During some downtime during work I got to chatting with a co-worker, named Ice…yes, it is because he is so cool. During that conversation, he revealed that he was a fan of anime and began to list of the more mainstream series like Death Note, Full Metal Alchemist, Naruto, etc. All of them are fantastic in every regard but I wanted to introduce him to other series that might be considered a bit more underground. When I started listing off the shows on the spot, I could tell got became overwhelmed so I decided to share this wealth of knowledge by creating an article for all of you! 😀
Here are ten anime series or movies that we highly recommend!
Slice of Life
A common misconception about anime is that they have to feature storylines that revolve around world-ending situations and a ragtag crew of heroes who try and save the day. However, the genre of Slice of Life is pretty much the exact opposite of the more common Shonen genres anime like Naruto or One Piece. In Slice of Life it is literally just telling the story of a time in the main character’s life that changed them dramatically. While some do focus on drama, other can be as simple as falling in and out of love of being alone and then finding a group of friends who appreciates them. Admittedly, I always looked down upon such tales when I was younger because they didn’t have giant mechs but as I am older, I appreciate a chill, feel-good story.
My two Slice of Life recommendations are Anohana and Ore Monogatari!
Ano Hana is the tale of a group of friends who played together constantly as kids, unfortunately, the lose one of their members in an accident. As they grow older the group has been fractured to the point where hardly anyone of them speak to each other. However, this changes when the spirit of their dead friend comes back to haunt the main character and prompts him to reach out to his old friends. Unlike many ghost tropes, she is bubbly, kind, and downright kawaii.
The main character sets off to figure out what his friend’s spirit needs in order to pass on before he is stuck with her haunting him for the rest of his life.
Ore Monogatari or My Love Story! is the tale of Takeo who is tall, buff, has large lips, not the sharpest tool in the shed, and various other aspects not considered traditionally handsome in high school. Despite his many perceived “flaws” Takeo is incredibly kind-hearted and always goes out of his way for everyone with no expectation of a return. Sad to say that he has terrible luck with women and has settled in the mindset that he just isn’t good enough for anyone.
This changes when he rescues a woman on the subway from a sexual harasser and as a thank you, she continues to bring Takeo and his best friend food. They become fast friends and then the adventure of love begins! This might sound like a super cheesy anime but I swear to you that every single episode is so pure and filled with joy that you’ll be dead inside when you finish the series. Fun stuff!
Let’s be real here, Japanese horror stories are 100x more terrifying than American horror stories. This might be because we were not raised with these tales and only get them from big-budget horror films like Ju-On: The Grudge, Ringu, Ichi the Killer etc. While American demons are terrifying in their own right with small children being possessed by demons and vomiting everywhere, the Japanese culture is either gorier showing grotesque details or have psychological thrillers.
Mirai Nikki is a unique anime that focuses on a kid who documents every single thing he does and then one day discovers that his logs reveal the future. While this power is fantastic at first, it becomes a nightmare when the main character is thrown into a game where the participants must kill one another in order to obtain absolute power over time and space. This is an awkward situation due to the fact that the main character is little more than a coward, but a woman enters his life who is madly in love with him and won’t let anyone or anything get in the way of them.
Being a new kid at a school is always a tough experience due to having to make new friends, get used to new teachers, and surviving a terrible curse placed upon your class that results in many grisly deaths. It has been some time since I have seen the show but he deaths of so many high schoolers are still etched in my mind. The plot is that there is one person in the small town that is undead but the people of the town can not recall who had died and so life tries to correct this by killing off people one by one until that ghost passes on.
Let’s be real for a moment: Sailor Moon is pretty fucking rad. I don’t care if you are a girl or a guy, watching a group of girls transform into superheroes and fight evil is dope. However many folks stop at Sailor Moon when it comes to the topic of Magical Girls, little do they know that there are so many other incredible series featuring people fighting for friendship.
It is a great family-friendly show that will do nothing but make you laugh and smile. (Just kidding. If you feel that you are ready for an unexpected journey, watch it and do not stop until you reach the end.)
While magical girls are fun and all, why not check out a show about magical boys that is both a parody and a legitimate series with multiple seasons. The boys of this show discover they indeed have magical powers and then use them to fight evil while still going through many ridiculous poses and wearing flamboyant outfits known and loved by many fans of anime. They do a great job of balancing the parody aspect while also having a solid plot!
One of the tropes of anime is giant robots fighting other giant robots piloted by passionate men and women. A lot of the times politics plays a major factor in the storylines but some how the writers make each and every mech anime unique in its own way!
As mentioned before the reasons for giant robots to fight is usually politically and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is no different. In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED the system is in a state of conflict as a new generation of enhanced humans decide to take control of the non enhanced humans. While the initial assault proves easy enough, there is a hero among the normal humans who is in fact enhanced. He alone fights to defend his friends and their losing side while the opposing faction reflect on their choices and wonder if they made the right choice. This is more of a serious show that gets pretty philosophical but is such a great ride.
Gurren Lagann is quite the ride for viewers which starts unfortunately slow until around episode six or seven and then dives in to chaos. The world above ground is controlled by these intelligent animal people who pilot giant mechs while humans remain mostly underground fighting to survive just to see tomorrow. That changes when the main character and his best friend decide to venture to the surface and embark on a grand adventure to not only survive on the surface but to thrive and eventually see what lies beyond the stars. It is a fantastic tale that I swear to any one that gives it a chance that they will love it as long as they watch it to completion!
The genre of portal fantasy is a common one for almost all forms of literature that features the main character escaping his reality for another world entirely either through technological or fantastic means. This is always a great adventure that often shows just how capable the main character is through an unorthodox fashion. In modern times the most common portal fantasy is being stuck inside a game, more specifically an MMORPG.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is the micro story of a group of average adventures struggling to survive in a video game that they somehow got stuck inside of. As time passes, they lose their memory of who they were or what the old world was like. Unfortunately for the heroes, this fantasy world is all too real as death is permanent and even the most basic of enemies are a challenge to kill. If they do not rise to the challenge, they’ll succumb to starvation or death on the battlefield. Don’t expect to see the heroes become almighty and destroy world ending monsters, this shows their very real struggles and victories, even if they are so very minor. Still, you’ll cheer for their success as you can sympathize with the conflicts and worry for their failures.
One of the most famous portal fantasies to date and rightfully so as the first few episodes will leave you in awe but unfortunately falls flat after around episode 14. The story is about the main character and various other gamers getting stuck into a new game with permanent death. If their families attempt to remove them from the game, they die. For years they are stuck in this world trying to survive from both monsters and player killers. The main character is so good at the game that he can and often does play alone, interacting with other players along the way attempting to break free from the virtual world by accomplishing the goal of reaching floor 100. Literally stop watching this show after episode 14 and you’ll have a great time.
Don’t enjoy sports in real life? It’s totally cool, we completely understand and so do many of the writers of various sports anime. These series may center around sports but it is really about the characters overcoming their personal demons in order to she themselves past their limits and destroy their rivals. Not to mention the sub plots often involve romance or drama that help add weight to each and every victory or defeat.
I didn’t give two shits about boxing before Hajime No Ippo entered my life and now I constantly hit up boxing gyms to practice moves I saw on the show. The main character is a timid teenager who is bullied for being so kind until a boxer rescues him. That moment inspired the character to pursue boxing and found that he not only loves the sport but is talented in it as well for his never say die attitude. He finds himself in his training and grows as a person which echoes through out the other characters he meets along the way.
Like boxing, I didn’t care at all about Ice Skating until Yuri On Ice came into my life. In this heart warming anime, the main character has incredible potential but chokes every time he has to perform for judges. On the verge of quitting he decides to let loose and skate the way he wants tom unbeknownst to him, his friend captures the skate and uploads it. Everyone in the community is blown away by the private performance, including the main character’s idol who puts a hold on his own career in order to help teach the main character. Both the teacher and the pupil grow as characters as they overcome various obstacles in and out of the rink.
Best anime of our generation.
I hope you enjoyed our list! Have more favorites? Feel free to list them in the comment below! 😀