With anime viewership observing a major hike amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a year into the lockdown, let us review what is it that makes the Japanese animation industry so popular among all age groups.
Anime is often, and very tragically, confused as merely “children’s cartoons”. Sure, with more common shows like Pokemon or Dragon Ball Z, this may be the case. However, it is crucial to acknowledge and understand the expansive variety of genres – ranging from action, comedy, slice-of-life, existential, etcetera, in layman’s language – that this industry has to offer.
You cannot possibly be a part of the weeb community without watching this shounen masterpiece. With over 700 episodes (both parts included), Naruto is as good as an epic in itself. But do not let the number overwhelm you. The anime revolves around a troublesome, young boy (Naruto Uzumaki) with a beast sealed inside of him, who only wishes to be acknowledged by his village. We have here a child who demands people to not discriminate against him for being different and to accept him for all the good that he is.
As Naruto embarks on his journey of self-fulfilment and tremendous growth, we, as viewers, are immersed in a world of loyalty to our comrades, sacrifices for our loved ones, and questions about what is right or wrong. The anime will make you laugh till your stomachs hurt, but it will also make you cry till your eyes dry out. So do be mentally prepared for this exciting adventure, dattebayo!
Tuturu! What’s not to love about a mad scientist, his nerd friends and their time travel antics? One of the best sci-fi stories in all of fiction, the plot is loaded with masterful twists and turns as Okabe Rintarou, our protagonist, tries to save his friends, his love and eventually the world. The lovable and relatable characters (read: top-tier waifus) hook you in for the ride pretty much instantly. Stellar direction and good production ensure that Steins;Gate is more than an anime; it is a staple of nerd culture. The only drawback is the number of tissues you will run through.
Haikyuu!! (2014- )
Shoyo Hinata, despite being restricted by his short height, is resolute on becoming a top volleyball player. Haikyuu follows his life after he joins the Karasuno prefecture’s high school team and is made to ally with his middle school rival, and child prodigy, Tobio Kageyama. An on-going anime, Haikyuu is not just for our sports-enthusiasts, but also for the couch potatoes as it ventures into aspects of building bonds, overcoming fears, growing and falling and then getting back up to become stronger.
The Karasuno team feels like your own family, with rival teams being distant relatives. Its other-than-protagonist approach allows the viewers to understand and grow with almost every character, as we learn to love their flaws and still vouch for them, despite their being from other teams. Unlike most sports anime, Haikyuu is also fairly realistic making it relatable and giving the appearance of watching real matches, only more exciting!
These matches often span over multiple episodes leaving you hungry for more. And, of course, who doesn’t want to see a whole bunch of good-looking volleyball players with wide-ranging and ever-growing personalities?
Sangatsu No Lion (2016-18)
March Comes in Like a Lion (Sangatsu no Lion), is about Rei Kiriyama, a high-schooler who is an elite in the world of shogi. Due to this, he faces an enormous amount of pressure, both from the shogi community and his adoptive family. As a 17-year-old living on his own, Rei tends to take poor care of himself, and his reclusive personality ostracizes him from his peers in school and at the shogi hall.
The highly emotionally charged anime follows him overcoming his struggles after meeting Akari, Hinata, and Momo Kawamoto – a trio of sisters living with their grandfather, and a troop of cute cats, who owns a traditional wagashi shop. Sangatsu no Lion has won a plethora of awards, including the manga division’s Grand Prix of the 24th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2021. Naturally, your anime journey would be incomplete without experiencing it.
Banana Fish (2018)
Based in the shady streets of New York, Banana Fish follows Ash Lynx, a white, seventeen-year-old boy, who is the leader of the biggest gang in town. On learning the words “Banana Fish” by a dying man – the words his older brother, Griffin, often muttered – Ash joins with Eiji Okumura, a young and innocent assistant journalist from Japan, and swears to crack the mystery while keeping Eiji safe.
With the manga being written in the late 80s and early 90s, the story is also highly progressive with its queer protagonists and racially diverse characters. From the very first episode, you will be gripped by its dark and mysterious art style with back alleys and mafia connections. The action in the show will shatter your teeth and the soundtrack will give you goosebumps. The characters will break your heart and just when you begin to pick up the pieces again, you’ll be shot back down by the gruesome plot.
Feature Image Credits: Animated Explanations