Fly me to the moon
February 13, 2015 1:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for Anime recommendations. I recently re-watched Macross Plus, and I forgot how much I loved this series when it came out, and then I realized that was 20 years ago. I'd love recommendations for stuff in this vein...

Some of my favorite stuff is future/cyberpunk-ish, but I'm not locked into an aesthetic. I love all things Miyazaki, my all time favorite is Akira, and I have very much enjoyed GitS, Macross Plus, and FLCL. I also recently re-watched Neon Genesis, and for all it's soap-opera-ness, it was very satisfying.

I especially love the music/tech/weird stuff. I remember really enjoying Perfect Blue.

Unfortunately, I just haven't paid any attention to anime in 10+ years. I'm sure there has been some amazing films and series made - what do you recommend?
posted by special agent conrad uno to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I highly recommend Paranoia Agent and Paprika by the creator of Perfect Blue. Both sort of defy description, but are rather trippy.

Although it's really old, I'd recommend The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, which is a comedy/drama sci-fi series set on a space battleship.

The current big anime is Attack on Titan, I'd say. Which features humans fighting a losing battle against giants in a mostly low-tech setting.
posted by Muttoneer at 1:39 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I assume you've seen all of Cowboy Bebop?
posted by jeffkramer at 1:41 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

If we're gonna go old school, I'd recommend Tylor (as Muttoneer did above), Martian Successor Nadesico, Patlabor, Witch Hunter Robin, Last Exile, Dominion Tank Police, Cowboy Bebop.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 1:44 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

My anime knowledge is about as dated as yours, but it sounds like we have similar tastes.

You might enjoy the productions of Yoshitoshi ABe, most famously Serial Experiments Lain, but more to my liking Haibane Renmei and Texhnolyze.
posted by grobstein at 1:44 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a real mindfuck. It's extremely well done, and for the first three episodes or so it looks like a remake of Card Captor Sakura. And then they jerk the rug out from under you, and it gets stranger and stranger.

One of the best shows of the last ten years. Although it's about something entirely different, it's what Neon Genesis Evangelion could have been if that director had been more competent. Shinbo, who did PMMM, is at the height of his career and is probably the best director working today.

Girls und Panzer is amazingly enjoyable, far more so than it should be based on the concept: Tank combat as a varsity sport for girls. The reason it works so well is characterization, but also tight plotting. At its core it's a classic sports story: unknown team of goofball outsiders enter the big tournament and are underdogs all the way, but still manage to win (or maybe not) in the end. It has an immense cast but that's handled adroitly so you never get confused by them. The tanks are all rendered and the models are really well done.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:46 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

I love all of the series that you mentioned, and I also came in to recommend Attack on Titan. It may seem "low-tech" but it is decidedly sci-fi in the giant alien?? monsters + fancy weapon system for protagonist type way.

The makers of Cowboy Bebop have also recently produced Space Dandy which is different, but also just like Bebop.

When I was devouring GitS/Evangelion, I also really loved Trigun.

Princess Tutu is a series that has far more to it than its name, or its premise (magical girl ballet dancers) would have you believe.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:55 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Not completely clear from your question whether you've seen the GITS TV anime, Standalone Complex. It's excellent (first season especially). It is one of the best examples of science fiction in popular media, and has turned out to be somewhat prescient about our current society.
posted by grobstein at 1:58 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

People speak very highly of Madoka Magica, a dark genre-bender. More recently, the same dude made Psycho-Pass, a dystopian future police procedural. Personally, his shows haven't held my interest beyond the premise. But they're names you'll hear for contemporary anime that's challenging.

Another title from the past few years is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which I think aims to skewer tsundere/ harem anime tropes but ends up partaking too much in them for my taste. Still, it is one of the most formally audacious TVshows I'm aware of. There's a block of like 7 episodes that have almost exactly the same script and storyboard (it's like a time loop). The show deserves credit for commitment. It also has a bleak emotional tone, not so unlike EVA.
posted by grobstein at 2:13 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Older c-punk-y stuff: Bubblegum Crisis (original or 2040), maybe? Also, yes, Standalone Complex.

Newer: uh, watch out for Attack on Titan. It's kind of... horror-y.

I watched a bunch of Knights of Sidonia on Netflix awhile back but didn't get through it, so maybe give that one a pass. It's got folk flying fighter-ships in space, though, and horrible monsters.

Last new series I watched (aside from Titan) was Wolf & Spice, which is character drama + medieval economics (seriously) + wolf spirit. Music's pretty enjoyable. Kind of a low-key series.
posted by curious nu at 2:14 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, maybe Eureka 7?
posted by curious nu at 2:16 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sometimes I hate not editing things and having to make new posts!

Anyway, Eureka 7 has giant mecha who surf through the sky, wunderkind protagonist and weird girl, aliens, then the plot gets crazy in second season (because: anime). Probably a good choice.

Also: RahXephon, which from what I remember, is basically Evangelion, down to the character ages/relationships, but with slightly different mecha background? Its been awhile but would probably work for you.
posted by curious nu at 2:21 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Absolutely RahXephon, which is everything Neon Genesis could have been if it wasn't oozing angst out of every single damn frame.

Other slightly older things which are also good fun:
- Revolutionary Girl Utena, which initially appears to be a kind of dramatised fight-your-way-to-the-top thing, albeit with a cute cross-dressing heroine, but if you persist with it becomes seriously weird. Seriously.

- Noir: unlikely female assassin pair with conspiracy involving the Mob.

- Samurai Champloo: an extremely unlikely trio of a wild guy, uptight samurai and very hungry young woman seeking the samurai who smells like sunflowers. There are some completely out there episodes and it's mostly good fun, though there are some weird things (zombies? baseball?) and it follows the pattern of suddenly getting extremely dark and depressing.

- Samurai 7, an anime series based on - you guessed it - Kurosawa's film, but set in a weird combination of an alternate feudal reality with extreme technology and mecha. Quite good.

- Last Exile, which I think starts very slowly but rapidly picks up and has simply gorgeous animation. Lots of retro-futuristic aviation, complicated politics and plucky young hero/heroine.

- Mushishi, which is really not a conventional series in that it's more a series of loosely-related short stories but is incredibly atmospheric. Gingko is a mushishi, who goes around troubleshooting unfortunate interactions between the spirit and human worlds, with a kind of microbiology flair. Beautiful and sombre for the most part. I keep meaning to watch S2 which came out recently.

- Gosick (pronounced gah - sick, like Gothic only not quite) is a bit more recent and ranges from quite cool to extremely cheesy. You have a blonde girl who is too little for her age who's brilliant and solves mysteries, the Japanese foreign exchange student who is slavishly devoted to her, and an overarching conspiracy between the Ministries of Magic and Science to keep it going. Not bad.

- Planetes, which unusually is all about grownups! Seriously! Some are pretty immature, but they're all old enough to be working in the real world, which is in the future where the rubbish in space is a big issue and their job is to clean it up. Sounds boring, but it isn't. Space is never boring!

I could keep going quite a lot, but will stop there and second recommendations for Haruhi Suzumiya, Spice + Wolf, Haibane Renme, Cowboy Bebop, Paprika, and Lain.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:57 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Tokyo Godfathers only fits your criteria in that it is Miyazaki-esque (although, really, it's Capra-esque), but it's great.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:37 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Like Miazaki? Try:

Yokohama Shopping Trip, a sweet, gentle, slice of life movie about a robot woman in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity if carrying away. And actually, the above paragraph is not a contradiction.

Natsumi's Book of Friends: a tipping man had been plagued since childhood with the ability to see spirits; he acquires his grandmother's booj that had the names of spirits in it, and determined to release those names to their owners...even as other spirits want to control that book...

Still the World is Beautiful: A young weather mage is sent on an arranged marriage to the ruler of a desert county who is busily conquering the world. Except nothing is as it seems.

Yona of the Dawn: in a fantasy version of Korea, a young princess witnessed her father murdered, and had to flee with only her bodyguard. She will have top gain allies and become stronger herself, if she wants to survive...

Scrapped Princess: the prophecy says that on the day she turns 16 Pacifica will become the poison that destroys the world, so her father orders her killed as am infant. Except she survives, and her burger and sister refuse to believe she's evil. And the prophecy and the world itself are not what they seem.

Gingitsune: Makoto, the daughter of a shrine priest, can see spirits, including the grumpy old fox who guards the shrine. Together, they act as mediators between spirits and humans in this supernatural slice of life drama.

Other stuff:

Log Horizon: on the day called the Apocalypse, 30,000 mmorpg gamers find themselves actually in a game world. Apparently immortal, highly patrol, they have to build a society in a world where the distinction between "Adventurer" and "Native" is rapidly eroding.

Rocket Girls: a fun hard-SF comedy. A private rocket firm has a plan to service satellites...but their rocket has a problem-too little payload. Now, if they can find some pilots who weigh under 50 kilos...enter a high school girl looking for her lost father- hijinks ensue.

Planetes- a low-key hard-SF story about the most unglamorous astronauts, tasked to clean up orbiting junk. Of course when a bolt travelling at orbital velocity can kill a spaceship, native it's not such an unimportant job.
posted by happyroach at 4:42 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Paranoia Agent, definitely. If you like the series, the Rebuild of Evangelion films are worth watching.

Toward the Terra (2007), epic space opera

Gurren Lagann (2007), giant robots

Samurai Champloo (2005), lots of style, not much plot, there is a baseball episode

Tiger & Bunny (2011), Japanese version of American superheroes, the main characters are grown ups

I love Madoka, but it was created for an audience that is familiar with moe and magical girl shows. My personal favourite of the past 5 years is Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume's Book of Friends), which is a sentimental celebration of the Japanese countryside and traditional folklore.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:13 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Dennō Coil seems like it's an excellent fit for you.

Strongly seconding Shojou Kakume Utena.

You might also consider Time of Eve, which is set in the near future where robot servants have become an underclass and the titular café is a space where humans and robots can mix socially and are asked not to speculate on the status of any of the other café's patrons.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:51 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have fond memories of the "Ghost in the Shell" TV series and movies.
posted by MansRiot at 8:05 PM on February 13, 2015

I have really been enjoying Aldnoah Zero lately.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:20 PM on February 13, 2015

I'm going to toss in a recommendation for Appleseed and its sequel, Appleseed Ex Machina. It's absolutely beautful and should fit in well with some of the other stuff you like.
posted by hanov3r at 9:33 PM on February 13, 2015

Response by poster: So based on the multiple calls for Madoka, I just started that and I'm already on episode 5. I am not familiar with magical girl shows, but this is a freaking great series that even my anime-not-liking roommate is watching with me. He might even like it more than I do.

Very excited to check out everything in this thread, thank you all for the recommendations so far.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 10:04 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I forgot one. Okay, probably not just one, but one that I absolutely must mention: Azumanga Daioh. A series about a group of high school girls who are not magic and have no major adventures but manages to be sweet and loony and hilarious. Sometimes a bit creepy with one of the ecchi teachers, but hey.

Thanks for asking the question, there's some stuff coming up here that I haven't heard of - and also another reminder to watch Madoka, which I keep meaning to get round to.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:13 PM on February 13, 2015

I like to use MAL to keep track of all my series but sci-fic/tech is kinda a huge genre. For me if I had to pull my top ten lists I'd need to a get a good idea of which series you've seen and liked or disliked.

Psycho-Pass: It's set in a dystopian Japan with the idea people can be sorted into Criminals and Not-Criminals using Sybil, a super-computer, who judged everyone since birth. Not all the episodes are strong in both seasons but it has a interesting concept and heroine.

Last Exile: Already mentioned but I liked the Victorian-styled character designs and world building. The ending was not the best imho.

Durarara!: S2 just started this season and I loved S1 for the catchy music and characters. Based off a light novel but they did a amazing job with adaptation into a anime series with a lot of characters. If you liked Baccano! you will like this series as it surpassed the former imho.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Brotherhood: A example of a shounen series that had a diverse cast of characters and one of the best anime series that I know of after a decade with the hobby. I recommend this version because it follows the manga and is well-written unlike the first one which branched off halfway. I'm a huge Bones fan so I may be slightly biased.

Gankutsuou: A clever re-telling of the Count of Monte Cristo and it got me curious about the book too. I liked how they added more background and sub-plots with minor characters which were somewhat bare bones prior. It's one of Madhouse's underrated series before they changed nowadays.

Seirei no Moribito: Original anime series by the famous author of Twelve Kingdoms and has great animation by Production I.G. One of the few anime series that feature a female main character who does NOT get into a romantic relationship somewhere along the way. The world building is impressive in the sense that it's based off a mix of ancient Chinese history and fantasy.

Dennou Coil: A fun series about the idea of the tech online world interacting with the offline one. Everyone has a cool pair of VR goggles and they investigate a odd rumor about a certain person and find themselves biting off more than they chew.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 3:41 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

special agent conrad uno: "Some of my favorite stuff is future/cyberpunk-ish, but I'm not locked into an aesthetic. I love all things Miyazaki, my all time favorite is Akira, and I have very much enjoyed GitS, Macross Plus, and FLCL."

IMO, Bones was the studio of 2000-2010 studio you should look into. They animated Fullmetal Alchemist, which was fucking excellent and you should watch it. They also did Xam'd was pretty good spin on the mecha genre, and many other shows I like: Eureka Seven, Darker than Black, Soul Eater, and a movie you should watch called Sword of the Stranger which has a Kurosawa / Miyazaki vibe.

There are two TV series (Stand-Alone Complex; 2nd Gig) and an original video series (Arise) of Ghost in the Shell. Two less violent takes on cyber-techno themes are Dennou Coil.

If you like punk but want more steam and less cyber, Last Exile and the sequel Fam, the Silver Wing are pretty good. Also Bacanno!! the majority of which takes place on a steam train.

Currently watching Rolling Girls, which has a FLCL vibe. The first episode really reminded me of Kill la Kill, with substantially less Gainax fanservice. Which you could also watch.

There's also some throwbacks you may be interested in. Eva did this reboot thing, in case that's not what you were watching, and there's a new Trigun movie, Badlands Rumble.
posted by pwnguin at 12:28 AM on February 16, 2015

+1 for Serial Experiments Lain, and +infinity for Haibane Renmei. Also, everything by Makoto Shinkai: 5 Centimeters Per Second, Voices of a Distant Star, and The Place Promised in our Early Days.
posted by jbickers at 8:02 AM on February 16, 2015

Response by poster: I JUST FINISHED MADOKA. I am freaking out over here.

Thank you, everyone, again.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 1:37 AM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

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