Within the past couple decades, there’s been a noticeably strong growing interest in anime – or Japanese animation – in the United States. At its height, it was seemingly everywhere you looked, whether you realized it or not.
But, for those of us who found the genre early, our interests have changed. I mean, sure, for nostalgia’s sake you may still spend an occasional Saturday morning watching Gohan completely own Cell, but there’s an undeniable need for more to satisfy our new tastes. The good news is that anime has grown with us and has some pretty great series to offer. But trying to dive back into the genre or venture in for the first time without a safety net can be pretty overwhelming.
So, if you’re interested in seeing what other kinds of great productions have made their way out of Japan, here’s a list of some good gateway anime to start off with. Some are critically acclaimed classics that have been around for a while, and others are more recent releases that are doing a good job at changing the genre while staying true to its roots.
Cowboy Bebop has something for everyone: action, depth, character development, and a great soundtrack that pulls from multiple genres. Throughout its 26 episodes, the series establishes a futuristic universe where bounty hunters – also known as “cowboys” – travel through space to catch wanted criminals for profit. The series’ main character, Spike Spiegel, is still considered to be one of the most popular anime characters ever created.
Bebop is credited with playing a major role in the growing popularity of anime in the U.S. To be honest, getting the series on Blu-Ray inspired me to write this list in the first place.
Hip-hop music blends really well with Edo-era Japan. At least, that’s the case with Samurai Champloo, which follows the story of two samurai that are complete opposites of each other in every way, ranging from their personalities to fighting styles, and a young girl on a mission to find someone from her past. This series is considered to be a fan favorite, probably because it’s viewable for stream on Netflix.
Attack On Titan
So far, only one season of Attack On Titan has been released, but fans are eating it up anyway. Think The Walking Dead except the walkers are over 12-feet-tall (sometimes taller), aren’t falling apart, can run faster than you, and have humanity on the brink of extinction. That’s the world that Eren and his companions have to live in. It looks like things are about to get pretty big for AOT in the next year, with two live-action movies on the way.
A lot of anime series are less than 30 episodes. But every now and then you get one that can go on for a while. And by a while, I mean over a decade; for example, Naruto. If you’re looking for a show that’s all about fighting, this is right up your alley. But of course there’s a detailed plot to explain everything and make you want to see how things end up.