Anyone born in the ’90s remembers cartoons like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh. Most of us thought of these shows as cartoons, but they belong to a genre so much more than that - anime.
Thanks to Cartoon Network's late-night TV feature, Toonami, kids born in the ’90s were exposed to more pure-bred anime like Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, and Naruto. But, outside of these popular shows, there were also movies that were wildly successful, such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and Akira.
Mainstream successes like Attack on Titan and One Punch Man, caused anime to explode in America and to the point where it found itself on streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.
Since this, anime’s popularity has been furthered both through rappers and mainstream music artists commonly referencing anime in their music, such as Meg thee Stallion.
However, even with more and more people willing to give anime a shot, it can still be difficult to figure out where to start. Look no further, we’re here to help.
FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD
I don’t care which side of the aisle you fall politically, but I think we can all agree that 2020 was a great year for conspiracy theories. Even if you don’t like conspiracy theories, you likely find a few entertaining, if not interesting. If you’re like me in that regard...you’ll love Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
FMA:B is a beautifully animated action and drama series, full of rich storytelling, plot twists, and thought-provoking philosophy. FMA:B is easily the most person-friendly anime on this list with there genuinely being something here for everyone. If you like comedy, this shows for you. If you like romance, this show is for you. Do you like action-packed fight scenes and mind-blowing plot twists/conspiracies? Just fuckin watch it.
ATTACK ON TITAN
Similar to Inception, the Godfather, or any Hitchcock film, Attack on Titan is a masterpiece that is nearly impossible to overhype. This anime is one of the most dynamic and revolutionary TV shows in history and is nothing short of genius.
Hajime Isayama embeds the story with a mind-boggling amount of foreshadowing, plot twists, and character development - yet manages to keep the story entertaining and easy to understand.
This show is as original as it gets, without relying on cheap humor or meaningless fight scenes. From the first episode, everything feels realistic (as far as a fantasy universe goes) and presents itself in a mature tone.
Not to mention the fights are incredible, the animation is state of the art, and the suspense is off the charts. So if you like batshit crazy stories with a heavy dose of maturity and sophistication, Attack on Titan is the anime for you.
Do you like cowboys? How about space? Well, look no further. Cowboy Bebop is a show about cowboys (technically, bounty hunters) living their life in space, traveling around and kicking ass in their free time.
Cowboy Bebop doesn’t make a name for itself through storytelling. Instead, it sets itself apart through its world and characters.
With 24 episodes, Cowboy Bebop presents a plethora of isolated mini-stories that show you those characters and the world they live in - in an intimate way. Unlike other shows, the goal isn’t to lead you down a linear narrative but instead to bring you along for the adventure as if you’re part of their crew.
Aside from its world and characters, Cowboy Bebop's art style is a relic of the past, yet one of the most beautifully animated shows to date. Most new anime can’t even keep up with it 20+ years later.
ONE PUNCH MAN
Everyone hates overpowered characters. They are strong as hell for no reason and usually the result of extremely mediocre writing. 99% of the time, that's true. But this is the 1% where it isn’t.
One Punch Man follows the story of Saitama, a man who can kill anything with one punch. And how is he able to do that, you might ask? He did 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10KM (6.2 miles) run every day, 7 days a week, for 3 years.
Obviously, that’s complete sarcasm. The show's premise sounds like a joke. And guess what? That’s because it is. One Punch Man is a satire on literally every overpowered character in media, but especially in anime. Saitama is strong as fuck for no reason, to the point the dude is literally depressed about it - it’s absolutely hilarious.
What would you do if a book fell from the sky, and whenever you write someone's name in it, they die? That's the question Light Yagami faces when a book known as the “Death Note” landed in front of him one day at school.
Most people would put that shit aside, but not Light Yagami. Death Note follows Light Yagami on his ingenious and murderous rampage to take over the world, and rid that world of “evil.”
Death Note is a psychological mystery thriller where the two most brilliant minds in the world face off in a battle of cat and mouse. The show has close to zero action, but that doesn’t stop you from being at the edge of your seat the entire time. There’s never a dull moment.
If you enjoy masterful storytelling, mysteries, suspense, and brilliant character development, we can’t recommend this show enough.