by Alex McPhail
Something that I have learned during my time in college is that it is important to take care of yourself. Between classes, schoolwork, clubs, work, and sleeping, I find myself with little free time. Despite this, I try to take a little bit of time each day, usually before bed, to do something I enjoy. This something for me is watching anime.
Anime is essentially Japanese cartoons, but let me be the first to tell you that it is far from any cartoon with Western origins. There are some good Western cartoons, but nothing compares to anime. Whether you’ve watched anime before or this is your first time hearing about it, I’m going to let you in on some of my personal recommendations of what is definitely worth watching.
I watched this show over the summer per recommendation by a coworker and I have not stopped obsessing over it since. It has easily become my favorite show. It is about a war that breaks out after a 15-year ceasefire between Earth and the Vers Empire, which was established on the planet Mars with the help of an ancient technology known as Aldnoah. There is a lot more to the show than simply that, but this show establishes the plot and characters very early and will have you hooked within just a couple episodes.
While I didn’t want to have this list include too many similar shows, if you enjoy shows about wars/mechas (giant robots), I would also highly recommend Code Geass and Gurren Lagann. Code Geass is very methodical in its strategies and battles whereas Gurren Lagann has got some great humor, emotion, and over-the-top animation.
2. Mob Psycho 100
This show recently finished airing and lives up to all of the hype surrounding it. It is about a boy, Mob, who is very average except that he is a powerful Esper. From a young age he can tell his psychic powers are dangerous and he lives without expressing much emotion in order to keep his powers under control. However, events in his life threaten this and test his limits.
I absolutely love this show. It has such a unique animation style, lovable characters, and is a great mix of humor, action, and emotion.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Highly-acclaimed by many, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a great series all around and also great for beginners looking to get into anime. It is about two brothers who lose their mother at a young age. The two are talented alchemists and so they attempt to bring their mother back to life, but their plan backfires. Not only are they unsuccessful, but in the process one brother loses an arm and leg and the other brother loses his entire body, only his soul remains intact within a suit of armor. Their journey then takes off as they search for the Philosopher’s Stone in order to recover their bodies.
Quick distinction to make, if you go to look up this series you’ll also find a series just titled Fullmetal Alchemist. This version was released before Brotherhood and while the beginning of the series is relatively the same, it eventually deviates and takes on its own story. This is because when it was airing the manga had not yet been finished and so they had to go off on their own with the story. Brotherhood is the later series and follows the manga in its entirety. While the original series has mixed reviews among fans, Brotherhood is hands down a must watch.
Kiznaiver is another newer show that really caught my eye and had me feeling very excited and emotional with each episode. It is about a group of high school students who are chosen to become “Kiznaivers”. Within the “Kizna System”, they become connected and experience the emotional and physical pain of one another. They are then forced through missions and trials to grow closer and develop their bond in an experiment to create peace through this system.
Psycho-Pass is another very popular starter anime. It has got some logic and thinking behind it, but has a really great story and premise. It is set in the future, in a Japan run by the Sibyl System. This system measures the mental states of those in the city and determines how likely they will be to commit crimes (as assessment called Psycho-Pass). Akane Tsunemori is a new inspector who has to work to keep the system in tact while a plot arises to bring down the system.
If you’re looking for a more methodical, “smart” show involving science and time-travel, Steins;Gate is the show for you. While it starts out a bit slow (in my opinion), it easily picks up and becomes a show you can’t tear yourself away from. It is about a self-proclaimed mad scientist who likes to invent “future gadgets” with a hacker friend and childhood friend of his. Most of their inventions come up with less-than-desirable results until one works and throws them into a string of mysterious events that they have to overcome in order to get the future back in order.
And that concludes some of my top recommendations! Again, this is just some of my personal favorites within a particular niche of shows I enjoy. There are many other genres of shows and I would highly encourage you to do a little research and find a show that is perfect for you!