In case you can’t tell, I like movies. A lot. I’ll watch just about anything, and indeed, I’ve spent a fair amount of time seeking out the strange and offbeat films that most of my friends have never heard of. When it comes to this sort of thing, I tend to go into phases. Hong Kong Action, Italian Horror, and Japanese Yakuza films (among many other genres) have captured my attention for a time. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that I’ve seen my fair share of Japanese animation. For the most part, my exposure has been limited to films, but I’ve seen a few series as well.

Now, I’ve consumed enough anime, and I read enough blogs in the Otakusphere, to know what I’m getting into here. I recently played along with the Filmspotting podcast’s Animation Marathon, which contained a bunch of anime films (several of which I’d already seen, but welcomed the chance to revisit). The marathon is over, but I feel like I’m just getting started. The only problem is that I’m not sure where to go from here. So, in an attempt to figure this out, I’m going to list out what I’ve seen, what I’m looking for, and some series I know about but haven’t seen yet. If you have any recommendations, feel free to drop a comment, but I’ve been cautioned to take recommendations with a grain of salt (which you kinda have to do for anything subjective like this).

What I’ve seen: (in rough chronological order)

  • Akira: My first forray into anime (unless you count Voltron) was largely unappreciated by me, thanks mostly to a horrible translation and bad transfer. I basically thought it was an incoherent mess (and I stand by that, given the crappy VHS experience), but when I revisited it during the marathon, I saw the new translation and digital transfer and was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t love it, as the characters were annoying and generally unlikeable, but my opinion had greatly improved.
  • Ninja Scroll: At the recommendation of a friend, I rented this once. I have almost no recollection of this movie at all. I wanna say there was a scene on a boat at one point. I remember liking it, but not loving it.
  • Ghost in the Shell: I enjoyed this movie the first time I saw it, but I have to admit that it was a little out of my teenage self’s league. I have since seen it several times and have grown to appreciate some of the challenging and thought provoking questions it raises.
  • Princess Mononoke: I distinctly remember watching a documentary on animation sometime around 1998 and seeing some clips from this movie and being awestruck. When it was finally released in the states, I jumped at the chance to see it and absolutely loved it. It’s a fantastic film… yet, I have to admit that I haven’t seen it since then and many of the details escape me. This is probably worth revisiting at some point.
  • Spirited Away: As much as I liked Princess Mononoke, this movie topped it, and when I learned that it was the same filmmaker, I was somewhat astounded. I rented it because it had won an Oscar, not because I knew it was from the makers of Princess Mononoke. It’s a great film, and I gave it the best film award in the animation marathon.
  • Haibane Renmei: There was a bit of a gap between Spirited Away and this series (which happens to be my first actual anime series), and I hold Haibane Renmei responsible for my more recent interest in Anime. I checked it out because of the enthusiastic recommendations of Steven Den Beste, and, well, just about everybody else who has ever mentioned it. Put simply, this series is superb. Some have claimed that it’s almost too good, and that everything else that follows will be a letdown. This might be true, but I’ve had about a year to cool off, and I think I should be fine:P
  • Cowboy Bebop: The Movie: I cought this on Comcast OnDemand, and thought it was great. Unlike most of what I’d seen before, this was just good, clean action-packed fun. The music was so great I went out and bought a bunch of soundtrack CDs and listen to them often. As far as anime gateway drugs go, I’d think this would be a good choice (right behind Miyazaki films, natch).
  • Serial Experiments Lain: This was my next series, and boy was it a doozy. I’d heard good things and the technological themes appealed to me, so I netflixed it. At this point, I’m still not sure what the heck it’s all about. As I mention in the linked post from the Kaedrin Forum, I think it’s perhaps a little too obtuse and deliberate, but also quite good. Once I figured out the “unreliable narration” angle, a lot of things clicked into place, but I need to watch the series again sometime to really work things out.
  • Grave of the Fireflies: One of the few movies in the animation marathon I’d never seen before, and, well, it’s great, but I’m pretty traumatized by this. Since this was the last new thing I’ve seen, I think my next movie/series should be something a little more upbeat. Please.
  • Miscellaneous Stuff: I’ve seen a handful of episodes from a bunch of series on Adult Swim, but this is far from ideal. I’ve seen a few episodes of Inuyasha, Fullmetal Alchemist, Witch Hunter Robin and a bunch of other series. For the most part, this stuff just went over my head, probably because I was jumping into the middle of various series, and so I never really got into anything there. I vaguely remember watching Vampire Hunter D a long time ago, but remember very little about it (I also remember watching some othe vampire hunter anime show, but again, don’t remember much). I remember attempting to watch some Mecha related anime movie on cable. For the most part, it didn’t make sense and I never finished it (don’t even remember the name). I watched Steamboy and was blown away with the visuals, even if I had totally lost interest by the end of the movie (same issues here as with Akira, which makes sense because it’s made by the same people). I also recently went back and filled in most of Miyazaki’s catalog, though there are still a few films I’ve yet to see. They’re all great, though I don’t think any approaches Spirited Away (Howl’s Moving Castle was awesome until about 2/3 of the way through, at which point it began to unravel).

That’s pretty much it. I’m sure I missed a few things here or there, but that should give you a rough idea where I’m at and what I think of the genre. Overall, it’s actually been pretty good to me, and there aren’t many movies/shows I disliked. However, at this point, I’m not really sure where to go next.

What I’m looking for: For the next series I watch, I’m going to impose a few somewhat strict guidelines. I want to watch a series, but not something too long. I don’t want to have to wade through 18 DVDs or anything absurd like that. A 13 or 26 episode series would be fine. At some point, I’m sure I’ll move on to longer series, but for now, let’s keep it relatively short. Sort of related, I’d like the story to be complete (or at least, the arc should be complete). I don’t want to have to wait for new DVDs to come out before I can finish the series! I’d like something that has a good story arc (i.e. a character or plot based narrative), and preferably one that doesn’t have a downer ending (I’ve had my fill with Grave of the Fireflies, thank you). I’m also looking for something that’s a little more action-packed and fun than what I’ve been watching recently (i.e. not something like Serial Experiments Lain). I don’t mind kid’s shows, but that’s not exactly what I’m looking for (I’m flexible on this one though). All recommendations are welcome, as I’ll certainly need something after this… but this is what I’m looking for at the moment. Oh, one last requirement, the series needs to be available on Netflix.

What I’m currently considering: I seem to have fallen into reading a significant portion of the Otakusphere (SDB, Fledge, Shamus, Pixy, Alex, Pete, and a couple of others), and even if I have no idea what they’re talking about most of the time, I’ll occasionally notice a title here or there, so I have some ideas as to what could come next. Two pages I’ve been referring to while writing this post are Steven’s reviews and Steve Yegge’s Anime post. Unfortunately, I’ve already had to nix a couple of series, but I haven’t looked real hard at most of these.

  • Cowboy Bebop: When I think about what I want for my next series, I keep thinking about the Cowboy Bebop movie. That’s exactly what I’m looking for, so you’d think this series would be a perfect fit. However, my understanding is that it has something of a downer ending. I’ll definitely be watching this series, and probably sooner rather than later, but not next.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico: I seem to recall hearing that this was an excellent series to start with, however, it sorta fails the Netflix test: disc 5 is not available (the other discs are). The series is apparently out of print, and apparently Netflix’s copy of disc 5 took a beating. This is most frustrating, as this sounds exactly like what I want. I might check to see if I can download the episodes on disc 5 and netflix the rest, but that just seems like a hassle. It sounds like a blast though, and I’d really like to check this one out.
  • Noir: I considered this because it sounds really interesting… unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to fit what I’m looking for right now. However, I am intrigued and will most likely watch this at some point.
  • Angelic Layer: Sounds interesting, but I need to look into it more.
  • Twelve Kingdoms: Based mostly on Steve Yegge’s enthusiastic recommendation. A quick quote from his post which has broad applicability to anime and foreign movies in general:

    You know how little kids at a certain age like to watch the same movie over and over and over again, for up to a year, and child psychologists say that each time they see it they’re seeing it from a new perspective? Well, 12 Kingdoms was like that for us. There’s so much for a Westerner to take in. We missed a lot of it the first time around. It took at least 3 or 4 viewings before the patterns started taking shape in our minds.

    Cool stuff. Still, I need to look into this series a little more. SDB was a little frustrated because it wasn’t finished yet, but at this point, I think it has finished (but I’m not sure)

  • Last Exile: Another Steve Yegge recommendation, though I’ve heard this has a bit of a downer ending too (but I need to look into that).

Well, since I’m significantly past my midnight deadline, I figure this is as good a place as any to stop. At this point, I’m not at all sure what to get. Maybe I’m being too specific with my requirements… Let me know what you think. Again, all recommendations are welcome and I’ll probably consider a bunch more than are listed above… or maybe I’m overthinking this and will be bitten by the paradox of choice.

22 thoughts on “Anime”

  1. Finding a series of that length actually shouldn’t be that hard.


    1. *DEFINITELY* Check out Cowboy Bebop. Cowboy Bebop is pretty much exactly what you’re looking for, I think. It’s got a complete story, a great combination of continuity and stand-alone episodes, top-notch voice acting on the dubbing, and is ridiculously accessable (even if you’ve got very little exposure to anime).

    2. You might enjoy the OVA of Read or Die. It’s slightly goofy, but is a great six episode action series. I haven’t checked out the full series, just the OVA, but the OVA is tons of fun (plus, it’s totally steam-punk!) It definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s got some really memorable visuals.

    3. This isn’t quite what you’re looking for right now, but eventually, if you’re interested in checking out the *classics*, you should pick up Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s very dense, and the ending is… um… complicated, but you tackled Lain and liked it, so I don’t think you’d have too much trouble with Eva.

    4. Speaking of mecha, I also suggest checking out Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS Team. It’s a four disc series, and it’s a really good introduction to the world of Gundam, and a really good example of the Real Robot genre (as opposed to Super Robots like Voltron or The Big O, or what-not). Again, this is a pretty accessable series.

    5. Irresponsible Captain Tyler – I think this is available on four discs, and is a *hiliarious* series. It’s a little on the older side, now, but it’s tons of fun. It’s a spoof on the space-opera genre, but you really don’t need to have much exposure to the genre to appreciate the ridiculous humor and action.

    6. Trigun – Another hyper-cool series. It’s a kind of a steam-punk space Western comedy. Lots of action and lots of humor plus some super cool designs and a great soundtrack = all kinds of cool.

    Those should be enough to get you started.

    But… yeah… *definitely* watch Cowboy Bebop. What a bloody brilliant show.

  2. It actually turns out that I had added Cowboy Bebop to my Netflix queue a while ago. If I don’t end up adding a series to the queue soon, I may end up with CB just out of sheer laziness (I think there are 3 or 4 movies ahead of it right now, and I’m too lazy to rerank this crap…)

    Then again, a coworker just dropped off DVDs of most of the Heros episodes, which I’m told I need to catch up on…

  3. I despised the ending of Cowboy Bebop. As I watched the series I was hooked by it, but the ending ruined it, and I’ve never rewatched it. I would not be able to enjoy it if I watched it again because of the knowledge of what was coming. Despite what Roy says, Cowboy Bebop is not what you want now.

    Nor, I’m afraid, is Noir. It is superb, and the ending is excellent, but it’ll tie you in knots.

    ROD (OVA or TV) is too stupid. Give it a miss, for now.

    I don’t think Twelve Kingdoms is a good choice, because it isn’t finished. It’s 45 episodes on 10 DVDs, but they don’t finish the story because the book series on which it’s based also hasn’t finished the story. Unfortunately, the author got tired of it and started writing other things, so there’s no telling when, or if, the story will ever be completed, and even if the story in the books is completed there’s no telling when, or if, the anime will complete it.

    The “Black Kirin” story arc was extremely frustrating, for instance, because it isn’t complete. As told it has a happy ending, except that we also know that something terrible happened later — and we never find out what, or why, or how it happened. It’s something the book author intended to come back to later — and never did. Definitely not recommended as a gateway drug.

    Martian Successor Nadesico would have been perfect. It’s a damned shame it’s out of print.

    Trigun has a twist ending, I’m told. It might even qualify as a “Gainax Ending” though it’s not from Gainax. I’m told that it’s funny for most of its duration, but turns dark at the end. I myself have decided not to watch it, even though I’m a big fan of the seiyuu who did the voice of Vash.

    Most of those would be good choices to watch later, once you’re comfortable with the genre. They’re not good choices for beginners.

    I think you should seriously consider “Banner of the Stars”. You can watch it without having seen “Crest of the Stars” first. It’s 13 episodes on 3 DVDs, and if you want action, it’ll give you action. It’ll also give you interesting characters.

    But an even better choice would be Vandread, and Vandread: Second Stage. Between them that’s 26 episodes on 8 DVDs, but the first half has a good ending at episode 13. There’s plenty of action, engaging characters, comedy, a bit of tragedy but not enough to depress you, and just about the best ending you could ask for (both endings, in fact). The only real drawback to the series is that it’s letterboxed, and I think murderous thoughts towards Gonzo every time I rewatch it because of that — which I do more often than I would have believed I would just before I watched it the first time.

    You asked for recommendations. My recommendation is Vandread.

  4. Thanks Steven. I wish you’d tell me what you really think of Read or Die though. Don’t dance around the issue.

    Seriously, I have to admit that RoD sounds kinda fun. I was actually considering that until I realized that the OVA wasn’t available on Netflix (there is a 1.5 hour movie and a 7 disc series, but no 6 episode series that I could see).

    Vandread, on the other hand, is available and is now in my queue. I should get the first disk this week. It sounds interesting, and I like the idea of a 13 episode series with an option for 13 more.

    I’ll probably end up watching Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and Banner of the Stars after that (not necessarily in that order).

  5. Mark, I think back of your reviews and I just think of you like Charles Solomon, only not obsessed with an anime-hating madman’s grudge. When I saw GiTS, I didn’t even pay attention to the tree of life. I saw it, recognized it, and thought: “yah whatever”. So, I think you need to cut directly to production of top directors. For example, you might love Voices of the Distant Star. Hey, stranger things happened. In the same vein, I’d ask you to look at “Memories” and “Millenium Actress”. I am fighting the urge to sick you on “Junkers Come Home” and see what comes out…


    From series, actually I am having difficulty recommending. Steven passed Someday’s Dreamers over for some reason, although I thought he identified some food for thought in it. That’s probably the one which comes closest to “brain engaging” series of what I’ve seen (and what is available on Netflix). I am afraid to give you something like Dai-Guard. You might blow its friend-finding naivite to bits.


    I suspect it might be interesting for you to see Samurai 7, oddly enough. Especially saw if you saw both the Akira Kurosawa’s classic and “Magnificent Seven”. I was pleasantly surprised by the direction this remake took, and I think comparing it with other remakes may be a good food for thought. But I am not sure about it. Your call.

    (BTW, some people complain about it being “predictable”. Pure insanity. Of course it has to be predictable. They made THREE films in which Kong falls off a building and dies. How can it be anything else?)


    I can’t pass the opportunity to reply to suggestions, too.


    Last Exile had some (spoiler free, IIRC) decent reviews at and I think you better check into it before renting. Visuals are great. But I found it ridiculously overhyped. I hate this fake 18-th century chic, too (it’s like worst of Sakura Wars and Gundam W combined). So I dropped it very very early, not giving it a good chance.


    On Steven’s website, don’t go for his review list. Look at the “Future Series” list. I find its compact, capsule format comments spot on, and they provide sufficient information despite their size.


    I second Banner of the Stars. I’m sure you saw a few live action military classics. In anime, Banner is a towering classic of the genre. Unfortunately, the only Western movie of the class which I saw was “12 O’Clock High”, and that one was more about leadership, whereas Banner is more about the life in the trenches. Banner is animated cheaply and applies enormous amounts of stock reuse. I find myself struggling to maintain the immersion because of that. It’s like Russian war movies which show Yak-18 in place of Bf-109. But if you can stay one with the action, it’s a superb trill.


    Vandread – perhaps works, especially considering your intellectual bent. I was not impressed, but I haven’t completed the Second Stage yet (damn you Netflix! Throttling bastiges!). I think Steven oversells Vandread in exactly the same way I oversell Stellvia. Both are equally strong in some areas, both are equally weak in other areas, both are driven by characters (which is good). Mercifuly, Stellvia has less bickering, but the background story is probably not as watertight. Both have tremendously satisfying endings, and a “beta” ending in the middle. Both have mecha which is just a storytelling vehicle. Twin series really, and a perfect example to illustrate how subjective recommendations are.


    Cowboy Bebop, I think I’d pass. I was so tired of it by the end that I do not even remember the ending. I was just happy that it was over.


    ROD OVA is crap. I bought into its James Bond theme, and rued it very much thereafter. ROD RV I haven’t seen, but now it’s a suspect in my book.


    Irr. Captain Taylor seemed not anything beyond comedy. I am sure its partisans can find characterizations in it, but that requires pretty big magnifying glass. Don’t go anywhere near it.


    EVA, is a “classic”, that’s true, but in the same time its “thought-provoking” themes are often considered phony. I’m afraid that your sophisticated taste may get insulted by it.


    I don’t have good enough exposure to the rest, so I’ll refrain from retelling hearsay.


    [BTW, “Preview” button merges all paragraphs into a complete mash. I added visible paragraph marks by hand, I hope comes out readable…]

  6. The “1.5 hour movie” is the OVA. It’s a very strange, un-anime-like packaging: 3 1-hour episodes. They may be split into 6 standard size episodes for broadcast, but it’s not the “natural” size. In any case, skip that garbage.

  7. Ah, yeah, the 1.5 hour “movie” is the OVA- I didn’t have the DVD in front of me. It’s broken up into episodes. Probably only three, though.

    And, yeah, it’s stupid. The premise is ridiculous- a group of super-hero archivists who are some kind of cross between the Library of Congress, James Bond, and the Justice League?

    *Of course* it’s stupid.

    Personally, I found it *fun* stupid, and it sounded like the kind of thing you were looking for- something light and fun with action and a contained plot.

    I missed the part about not wanting a downer ending- if you don’t want a downer ending, you should probably pass on Cowboy Bebop, for now. The ending didn’t bother me as much as Steven, and I definitely liked it more than Pete, and I think it’s a fantastic series, but the ending is definitely kind of a downer.

    Eva, phony? I have to say, I’m surprised, Pete. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard someone describe it like that. I know a few people who were *really* angry about the ending, and I know people who found it too dense or too dark, but I’ve never heard someone say that the themes were phony, or that they felt insulted by it.

  8. I didn’t mention Someday’s Dreamers because our host said he was looking for an action series, and Someday’s Dreamers, though superb, is just about as un-action as a series can be. (Even though the Tokyo Tower does get trashed.)

    Someday’s Dreamers is all about characters and atmosphere. If that sounds interesting, I recommend it strongly. But from your description of what you were looking for, Vandread will be more to your liking right now.

  9. My sole recommendation would be Kino’s Journey. It reminded me a lot of Haibane Renmei in many ways, but it was more cerebral and less emotional. Other reviewers have said that tehcharacters are not engaging but I disagree; I really found myself drawn in. The short-short-hort episodic format also worked well for the plot.

  10. Pete, I love that your comments contained references to many series/movies I had never even heard of, and will probably look into a bunch of them.

    I think I should mention that while I love and usually seek out “brain engaging” stuff, I’m not all that opposed to the stupid-but-fun stuff either. I like dick and fart jokes. I love bad stoner comedies and cheesy scifi and/or horror films, and honestly, ROD sounds fun to me. Not something I’d obsess over, but something that would keep my attention and entertain me. Generally, I don’t post about these movies because, well, there’s not much to post about. But a movie doesn’t have to have deep themes or symbolism to engage me (indeed, an overuse of symbolism often infuriates me. I’m looking at you, Oliver Stone!) Like you cautioned in a previous comment, it’s all subjective.

    Like I said, you mentioned a bunch of stuff, so I’ll have to look into them a little more, but I did want to mention that Someday’s Dreamers was on my radar, but I never got around to looking at it. Samurai 7 would be interesting, if only to see an animated remake of a classic film. Stellvia sounds decent, and I’m intrigued by some of the ones you’re hesitant to recommend, simply because of the way you mentioned them (like Junkers Come Home).

    Roy, With respect to the downer endings, that’s not something I’m inherently opposed to, I’m just not in the mood right now. I will _definitely_ take on Cowboy Bebop at some point. From what I’ve heard, I probably won’t like the ending, but I’m willing to give it a shot because the rest of it sounds great. After all, you’re talking to a guy who loves Neal Stephenson, an author known for bad endings (which I don’t really get). Warnings of stupidity aside, I’ll probably check out the ROD OVA at some point too.

    In the end, I got what I wanted out of the responses to this post. A whole bunch of stuff that I can look into and watch if I’m interested. I had some general ideas, but from this stuff, I can probably develop my own roadmap and that’s what I was looking to do.

  11. Thanks for all the comments guys! Like I said, I’m looking for something action packed and fun right now, but I’ll definitely be moving on to different things. One of the things I like about Anime is that it seems to be very broad.

    Fledgling Otaku, Kino’s Journey is another one to put on the list. By the end of this, I’m sure I’ll have a dozen series I want to see, so I think this was good.

  12. Evidently I’m losing it. Indeed, “Someday’s Dreamers” is not action. I should’ve checked against the outlined product requirements but I checked against the desirability model instead.

    So, it looks to me, the stack is going down like this:

    – Vandread (complete)

    – Banner of the Stars

    – Last Exile (subject to consultation with Fledge)

    – Cowboy Bebop

    – ROD (OVA or TV?)

    Also, there’s a bunch of stuff on the B list, like: Witch Hunter Robin, Samurai 7, etc. Too many to list.

  13. Pete, Yeah, that’s pretty much the stack, though I think I’d add Trigun and maybe Noir to that list. Time permitting, I might go through all of the suggestions listed in this post (amongst some others I know about) and make a more definite roadmap.

    Thanks again for everyone’s help!

  14. Just in passing, I thought I’d make clear: the “Cowboy Bebop” movie is an anomaly. It fits into the series continuity after episode 23, more or less just before things go completely to hell, and the situation as you see it in the movie has only existed for a couple of episodes before that point. Sadly, it is not representative of the series as a whole.

    I like the movie too, and it’s the only thing in the series I’ve been able to rewatch, precisely because it is an anomaly.

  15. Mark, I’m going to go against the grain of Pete, Steven, et al here and actually RECOMMEND R.O.D.!

    The OVA is 90 minutes of silly fluff (this is a good thing); the series is deeper, but no less enjoyable for all that. No, it’s no classic, but it fits your ‘want list’ to a T.

    Another series you may want to take a look at is Ghost In The Shell: Stand-Alone Complex. A big dollop of action, good characters, and a lighter tone than the movies (though still thought-provoking, it’s not as philosophically brain-killing), with the added benefit of being on Cartoon Network, so you can check out an episode or two for free.

    Eventually, Death Note will be available on DVD (you can currently d/l episodes from… Viz, I think, for a fee); it’s a lot darker than the above titles, but a good watch. Not action heavy, but a nice, taut drama all the same.

    Don’t watch Evangelion until AFTER you’ve watched a bunch of others. You’ll either love it or hate it, and if you hate it, you’ll mistrust ALL anime forever.

  16. It may be a bit early in your anime experience to take on a show like Excel Saga, but with the ADV notes included on the disc, you may be able to get through it with some measure of sanity left.

    “A 13 or 26 episode series would be fine.”

    26 episodes

    “I’d like the story to be complete.”

    As complete as can be expected from a show that picks on mangaka, otaku, Japanese pop culture, and other anime genres for fun.

    “I don’t want to have to wait for new DVDs to come out before I can finish the series!”

    All 6 discs have been out since 1999.

    “I’d like something that has a good story arc (i.e. a character or plot based narrative), and preferably one that doesn’t have a downer ending (I’ve had my fill with Grave of the Fireflies, thank you).”

    There’s only a thin veneer of plot arc. This is the show’s primary weakness. The cast is slowly expanded, and there is a climactic battle, but none of it is very serious. The ending is not a downer. Neither is the “final” episode, but it should not be watched with small children or people suspicious of anime in the room.

    “I’m also looking for something that’s a little more action-packed and fun than what I’ve been watching recently (i.e. not something like Serial Experiments Lain).”

    The heroine dies 1..2… 3? times in the first episode. It’s so utterly silly that a serious episode is inserted near the end as a joke.

    “I don’t mind kid’s shows, but that’s not exactly what I’m looking for (I’m flexible on this one though).”

    Not a kid’s show by any stretch of the imagination.

    “All recommendations are welcome, as I’ll certainly need something after this… but this is what I’m looking for at the moment. Oh, one last requirement, the series needs to be available on Netflix.”

    If you have a quick eye and a quick finger on the pause button, you should be able to manage this show with the provided notes and make some sense of it. It shows up on Netflix, but having never used the service, I can’t verify availability. Or, you wait until you feel you have a better grasp on anime and Japanese weirdness before taking on this one.

  17. A couple of additional suggestions, both on Netflix.

    Tenjo Tenge: 26 ep high school fighting anime based on the manga by Oh! Great. Lots of action, but the characters are fun and the back story is good.

    Sakura Wars TV: 26 eps based on the fighting/dating sim.

  18. One thing about Trigun: The first half is happy and silly. Lots of fun to watch. It does slowly get more serious as time goes on.

    However, I won’t call the ending dark at all. It is very serious. It has the final shootout which most series have to have. But the final scene is anything but dark, it is a new great beginning.

    Steve- You should reconsider this one. It’s the only anime I disagree with your reviews on!

  19. I’d also recommend Trigun. I’ll also toss out Fantastic Children, and for a bit of fun, Grenadier.

  20. Wonderduck, I’ve maintained all along that I think I’d enjoy ROD, but it’s nice to have another solid recommendation.

    Will, Thanks for the recommendation, but Excel Saga doesn’t seem right for now. However, I’ll put it on the extended list…

    Jim, I’m almost afraid to ask what “fighting/dating sim” means:P More for the extend list, methinks.

    Thanks everyone for commenting!

  21. I’d definitely second Crest/Banner of the Stars, though I do think that it would be better to watch Crest first. Banner can stand on its own, but there is a lot of character development in Crest, and I think Banner might be a bit dry if you hadn’t already built up a bit of attachment to the characters. There’s also some important backstory. Crest and Banner I are only 26 episodes episodes combined.

    Samurai Champloo, made by pretty much the same people as Cowboy Bebop, might also be worth looking at. It’s deliberately anachronistic, and I found that a bit jarring in places, but the production values are very high- the first half of episode 14 contains the coolest single sequence I have seen in television anime. Even if you don’t watch the series it’s worth tracking down someone who has it to see that episode.

    One slightly obscure title that I thought was very well done is Berserk- Netflix does have it. This one comes with some caveats though- the themes are very dark, and the series is unrelentingly serious in tone. The ending is actually the first episode in the series, and it could be considered a downer, even though the hero wins. Anyway, Berserk is not for the squeamish.

    When you’re ready to watch something longer, I’d strongly recommend Full Metal Alchemist. I think it stands head and shoulders above any other shonen anime I’ve seen, and the length is manageable- it’s 52 episodes on 13 discs. I’m not suprised it went over your head if you caught a couple of episodes in the middle- this one really has to watched in sequence, as it’s very tightly plotted.

    That is one of FMA’s real strengths- I find most longer series, anime or otherwise, slack. FMA is not- it is very deftly paced. It drags a bit for a few episodes around the halfway mark, but when it picks up steam again it maintains the suspense right up to the end.

    The episodes are also really varied in tone, going from quite dark to slapstick to contemplative in a blink, and I think that is part of why it held my interest over so many episodes. The world it builds is also very detailed, and interesting in its own right. I really liked it. The movie was quite disappointing though, IMHO.

  22. SDB explains the fighting/dating sim part in his review here:

    “In the beginning there was a computer game. It was actually a dating game, and the Ohgami character was the player’s avatar, who had to establish good relations with all the female characters in the game, while fighting and winning a war against demonic invasion.” The TV series is darker than the OVA, but it still got three and a half stars.

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