As a fan of anime, there are some anime series that you just need to have under your belt. Not just to quench your undying thirst for anime, but to also make references to during anime conversations to garner the respect of your peers.
Here are 5 anime series which will allow you to do just that but, before we continue, a little disclaimer:
There are way more than 5 anime series to accomplish this feat but, for the sake of brevity, we’re going to stick to these 5 which I’ve listed below in no particular order.
Trigun started off as a Japanese manga series and was then adapted into an anime television series in 1998. It follows the journeys of Vash the Stampede, a highly skilled gunman with a mysterious past. Vash is followed by Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, insurance agents hoping to minimize the damage and destruction that he is notorious for. Notorious why? Well, Vash also happens to have a 60 billion “double dollar” bounty on his head and a dangerous reputation which means he is constantly pursued by legions of bounty hunters who are trying to capture him by any means necessary. Dead or alive.
Trigun is an intriguing watch with its paradoxical delivery. For one, the protagonist Vash is a feared, expert gunfighter rumored to have wiped out a whole city. Despite that rumor, he professes to hate killing and seeks non-lethal resolution when dealing with hostile confrontation. The show itself has a serious undertone yet is laden with whimsical scenarios and dialogue. Overall it’s a very entertaining watch.
Cowboy Bebop is a critically acclaimed series from 1998 and is, arguably, one of the greatest anime titles of all time. The series boasts smooth, stylish artwork and animation (especially for its day), a compelling storyline – driven by its equally compelling cast and a well composed Jazz/Blues infused soundtrack.
Set in the year 2071 it follows the lives of bounty hunters (Cowboys), Spike Spiegel (the main character) and his partner Jet Black (yes that’s his name) and the rest of the small crew that they happen to accumulate during their travels aboard their spaceship called Bebop.
This anime isn’t just a shoot-em-up hunt for bad guys (the action scenes are very well done by the way), it straddles concepts of loneliness, camaraderie, romance, tragedy, life-purpose, and more.
Samurai Champloo is a series from 2004 set in a fictional Edo-era Japan. You’re gonna see a lot of samurai swords. Despite it’s historical setting, the tone of the show is very hip-hop as is blatant in its soundtrack. The animation is very fluid and well produced as is apparent in the fight scenes.
The story follows Mugen, an innovative and highly skilled samurai; Jin, a traditional and equally skilled samurai; and Fuu, a girl who works at a teahouse. The adventure begins when Jin and Mugen are captured by the authorities and are about to be executed but Fuu somehow saves their lives and in return makes them promise to help her find the “Samurai Who Smells Like Sunflowers”.
The contrast between the characters, the show’s contrasting tone and settings, along with how the story unravels with this unlikely trio make it a very captivating watch.
Death Note, a series from 2006 which was adapted from a manga series, is hailed as one of the greatest animes of all time. If you have the misfortune of being introduced to the horrible American live-action adaptation first, do not let it deter you, the original Japanese anime series (which I’m referring to) is a gripping psychological thriller.
The story follows Light Yagami, a high school student who comes across the “Death Note”; a mysterious black book from another realm. This book belonged to Ryuk, a Shinigami (death god), who purposely “lost” it in the human realm so he could see what would happen when it was found.
Light soon becomes aware of the book’s ability to grant its owner the power to command the death of anyone whose face and name they know. From here we are taken on a dark, thrilling ride, where morale and the value of human life are constantly challenged; the lines between hero and villain are blurred; and the plot thickens with twists, turns and surprises that leave you on the edge of… whatever you’re watching from.
Space Dandy is a series from 2014 which follows the misadventures of Dandy, an alien hunter in search of rare aliens solely to turn them in for money. Dandy is accompanied by his robot sidekick QT and their accidental friend/shipmate Meow (also accidentally named that due to his feline-like appearance). The series reeks of gorgeous, bright, colorful visuals, and a funky soundtrack all reminiscent of the disco era at its finest.
The show has quite a sense of humor from the comically pompous Dandy and his obsession with female boobs and butts, to the uselessness of Meow, and the childlike naivety of QT. These three characters although so different, pull off quite an entertaining chemistry amidst the silly and often absurd nature of the show. Throw in the fact that the series follows some sort of loose continuity, where as in one episode the characters may die and be back in the next like nothing happened, you have, in my opinion, a frivolously fun anime experience.