Ξ March 27th, 2010 | → 2 Comments | ∇ The Anime Annals |
Most of the anime fans who pass through Alastor’s are well-used to searching out their shows of choice. But I’m sure that many Visitors here may not know where or how to acquire episodes of old or currently airing programs, or might question the legality of downloading and/or torrenting them. So, they don’t, which is too bad because they’re missing out on some Animated Goodness! Plus, they also have to work out how to watch the darn things. (Hint: Try the CCCP codec, which has never failed to run any anime for me.) Aside from the occasional trumpeting here of Really Good Shows You Should Watch, the vast array of unfamiliar titles and genres might be a bit too overwhelming to wade through in order to find the memorable experience that hopefully won’t turn them off to anime altogether. There’s a lot of sub-par stuff out there, and even some “good” titles might not suit one’s fancy. Sooo…
…Help has arrived!
While watching NANA (more on that later) on Anime News Network’s streaming service, I looked through the titles they offer and found a fair assortment of decent must-see shows, and thought that it might be a good public service to share with the neophyte Visitors who might need a little help in sampling some of them, but who don’t know how. So I chose twelve series, most of which are complete, that you can watch in their entirety, or just try out a couple of episodes to see whether the title floats your (nice) boat. That’s an inside joke. *cough*
Normally (like in 95%), I prefer subtitles over dubbed-in-English versions and watching the highest quality episodes whenever available. Bear in mind that the quality in these streamed shows are about half of the HQ stuff; in buying your own DVDs you’ll get the fullest intended vision of the creators (or, in finding HQ episodes online somewhere if that’s your preference). I can’t stress highly enough the importance of High Quality, and widescreen, if the original series aired that way. If you’re okay with subtitles, I would recommend watching those over the dubbed versions if offered, because hearing the original actors is almost always more rewarding than listening to the dub actors. Not that they’re all “bad” but the experience is different. There are some very good dubbed shows (like Cowboy Bebop), but they’re hard to find. One grating voice can really ruin the mood…
Anyway, those listed below are practically ALL superb shows which I can recommend with clear conscience. (Well, except for one which I haven’t seen ) Before we get started, let the following link take its time loading, as there are LOTS of thumbnails that need to load. Just click it now and then continue reading here while it pokes along: Anime News Network’s Streaming Anime Page! After each title on the Episodes page you’ll find a link to its Encyclopedia page; resist the urge to click away because you’ll have to wait for the streaming page to load again when you return. Instead, just click the titles listed below to get to their listing, so that you can check each one out in a new window before sampling to ensure that its genre is your thing. Also, I’ve included the Genres and Themes that are copy-pasted from the encyclopedia to further assist your decision-making! SO EASY!
Except for the commercials. *sigh*. Nothing is free these days. Well, kinda They’re just 15-30 seconds apiece, and each 22-24 minute episode is only interrupted about three times, so just bear with it. Or do what I do: turn down the sound on the player, then back again when the show starts! Off we go… and please excuse any weird spacing; dunno how that happened
(01) Baccano!: Complete 16-episode series, both dubbed and subbed (Mature Viewers). One of my favorite series, it’s a masterful blend of 1930′s-era gangsterism, immortal alchemists, and a brain-twisting story that manages to pull them all together. Brilliant, bloody, funny, maniacal and mysterious, it abundantly rewards the Viewer who loves to untangle mysteries. Genres: action, adventure, comedy, fantasy, horror * Themes: alchemy, crime, gore, historical, immortality, mafia, theif
(02) Bamboo Blade: Subbed series is a complete 26-episode set; first four dubbed eps are available as well. I actually didn’t watch this show, but it was suggested to me on the strength of its genre, namely a sports-via-kendo angle. Sports shows aren’t my thing, but YMMV. Characters are cute enough, and the animation looks decent, but unless you really like kendo, keep looking Genres: comedy, slice of life, tournament * Themes: kendo, moe, sports
(03) Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion: Complete 25-episode set available, both subbed and dubbed. Unusual, occasionally frustrating action series, it’s really something of a tour-de-force, but on the whole very entertaining. Interesting characters and story-world. Very popular series, not that that means anything! Genres: action, drama, psychological, science fiction, supernatural * Themes: mecha, military, real robot
(04) Death Note: All 37 episodes available, subbed and uncut (Mature Viewers). Another very highly-rated show, this is a combination detective story, cat-and-mouse game between geniuses, with enough twists and turns to really keep you glued to the story. It depicts a brilliant but bored and idealistic student, and what happens when he acquires a certain death-god’s Book that allows him to do away with “the evil-doers”. Hmmm… what could go wrong, right??? Nothing but the intervention of master detective L, who intends to thwart and discover the identity of this ingenious and unbelievably clever young man. Brilliant, addictive, and gripping as hell. Genres: drama, mystery, psychological, supernatural, thriller * Themes: death, police, shinigami, suicide
(05) Eureka Seven: Complete 50-episode series, both subbed and dubbed. I loved this show! Despite my initial skepticism at seeing an airboard-flying kid being the centerpiece, and assuming that it would be another annoying “kid-finds-himself” series, I was proven so very wrong in so many ways. Lesson: Don’t be skeptical, and don’t assume! At times a bit slow-paced, it puts its more casual episodes to good use in developing its wonderful cast of characters, not the least of whom is Eureka herself. What a delightful scene-stealer! Direction, story-telling, animation, and facial expressions made this one a classic! Genres: action, adventure, comedy, drama, psychological, romance, science fiction * Themes: mecha, military, real robot
(06) Gurren Lagann: All 27 episodes available, but dubbed-only. Aw. I shudder to imagine the English voices… but, it may turn out alright. You can check it out for me This colorful, action-packed and decidedly over-the-top show was the rare mecha anime that really caught my eye AND one that entertained me, as mecha/robot shows typically aren’t my thing. And… it was one that I had to put on-hold after only eight eps, mainly because it was a bit much. In a good way, if that makes any sense. I’m definitely going to return to it though, when I’m in the mood for some manly manliness. You’ll see what I mean LOL An unexpected turn of events in the show gut-punched me, and I wasn’t expecting it to go where it did, and that ain’t necessarily a bad thing! Must-see for robot fans! Genres: action, adventure, comedy, drama, science fiction * Themes: fanservice, mecha, post-apocalyptic, super robot
(07) Honey and Clover: The full 24-ep season is here and subtitled, excluding the final 2 OVAs not critical to the story. Another moving, wonderful show whose characters and story really shine. Languidly paced at times, its cast develops nicely nonetheless, and the very well-written plot is peopled with characters that seem so alive, their problems as seemingly insurmountable as our own. I didn’t want this one to end, and when it did I really missed it; this is the sign of a story that succeeds Genres: comedy, drama, romance, slice of life * Themes: Fine Arts
(08) Kannagi: All 14 subtitled episodes available. Any show subtitled “Crazy Shrine Maidens” can’t be all bad! Actually, this is a sweet, quirky little show that’s well-designed and directed; alternatively heartwarming and tickling. Not a masterpiece, but good fun! I keep forgetting how much I enjoyed watching Nagi grow into our world and dealing with both her “goddess-hood” and with her “humanity.” (I think that the first thumbnail before Episode 1 is a video clip of the director; you may not get it unless an anime-regular aware of the politics between studios, so feel free to skip it.) Genres: comedy, drama, magic, romance * Themes: goddesses, twins
(09) Monster: Only the first six eps should be watched; unfortunately, for some weird reason, they have just those plus some later ones, thus breaking the continuity. Don’t skip ahead! If you enjoy these first dubbed eps, you can buy the series which just came out for sale, or “look elsewhere.” Simply put, this is an awesome title, and a masterpiece. I haven’t seen the dubbed version so can’t speak for its quality, but man… I was riveted the whole time. And this was a LONG series too, the longest that I’ve taken on. Worth. Every. Minute!!! Plus, the ending theme is done by David Sylvian! Do check it out; it’s a mystery-thriller-suspense story, and very well-written and directed. Genres: drama, horror, mystery, psychological, thriller * Themes: crime, historical, police
(10) Mushi-shi: Only the first four (dubbed) eps are available, so try before you seek out the rest. Looking for something completely different? Look no further! Definitely a slow-paced and episodic series where very little action happens, it follows Ginko as he travels the countryside (only truly seen in its beauty in High Quality) as he tracks down and heals various individuals afflicted with the mushi. What are mushi? They’re all around you! Genres: adventure, drama, mystery, psychological, supernatural * Themes: folklore, mythology
(11) NANA: All 47 subtitled episodes are available, and boy, am I glad! At first I was really put off by the skinny character designs, but they swiftly grew on me as the story developed, and I’ve grown quite used to, and am loving, these characters. I’m still going through it (I’m almost midway) and I’d never have thought that I’d be enjoying it so much. Just a story of two girls named Nana, one a somewhat ditzy-and-naive princess-like girl, and the other a hardened (on the surface) punk musician who has set out to become a professional. The story involves their assorted love affairs, heartbreaks, passions, disappointments and triumphs in such a way that you just can’t stop watching. I was curious about its high ratings, and now I know: It’s the story, stupid! Recommended. Genres: comedy, drama, romance, slice of life * Themes: music
(12) Rumbling Hearts: Only the first four (dubbed) eps are available, but they’re probably all that you’ll need. What a moving, emotional, dramatic, and heart-wrenching program. Better known as Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (‘The Eternity You Wish For”) this is truly an unforgettable experience. One of my favorites, and highly recommended if the genre suits you. Too bad they don’t have all of the run, but you’ll know whether you want the rest, I think. Hopefully they’ll add the rest, but if not, you can find it for sale. Or elsewhere *ahem*. Features one of the most realistic portrayals of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder I’ve ever seen. Genres: drama, psychological, romance * Themes: tragedy
I hope you enjoy the Hunt-and-Seek! Please feel free to share what you think in the Comments, okay? Thanks for visiting, and enjoy the show(s)!