Domain Query: Anime Eyes

Longtime reader and commenter, fellow Millennial, and like-minded nerd Kapios had a question for me about Japanese anime:

On a side note, I have started watching anime shows again and I got a very sudden urge to binge on 'Death Note'. If you watch any can you do any reviews? By the end of this week I'm finishing with this one and I need some fresh material for the down times

I note with considerable amusement that this was posted in response to one of my Friday T&A segments, which as I may have mentioned a few times is the part of the blog that everyone loves. (Including the, like, two women who read my work.) It brought to mind something like that old Gay Test meme from a few years back:

In his defence, he did point out that the quality of the babes in that segment was very much up to standard. For which, of course, you're quite welcome.

Like I said, that is everyone's favourite part of this blog, whether he admits it or not.

Anyway, gentle mockery aside, it's actually a legitimate question, so I figure I should set about answering it.

My taste in anime has always been pretty eclectic, and I grew up watching quite a bit of it. There are a number of great shows out there that I highly recommend, but some of them are a bit obscure or difficult to find. My sister and I both religiously watched a few shows that we have never since been able to find on either Hulu or Netflix.

One example of this is a classic anime called Sakura Wars:

It's been way too damned long since I last watched that series, so I'm a bit out of date about the plot, but it was a show that, as I recall, combined elements of the mecha, steampunk, and supernatural horror genres into one rather entertaining mix.

Then there was another show called Cooking Master Boy, which centred around a Chinese kid named Mao and his search for legendary cooking utensils that would make him the greatest chef in the world. Various hijinks ensue and various allies are made along the way as Mao and his friends seek to cook the most delicious dishes the world has ever seen.

(No, I am not making this shit up. As I may have said a time or ten before, Japan is effing WEIRD.)

Probably my favourite anime series growing up, though, was Gensomaden Saiyuki. (Very) loosely based around the Chinese epic of Journey to the West, this show had it all as far as my teenage self was concerned- babes, demons, badasses, plenty of comic relief, cool weapons, great villains, great heroes, emotional drama, intrigue, conflict, the lot. Oh yeah, and an AWESOME intro theme:

That show was the shit. So many fond memories...

Unfortunately, all of these shows from my childhood are no longer available on Netflix. They might be around on Hulu, but since I no longer subscribe to that platform, I'm going to go (mostly) by what is currently available on Netflix itself.

By the time I'm done with this list, Kapios won't have another spare moment through to New Year's Eve, 2018, at the very minimum. He can thank me later- though I doubt his girlfriend/wife will be too pleased with me...

So let's get started with:

Rurouni Kenshin

Released as Samurai X in the English dub, this, along with Saiyuki and the next one in this list, was part of the Holy Trinity of anime as far as my kid sister and I were concerned.

It follows the story of one Himura Kenshin, a swordsman who came of age toward the end of the Tokugawa era in feudal Japan and the beginning of the Meiji period of reform. Utilising a hyper-fast fictional form of swordsmanship known as Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryu, this show was truly amazing in terms of both the depth of the characters and the intricacy of the storylines.

As far as I know, everything up to and including the seminal Kyoto Arc, which has to be one of the best storylines ever released for any anime, is available on Netflix right now.


Adapted from a very long-running manga created by Rumiko Takahashi, this series told a fantasy story about time-travelling and demons that would take way too damned long for me to go into details here. Let's just say that this is a very fun show to watch. It's got exactly the right blend of epic drama, child-oriented fun, and adult-oriented themes to make it compelling at just about any age.

This one remains a perennial favourite of mine due to the quality of the animation, which has stood the test of time, and the story, which spanned across something like 6 seasons and still didn't get wrapped up until a follow-up 26-episode season was released years later.

When it came to stretching the point out for as long as humanly possible, I don't think anything did this more effectively (and annoyingly) than Dragonball and all of its various follow-ons. (Remember how a 5-minute fight on the planet Namek between Goku and Freeza got turned into a five-episode all-out war?) But this one managed to get pretty damn close.


Boy, does this one go back a long way...

I first remember watching Robotech back in, I think, 1995. Yeah. Seriously. It's been twenty years since I first watched it.

Now, the funny thing about Robotech is that it is not actually one continuous series. It was originally three completely separate and unrelated anime franchises that all involved mechas of one form or another:
  1. The Super Dimension Fortress Macross
  2. Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross
  3. Genesis Climber MOSPEADA
What is amazing about this series is that it, more or less, manages to work given the completely disparate strands of DNA used to create it.

I'm not going to go into the plot, go read the Infogalactic article about it because it's a damned long and at times confusing show. And I'll be the first to admit that the animation and dubbing have not fared well into the modern day relative to my very fond childhood memories of this show. But it's still worth a spin nonetheless.

As far as I can tell, the entire series is fully available on Netflix at this time.

From a dude's perspective, this has to be the most left-field choice in my list. It's about a bunch of little girls going to witch school to learn how to perform the best magic possible. The series focuses on a particularly inept witch by the name of Akko, who consistently screws up just about everything she tries. It turns out, though, that deep down she actually has tremendous hidden power and talent, because reasons.

Yeah, it's as if the show was written by a Gamma about a girl. It's actually still a pretty good show nonetheless, with plenty of memorable characters and some great plot points.

At the moment there is a full OVA as well as a Netflix original series available. Both are worth watching.

Knights of Sidonia

By far the most modern show on the list, this is a superb show as far as the animation goes. It is based around a mecha manga series by Tsutomu Nihei, which looks at a far-distant future where the Earth has been destroyed by mysterious shape-shifting aliens called Gauna and the survivors have fled to distant planets on huge spaceships.

The story focuses on mecha pilot Nagate Tanikaze as he fights to defend his home ship and his loved ones from the Gauna, and makes a number of startling discoveries about both the enemy and himself in the process.

Well worth watching if only for the quality of the animation alone. Again, possibly written by a Gamma, but then this is the anime industry, and that appears to attract quite a lot of these characters. Some of the other stuff that goes on in this show can be a bit weird, particularly in terms of interpersonal relationships between some of the characters, but otherwise, I really like this show.

Netflix currently has two seasons available, which only span about two-thirds of the manga canon but are quite entertaining nonetheless. I don't think there will be a third season to fill out the plot, which is unfortunate, but hey, you can't have everything.

Blue Exorcist

Now this is a somewhat unusual choice on the list, but it is made with good reason. The show centres around a young boy named Rin who possesses unusual gifts and one day discovers that he is in fact the spawn of Satan himself. His foster father, an Exorcist for the Church, sacrifices himself so that Rin and his twin brother Yukio can escape to the True Cross Academy, where Rin's powers can be developed into a tool to fight the Fallen One.

The strength of this show lies in its characters, who are compelling, interesting, and relatable despite all of the fantastical stuff going on in the background. I quite liked this show despite my initial misgivings, and I highly recommend it.

The full two seasons should be currently available on Netflix.


Now that I've rounded up a good list of Japanese anime series to watch, I'll close out by noting a few great feature-length films that I found rather interesting to watch, for various reasons. The first two are available on Netflix, but the third is not.

Harlock: Space Pirate

Gantz: O

Both films are quite interesting to watch- the second one is extremely violent and graphic, though, so if you've got a sensitive stomach, be aware of this fact.

But the all-time favourite OVA on my list has got to be the eternal classic, Ninja Scroll:

How good is that movie? Damn, dude, where does one even start.

The animation is, quite simply, astonishing. The plot is amazing- you never see the twists and turns coming. The characters are instantly memorable. The fantastical elements blend into the background of mediaeval Japan almost seamlessly.

It is, quite simply, just about perfect. So much so that I actually went and bought a copy of the DVD years ago. It's definitely worth the money.


  1. Unfortunately "My Hero Academia" is only on Hulu. Ditto Psycho-Pass, the first season of which is fucking amazing (Aurini also goes into it in some depth in a video)

    That said, Gurren Lagann is available.

    So is Blame. Which had some seriously "Oh Shit" moments

    1. Oh yeah, I clean forgot about Gurren Lagann. That's a classic series.

  2. I grew up in the Era when Anime was something you got on these gigantic record-sized laser discs from Japan that required a 400 dollar player to watch.
    I used to come home every afternoon from school and watch Robotech. It was stunning... a cartoon where people could actually DIE. The plot was compelling (from my pooint of view) and the giant robot battles amazing.

    Watching the three series later, I realized a very important fact... The writers that tied the three together were brilliant. I probably would have preferred the original meaning of 'Protoculture' in the first series, but it was absolutely the hook needed to rewrite the latter two series... virtually every word was re-written for American audiences, and the writers did something I have never seen before or since.

    I have even heard that they did not speak Japanese at all, and rewrote from a soundless screen.

    The Dialogue and plot in the series from which they originally drew were... to put it bluntly, really awful (at least the latter two). The Japanese have some interesting talents, but storytelling really is not one of them. Most Anime since has left me totally cold, to the point where I really don't enjoy them. But the original Robotech and the movies that were written with American audiences in mind (Ghost in the Shell, Akira, the animated Avatar) Are generally extremely worth watching.


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