I’ve been watching anime since I was 15 years old. My gateway to this wonderful world of animation was Pokemon. I was obsessed with Pokemon, and honestly I still am. I would record the anime, which was on at like 6am at the weekends on ITV and watch it religiously. For the record, my fav Pokemon is Bulbasaur. In the late 90’s/early 00’s we didn’t have a lot of ways to stream, so my anime fix came from Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, but once I started to torrent so much more was out there to enlighten me. The common misconception people have about anime is that it’s for children, they literally judge it on Pokemon alone, or perhaps on DragonBall Z, which honestly isn’t for kids really when it’s not dubbed. But anime is so much more, it can be terrifying or hilarious or just so out of this world you’re not sure what you’re watching. There is so much depth to what you can see, and so I’ve compiled a list for people who want somewhere to start. The animes below and 4 fairly new animes and one old one that I love so much that it hurts. I’ll do another post with standalone movies you should watch if that’s more your style. Every series can be found on streaming, either Crunchyroll or you can use GogoAnime.
NOTE: A lot of people don’t want anime series but love Studio Ghibli. I love Studio Ghibli but that’s it’s own thing. Not all anime is going to be My Neighbour Totoro or Spirited Away. Though honestly I don’t know how people watch more than one Ghibli film and think they’re the same. Every single one has a totally different vibe and is outstanding in its own way. I highly recommend you watch them all.
SLICE OF LIFE: Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family
So this is actually a spin off of another anime called Fate/Stay Night which honestly I have never watched. This is set in an alternate universe, I think the original is more fantasy based. Slice of Life is a genre of anime which is just a picture into the lives of characters. It is just everyday life and is usually also comedy based too. This particular one centres around the culinary adventures of Shirō Emiya as he goes about his life making delicious dishes for his friends and family. It sounds simple right? But this show is gorgeously animated, so much detail in every frame and the food looks amazing. It will make you want to go get some Japanese food so I would have a snack on handy when you watch this. Each episode is about 15 minutes long, so if you don’t have a lot of time to commit but want to give it a watch it won’t take up too much time.
ROMANCE/COMEDY: Tonari No Kaibutsu-Kun
I have three genre weak spots when it comes to Anime. One is Slice of Life and the other two are romance and comedy, so Tonari No Kaibutsu-Kun definitely captured my heart. The anime is about Mizutani Shizuku, a highschool girl who cares mostly about her grades. She’s tasked with delivering notes to class rebel Yoshida Haru and he decides they are friends. I love this anime because Shizuku is such a strong female lead and Haru is such a goof. You are invested in them and every single side character storyline. The animation is excellent and colourful and the soundtrack is on point. It’s a romcom done in a new way and I really enjoyed it. Honestly I’ve watched it about 5 times and I never tire of it.
SHONEN: My Hero Academia
Shonen is anime aimed at boys, which I know is silly. But it’s usually action based. I’ll get yelled at for this but I think HunterXHunter is Shonen. I usually dislike this kind of anime, because I hate fighting animes. You know in DragonBall how it takes like 10 episodes to kill one dude? Yeah, that stuff makes me go to sleep. So I was reluctant to watch My Hero Academia. Luckily, my friends in Chicago put it on one sleepy Sunday afternoon when I was lying on their sofa and I was hooked. This kicks all shonen tropes to the curb. It’s hilarious, unpredictable and highly addictive. There are SO many characters but they are all so well developed and you love almost all of them. Season Four has just started and I have already cried at least once. My Hero Academia is set in a world where everyone has a “quirk” and some people are licensed heroes who fight crime with their quirks. Midoriya, a quirkless middle school kid, is obsessed with heros and wants to be the best hero ever, but has no quirk. He one day meets up with the Number One hero in the world All Might and his life changes forever. It’s an outstanding anime and a really good one to watch if you’ve never seen any anime before.
So I was jetlagged having just got back to London from Chicago and found myself watching this while I was wide awake at 3am. Yaoi is a genre about boys in love, that’s as simple as I can get with this description and I’m not known to watch a lot of Yaoi. But this one was about two boys who are in a band and fall in love and oh my god my heart was melting. The anime follows the relationship between Mafuyu Satou and Ritsuka Uenoyama who meet when Mafuyu is sitting on the stairs sad about his guitar strings breaking. I have a soft spot for anime about music (see Sound! Euphonium and Carole & Tuesday) and the band in this is sort of mathy punk and I really enjoyed their sound. This anime is just a fantastic romance story with a really good soundtrack and is only like 11 episodes long, so is crying out to be watched. Please do it. It’s so good. It will cure your frozen heart.
SCI-FI COMEDY: FLCL
FLCL is my fav anime ever. To give it some punk cred, Arms Aloft wrote a song about it and had some FLCL imagery on their merch. It’s 6 episodes long and honestly is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. To really simplify the story, one day Naota Nandaba meets a crazy lady called Haruko who is riding a vespa and she hits him in the head with a blue, vintage Rickenbacker 4001 bass guitar. A robot grows out of his head and chaos ensues. It’s the best Gainax studios anime by far. Just so ridiculously out there with plot and animation style, it’s super entertaining and visually superb. The Pillows do the whole soundtrack and opened a whole gateway of Japanese music to so many people I am sure. This anime is the whole package. It’s weird as hell, and you will never really get it out of your head. Start with the OG first series, I’ve not watched the reboots and sequels so can’t tell you if they are any good.
Maryam Hassan is a 32 year old Photographer, Montessori Teacher, Wearer of Yellow from London who transplanted herself to Chicago in 2015. She likes punk music, hash browns, animal facts and mangoes.
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