We outline the top anime available to stream at your fingertips as well as the best places to find it all!
This is a 2nd part! Enjoy reading!
Available on: Adult Swim, FunimationNow, Hulu
Dragon Ball is one of the biggest, most successful anime franchises of all-time. Even before there were mainstream blocks like Adult Swim’s Toonami to cater to anime, Dragon Ball was one of the series that made it over and help break barriers for other series. Even if you’ve never seen Dragon Ball then you’ve at least heard of the anime series, which looks at the world/universe-saving exploits of Goku’s family and friends as they face increasingly dangerous threats. The long-running shonen series is far from perfect, but whether you’re a fan of tournaments, crazy abilities and even crazier transformations, or unique, lovable characters that actually grow, there’s a lot to enjoy through the various Dragon Ball series.
The anime was long dormant, but with the debut of Dragon Ball Super a few years back, it seems like the property has never been more popular or alive. Dragon Ball isn’t the most important anime to watch from this list, but it’s nice to know that it’s available for whenever the show’s comforting energy is needed.
Available on: Crunchyroll, Hulu
If there is any show on this list that demands a binge-worthy approach to viewing, it is Erased. Think of Zodiac and all of the best engrossing serial killer stories mixed with the best sort of supernatural weirdness and you’ve got Erased in a nutshell.
The series looks at a character that experiences “revivals” when disasters strike, allowing him to go back in time a few minutes and prevent this wrong from happening. However, one such incident sees him flinging back in time twenty years to when he’s eight years old, stuck in his childhood trying to prevent a much bigger crime from happening that has its roots in the past. Erased builds such suspense (especially since the stakes are the lives of children) and you really just want to watch the next episode immediately after finishing one. It’s a slow burn, but telling a really nuanced, emotional story with unusual elements that it doesn’t lose itself in.
Available on: Amazon Prime, Crunchyroll
Eromanga Sensei operates with a very Three’s Company degree of logic to it, but there’s such a sweet story at its core. Masamune Izumi is a budding writer, but he can’t draw to save his life. An illustrator who goes by the name “Eromanga Sensei” communicates with Masamune online and illustrates his novels. Together they build a popular manga series through their odd relationship. Masamune also has a 12-year old sister, Sagiri, who’s a shut-in and stays in her room 24/7. What’s the big deal? Masamune’s little sister is actually Eromanga Sensei, his manga collaborator!
Eromanga Sensei finds its sweet spot with the unusual but endearing relationship between Masamune and his sister. What also makes this series so much fun is that it’s all about writing and drawing. It’s an anime that gets to be about manga and anime.
Available on: Adult Swim, FunimationNow, Hulu
FLCL is a coming-of-age story as if told by William Burroughs or Alejandro Jodorowsky. Each iteration of the series looks at a complacent pre-teen or teenager who’s lost over the future and the hurdles of adulthood. FLCL puts such relatable themes in a blender with absurdist plotting and surrealist animation and the result is one of the most unique, infamous anime series to hit the market. FLCL is a vespa-riding, alien invading, sentient guitar-playing take on adolescence and even if certain aspects of the series go over your head, it’s always a delight to watch.
FLCL plays things fast and loose with it animation style and it incorporates many different aesthetics to illustrate its lost mental state. You may not always understand the show, but you’ll always be in awe of it. FLCL never slows down and even when the show doesn’t quite work, it’s still an astounding experiment that taps into deep pockets of humanity.
Adult Swim recently co-produced two sequel series, FLCL: Progressive and FLCL: Alternative that don’t quite carry the same manic magic as the original series, but they remain faithful to the show’s unique perspective. If you ever feel lost in life, pop on some FLCL to feel better (although be careful of the show’s dangerously addictive soundtrack).
Available on: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix
Gurren Lagann is set in a future dystopian take on Earth where most of humanity is forced to live underground in remote villages. Two teenagers who are eager for more out of life and desperate to venture out to the surface come in contact with a powerful mech, the Lagann, and use it to brave the dangers above ground and challenge the evil Spiral King, Lordgenome's, tyrannical rule.
Here's the thing about Gurren Lagann, it starts off very slow and definitely takes some time to get going, but once it does there's nothing holding back its awesomeness. The whole point of the series is that events build and domino into each other, so although the series starts at a small place in scope, it's absolutely ridiculous to see the level that everything's at by the end of the series. Hang through the opening chunk of the show and the rewards that follow will be well worth it. There are many great mecha series out there, but Gurren Lagann deserves respect for its slow build and how out of control the series gets before you even realize what's going on.
GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka
Available on: Amazon Prime Video
Great Teacher Onizuka is such a twisted morality story that it sneaks up on you slow subtly that you don’t even realize what’s happened. Eikichi Onizuka enters the series as slacker ex-gang member with few prospects. After an unattractive teacher steals Onizuka’s date, he determines that teachers must hold a strong sexual power over their students. This random event reshapes Onizuka’s entire life and he becomes a teacher! However, through the process he inadvertently develops a strong sense of morals and is no longer interested in doing something as depraved as hooking up with students.
As Onizuka’s quest goes on, he finds himself hungry to become the best teacher of all-time and happy to dispense his unique outlooks on life to help his class. Onizuka turns into an inspiring mentor to dozens and it’s amazing to see how this “bad guy” finally figures out what his passion is in life. Great Teacher Onizuka will make you feel warm inside, but it’s also funny as hell. Onizuka’s embarrassing antics never disappoint and the show finds the perfect rhythm for its comedy. With 43 episodes available, Great Teacher Onizuka is the kind of comforting comedy that’s there for you to binge watch and relax. Live your best life.
Happy Sugar Life
Available on: Amazon Prime Video
Happy Sugar Life is one of the darkest series that you’ll ever come across, anime or otherwise. It may even cause some viewers to tap out due to its extreme subject matter, but those that stick around will see a gripping character study that chronicles cyclical abuse and the worst versions of Stockholm Syndrome.
Happy Sugar Life looks at Sato Matsuzaka, a high school girl who kidnaps a small child named Shio because she’s madly in love with her. Now this isn’t a sexual love, but purely romantic and this child is just so innocent and pure that she tunes out all of the darkness in Sato’s life. Sato goes to any lengths necessary (like murder, for instance) to keep Shio locked in her home and a secret to the public. The series follows the very worst of deviants, but its dark perspective and Sato’s sugary sweet fantasies make for a strangely addictive curiosity.
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto
Available on: Crunchyroll, Hulu
Sometimes overpowered characters in an anime can be exhausting because they suck all of the tension out of a scene. However, Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto harnesses this energy and makes it the entire point of its series. The premise of Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto is incredibly thin: Sakamoto is a high school student who’s incredibly popular and excels at every little thing that he does (the show’s banging opening credits song does a great job at how Sakamoto effortlessly becomes the king of everything). That might seem like a limited angle for a show, but the anime makes Sakamoto’s God-tier skills a constant delight. Rather than get annoyed at how Sakamoto is always at the top, the anime turns it into a brilliant game of tension.
The bullies and other jealous students around Sakamoto continually try to get the better of him and knock him down a peg, but it never happens. Sakamoto always has the perfect solution and his increasingly ridiculous escape plans are part of why the show’s so fun. It’s like Sakamoto is a magnet for good luck, and he can’t help it if things like his friend’s mom falling in love with him happen. Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto finds the perfect kind of energy for its comedy and it’s hard to not fall in love with Sakamoto, just like every else.
High Score Girl
Available on: Netflix
High Score Girl is likely the only “Arcade Love Story” out there on the market, but it should be mandatory viewing for any fans of retro video games or sweet love stories. The series is set during the height of arcade culture in the 1990s and looks at Haruo Yaguchi, a boy who doesn’t care about anything other than video games. He suddenly meets his match at the arcade in the form of Akira Oono and the two are immediately in each other’s orbits in this unconventional love story.
One of the best things about High Score Girl is the very real passion that the series and Yaguchi have towards video games. The love here is very addictive and the series highlights plenty of formative titles like Mortal Kombat, Splatterhouse, lots of Street Fighter II, the release of the PlayStation and Sega Saturn, and the general transition from video games in arcades to the console market at home becoming more feasible. It also makes such a difference that these are all real video games that High Score Girl uses for its examples (and it often shows actual footage from the titles). This anime is such a goldmine for fun history and nostalgia towards '90s video games—especially if you grew up through that era—but it also tells a sweet, humble love story between two kids. Plus, it’s impressive that Oono doesn't say a word throughout the entire series, yet you still completely empathize with her and want to see her be happy.
Inuyashiki: The Last Hero
Available on: Amazon Prime
nuyashiki is easily one of the best anime to come out in the past few years. Its storytelling even rivals that of great American serialized television. It’s just that good. Right from the start it presents the sort of story that immediately gets your attention and lets you know that you’re watching something special. Inuyashiki is an elderly man whose family seems to hate him and are totally unappreciative of his existence. One night he goes for a walk in the park and some sort of alien explosion rocks the area. When Inuyashiki comes to, he appears to be a super powered robot with insane abilities. He uses these new powers to help those in need and even learns that he can heal and bring people back to life. Suddenly Inuyashiki has a purpose in life and watching him reawaken straight up made me cry on multiple occasions.
A bratty teenager is also at the park when the explosion happens and he turns into the same robot that Inuyahsiki becomes. This kid, however, is a psychopath and begins mass murdering individuals at an alarming rate. It’s terrifying how callous he is and what this power brings out in him. Some scenes are genuinely hard to watch and it doesn’t take long for him to become one of the most dangerous murderers that the country has ever seen. Suddenly Inuyashiki has a “rival” and the two are pit against each other in a bizarre, infinitely interesting way. This series is a thrilling examination of what people do with power and it balances humble moments of humanity with disturbing violence and insane action. Everything it does hits hard and its ending is perfect in its precision and poignancy. The animation is also stunning in its depiction of these human/robot hybrids and the “minimalist” (ie. finger guns) approach to the violence.
Inuyashiki is a series that I will be absolutely shocked if some savvy American director doesn’t opt to turn into a movie within the next few years. It’s an absolutely beautiful story that boils down to the universal concepts of good and evil. Catch it now and get ahead of the game. At eleven episodes it’s an extremely easy commitment that you’ll wish was longer.
That's it for today! Don't miss the next part!