While Netflix has maintained a sturdy library of content, the common consensus among anime fans was that the streaming service was severely lacking in that department. However, in the past couple of years, Netflix has stepped up its anime game tremendously. Beyond adding popular franchises to its library, Netflix has also churned out a few originals that are phenomenal in their own right.
If you’re bored of rewatching the same sitcoms you’ve seen four or five times already, now is the perfect time to dip your toes into the world of anime.
To give myself some rules, I forced myself to make three of my six choices be Netflix originals. I also made myself stray away from huge shonen shows such as Naruto. Additionally, any show marked with an asterisk carries the “Mom Seal of Approval” from my mom, meaning she watched and enjoyed them too (two asterisks denotes her favorite). I couldn’t put everything on this list, but the most honorable mention is “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood*” which is probably my personal favorite.
“Hunter x Hunter”*
“Hunter x Hunter” follows the always smiling Gon Freecss in his journey to follow in his absent father’s footsteps by becoming a successful member of the Hunter profession. From there, Freecss makes friends, enemies and everything in between all while adventuring to find his dad. Obviously there is a lot more to the story than that, but diving too in depth would do the show a disservice.
The show thrives on trope subversion, as so much of the plot is unpredictable and downright intense, doing everything from having purposely anticlimactic fights to making villain groups mourning over a dead comrade a tear jerking moment. The first four story arcs are currently on Netflix, which is more than enough to get you hooked.
Who would have thought you could make a show about a high school boys volleyball team this intense?
“Haikyuu!!” centers on another smiley boy, this time a short-statured ginger named Shoyo Hinata, who wants nothing but to be as good as the “Little Giant,” another shorty who excelled enough to lead Hinata’s local high school to the national tournament.
The strong points of “Haikyuu!!” lay in its character writing and development. While there is an obvious main character in Hinata, the show feels like it is about the team more than the individual. Add that to ridiculously intense match sequences and you have one of the more surprisingly fun and gut wrenching shows you can watch. The first two seasons are on Netflix, and should you want more, season three is on Hulu while season four is ongoing.
“JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure”**
“JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” definitely lives up to the bizarre in its name as it truly is one of the weirdest shows. While it is easily the hardest watch on this list, it is one of the easiest to get addicted to.
Each part of “JoJo’s” follows a member of the Joestar family tree as they battle evil in whatever form it may take, so for the most part each part is a self-contained story. Netflix currently has the first three parts of the show: “Phantom Blood” which focuses on Jonanthan Joestar, “Battle Tendency,” which follows Jonathan’s grandson Joseph Joestar and “Stardust Crusaders,” which covers Joseph’s half-Japanese grandson Jotaro Kujo.
“Jojo’s” unique feature is its creators’ usage of musicians and songs as his naming mechanism, featuring characters like Robert E. O. Speedwagon, Esidisi (say it out loud and you’ll hear it) and the big bad himself, Dio Brando, later known simply as DIO. “Jojo’s” is simultaneously hilarious and brilliant no matter how weird it gets. Plus, the memes that come out of this show are *chefs kiss*.
The first Netflix original on this list is the cutely animated and ridiculously relatable animal society of “Aggretsuko.”
Here we follow Retsuko, a red panda who works as an accountant. We get to see hilarious office stereotypes not too dissimilar to those found in “The Office,” but in animal form. Retsuko works hard to keep herself stable at a career she doesn’t care for, but her only escape is when she goes to karaoke bars after work to sing death metal and relieve stress.
Both seasons of “Aggretsuko” balance smart humor and realism to make a fun experience that is easily enjoyed by just about anyone.
“Violet Evergarden” is known best for its striking art and heart-wrenching story that pulls at your heartstrings in basically every episode.
The show follows a girl of the same name who struggles to adjust to civilian life after fighting in a great war, due to her indoctrination and trauma. Despite not being able to understand emotions, Evergarden gets work as a ghostwriter for people who either can’t write or can’t put their emotions on paper, while she also struggles with finding her place in the world now that she isn’t a soldier.
The art in the show is so well done that it received the award for best art at the 2019 Crunchyroll Anime Awards. Not bad for a Netflix original.
The newest entry on this list, the Netflix original “Beastars” centers on another anthropomorphic animal cast, like “Aggretsuko.” The difference here is “Beastars” is significantly darker and edgier.
“Beastars” follows a gray wolf named Legoshi as he struggles to hold back his carnivorous instincts while navigating a highschool gripped in tragedy following the death (and devouring) of a student. When Legoshi meets a white rabbit named Haru, he begins to grapple with whether his intense attraction is his urge to feed, or something he has never felt: love.
The stylish noir art direction paired with the zootopia-esque conflict of predators vs. prey keeps you on your toes in its quick 12 episode run. A huge feature of the show is its usage of CGI instead of being hand drawn, but the show takes advantage of this to create a very unique viewing experience.