Many of us had a lot of free time on our hands during quarantine, and maybe some of us still do. I used some of this time to explore 10 new anime series and films (when I wasn't rewatching old animes and enjoying the freedom of not having to feel like a closeted weeb). A few of my thoughts on these animes, in the order that I watched them, include...
Maid Sama! (Netflix)
I absolutely fell in love with Maid Sama! as soon as I started the anime. Not only is it a romance with character arcs and a male protagonist that may or may not distract you from the plot, but it is hilarious. I always found myself laughing at something throughout the show, which is 26 episodes long and follows the story of a headstrong high school student hoping to hide that she works at a maid café. What really impressed me about Maid Sama! is the strength of the female protagonist. I have seen multiple Shoujo animes with weak female leads, but Misaki Ayuzawa is one of the strongest girls I have ever seen portrayed in a romance anime. At times she may be perceived as a bit aggressive, but Ayuzawa's determination and ability to learn from her mistakes is incredibly admirable. The show also emphasizes the idea of just being yourself rather than allowing anyone else to change you. My only critiques about this show are that the filler episodes dragged a little bit at times and the male protagonist lacked background. If a second season is created, this probably will not be an issue as the manga series dives into his character, but many viewers have been left unsatisfied by the lack of an explanation that was given to describe the love interest’s story apart from small hints at his origins.
Ao Haru Ride/Blue Spring Ride (YouTube)
This anime might be aimed towards younger female audiences, but I still found it to be cute and fun for a one-time watch. As a romance, this story follows a bit of a cliché in having an innocent female protagonist struggle to discover the secrets of the mysterious boy she loves... but who doesn’t enjoy that cliché every once in a while? The anime is super cute, with pink tones and romantic moments. In addition, the female protagonist is sweet and inspirational with her abilities to remain optimistic and true to herself. The male protagonist is also pretty cute too. With only 13 episodes, it makes for a nice, quick watch.
Wolf Girl and Black Prince (YouTube)
… I can’t say I enjoyed this one. It might be appealing to some, but the romance is a bit twisted. The series follows a similar storyline to Ao Haru Ride; however, the manipulative male protagonist in Wolf Girl and Black Prince should not be idolized in the least. The female protagonist is incredibly weak with unadmirable traits such as a desire to lie about things. I don’t really recommend this one, but it might be for other’s who enjoy this kind of Shoujo anime.
Can I Eat Your Pancreas? (YouTube)
Don’t let the title of this film scare you away! Not only is this anime a romance, but it is also a tear-jerker that is highly regarded in the anime world. I’ll admit that I found it a little boring at times, but the end of the movie is what stands out more than anything else. The story follows a dying girl who befriends a loner type of guy, showing him what the world can be like against his pessimistic attitude. It reminded me a little of the popular anime, Your Lie in April (which I highly recommend). I probably won’t watch this one again for a while, but it was good for a one-time watch.
At first, I thought this anime was really cute. It’s filled with pastels and fun characters. However, as I kept watching, the story seemed to move very slowly. Following a boy who seems to struggle in school as a loner, he begins to help different girls accomplish their individual goals. I didn’t finish this anime, but from what I heard, the second season of the series is much better than the first (and a tear-jerker). It also has an additional film that tells the story of the aftermath of the series. Just from watching scenes from the film, I can tell that it is incredibly sad. It is as if Clannad and Clannad Afterstory are two very different concepts. However, I find Clannad Afterstory to be much more compelling and heart-warming than Clannad, but you do need to watch some of the series to understand the after story.
My Little Monster (Anime-Planet)
I loved this anime when I first began it, mainly because I related strongly to the female protagonist. The story follows a girl who studies incredibly hard and doesn’t allow herself to socialize... until she quite literally runs into an extroverted (and sometimes eccentric) boy who inspires her to change. This anime has some very comical moments, but it also doesn't move very much. Throughout the story, the female lead has to make a decision between choosing her studies or her love interest, and in each episode, she seems to go back and forth between these two choices. It is very repetitive, and the ending is unsatisfactory. However, the show still has some cute moments, and I enjoyed it.
Hunter x Hunter (Netflix)
Hunter x Hunter is a very popular show, and Netflix has released all but one of its seasons so far. As a Shounen anime, the series is intriguing and sometimes complex. It explores a world where people can become Hunters or exceptional beings who can practice fighting techniques and incredible strength. Gon is a young boy who plans to take the Hunter Exam in order to become a Hunter and find his father. However, each season has a different story arc that takes a new direction, maintaining a plotline that always has something surprising and new. The fighting scenes and the complexities between characters are dynamic and exciting. Audiences are given an inside look into the thought-processes of both protagonists and antagonists in their strategies to fight and use techniques. The show also has comical and heartwarming moments between friendships as well as heart-wrenching ones. This is not a series I would recommend for those just beginning to watch anime as it is very creative. I could see how some people wouldn’t enjoy it, especially if they are not used to anime culture. The show can also have gruesome, violent moments that can be a little disturbing to someone who doesn't enjoy that style.
Children of the Sea (GKIDS)
Children of the Sea is a gorgeous film, unlike anything I have ever seen before. I can confidently say that I have become obsessed with it. From stunning visuals of the ocean to beautiful music, it is a masterpiece. However, some dislike this film for its lack of clarity. It is true that the film does not follow a very specific plotline. But the movie is more perceptive, leaving audiences to come to their own conclusions about the film and what is happening as the story is complex and mysterious. Loosely, the film follows a young girl who befriends two boys. These boys were raised in the ocean and because of this, they have special abilities that predict an upcoming change in the flow of life. You are rarely given straight answers as to what is happening in this film, and you will definitely have questions while watching. It is more focused on audiences taking in the art of the animation that emphasizes the beauty of nature, the ocean, and the unknown, leaving you to come to your own conclusions and perceptions of the film.
I haven’t finished this series just yet, but it is a feel-good anime. Following a male volleyball team that hopes to rise from the ashes, the audience becomes close to the volleyball players and their dynamic personalities. That’s what makes this anime special. The characters are relatable and admirable in their determination to win and support one another. You watch as they become closer, and you can see how this improves their volleyball playing. When the characters are happy, you feel happy too, and their sorrow will bring you sorrow. At times, the show can feel a little slow with its focus on volleyball and the rules of the game. For someone who plays volleyball, it may be a little more interesting; however, I will say that I have learned a lot about the sport for someone who has never played it before.
The Promised Neverland (Netflix)
The Promised Neverland is an anime I am currently watching furiously. Going in, I didn’t really understand what this show was about. It turned out to be much darker than I anticipated, following a future where children are raised in orphanages to be food for demons that have taken over the world. Yes, it is disturbing; however, the series is brilliant. With a focus on three eleven-year-old children and their plans of escape, you find yourself dying to know what will happen to them. The animation is very cinematic, finding a way to create an unsettling tone for the orphanage with unique camera angles and shots. The complexity of the situation is impressive, as well as the issues the children must endure in order to escape. I can’t wait to watch more and learn about what lies beyond the walls of the orphanage in this dystopian series.