At this point in the pandemic, it’s starting to get boring at home. I’ve cleaned everything like four times, I’ve worked on school work, read a couple of books, played a few video games, and watched a few shows (looking at you, Tiger King).
But I’ve also taken this opportunity to get back into the good ol’ world of anime, which I haven’t been very in-touch with since early high school.
Cowboy Bebop is my favorite show of all time. I have memories of watching it in my bedroom late at night in middle school, when there was nothing else on TV, and loving the crazy space antics that the show has to offer. Since then, I’ve watched the short and jazzy 26-episode series so many times I’ve lost count.
Cowboy Bebop is about a ragtag group of bounty hunters and their adventures in space. Spike Spiegel, the main protagonist, is perhaps one of the most beautifully written characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching—he’s fearlessly driven by his long-lost love Julia and is the center of what is arguably the best anime ending ever (no spoilers, but it’ll make you feel some type of way).
But Spike isn’t the only character with impeccable character development—everyone aboard the Bebop has some sort of deep backstory, like Faye Valentine’s tragic past being preserved for over 50 years only to wake up in the future, Jet Black’s cop background and the loss of his arm, or Edward’s story of being left at daycare by her father.
The entire show is so beautifully existential and brings forth so many emotions with its humor, sorrow, and badassery, that even people who aren’t typically into anime enjoy it.
Netflix is working on a live-action series that’s been put on hold due to star John Cho’s injury, but in the meantime, the 1998 anime is streaming on Hulu.
Demon Slayer is about a boy, Tanjiro, whose family was slaughtered by demons, with the exception of his little sister, who has herself become a demon.
The series follows Tanjiro and his journey to become a demon slayer and find a way to turn his sister, Nezuko, back into a human. There are some badass fights, some really cool demons, and some emotional moments.
What really does it for me—aside from a really well-written storyline—is the animation.
The art style is very clean and polished, and every time Tanjiro does his water breathing techniques, I’m mesmerized by the illustration. It’s one of those styles that’s impossible to stop paying close attention to—the way that the fights are animated is smooth and beautiful, even if demons’ heads are being cut off.
There’s currently only one season of Demon Slayer and it can be streamed on Hulu, but a second season is rumored to be released in 2021.
My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia is one of the more popular anime series currently running, and that’s thanks to its wide array of characters.
In the My Hero Academia universe, most of the population is born with a quirk—explosions and invisibility, for example—and some people take that opportunity to become either heroes or villains.
The series follows Midoriya, a quirkless student, as he makes his way through the hero program at UA High School.
Midoriya is recognized by All Might, the number one hero, and he passes his super-strength quirk—called “One for All”—to Midoriya. Since he didn’t grow up with a quirk, this puts him behind significantly as he learns how to handle it, breaking plenty of bones along the way.
From there, it’s your typical superhero high school—they train, they fight villains, they grow stronger. As I wrote above, people like this show because of the characters involved.
In addition to the much-loved professional heroes like All Might and Eraser Head, fans have picked their favorite students from Midoriya’s class and root for them throughout the series.
Fan-favorites include Tsu, who has a frog quirk; Todoroki (my personal favorite) who’s got half ice powers and half fire powers; Bakugo, who can create explosions; and Iida, who has engines in his calves that make him run super fast.
This is another anime that many people who don’t typically watch anime anjoy. The fourth season of My Hero Academia ended at the beginning of April, and all four seasons can be streamed on Hulu.
Ouran High School Host Club
Hear me out here—this show is an incredible distraction.
The show is about Haruhi, a high school girl, who breaks the host club’s very expensive vase at the beginning of the series. She doesn’t have the money to pay for it, and since she has short hair, the boys think that Haruhi is also a boy, and they tell her she can repay her debt by joining the host club.
She accepts, and throughout the show embraces a gender-fluid identity.
Eventually, the rest of the host club finds out that she’s really a girl, and of course all end up having a crush on her, which only increases the show’s antics.
Ouran High School Host Club has some really funny moments, as well as some more serious and even romantic scenes, but overall, it’s one of the shows I often go back to when I need a distraction from life because it’s a wild ride.
The entire series can be streamed on Netflix.
Death Note was one of my very-first animes (aside from shows I watched as a child, like Sailor Moon and Pokémon) and is about protagonist Light Yagami finding a Death Note, which is a notebook he can use to commit murder.
The Death Note, which comes with plenty of specific rules and a good old Shinigami, is a notebook in which its owner can write a name in—as long as he knows the face—to kill them. Light uses the Death Note to do good by killing criminals, being dubbed “Kira,” until things get out of hand.
Soon, law enforcement is onto him, there’s a second Kira (meaning someone else has a Death Note), and Light has to take extreme measures to get away with it, including becoming part of the task force hunting Kira.
Death Note is the kind of show that slowly escalates, and is really stressful to watch, but in a good way. I like this show a lot because it’s a story written in a way that makes the viewer root for the villain, even though they know they shouldn’t.
The entire series can be streamed on Netflix.