If you assumed anime was just like other kiddish cartoons, think again. The genre is known for its wildly intricate plots and super immersive storylines, which is only part of the reason it has developed a cult-like following.
For those of you who are a bit unfamiliar with anime, let me give you a quick crash course: It's essentially Japanese cartoons (the first anime was released in the early 20th century!), but unlike western animation projects, which are often aimed exclusively at children (of course that's changed a bit in the last decade—hello Big Mouth and Bob's Burgers, to name just a few), anime shows are packed with tropes that appeal to a more universal audience. They can be both super campy and fun and also thoughtful and serious.
Supremely artistic and imaginative, anime offers an escape that live-action shows simply can't match. Intrigued? I know you are. Here are the best anime shows to watch on Netflix tonight.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
While attempting to bring their mother back to life, two alchemist brothers accidentally mutilate themselves and in the chaos, one dies. So naturally, they decide to transfer his soul and consciousness into a big metal robot. On their quest to regain his physical body, they discover a huge government conspiracy and major drama ensues.
Your Lie in April
If you think anime is all action and fighting and superpowers, watch Your Lie in April and prepare to be emotionally destroyed―but, like, in a beautiful way. It's an eloquent story involving music (the protagonist is a, er, former piano prodigy), love (he falls for a talented violinist), and death (not gonna drop any spoilers, sry) that'll make you sob.
Devilman Crybaby is about a boy who, after learning that the government is hiding the existence of demons, becomes possessed by a demon himself. Intense and pretty chock-full of violent scenes, it also contains a strong anti-bigotry message and a critique of the human tendency to fear those who are different from us.
Bleach follows the adventures of a hotheaded teenager named Ichigo Kurosaki, who inherits his parents' destiny after he gains the powers of a Soul Reaper—a death personification similar to the Grim Reaper—from another Soul Reaper. Roll with it, okay!!
Anime cooking shows exist, y'all. Food Wars! is basically a normal cooking competition just...sans real food and real cooks. If you're over there thinking "cool but why would I want to watch an animated cooking show?" then you probably have forgotten how addictive it is to watch cartoon grub. Remember all those hours you spent playing Diner Dash in the 7th grade? If you enjoy the culinary arts, don't sleep on Food Wars!
ONE PIECE is about a guy named Monkey D. Luffy who goes on a pirate adventure to become the king of the pirates. He has a bunch of wacky friends and powers and it’s a wild ride but a beloved piece of media. No, seriously, it was the 14th most popular TV show *in the world* in 2016, according to Business Insider.
Haikyuu!! is a cute show about a boy who is determined to become the star of his high school volleyball team even though the odds are stacked against him—he's short! With wholesome vibes, it's an all-around enjoyable watch.
Hunter x Hunter
This one's about a 12-year-old boy named Gon Freecss who wants to become a "Hunter," AKA a licensed, elite world traveler who can take on dangerous, exciting assignments. Gon learns that his father, who he thought had died while on the job as a Hunter, isn’t actually dead and wants to reunite with him, so he takes the Hunter Exam even though it has a super high death rate. Along the way, he makes a few friends and they go on some harrowing adventures together. The series is super beloved, and for good reason.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
A complicated intergenerational tale of good vs. evil involving vampires, small-town murders, and the Italian mafia. Complex, yes, but the good news is that each part (of which there are eight) can more or less stand on its own, so you can dive right in without knowing all the context.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
IYKYK and if you DK, drop everything and watch. Once you enter this fantasy world of four nations (water, earth, fire and air), you'll never want to leave. Each nation is centered around their element; not only can some individuals bend that element, but also the nation's whole culture is shaped by it. Take the earth nation, for example, whose people are known for being sturdy and grounded. Completely immersive, you'll speed through all 61 episodes of this series.
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