Not that long ago, many Westerners considered watching cartoons to be a niche pastime. This was largely due to the fact that it was inaccessible to the Western public; not only by its limited distribution outside Japan, but also by the very nature of its content. With the recent surge in the popularity of streaming services like Netflix and Crunchyroll, it has never been easier for those who live in the West to watch the latest and greatest anime shows, but one of these issues is persists.
Despite how easily anime has become accessible in the modern age, many people choose not to watch it because they are put off by some of the more socially awkward and boring tropes that feature in many Japanese animated series. Fortunately, however, there are plenty of great anime shows out there that don’t rely on over-the-top antics or questionable portrayals of young women, making them much more accessible to those who don’t like stereotypical anime.
Although there are still a few rare fan services from time to time, Complete Metal Alchemist is a series that was created with a more mature audience in mind. As a result, silly antics are kept to an absolute minimum, and instances of awkwardness and grimacing moments are rare.
The animation featured throughout the series is also top notch and the action scenes rarely disappoint. The real star of the series, however, is the excellent story, which takes place in a charming steampunk world and tells the tale of two alchemist brothers who attempt to find the Philosopher’s Stone after an unsuccessful attempt to revive their deceased mother costs almost them also their own lives.
Hip-hop elements found everywhere Samurai Champloo give it a very unique feel compared to some of the more traditional Japanese anime series. Best of all, it’s free to watch on YouTube. It also has a fantastic English voiceover, great characters, and a storyline capable of evoking a wide range of emotions from its viewers.
Anyone who has consumed Japanese media a lot will probably have noticed that some elements of Japanese humor do not always come across very well in the West, just as those who have spent time in Japan will know that the reverse can also be true. This is rarely a problem in Samurai Champloo, however, with most jokes and one-liners strictly adhering to the universal definition of funny.
Dragon ball z
Few animated series have had such a big impact in the West as Akira Toriyama’s Dragon ball. While the original series has its fair share of awkward and inappropriate moments – usually involving Bulma or Master Roshi – Dragon ball z is much better in this regard and features plenty of epic and memorable battles.
Some may find the series’ slow pace and constant stalling – an unfortunate by-product of Toei Animation due to release a new episode every week – a little overwhelming, but there is a solution for impatient viewers. Dragon ball z kai removes a large part of the load; condensing the 291 episodes of the original series to just 167.
Although perhaps the largest, Dragon Ball was far from the only successful animated series in the West in the pre-2000 era. Cowboy Bepop is a neo-noir animated series set primarily in space that also incorporates themes and ideas from classic westerns. The latter can sound a bit like Joss Whedon’s cult-classic series, Firefly, although apart from a few loose similarities, it’s difficult to compare the two.
Being more of a classic animated series, Cowboy Bepop is devoid of many of the boring tropes that have permeated more modern animated shows, making it a great watch for those put off by over-the-top antics. Granted, he still has the occasional lighter moments and certainly isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself every now and then, but those instances tend to be executed well and rarely detract from the main storyline.
The attack of the Titans
Much like the video game-themed animated series, Sword art online, The attack of the Titans starts strong; introduce an interesting premise and back it up with fantastic visuals and intriguing storylines. Where it differs, however, is that The attack of the Titans manages to maintain these high levels of excellence throughout his first seasons.
Granted, there are occasions when the plot seems to stall and stumble, but, for the most part, it’s able to make up for it before it falls completely flat. Some action scenes with the Titans are both epic and terrifying, while the character development manages to maintain a sense of authenticity and avoids going completely over the top.
Some anime purists will say that Netflix Castlevania the series should not be classified as anime as it is produced outside of Japan. Whatever you want to call it, when it comes to video game based animated shows, this is definitely among the best and is a must-have for fans of the. Castlevania series.
Being produced primarily by Westerners certainly had its perks, with many of the more off-putting anime tropes not found throughout its four seasons. The animation is also tight, the fight scenes are fantastic, and the narrative, although it stumbles a bit in the middle of the series, offers an epic conclusion that is as exciting as it is satisfying.
Neon Genesis: Evangelion
That first-time viewers won’t like some of the characters in Neon Genesis: Evangelion is something of a given. Fortunately, however, the series features a rich and diverse cast, with just about every character archetypal imaginable receiving representation to some degree. As a result, there will also be characters viewers can relate to, and each will receive a satisfying level of development throughout the series’ many episodes.
The main protagonist, Shinji, also exhibits its fair share of growth, but maybe it’s his mismatch for the role – which ultimately allows the other characters to shine brighter – that makes the series such a beautiful watch. Well, that and the fantasy tale, set in a dystopian future in which giant bio-mechs face off against alien beings known as Angels in epic battle scenes.
Tsugumi Ohba Death threat is one of the most popular and memorable psychological animated series of all time. It tells the story of Light Yagami, a Japanese student who stumbles upon a supernatural notebook that will kill everyone whose name is written on its pages, and is filled to the brim with suspense and narrative tension.
Those whose only exposure to Death threat come thanks to the terrible live-action adaptation of Netflix, and rightly so, will think very little of the series. Anyone who takes the time to watch the original 37 episodes, however, will be blown away by its high quality and drawn to the captivating battle of wits between Light and the man tasked with stopping his killing, L.
It took almost half a decade, but the void left by Death threat after it ceased airing in 2007, it was eventually filled with yet another psychological animated series, Psycho-Pass. Written by Gen Urobuchi and Makoto Fukami, the three-season series incorporates elements from multiple genres, covers some pretty dark themes, and, much like Death threat, asks some interesting questions about morality and ethics.
The series is packed with awesome characters and features plenty of challenging storylines throughout its 41 episodes. An extended edition of the first season was also released before Psycho-Pass 2, allowing potential viewers to choose between shorter, bite-sized episodes or deeper dives that are much more in line with the official Psycho-Pass novel.
Alucard just might be one of the coolest anime protagonists of the modern era and is one of the main reasons to sit back and watch Hellsing. The vampiric antihero has vowed to protect the heiress of the Hellsing family, Integra, who is a direct descendant of Abraham Van Helsing from Bram Stoker’s founding novel of 1897, Dracula.
The series sees Alucard come up against a wide range of other powerful enemies, including a battalion of Nazi vampires and a regenerating Vatican priest who is determined to bring down the vampire lord. It can be incredibly violent at times, but, for those who enjoy this sort of thing, it is definitely worth watching. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the follow-up OVA series, Ultimate Hellsing.
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