So you’ve heard of Vegeta, Naruto and Sailor Moon, but what about Tetsuo, and Melfina? You’ve watched Gundam Wing, Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo… what’s next?
Here is a list of the top 5 must see anime for those just discovering this amazing genre. Some are series, some are movies, and all are awesome.
5. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Mecha. Since The Power Rangers, you have understood that these are the defenders of the world. Large, imposing and dignified, these machines are for SERIOUS shows involving saving humanity from death (as many times as necessary).
And then you watch Tengen Toppa.
Tengen Toppa is on the list to demonstrate anime that successfully parodies a genre. Instead of stoic and grim warriors, these mecha are controlled by a little kid and a man who makes overconfidence look like a mental disease. The mecha themselves are silly looking, one with a cool pair of shades and another sitting lopsidedly on top with a comically straight face and an exposed brain. This series deftly blends comedy, tragedy, mystery and battles on an amazing scale to create an anime so impressive that we all learned that long-tail name!
The animation is gorgeous. The colors are vibrant and full and one has only to see Yoko slide back with her giant gun in the sand to see the perfection (fangirl moment). The music is hyper and exciting, as fits the tone of the series. The key words here are outrageous and energetic.
Follow Simon and his brother Kamina on their quest to discover what is on the surface of their world. Tengen Toppa is available on Amazon for $30.99 and can be found online as well.
Oh, and I can’t leave without making you watch this. It will be funny to you after you watch the series: Who Are You Anyway?
4. Ninja Scroll
This movie, ladies and gentlemen, is a classic.
Jubei, the main protagonist, is an homage to the Japanese folklore hero of the same name. Like his namesake, Jubei is a wanderer, and he wanders into quite a mess when he assists Kagero, the beautiful ninja-in-distress, from a demon member of the group Devils of Kimon. Vengeance, betrayal, plot twists, sex, gore and violence follow in a gorgeous symphony of anime-goodness.
Beautiful lines, colors and style along with the classic unwilling hero and a mystical conspiracy combine to create an intense experience. You may find yourself a little nostalgic for more old-school anime after watching this one, because it really takes from the best in historical anime.
Here is some lovely imagery to be burned into your mind for the next few days: Like Gatorade, But Saltier
Besides the movie, there is also a series. It is pretty cheap if you want to check it out (only 59 cents on Amazon). The series is not as beautiful as the movie, but it is definitely not bad.
The movie is available on Amazon for 70 cents. You have no excuse not to go buy that!
3. Outlaw Star
Often referred to as a space opera, Outlaw Star is a must see for anime lovers. Filled with pirates, outlaws, bio androids and sentient cacti, Outlaw Star has something for everyone.
Gene Starwind and his partner Jim Hawking are two young men (one kind of more on the young side than the man side) who are struggling to make a buck. All that changes when they are hired by a beautiful woman, who is not quite what she seems.
What follows is an adventure that will stay with you forever, especially given the show’s short run and the lack of a true sequel. Some of the scenes are haunting, though at other times the character animation did not quite keep up with the outer space animation. The intro and outro music will also stick with you, and you will download the songs. Trust me, everyone does.
Here is a compilation video with some scenes from the show that I think captures some of the tones of the series. The music is NOTHING like what is on the show, so ignore that part: Outlaw Star AMV.
Amazon is selling the full series for $28.99, but you may want to keep an eye on the price because I have seen it lower before (I got mine for around $20).
2. Neon Genesis Evangelion
A series that will make you think. Imagine being clinically depressed. Now imagine creating an anime that embodies how you were feeling. That series is Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Full of bloody and heartbreaking scenes that will make you think, Evangelion has been provoking thought and discussion among anime lovers from the start. With a score that suites the pessimistic mood and the vibrant colors of the machines and blood in comparison to the people and setting, Evangelion pulls you into an unfair world. The symbolism used also hints at a deeper, Kabalic meaning, although this has been denied by the creators.
This video clip gives you an idea of the imagery in Evangelion: This is Your Brain on Evangelion
I think I can best sum up Evangelion with a quote from the director: “It’s strange that ‘Evangelion’ has become such a hit – all the characters are so sick!” -Hideaki Anno
Also, be warned: this series is fairly complicated, which is made worse by the fact that the manga, movie, and series are not all identical. This site is a good resource if you get confused.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is available on Amazon in all its different forms so be sure to figure out where you want to start. I recommend watching the movies before the series, because otherwise you may feel some disappointment in the movies for leaving things out. This way, you will watch an amazing movie that will make you want to learn more, and then you will go and find out more by watching the series.
Akira is like the rite of baptism into anime fandom. You cannot truly claim to be an aficionado until you can have a conversation about the anime that started it all. With vibrant colors, a post-apocalyptic feel, motorcycles and hormones, this film embodies the angst of being a teenager.
Set in Neo-Tokyo (Tokyo, rebuilt after WW3, which occurred in ’88), the film follows Kaneda and Tetsuo, two friends who end up on opposite sides of a strange conflict involving ESP, the military, politics, and terrorist groups.
This is the scene that made me sit up in my theater seat and notice that this was the grandaddy of all I had known: Akira: The Clown Fight
Be warned: this film is full of violence, drugs and just plain nasty scenes that will shock your mind. This is a movie that will make you think and is definitely one that you have to re-watch more than once to appreciate the full awesome-pacity of (that is a made up word in case you’re googling).
There are scenes that will stay with you forever. But I’ll let you find out which ones 😉
The movie is available on Amazon for different prices depending on what version you get. The blu-ray is more expensive of course.
Akira is also a manga, so give that a look as well to be considered a true connoisseur.
Go Forth and Watch Anime!
These are just the tip of the iceberg as far as great anime to check out! I found a list of 30 that I really agree with and recommend if you want to expand your anime horizons!