The current anime thing


Kino’s Journey An androgynous girl rides around on a talking motorcycle. She goes from city to city to see its culture and points of interest. She never stays in a city longer than 3 days. It does have some content that may bother you. She carries a gun and meets some awful people along the way. It’s been a while since I’ve watched it, but I feel like there was some slavery
Mushi-Shi is about a wanderer that resolves people’s problems with spirits. It’s never violent or treated like pest control but is more like arbitrating.
xxxHolic is a slice of life about a boy who attracts spirits and so goes to learn about them at a shop run by a woman that’s like an expert in seeing and communicating with spirits.
Theyre all kind of old, but these were the ones I could think of that arent a huge time investment or heavy on it’s own bullshit lore. If any of these summaries are wrong, correct me. Its been a long time since I’ve watched any of these. Also be careful where you ask for recommendations. Anime fans are overzealous.


There is slavery in Kino’s Journey and it’s always portrayed as bad. Also Kino is outright non-binary, as in no set gender (something the English translations fuck up regularly).

THAT SAID, you want to track down the original anime from the 00s, the new adaptation of the light novels is adequate but incredibly safe. The original had a fairy tale atmosphere to it, with subdued colors and simple shapes that better contrasted with the extreme nature of the countries Kino visited, while complimenting their positive aspects. It also moves slow, almost silently at points, and used those quiet moments to great effect.

It’s like comparing Durarara’s first series with the sequel ones. They’re not bad, but they lack the original edge, which would often mirror sister series Baccano and play events out of order to make the whole experience more gripping. Both later series are just getting the stuff adapted and little else.


Alright everyone, I did it. I started watching anime.

I had never seen any anime beyond a few episodes of Pokemon and DBZ when I was a kid, but I decided to give it a crack because it’s a medium that seems huge and unlike anything else in the media landscape. I had to know what all the fuss was about.

So far I’ve watched a bunch of Attack on Titan (wildly fascist so far) and have dipped my toe into Psycho-Pass because a friend recommended it.

I realise asking for anime recommendations is considered a bad move on the internet, but what the hell should I be watching? I’m fascinated by the culture of western anime fandom and have already watched a bunch of YouTube videos by people who seem fine - honestly at face value the YouTube anime people I’ve seen have been way less gross than YT gaming channels (and they haven’t surfaced a bunch of hate speech in my recs) - but that’s just given me a surface understanding of what is considered current and good right now.

In the parlance of my adopted home of Sydney, Australia: what’s the go with anime? Where do I start? When it comes to fiction I generally gravitate towards horror, and I’m currently getting into philosophy (struggling with The Birth of the Clinic as we speak) so I’m down with the headier stuff. What’s good, y’all?


See, this is such a hard question to answer for a multitude of reasons. If you’re asking for the primer on western anime fandom and what are the kind of foundational anime that you should watch to that end, then the answer is very different than the one to “what are some cool philosophical horror anime I might like?” There’s some overlap, to be sure, but most of the foundational stuff is largely shonen battle anime (guys with spiky hair fighting with the power of tenacity and friendship) with a splash of mechs (big robots) and magical girls (girls what are magical) here and there.

Based on an intersection of these, I’d recommend:

  • Cowboy Bebop

  • Akira

  • Paprika

  • Paranoia Agent

  • Redline

  • Perfect Blue

  • My Neighbor Totoro

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion (maybe watch along with the upcoming Be Good and Rewatch It)

  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood (first 9 episodes of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)

These are all fairly mainstream while either being “must-watch/foundational” or being something that I think you might enjoy by the extremely limited look into your genre tastes based on the 1 sentence you gave. Plus, they’re all either movies or no more than 1 season in length. I find that too often, people give anime recommendations for massively long anime which I don’t think does you any good if you’re trying to watch a bunch of different things. In the time it takes to watch One Piece, you could watch every other anime ever made, for example.

Come back with some takes on what you liked/didn’t like about these, and we can go from there!


Thanks! I’ve heard of all of these except paranoia agent, perfect blue, and red line. I didn’t want to be too specific about my tastes in other fiction because part of what seems so wild and exciting about anime is that there seems to be a show about everything!


Psycho Pass is really good and if you like that maybe check out Terror in Resonance. Has a similar vibe but with a different topic. Content warning for Abuse though.


Anime encompasses so much that it’s definitely tough to find a good entry point. I have a few suggestions, though!

If you’re enjoying the suspense and broad conceit of Attack on Titan, but wish it was a little (or a lot) less fascist, last season’s The Promised Neverland could be a good next step. It’s a thriller / dark fairy tale about children who engineer an escape from an orphanage that has been cut off from the outside world, after learning that (first episode spoiler) they’re being raised so they can be eaten by demons. It’s available for streaming on crunchyroll and I’d really recommend it!

I’d also like to second Cowboy Bebop (generally great, streaming on netflix), Paranoia Agent (I have no idea where it’s available for legal streaming), and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (also on crunchyroll). I’d recommend those last two especially, since you mentioned you were into horror, as they both play around in that genre space.

And if you want something really wild, foundational queer anime Revolutionary Girl Utena is legally available for free on youtube and people have done a bunch of writing about the intersections that has with all kinds of philosophy. (EDIT: I just checked and unfortunately the owners have taken down their streams, though it does seem to be available for purchase through google’s video service)


I usually recommend Paranoia Agent, directed by Satoshi Kon.
With the warning that it gets extremely dark and confusing.


I’ll second some of the other recommendations so far (Akira, Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Redline, and Promised Neverland) and throw in a few of my own as well.

Haibane Renmei is about a city where humans and angel-like beings co-exist and follows some of the angels as they try to unravel some of the mysteries about the world and their situation. It gets very emotionally heavy at times. And the soundtrack is really fantastic.

Serial Experiments Lain is a bizarre show about a girl and the internet? I’m actually not quite sure how to describe the show because it gets extremely weird extremely quickly. It’s super stylish and there’s a whole lot to dig into with it. Content warning for suicide though (depiction in the first episode and talking about it a few times throughout the show).

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is maybe a stranger recommendation. It’s a magical girl show that is one of the best examples of deconstructing the genre (although I don’t think you need to be particularly familiar with the genre before watching it, I wasn’t). If you’re okay with the magical girl aesthetic, it gets very heavy and very emotional very quickly (within the first 3 episodes) and really goes from there.

This one is a bit of a curveball but I’d recommend Girls’ Last Tour which is a show about two girls travelling through the ruins of a massive city in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s a pretty quiet and meditative show that does a great job of getting into things like the nature of humanity and war. If you watch it and enjoy it, I’d recommend checking out the manga as well because there is a bit more to it there that is really fantastic.


Just a little warning that Paranoia Agent, like most of Satoshi Kon’s work, is pretty tough to find for a reasonable price physically and isn’t available at all via legal streaming. Hopefully this will start to change as it ages and licenses expire and get picked up by folks that actually know what they have…


If you live in the US, Utena is absolutely still on youtube. Just watched it for the first time a few weeks ago and it’s occupied my mind ever since. I think it’s not for many other countries or perhaps any others, unfortunately.


Psycho Pass is a good entry point for Gen Urobuchi’s work (don’t watch the second season, he wasn’t involved and it’s a whole lot of self-indulgent gore). His best and most well-known work is Madoka Magica, which is very dark but embodies his love of “single bright lights in an ocean of unfeeling utilitarianism” story theming.

Also Thunderbolt Fantasy is him getting to put on a grandiose, badass puppet show and it rules.

For other recommendations, I always defer to the top 30 list ANN’s Nick Creamer put together. I haven’t watched everything on the list yet, but nothing from it has disappointed me so far.


Little Witch Academia, and that’s it.


It’s going to get worse.



As for recommendations, do you need a dub or are you willing to try subs? Because there’s a lot of great stuff you can only watch via subs. I’ll go ahead and list out some stuff on Crunchyroll that isn’t wildly popular or a critical darling among mainstream anime fandom that I think is very much worth your time.

Witch Craft Works - A sort of mixture of shonen battle series with a twist (the guy acts as the damsel character) that very quickly (as in by episode two) becomes a constantly subversive screwball comedy about an average guy’s relationship with a tall and quiet witch in his class and the ridiculous stuff that happens to him. There’s an entire major plot and villain set up for awhile before the plot just suddenly stops for completely unrelated reasons, the school gets taken over by a gang of witch lesbians in dinosaur pajamas who spray paint all the walls, the starting villains get owned so hard that they just start living at the main character’s house and help his mom with chores…and it’s all presented in a completely deadpan way that refuses to point out how weird and wacky it all is. Genuine classic.

Aoharu X Machinegun - One of many shows about the air-gun craze in Japan, but this one is interesting because it’s in a reverse harem structure and focuses a lot of the relationship of the main team. It’s one of those few in this genre that’s less gross gun porn and more character drama that uses the nature of the given sport to tell its story.

Hamatora - Series set in modern Japan where people with superpowers exist, a sort of twist on the X-Men but in an extremely Japanese lens. Instead of using people with powers as allegory for racism, the series is more interested in examining the modern Japanese social structure that values unity and bettering society, making villains who egotistically impose their will on the world while also showing how a broken government and their handling of superpowered people (I hope you like subtle commentary on the Japanese school system!) made this problem worse. The first season feels flat and doesn’t really use the premise or the core ideas well, but season two, RE:_Hamatora, is genuinely one of my favorite anime ever.

A Lull in the Sea - A ridiculously gorgeous urban fantasy drama about people who live under the sea living among surface society. The animation and production is masterful at points and really serves the series well, making it one of the more heartfelt dramas I’ve seen. The simple premise also gets mined really well, focusing more on the depth of the cast and telling a melancholy story about the passage of time and the beautiful fragility of relationships.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san - A comedy about a girl being haunted by a fox demon, a transforming dog demon, and a tanuki, all who have human forms and are ridiculous in their own way. It gets a shout out almost entirely for its understanding of comedic timing, there are some really fantastic visual punchlines here worth seeing.

MY love STORY!! - Adorable romantic comedy that stuck out because the show’s main character is a huge, insanely powerful guy who’d be a comedic punchline in any other show, but actually gets to be fleshed out character here as the male lead. Just super positive the whole way.

Active Raid - Not a perfect show by any stretch, but it’s really fun anyways, a sort of mecha/cop action show with a lot of goofy plots and characters mixed with some oddly well handled political commentary. I can’t say how good the second half is, I’ve only finished the first, but there’s a lot to like. There’s even an episode that’s a big shout out to old super robot shows.

Ushio & Tora - A somewhat recent adaptation of a popular shonen manga that pre-dated Yu Yu Hakusho. It follows Ushio, a teenage guy who loves art, and Tora, a sort of lightning/tiger demon who’s haunting him after Ushio freed him from being sealed by a demon hunting spear. Ghost and demon battling then happens. It’s overall solid battle shonen, but a lot of the fun comes in the extremely lively expressions. It also has probably one of my favorite OPs ever.

Kawai Complex - A cute slice of life comedy that sticks out because most of the cast are grown adults. It follows a high schooler living at a dysfunctional boarding house with the owner’s grandaughter, an introvert who loves reading, and a trio of wacky grown ups with their own weird interests and problems. It has absolutely beautiful shading and color design, like you’d see in an 80s era OVA, and a really sweet heart at its core. I wish more people knew this one existed.

Classroom Crisis - Series that follows a class of geniuses trying to get a project finished within the company they’re working for, only for things to keep going wrong, and there’s eventually an inner-political drama revealed as we learn more about some of the cast and their pasts. It’s entertaining an interesting in how it tries to deal with the inherent issues with living in a capitalist society, showing people trying to manipulate the system to their benefit. Its politics are a big question mark for me personally, but it’s really enjoyable despite.

Inferno Cop - Please. Watch Inferno Cop.

Kyousougiga - Genuinely a masterpiece, a beautiful show with an incredibly talented director that takes place in a fantasy land created by a magic painter. It’s really difficult to explain, so I say just look up stills of this show and you will know right away why I bring it up.

Log Horizon - The only genuinely good series about people trapped in an RPG world that isn’t a parody or satire. While the production is flat most of the time, the writing is fantastic, making you extremely interested in watching people trapped in a situation like this reacting to it, making gripping drama entirely through the mechanics of the world and how the players interact with it. Probably the only time where world building has been a work’s greatest strength.

Samurai Flamenco - Probably the most creative piece of superhero media since Grant Morrison’s experimental years. Starts off as Japanese Kick-Ass with the edginess replaces with sincerity, but then you hit episode seven and the show starts either switching in genre or two roughly every two episodes for the rest of its run time and goes to some truly insane places. It is an absolute fucking ride that ends up deconstructing and reconstructing the superhero genre so hard that it almost makes every other work that does so obsolete.

The Perfect Insider - This one is actually a mystery novel adaptation, having a professor and a student figure out a locked door murder mystery, but what really makes it so meaty is all the character interplay. The direction makes great use of expressions, the dialog choices, and a series of great performances to just make an all around great character piece that you just don’t see told like this too often in anime.

Yona of the Dawn - Shojo fantasy action series about a princess on the run from the man who killed her father and stole the throne. It’s just extremely solid, and Yona herself gets a very strong arc. Sadly, the show stopped before it could finish adapting the manga, but it’s kind of a cult favorite for a reason.


I’ll come back with more later - honestly this question’s so big that I need a minute - but right now:

Everyone should watch A Place Further Than The Universe. It’s on Crunchyroll.


Yeah I was gonna warn against just how fascist Attack on Titan gets, but JKDarkside beat me to it.

I have to co-sign Kyousogiga. I watched it on a whim and was just… so impressed with it. It’s genuinely incredible. It’s wild and extremely fast-pased sometimes and that can be hard for some people, but it’s incredible.

I’ll also co-sign Inferno Cop, and add Little Witch Academia and SSSS. Gridman to the short list of Studio Trigger shows I can recommend with little caveat. I will say that Gridman, like EVA and Madoka Magica is extremely referential to other works in its genre and while it’s absolutely enjoyable without that context it really helps to understand certain tropes (this holds true for all three shows imo). Little Witch Academia is like Harry Potter if Harry Potter was actually about working together and resolving differences and building lasting relationships and also instead of kind of condoning slavery actually tried to talk about the value of labour.

FLCL is still worth watching, and FLCL Alternative (the second sequel show from last year) is absolutely worth watching. It’s better if you ignore FLCL Progressive.


I’ll co-sign Little Witch Academia, A Place Further Than the Universe, and Thunderbolt Fantasy too.

I also want to add Land of the Lustrous (Hidive, VRV, Amazon) as one of the most beautiful shows to come out recently. I’m watching it with a friend who hasn’t watched a lot of anime (Ghibli movies mostly) and she’s super enjoying the visuals and story. It’s in the vein of a coming of age story around identity and finding personal meaning in yourself.

Also it was pointed out on Twitter all of Samurai Champloo is up on Youtube via Funimation.

So is Revolutionary Girl Utena in Sub and Dub:


Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion, Akira, and Ghost in the Shell are all pretty good, like, “anime canon” recommendations. I’d probably add something like Gunbuster to that, myself.

On the safer side of more recent shows, I’d co-sign Land of the Lustrous (please make another season) and would add Rakugo Shinju. Hero Academia is also on-going and is good shonen fun.

For some older stuff: Mushishi is one of my all-time favorites. Not an overly eventful show but you’ll get some philosophy and some stuff occasionally bordering on horror (which, honestly, there isn’t a lot of in anime.)

Masaaki Yuasa stuff is probably worth looking into in general, particularly Tatami Galaxy, Kaiba, or Devilman Crybaby from last year (the latter being the most CW heavy.)

If you can find them anywhere (you probably won’t be able to find them anywhere), the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complexes are good. They dial back the philosophy of the film a bit for more political stories, though. Speaking of politics, Twelve Kingdoms is another good older show (that I also don’t think is streaming anywhere.)

The Kara no Kyoukai movies are deep into Asian philosophy, though the philosophy itself is often overshadowed by mountains of technobabble. There’s a 35 minute epilogue that consists entirely of two people standing in the snow talking about personal identity, though.


I’m more than fine with subs. I’ve watched a lot of Japanese and Korean horror so I’m accustomed to it.

Also yikes. I probably won’t watch the rest of AoT then. The way the action is directed is phenomenal but it’s not worth it if that’s what I’ve got to look forward to.


Love the variety of recommendations here. A lot of the gateway anime that gets popularised in the west just gives such a limited perspective on what’s actually out there.

I remember finishing Little Witch Academia, loving it and going “Well that’s literally the only non-Ghibli anime that isn’t sleazy, oh well”. Which isn’t the case at all, but for a newcomer there’s no real way to know that.