Japanese Anime can be quite weird in someways, I mean you never really know what you’re going to get it and while the graphics and art is almost always exceptional the stories and interaction between some of the characters is sometimes not at all what you would expect.
One of my major gripes with Japanese Anime is the incest taboo that they seem to keep skirting – quite often this is between siblings – as well as the sometimes gratuitous nudity. However with that being said, because of the medium and format, the stories that are sometimes presented could not have been presented in any other way.
In this article I will try to cover the top five best (in my opinion) Anime currently available on Netflix.
Number one – Sword Art Online (SAO)
In this show there are almost two different stories at work. In the first half thousands of players are trapped inside a virtual reality environment very similar to Guild wars or World of Warcraft where they need to continually gain experience points to advance from dungeon to dungeon. However the one major difference is that if they die inside the game they also die in real life too!
In SAO however vs. the current crop of MMO’s available is that in this game, you can only use your sword and while you might get “special” combination attacks and moves, magic is not a factor of the game.
As the story progresses over the course of a dozen or so episodes the characters either band together to try and help each other in guilds or they try to settle in the lands and areas of the dungeons which are all quite distinct and unique and make a life for themselves.
However one player – in fact one of the early beta testers – does not want to play as part of the guild and and prefers to play as a single player. He becomes increasingly powerful as the episodes progress and his experience points continue to build up. Over the course of the episodes he eventually falls in love and marries another player within the game.
After a climatic boss fight realizes that the champion of one of the guilds is actually the creator of the game and is the person that has trapped them all within the game. After challenging him to a duel he manages to free all of the remaining players and they all leave the game . Now in all honesty this is very much where the show could’ve ended and it actually would’ve been really good just by itself however they have another half-dozen episodes and as I mentioned earlier this is a somewhat different story and type.
In the second half of SAO the spouse of the character that I mentioned in the first half of the game has been trapped in another game – this time it’s one with Fairies so includes another dimension namely flight in the game mechanics. However in addition to our primary character we also have his sister and again this is kind of where the whole Anime thing goes a little bit weird because she is in love with him in the real world or at least infatuated with him and over time comes to love the character he is playing in the game world also! However he is always focused on his spouse and eventually after many struggles and continuous battles they are eventually reunited and his sister also realizes that there are other fish in the sea.
Number two – the Irregular at Magic High School
This is one I’ve only recently watched and overall its a really good one. It has some of the weirdness mentioned earlier – namely the relationship between the main character and his sister – but if you are able to put that aside its actually quite good.
The basic storyline is that in the not too distant future, magic has had a resurgence and with the resources of the land becoming more and more scarce, magic users are now enrolled in a variety of different magic schools around the land. Our story takes us to one particular school where Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki Shiba are enrolled. Students here get segregated into two classes – blooms and weeds – based on their level of ability and while Tatsuya has scored a perfect score in his theoretical results, his practical abilities relegate him to the weeds. However Tatsuya has a secret that no one but his sister knows and while he might seem weak, his abilities are far stronger than anyone could possibly credit as he demonstrates.
Number three– Attack on Titan
Okay this one is not what you’d actually expect from a cartoon it is extremely violent and extremely graphic. I actually had to send my kids out of the room when they wandered in a couple of times!
Attack on Titan explores a dystopian world dominated by ruthless Titans that appeared out of nowhere. These titans feed on humans and it is only by building massive walled cities that the survivors manage to eke out a living. However when even these city walls are breached by new armored and it seems intelligent titans humanity looks to be on the edge of extinction.
There is actually some question about a possible Attack on Titan live action movie & if this does come to pass – well, lets just say that an “R” rating is the least it could expect. There are plenty of action set pieces to make a blockbuster and enough intelligent commentary to please critics in this Anime and it is definitely one that you should watch if you have the stomach for it!
Number four – Highschool of the Dead
In some ways this would almost be how you’d expect a zombie apocalypse would come to pass and while this show has significant elements of my other major gripe with Anime (i.e. gratitious nudity), its actually really scary and you can feel the horror that they are going through.
They’re the students at a prestigious school and they band together to help each other survive after something starts to create zombies in their in their city and gradually over the whole country and world as well – there is significant death and destruction – and the characters each fit into a niche in their little party.
The issues that I have already mentioned I guess would probably be the gratuitous nudity I mean it’s really not necessary to the story (I guess that’s the definition of gratuitous) at all, but it’s not as I said something that needs to be shown – I mean I guess you could say that teenage high school students have raging hormones and that’s why it’s there but the point of the story is the zombies and the way that part of it at least is covered is really good.
The fight scenes with them the way that they attack there speed and mindless ferocity are all really well covered and you can very much understand the horror that the students are trying to survive.
Number five – Knights of Siddonia
I actually really enjoyed this one and its a Netflix exclusive! The whole space battle with the spacesuit and the monsters in general just overall really good. The whole fact that humans at that time can photosynthesize their own food… excellent really cool idea and something I had not seen in any other shows.
The battle scenes are also really well done and while there is some nudity you don’t really see anything and it actually makes sense to the story and character, in fact the girl who is nude in that scene was basically photosynthesizing food for herself and it completely makes sense which is why I liked it.
Battles with the aliens and why humanity is in space are somewhat explained but there are obviously still quite a few mystery’s remaining to be answered even after the first season concludes as the aliens have somehow created a clone of a human or something like that from a human they’ve captured and there is a lot of other stuff happening in the story too.
Knights of Sidonia, based on the popular manga series of the same name, follows Nagate, a low-born youth in a society of genetically engineered refugees who escaped the destruction of Earth one thousand years earlier and now occupy the massive ship Sidonia. When Nagate’s talent as a pilot is revealed he becomes one of Sidonia’s elite defenders against the Guana, shapeshifting aliens bent on eliminating humans from existence.