What are some good anime series/films?
October 5, 2010 7:19 PM   Subscribe

What are some good anime series/films?

I'm in the mood to watch anime, but I'm not sure what to watch. Due to many recommendations, I recently decided to get both Haibane Renmei and Texhnolyze which are anime TV series. I'm captivated by the character design of both these series and am looking forward to checking them out. I've yet to watch them, though.

If you recommend stuff, try to recommend hidden-gem/semi-hidden-gem stuff. So this means no Cowboy Bebop, no Dragonball Z, no Pokemon and nothing by Studio Ghibli (I love Studio Ghibli films but I've seen pretty much all films made by them).

I wasn't going to bother asking this question here at MetaFilter, but I was sick of coming across so many "Best anime" lists on anime sites only to come across recommendations made by, who I assume to be, children; I also came across lists comprised of the usual recommendations. The films/series either didn't appeal to me or were already known by me.
posted by GlassHeart to Media & Arts (45 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Try Planetes. It's hard sci-fi about orbital junk collectors.
posted by demiurge at 7:29 PM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you like steampunk and don't mind weird-goes-off-the-rails-in-the-finale scripting, Last Exile is a neat little bildungsroman about kids and flying, among other things..

If you liked Haibane Renmei, you might like Kino no Tabi / Kino's Journey.

I have a soft spot in my heart for all things Macross (it, in part, became Robotech in the US; there's lots of other Macross properties that didn't make it overseas and are mainly available as fansubs).
posted by Alterscape at 7:32 PM on October 5, 2010

(Also seconding Planetes, on failure-to-preview).
posted by Alterscape at 7:32 PM on October 5, 2010

Some old school favorites:

Star Blazers / Space Battleship Yamato
Captain Harlock
Queen Emeraldas

I used to watch a lot of anime but haven't seen much in the past 5-10 or so years. These are the ones I remember liking a lot:

Samurai X
Fushigi Yuugi
Cardcaptor Sakura
Legend of Lodoss War

These suggestions might be outdated, but now you've got me wanting to watch them again. I'll have to dig up my DVD's from storage.
posted by loquat at 7:33 PM on October 5, 2010

Thirding Planetes. I think I found it through recommendations here. It is good. And has extremely minimal drawn-out awkward. Which makes me happy.

Dennou Coil. Most of the characters are small kids, but I don't think it's really kid-oriented. Also almost entirely romance free, which I consider a plus. Technology-everywhere theme.

Summer Wars. (movie) Also Technology-everywhere theme.

Kaiba. Total weirdness. So weird.

House of Five Leaves. Entirely morose (but somehow not in a bad way) samurai drama. With minimal action.
posted by that girl at 7:35 PM on October 5, 2010

Robotech isn't exactly underground, but it is old and wonderful and heartbreaking and action-packed and surprising and they could never play it on TV for kids today.
posted by radiosilents at 7:43 PM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, Donnou Coil was rather good, and I believe I enjoyed the first "series" of .hack

If there are recommendations similar to those two, I would also like to know.
posted by lundman at 7:50 PM on October 5, 2010

I really liked Trigun. Had a certain sweetness to it.
posted by roue at 8:08 PM on October 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, Paranoia Agent, and Tekkonkinkreet are the three best anime films I've ever watched, and they really don't get talked about nearly enough.
posted by paradoxflow at 8:09 PM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

I and Young'n'StillGood can both heartily recommend both Scrapped Princess and Full Metal Alchemist. We are split on recommending the Hellsing series - I think the small TV-series run is pretty good, while she thinks the OVA's of Hellsing are better.
Also chipping in a +1 for Trigun, but I found the ending episode a bit lame.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:19 PM on October 5, 2010

What do you consider hidden-gem kind of stuff? I don't really have a sense of your taste.. but Gainax's newest anime, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, is freakin insane, like a vulgar Powerpuff Girls past puberty (and I love it.. no idea if you'll like it).

I really enjoyed Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood (can't really speak towards the first series), and didn't find it to be aimed at children or anything. It's a long series but did a great job at staying engaging throughout.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 8:23 PM on October 5, 2010

I really like Satoshi Kon's Paranoia Agent and Millenium Actress.

Paprika is also quite good.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 8:26 PM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'll join the chorus of people recommending Planetes, as I have done a couple of times before.

It is simply one of the greatest pieces of SF ever made. In any medium. Ever.
posted by pts at 8:28 PM on October 5, 2010

Mushishi - example ep - weird like X-Files creepy weird. Like proto-life insect things that accidentally get mixed up with people every once in a while and weird happens.

Honey & Clover - kids at art college, some love triangles, obsessions, mysteries, rather good.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:31 PM on October 5, 2010

Welcome to the N.H.K. is about hikikomori!
posted by CutaneousRabbit at 8:37 PM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I also like anime that has that "odd" (slightly skewed? narratively unusual? characters hard to pin down? something like that...) feel to it, so I'd recommend:

Serial Experiments Lain, Rozen Maiden, Ergo Proxy, Speed Grapher.
posted by Iosephus at 8:41 PM on October 5, 2010

I love love love Otogi Zoshi, and it hasn't been mentioned yet. I'll second Paranoia Agent and Paprika, as well. I'm still working my way through Mushishi, but I like what I've seen so far. The art is very pretty and it's a different kind of fantasy.
posted by lriG rorriM at 8:48 PM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

One of my favorites is Last Exile. It's a mix of things, holds a few surprises, and is absolutely beautiful at times.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:33 PM on October 5, 2010

Ditto Paranoia Agent & Serial Experiments Lain.
Adding Mind Game.
posted by juv3nal at 10:02 PM on October 5, 2010

Probably my favorite animé series is Kare Kano, or His and Her Circumstances. It's a series set in a contemporary high school. Nothing magic or high-tech or anything. It's just about a relationship between a high school couple. It's extremely well done and I think of it often (note: I feel obliged to mention that this series is in no way creepy at all, unlike the often quite excellent Azumanga Daioh, which suffers from a creepiness factor). It's made by Gainax, best known for Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Oh, and you mentioned that you had seen all the Studio Ghibli, but I want to make sure you've seen Whisper of the Heart. A lot of friends of mine who are animé fiends have given this one a pass because it's not directed by Miyazaki or Takahata, but it's one of my favorite Ghibli films.
posted by Kattullus at 10:02 PM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll second (third?) Paprika and Millennium actress. Throw in Memories. (screenplay by Kon I think.) Twisted sci-fi thriller stuff that takes a second or third viewing.

Ghost in the Shell SAC is also good - not as good as the movies but good. I like it mostly because there's more of it. I'm not sure if it's considered mainstream.

Battle Angel (Battle Angel Alita) has two OAVs. Too short, but might get you in the manga, which is really good.
posted by Sallysings at 10:07 PM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not to long ago, I became the acquaintance of a sort of Anime God (at least to me), with a wardrobe filled with stacks of anime movies and television shows. He reverently placed in my hands the show
Fate/Stay Night

And I have since come across the rather cool show

Samurai Champloo
posted by DisreputableDog at 10:46 PM on October 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing Lain as Yoshitoshi ABe is involved in the two that you mentioned.

Neon Genesis Evangelion 1.0 (original) and 2.0 - classic
Ruroni Kenshin OAV , not the series
Gurren Lagann
posted by p1nkdaisy at 11:00 PM on October 5, 2010

graveyard of the fireflies may not be an obscure movie but it is apparently dropping off the radar of a lot of folks, especially teens weened on cartoon network.

The only other offhand unmentioned titles I can think of are Boogypop phantom, great teacher onizuka, cutie honey, excel saga and axis powers hetalia.
posted by beardlace at 1:44 AM on October 6, 2010

Wings of Honneamise is in a similar vein to Planetes, in that it's more contemplative hard sci-fi than the usual big robots thing. Although if you want big robots, Gundam 08th MS is decent attempt to do a 'realistic' mech combat show.

The various Ghost in the Shell films and series are very good, especially the first film and both series of the anime. Avoid Ghost in the Shell 2.0, it's a disappointing upgrade to the original film with some distracting CGI bits added. The actual sequel Innocence is OK though.

Mamoru Oshii's other films Blood: The Last Vampire, Jin-Roh and The Sky Crawlers are also worth a look.
posted by permafrost at 3:45 AM on October 6, 2010

Don't know how mainstream it is but The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has been my favorite anime since it came out.

Other favorites would be:
Ouran High School Host Club which is one of the funniest lighted hearted romantic comedies I've seen lately.
Wolf and Spice which a story following a merchant and wolf-diety that I also found funny but surprising in its economic depth and plot intricacy. The chemistry between the two main characters is probably the best I've seen in any series which was the big draw for me.

Can't think of any action series that really stood out in any of my recent watching though Full Metal Panic! is another favorite but I'd consider it mainstream and not much of a hidden gem. Also I'll fourth Planetes.
posted by woolylambkin at 4:28 AM on October 6, 2010

If you like ninja at all, there's Nabari no Ou.

Other random series that come to mind: Higurashi no naku koro ni, Yami no Matsuei, Monster, Black Heaven, Kyo Kara Maoh, Gankutsuou, D. Gray-Man, and Fushigi Yugi.

And for some old school anime, Black Jack is really good.
posted by Anima Mundi at 5:15 AM on October 6, 2010

Monster deals with a criminal psychopath/sociopath and the people his life touches, focusing largely but not exclusively on the doctor who saved his life as a child. There is a lot of depth of character, elements of horror, and some disturbing (graphic and otherwise) violence in the series.
posted by thatdawnperson at 5:23 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Old school: Tenchi Muyo and Patlabor.

New School: Kekkaishi.
posted by Hanuman1960 at 5:48 AM on October 6, 2010

I was captivated by Red Garden, a supernatural schoolgirl drama (note: lots of crying) with a few random moments where the four main girls burst into song. Takes place in NYC and it often had a Sex and the City feel to it which I'm sure was intentional. The style is very beautiful and unusual.
posted by wundermint at 6:15 AM on October 6, 2010

Seconding Gurren Lagann (ridiculous and giant robos)
Ghost Hunt (about a team of paranormal investigators)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (one of my all-time favorite anime films)
Claymore (a bunch of half-demon chicks fight demons)
Nijuu Mensou no Musume/Daughter of 20-Faces/Chiko, Heiress of the Phantom (has a lot of names, it's about a girl who teams up with a famous burglar)
GunXSword (more giant robos)
L/R (two British special agents team up to do special-agenty things)
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:42 AM on October 6, 2010

Some of my all time favorites not yet mentioned:

Hajime No Ippo/Fighting Spirit, a boxing anime. Believe me, I was skeptical at first that a boxing anime would be worth watching, but it's suspenseful, very funny, and has terrific action and a lot of fun, well-developed characters. The new episodes, not so much, but the original series is very long and very good.

Cromartie High School, which is one of the funniest shows I've ever seen. Not everybody who likes anime find the humor in it clicks for them, but it sure did for me. It's really well-written for a comedy series.

Golden Boy is a fan service anime, but it's also very much a comedy and has THE funniest facial expressions.

Seconding Excel Saga. If you like mech and haven't seen it yet I would recommend New Getter Robo. I also really enjoyed JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
posted by heatvision at 8:32 AM on October 6, 2010

Some of these may be popular, so bear with me.

Ergo Proxy
Utopian/Post-Apocalytpic science fiction where humanity lives in dome cities using robots as slave labour. It's done superbly and while it seems to drag on in the third quarter, it has an intelligent backbone to it and maintains it through the ending.

Serial Experiments Lain
One of my absolute favourite series. It's as Cyberpunk as Cyberpunk gets, and yet distinctly Japanese. It focuses on a girl called Lain, a shy and reclusive type who got left behind while all her classmates went on to become savvy with technology. As Lain buys her first PC and discovers the Internet, she develops two alternate personalities. Insert cyberpunk conspiracies, metaphysical questioning, and all the depth of a Gibson or Stephenson novel. The series also has this unique pacing where there's plenty of slow, deliberate shots with a droning in the background. Strongly recommended.

Black Lagoon
More crazy than anything, Black Lagoon just shows you what anime can get away with. Set in the real world, Black Lagoon follows a mercenary outfit as they get involved in everything from human trafficking to Yakuza gang wars to neo-Nazis hunting treasure. Very tropical and very Western and very random, it's firmly rooted in the dark recesses of today's criminal underworld.

Wolf's Rain
A popular one, so I won't do a long descrip. Notable for its art and how soul-crushingly depressing it can be. Nice work that straddles fantasy and post-apocalyptic sci-fi.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
It's pretty much Grave of the Fireflies set in modern day Tokyo. If you've seen GotF, then you probably won't like this one so much, but it's still very heart-wrenching in its depiction of the mentality and experience of earthquake survivors. Also has an ending that... will leave you depressed for a long time.

Totally wacky series about a psychiatrist who takes some rather forward approaches in treating his patients. It's funny and has a psychedelic art style that's hard to hate, but it's no biggie. All the episodes are stand-alone, too. It'll be interesting if you know anything about psychiatry, though.

The Tatami Galaxy
A hilarious series on college life, where the protagonist takes alternate versions of himself where they lead a different campus life in college, and all inevitably lead to the same state of zero-fulfilment and defeat, as he tries to find out which path of his life will lead him to that "rose-coloured campus life". Recommended, even if just for the Borgesian/Kafkaesque finale.

Also see:
Hell Girl (Horror/Deal with Devil)
Trinity Blood (Gothic Sci-Fi with Vampires)
Le Chevalier d'Eon (Supernatural-infused historical set in the French Revolution. Fascinating artwork and historical accuracy, but gets boring later)
Durarara!! (Probably best described as a cross between a political thriller and magic realism)
Angel Beats! (Afterlife, and how to get out of it)
Arakawa Under the Bridge (Comedy, mostly very Japanese comedy, but funny with its insane characters)
Also, seconding Mushi-Shi - terrific anime.
posted by Senza Volto at 9:00 AM on October 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing Cromartie High School. Freddie Mercury and a gorilla are main characters. That's all you need to know.

Also nthing Serial Experiments Lain. Serious, strange, poignant and beautiful.

I'm a little surprised no one has mentioned FLCL or Paranoia Agent. FLCL has great music, giant robots, and the exact right amount of absurdity and self-consciously over the top action. Paranoia Agent is a highly psychological semi-noir mystery that's beautifully drawn and executed.

You mention no DBZ, but have you watched the original Dragonball since you were a kid? I hadn't, until I did... It's before they'd gotten into the whole dudes-grunting-for-seven-episodes-before-anything-happens thing. It's surprisingly funny and dirty. Most of it went over my head as a kid.
posted by cmoj at 10:28 AM on October 6, 2010

I'm a little surprised no one has mentioned FLCL or Paranoia Agent.
Paranoia Agent?
posted by juv3nal at 11:17 AM on October 6, 2010

Sue me I skimmed for linked words.
posted by cmoj at 1:00 PM on October 6, 2010

I just found out my favorite manga about a journalist/food criticky-sort of guy called Oishinbo has an Anime series based off of it. It would probably be considered a more mature series as it would bore the hell out of any kids that watched it. I hope it's as good as the manga.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 1:11 PM on October 6, 2010


Recently completed series that I've enjoyed since that question have been:
* Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
* Ookamisan to Shichinin Nakamatachi
* Occult Academy
* Hakuouki: Shinsengumi Kitan

And, I would strongly suggest catching up on the monthly-for-a-year series Katanagatari.
posted by Citrus at 1:16 PM on October 6, 2010

RaXephon is one of the best giant robot anime, if you're into that. There's also Neon Genesis Evangelion, which has never had a decent ending - not in the TV show, and not in the movie sequels. They're currently making a remake movie quadrilogy. The first two so far have been promising.

FLCL is my favorite anime of all time. It's not a "hidden gem" in that everyone I know who watches anime loves it and has seen it half a dozen times, but oddly it's never the first anime people mention when you ask about anime. It should be.

Nthing Paranoia Agent.
posted by Rinku at 4:23 PM on October 6, 2010

Arashi no Yoru Ni (One Stormy Night) is a pretty fantastic hidden gem if you manage to find it. It's about wolves and sheep, though, so it may not feel like anime depending on your preferences. Great story about friendship, though.

Windy Tales is a slice of life series with a unique animation style and plenty of heartwarming neatness, though I admit I never watched the entire series. If you can find it, you are a better (wo)man than I. But maybe it's been better localized since.
posted by vienaragis at 1:59 AM on October 7, 2010

My friend and I watched 5 Centimeters per Second the other day, and it was one of the most visually beautiful and emotionally touching animes I've ever seen. Some people think that Makoto Shinkai is going to be the next Miyazaki, and I can understand why.
posted by archagon at 2:42 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Haven't seen Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit listed yet... It's not like other anime I've seen (although my experience is limited)-- the main character takes no shit, there's no fan-service (seriously none, so if that's what you're looking for go elsewhere), and the characters are absolutely believable.
Filler episodes are also pretty much nonexistent.
posted by lockstitch at 9:39 PM on October 7, 2010

I present the AniDB rankings, by ratings. In the absence of any disclosed preferences, this is the place to look. There's other site that perform similar rankings, but this is the one I use.

Nth'ing last exile. It's pretty awesome, even if there's a bit too much obvious CG. I liked FLCL, and there's a few more from that group, like Gunbuster and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Also worth finding the Daicon shorts if you can.

I haven't tried it, but it would make sense of AniDB has some kind of Bayesian recommendation system based on your own ratings. In their absence, you could always start figuring out which studios did stuff you like and see what else they've done. Gainax and BONES for example. Or follow the manga author. For example, the guy who did Ghost in the Shell also did a series called Real Drive that explores the same subjects with a bit less gunviolence and less robot lesbian sex scenes. Your call on that one, I guess.
posted by pwnguin at 4:02 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Senza Volto: "Black Lagoon
More crazy than anything, Black Lagoon just shows you what anime can get away with. Set in the real world, Black Lagoon follows a mercenary outfit as they get involved in everything from human trafficking to Yakuza gang wars to neo-Nazis hunting treasure. Very tropical and very Western and very random, it's firmly rooted in the dark recesses of today's criminal underworld.

Also an awesome show, but as a warning/clarification, the show does a pretty good job of making the neo-Nazis look like the good guys compared to our anti-heroes at one point.
posted by pwnguin at 4:07 PM on October 10, 2010

Great thread happening, here's 4 that haven't already been mentioned:
Ghost Hound - Amazing in all respects, the reviews don't do this justice, just because it's so hard to quantify Nakamura's style. Note it starts slow and you need to be older the 21yrs (or have a really good eduction in psychology and enjoy experimental music) to full appreciate this
Natsume Yuujinchou - Although completely different, it some how "feels" like Haibane Renmei.
Gantz - I think they were trying to push how much they could push past the censors and get on TV. If you like Claymore or Berserk you may enjoy this.
Azumanaga Daioh - Comedy/Slice of Life/Highschool anime. The humor is very off beat and not for everyone, but it's highly rated for a reason, I'll let your discover that reason

Join My Anime List. Don't use it for the Top 100 lists, although they're interesting. This site is prefect for answering questions like "I liked X, what is similar?" or "I like this director, what else has he done?" I've found lots of great works that way. Here's my profile to start you off... not that expansive, but it might be a good start, just sort by score :-)
posted by flyscan at 4:53 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

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