So... how’s your quarantine going?
Like the rest of the world, the AniTAY community is spending its time inside as much as possible, and finding various ways in order to kill the newfound time we have on our hands. Some of us are getting into cooking, others are getting into gaming, and of course we’re binge watching the anime we always said we would, once we had time for it. Maybe it’s one of last year’s big shows, or something big that’s managed to elude us for one reason or another, but regardless, we at AniTAY are here to help, with a list of 13 recommendations for classic shows you should give a shot. Unlike usual AniTAY collaborations, this is more open-ended and freeform than our usual seasonal collabs: any author can contribute, with the only restrictions being that the shows in question must be from 2015 or earlier (so that it has credence as aging like a “classic” show has), and that they must be available legally in the US to stream.
We’ll see if this is popular enough to become a semi-regular series (depending on how long social distancing measures have to go on for...), but for now, here are the classic anime series you finally have time for, in alphabetical order:
Written by: Arcane
Genre: Slice of Life, Action, Drama, Comedy
Where to Watch: FUNImation, Hulu
Premise: The human race is suddenly facing annihilation from an enigmatic, Lovecraftian-eque creature, who appeared from beyond the stars and blew up half of the moon as a “warning shot.” This creature — who’s being kept secret from the public, and known only to the highest echelons of government — gives the world a chance to save itself. He won’t destroy the planet for a full year, and all they have to do is kill him before the timer runs out. Oh, but he’ll only do this if he’s allowed to teach a certain junior-high school class for that year. Specifically, Kunugigaoka Junior High Class 3-E, also known by its students as the End Class, because it’s made up of all of the worst students.
In this school, they are shamed and mocked in order to motivate the students in other classes, instilling a sense of superiority as to crush them academically. The situation is so bad that Class 3-E doesn’t even get to study on the main campus - instead, they’re taught in the old schoolhouse way up in the mountains, making for a very long daily walk. This education will prove to be very unique, as in addition to passing and graduating, these students will also have to learn how to kill their own instructor...
Why You Should Watch This: Assassination Classroom may have been something of a hit during its original run, but it has ultimately become eclipsed by other works that cover somewhat similar ideas (most notably My Hero Academia). Stories about weird schools are frequently very popular, but this reviewer would happily say that Assassination Classroom sits at the very top of that subgenre, and engages in its subject matter in a lot of unexpected ways that other shows of its nature don’t even touch. Over the course of fifty-two episodes, we watch as an entire class builds chemistry and develops into functioning people, rather than the misfit good-for-nothings that society has declared them to be. Where schools like Ouran Academy, UA, or Death Weapon Meister Academy do their best to nurture and guide students, Kunugigaoka and its staff have different ideas in mind - their school is a dry run for living in society, where the cruel people at the top should relish crushing those at the very bottom. Said bottom is essentially our entire cast, who all start with things they have to overcome. Some of them have terrible home lives, some of them may have no home at all, and most have just given up on themselves.
The truly unexpected element of this show though comes when a crazy yellow space alien drops out of the sky, blows up the moon, and takes it upon himself to personally guide and nurture these students that have been intentionally left behind by their peers and teachers, giving them all a fighting chance not just against himself, but against the true world outside and the very society they live in. Even as the insane hijinks escalate further and further, you get a real sense of progression in the characters as they come up with ways to murder their teacher and pass the next test. Right now, in the middle of an existential nightmare, I think that a story that holds a mirror to its audience and still manages to give them hope is something to be treasured.
Written by: Viking
Genre: Sci-fi, space-piracy, comedy
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, HiDive, VRV
Premise: In the far future, Kato Marika lives on the planet Sea of the Morningstar, in the Tau Ceti system. The world has achieved independence, and exists peacefully outside of the jurisdiction of the Galactic Empire. Marika spends her days in school, doing activities with the school’s space yacht club and working part time at a fancy cafe. One day, she learns that her absent father has passed away, and that she must take command of the pirate ship Bentenmaru, otherwise the ship will have to cease operation, as the Letter of Marque (the legal “license” for the ship to continue activities) specifies that it must pass to a direct descendent of the captain. As it turns out, space pirates have become somewhat legendary; they no longer engage in piracy, but instead do routine shipping with the occasional staged ship assault, in something akin to dinner theatre to entertain people on space cruises.
Why You Should Watch This: A high school girl getting command of a space pirate ship certainly sounds like an absurd premise. And it is! But the series also won the Seium Award (an award for sci-fi similar to the Hugo award, and limited to Japan) in 2013 for best dramatic presentation. The world-building in the series is actually pretty solid, with many elements of hard science fiction: space battles begin with ships half-a-million kilometers apart, attempting to hack each other’s systems, and they strategically use the gravity of the sun to outmaneuver enemy ships! In general, the style is plausible sci-fi, rather than space fantasy.
The show blends in plenty of slice-of-life into the story as well, following Marika’s high school life and work at the cafe. As the story expands, Marika and her fellow space yacht club members get embroiled in the Bentenmaru’s adventures., which quickly move from the routine activities, towards a struggle to keep Sea of the Morningstar independent from the Galactic Empire, thus fulfilling the original purpose of the Letters of Marque - to recruit pirates to fight for the planet’s struggle for independence, rather than robbing and pillaging in space.
The series is filled with cute high school girls, but is not a “cute girls doing cute things” show. Plus, the adult crew of the Bentenmaru adds some balance, keeping this from becoming a variation on a magical high school show, and the characters are solid, if somewhat tropey and fitting into neatly-defined roles. The action starts early, and continues throughout the series, punctuated by the bits of slice-of-life storytelling that allow the audience to really get to know the characters, and get behind them.
Written by: TheMamaLuigi
Genre: Magical Girl, Shoujo, School, Romance, Comedy, Coming-of-Age
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll and Funimation for original series and two films (sub and dub)
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Sakura Kinomoto is a normal ten-year-old girl, who one day finds the mysterious Clow Book. Upon opening it, the Clow Cards contained within the book scatter across the world! The fearsome protector of the cards “Keroberos” is awakened as well, and names Sakura the newest Cardcaptor, tasking her with retrieving the missing Clow Cards. Thus begins an adventure fraught with danger, friendship, love, and plenty of fetching outfits!
Premise: I’ll just come right out and say it: Cardcaptor Sakura is the best magical girl anime of all time. It perfectly captures the wondrous spirit of magical girl shows through its focus on optimism, coming of age storytelling, and a stellar cast of characters who all complement and grow with each other. It’s these characters that truly make the show shine, from Sakura and Syaoran’s budding relationship, to the interplay between Touya, Kero, and Yukito, Cardcaptor Sakura perfectly understands how to craft characters that are both believable and endlessly entertaining to watch. Moreover, it pairs its cast of characters with a story and writing that are genuinely affecting in how they balance humour, action, and drama when appropriate. This is a show that isn’t afraid to make you burst out laughing one episode and then cry in another, while eliciting every emotion in between. I’ve written about the ways Cardcaptor Sakura has made me into who I am today before, but I want to reiterate just how important this anime is. Cardcaptor Sakura is (ostensibly) a children’s show that takes a mature, nuanced, and gentle look at different kinds of relationships, different types of people, and the different ways we grow up, without casting judgement or prescribing answers to its audience. It’s a show content with being what it is, and letting the viewer form their own perspectives; it is the Clow Card we all capture, its face distinct for everyone.
I’ve obviously seen Cardcaptor Sakura plenty of times, but our current sociocultural climate provides me (and prospective newcomers) the perfect opportunity to rewatch the series’ seventy episodes, two movies (The Movie and The Sealed Card), and the twenty-three episode sequel series Clear Card. Not only is this almost forty hours of Cardcaptor Sakura goodness, but it is among the best of 90s anime in terms of style, music, visuals, tropes, and general vibes. And in a time like this, perhaps that’s what we need to watch: something old that makes us feel new, something from the past that speaks about and imagines our present — something gentle, empathetic, and wholly its own.
Written by: TGRIP
Genre: Science-Fantasy-Action Adventure Shounen
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu, Netflix, VRV
Spoiler-free Synopsis: In an alternate history where alchemy is not only possible but a driving force in the world, two brothers use alchemy in a futile attempt to bring their dead mother back to life. The process does not work and they end up sacrificing parts of their own bodies , with one losing an arm and a leg, and the other being forced to have his own soul bonded to a suit of armor in order to survive. From that moment on, Edward and Alphonse Elric embark on a journey to get their original bodies back, and along the way end up involving themselves in the affairs of their home country of Amestris, meet many distinct characters, and discover a nefarious plot that threatens the whole country and its people...
Premise: Simply put, this is possibly the greatest shounen series ever made, and if you were to ask me what the all-around best anime of the 2010s was, this is still my go-to answer. Because this show is great for the same reasons other shows in general are great, from HBO’s Watchmen to Avatar: The Last Airbender: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is damn near faultless. The series finds its home in a large cast of characters who each feel fleshed out and at best are incredibly likable and have great arcs, or at worst are scumbags who you want to see get what they deserve (which they often do), a massive story that is a masterclass in setup and payoff with twists and moments that can make you gasp, cheer, and cry, and a multitude of themes that even a decade later still hold so much relevance in today’s world concerning militarism, the cycle of bloodshed and hate, and the lengths people will go to in order to protect those important to them.
I will admit that the first ten episodes is the series’ slowest point — they’re still fun to watch if you’re a newcomer (with the usual caveat being that if you watched the previous 2003 series, most of the first season is a bit of a retread) — and the show truly hits its stride by episode 11 where it not only rejoins up with the manga’s original story, but also finds a great pace for itself for the remainder of the series. All this, paired with Studio Bones’ production firing on every cylinder throughout all 64 episodes (including a musical score that surprised me on rewatching for its incredible level of quality), makes Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood one of the rare anime that truly lives up to its hype.
Written by: MementoMorie
Where to watch: Crunchyroll
Premise: Fifteen-year-old friends, bubbly Miaka Yuki and mature Yui Hongo, read a mysterious library book, The Universe of the Four Gods, and are transported into the book’s world. While Yui soon returns to the real world and attempts to learn the book’s secrets, Miaka is stuck in an unfamiliar and magical realm - as a priestess of a powerful god! Miaka is tasked with gathering the seven celestial warriors of the god Suzaku to gain three wishes, but her journey is complicated by unexpected romance and the betrayal of those she trusts most.
Why You Should Watch This: So this show is ridiculous and that’s part of why you should watch it. It has that 90s style of anime “comedy” where a character does something at all out of the ordinary and another character overreacts for 30 seconds. It’s also an important entry in the isekai genre, specifically from that period rich in shojo isekai like Escaflowne and The Twelve Kingdoms. It’s easy to make fun of the formula we’ve come to know where a savvy, usually otaku-adjacent teen boy is transported to another world, but just like those series play with what mundane teen boy concerns would look like in a supernatural setting, works like Fushigi Yugi create rich fantasy stories while honoring the everyday concerns of their adolescent female characters.
Like the modern hit Yona of the Dawn, Fushi Yugi’s universe is based on ancient Chinese mythology. The opposing factions of Suzaku and Seiryu are visually and narratively rich, with built-in high stakes, but what interests me more is the timeless personal drama that coexists in this fantastical world. Miaka is exceedingly normal and the emotional core of the story is watching her balance her (reasonable!) mundane priorities with new and overwhelming burdens. Her love story with the celestial warrior Tamahome is the kind of romantic melodrama that seems apt for a teenager’s point of view. Yui, as Miaka’s foil and friend, has a wonderful sort of female anti-hero narrative about jealousy, power, and resignation, made even better by her relationship with the show’s charismatic villain (a character the creator clearly favored). The original manga was written when author Yuu Watase was in their early 20s, and their sensibility for those messy but deeply genuine adolescent experiences shines. It’s tropey and imperfect, and often extremely problematic, but I appreciate it for these qualities, too. There’s a pervading sincerity in the characters that make it hard not to be charmed by their struggles and take their motivations in good faith.
Written by: Dark Aether
Genre: Action, Dark Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural, Seinen
Where to Watch: Funimation
Premise: “The Bird of Hermes is my name, eating my wings to make me tame…”
For generations, the Hellsing Organization has waged war on behalf of England, as protectors of humanity against the creatures of the night, and those who would threaten our very existence. Led by Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, she upholds her family’s legacy by battling the armies of the undead.
But not all night creatures are equal. Among the hordes of vampires and undead, stands a monster whose very existence strikes fear in the hearts of every great sinner. This is the story of the monster who now serves as Hellsing’s ultimate weapon: the vampire known as Alucard.
Why You Should Watch This: One of the greatest vampire stories – as well as one of my personal favorite anime of all time – Hellsing Ultimate is a wild ride thanks to its over-the-top violence and gore, and a story that dials it up to eleven within its first two episodes. Something of an unholy lovechild between DOOM and Wolfenstein in anime form (with a dash of Devil May Cry and vampires), Kouta Hirano’s classic doesn’t take long to set itself apart from its counterparts when it takes a hard right turn into insanity, going from monster killing to a full scale war against *SPOILERS*….
Nazis. Nope, your eyes do not deceive you. But Hellsing is more than just killing vampires and Nazis. And holy warriors. And zombies. And Nazi vampires. And – okay, it’s exactly that, largely in part to the insatiable bloodthirst and violence of the main character Alucard, which becomes much of the series’ main draw for excitement, as the scale grows and the situation spirals completely out of control in the show’s final episodes. Whether it’s blasting the hell out of a legion of the undead with his comically oversized twin pistols, or battling everything from magically enhanced Nazi vampires, to a Catholic warrior priest with a seemingly infinite supply of bayonets, Hellsing is an adrenaline fueled bloody spectacle first, and a story-driven plot second, with little regard towards those who value deeply written narratives (and those with a weaker stomach).
Much like its distinguished vampire in red though, Hellsing Ultimate avoids taking itself too seriously, as it revels in its love for brutality and guns, and its unholy setting that has a bit of political intrigue in religion and national affairs for good measure. While the anime is very much a product of its time and isn’t for the faint of heart, for those who love nonstop action and crave dark horror, it’s a hell of a good time.
Written by: Requiem
Genre(s): Shounen, Martial Arts, Earnestness
Where to Watch: Hulu (sub and dub), Amazon Prime (dub only)
Premise: Kenichi Shirahama is a decent, unassuming kid who likes to read, especially about martial arts. Unfortunately he’s also frequently bullied, which unfortunately includes being the target of a big jerk when he tries to join his school’s karate club who challenges Kenichi to match he can’t survive, let alone win. His luck changes though when he meets Miu Furinji, who despite her stunning good looks and athletic ability, has some trouble making friends. Thankfully for Kenichi, Miu also happens to live at a dojo with her grandfather and 5 other truly ridiculous martial arts grandmasters, who see great potential in Kenichi... as well as a nice source of income. So begins the journey of Kenichi Shirhama, who will be the World’s Mightiest Disciple, if his masters’ training doesn’t kill him first...
Why You Should Watch This: When prompted for a list of all time favorite anime, the name on my list (generally near or at the top) that gets “huh?” reactions is Kenichi, an often overlooked and underappreciated shounen gem from the 90s. It’s got a fairly standard shounen formula: kid faces threat, gets training and/or acquires ally, faces threat, and 75% of the time defeats threat. Kenichi isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s a nearly flawless execution of the form. The show shares something important with its MC: miles and miles of heart.
Kenichi himself is an outstanding main character, balancing the right mix of earnestness and determination without being annoying about it, and without the trademark obliviousness that most modern shounen protagonists seem to share. A key element of his journey that really makes you buy in is that he has no actual talent for martial arts. All Kenichi has going for him are his intelligence, a remarkably high pain tolerance, and a refusal to quit. He only stands a chance against the delinquents and challengers he faces because of the ridiculous masters he has, all of whom pit him through various (and often hilarious) exercises to turn this coal lump of a disciple into a diamond. There’s no power-creep here, as Kenichi’s victories come through steady progression that isn’t guaranteed. Sometimes he gains more by losing, but the important thing is that the show keeps you rooting for him the whole way.
The rest of the cast is a diverse and colorful lot of wacky side characters and other martial artists, representing a wide variety of styles. There are a lot of great and fun characters here, from a classical music freak who composes pieces during fistfights, to Kenichi’s “best friend”, who may or may not be an alien. Miu herself is a splendid character; she’s Kenichi’s love interest but never a damsel in distress. Miu never needs Kenichi to save her; in fact it’s usually the opposite, as Miu is the 3rd/4th strongest fighter to appear in the show. Kenichi is important to her as the first friend who’s around her own age, and their relationship is adorable. Everyone’s a blast, and well worth spending 50 episodes with. The show does suffer from some 2000s issues, though; the animation isn’t anything to write home about, and there’s the occasional fanservice-y humor that’s typical of the genre from this time. Also, between the dub and the sub, your humble writer prefers the sub, but the dub is certainly watchable and has its own charms.
TL;DR, Kenichi, The Mightiest Disciple is a hell of a fun time, especially if you enjoy old school shounen and media about martial arts. It has my highest recommendation.
Written by: MementoMorie
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Where to watch: original series, OVA, and movie on Crunchyroll
Premise: Kyosuke Kasuga has just moved to a new town with his sister and single father, but he isn’t exactly a normal transfer student: all three Kasuga children are “espers” with supernatural powers. Now Kyosuke has to worry about hiding his family secret on top of starting high school! A chance meeting with a whimsical girl makes him optimistic for his new life, but this mysterious beauty turns out to be the notoriously tough and prickly Madoka Ayukawa. When Kyosuke catches the eye of Madoka’s friend and underclassman, Hikaru, he finds himself in the middle of a fraught love triangle. Even if he hides his powers, Kyosuke is still about to make some magical memories.
Why You Should Watch This: There’s something special about a work of art that’s doing a lot of weird and innovative things because it’s just a little too ahead of its time to be self-conscious about those things. KoR hits this spot. For one, it predicted the citypop/future-funk/vaporwave trend. KoR is roller skating in the summer. KoR is drinking a fruity soda with your friends on a balmy night. It’s a vibe, an aesthetic.. Most of us are in a scary place right now where it’s not clear if we’ll be able to have any summer mood this year. I think there’s something comforting about indulging in a neon colored, high octane 80s summer instead of dwelling on what we’re missing outside.
KoR set the early standard for zany teen romances (even in heavier works, like OreGairu, it’s hard not to see shades of KoR when there’s an overachieving dark haired beauty and a cute, popular girl foil), but it still holds up as something special. It doesn’t take the dumber parts of its premise too seriously, though it takes the urgent nowness of teenage emotions as seriously as they deserve. Kyosuke has a lot in common with many doofus rom com leads that come after, but he’s also a sweet kid who wants to do the right thing. The love triangle may seem contrived - Kyosuke is obviously in love with Madoka and his relationship with Hikaru is based on a lot of hijinks and miscommunication - but this a story where all three romantic leads care deeply for one another. The girls value each other’s friendship and well being as much as they love Kyosuke, and vice versa. KoR also uses its absurd supernatural conceit to accomplish genuinely affecting character moments - an episode where Kyosuke hypnotizes himself with his own powers to act more suave turns into an important revelation about the people in his life loving him because he’s a sincere dork.
The companion movie, I Want to Return to That Day wrings the awkwardness and tragedy out of the love triangle in a way the series does not, as well as gives Hikaru’s character her touching due.
There’s also an Amadeus gag in the series. I’m not sure I can say that about any other anime.
Written by: tengu22
Genre: Sports, Shonen, Comedy
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Premise: Teiko Middle School’s basketball team is invincible, winning 3 years in a row with an incredibly strong starting lineup dubbed “The Generation of Miracles”. Upon graduating, they all decide to part ways and attend different high schools to play each other as rivals. In addition to the starting five, there was another player who The Generation of Miracles acknowledged as a peer – Kuroko Tetsuya, The Phantom Sixth Man.
Kuroko chose to attend Seirin High School where he meets Kagami Taiga, a player who just returned from the US. Together, along with the rest of the team, they set out to become the best high school basketball team in Japan and defeat The Generation of Miracles.
Why You Should Watch This: It can be tough these days for sports fans with everything being placed on an indefinite hiatus. While Taiwan is airing episodes of classic basketball anime Slam Dunk, Kuroko’s Basketball is another great option to get your basketball/sports anime fix all while turning the intensity up to 11.
For those seeking realism, suspension of disbelief might be a requirement for this show, as you’ll frequently see Japanese high school kids pulling off moves that most NBA players might be jealous of. But this is a shonen, after all, and you can bet there will be tons of special moves with flashy names to accompany them so it’s better just to enjoy the ride for what it is.
Everyone has some way of playing that complements their strengths. Kuroko, in particular, provides much of the comic relief as The Phantom Sixth Man lives up to his name due to his lack of presence, often rendering him invisible both on and off the court and startling most people when they realize that he’s been there the entire time. Kagami is the opposite, and they complement each other well through their gameplay as they take on each member of The Generation of Miracles and their respective teams. While the action is turned up, there is some solid basketball going on here between Seirin and their opponents, like Kagami facing off against Touou Academy’s Aomine with a flair that is reminiscent of the AND1 Mixtapes.
Fans of basketball and shounen sports anime should give this one a shot, especially if you’re looking to fill that basketball-shaped hole in your life while we wait for the NBA to return.
Written by: TGRIP
Genre: Guerilla-Mecha-Warfare Romance
Where to Watch: Hulu
Premise: With the One Year War in full swing, mass production of Gundam Mobile Suits has seen the iconic mechs deployed into the jungles of southeast Asia, a far cry from their usual space-based theater of combat. Once a part of the Earth Federation, the region is now an intense battleground between it and the Principality of Zeon, who are not only entrenched there but are reportedly testing out a weapon so powerful that it can annihilate entire cities. Amidst all this are two soldiers who have a brief but meaningful encounter with one another: Ensign Shiro Amada, who’s placed in charge of the ragtag squadron 08th Mobile Suit Team, and Aina Sahalin, the pilot of the awe-inspiring weapon.
Why You Should Watch This: As iconic and varied as it is, it’s still not easy to find a “good” place to get into Gundam. The franchise is over 40 years old, but the Universal Century timeline has an almost unforgivingly complex continuity, and while there are a decent number of series set outside of it (Build Fighters, Iron Blooded Orphans… G Gundam...), they each have strengths and weaknesses that might make them click for some, but also not for others. 08th MS Team though remains my favorite because it chooses to focus on just one story set during the UC timeline, and tells it pretty damn well. Although it must be said that it’s an odd series since it’s effectively two shows crammed into one: it had one director handle the first 6 episodes, and another was in charge of the latter 6.
That said, the two halves complement each other effectively, with the first half almost being an anthology series giving each character of the titular MS Team depth, and the latter half kicking the overarching story into gear. In this aspect, 08th MS Team is arguably Gundam in a nutshell, with the first part being a mid-stakes action series that’s just plain fun to watch, while the second part is where the franchise’s “the cost of war” DNA comes into its own. However, while the “star-crossed lovers” aspect might be a bit bland to some viewers, it’s more than worth it since this series has (even twenty years later) some of the best mecha fights in the entirety of Gundam, with the show’s fight scenes having a brutality that mecha shows even today rarely reach.
Written by: Viking
Genre: Action-adventure, fantasy, comedy
Where to Watch: Funimation
Premise: Lina Inverse is a renowned sorceress who prides herself on defeating bandit gangs - and taking their treasure for herself (a girl has to eat, you know?). After wiping out most of the Dragon Fangs gang, she’s pursued and ambushed by the gang’s remnants. Just before she finishes them off, a dashing swordsman named Gourry Gabriev “rescues” Lina, single-handedly taking care of the rest of the bandit gang. Gourry may be great with a sword, but Lina soon learns he has the brain of a jellyfish, as he mistakenly assumes that Lina is a little kid who needs to be escorted home. So, Gourry and Lina head off together toward Atlas City, Lina’s next destination, soon learning that one piece of the bandit’s treasure has been sought after by a mysterious masked man. Lina and Gourry find themselves mixed up in a struggle between the mysterious man and Rezo the Red Priest, and a plot to resurrect the world’s Mazoku lord, Ruby-Eye Shabranigdo.
Why You Should Watch This: If you like fantasy, and especially if you’re tired of your fantasy coming in the form of a middle-schooler isekai’d into a video game, then The Slayers! may be exactly what you’re looking for. To put it simply, The Slayers! is an epic tale of swords & sorcery with a healthy dose of comedy thrown in for good measure. You might be put off by the animation and video quality (mid-1990s style and the low resolution of the previous millennium), but you’ll soon get lost in the world, the characters, and the story.
The world is rather standard fantasy fare, at first: magic, swordplay, dragons, etc. But as the story unfolds, you learn more and more about the history of the world, and the cosmic struggle between the Gods and the Mazoku, which gives the world a unique flair. As the heroes travel, you learn more and more, and while there are plenty of timely infodumps, they’re generally targeted at Gourry for the audience’s benefit. The story unfolds at a pretty quick pace, with nicely timed “filler” episodes here and there that generally enhance the characters and the comedy.
But it’s the characters that you’ll love most, with Lina and Gourry being fantastic lead protagonists. In the first couple of episodes, you get a sense of Lina’s skill as a sorceress, her desire for justice (tempered with a bit of greed), her insecurities, and her amazing appetite. Likewise, you quickly learn the basics about Gourry: a sense of chivalry, and bravery that’s tempered with knowing when it’s better to run, all while being dumb as a rock. Their interactions make them even better - they fight over food, they engage in banter, Gourry is constantly getting in Lina’s way in battle, Lina literally throws Gourry at a dragon so she has time to cast a spell. In one later episode, Lina throws Gourry at an enemy while shouting “Gourry bomb!” as if it were a special attack. They’re also later joined by a character best described as a “heartless mystical swordsman,” and soon after by a “crazy girl” with an oversized zeal for justice. And then there’s that mysterious priest (just be ready for serious trouble whenever he opens his eyes).
All-in-all, The Slayers! Is a fun fantasy romp with characters you’ll quickly fall in love with. There are 5 seasons, 2 OAV series, and 5 movies to keep you entertained throughout your quarantine. Truthfully though, the first 3 seasons are the real classics.
Written by: tengu22
Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Sci-Fi/Space, Seinen
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Premise: One summer night in 2006, brothers Mutta and Hibito Nanba see a UFO, which appears to fly off to the Moon. This inspires the brothers to make space exploration their dream; Hibito wants to go to the Moon while his older brother Mutta sets his sights on Mars, as Mutta believes that “a big brother should always stay ahead of his younger brother”.
Nineteen years later, Hibito has become an astronaut at JAXA while Mutta has become an automobile designer. After being recently fired from his job, Mutta remembers his goal of becoming an astronaut and exploring Mars. With no other prospective jobs on the horizon, he decides to follow his brother and applies to become an astronaut too.
Why You Should Watch This: Space Brothers is a rather easygoing show that follows Mutta’s journey to become an astronaut and catch up to his younger brother so they can fulfill their dream of going into space. Throughout the show, we see what exactly it is like to go through the process of becoming an astronaut as Mutta endures all kinds of tests and training alongside all the other candidates, and it certainly is not easy!
Mutta, showing his resourcefulness during exams while also dealing with his terrible luck, is fun to watch alongside the other characters he meets who have their own unique charm about them. The show centers around Mutta and his fellow trainees but also frequently checks in with Hibito, giving an idea of just how far apart they are in accomplishing their respective goals. You won’t see any space battles with lasers and spaceships: here is a more grounded show reveling in what it’s like during the day-to-day life of those whose dream it is to go interstellar. As Mutta gets to know his fellow trainees, he realizes everyone has their own reasons for wanting to go, but the destination is the same. While being educational, the show finds a way to bring in humor in situations like being in an isolation chamber for two weeks or conducting training missions at the bottom of the sea floor.
Space Brothers may not be for everyone, but if you’re into slice of life or are interested in space exploration, this one’s for you.
Written By: Arcane
Genre: Children’s, Action, Fantasy, Game
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, VRV, Netflix, Hulu, TubiTV, Amazon Prime Video
Premise: In a distant future, the holographic technology that powers the spectacle that is Duel Monsters has become so advanced that it’s able to affect the physical world - and, of course, this has ushered in a new era of duel-based entertainment. Action Duels are a crazy combination of acrobatics, scavenger hunts, and physics-based dueling that have revolutionized the entire sport, and right in the middle of this craze we meet our protagonist, boldly claiming himself to be the future greatest duel-entertainer of all time: Yuya Sakaki.
Of course, he’ll have to actually start winning first, and luckily for him his father - a legendary duelist himself - left him a mysterious necklace when he disappeared. That necklace begins to glow when Yuya finds himself in a huge pinch, and gives him - and the rest of the world - the gift of Pendulum Summoning, a strange new mechanic that promises to shake everything up again. Of course, nobody can yet predict the far-reaching consequences of unlocking such power…
Why You Should Watch This: Because it’s (in this reviewer’s opinion) the best of a the Yu-gi-oh shows . Having watched tons of the previous series as a child, and then getting totally burned out on the monotony of ZEXAL, Arc-V is such a glorious return to form that it winds up outshining every previous series of the franchise, even as it ties them all together in ways never seen before. Massive improvements in areas like pacing and world cohesion make this a crazily-watchable show - frequently, this reviewer would put it on just as a quick break between watching seasonal anime, and suddenly find that six episodes had gone by without him noticing. It’s both a wonderful homage to the shows that came before it, and a fresh new direction that updates the elements of its predecessors that don’t really work anymore, into something that a fan of any age can get lost in.
Did you hate invincible protagonists? Well, not every single duel has the fate of the world riding on it, so that’s comfortably left behind in favor of manageable-yet-high stakes that leave you actually concerned about what might happen. Did you find the world unbelievable as most of society was replaced by dueling? This aspect is toned down for most of the beginning of the show, and leaves behind the weird racism/classism undertones that made 5D’s tonally confusing. Did you dislike the ass-pulling magical bullcrap that broke the game in previous seasons? Well, Yuya himself spends a pretty good amount of time being labelled as a cheater for Pendulum Summoning, despite the fact that the holographic duel disks (also a very nice and welcome touch introduced in ZEXAL that made character designs a bit more bearable) accepted the rule immediately, and a lot of people get really mad at him. The show is actually realistic, instead of falling into the overly-edgy trap where its predecessors lie, and I think that’s a huge selling point for this kind of show in and of itself.
This article was a collaboration by many members of the AniTAY community.
- Dark Aether
- Viking (sorry, I couldn’t find a link to your work; please drop it in the comments below!)
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