Japanese anime tends to have a reputation in the western world for being wildly “out there” and the only people that tend to like anime are just as wildly “out there.” But anime has a very broad selection of genres that can appeal to anyone, just as western film and TV. And honestly, you have probably already seen some anime that has gained popularity in the west (i.e. Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Inuyasha). For those who are curious about delving deeper into the world of anime, but don’t know how or where to start, here is a list of great anime films and series (separated by genre) to get you started!
The futuristic misadventures and tragedies of an easygoing bounty hunter, Spike Spiegel, and his partners. Set in the year 2071, this episodic crime noir begins on the Spaceship Bebop, where Spike’s group of bounty hunters are constantly looking for their next bounty head.
Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, this series is well-known for it’s cool atmosphere and widely revered soundtrack.
Fuu, a waitress who works in a teahouse, rescues two master swordsmen, Mugen and Jin, from their execution to help her find the “samurai who smells of sunflowers.” The show follows the three as they journey through Edo period Japan in search for this mysterious samurai, all the while getting into trouble everywhere they go.
Another acclaimed series by director Shinichirō Watanabe, Samurai Champloo combines a historic backdrop with modern hip-hop styles and references.
Comedy/Slice of Life
After her mother’s death, Tohru Honda finds herself living with the “prince” of her high school, Yuki Sohma, after her tent is destroyed in a landslide. Yuki, along with the rest of the Sohmas have a secret though. When hugged by a member of the opposite sex, they transform into animals of the Chinese zodiac.
Shenanigans ensue and new friendships are formed in this heart-warming series directed by Akitaro Daichi.
Clannad & Clannad: After Story
A high school student, Tomoya, who cares little about school or others meets a lonely girl, Nagisa, who had to repeat a year while all her friends finished high school. They become unlikely friends as he helps her to revive the drama club. Making friends along the way, their bond grows deeper and they decide to become a couple. The After Story takes place immediately, where the first “season” ends, following their relationship.
This series (one of my personal favorites) is as hilarious as it is heart-breaking. You learn so much about the characters and their lives. I can’t recommend this series enough. Directed by Tatsuya Ishihara.
University students Kohta and Yuka (Kohta’s cousin) save a girl around their age called when they see her washed up on a beach. They quickly realize this girl, called Lucy, isn’t human. She is a Diclonius that has a escaped from a government facility where she was being studied. Committing mass murder in her escape, the ones responsible are desperate to find her. This proves difficult when her personality is split from a head injury, causing her to shed her violent persona for a clueless girl who doesn’t know what she is. Directed by Mamoru Kanbe.
In a post-apocalyptic future, humans live in peace with androids in a domed city called Romdeau. However, a strange series of murders has intrigued bored inspector Re-L Mayer when it appears robots that have been infected with a virus, causing self-awareness, seem to be responsible. This series, directed by Shukō Murase, has been critically praised for it’s well-paced plot and atmosphere.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices
A coming of age story involving young love. Asuna hears mysterious music coming from a crystal radio, left to her by her absent father, that leads her deep into the hidden world, Agartha.
Beautiful artwork combined with an adventurous plot, this film is a must-see for everyone. Directed by Makoto Shinkai, who has been called “the new Miyazaki.”
Garden of Words
A 15-year-old boy and 27-year-old woman find an unlikely friendship one rainy day in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. These two broken pieces come together and heal one another as they learn what it is to walk.
I cannot even begin to describe how amazing the artwork is in this film. If you won’t see it for the story, which is beautiful, then see it for the artwork. You won’t regret it. Also directed by Makoto Shinkai. Surprise, surprise.
5 Centimeters Per Second
Told in three interconnected segments, we follow a young man named Takaki through his life as cruel winters, cold technology, and finally, adult obligations and responsibility converge to test the delicate petals of love.
Beautiful artwork mixed with a tragic plot about the heart-break of love, this film is another masterpiece directed by Makoto Shinkai.
College student Hana falls in love with another student who turns out to be a werewolf. After he dies in an accident with uncertain circumstances, Hana decides to move to the rural countryside where her husband grew up to raise her two werewolf children.
A story about family and understanding, Wolf Children will tug at your heartstrings. Directed by Mamoru Hosoda.
And, of course, anything created by Studio Ghibli is a must-see…
**All movies mentioned above are in our collection at Media Services**