3 Lists of 3 Anime: Take 1

Your uncle Geekly may not be Anime Season, but he’s spent some time watching anime over the years and it may be time to share some anime for people who don’t watch anime and want to know where to begin. This may become a series of 3 Lists of 3, but it’ll differ somewhat from our typical For Starters series. A) I won’t go into too much detail, but I may break this rule on more than one occasion. B) I also want to take genres that people may be familiar with and share a few titles that could match one’s interests. Anime has a massive range of genres and subgenres and one can get lost trying to find something one likes. Think of this series of lists as if you like “fill-in-the-blank,” you may also like this title.

Disclaimer: Uncle Geekly refuses to take responsibility if you don’t like a series on one of these lists, even if you like the genre. Direct all complaints to the comments.

Superheroes

Superhero TV shows and movies dominate. Superhero novels—not graphic novels or comic books, but actual novels—infiltrate book stores, so this is a good place to start with this 3 List of 3.

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My Hero Academia

On the surface My Hero Academia looks like standard superhero fare, but it takes an interesting turn or two and it holds a special cultural significance that few anime in any of these lists possess (more on that in a bit).

The superheroes of My Hero Academia have government and/or corporate sponsors. While I’ve seen government sponsored hero work in western superhero stories, I haven’t seen as many corporations backing superhero work. The inclusion of a capitalistic view on superheroes results in different motivations for each character. Some detest the commercialization of superhero work and push back, while others are only in it for the money. Viewers are sure to find a character, or two, they can relate to. There are even some heroes who only go into the business because of a family legacy or their families force them into the business.

The cultural significance comes in the form of taking risks or overcoming risk aversion. A lot of Japan is risk averse. For every great quote like Miyamoto’s “A delayed game is eventually good, a rushed game is bad forever” there are ones like the anonymous Nintendo executive’s “I only like to take risks if I know I’ll succeed.” If you know you’ll succeed, you’re not taking a risk. My Hero Academia’s main character Midoriya is the least likely superhero and must take risks. This series shows that it’s okay to take risks. It’s even okay to take a risk and fail; it’s what you do after a failure that defines who you are. Midoriya always gets back up—eventually—and younger Japanese generations are taking this lesson to heart.

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One Punch Man

I struggled with putting One Punch Man on this list. It toes the line between parody and satire. On one hand, it’s the anime equivalent of the 1990s animated Tick. There are so many references to anime tropes and inside jokes that new anime viewers may not catch half of them. On the other hand, it takes a critical look at the all-powerful superhero and how lonely and boring their life must be if they’re never challenged—kind of an earthlier version of Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan. Does a lack of a struggle lead to apathy?

As the title implies main character Saitama can beat anyone with one punch. The superheroes in this title are government sponsored—yay, that again—and they obtain rank through a government program. Despite being able to beat enemies with one punch, Saitama is a lower rank than most other heroes. Effort goes a long way and Saitama views fighting as a bore.

No one can beat Saitama, and how did he obtain this power? A daily routine of 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10KM run (which is a little under six and a quarter miles). That’s a good to great daily workout, but it hardly explains why he can beat people with a single punch. It’s hilarious and it does little to explain his hair loss (I’d like to know how to avoid that, asking for a friend), but it also shows how little Saitama exerts himself to achieve his goal of becoming a superhero. He possesses natural ability and it begs the question if one doesn’t have to struggle to obtain a goal, is the goal worthwhile?

But hey, One Punch Man is hilarious. Having a supervillain monologue for five minutes only to have Saitama take him down with one punch is great to watch, even if he can do it every time.

Claymore

Claymore

Claymore is the one title in this list of 3 that won’t be for everyone. To be fair, most if not all the anime on these lists won’t be for everyone, but Claymore caters to a very specific comic book fan. Here’s looking at you, Buffy, Blade, and Morbius the Living Vampire fan boys and girls.

The titular claymores fight yoma, who are shape-shifting beings akin to ogres that feed on human flesh and blood. Claymores are only female and are created by cutting open these young women and implanting them with the flesh of another claymore or the flesh of a yoma. This horrifying process conjures a lot of images and can lead to plenty of interpretations. I won’t share mine here, but after you’ve seen the process of making a claymore, you’ll have a reaction.

The Claymore series follows Clare, the newest and lowest member of the group, as she travels from town to town fighting yoma. As she uncovers more of the mysteries surrounding the Organization (the ones behind the claymores), she becomes less inclined to follow this path. Of all the main characters from the anime in this list, Clare is the most reluctant hero. If that’s something that interests you, you should give Claymore a try. Claymore also does a great job of depicting a hero who partly becomes that which they hate and in turn, how that choice causes them to question with their own humanity.

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Heroman

I’m cheating here a little bit, but I had to include Heroman as an honorable mention in this list because it was co-created by the late, great Stan Lee and features Stan Lee in anime form. We need more anime Stan Lee.

Firefly Fans

I’m amazed by how many anime could fill the void left by Firefly. In fact, Firefly borrows more than a little from some of these anime. Firefly can trace some of its influences back to at least a couple of the anime on this upcoming list—particularly the first two that came out five to seven years prior—so if a single season, one movie, and a few comic book series aren’t enough Firefly for you, you should try one or two of the following anime.

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Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop had to make this list. Spike and company avoid the inner planets’ predominant government and travel the edge of the universe, collecting bounties. Along the way they befriend fugitives with hearts of gold and build their own makeshift family. Yep. That’s pretty much the Firefly formula, and Cowboy Bebop doesn’t take itself too seriously to boot.

Cowboy Bebop is one of the most respected anime of all time and a lot of that comes from series director and creator Shinichirō Watanabe beginning his writing process with the characters. Watanabe wanted the series to be character-driven and he had a definitive ending for Cowboy Bebop early on, citing that he didn’t want Cowboy Bebop to be like Star Trek, something he’d be tied with doing for the rest of his life.

Sometimes the best things in life are finite. The rarer something is the more valuable it becomes and speaking of rare, Cowboy Bebop is in rarified air. Each episode plays like its own mini-movie and that was another concept adopted by Joss Whedon’s Firefly.

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Outlaw Star

Outlaw Star never received the critical or commercial success of Cowboy Bebop because it didn’t do enough to break away from a few clichés, but it’s still a series with some excellent moments and a good fit for folks who can’t get enough Firefly.

Again, we have a ship of misfits traveling the edges of the universe and avoiding the chaotic law of four governments, but this time the governments are weak, at best, and at war. Captain Gene and company must take on odd jobs to fund the ridiculous maintenance costs of the titular Outlaw Star spaceship. This, again, tracks with Firefly.

A bio-android Melfina is the only being capable of interfacing with the ship, but her past is shrouded in mystery, she doesn’t know why she exists, besides to pilot the Outlaw Star, and she has fragmented memories that reveal that she does have a higher purpose and greater abilities. Melfina’s character is like River Tam’s as she looks as if she’s 18, acts like she’s a young child, and the first Outlaw Star captain steals her away from one of the governments—that had bigger plans for her—in an oversized suitcase. Yep. That is, for the most part, River’s backstory, except she’s not an android—or is she?.

But that may be where the similarities end. Captain Gene resembles Captain Kirk if Kirk suffered from space sickness. Seriously, he sleeps with any alien with appropriate parts, but he must use a barf bag each time the Outlaw Star launches. That must be one of my favorite Outlaw Star ongoing gags, but Outlaw Star succumbs to these gags and that may be the chief reason it doesn’t get as much love. It’s not a long series and worth a try.

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Space Dandy

The anime in this list have gone from serious with a touch of comedy to comedy with few serious themes. Space Dandy is first and foremost a parody of Firefly and other sci-fi shows. The titular Dandy, an alien bounty hunter who is “a dandy guy in space” explores the universe for rare aliens, so Space Dandy shares a lot with Star Trek if the crew of the USS Enterprise were imbeciles. Dandy and his crew (his robot assistant QT and feline-like friend Meow) have the best intentions, but they’re dimwitted and often make situations worse.

Space Dandy has loose continuity at best, since many episodes will feature Dandy, QT, and Meow getting trapped in another dimension or turned into zombies, only to see them back to normal the next episode with little to no explanation. There are plenty of references to older science fiction properties as well as ones for internet culture. Be ready for some dank Space Dandy memes, dudes.

Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk dominated the small and big screens in the 80s and 90s with Total Recall, Blade Runner, and 12 Monkeys to name a few. The subgenre slithered its way to Japan, resulting in cyberpunk as one of anime’s favorite subgenres. Me thinks there will be more than three to this list.

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Ghost in the Shell

I had to start with this one. Major is the face of anime cyberpunk. Set in the future and blessed with high technology where cybernetic bodies (shells) become the norm the world of Ghost in the Shell still suffers from rising crime rates, and a new type of crime—cyber warfare—is given birth. Yes. Ghost in the Shell warned against cyber warfare before it was cool. Elusive hacktivist Puppet Master leads the Security Police Section 9 (the unit Major works for) into a corrupt political and corporate underbelly.

Stunning animation aside, Ghost in the Shell explores self-identity and procreation by means of mechanical replication. It shines a light on a society that prioritizes technological advancement without considering social issues. Some of these issues haunt Japan today. In Japan, there is a growing concern that some would rather reproduce by means of androids or pleasure themselves with robots instead of propagating the species. Japan’s recent population decline further fuels these concerns.

Ghost in the Shell is not only one of the greatest anime of all time, it’s a great science fiction experience and a great place to start for cyberpunk fans. Even though the series are great, I’d start with the original film.

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Akira

Akira is another quintessential cyberpunk anime. Based in a 2019 dystopian Neo-Tokyo, Akira follows a teenage biker Tetsuo and his biker gang leader Shotaro Kaneda. Tetsuo’s psychic abilities may flirt with fantasy, but Akira’s setting and themes scream cyberpunk. Gang warfare and social inequality based on technological advancement abound.

Even non-anime fans know of Akira. This 90s anime phenomena raised the West’s awareness of the artform, and Akira has influenced a lot of live action movies outside of Japan that include The Matrix and Stranger Things. Tetsuo does have killer psychic abilities after all.

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The Bubblegum Universe

The Bubblegum Universe (Bubblegum Crisis, A.D. Police Files, Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, and Parasite Dolls) ran off and on between 1987 and 2003, so it predates the other two entries—so far—on the cyberpunk anime list. Bubblegum Crisis is perhaps the best and most well-known of this bunch and it tells the story of an all-female group of mercenaries the Knight Sabers powered by exoskeletons. They fight rogue robots and if Iron Man is the Elvis of high-tech exoskeletons, the ladies of Bubblegum Crisis are the Ramones. Hey. Ho. Let’s go.

Bubblegum Crisis blends cyberpunk with a crime drama and even adds a splash of superheroes for good measure. It’s also one of the most visually stunning anime of the 80s. While cyberpunk tends to lean toward the dark and grim, the Knight Sabers and AD Police give it a positive spin.

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Psycho-Pass

I told you that I’d sneak in another one on this list. Psycho-Pass is essentially Minority Report if the police used brain scans to determine whether someone will commit a crime or not instead of precognition. That said, Japan becomes one of the safest countries, but they give up some personal liberties in order to institute the Sybil system (the same system that determines if you can commit a crime), but the Sybil system can be manipulated and often is. Psycho-Pass shows a society where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the individual and presents a world where people are more likely to die from stress than criminal activity.

I know that I said I would stop with three, but there are too many great anime out there, especially cyberpunk anime, and at least I didn’t mention Battle Angel Alita—except that I just did and you should watch Battle Angel Alita before thinking about watching the Alita movie. The anime only ran for two episodes and it’s another great example of how society breaks down as a consequence of technological advances. A future where the have-nots must rummage through the refuse of the haves. Okay. I’m done; I promise.

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I hope there are plenty of anime in these lists for you try out. If Uncle Geekly got something wrong, I’m sure you’ll let me know in the comments.

Underused Intellectual Properties in Tabletop Gaming

Not every intellectual property gets the tabletop game treatment. They can’t all be Star Wars that has hundreds of games on boardgamegeek (BGG), granted a lot of those are Star Wars skinned versions of other games, but still, there are a lot of Star Wars games to choose from. That made your uncle Geekly wonder which intellectual properties could use a tabletop game or two. Here we go.

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Star Trek

You know how I said that there are a lot Star Wars games out there. The same can’t be said of Star Trek. What’s worse is that most Star Trek games that are on the market are little more than rethemed Star Wars games. Now, I’m a little fuzzy, so perhaps someone can help me, but are Star Wars and Star Trek so similar that they’re interchangeable?

Yeah, that pissed off some fans. I don’t believe they are, but the real issue is that board game companies don’t seem to see a difference between Wars and Trek.

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Doctor Who

This is another overlooked intellectual geek culture property, and I’m not sure why. Sure, there’s an RPG and a handful of licensed games like Yahtzee with a TARDIS and a Dalek as the dice cup out there, but the time travel of Doctor Who is prime for some interesting game mechanisms that could bring certain game types into the 21st century.

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Literary Board Games

Board games have been turning to books lately for inspiration. The Cthulhu mythos has dominated the board game landscape for years, due its status in the public domain, but other classic works like 1984, Animal Farm, Moby Dick, and Beowulf as well as newer works like Cronin’s The Passage trilogy and Pratchett’s Discworld novels have received the board game treatment. There’s a wealth of classic works out there. Why not turn one into a game?

Why not a class/status struggle game based on Jane Austen? Or cast a gamer as Gatsby trying to impress Daisy? Or base a game on Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein? There are shockingly few games based on Frankenstein.

Horror novels have generated a lot of buzz. There’s even a game adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, where one player assumes the role of the Torrance family and the other plays as the Overlook Hotel. You can’t tell me there isn’t at least one or two more King novels that wouldn’t make a good board game.

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Anime/Manga

Yes. Some anime and manga titles have received board or card games in the past, and some of those have been pretty good, but most of the time anime fans are left with cheap knock off games. Like some other properties on this list, anime games tend to be skinned versions of other games. It says something when there are more animes about board games than there are board games about anime.

To add insult to injury, countless games use anime style art, but have nothing to do with the source material. It’s about time there was at least one or two decent anime/manga games out there.

Note: I haven’t yet played Bauza’s Attack on Titan board game. I hold out hope that it’s good. I like Attack on Titan and Bauza as a designer.

 

Scooby-Doo

With so many horror board games doing well, why not make a game featuring Scooby Doo? Exploration and puzzle solving are huge in board gaming right now. Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy, and Scoob would make for some accessible characters for younger gamers, and older gamers would mind the link to Saturday morning cartoons.

I could’ve added more than these five, but your uncle Geekly wants to hear your thoughts. Are there any intellectual properties you’d like to see made into board games? Let us know in comments.

Death Note: The Anime is Better Than the Manga

Is there snow in forecast or is it Anime Season? I’m sure our resident anime/manga geek Season appreciates the joke at her name’s expense. She’s going to break down why the Death Note anime is better than the manga. Take it away, Anime Season.

Usually, it’s the other way around, right? The manga typically doesn’t include huge filler arcs and has a more consistent flow than the anime. Typically. In the case of Death Note, not only does the format in which it’s presented in the anime suit it better, the ending has a more accurate depiction of a certain character in the anime than the manga. Spoiler alert. Let’s get started.

The first issue with the Death Note manga is the type of storytelling Ohba is presenting. Death Note is a detective story with supernatural elements and is dialogue heavy. I mean very dialogue heavy. Page after page of the Death Note manga contains blocks of text as each of the characters expresses their thoughts. This doesn’t allow for good flow in the manga since it’s easy to zone out in the sea of text. I had to go back on several occasions just to appreciate the artwork (which Obata did an amazing job of). In Death Note 13: How to Read, Ohba states that he cut down on a lot of the text. Dude, what did you originally have? Never mind. I don’t want to know.

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As far as the anime goes with the dialogue, that much of it is fine. As a viewer, one doesn’t have to read the text (unless you’re watching it subbed) and can just listen and watch the characters’ reactions. Since it’s animated in this format, even if the characters talk a lot, they’re also moving and doing other things. For instance, L is always stacking or making something out of, say, coffee creamer pods, while he talks. This keeps the viewer engaged while progressing the story. The manga does show this, but since it’s depicted in a panel and the reader is focused on what L is saying, it gets lost. There is a segment in the manga (I believe it’s in volume 11—don’t quote me on that) that has several panels of pictures, showing what each of the characters is doing. More of that should have been included.

My second point contains major spoilers. Read at your own discretion. The ending in the anime made way more sense than the ending in the manga. For those who have seen Death Note in both formats and disagree with me, hear me out. In the anime, Light runs away, wounded, and collapses on a staircase in a warehouse, with Ryuk writing Light’s name down in his Death Note, killing him. In the manga, Light has a panic attack after getting shot several times and begs Ryuk to save him. Ryuk still writes Light’s name down in his Death Note and kills him. Ryuk killing Light was foreshadowed in both the manga and anime versions, so that was fine. Light freaking out in the manga and begging Ryuk for his life was not. That isn’t Light’s character. In Death Note 13: How to Read, Obata states that he wanted to express all of Light’s pent up emotions in one huge psychological breakdown. Basically, he wanted to draw Light in anguish just because he could. Again. That isn’t Light’s character.

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A cult dedicated to Light (Kira) was also shown at the tail end of the manga. Why? I can understand that people still worship his ideals, but this makes it look like there’s going to be a part two to the story. I don’t think there will be twelve years after the final volume was published, but this is unnecessary. This is something the reader can infer based on the general public’s reception to Light throughout the series.

I’d recommend the Death Note anime over the manga, but that doesn’t mean the manga is horrible. I don’t think the Death Note concept suits the manga as well as it does the anime. For those who have seen the anime and are looking for something to read the manga will definitely keep you occupied for a while.

Did we miss anything? Do you agree with our arguments? Do you prefer the Death Note anime or the manga? Let us know in the comments.

Great Anime Available on Hulu

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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One-Punch Man

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.

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Cowboy Bebop

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.

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Akira

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.

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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.

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Princess Tutu

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.

 

3 Lists of 3 Anime

Hi, everyone. It’s been a while since this anime geek has gone on a tangent about anime and she’s raring to dive in with a three lists of three. This week’s three lists of three will look at various anime. All three lists of three will have similar themes, but look at different aspects of that theme.

Spoiler alert: some endings may be revealed. Ready to geek out over anime?

Overlooked anime

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Paranoia Agent (2005)

Paranoia Agent may be a bit of a mixed bag since most of the reviews online are fan-made. That being said, Satoshi Kon is better known for his movie, Paprika. Paranoia Agent may seem nonsensical and weird for the sake of being weird at first, but as the series progresses, the audience learns that everything happens for a reason. Each occurrence in Paranoia Agent bears significance to future events, and eventually, the end of the series. The continuity in this series is detailed. If this one doesn’t sound appealing, the “happy” opening theme is certainly memorable.

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Ranma ½ (1989)

Rumiko Takahashi is best known for her series Inuyasha. While Inuyasha isn’t a bad series, it contains a lot of tropes, and, wrap me in a straitjacket, but I don’t remember much of the story. Ranma ½ uses some of these tropes while taking a comedic spin on them (such as Akane being a tsundere (kind-hearted but beats up the object of her affection) and Ryoga constantly getting lost). Since Ranma switches between male and female, the series puts traditional gender roles to the forefront. The characters find themselves in hilarious situations and I think the series deserves more credit.

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Mushi-Shi (2005)

Mushi-Shi is one of the stranger series out there. The main character, Ginko, travels from town to town, dispelling supernatural/fantastical occurrences that are causing problems. Mushi-Shi is easy to get lost in with its unique stories and visuals, and calming sound effects. This series is a good escape from reality and doesn’t receive a lot of attention.

Overrated anime

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Sword Art Online (2012)

This one seems like it should be obvious, right? Depending on who you ask, Sword Art Online is either their favorite anime or their least favorite. I’ve heard someone say they like the light novels (books that have manga images but read like chapter books) as opposed to the anime, which I’m willing to give a go, since I’ve heard the original source material has better writing. Regardless, Sword Art Online has an inconsistent storyline that had an unnecessary number of episodes in the beginning. They should have condensed most of Season 1 into a couple of episodes as opposed to nine or ten. There are some things Sword Art Online does well, such as having the characters grow attached to an AI, which questions values. On the other hand, it doesn’t show the psychological effects of being trapped in an artificial world, not knowing who your true allies are. An anime that does a better job of this is Btooom!, which one of the characters has a mental breakdown.

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Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu) (2015)

I’m going to be honest. I love Assassination Classroom. I even have a Nagisa hat and tee shirt of the gang. The reason Assassination Classroom made this list is primarily because of Koro-Sensei. He says he wants to educate the kids and asks them to kill him while simultaneously saying they’ll never be able to kill them and dampening their self-esteem, which is contradictory. Why would he build their confidence and smother it at the same time? On top of that he’s threatening to blow up the world. It isn’t clear throughout most of the series whether he cares about these kids and wants them to aspire to something, or if he’s busying himself with being a teacher so he won’t get bored. Granted, they explain his motivation toward the end of the series, but it isn’t timed well. This is right before—spoilers—Koro-Sensei dies. Despite this, they do an excellent job of giving each of the characters an adequate amount of screen time, which is difficult to do with twenty plus characters.

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Ouran High School Host Club (2006)

Chances are if you’re into Shojo anime, there’s a good chance that this series has either been trafficked to you from streaming services or is one of the top results from an online search. It certainly was one of my favorite Shojo anime for several years. I watched the series five or six times, listened to the soundtrack, and looked up fanart. Yeah, I went a little crazy. The point of it was to break down Shojo tropes and make fun of them. This didn’t get across well in the anime and it ended up fortifying those tropes. The manga did a better job of deconstructing the Shojo genre, but not by much. It had a lot of editor’s notes to explain what was going on. Anyway, back to the anime, which did have some good episodes, one example being episode fifteen: “The Refreshing Battle of Karuizawa!” This episode gives the audience some much needed character development, but the series is already more than halfway over by this point. Most of the other episodes stuck to character stereotypes and overused themes. We don’t need another Alice in Wonderland parody.

Anime that were popular when they came out but haven’t withstood the test of time

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Hetalia: Axis Powers (2009)

Remember that time when Hetalia: Axis Powers had a slew of fanart and doujins being published on a daily basis? What happened between the early to mid-2010s that sent this series downhill? So, what happened? Maybe the gimmick got old. Maybe people started to realize what they thought was cute was actually offensive to a lot of people. Whatever the reason, Hetalia: Axis Powers isn’t nearly as popular as it once was.

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Free! (2013)

When Free! came out it was hyped by gals and made fun of by guys due to the main characters being sexy high school boys in Speedos. I’m not joking. Its popularity lasted for a few years, even spawning another season, titled Free! Eternal Summer. The series itself was okay and didn’t have as much fanservice as I’d anticipated. They took the time to develop the characters to some degree. However, Free! dropped off the map a couple of years ago.

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Bleach (2004)

I know. Bleach is still a popular series, but it isn’t nearly as popular as it used to be. Neither is Naruto for that matter. In fact, Naruto was originally going to make this list due to its poorly placed filler, but after looking at several polls, Naruto was the clear winner in the vast majority of them. Bleach had a lot of filler too, but the timing of the filler was better than Naruto, so it was easier to watch. The writing got progressively worse after the Arrancar arc and ended up being an endless cycle of Ichigo losing and regaining his powers. If they decided to end the series after the Arrancar arc, I think Bleach would have left a better legacy.

There are a lot of anime out there that could make these lists. Do you agree with the ones chosen? Which anime do you think should be included in these lists? Let us know in the comments.