What's worth checking out on Crunchyroll?
April 26, 2012 9:26 PM   Subscribe

I did not know of the existence of Crunchyroll until the Kids on the Slope thread, and I am excited to explore it. What do you think I might enjoy on the site?

I am interested in both the anime and the Korean dramas.

Anime I have enjoyed in the past:

Cowboy Bebop
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Serial Experiments Lain
Haibane Renmei
Ghost in the Shell

I don't know where to start with the dramas at all, but I like period pieces and have a high tolerance for silliness.
posted by calistasm to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is excellent. Can't recommend it highly enough.

(Fair warning, however: there is a fair amount of "cute girl reluctantly stuffed into maid costumes" fan service going on in some of the episodes. It stays pretty harmless as these things go, but it's bad enough to be a deal-breaker for some people.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:49 PM on April 26, 2012

One of the best series in recent memory is Mouretsu Pirates aka Bodacious Space Pirates Pirates. As I write this we're 16 episodes into it and it is fantastic. It is based on a series of light novels called "Miniskirt Pirates".

It isn't what you think. No fan service. No angst. The protagonist is Kato Marika, a high school girl who lives on a planet called "Sea of the Morningstar" in the Tau Ceti system. She's been raised by a single mother named Ririka. In the first episode Marika finds out that her father (who she never knew) died a few days earlier. He was captain of a privateer (a legal pirate) called the Bentenmaru. Ririka used to be a member of the crew. The terms of the Letter of Marque are that it can only be passed on to his child, and Marika is it. If she refuses the job, the Letter of Marque will expire, and once it's gone it is gone forever. (The reason for that gets explained later.)

Some people complain that it's a bit slow moving, but I haven't found it to be so. Lots of cool visuals, lots of wonderful characters, and in some sections of it there is lots of action. And Marika is an amazingly accessible and wonderful character.

New episodes come out on Saturday morning. The series is scheduled for 26 episodes, so we've got ten more to go.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:50 PM on April 26, 2012

If you liked Haibane Renmei, you might like Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I should warn you that it's a real downer in parts. But it's an astounding work of art, and an amazing story. It will tie you in knots, but when it's over you'll be very glad you watched it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:56 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Everybody in the universe should watch Space Brothers. It's about astronauts! I feel like I don't need to say anything more than that.

Sket Dance is silly and if you're okay with a high degree of ridiculous with the occasional soap-opera-style backstory, you will probably enjoy it. It has a huge cast of side characters and is very episodic, so you can sort of drop in, watch a couple episodes, and drop back out and not really miss much.

Usagi Drop is beautiful, funny, heartwarming, and overall a thousand times better than what you might expect. I think that if you like Haibane Renmei for its quiet, sometimes melancholy nature, you should give Usagi Drop a try, even if you don't like cute little kids. It tells a wonderfully subtle story.

Un-Go is a funky show based on old Japanese murder mystery novels that takes place in the near future after a war. There's a really interesting confluence of style, cyborgs, conspiracy, mysticism, and investigations into the nature of reality. It was kind of hit-or-miss for most people, but the people who liked it really LOVED it.
posted by Mizu at 10:27 PM on April 26, 2012

+1 for Puella Magi Madoka Magica. As a die-hard Utena fan, I really liked it for its weirdness and its deconstruction of magical girl tropes.

If you have a high tolerance for silliness, you may want to try out Polar Bear Cafe. It's a comedy about a polar bear who runs a cafe, and an extremely lazy panda who makes friends there. It's hilarious and I love it.
posted by Jeanne at 3:20 AM on April 27, 2012

Eyeshield21 is shockingly, amazingly watchable. It's a story about a highschool football team. In Tokyo. No, really...

You need to stretch your suspension of disbelief a =little= far, but really, once you get to the team with the Ancient Egypt theme, it's easy to just write off the inaccuracies and implausibilities and teenage athletes crying for minutes on end as "LOL Japan" and then get back to enjoying the story. (Is there a term for making a male character oversensitive and excessively emotional to appeal to a female audience? Kind of like the polar opposite of fan service...)

It does a fantastic job of characterization - it builds up opponents as horrible, unconquerable monsters you'd just love to hate... and then it swings around and shows you the story from their perspective, completely humanizing them in unexpected ways. Not villains, but rivals and competitors... and sometimes even friends to the main characters. The most unlikely supporting castmembers will often get entire episodes devoted to exploring their motivations, ambitions and insecurities.

Female characters are more than eyecandy and romantic interests, but respected and essential members of the team.

I really enjoyed it, and I usually don't have much patience with most anime series, apart from Cowboy BeBop.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:13 AM on April 27, 2012

I'm going to disagree with some earlier folks: I don't think the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya holds up, and Bodacious Space Pirates was *really* boring for the first four or five episodes before I gave up (though the first was fine).

Madoka Magica is good, as is pretty much anything Shaft, the studio responsible for it, has done in the past five years - before that they were more uneven. Pretty much everything they do has strong design sense and bizarre semi-serious humor as well as character tension.

Since you like Utena, you may enjoy Mawaru Penguin Drum, a recent series with the same character designer. I found the conclusion and ultimate overall story arc very disappointing, but it's beautiful and at the least the first half, while it's still full of mystery, is excellent.

Also on that note, and with regards to high silliness, permit me to recommend I'm Gonna Be An Angel!. I don't think the official english translation ever completed, so Crunchyroll may not take you all the way, but it was the second show Utena's director did after Utena, and it will have Looney-Toons surreal comedy, dark fantasy, and real human drama all in the same episode. I really haven't seen anything like it.

Also, if you like period pieces Gosick is really stylish.

In recommending other things, it may help if you describe what films you like when you're not watching anime.
posted by 23 at 6:52 AM on April 27, 2012

Response by poster: Regarding non-anime things I have enjoyed, I love Chinese/Asian period pieces and wuxia (and wuxia Chinese period pieces) like Warlord, Emperor and the Assassin, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hero, Musa/The Warrior, and House of Flying Daggers. My favoritest TV shows are Firefly, Buffy, Babylon 5, Arrested Development, and Veronica Mars. I am not expecting lots of deep witty repartee from the live action series, but I would like reasonably non-stupid plots and not too much melodrama.
posted by calistasm at 7:43 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the crunchyroll show closest to Utena right now - it's not at the same level, but there's a reason everyone is recommending it. Gankutsuou is The Count of Monte Cristo in space, and of course space ships are better than boats. A lot of people who like quiet shows like Haibane Renmei also like Usagi Drop, but I find it unwatchable because of how the manga ends. Natsume Yuujinchou is also really good, although some people do find it too slow and too "heartwarming."

Sungkyunkwan Scandal is about a girl who disguises herself as a boy to attend school in the 18th century. Comedy, drama, romance, etc. Coffee Prince is about a girl who is disguises herself as a boy to serve coffee. Comedy, drama, romance, etc. The Moon That Embraces the Sun has ridiculous amounts of drama, but it's really pretty. Historical dramas tend to have more episodes than contemporary dramas, so I haven't seen very many.

(non-crunchyroll suggestions: hulu has Tiger & Bunny, which is really fun, and Shiki, which is sort of a Japanese version of Salem's Lot. There's also The Devil, which is full of revenge and psychic powers.)
posted by betweenthebars at 8:02 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

As to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, it's very uneven. The series is another one based on a series of light novels, which have names like "The Melancholy of..." "The Sigh of..." "The Boredom of..."

And the problem is that the first book is the best one. The series went downhill from there, because at its deepest level the whole thing is a one-trick pony, and we saw the trick in the first episode. After that there isn't any dramatic tension, at least in the way of a long term plot.

The first book got turned into five episodes. The other 7 are stories from later books, and they really aren't as good. If they'd been run in chronological order, the series would have been a crash-and-burn because the end of the first book is the best climax the series has. So they mixed them up. It gives the series a kind of schizophrenic feel, as you bounce back and forth, and I didn't really care for it.

If you just watch the five episodes based on the first book, straight through, it makes an extremely good 5-ep story, and that's what I recommend. So watch episodes 2, 3, 5, 10, and 13. Then if you're intrigued and want to see more of the characters, you can go back and watch some of the others.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:05 AM on April 27, 2012

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