped him and saved his life?
4. Cowboy Bebop – Nobody did cool like Spike, Jet and the gang. A futuristic take on Earth after spaceflight, Bebop schmoozes you with jazz, dazzles your senses with the world it builds, and then lets you fall in love with the four crazy, bounty hunters who will make you fall in love with them. Spike, Jet, Faye, Edward, and their dog Einstein will never let you forget them.
5. Hajime no Ippo – What resides in the soul of a champion? Is be born or is he made? Following the rise of the titular main character, Ippo is the only son of a widowed woman who runs a fishing business. But by day he is a boy who follows a dream to be the greatest boxer he can be to the heights of Japan and the World.
6. Giant Killing – Why is the rest of the world crazy about soccer? Watch Giant Killing and you may just find out. East Tokyo United hasn’t been good since golden boy Tatsumi Takeshi left to play in Europe. Now he’s back after coaching an amateur team in Europe to the semi-finals against professional soccer teams. Can he lead his former team back to greatness with his odd and crazy ideas?
7. High School of the Dead – What does Planet Earth look like when the end of the world comes and all of mankind is turned into zombies? Well if you happen to be in high school with these kids its time for you to rise up and see what you’re made of. Gratuitous zombie killing aside, High School of the Dead pulls no punches on the last day of mankind.
8. Genshiken – For the nerd in us all. Genshiken chronicles the lives of the college club members of Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyūkai, or The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture. Following the club and the ones who love them in their daily lives. One part nerd fest, one part coming of age story, it is one part of a book end of art happy anime, the other is…
9. Honey and Clover – Meet the art students of a college in Tokyo. The child prodigy, the irreverent genius, the hardworking but artistically average man-boy, the too serious art graduate, and the ones they love and who love them. Wrap it all in the emo-filled angst that only young love can evoke and tie it in a bow. Honey and Clover and its sequel are too good to miss.
10. One Outs – From the studio that brought you Akagi, One Outs is baseball like you’ve never seen it before. Chronicling the rise of slow ball pitcher Toua Tokuchi, One Outs is the best baseball you’re ever to likely watch.
11. Sword Art Online – How far would you go for the ones you love, would you risk your life in a video game where death in the game means death in real life? Would you do it a second time? Kirito, our protagonist fights not in a fantasy world, but a world built on fantasy.
12 Great Teacher Onizuka – The self-subscribed greatest teacher in the world, Onizuka is a reformed biker gang member who is trying to become a productive member of society. Tasked with teaching the worst class of students high school as ever seen, Onizuka has his work cut out for him, but the students of Holy Forest Academy haven’t seen a teacher like this.