During this stay at home time, instead of being productive by working out or learning new things, I have developed an unhealthy obsession with anime. To give myself some credit, I have picked up a bit of piano and graphic design as well, but the majority of my time is spent either watching anime or stressing out over school. As a result, anime has become my greatest form of stress relief during this crisis. It is a bit unusual, but over the past two to three months I have watched hundreds of anime episodes.
As a child, I remember my older brother mimicking the transformation scenes from “Sailor Moon.” I always thought he was weird and would cringe at the sight of him fanboying over anime. My younger brother had mentioned his interest in anime, and after hearing this, I made fun of his odd interest. This mentality of associating anime and nerdiness was ingrained in me. Students at school bullied or teased others who were into anime. They’d spread memes or pictures of students who would wear cosplay or merch. It got to the point where one student I knew was followed home and ridiculed for wearing a Naruto cloak.
I wasn’t a saint either—I remember laughing at the jokes. Now, as an adult and an anime fan, I see that the bullies were the ones to be laughed at. Most anime shows have better writing than our fawned-over traditional American shows. In fact, I can say confidently that the only shows to make me gasp out of shock have been anime. Had I not been so close-minded, I could have enjoyed being part of the anime-loving community. I would have been exposed to shows at an earlier stage and would probably have gotten more sleep (binging shows has caused mass sleep deprivation).
With the emergence of apps like TikTok, I have managed to uncover the hidden anime-loving community. There is a huge group of fans who religiously watch anime with much passion, not to mention fans who read the manga on top of watching the anime—those are the truest fans within the community. The best feeling I have had this past quarantine is finding other people who enjoy anime as much as I do. In an effort to turn you to our side, I’ll start off with some of my favorite anime (in no specific order).
- “Attack on Titan”
One of the highest rated anime of all time, “Attack on Titan” follows Eren Jaeger and Mikasa Ackerman who live in a world where humans are forced to live inside a city that is closed off to the outside world, which is filled with giant, human-eating titans. The most comparable traditional Western show is “Game of Thrones.” Personally, I find “Attack on Titan” to be the better show. It has many unexpected twists and turns that will make you question whether or not you could survive in a situation like theirs. It is available to stream on Netflix and Funimation and will air its final season on December 7th.
- “Fairy Tail”
This anime will always have a special place in my heart. It follows Natsu Dragneel and Lucy Heartfilia, two members of the magic wizard guild Fairy Tail. The show tells the stories of all of the Fairy Tail guild members and their many quests to keep evil at bay. This is a great introductory anime for those who are interested in typical anime shows. It’s action-packed, and while the overall theme is “friendship conquers all,” the characters themselves are quite complex with interesting back stories. It is also one of the longer shows with about 300 episodes. The first “season” is available on Netflix and the rest is available to stream on Funimation.
I have always simped over volleyball players, but never did I imagine I would simp over two-dimensional volleyball players. This anime is one of the most popular in the U.S. and Japan. It revolves around Shōyō Hinata, a short high schooler who dreams about becoming the best volleyball player. All the other characters within the show perfectly represent the emotions of being a school athlete. The show has incredible animation, although it has recently transitioned to another studio, resulting in a difference in character appearance. Overall, “Haikyu!!” is also a great introductory show and combines my love of volleyball with my love of anime (plus cute boys). It is available on Netflix and the new season is streaming on Crunchyroll.
- “Tokyo Ghoul”
The first time I heard about “Tokyo Ghoul” was through its incredible opening song “Unravel.” The piano version is actually what inspired me to start practicing piano. The show revolves around Ken Kaneki, a young college student in Japan who is attacked by a flesh-eating ghoul. Throughout the show we see Kaneki struggle with his new identity as a ghoul. Out of all the shows I have watched this one, as well as “Erased,“ messed with my emotions the most. With amazing visuals and heart-wrenching scenes, it really demonstrates the ugliness behind human nature, our tendency to pit ourselves against others who are different and our willingness to let one rotten apple ruin the entire batch. I definitely recommend watching Season 1 and 2 of this amazing anime—afterwards the story shifts a bit differently. It is available to stream on Funimation.
- “My Hero Academia”
“My Hero Academia” is a light-hearted anime that follows the story of Izuku Midoriya, a quirkless boy who dreams of becoming the next greatest superhero. The show introduces us to a world where 80% of the population possesses some superpower. It makes you wonder what the world would truly be like if that was the case. After watching a gut-wrenching anime, this one always puts a smile to my face. The most recent season is still ongoing, and I definitely recommend it to those who are starting out with anime. It is available to stream on both Crunchyroll and Funimation and is set to return in Spring 2021.
Unlike MHA, “Erased” is not a light-hearted anime. It focuses on Satoru Fujinuma who, after experiencing the death of his friend and other children in his class, is taken back in time to make things right. The show is absolutely one of the most heart-tugging anime I have ever watched. It is one of my favorites for its incredible storytelling. It deals with real issues of guilt, abuse and insecurities in a non-traditional way. The only hiccup I experienced while watching this was being able to decipher who the killer was by the second episode. However, I think I may be an exception since I tried my best to solve the mystery. The show is available to stream on Netflix and is one of the shorter ones on this list.
- “Hunter X Hunter”
Another popular anime is “Hunter X Hunter.” This anime is widely loved by the community. The story follows Gon Freecss on his quest to become a pro-hunter like his father and reconnect with him after years. A huge argument amongst HXH fans is that the other characters within the anime are more interesting than the main character, but as the story progresses, so do the character arcs. The 90’s adaptation is one of my personal favorites, but the more recent adaptation is easier to watch. Overall, it is a long anime with some lengthy story arcs, yet it is a must-watch for anyone interested in anime. You can watch some of the episodes on Netflix, but the rest are available on Crunchyroll. A fun fact is that the creator of HXH is married to the creator of “Sailor Moon”!
Anime is an amazing way to diversify your interests. It lends us an inside look at different worlds and enriches our media palettes. I hope you take the time to check out some of my recommendations, as well as these honorable mentions: “Bungo Stray Dogs,” “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K,” “Sword Art Online,” “Cowboy Bebop,” “Naruto” and “Your Lie in April.”