Paisley's Top 5 Favorite Anime Recommendations
So when Sophie graciously begged me on her hands and knees to open my treasure trove of anime knowledge and unleash it to the world I said NO very violently. And then a soft yes after she begged and pleaded for hours and I only gave in because she just looked so sad.
HA, no, I actually saw her post about wanting contributors and I text her asking if there was anything I could contribute! She instantly said Anime Reviews and Japanese culture! And strangely that was exactly what I was thinking too! I'm also hoping to write my thoughts on genres, rebooting series, animation and all things surrounding it BUT, before I unleash hell, I figured I'd let you all peak into some of my favorites and so you can see where I sit as an anime fan!
I'm going to mostly talk about my thoughts about the series, the elements that made me like it and a little bit on how it got introduced to me. HOPEFULLY, it will be brief but most likely it won't be. And really, none of these anime really need an introduction.
5. PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA
WOW, I cannot get enough Madoka Magica. I'm usually pretty picky with Magical Girl anime and it took me a good while to finally watch it but when I did I was HOOKED. I laughed (I really didn't tho), I cried (by the gods did I cry). One of my main points I'm looking for when I first start a series with mainly magical girl themes or honestly really ANY anime is a strong lady. And if there's many of them, I like diversity. That's what instantly pulled me in. The sweetness of Madoka, the tough but sensitive Sayaka, the mysterious Homura, the aloof Kyoko, and the sweet and motherly Mami.
And of course, one of the best things was the story. Take being an anime out of it, this was an amazing story! Probably around episode 4, I was in it for LIFE. It's beautiful and sweet, but also scary and dark. They were also able to fit so many important scenes and growth between five main characters in such a short episode span.
There's also two movies that recap the entire series Beginnings and Eternal. They have new transformation scenes and added and removed scenes for a better flowing story. I think it was worth the watch. My husband found it easier for him to watch it that way than the episode by episode. There's also the final movie Rebellion, which is just an anime movie masterpiece.
This is one of those series that really inspires me, from the art to the characters. I love the whole beauty and darkness aesthetic and it gave a very refreshing spin on the somewhat stale magical girl cliche. There's so many themes and metaphors throughout that for me it's never really over as I'm always finding new parallels and foreshadows every time I watch.
You can find all of Puella Magi Madoka Magica on Netflix along with Beginnings, Eternal and Rebellion! While on Hulu you can just find the main series.
Favorite Character: Mami Tomoe
Favorite Episode: Episode 10: I won't rely on anyone anymore.
Subbed or Dubbed: Subbed
4. NEON GENESIS EVANGELION
OHHHH you thought I wrote a lot about Madoka? HA. I could talk about Evangelion ALL. FUCKING. DAY. SON.
So when I first got ahold of Eva, I read the manga (only the second volume was out oh my god I'm old) and OH did it give me chills. I've always had an interest in religious themes as I'm not specifically religious myself and Evangelion is so heavy with it that it actually got me reading about the bible to find parallels between that and the things they were referencing in Eva. It made it so much more intriguing to find the stories and references that created this heavily storied mecha anime.
Evangelion has a LOT of symbolism, metaphors, references to religion, and just being a human in general. It looks into the life of Shinji, Rei and Asuka, these fourteen year old kids who despite having been through a lot, and still much more with the weight and responsibility of saving humanity on their shoulders, they're also finding out who they are as people and growing up at the same time. It's really reflective and at some point you've felt like one of them, no matter who it is you identify with.
On top of dealing with just the main plot points, it deals with tons of teenage and adult themes. Such as tragedy, puberty, jealousy and dealing with those things along the way with this extra pressure of what's going on in the world. It deals with being alone, liking who you are, loss, parental issues and finding your place in relationships with others. One thing that I found is a constant theme in the series that I like is they're never ending in the sense that every time you watch you'll always find something new, be it foreshadowing or symbolism.
You can't really find Neon Genesis Evangelion on any of the streaming sites. I bought my platinum box set off EBay for about $60.00. I also recommend the manga, though there are some differences, you can find it pretty much anywhere they sell books!
Favorite Character: Asuka Langley Soryu
Favorite Episode: Episode 9: both of you, dance like you want to win!
Subbed or Dubbed: Dubbed
3. HUNTER X HUNTER (1999/2011)
So I made it a point to put the 1999 version, considering I'm old. I was already considering myself a fan of it considering I loved Yu Yu Hakusho, but I never really found a way to watch Hunter X Hunter but I knew I would love it. Eventually, I caved around the time I was 15 and started watching fansubs! I was HOOKED. I'm a huge sucker for shonen anime with tournaments and the first arc, the Hunter Exam, was a great reference to those while giving it a fresh take. As an old fan of this I can proudly say I was pretty happy when they announced the 2011 version, it needed an update and it needed more fans.
It follows Gon, a young boy who's searching for his father who is a famous "Hunter" which is a person who hunts things (duh), whatever it may be. There's jewel hunters, food hunters, rare creature hunters, anything really! It also follows Killua, a young assassin, Kurapika, a young man with a vengeance towards the killers of his clan, and Leorio, a smart, goofy guy with a goal to become a doctor. It focuses on how their lives intertwine and achieving their goals both together and individually!
I really love Hunter X Hunter. It's quick paced, full of action, humor and had a certain dark quality to it that I think not a lot of mainstream shonen anime are willing to push. I love every single arc and the character development is just so perfect and paced properly. The 1999 version while lacking in flashy animation, really captures the grittiness that the manga portrays, while the 2011 version follows the manga almost to the panel and the animation is BEAUTIFUL. The 1999 version follows to the Greed Island Arc, while the 2011 version goes all the way to the very touch of the beginning of the Dark Continent Arc which is being continued in the manga. I will say both are worth watching if you're a huge fan, but the 2011 version would be better as an introductory.
You can find Hunter X Hunter on Netflix although the series isn't entirely complete! Viz Media is releasing a dub version, they are also showing it on Toonami.
Favorite Character: Killua Zoaldyck
Favorite Arc: York New Arc/Spider Arc
Subbed or Dubbed: Subbed
2. REVOLUTIONARY GIRL UTENA
My first memory of being interested in Utena was, I remember reading an issue of Animerica Magazine when Utena Tenjou was on the cover. I thought she was so beautiful and I LOVED the art. I wanted to see this series so bad. However, I was young and they only released it at the time in box sets that were well over $100 and you try convincing your parents to buy $300 worth of anime box sets. NOT gonna happen!!! Then one day when I was about 16, I was at Best Buy and they had each box set for $20 and needless to say I went CRAZY. I was so excited!!!
I watched it so fast I couldn't even tell you what happened over those two weeks other than me being in a swirly abyss of roses and duelists and swords and cars and beautiful art! Revolutionary Girl Utena is about a girl named Utena who naturally protects people by being a prince.
She notices a girl, Anthy, getting bullied by an upper classman and rushes to defend her while also getting caught up in a plan to bring about the world revolution. Utena's charm and beauty as a show comes from its cast of characters ad the heavy symbolism.
While Utena is the main character, there are some episodes that barely include her and shine spotlights on the various side characters. Juri, the tough and beautiful fencing captain, Miki, the smart and sweet piano genius, Wakaba, Utena's sensitive and silly best friend, and how all of their lives intertwine in this puppet show controlled by End Of The World, the mysterious entity out to bring revolution to the world.
This anime touches on all different kinds of relationships, from lovers, ex lovers, best friends torn apart, sibling issues and all are touched on regardless of gender. That's right, there's heavy yuri and yaoi undertones weaved through the story. Which was a pretty big deal when you consider when this anime was made in the late 90s. One of the things that draws me in is the heavy symbolism and ambiguously worded dialogue, foreshadowing and unanswered questions that keep me still deeply in love with this anime.
Revolutionary Girl Utena can be found dubbed on Hulu Plus.
Favorite Character: Nanami Kiryu
Favorite Episode: Episode 29: Azure Paler Than The Sky.
Favorite Arc: Black Rose Saga
Subbed or Dubbed: Dubbed
1. ONE PIECE
YUP, I am one of those crazy One Piece fans. I've been through every episode, every page of the manga and I'm caught up weekly like clockwork. I am a through and through One Piece fan. My husband is also a One Piece fanatic so that doesn't sway my addiction at all, but only makes it worse! HA.
I actually read the very first chapter of One Piece when they released it in Shonen Jump America. I kept up with the manga pretty well and watched fansubs of the anime all the way to the beginning of Water7. I fell out of it, claiming to myself it was a lot to keep up with but after a few years, and getting a tumblr which reminded me of it, and a very painful ear infection, I decided to
reread it to keep my mind off the pain. And even after I was all healed up, I DIDN'T STOP. Then I got my husband into it and it's been downhill ever since.
One Piece is about Luffy and his crew of the Straw Hat Pirates, traveling to find "One Piece", the treasure left by Gold D. Roger, for other adventurous pirates to find at a location that has only been found by him and his crew. Luffy was enraptured by this challenge and set off to get together a crew and find the legendary treasure! Each of his crew members carry their own dreams by being on this journey and each are indebted to Luffy and are helping his reach his dream of finding the treasure and becoming King of Pirates!
One Piece is a fantastic story, with action and adventure and probably one of the most intricate storylines in any popular series. There are things in the first few chapters that are still getting referenced years later. No stone is left unturned and if you ever think there's an unanswered question,
just wait, it WILL get answered. Another tidbit that separates it from the pack, the heroes have flaws and weaknesses while the villains are the way I like them, no sad pasts, just bad for the sake of being bad! There's so many stories that touch on tragedy, political corruption, fighting for your dreams and blurring that line between good and evil.
A lot of people shy away from One Piece, for a number of reasons, especially due to its hefty undertaking of time. This is 700+ episodes we're talking about. Another is the animation which isn't very "anime", but I think that just further separates it from the shonen pack by having its own unique style. I think it's refreshing! There's a reason it's the most popular anime series in Japan, with it's successful stores, it's own theme park at Tokyo Tower, lands in larger theme parks such as Shonen Jump theme park and Universal Studios, a restaurant, and replicas of the ship for fans far and wide to see!
You can watch One Piece on Hulu Plus and Crunchyroll and is still ongoing, and the new episodes are posted weekly! Favorite Character: Roronoa Zoro
Favorite Arc: Water 7 Arc/Davy Back Fights.
Subbed or Dubbed: Subbed
SO THAT'S MY TOP 5! PHEW, I know that was a long read! My reviews will be (hopefully) much shorter! I'll occasionally do list posts like these, but my main focus is reviews and Japanese culture! I'm so excited Sophie gave me this opportunity to be part of Sparkley Ass Bitch Blog!