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5 Must See Lesser Known Anime TV Shows
One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Dragon Ball, Toriko, Kenshin
Introduction into Anime
People who are not really familiar with anime might be surprised when they realize just how much of it there actually is. I have been watching it consistently for about 5 years, completing well over 80 shows, and I have barely scratched the surface of what is out there.
Like every art forum, a few shows have managed to transcend cultural boundaries and have found their way into the international market. Shows like One Piece, Naruto and Bleach followed in the massive foot steps of the grand fathers of anime like Dragonball Z. These shows might never win any critical acclaim (although they are all relatively well received) but they have safely found their way into the hearts of millions of people from every corner of the world. Critical darlings like Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis Evangelion have also made that leap and are considered necessary viewings for anybody interested in the film/TV industry in general.
This list will point out 5 lesser known shows that would serve well as the next step after the initial contact with anime received through the previously mentioned shows and other stables like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and Stein's Gate.
1) Beelzebub (Action, Comedy, Supernatural)
Beelzebub is a perfect view for anybody who loves any of the three main shounen anime, although it does favour humour over action. The plot follows Oga, a typical high-school trouble maker, who is chosen by the king of hell as the guardian for his son; Baby Beel. Madness ensues.
This anime is faced paced, filled with loveable and hilarious characters and it also features some of the best over the top action in any series. The plot often gets pushed aside to allow the characters space to interact with each other and just be kind of stupid (think Gintama) but when Beelzebub gets going, it can stand right next to any of the big three shows.
One negative for Beelzebub is that it lacks any actual closure, since their has only been one season of the series. This is definitely disappointing, but it does not ruin an otherwise entertaining show. I would love to tell you that a season 2 is on the way, but since the first season has been out for quite a few years, we are unlikely to see a continuation.
Saying that, Beelzebub main focus is always on the characters and how they deal with this absurd situation every single day. Going to school with the spawn of the devil himself. The series does also deals with themes like responsibility, parenthood and gay romance (although, it mostly turns it into a running joke). What I am trying to say is that Beelzebub is a pretty clever show, most of the time.
50 episodes is, honestly, not enough. Beelzebub will leave the viewer craving more and more. It is the type of show that could have, honestly, continued for years, like a Gintama or a Bleach. Still, what we have is of a considerably high quality and has cemented the shows place in anime history.
2) Nichijou (Comedy, Slice of Life, Perfection)
Nichijou translates into 'My Ordinary Life' but this one season show is anything but ordinary. It generally follows three students who turn what seem like normal everyday occurrence into over the top madness. But Nichijou is about more than just the three main characters: The whole town of Tokisadame is brought to life and expanded via short 3-5 minute segments.
The best part is the characters themselves and how they play off each other: the energetic nitwit Yuko Aioi (arguably the funniest anime schoolgirl ever created), the smart and straight laced Mio Naganohara (a straight man that will have you belly laughing) and the silently weird Mia MInakami, form the second greatest anime comedy trio after the Odd Jobs (Gintama).
Beyond the three schoolgirls, we also get stand-out characters like the Professor (a highly intelligent 8 year old), Nano (an android schoolgirl created by the Professor), Sakamoto (a black cat given the ability to speak by the Professor), Izumi Sakurai (an easily flustered rookie teacher), Manabu Takasaki (a male teacher in love with Izumi), Sasahara (the son of a farmer who acts like an aristocrat) and Misato (who has romantic feelings for Sasahara and shows it in the worst possible way).
The series is based around emotion: Embarrassment, anger, happiness and so on. Since the main characters are teenagers, their emotions are kind of heightened and that exagerration fuels all the shenanigans that goes on during Nichijou.
Also, the principal wrestles a deer at one point, How can that be anything less than mind blowingly awesome?
The show is mostly a serious of sketches, and some hit closer to home than others, but over all it remains one of the most original and funny ways to spend 20 minutes. Saying that, it does take awhile to get going. The first few episodes are charming but not really hilarious, only from about episode 10 does Nichijou blossom into something truly unique.
3) One Punch Man (Superhero, Parody, Action)
To be honest, I was not sure whether I should include One Punch Man, since it has garnered a huge following over the last few months. But, if there is one show that deserves to be seen by all, it is probably One Punch Man.
This is a hugely flawed show. The episodes can be repetitive, there is no real tension in any of the action scenes and the characters lack any real development.
Saying that, One Punch Man is an easy 10/10 for me, simply because it is one of the most entertaining things I have ever seen.
Saitama, the protagonist (dude in picture), is an over powered hero that kills every villain with one punch. The series follows his struggles with that power and how society reacts to his existence. At a measly 13 episodes, the series is a quick sit. One Punch Man can easily be watched in a day and you might find yourself unable to stop after an episode or two.
4) Hunter x Hunter (Action, Psychological, Epic)
Hunter x Hunter follows the adventures of four friends: Gon, Killua, Kurapika and Leorio. They meet at a hunter examination and instantly bond. The series is set in a world were professional hunters are hired and paid to discover rare animal species, hunt for treasure, survey unexplored caves or provide assistance in capturing terrorist/criminal organisations.
After the initial Hunter Exam Arc, the rest of the series devotes its time to developing the four main characters and expanding on what drives them forward. Each character (especially Gon, KIllua and Kurapika) are very well developed and go through a lot of character development throughout the entire show.
One word that describes Hunter x Hunteris EPIC. The series recently concluded with a somewhat satisfying ending, even if the manga still has some ways to go. What starts off as a relatively straight forward Shounen manga transforms into something truly special. The Chimera arc really needs to be witnessed.
The arcs can be quite long in Hunter x Hunter, with the Chimera arc lasting well over 50 episodes. This can make or break a show, with anime like One Piece (a legendary show, by the way) often losing a bit of steam during the half way point of every single arc before blasting to a jaw dropping conclusion.
Hunter x Hunter seems to be slightly better paced than most of these long running shows, there never seems to be a dull moment and the constant development the characters go through feels organic and genuine. Gon and Killua have probably the best friendship in any recently released anime: Two completely different characters that stand out as individuals but also need the other half to be truly all they can be.
If you are searching for a more mature version of One Piece, Bleach or Naruto, then this is it.
5) Psycho-pass (Thriller, Psychological, Political, Procedural)
Psycho-pass is set in a future were latent criminal behaviour can be predicted with a quick scan. This, obviously, leads to a lot of moral complications, as the police force attempt to deal with a dangerous mastermind who is determined to release the world from it's dystopian shackles.
Psycho-pass is definitely worth a watch, especially for fans of western crime dramas. The plot is fast paced and holds quite a few surprises. The characters are very interesting (minus a weak lead character) and the villain is one of the best ever.
Akane Tsunemori is a naive rookie detective assigned to the notorious Unit One - alongside veteran inspector Nobuchika Ginoza and a group of Enforcers, also refereed to as 'hunting dogs'. Enforcers have a crime coefficient well above the allowed threshold, but they are allowed to work alongside inspector to try and stop criminals like them.
Most of the Enforcers were once inspector, who had been tainted by the cases that they worked. As ones stress level rises, their crime coefficient also increases, so a hard to crack case (or one with a lot of blood and mayhem) could easily result in an inspector's coefficient sky rocketing into the red.
One such inspector is Shinya Kogami, who develops a partnership with Akane. Kogami was tainted after working a still unsolved case that saw a former Enforcer killed on the job.
Psycho-pass has one of the best villains in anime PERIOD. Right up there with Light (Death Note) and Johan (Monster). Makishima is complex, unpredictable and, most importantly, sympathetic. Throughout the entire season, I found myself completely understanding were he was coming for. His battle with Kogami is riveting to watch.
There is a season two, but it mostly substitutes intelligent and creative writing for an over-abundance of shock horror. Not necessarily bad, just a step back from the brilliance of the first season.