This list is all about the world of anime – some of these you may have grown up with, whilst others are the new kids on the block.
Whichever category these shows fall into however, all of the following (both in this article and those to come) are masterworks and deserve to be watched time and time again.
1. YU YU HAKUSHO (‘GHOST FILES’)
This is one of the must-sees, right up there on the list of shows you should have watched as a kid along with Dragonball-Z, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Avatar: The Last Airbender (Pokemon IS NOT AN ANIME – I DO NOT CARE.). If you haven’t seen this then there’s no time to lose. This is another tale written by the mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi, the man who brought us Hunter X Hunter. This may have originally aired in Japan over 20 years ago (October 10, 1992 to January 7, 1995) but it is still regarded as one of the best action anime of all time, totalling at a meaty 112 episodes. Even if the art is somewhat dated in the earlier episodes, the storyline is amazing, and the characters are brilliant.
14 year old Urameshi Yusuke is about as troublesome & violent as teenagers come; constantly ditching school, causing trouble, and getting into numerous fights everyday. However, one day he does the unexpected – sacrificing himelf to push a young child from the path of an oncoming car. The afterlife is not prepared for Yusuke, as they never thought he would make such a sacrifice.
With nowhere to go, and dead, Yusuke becomes a ghost and must earn his way back into existence.
Yusuke is “employed” by Koenma, who is in charge while his father and ruler of the afterlife, King Enma, is away. Under Koenma’s command, Yusuke helps to stop menacing demons that threaten the lives of people everywhere; whether by stealing priceless and invaluable items and destructive weapons, or by wreaking havoc on humans everywhere.
I’m not even gonna talk too much. Watch it. You won’t regret it.
2. HUNTER X HUNTER (2011)
This isn’t a new addition to the line-up, but deserves just as much of a chance to be seen and appreciated. This is set in a world where Hunters exist to perform all manner of dangerous tasks like capturing criminals and bravely searching for lost treasures in uncharted territories. In this we follow the adventures of Gon Freecss: a twelve year old boy who is determined to become the best Hunter in the world and his quest to find his father Ging who was a Hunter himself and had long ago abandoned his young son. However, Gon soon realizes the path to achieving his goals is far more challenging than he could have ever imagined.
Along the way to becoming an official Hunter, Gon meets & befriends the lively doctor-in-training Leorio, vengeful Kurapika, and rebellious ex-assassin Killua. Throughout their journey together Gon and his friends will go through many trials and tribulations —all whilst learning what being a Hunter truly means.
The new 2011 adaptation has lovingly updated graphics, epic fight scenes and never fails to tug at our hearts, pulling us into Gon’s world for every step of his journey as he loves, loses and finds himself. Clocking in at 148 episodes, this is an undertaking probably best left till after your exams and coursework are over.
3. JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE
This is one of my personal favourites (both manga and anime) with the ongoing manga so far clocking in at 8 separate arcs and the anime clocking in at 113 episodes so far (October 2012 – present) with Season 3 having launched in April of this year. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure tells the story of the Joestar family; a family whose various members discover they are destined to take down supernatural foes using the unique powers that they possess.
The manga is split up into 8 unique parts, each following the story of one member of the Joestar family, who inevitably has a name that can be abbreviated to the titular “JoJo”. The first six parts of the series take place within a single continuity, while parts 7 and 8 take place in an alternate continuity spawned from the events of part 6.
The anime adaptation has so far covered four of the (current) 8 arcs:
- The original Phantom Blood (Season 1, Part 1 episodes 1-9),
- Battle Fever (Season 1, Part 2, episodes 10-26)
- and Stardust Crusaders (Season 2).
- Diamond is Unbreakable (Season 3 – ongoing)
The animation in this is so drastically different to most conventional anime (like Attack on Titan and Bleach for example) that this is a joy to watch – the differences in art style (staying so true to the look of the manga that the sound effects are even displayed on screen) in no way detract from the fight scenes and general animation, with the funny plot lines and wholeness of this adventure series pulling you in, I’d say there are worse things you could be spending your time doing.
4. THE FATE UNIVERSE (/stay night, Zero & Unlimited Bladeworks)
The Holy Grail is an object that has been subject to legend, speculation and theology for millenia. However in Fate, the Holy Grail plays a vital role..
The Fate universe chronicles the Holy Grail Wars, the secret magical tournament held in Fuyuki City, Japan where seven magicians known as Masters summon Servants (reincarnations of legendary souls and heroes from all across time) in order to fight in a deadly battle royale where the winner obtains the Holy Grail, a magical legendary chalice capable of granting wishes.
Specifically the Fate Universe details the Fourth & Fifth Holy Grail wars, with the original Fate/Stay Night & Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works detailing the events of the Fifth Holy Grail War, focusing on the exploits of the young Shirō Emiya, a high school student and amateur magus living in Fuyuki City, Japan – with Fate/stay night being less focused on Shirō Emiya; occasionally jumping to the viewpoints of other characters and bringing in adjoining storylines.
Whereas Fate/Zero deals with the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War – centering on Kiritsugu Emiya, the foster father of Fate/stay night ’s protagonist, Shirō Emiya, a man known to be a merciless mage killer who joins the tournament on behalf of his wife’s family, the Einzberns.
The Fate Universe began being animated January 6th, 2006 and finished in 2015 on June 27th , finally clocking in at 56 episodes (including the Illya arc) and 2 full length feature movies. And throughout all that time the quality has only improved until we glimpse the full effect in Unlimited Bladeworks; which is all smooth graphics (excellent fight scenes – which are well thought out and executed) a superb plot line with a hugely detailed premise and several sub-plots along with evolved characters with EPIC abilities such as our beloved Saber (above right) and that guy we all love to hate – Gilgamesh (left).
Personally, if not the whole universe, then I say make sure to see Zero and Unlimited Bladeworks MINIMUM.
The Fate universe is unmissable in it’s entirety though. Seriously, make time and go watch it.
5. KILL LA KILL
This is the tale of Ryuko Matoi, who is searching for her father Isshin Matoi’s killer, a quest which brings her into violent conflict with Satsuki Kiryuin, the iron-fisted student council president of Honnouji Academy, and her mother’s fashion empire.
It spans 2 seasons and 24 episodes, and the whole of the emotional spectrum (heavy on the laughs) bringing you up and down as she takes up her Scissor Blade in order to discover the truth behind the murder of Isshin Matoi and even her own origin, in a campaign that has the fate of the world at stake.
Ryuko and Senketsu are our two main characters & protagonists in this – Senketsu being her living Godrobe or Kamui and their evolution is what we see throughout the series. Their physical and emotional strength both take hits and become so much stronger, showing significant character development, along with several other characters such as the formidable Satsuki Kiryuin and her Elite Four. Some serious issues are also alluded to during this, such as Satsuki’s abuse by her mother Ragyo and the ethics of human experimentation.
Featured villains include Satsuki Kiryuin, The Elite Four, and a whole host of members of the REVOCS corporation including their CEO. However the battle lines are not as cut and dry as they may appear – with unknown allies and an even greater evil emerging from the shadows to threaten the world in the latter half of this show in a major plot twist.
The comic book style graphics are fleshed out and while the outfits are a little breezy, the plot line is in no way insubstantial, making this a favoured anime of mine and hopefully yours.
That’s all for Part I, but don’t worry Part II is right around the corner 😉