Hunter X Hunter
Hunter X Hunter is the traditional anime action series, full of power-ups and tournament arcs and friends going on adventures. I’d say it’s a step above all of its peers, though: the combat systems it implements have a strong internal logic that make fights both satisfying and easy to follow, the story arcs are pleasantly varied, and the story doesn’t bend around the protagonist, with all of the major actors having clear aspirations and traits that define their actions. The only thing to keep in mind with Hunter X Hunter is that it enjoys its little detours, so those fixated on finding a story with a central, driving narrative arc should tread with caution.
Hunter X Hunter can be found on Netflix and Crunchyroll.
Made in Abyss
Made in Abyss tells the story of two curious kids embarking on a foolhardy trek down towards the bottom of a mysterious pit known as the Abyss. Don’t let the art style fool you: Made in Abyss is at times a viscous, graphic show. If you’re okay with being a little squeamish though, it’s probably anime’s most atmospheric fantasy adventure story, capturing the mysticism and wonder of an entirely unknown underground world through a combination of its protagonist’s enthusiasm, stunning background art, and haunting music that shifts subtly but effectively the farther its team gets into the mysterious wonder of the Abyss. It can be very nonchalant about some serious material though, so be prepared to get caught off-guard by tonal shifts occasionally.
Made in Abyss can be found on Amazon Prime.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
This one’s a classic in Japan for a reason. Jojo is nonsense: music references, inconsistent power systems, chariot races, vampires, Nazis, multi-generational blood-feuds– and that’s just the first two arcs. It’s not just [lol random XD] though, thank God. This show knows how to keep each of its segments grounded in a particular atmosphere, which goes a long way towards lending its antics weight. Jojo hits the perfect blend of self-aware hammy bullshit and actually-fun action-adventure, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a rollicking good time and absolutely nothing of substance.
Jojo’s can be found on Netflix and Crunchyroll.
Code Geass is probably best described as the animated child of Les Miserables and Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail, and if you just tried to imagine that and found yourself scratching your head… well, you’re right on the money. A self-infatuated revolutionary epic, Geass follows the tragic life of estranged royal child Lelouch Lamprouge as he tries to overthrow his father’s oppressive government. Half the time it’s a driven story, and the other half of the time it’s an advertisement for Pizza Hut and an experiment to see how many powers you can stack onto a Gundam mecha. Somehow, Code Geass manages to weave these two entirely contrasting personalities together about as gracefully as one could imagine, and the result is the anime equivalent of crack-cocaine.
Code Geass can be found on Netflix and Funimation.
Princess Principal is essentially an excellent spy thriller. Set in an alternate-history London modeled after Cold-War Berlin but culturally in the Victorian era, Princess Principal follows a squad of all-female spies as they work for an organization aiming to bring down the wall that divides their nation. The writing is solid and five main cast members are all excellent, but the phenomenal action scenes and cunning incidental worldbuilding really pull the show together. Princess Principal makes sharp, effective use of screentime to quickly build a complex world that feels lived in, and then puts vivid, high-stakes espionage missions inside it. It’s a great time.
Princess Principal can be found on Amazon Prime and HIDIVE.
A man with the head of a lizard teams up with a chef who’s also a martial artist to fight a bunch of mushroom-growing wizards who use their town as an experiment pit. That’s when things start to get interesting. Dorohedoro grabs your attention through sheer insanity and then somehow refines its madness into a solid fantasy story backed up by great animation and piles of gore. There were some episodes I laughed all the way through and others that had me grinning with satisfaction. Of note is the fact that pretty much every character is an absolutely horrible human being, so don’t try to relate. They’re just there to entertain you.
Dorohedoro can be found on Netflix.