When I was younger, there seemed to be an implicit consensus among all of my peers that anime series were for those who were odd or childish. Anime wasn’t regarded as an art form; rather, people seemed to think it was just a bunch of “cartoons” with no depth or purpose. Recently, there’s been a rise in interest in anime series across the world. From celebrities like Bad Bunny to people from my youth, everyone seems to value the creativity and entertainment behind this genre. It is finally being recognized as true art and a form to express storiesーwhether they are comical or dramatic, action-packed or character-driven. Here are four anime series with creative and innovative stories you should watch to acquire a love for this genre, just like I did:
- Death Note (2006)
When I was fifteen years old, I was skeptical about watching anime. I had my fair share of prejudices against this genre, but everything changed when I watched Death Note for the first time. Death Note centers around Light Yagami, a high-school student who comes into possession of a supernatural notebook that gives its user a God-like power. It provides him with the ability to kill. All he has to do is just write the name of the person he wants dead in the notebook, and it’s done. For Light, it starts as a way to clean the Earth from criminals and bad people to create a utopia; the perfect world. As the story unfolds, we witness how he slowly descends into madness. It’s the perfect anime to begin your journey, and it’s so addictive that it will leave you wanting more.
- Cowboy Bebop (1998)
Cowboy Bebop is a classic, and therefore, a must-see. I remember watching it for the first time during the summer of 2017, miles away from home to submerge myself in places all over space. I can’t help but think about two things every time I hear its title: its iconic theme song and Spike’s deep voice. Cowboy Bebop is a science fiction, neo-noir anime that centers around the lives of a bounty hunting crew who travel through space in search of criminals during the year 2071 in their spaceship called the Bebop. They do so in exchange for a reward, and we as spectators get to ride along with them throughout their many adventures. What’s most captivating about this show are its characters. They’re all memorable. The more you invest time in the story, the more you want to know about their pasts and what made them be the way they are during the anime’s present time. If you’re looking for an anime that’s character-driven and dark, go straight to Hulu and watch this masterpiece!
- Orange (2016)
Whenever I think of Orange, I get this warm fuzzy feeling that only comes when remembering a teenage, first kind of love. It’s new and exciting, with a touch of butterflies in your stomach and a warm sensation in your cheeks. The first image that comes to mind when thinking about this anime is of sunlight pouring inside a room from a window, shards of glass reflecting light back to the sky. Orange is a romance anime that centers around Naho Takamiya, a high-school student who receives a letter sent from herself ten years into the future. In other words, her past self receives a message from her future self. In this letter, she asks herself to prevent her biggest mistakes, which center around a boy named Kakeru Naruse. When the events listed in the letter become true, Naho has only so much time to complete the tasks her future self asks of her and stop whatever she’s preventing. If you want to catch all the fuzzy and cute feelings, go watch Orange and fall in love with Naho and Kakeru’s story.
- Psycho-Pass (2012)
Psycho-Pass is my current anime, but I want to include it in this list because it’s incredibly epic and engaging so far. This anime series is a cyberpunk, psychological thriller that introduces a dystopia centered around the Sibyl System, a “powerful biomechatronic computer network which endlessly measures biometrics of Japanese citizens’ brains and mentalities using a ‘cymatic scan’”. In other words, it’s a system that monitors the “crime coefficient” of Japanese citizens to determine if they are or will pose a danger to society. Since the beginning of the anime, we follow inspector Akane Tsunemori, who is in charge of solving crimes with the aid of latent criminals, which are called Reinforcers. Psycho-Pass makes its spectators question the morality behind targeting or eliminating those who pose a threat before they even become one. If you want to submerge yourself in a morally questionable world, filled with intriguing characters, this is the perfect anime for you.
There’s a world of anime series filled with distinctive voices and innovative plots waiting for us to discover them. If you’re skeptical about watching anime, start with these series to see beyond the bias and into the art. If you’re an anime lover like myself, keep searching for those series that make you think, feel, and do. I hope this little list helps you tap into that inner anime lover. Enjoy!