It’s been a little while since your uncle Geekly talked anime, so let’s start by dishing about some great anime available on one of the big three streaming services: Hulu.
In terms of anime, Hulu has a huge head start on the other three streaming services. It has the rights to some of the greatest movies and series in anime history—or at least the ones that put anime on the map for westerners. It’s also done a good job of gaining the rights of some of the newer stuff that anime fans won’t stop talking about. Sure, you could buy Crunchyroll and there are other services that can be add-ons for Amazon, but Hulu has more than enough anime to have a fan covered.
There is so many anime to get through, so I’ll stick to short blurbs, but here are some anime highlights. They are by no means the only ones you can find on Hulu.
My Hero Academia
Stop me if this sounds familiar. A once-powerless boy gives his all to follow the path of his idol. The government monitors superhero activity and regulates it. Okay. The concept won’t sound new to anime and superhero fans, but My Hero Academia has earned its place as one of the biggest new anime series. It’s also more culturally relevant than a lot of other anime.
A famous Japanese CEO once said that he takes risks if he knows he won’t lose. If someone knows they can’t lose something, then that’s not a risk. Several generations of Japanese have followed a similar path and refuse to take real risks. My Hero Academia challenges that pervasive line of thinking. It empowers a younger generation to take risks, even if it means you may lose.
Yu Yu Hakusho
One action can change someone’s fate. That’s at least what Yu Yu Hakusho seems to suggest. This fun series tackles ethical issues without getting preachy. It’s a character-driven series centered on a 14-year-old street-brawling delinquent Yusuke who died as he saves a young boy from being run over by a car. He’s met by the pilot of the River Styx who informs him that there isn’t yet a place made for him in either heaven or hell. Yusuke’s tasks toward redemption are many. His world is hellish and varied.
Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is a blockbuster the likes anime has seldom seen. Large humanoids called titans terrorize a dwindling human populous. The stories play out like a fusion of The Walking Dead tension for survival and the blood-pumping action and espionage of Mission Impossible. Throw in some Spider-man like powers with the Survey Corps’ vertical equipment, and it’s easy to see why this series has so many fans.
Sometimes you need something light. One-Punch Man is to anime and manga what The Tick is to comic books. Its humor is off-center. Everything in the show has some relevance to the genre as a whole, but the best thing it introduces is that idea that someone who has as much power as Saitama can grow bored with his strength. The series doesn’t navel gaze for too long as it’s a parody and a lot of fun.
Decades after its release Cowboy Bebop is still a lot of people’s default recommendation for anime newbies. It blends westerns, sci-fi, and noir and has some of the most diverse episodic adventures. It’s an unmistakable gateway anime that has one of the most iconic soundtracks—and not just for anime. It also doesn’t hurt that Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game) called it “better than most sci-fi films.” Cowboy Bebop inspired Joss Whedon’s Firefly. It’s a must watch.
From one classic anime to another, Akira is set in the post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo of 2019. Akira, like Cowboy Bebop, introduced Western audiences to anime as a medium and showed that the genre could cater to more adult viewers. It’s influenced so many anime that came after it that the list would be too long to state here. Even though it came out in 1988, the animation holds up today and the world is a wonder.
Grave of the Fireflies
I’m sticking with the year 1988 and another anime masterpiece Grave of the Fireflies. A lot has been said of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, but this classic comes from the director who many say influenced Miyazaki, Isao Takahata. I don’t want to say too much about this one, lest I give too much away, but this film is set in the city of Kobe, Japan in the final months of the Second World War. It focuses on two siblings struggling to survive. It’s difficult to keep a dry eye with this one.
I like my anime to get a little weird. Most anime that do get weird tend to go a psychedelic route, but Princess Tutu combines fairy tale and ballet to make a magical girl anime that’s surprisingly grounded. I won’t reveal too much, but trust me, the themes are familiar and blended in a way that’s new and interesting. Princess Tutu is that rare non-standard anime that can be shared with younger audiences, but there’s plenty to unpack for adults.
That’s it for my list at this point. I may be making another one of these soon. There are so many other series I could put here. Heck, shonen anime like Bleach and Naruto could dominate this list, and I didn’t even mention Death Note. How could I have not mention Death Note? You can belly ache about Death Note or any other anime I didn’t mention by leaving a message on my answering machine—or by leaving a comment.