Any time is a perfect time to jump into anime, and Netflix has dived into the medium with an abundance of shows. Netflix has been gaining a reputable number of anime shows, filled with variety, excellent stories, and some of the sharpest animation in the world. From the heartfelt story of Violet Evergarden to the witty humor of Aggretsuko and the breathtaking animation of Little Witch Academia, Netflix anime has much to offer. Whether you are a bonafide anime enthusiast or you are new to the scene, here are several shows that are sure to garner your interest and put you on a viewing journey unlike any other.
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Japan Sinks: 2020
Sayo Komatsu’s bestselling 1973 sci-fi novel Japan Sinks tells the story of two children who must escape Tokyo after a major earthquake hits Japan, causing the entire island to sink. Now, Netflix has adapted the beloved novel with a modern spin, calling it Japan Sinks: 2020. This time, a series of natural disasters hit Japan, throwing the country into complete chaos. The story follows one ordinary family as they attempt to flee the island in chaotic, terrifying conditions.
Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is a good example of just how mature anime has become in recent years. The show is set in an alternate reality where humanity has been forced to build massive walls around its cities to take refuge from huge, wandering monsters that both resemble and eat humans. After young Eren Yeager watches in horror as a titan consumes his mother, he (along with his sister Mikasa and his friend Armin) joins the military Survey Corps to avenge her death. The series alternates between spectacular battle scenes — where the Survey Corps members fly through the air using their Vertical Maneuvering Equipment — and moments of desperation, as the protagonists try to learn more about their enemy. In contrast to popular anime shows that espouse the “power of friendship,” Attack on Titan is a gloomy, horrific series from which you won’t be able to look away.
Bleach is one of the longer-running anime shows out there, with a total of 366 episodes spanning 16 seasons (unfortunately, only five are currently available on Netflix). The show follows 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki after he inadvertently absorbs the power — and the responsibility — of a Soul Reaper, a personification of death that defends humanity from the supernatural and guides spirits to the afterlife. Kurosaki is tasked with defeating monstrous Hollows, ghosts that must be purified so they don’t feed on other souls. Bleach is absolutely brimming with exciting battles, as Kurosaki takes on enemies with increasingly wild abilities, but it also earned praise for its colorful, diverse cast of characters, along with its development of recurring characters. The show can be both dark and funny, and it mostly manages to avoid the played-out tropes that often plague anime.
If you were (or are) a fan of the Gundam franchise and its giant mechs, you’ll like Gurren Lagann. If not … well, you’ll still probably like Gurren Lagann, because it’s awesome. In a dystopian future where Earth is under the rule of the sinister Spiral King Lordgenome, men live below the planet’s surface, occupying small villages. When teenagers Simon and Kamina find a buried mech and activate it, they’re able to tunnel to the surface and join a resistance group in their fight against Lordgenome. The show’s fast pace and gripping action sequences are underscored by genuine character development and an authentic sense of inspiration that drives the rebel forces. Gurren Lagann manages to be exciting, adventurous, and comedic all at the same time, without sacrificing the stakes.
Somehow, One-Punch Man manages to be both a legitimately enjoyable anime and a parody of the genre, combining a hilarious premise with snappy writing and exciting fight scenes. The show takes place in a world where superheroes and supervillains are de rigueur — so much so, in fact, that there’s a “Hero Association” that assigns heroes grades (S-class through C-class) based upon their power. Saitama, the titular “One-Punch Man,” built his power over the course of three years, simply by doing 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 6-mile run each day. By the time the story begins, he’s powerful enough to dispatch nearly all enemies with a single punch (as his name implies). As a result, Saitama is often bored with his opponents, yawning in their faces as they do the whole “anime bad guy screaming” schtick. Sometimes, though, things come to a head, and that’s when One-Punch Man hits its stride.
The Seven Deadly Sins
In the land of Britannia, a group of warriors known as the Seven Deadly Sins acted as protectors of the realm. When the Sins were supposedly defeated by the Holy Knights, they went into hiding, at which point the Knights staged a coup and took control of the empire. Young Princess Elizabeth sets out to reform the Sins and save her homeland, first joining with Meliodas, the Sin of Wrath and leader of the group. Seven Deadly Sins plays out like many other anime shows, following a group of heroes in their travels and chronicling both their clashes with villainous characters and their interactions with each other. There’s some crude humor (usually derived from Meliodas’ lecherous advances upon Elizabeth), but otherwise, Sins is an enjoyable romp with some creative concepts and battles.
Retsuko is a hardworking 25-year-old Red Panda, commuting and living in Tokyo, Japan. All day, every day, she deals with her nasty boss, insincere supervisor, and less-than-stellar coworkers. Retsuko has a secret life, and when the rage of the day boils over, she heads into Japan’s famous karaoke bars, grabs a bottle of sake, holds on to a microphone, and screams death metal into the night. Aggretsuko can be described as Zootopia meets The Office, with a colorful cast of characters and a solid degree of witty humor for older audiences. Featuring a stellar voice cast, which includes Erica Mendez and Ben Dishkin, Aggretsuko is a quick but wonderfully crafted office comedy, where audiences connect with Retsuko and her pursuits, rocking out to death metal and learning new lessons about herself along the way.
Knights of Sidonia
It is the year 3394. A parasitic alien race, the Gauna, has shattered the Earth in half, and the citizens of the massive colony ship, the Sidonia, may be the only humans left alive. As they search for a new home in space under constant danger, the citizens of Sidonia have undergone genetic manipulations, making them more photosynthetic for space travel, as well as creating a “third gender” for gene pool balance. A young man, Nagate, voiced by Johnny Young Bosch, lives in the bowels of the Sidonia, cut off from the rest of civilization and mastering military combat. As he scours for food, he is discovered by the Sidonia crew and trained to be a Garde pilot to fight against the Gauna. Nagate faces an unknown enemy and will rely on the strength of his comrades to survive. Knights of Sidonia is based off the manga of the same name by Tsutomu Nihei. This space opera and mecha action anime features epic battles, conspiracy, intertwining stories of camaraderie and romance, and fantastic animation by Polygon Pictures.
Violet Evergarden is a skilled warrior, but upon the end of a devastating war, she suffers a grave injury that requires the amputation of her arms, now replaced with advanced prostheses. With hazy memory, she is enlisted as an Auto Memory Doll, a ghostwriter who helps convey messages for others. As she acclimates to her new life and writes for others, faint memories of her commanding officer emerge, and the last words that were said to her. When the fires of war have finally subsided, a former soldier will find meaning to the words “I love you.” Violet Evergarden began as a light novel series written by Kana Akatsuki and illustrated by Akiko Takase, before being picked up by Netflix and animated by the legendary studio Kyoto Animation. The visual fidelity of Violet Evergarden is regarded as beautiful and breathtaking, receiving numerous awards and praise. The English cast of Violet Evergarden includes incredible talent from Erika Harlacher as Violet and Cherami Leigh as Iris.
If one could ever imagine Zootopia becoming an R-rated bloody murder mystery, it would likely be Beastars. In a world of anthropomorphic creatures, carnivores and herbivores of all species coexist and work together. That line of coexistence is shattered when a student is devoured by an unnamed and unknown carnivore. In the midst of the growing unease at the school, Legoshi, a timid and shy carnivorous wolf, has a dramatic encounter with a small rabbit who attends the school, Haru, an encounter that may affect the fate of Legoshi and the school. Beastars originally began as a manga, written by Paru Itagaki and Akita Shoten, released in 2016. The manga went on to win a multitude of awards, including the coveted Manga Taisho Award. With 18 volumes published so far, the manga remains ongoing. The manga went on to be licensed by Viz Media and released in the United States in 2019. The anime launched on Netflix on March 13, 2020, and features stunning animation by Studio Orange and a stellar English voice cast, which includes Jonah Scott as Legoshi and Lara Jill Miller as Haru.
Philly the Kid, an immortal outlaw, comes across Sam, a young drone separated from her owner. In a world of magic, creatures, and robots, Philly and Sam assemble a ragtag crew of outlaws and dissidents, including a transforming Cadillac, to embark on a grand quest across Gearbolt to reunite Sam and her owner. Cannon Busters is an incredibly unique anime, focusing on Afrofuturism, and combining elements of steampunk, science fiction, and fantasy. Cannon Busters originally began as a graphic novel in 2005 by LeSean Thomas and J. Torres. After three issues, the novel was shelved, until it was revived as a 2019 anime series by Safelight and Yumeta Company.
Little Witch Academia
From legendary animation studio Trigger arrives a coming-of-age fantasy all about pursuing your dreams. In the journey of life, you never know who you will meet next, but the next person you see could be the very inspiration you need. When young Atsuko is inspired by her favorite witch, Shiny Chariot, she enrolls at the elite Luna Nova Magical Academy. The stacks are already against Atsuko. Many of the students enrolled at the academy have an established background in magic, but regrettably, Atsuko does not. Struggling, Atsuko stumbles upon a magical relic, Shiny Rod. Determined to pursue her dreams, she wields the relic and studies hard in her quest to become a witch and change the world. Little Witch Academia features top-notch animation and girl power, but also an incredibly heartfelt story that is perfect for all those aspiring to accomplish their dreams.
Altered Carbon: Resleeved
Delving deeper into the dangerous life of Takeshi Kovac, Altered Carbon: Resleeved is an additional chapter in the world of Altered Carbon, the popular sci-fi show that has released two seasons on Netflix. On the planet Latimer, Takeshi investigates the mysterious death of a high-profile Yakuza boss and faces a tough-as-nails CTAC, all the while protecting a tattooist who holds an important key in this race against time. Dai Saito, a writer whose credits include Ghost in the Shell and Cowboy Bebop, puts his own spin on the incredible world of Altered Carbon. Altered Carbon: Resleeved is a feature-length animated action film, featuring sharp animation, an original story, and a talented English cast that includes the talents of Ray Chase, Richard Epcar, Elizabeth Maxwell, and Brittany Cox. Whether you have already seen the second season of Altered Carbon or this is your first time discovering the franchise, Altered Carbon: Resleeved is a fantastic cyberpunk animated film.
Fate Stay/Night: Unlimited Blade Works
The Holy Grail War is a war to end all wars. Having taken place over the span of centuries, this war grants the victor the ultimate wish. To wage this war, users gifted with magic, known as Masters, summon warriors to fight on their behalf, called Servants. These Servants come from across the span of history and time, from Gilgamesh to Medusa to King Arthur, who is actually recreated as a woman. The Holy Grail War is filled with heroes and villains, all vying for the ultimate power. Their very character and well-being are tested in the face of such overwhelming power. For Master Shirou and his Servant Saber, a war that will determine the future of human civilization unfolds before them. Fate Stay/Night: Unlimited Blade Works has been lauded for its breathtaking animation, which combines 2D and 3D effects into one seamless visual experience. Featuring a deep and tremendous story, jaw-dropping animation, and incredible action, Fate Stay/Night: Unlimited Blade Works is an excellent and unforgettable fantasy journey.
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