For those who want to get into animated films, it can certainly be intimidating considering the unfamiliar descriptors such as kodomo, shonen, seinen, josei, and kodomomuke which are used to describe the overall genre. And as our exploration of 20 Essential Anime for Beginners revealed, it’s a hot topic when there are perceived omissions.
If there was one unifying trait for the above subgenres, it’s that most animated films are action-packed, albeit interpreted in a very different way than your blockbuster. average Hollywoodian, who is often stereotypical and easy to predict.
Both dreamy and serious, these are the 20 animated movies and TV shows you need to know more about.
JoJo’s bizarre adventure
Jojo’s bizarre adventure is a series of eight separate stories that all revolve around a different character (all named JoJo, all part of the same family) who learns that they are destined to fight supernatural forces during the different time periods in which they live. .
Featuring vampires, Egyptian ghosts, mystery murders, 19th century New York City, and a soundtrack from ’90s pop group Savage Garden, this thing is bonkers! The adaptation of the live-action film of the same name by cinema legend Takashi Miike is also worth a look.
Comic book legend Warren Ellis writes a stunning video game adaptation that goes for the emotional jugular. The show has been on Netflix for two seasons now and watching Trevor Belmont arguing with Dracula and his cronies is a blast to watch.
Astro boy was designed for kids in the 60’s. So, it’s kind enough for today’s audience who are more used to a more violent genre. So why is it on an action anime roster? Because without it, there would be no list. 40% of TV owners in Japan have watched the original 193 episodes of this show. Without its magnificent renderings of a robotic future, who knows what the Japanese animation landscape would look like today?
Ninja scroll is one of the anime feature films that managed to infiltrate the west (likely via many college dorms on a sketchy VHS tape). There’s no real clever message or dreamlike subplot here, but there is a Ninja determined to fight a bunch of demons and do it in an amazing animation style that you still have for almost 30 years. later.
The sprawling fantasy epic of legendary animation house Studio Ghibli is a must-have for any anime fan. It is a slow combustion, but hyper-violent. A rich and enriching piece of magical and historical fiction that beautifully explores humanity’s impact on the environment.
Our titular hero of A punch, Saitama, is so powerful that he can end all battles with one punch. While this immense power may suggest a lack of drama in this animated action series, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Thanks to the depth given to the character of Saitama, the viewer must contemplate a Clark Kent existence where the internal battle is often more impactful.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
In a world where humans have been confined to living and working in isolated, underground communities by a cruel lord known as the Spiral King, two boys hijack a mecha named Lagann and join human resistance on the surface. This series features some of the biggest, craziest mechas you’ll likely see onscreen on this side of Mobile Suit Gundam.
My hero university
A newcomer, My hero university is becoming incredibly popular. In a world where having superpowers is pretty normal, Izuku finds himself one of the unlucky unborn without any. Obsessed with the idea of becoming a superhero, he enrolls in a hero school after a chance encounter with the world’s greatest hero.
The attack of the Titans
The attack of the Titans is a recent – but incredibly solid – addition to the action anime world that sees humans go up against massive, man-eating giants. Of course, it’s a lot more complex than that – and the gorgeous and creative renditions of the titans themselves should be enough to get you hooked.
Hunter x hunter
Gon, our young protagonist, discovers that the father he believed dead is not only living, but is in fact an elite member of humanity known simply as the “Hunter”. It’s a touching coming-of-age story with fathering issues, ethics, and tons of fighting.
Mobile Suit Gundam
It’s a familiar story in the anime world; a war-torn dystopian future in which an all-losing teenager finds himself piloting a prototype war robot across the galaxy, defeating evil in the name of good.
1979 Mobile Suit Gundam modeled that sort of thing. As a result, there would not be Pacific Rim Where Transformers if Gundam did not come first.
Dragon ball z
Is there still someone in the world who needs Dragon ball z Did he explain to them? The sequel to the original Dragon ball The series sees Goku – now an adult (and also an alien ?!) – on a quest to save his son, who has been kidnapped by Goku’s alien brother. The series is expansive, the fights are breathtaking, and its cultural impact is incredibly deep.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Two brothers use scientifically proven alchemy process to resuscitate their deceased mother, but accidentally lose their bodies and keep their mother very dead. Now joined in a quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone in order to retrieve their bodies, Fullmetal Alchemist quickly turns into an intense exploration of an alchemy-steeped government plot.
The teenager, Ichigo, reluctantly becomes a Soul Reaper tasked with defending humans from evil spirits and other Grim Reaper-related activities. In the 366-episode series, Igchigo and his classmates set out to save Rukia, the Soul Reaper who initially deputized for Ichigo but makes life-changing discoveries along the way.
The series gained cult status in the early 2000s – and despite some episodes being fillers (no one kicks her out of the park 366 times in a row, right?) – its story and character work in the whole have never disappointed.
A play is more than enough to keep you occupied for a while as there are over 860 episodes and that counts. Focusing on the adventures of teenage Monkey L. Duffy – and his obsession with becoming the world’s greatest pirate by obtaining the ultimate treasure (the One Piece holder) – he scores odd points for the fact that the body of Monkey is basically made of rubber because he ate a ghostly fruit.
A global phenomenon that touched a hungry Western audience thanks to Cartoon Network in the early 2000s, Naruto follows Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who wishes to be recognized as the strongest in his village. It is not there yet, however. The 220 episodes of the series are just plain fun.
Ghost in the shell
The dystopian future-noir sets the bar incredibly high with his sophisticated exploration of identity intricately woven through searing violence and a hail of bullets. It was massively influential in the east and west without Scarlett Johansson ever having to approach it.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion is the grandfather of ’90s Mecha-Anime. Credited with being so good that she essentially saved the TV anime at the time, the series follows a teenage boy, Shinji, who is recruited by his ex-father. to pilot a frontline combat robot against a race of demonic aliens called “Angels”.
If you get a bit of a religious vibe, you’re not wrong; Neon Genesis Evangelion literally means “The Gospel of the New Century”. It’s essential work that has been legendarily hard to come by (a DVD will cost you around $ 500 right now) but all is not lost. Netflix announcement that all 26 episodes will be available for streaming worldwide this year.
Yet another influential, rock-cold classic and a perfect entry point into the world of action anime. It’s almost a cliché concept now, but at some point in the past the idea of putting a western in space was a new and weird concept.
The series follows an eclectic team of misfits, hired killers, and hyper-intelligent Corgis as they make their way through the wasteland of the Solar System. Netflix just announced that a live-action remake will hit screens in 2019, so jump in on the action now and get to grips with this dark and inventive series.
Thirty years in the future (in a movie made thirty years ago … so now, basically) and Neo-Tokyo is a sprawling metropolis of crime, futuristic military tech, and biker gangs. The combination of these makes for a sublime tale of post-war catharsis and Cold War panic in one incredible narrative. It’s simply breathtaking, it’s the definitive action-anime, and it deserves your full attention.
For more recommended viewing, be sure to check out the best animated movies of all time.